A friend sent me the most interesting email yesterday in response to Wednesday's posting. It was full of tough questions, the kind I love to ponder, and I'm sure she won't mind me sharing a few of the... LOL... tougher ones.
She wrote... Why is consistency important? Shouldn't your clothes reflect your experimental nature? Do you want to communicate that you are put together or that you are looking for answers? Do you want your clothes to express "this is the sort of person I am in general" or "this is how I'm feeling today"?
Thinking about those questions, I realized that what I consistently want to express is the authentic me. The feeling of belonging in my own clothes. The comfort of moving about with clothing that is a second skin not a layer that's awkward and emotionally itchy. Not every outfit, not every garment, feels authentic and that's part of the journey. Figuring out authenticity.
Consistency is important to me in terms of my clothes feeling like me but I don't want to feel like I'm wearing a formula or a uniform. I want my clothes to speak for me, to represent who I am and what's fun, unique, and personal about me - my "voice". Clothes are a canvas; they are brush strokes. They are colors and textures and line and all the other elements of design combined with our own unique shape and preferences. I find that mix fascinating in myself and others.
Then she asked... Shouldn't your clothes reflect your experimental nature? Do you want to communicate that you are put together or that you are looking for answers? Do you want your clothes to express "this is the sort of person I am in general" or "this is how I'm feeling today"?
What I sew and what I wear are different. Sewing is not only because I enjoy the actual process of sewing and the technical challenge but it's an experiment to find what works in terms of fit and flatter and expression of self. What I actually wear - of the garments I sew - illustrates those answers.
Not all experiments will get worn because even though many of the elements are correct, the results don't always feel authentic. There's something not quite right. And that's the nature of experimenting. It's the search to find answers that work and then to utilize those answers. When I create something that doesn't feel authentic, it may get worn once or twice while I try it on to see if it's going to feel right. If it doesn't, it gets edited out quickly.
I don't want to look like I didn't have a clue how to get dressed that morning so in that sense I want to look put together however, I'd like my look to have drama and edginess as opposed to being conservative or traditional or anything that feels boring to me. I played it safe for years and safe is easy. It doesn't take much effort however... it's not nearly as much fun... or as challenging... or as experimental... as this journey to dressing authentically. There's no puzzle to figure out and I like puzzles which is good because I'm enjoying the puzzle and the challenge of this endless search for clothing that says this is me in terms of representing my spirit, personality, and character even as I know that the me I want those garments to identify is always changing. It seems that it's that experimental nature - the expression and evolution of self - that needs to come out.
It was that last thought that I pondered all day - how is my quest for knowledge and my desire to learn and my experimental nature being expressed in my clothing? Don't get me wrong. I'm not unhappy with how I'm dressed. Over the last few years, through trial and error, I've developed a core wardrobe that works and works well together and a collection of interesting accessories to go along with. What I'm working on now is more - more quantity, more quality, more expression of self, a little less safe, and a lot more fun.
If you've been following the comments, Steph and I have been having an interesting discussion about wardrobe planning. It's a passionate subject for both of us only she's definitely the guru of wardrobe planning. I'm in awe. I do believe that part of playing and experimenting is starting with the core wardrobe Steph is talking about using neutrals and key garments and then adding the playful moments. I mention wanting to have enough quantity and quality in my wardrobe - to do more playing.
An example I used in my reply to Steph is jeans and a t-shirt which was - for many years - when I was busy with other things - my "uniform". I had a couple pairs of the same jeans, whichever ones I could find in RTW that fit me the best, a half dozen or so of the same black t-shirt, whichever style Costco was selling that year, and several colorful cardigans to alternate, and that was it. There may have been one or two other items but basically this was my uniform and it worked for that period of time in my life. And now it doesn't.
Now, I have the desire, the time, and the energy to take my wardrobe in different directions. Since I've started sewing fashions full time again, I've identified the style lines I prefer and have developed a T & T t-shirt pattern that works BUT... I don't want just one pair of jeans and a few black t-shirts to go with. I want a collection of jeans that aren't identical and several different styles and shapes of knit tops to go with that provide variety and highlight different aspects of my personality and voice. Does that make sense?
I'm not searching for the answer any more. I've identified a lot of what works and as I said, I'm not unhappy with my wardrobe. What I'm doing now is several things at once - particularly playing and experimenting - which isn't necessarily conducive to having an extensive wardrobe. And that's okay. These questions were a reminder to continue to play and to do that work. It's a journey. We don't have to identify every answer so closely that it becomes confining. We can throw things together, mix it up, play paper dolls with our own body in our own wardrobe, and see what happens.
When I cleaned the pattern stash yesterday, I kept all the patterns. I thought about choosing one pattern to sew in each category but that seemed too planned. Instead, I looked at the line drawings, thought about what I wanted to experiment with and about what I needed more of in my wardrobe and chose the ones shown to think about. As you'll read, they're a mix of experimenting, working with what I know, challenge, and learning - all the parts of me. They are... in order....
Vogue 1297 - What I love about this dress is the contrast between the inner shaping and the outer "wings". There are several interesting variations on PatternReview. I want to be aware of where the droop of the wings hits the body. Some proportions are more flattering than others. There's an opportunity to play with line, direction, and detail on what seems like a simple structure. Simple can be hard to do. There's no place to hide. I like that in textile work and I see a similar tension with this dress.
Vogue 1333 - This skirt pattern calls for a moderate stretch knit. Sham's made it in a woven which I think is a more interesting challenge. To get the right woven. One that's light enough and drapey enough to flow over the body but still crispy enough to show off the pleats. With the two layers, there's again an opportunity to play with line, design, visual texture, and varying prints.
McCall's 6286 - Normally, I avoid raglan sleeves as they tend to narrow my already narrow shoulders. The collar on this pattern adds a widening element that appears to balance that aspect. I wonder if I can successfully interpret it and at the same time, I'd like to use a knit fabric to attempt to create a buttoned blouse that is soft, flowing, and non-restrictive in the way that I typically find blouses. Can I make a blouse I would actually wear? Can I make it using lines I normally avoid?
Vogue 8767 - I'm not a jacket person. I prefer cardigans. In a knit, would this jacket be more cardigan-like or more jacket-like? Would I wear it? Would it feel me or too confining?
OOP Vogue 1113 - This Lynn Mizono jacket has some interesting angles and junctures. It's a lot more volume than I normally wear however, because it sits at the waist with an asymmetrical hemline, it may be possible for me to wear. I would still have a waist. After seeing Gayle's version of another of Lynn's patterns, the challenge is how to soften the lines while maintaining enough supporting structure.
OOP Vogue 8397 - A year ago at Design Outside The Lines 2012, one of the women wore these pants in a black ponte. They were GORGEOUS and I have wanted my very own pair ever since. I keep putting off sewing them until my fluctuating weight stops fluctuating only - LOL - I might die waiting. I should get to these pants. I can test the pattern, wear them now, and adjust for fluctuations when I make them again because I have a feeling I'll wear these often. I have similar pants that I absolutely love.
Six patterns. Six opportunities to play. Did you find a pattern you want to play with? I'd love to see it.
Talk soon - Myrna
Grateful - books on allergies, sensitivities, and solutions. I'm thankful to have the input of others who have gone before me and of different views on treatment so I can find a way that works for me, one that I can maintain.