Monday, February 2, 2015

What Would Happen If.... ? ? ?

Saturday night, I had the strangest dream. I was frustrated with my clothes, tired of my black, bland - white rice and mashed potatoes - no gravy wardrobe. There was this intense craving for "spice", for colour, texture, pattern, and print, for something radically different. I remember thinking I need Dean - LOL

Dean is the manager at the Starbucks where I journal. He's an amazing cook and we've been talking about some cooking classes he's thinking of teaching and about me being one of the students. With Dean spicing up my cooking, Diane encouraging my creativity, and working on my assignment, it's not too much of a stretch to know what this dream had to say especially after spending a considerable amount of time going through my image files to find illustrations for my coaching assignment.

It was like watching my return to fashion sewing on fast forward and - OH MY GOSH - some of it - a lot of it - is pretty awful. I guess that's what happens when you restart an old skill and begin moving on from a black t-shirt and jeans uniform. I can definitely see the learning curve AND celebrate the improvement in my fitting skills, the strengthening of my sewing skills, and the growth of my goal to utilize my textile art skills in creative fashions. I am definitely not there yet but I'm certainly walking along the path which had me wondering....

.... what would happen if I scooped up my entire wardrobe and tossed it out? Would I make a radical - and yet still comfortable - shift to a different way of dressing or would I panic? Would I grab the nearest pair of jeans and a black t-shirt and quickly get back to my comfort zone or would I take the opportunity to move my wardrobe in a "spicier" direction? Interesting questions and somewhat impossible to answer since sewing - or even buying - a wardrobe takes time. It's not feasible to shake it all up at once but some of the conclusions I came to are that...

1 - I look and feel much better about myself with short perky hair especially when I use product to make it stay perky.

2 - I often don't look as good in an outfit as I remember feeling in it. This is something to pay attention to while exploring the balance between physically and emotionally flattering fit and how to combine them successfully.

3 - If I did scoop up my entire wardrobe and throw it out, I wouldn't miss much. It no longer matches how I feel and my growing confidence. It's too safe.

4 - Life is too short to play it safe.

5 - I know the "rules". Now seems like the time to start breaking them.

6 - I am far more playful and outgoing personality-wise than the majority of my clothes (or photos) illustrate.

7 - I want more texture, colour, print, and pattern.

8 - Darker on the bottom is relative; it does not mean black.

9 - Lighter on the top is relative; it does not mean black or even grey.

10 - A choice to be brighter and bolder with colour, texture, pattern and print will open up a huge playground for exploration.

11 - I need to follow up the blog's suggestions around open shoes and look at more flattering footwear.

12 - I want to explore tights made from less visible knits that would allow me to feel more confident in shorter garments in the summer when I can't wear dark tights.

13 - I have an attraction for simple. Simple is hard to do and worth the work.

14 - I look and feel better in garments with less fabric.

15 - Hands-on is my most productive path of growth. I don't like drawing and drawing assignments seem to stop me cold whereas sewing challenges push me forward. I prefer to explore ideas by working directly with the fabric.

16 - I can wear shapes that flatter and still have far more fun with fabric choices than I've been having without ending up looking like a clown.

17 - Monochromatic works and it's not always necessary.

Not all of these are new thoughts but they are certainly ones to consider especially as I start getting ready for Sew Expo. Before I get there, I want to start planning my cruise collection including a sewing plan, swatches, patterns, and a list of what I need. Sewing these garments is about as close to a major overhaul all-in-one-go as I've ever gotten and I want to maximize the opportunity and have a LOT of fun while keeping in mind that there is a fine line between radicalism and paying attention to the message. I do want to feel good wearing those new clothes and I do want to take the opportunity to spice things up. I'm open to suggestions and feedback. What do you think I should pay attention to? What should I make sure to have on my list?

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - learning from image files

Life is like a camera... focus on what's important, capture the good times, develop from the negatives, and if things don't work out, take another shot. 
- Unknow


  1. I am so excited for you! That's a great place to be in: to strike out towards a more colourful future! What we chose to wear makes such a huge difference.
    I can thoroughly recommend tossing out as much of your clothes as you can bear to. If in doubt: put all hangers in one direction (I mean the hooks over the wardrobe rail) and hang them the other way after you've worn them. Whatever is still left after a certain time (unless special occasion wear or sentimental attachment like wedding dress, prom dress, important stuff like that) - chuck out. It is sooo liberating!
    I would probably aim for halving your wardrobe. Whatever is left gives you a much better idea about what you like because there isn't so much that's distracting. It also shows up gaps in the things you don't have that you want, then you can make or buy those...
    That's my plan anyway and I am finding it so freeing. I got rid of lots of old stuff (that I can't even remember now) even a couple of items that I made. It means that I like what's left so much more too! And whenever I find a garment that I'm surprised to see because I'd forgotten about it, out it goes too. I obviously don't need it if it hung there unnoticed and not remembered for a while.
    It feels so good.
    My recommendation would be to go for colour first. Probably because that's what motivates me the most though. I bought quite a bit of fabric in much brighter colours. My challenge to myself is making the time to sit down and sew. Actual sewing takes so much longer than my ideas arrive, darn...
    I look forward to seeing how your journey unfolds! Bon voyage.

    1. I have a pretty minimal wardrobe to begin with so I have to be careful with all the tossing BUT.. I love how it opens up flow and potential. Like you said, it's so liberating. When I clean, if I'm one the fence about a particular garment, instead of turning the hanger the other way I put the garment in a box and if I don't go digging for it, I move it along the next time I clean. There are LOTS of gaps in my closet. I'm working on filling those and adding color. I can heartily recommend sewing first thing in the morning for making time. It starts the day in a really fabulous way and whatever time you have - even ten minutes - will be productive. Thanks for the well wishes.

  2. I think I understand your perspective. However, giving up my 'uniform' will likely not happen. One recent discovery for me was that while I like the angular and geometric shaped clothing on other people, I hate it on me. My middle-aged + body does indeed look like a clown looking for the circus! Instead I plan to explore more geometric seaming on top pieces and possibly some dresses to change things up. Once I fit my shoulders I can go from there. My shoulder, or upper bust measurement, is small compared to the full bust measurement. Closely monitoring the angle of the seaming can minimize that for me. As always, I enjoy your process and appreciate that you share willingly.

    1. The jeans and black t-shirt were too safe. Another way to look at the concept of uniform though is the shapes that look best on your body. I think that's the kind of uniform you're talking about. For me, the secret to the geometric clothing was the fabric choices. Soft works so much better than stiff since stiff sticks right out from my hips like a big tent. I agree - fitting the shoulders first is key for me too. Thanks for sharing my process. I really the company and the feedback.

  3. I hear your struggles! As someone who did not find my style until almost 60 I do hear you.

    This is only my opinion, so take it or leave it. I have been watching your blog now for sometime. My comments, the new hair is fabulous. You need less in the way of interest in your clothes with a hairdo with attitude!

    Pictures, you look so much younger in the simple shirt or t-shirt combos. The spicey orange shirt is fab! The leaner the bottoms the better you look. The long skirts add years to your youthful face. Not fond of the "clown " pants on you. Experiment with plain straight leg pants. Details like button tabs or top stitching to make them a bit more interesting. Keep textured fabrics and interest closer to your face. Collars, assymetry, Chunky jewelry or interesting ear rings with diagonal or triangular shapes. Collars do not have to be boring. Love some of the interesting vests a la Diane or Marcy.

    I too will be at Puyallup, so will watch for you at Diane's Friday class!

    1. I'm not sure it's so much a struggle for my style as it is a hunt to find a new way to interpret that learning. The styles that have always looked good on me still look good on me and my experimenting is started to focus more and more on perking up that party as opposed to shifting parties. LOVE the comment on a hairdo with attitude. And make-up. And some fun jewelry. I haven't worn earrings in years but I'm debating it now.

      The pictures are over a five year span so some of them actually are younger and before a very stressful (and most likely aging) period in my life. THANK YOU so much for the feedback. Great advice and much appreciated. LOL - I do like those pointed pants as I call them. I think they're more personal taste than definitely wrong for me and I want to keep a few playful things like that and then use more playful fabrics for straight leg styles. Please say hi if you see me in Puyallup. It's always fun to meet-up.

  4. I find your journey very familiar. I love minimalist clothing and look to The Row, Celine and Calvin Klein for inspiration and to Net a Porter as one of my favorite idea shopping sites. But, it's a fine line between simple and boring! I reject anything that has too much fabric; like you less fabric is not only more comfortable but more becoming. I am looking at texture as well as adding a bit more color to my wardrobe. I wear a lot of black and gray too. I am also looking for third pieces and jackets that are not only flattering and comfortable to wear but that are a bit edgy. I resist things that look good on people who do not have my body type! Anyway, I am enjoying your blog and look forward to seeing your journey progress.

    1. I'll look up those labels. Thank you. You're right - it is a fine line between simple and boring and simple is also really hard to do. I found that with textile art. The fewer lines, the more each line has to work and the balance of positive and negative space becomes increasingly essential. I've noticed our preference for similar styles while reading your blog. I'll be watching to see what I can learn from your journey. Typically, my third piece has been a cardigan. Edgy sounds way more fun than cardigan.

  5. Its wonderful to see all these pictures together. Here's my two cents, for what it's worth:

    1) I wouldn't throw out your old wardrobe. That sounds too much like the "magic wand thinking" you've been trying to avoid. And having literally nothing to wear will most likely make you panic and sew up some quick things that aren't the pieces you are really looking for. Making masterpieces takes time, as does discovering how to express yourself. So give yourself that time.

    2) Take some time to celebrate how far you've come! You've learned so much in the past few years and it really shows in the photos. To paraphrase a comment I heard at a memorial last week: that feeling of uncertainty you often sound on your blog is the sign that you are learning. That's a great place to be.

    3) I love the word "playful." I think that's a great theme for your next projects.

    4) Personally, I really like all the prints, especially the print tops. They strike me as playful and youthful and look great with the jewelry you favor and the new hairdo.

    5) I am also not crazy about the long skirts on you, although I do like the funky pants. If you are going for "playful" I might aim to make one killer knee-length skirt, perhaps with a flippy hem or flounce.

    1. OH... I definitely couldn't throw out the entire thing but I did do a great big clear today that I'll talk about tomorrow. You're right - too magic wand and too nothing to wear. BUT... I think there are some better and more colourful ways to wear what I have like scarves with the black t-shirts.

      I have come a LONG way. That was so exciting to see in the photos. LOVE that saying around the feeling of uncertainty. I guess that means I always want to be somewhat uncertain so I'm always learning. Too fun.

      I'm planning to explore print tops and woven tops. I've done a lot of knits in the past few years but don't own any woven tops and there are so many wonderful prints with potential. One of my favourite skirts has a flippy hem. The thing about the short lengths is that they make me feel like I have to be pretty and polite, especially with a fitted skirt, so I want to also work on the longer shapes that do suit me and how to make them less frumpy, more flattering and playful. A little of both sounds good.

  6. Just me again. Get rid of the bulk of unnecessary fabric. The long skirt with the bulky waterfall jacket! Jackets can be long but cleaner lines. Vest. Dianne's new one would be cool. Try a shorter jacket with a collar that can be worn up or maybe a Moto jacket with a cool zipper. Maybe in a burnt orange or a teal blue green. Experiment with textured fabrics in plain colours.

    1. Definitely I need to avoid extra fabric and bulky fabrics and stiff fabrics. I think you're referring to the Koos skirt that's really full. That's actually a shorter length sweater but the skirt has a similar dark colour in it. I loved how fun that skirt was and felt amazing in it until I saw the picture and then OMGosh. That was an eye opener about feel versus look. I have a border print fabric I want to try in a moto jacket. Could be fun. I agree - texture. What's so hard is that I'm limited to what I can buy here in town and how much I can buy when out of town so mixing up a bunch of black textures can actually take a long time - to acquire the pieces. I think exploring how to add visual texture to fabrics is a good idea too.

  7. Wow, that pic of you with long hair is surprising! You look so different!

    Just as too much hair is too much for you, I agree that too much fabric is too much. It swamps you. Perhaps your ingenious paper doll project will continue to help you visually edit patterns and find your "sweet spot."

    I'll be interested to see what you uncover as you go along....

    1. I know. I didn't expect it to look that different when I went back in the archives either. The paper doll me is great for auditioning patterns. It helps with the proportions before I even get started and then my key alterations get me even closer to perfect. It's so great to be able to incorporate all this learning. It seems to me that it goes along in stages and as you become comfortable with one level, you move to another.

  8. Loving your blog! I am especially interested to see where the paper doll project leads you. This weekend I had my daughter take my own photos for such a project. She thought I was nuts! :-) But we had a fun time taking them.

    Too I was scrolling down the blog today, reading...I came to the first picture with the long hair, and idly thought, "Oh, I don't like long hair on her", came to the short hair picture, and thought "Oh, I love her hair short and playful like that. I gotta email her and tell her." And then the next sentence down, you said it yourself. :-)

    Your comment "I often don't look as good in an outfit as I remember feeling in it"....that is so true for me also. I have to think about why that is so.

    I've been taking photos of my outfits with my cell phone lately, and while the camera easily identifies which are the better outfits, the better outfits don't look as good as I felt in them. Hmmm....I don't know. I'll be interested to see what you come up with for yourself on that.
    Outfits I felt stunning in were pretty good, but not stunning. More work to do there? Some tweaking like you talk about re: color/lengths/embellishments/proportions?

    Glad to see that you're re-considering shoe choices. That has made a world of difference for me. I tumbled to that through the photo thing.
    Very interesting to see what reads as frumpy while on my feet, but looked wonderful on the shelf.
    I've discovered that a shoe that reads frumpy with one outfit will not read frumpy with a different outfit.
    Something to do with the length of the trousers or skirt, and the volume of said items compared to the shoe.

    That being said... some shoes, no matter how much I love them, just don't look good with my body shape/proportions no matter what I wear. I'm getting better about re-homing those.
    And getting better about not purchasing them in the first place.

    I love that very last photo. Like everything about it. You look stunning there!

    Although you don't want to dress exactly like that all time, thus creating a new uniform so to speak.
    I love how you want to be more playful in how you dress. You have such creativity in this area, it's a shame to not put it to good use.

    And I agree with, if not now, when? It's time.

    1. How fun that you made up your paper doll you. Your daughter might think you're crazy now but wait til she sees what you can do with that. Isn't it strange how feel and look can be so radically different. I'm definitely thinking over that balance. Like with the Koos skirt - the brown and black one. I loved how I felt in it and hated how I looked in it EXCEPT that it was playful - an interesting mix of fabrics and texture. I think that's the key to pay attention to with that garment and try to incorporate into another. I definitely want to take the panel out of it and try again. Pictures provide some emotional distance and perspective. I think the digital camera is one of the most useful studio tools every. I'll be on the lookout for shoes to wear with skirts and dresses especially. The ones I have look pretty good with trousers. The last photo - jeans and black t-shirt. That's from when I first returned to fashion sewing about five years ago and I was learning how to make jeans. I'm about thirty pounds lighter there and a lot less stressed. My body likes a nice layer of protection when it's going through a stressful period. Thank you for saying I have such creativity. A lovely compliment. I think it's time for playful. I noticed that once we got my husband's diagnosis, I started feeling more grounded. It wasn't good but now we know and we can work with that... and knowing allows me to be more playful somehow. This is good. And of course, his diagnosis is a heads up for me too. Life is short. Have fun now.

  9. I wanted to add...out of all the outfits you posted, it's that bottom one that looks the most playful. Interesting, eh?

  10. I would say go with more colour - find colours that flatter your complexion and that you love and build those into your wardrobe. I see so many women building their whole wardrobe in black and grey with very little colour. I don't know why that is when there are so many beautiful colourful textiles around that are uplifting to wear and to look at. I live on the West Coast and there is more than enough grey in the sky without wearing it as well.

    1. Thanks. Yes... definitely colour. But don't you find it interesting how hard it can be to find colour. So many of the fabrics in the store are black and grey and the RTW clothes are black and grey. A craving for colour can become a little complicated. It'll be a focus on my trip to Sew Expo. I have one fabulous fabric that I want to build a few things around. It's an orange linen with a fuchsia and black floral print on it. It'll become either a skirt or pants and I'll be taking a swatch with me looking for top fabric to go with.

  11. One caution re photos is that photos actually are different than real life. I don't think that we can equate the two. While it can be helpful to see ourselves from another perspective, there are more perspectives than he one we see through the camera. Many people are really energetic and alive in real life and that is lost in photos, with the focus left on the outfit alone. While other folks are so photogenic, they could be wearing anything and look fabulous. Photos are helpful, but I wouldn't bet my life/look on them. Ask other people, and trust others.

    1. OH - I agree with you AND... sometimes the photo is all you need. That Koos skirt - it's not doing me any favours in real life either and the slim jeans/paisley top, they do look/feel just as great in real life. I think it's about balancing the information from a variety of sources. Trusting others needs an equal caution in my opinion. It really depends on the person you're trusting and their skills in this area. Most people tend to dress others like they dress themselves and a lot of people are highly reluctant to give an honest opinion so they won't tell you what you need to know. I'm THRILLED to be getting the feedback I am today. So helpful.

  12. i have been reading your blog sporadically for a while, i enjoy the introspection and would like to give you a male perspective toward some of your concerns. i was at SEWEXPO 2 years ago and have become a HUGE Marcy and Katharine Tilton fan! Unfortunately my Schedule doesn't work to attand this year.

    Firstly, in looking into your closet… not get rid of anything right away, that can happen as you replace things and as the perspective on your new look changes you can repurposed the clothing or their fabrics….imagine what a new set of buttons, a little painted (or appliqué) accent or additional stitching can do.

    Find a color that looks amazing on you! that RED JACKET in this post is a great example….you shine and the red doesn't wear you! RED could be your new neutral….or look for colors that you love and watch how people react as you sample them….buy a few scarves and give color a try ( not too keen on the expense? then time to find a thrift store and get them for a song.)

    Invest in a pair of shoes that make you happy…and they should be interesting in color or shape or both…comfortable as well, but they need to have style and not too bulky….sleek is a detail that always serves well. A lovely ballet flat in a fun color, add a matching little purse and take all your grays and blacks to another level. Even a metallic can be your knock-about daily color accent.

    you comment in the replies that the black ensemble is too safe…only because you haven't pushed it oven the edge…it needs a signature accent….

    Imagine the black Windowpane Jacket (in the picture with your longer hair) over the slacks and top (in the pictures with the Neon car) with a chunky gold bangle, and a cute pair of shoes, that ensemble would be stellar.( the shoes and necklace seem to be teal or jade green?? love the shoes in that look.
    If the jacket seems too dull, add a line of colorful hand stitching along the bound edges and watch it pop.
    Then take that same outfit and make a cute cardigan or kimono jacket from your fuchsia, black and orange fabric for a completely and well executed ensemble.

    i would think of prints in a different way as well….angular and linear are more flattering than florals…. don't camouflage your curves under other flowing prints. your prints shouldn't be delicate or fussy, but rather elegant and crisp.

    Close-to-the-body shapes, like your short plaid skirt of the JAN 22 post say confidence and style...the shape and length are flattering…and slimming…and red again! the way the cardigan and sweater hems break at the waistline is really flattering.

    At EXPO, look for fabrics with character so you can make signature pieces rather than something that looks "off the rack", and enjoy… looking for ward to see how your reorganization goes!

    1. First let me say that I am delighted to have a male perspective. Thank you.

      If you've been reading my blog, you know that when I make a decision it's made. The closet is already cleaned out. It'll be in tomorrow's posting BUT... too funny... it's like we were on the same wave length. Some clothing is being altered for better fit. Some is being refashioned like four t-shirts out of a great cotton but in a not so great cut are going to become a new t-shirt with a more flattering shape. New buttons and accent stitching for my winter coat, possibly even a colourful collar if I can find the right fabric. Scarves to go with the black t-shirts to perk up the party. And so on.

      That jacket is not red, nor the skirt. It must be the monitor thing. They are both pink and the jacket is pink with an orange-ish undertone. The colour definitely looks good on me.

      Jeans and a black t-shirt is what I considered too safe. Black can be quite adventurous and - LOL - I'd definitely like to be more adventurous. I think you're right that what I wear needs to be a complete look - outfit, accessories, shoes, bag. I've discovered quality shoes recently and while they are far more expensive, they are also quite wonderful and feel great on. I'm haunting the second hand shops.

      Your comment about angular and linear is interesting as I tend to look best in softer prints as opposed to geometric ones which overpower me but it could be that a smaller geometric would work well. I'll explore that with a camera and a mirror. Elegant and crisp. Good words to shop with. I'm not delicate and fussy. I'm pretty straightforward and honest. Fluffy clothing doesn't appeal to me.

      I don't typically tuck tops in or wear belts but several photos in my files were belted. More than I expected. I could see that that look was asomething to explore especially with the staggered hemlines.

      That picture by the Neon - it's thirty pounds ago. Things don't look quite like that at the moment but that certainly doesn't mean I can't take the learning. I'm wearing heels there too - a good idea since I'm short.

      Fabrics with character sounds great. I 'm so glad I sew every time I go to the mall. I don't want to look off the rack. Feel free to email me privately if you have more suggestions. I appreciate the in-put and the perspective. My mind is bubbling from everything everyone has shared. Quite wonderful.

  13. Hi Myrna, Enjoying seeing you process this. I wanted to thank you for sharing the Marcy V9057 paisley t-shirt. Due your experience, I bought it and am on version 2 now. Thank you too for saying something about proportions. One of your readers commented on Peggy Sagers video on the topic which I watched. What a game changer for me! Instead of making the Marcy t-shirt and wondering why it looked funny when it fit well, I realized it was too long for my frame. So I wacked off the extra length and re-hemmed it. Perfect and I love it! I now have a chart for my measurements and proportions based on her rule of 1/4, 1/2, 2/3, 3/4, 3/5, etc. It's ready to go and will be helpful for how I make a top's sleeve and body length.

    My advice - Two things: 1) Do not stress about Expo. Even if you wear something you made months ago, those who know you will enjoy seeing it in person and those who do not know you, probably don't care. My observation is that most gals there were wearing RTW. 2) For your cruise, less is more. We took a 2 week Mediterranean cruise this summer to celebrate our 30th, and we both lugged around the largest suitcases possible. Half the clothes we packed didn't get worn. Even though your bag will go in your state room, you still need to get it to the ship and in your room, and then back home again. We learned a lesson the hard way.

    1. LOL - I can only imagine what me processing looks like from a distance. I'm glad to hear it's enjoyable. You're welcome about the t-shirt. I'm about to make one of the other views and definitely the proportions are something to pay attention to. I watched the video but I'd like to watch it again and figure out my proportions like you did. Great idea.

      OH... I'm not stressed about Sew Expo. I'm excited. I love having an event to plan for. It' gives me a focus and gets me away from "what's the point", something I've struggled with before. Same with the travel wardrobe. It's fun to bring it all together. Thanks for the advice on less is more. I'm working at how can I have a varied but small wardrobe because several years ago I went on a 10 day vacation and packed a capsule all in one colour and was SO BORED by the end that I actually went out and bought something to change it up. Enough clothing; not too much. Enough variety; not to scattered. A fun challenge.

    2. I'll look forward to your new Marcy t-shirt! Sounds like you have a good plan for Expo and your cruise. Planning and creating is definitely fun.

  14. these post are so interesting Myrna, i love the bright red jacket on you, the colour is really lifting, and the short hair. Cant wait to see where you will go ;)

    1. Thanks Nikie. That bright red is actually a pink with an orange-ish undertone. I think it's the monitor thing BUT if that colour looks good with my skin on your monitor, it's a good bet that the real colour looks good with my real skin in real life. Thanks. Glad you find the posts interesting.


Thanks for commenting. I appreciate the feedback and the creative conversation.