Saturday, January 14, 2017

Minimalism As A Style

One of the women I see at Starbucks every morning commented on how many people she knew whose lives had gone through a significant shift with the end of last year and the beginning of this year - as if change was in the air. How interesting. For me, it is.

At the end of the month, my friend Caroline will visit for a week. We've known each other since we were sixteen and have been a part of the significant shifts in each other's lives. This year, she is retiring. This year, I am going back to work. We've often joked about that but I certainly didn't expect it to become reality, especially considering how picky I was about the work I wanted to do. And yet, here we are. I'll continue shadowing at the salon for the rest of the month and in February will become a permanent employee working one evening, one short, and one full day a week. So strange. So exciting.

Anita - my boss - asked how I felt doing hair now as opposed to doing hair thirty years ago. One thing I particularly notice is that I'm much more confident creatively. The same ability to work with and respond to the developing project applies to hair as much as it applies to sewing as does building a set of skills and abilities that allow your hands to move with ease while your mind bubbles with creativity. The client's request and the limitations of their hair determine the boundaries and within those boundaries there is tremendous freedom to create. I appreciate that now from an entirely different perspective.

I've been watching endless hair videos online. It's amazing what I can learn overnight and take to work the next morning. This week, the focus is on refreshing colour skills. Colour theory with hair is, of course, completely transferable from any of the other colour work I've done. This return to work journey is a fun example of how all the experiences we have in life build on one another and lead to how we experience the present.

While all of me is creative, how I create has divided into primarily private and primarily public avenues. That shift is changing how I approach studio work - like the red and white piece. I was making it for the exhibit in order to introduce myself to the creative community even though making it was not feeling completely comfortable and my skills were beyond rusty and into I'm not sure I actually want someone to see this work... which was weird... because my hair skills don't feel that way at all and thirty years is a lot longer than nine. When I asked myself why are you doing this, I decided the reasons were no longer valid and that doing hair could be my introduction to the creative community. I packed up the piece and put it away. YES YES!

My wardrobe right now is minute and beyond boring. The newest jeans are loose enough to feel frumpy and the next size down is still too tight. My tops are bagging and need a sweater to contain them and I've tightened the elastic waists on skirts so they stay up but there's a lot of hip ease. I cut out two pairs of pants and flopped two pairs of pants. Apparently, when one shrinks horizontally, there are also changes vertically. It's not just a matter of making the garment narrower. Since I have...

... another twenty-five pounds to go, I don't want to spend time now figuring out new measurements. I altered this pair of floral pants by taking in 1" at each side seam or 4" in total and 5/8" at each inseam or 1 1/4" per leg. Instead of sewing a waist facing, I made an elastic casing with tight elastic that while allow me to wear the pants longer once the hip is loose again.

This picture of me wearing the unaltered pants is from May 2015. I plan to wear the altered pair on the 25th to the spring themed potluck at work and get a new picture for comparison. The pattern is Burda 7062 - slender basic pants. The pants that failed were funky, not basic. I like funky pants only they involve a lot more work so I've decided to play with this pattern until I'm ready to commit to new measurements. Because it's such a basic pattern, it sews up quickly and I've cut out another pair three sizes smaller using a stretch denim. They're finished except for the waist band. This time, I'll use the facings but sew them on in such a way that I can easily alter the side seam as needed. I'll get a picture of those asap as well.

In Anuschka Rees' book - The Curated Closet - she talks about minimalism as a style and says it's all about that little bit of extra intention and making conscious choices. It's about being thoughtful and selective and figuring out what's right for you and your life specifically instead of blindly following trends or the advice of others. Minimalism is not a numbers game. The goal is not to build a wardrobe that is as small as possible but one that is as functional and personalized as possible.

I'm not sure I've ever heard the term minimal applied in this way to wardrobe building although it certainly fits the way I think and how I want my wardrobe to be - which is typically very small at the best of times. For me, a lot of stuff equals a lot of stress and I prefer less stress. I'm interested to see what she has to say that will help me to do a better job of building my wardrobe especially when, with losing weight and going back to work in a creative environment, I currently have the opportunity to develop an entirely new one - from lingerie to outer wear - that feels comfortable both emotionally and physically and that expresses my inner self outward. That may seem daunting to some... and on days when even my lingerie is too big, it feels that way to me too... however, I see it as a fabulous opportunity to pull together all the fashion experiences of my life.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - hired!


  1. Interesting post, Myrna. Until recently I've avoided the minimalist wardrobe enjoying more is better. Being a bit of a clotheshorse I liked having several choices to wear no matter what the weather or occasion. Now I'm in the process of clearing out the closet saving only the garments I really, really love. It is freeing but also hard as I make a lot of my clothes. I so admire your serious weight loss and understand your wanting to sew items that are easy to alter but still be fun and interesting because, Myrna, that's how I see your style! Karen

    1. My daughter has commented that for someone who sews so much I have a rather limited wardrobe. Yes. For various reasons, part of which is because I'm only willing to wear clothing that fits, flatters, and feels like me. When I curated the studio a few months ago, I kept only what I really loved and what I felt had potential to me. It's that same feeling that you're describing and leads to the les is really so... so... so much more awareness. With the Burda pants pattern, limiting myself to this one pattern does not mean limiting my creativity. There are so many ways to take it forward - piecing, painting, fusing to name a few - and I think that's the ingredient that those of us who love clothing can appreciate because of the way it creates boundaries and freedom at the same time and allow us to explore creative expression.

    2. Yes,I'm all about using TNT patterns as all the fitting issues are worked out so my time can be spent being creative - boundaries and freedom is the perfect way to express this. Thanks! K

  2. Enjoying your blog, I especially like your piece of gratitude at every end. Congrats on the return to work, and best of luck!

    1. Thank you. I'm excited about hairstyling and I'm excited about how my studio work is becoming both more personal and more explorative. YES YES

  3. It's really great to see all these positive changes. Congratulations to you!

    And I'm betting that your creative red & white piece will be pulled out and repurposed at some point....

    1. Thanks. I'm pleased too. - - With the red & white piece, what is most likely to get repurposed first are the left over fused bits. I can see scribble stitching them to denim and making an interesting skirt/coat/pants.


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