Colorful, classic, washable, lean, and playful. These words describe my core style, and they’re my touchstone for sewing a capsule wardrobe — the final piece of the Wardrobe Architect process.
My journey with Wardrobe Architect has been long and intense. I’ve discovered new things about myself and confirmed some things I’ve always known to be true. If you’ve made it this far with me, thanks for coming along! I feel like we should have a champagne toast; it’s been epic!
This third and final installment (check out Part 1 and Part 2 to catch up) looks at my favorite outfits right now and reveals my plans for sewing a capsule wardrobe. And I also do a little post-mortem on my Wardrobe Architect experience.
What’s basically happening in this blog post is I’m taking the self-reflection/core style stuff from Part 1 and marrying it to the silhouettes/colors stuff from Part 2. And the result is a plan for sewing my own wardrobe for spring and summer!
Keep reading to discover tips for identifying favorite outfits, my plans for sewing a capsule wardrobe, and what I liked (and disliked) about Wardrobe Architect.
My favorite outfits
Before you plan for sewing your own wardrobe, it’s critical to examine what’s already working for you. Maybe there’s a workhorse outfit worth making in duplicate, or perhaps a certain color makes you feel like a million bucks. You have to know what you’ve got before you add more clothes to your collection.
With that in mind, here are my three favorite outfits.
Outfit 1: Liberty of London dress
I love this dress for the color, color, color! It’s from the Liberty of London for Target collection from 2010. I wore it when I told my boss at the Wisconsin State Journal newspaper that I was quitting to go to grad school. I wore it on my first day of work at my first marketing job post grad school. I wore it to my brother’s wedding. And I’ve worn it loads of different ways in between.
The sheath dress emphasizes my waist, a favorite feature. I can wear shirts under or over this dress; it looks cute with a denim skirt on top and tights and riding boots on bottom. Drop the shirt layer and pair it with patent leather heels for an eye-catching look.
This dress is my confidence dress. When I wear it, I feel strong and bright.
Your takeaway: What colors make you feel strong and bright?
Outfit 2: T-shirt + long cardigan + jeans
Layers and long over lean — that’s why I love this outfit. This J. Crew cardigan is in my favorite color, and because it’s merino wool, it’s not too heavy or too light.
As a stay-at-home parent and self-employed blogger, my life is pretty casual, and graphic T’s are a great way to inject color and levity into a look. Plus, this one has a sewing machine!
Pair this look with boots — tall or short — and I feel like I’m nailing that “effortless cool” thing.
Your takeaway: What proportions make you feel best in your own skin?
Outfit 3: Striped shirt + jeans
The colors in this shirt couldn’t be any more perfect for me. They’re so much my favorite that I’m wearing this shirt in my blog profile pic (see my smiling visage on the right!) My eyes and skin look so good in this top. I also love this shirt because of the zip detail in the back and boatneck. Little details make a big difference.
I also love a classic blue jean, and these mid-rise Levi’s are workhorse bottoms for me. The elevated casual look is finished with my new Adidas trainers with a gold accent. Metallics as neutrals is my jam.
Your takeaway: What details do you find yourself drawn to?
I encourage you to throw open your closet doors and answer these takeaway questions. You’ll be closer to identifying your absolute favorite wardrobe all-stars!
My plans for sewing a capsule wardrobe
Now that your/my brain is primed with winning outfits, here’s how you make a plan for sewing your own wardrobe.
1.) Choose silhouettes for the season.
I turned to my four preferred silhouettes from Part 2 as guidance.
2.) Create a color palette.
I want the pieces in my capsule to work together, so I’m choosing shades of blue as my color palette. Navy is the backbone of this operation.
3.) Break down your silhouettes and colors into a list of pieces.
My day-to-day life heavily influenced my garment choices.
4.) Organize what to make, what to buy, and what you already own.
I bought some shoes to complete looks, but the following garments I plan to sew!
These steps led me to plan a capsule of:
• one dress
• one pair of shorts
• two skirts
• four tops
• one cardigan
(And in case you were wondering, I’ll blog about these makes as they come off my sewing machine!)
Here’s a little more info about each pattern selection:
Shirtdress in blue cotton stripes
Dresses make getting dressed a snap. Like I said in my vlog, it’s time for me to have a properly fitting shirtdress in my life. This shirtdress checks off “classic” and “colorful,” and it scratches my itch for straight/pencil skirts.
Knit mini skirt in navy ponte
This skirt is lean — one of my core style elements. The faux button placket is one of those garment details I adore. I predict this piece will be a versatile addition to my wardrobe.
Pocket skirt in navy linen-rayon blend
I’m making this skirt for the May installment of Project #SewMyStyle. It’s more relaxed than the slim-fitting Mabel. What excites me most about this skirt is the linen-blend fabric — its texture and washability (“washable” is one of my core style elements).
Shorts in navy cotton twill
Navy shorts will work hard for me as I wrangle my boys this summer. Shorts are a little more modest when you’re squatting and kneeling. I say these shorts check off “classic,” “washable,” and “playful” (as in they’re good play clothes!).
Blouse in abstract animal print cotton voile
I initially thought I’d sew this blouse in Liberty Tana lawn, but I think it calls for something lighter and drapier. This abstract animal print cotton voile, which is definitely colorful and playful, will help me stay cool.
Woven T in cotton lawn
Here’s where I’m going to use some of my colorful Liberty lawn stash! The scoop neck of this free pattern from Sew News magazine caught my eye. I’ve never tried a Sew Caroline pattern.
High-low T in blue knit stripe
Megan Nielsen’s Briar T is the Project #SewMyStyle for June. This pattern has several sleeve and length options. If it treats me right, I may sew this up in a sweater knit when the weather gets cool this fall. And the cropped option would look sweet with the Mabel and Pocket skirts. The design is a playful take on a classic garment.
V-neck T in blue knit print
The Saldana T is the first PDF pattern from Mimi G’s Sew Sew Def magazine. I LOVE the V-neck and side panels. Loads of opportunity for color blocking. I’d like to do a lighter-colored print — maybe something on a white field. You see, I want a white T-shirt, but I’m not great at keeping stuff off white = stains. A pattern could be good for me.
Long cardigan in navy merino wool
Oh, Olso cardigan, you lovely creature you. I’ve wanted a second long merino cardi forever. I could pop a a navy cardigan over any of these outfits for added protection against spring breezes. I’m excited to see how this pattern sews up in a drapey fabric (vs. the body-ful wool blend I used this winter).
Final thoughts about Wardrobe Architect
There’s lots to love about Wardrobe Architect — and some stuff that could be better.
What I liked
Wardrobe Architect is THOROUGH! It makes you assess your aesthetic and lifestyle. It encourages you to explore the emotional and functional aspects of your clothes. It’s deep.
Wardrobe Architect is trend agnostic (can I get an AMEN?!?), which I think is its greatest strength. There’s space for you to sew trendy garments, of course, if that’s important to your look. But “sewing the trends” is not a step in building a wardrobe that reflects YOU.
Opportunities for improvement
I think there’s an opportunity to emphasize a few elements of building a thoughtful wardrobe:
How to clean out your closet
This post is the only real direction Wardrobe Architect delivers on cleaning out your closet, and it’s not very tactical. You can’t do a wardrobe rebuild unless you get rid of some stuff. I would have liked some clean-out do’s and don’ts. Is it better to clean out your closet all in one go, or should you pace yourself? A question worth exploring. The popular KonMari decluttering method has you examine all your clothes in one session.
How to store and care for your clothes
Wardrobe Architect is for sewists, and sewists want their makes to last. What are best practices for storing different types of garments? What about laundering and ironing? I’d like to hear from someone who’s REALLY obsessed with fabric and clothing construction their recommendations on laundry detergent, washing machine settings, mending hacks, closet organization tips/products, etc.. A thoughtful wardrobe deserves thoughtful care.
How to develop a dressing ritual
You’ve thoughtfully build a wardrobe… how do you thoughtfully get dressed in the morning? For example, in Wardrobe Architect, head Coletteist Sarai talks about her morning ritual — sitting at her vanity, enjoying a lavender candle while putting on her makeup. If your mornings are rushed, maybe your dressing ritual could include planning your outfits for the week and setting them out the night before. A post about how to relish the act of dressing would be a fitting capstone for Wardrobe Architect.
Well, that’s all she wrote for my Wardrobe Architect experience — for now. I may circle back in a year to revisit what I learned. I know I’ll use my colorful-classic-washable-lean-playful core style words to guide clothing and sewing decisions. I think I’ll probably post about my experience sewing and wearing a capsule wardrobe, too, so stay tuned for that this summer.
Over to you: If you were forced to choose, what would be YOUR capsule wardrobe sewing patterns? If you did Wardrobe Architect, what things did you dis/like about it? What did you like about this three-part series, and what could have been better about it? I’m all ears and LOVE your feedback, sewing friends!
P.S. Here are links to all three parts of the my Wardrobe Architect series!
Wardrobe Architect Part 1: Getting personal about wardrobe planning
Wardrobe Architect Part 2: My silhouettes, colors, and beauty
Wardrobe Architect Part 3: Sewing a capsule wardrobe
Original photo for top image by Emily May via Flickr. CC license.