Sunday, 30 March 2014

This is what I do while sick (or, The Fantasy Summer Wardrobe)

Still pretty much sick and miserable. I had to cancel the class I teach Saturday mornings because while I can just about manage moving around my apartment, there was no way I could stand and lecture for 2 hours yesterday. I can't really work on my PhD because the side effects of the medication make me mentally fuzzy, and all the sewing projects I have are up to a point where I would have to do something strenuous like stand around and fit bust darts or press hems into fabric that REALLY doesn't want to take a crease of any description. I've been reduced to inventing fantasy wardrobes and thinking about sewing as a result.

I've borrowed a little bit from all over the place for my fantasy wardrobe. It's a little bit based on Project 333, which I tried a modified form of last September but didn't really love. It's a little bit based on some ideas from The Vivienne Files, who also does a version of P333, but also posts capsule wardrobes. And it's a little bit based on some ideas from around the sewing community about how to put together capsule wardrobe and a couple of style bloggers I follow who seem marginally more like me and post marginally less content I would categorize as "utter bollocks" compared to other style bloggers (I shall name no names, since "you write less bullshit than most!" is hardly an endorsement).

It's still too cold and wet here in Ireland to really break out the spring clothes, so my imaginary wardrobe is for an imaginary life between May 1 and say about mid-September -- the exact date when summer ends is more determined by weather than anything. I say it's an imaginary life because in fact I finish my teaching contract, bar my marking requirements, at the end of April and I have literally no idea what will happen to me then. Certainly I won't need the kind of everyday work wardrobe I've laid out here. I also don't own these clothes and, because I chose to go looking for a lot of them on sites where I like to snoop window-shop the clothes rather than sites where I actually buy things, I definitely couldn't afford to buy them all in one year, and couldn't afford some of them at all, ever. (There's a dress on here that costs £650. There are bags that cost £2000. I don't even WANT to buy clothes or accessories that are that expensive.) Money and actual practical use this summer aside, this actually is a pretty good description of how I want to dress. These are my favourite summer colours (white, blue, turquoise, navy, green) and my preferred styles.

This is REALLY MASSIVE, so click on it to see in more detail
The split is approximately 45 items that are mainly for work and 15 that are mainly for casual and weekend wear, although in reality in my experience a lot of tops do double duty for casual and work, depending on what you wear them with. I have never actually owned that many pairs of shoes in my life, I just threw a bunch on that I would LIKE (Though, that's the other thing I can't afford. There's a ton of Fluevogs on there, at like, US$250 a pair. HAHA, as IF.)

That all seemed like fun, so then I made an example four weeks of outfits:

Example four weeks of outfits
Some of the outfits look kind of weird because I can't get the images to line up or like, a knit top that would be fitted in real life looks unfitted here, so you just have to kind of hand-wave that and accept the fact that I actually wouldn't go out in anything that appears to make me look like a brick with no waist. I didn't bother to try to put the blazers/cardigans on because it got too complicated from a Pixelmator point of view (the photoshop equivalent that I use on my Mac). Also, I would probably attempt to wear accessories with some of these outfits but again: too complicated, pictures too small.

Some points to make about the difference between my imaginary wardrobe and my actual real wardrobe:

1. In real life, I carry the same ugly brown and black bag with every outfit and pair of shoes that I have for the last 5-6 years. I don't even like it, but it refuses to wear out and it was (a) a gift; and (b) expensive, so I carry on using it. I have sometimes briefly carried my own bags that I've made, but I actually don't love fabric bags because in the UK/Ireland they get wet and then so do the contents.
2. In real life, I'm not sure I own this many nice clothes.
3. In real life, I probably have normally worn trousers more often in summer despite finding them too hot, mainly because I have always historically been uncomfortable wearing skirts and haven't been able to wear dresses because buying them is such a trial given my body shape (1-2 sizes larger on top than bottom, depending on my weight at the time of purchase). More recently I've been wearing skirts a lot more for work and am growing more comfortable with it.

On the other hand, this is a reasonably good reflection of how I'd like to dress for work both in terms of overall style and level of formality suitable for my work environment (our dress code is "business casual" but the women dress much less informally than the men. The men wear jeans to work on days when they are not lecturing but none of the women are EVER in jeans). It's also a pretty good example of how many prints I'd like to own vs. solids -- which is to say, mainly solids with a few pretty prints in the mix here and there.

I have to be honest, I'd kind of love this wardrobe. If it all arrived magically in my apartment, in my size, with the fit the way I imagine it, I would be thrilled.

The more interesting question is though: if I really wanted this wardrobe, how much of it could I reasonably expect to sew for myself? How much would I WANT to sew for myself? I figure that ultimately, probably about two thirds of this I would want to sew for myself: in the work section, I'd have no concerns about making all of the tops, dresses and the non-suit skirts (although I'm handwaving the part where I've not yet got that much experience making a lot of the TYPES of tops in question, like button-down shirts. Those are skills I am actively working towards acquiring, so if next summer this were a less imaginary plan and more one that I wanted to put into action, I'd hope to be able to). Similarly in the casual section, I'd be happy to make shorts, skirts, a dress, and some tops.

Where I'd rely on RTW is: cardigans and other knitted items; suits (because I feel like I am YEARS away from having the skill level I need to make a really beautiful suit); trousers; jeans; polo t-shirts. I'm not saying never with trousers, and actually if I were going to make ANY of the trousers in my imaginary wardrobe, I'd probably start with a relatively easy type of trouser like a pair with a relaxed style in cotton/linen like I have included in the picture. Similarly, I am not saying never to making my own jeans, but definitely not any time soon. Then there are some marginal items that I think would be exciting and hugely challenging projects. For example, I have this amazing ex-Burberry shower-proof cotton fabric with which to make a trenchcoat, which I bought before I quite understood what I would be asking of myself with that project. I REALLY want to make one, but yeah, that would be a step up for me.

So there you have it: this is what I do when I am home sick.


  1. You do far better than I do when I am sick. Last week while recovering from Norwalk virus, as soon as I could get away from the toilet/vomitorium, I was glued to the Zenni Optical website and sorted through thousands of eyeglass frames picking out my favourites. Then I ordered five pairs.

    I really like the colours you chose, and the wardrobe looks practical and infinitely wearable. Good choices

    I hope you feel better and that your mystery malaise is diagnosed soon. ♥

    1. Oh you poor thing! Vomiting bugs are the absolute worst, like distilled misery. Hope you're feeling better now too.

      I'm not sure your eyeglass frame activities are worse than mine. On the positive side you got eyeglasses as a result? Whereas all I have to show for my endeavours are some not-very-expertly produced JPG files.

  2. Ha ha - loved the "you write less BS than the other blogs" endorsement comment!!!! :-)
    You WOW and impress me with your sickbed activities!! I just stay in bed and read.

    1. I tend not to have all that much patience with style bloggers. Whereas with sewing people, I read a TON of blogs even when the sewer is a totally different body shape, colouring, ethnicity, age, sewing level and style preference from me, because they often say interesting things about the sewing, with style blogs I really can't stop myself from rolling my eyes. I do have a few that I like a lot, but then the rest are of the "well, you're not COMPLETELY stupid" variety.

      (And honestly, I've been sick for a fortnight. I DID stay in bed and read for a good portion of that, plus one of the side effects of my medication is insomnia, so I have even more hours to do nothing in.)

  3. Good lord this illness is just such a menace! But having said that, you've put together a great wardrobe here, a feat that I've tried and failed to do with no excuses at all. I love what you've put together. There's no dress code at all where I work, but lately I'm thinking that it's a good idea to be a little more office-y than casual, maybe it'll help me be taken a little more seriously (I look younger than I am.

    I'm sure I've seen a burda skirt with very simlar side pleats, it could be a fun make. Not that I want to add more to your 'to do' list, but cardigans would be fairly quick sewing projects if you could source some nice fine knits. Like you, I don't wear the kind of chunky knits that I would make if I were to make my own, but I have a great local source for fine wool jersey which eliminates the need to knit it myself.

    1. I am really so VERY VERY over being ill, believe me.

      I'm actually really happy with my little imaginary wardrobe. Now if only I owned it rather than just had a picture of it... ;)

      The only thing that puts me off making cardigans, or anything really of that type with knits, is the thought of putting in the button holes. Does it not go all wonky? I know a lot of people stabilize with grosgrain on the back of the button placket, and indeed, so do some of my RTW fine knit cardis.

    2. You know I never even thought about the button holes. What do knitters do? I assumed the grosgrain ribbon was so the front wouldn't stretch out over time and as an anchor for the buttons, but I suppose it would do double duty to hold everything in place while the buttonhole making was going on. I use a vintage buttonholer, so I don't find making buttonholes all that hard, but if you have a 4-step one, I would avoid making them like the plague.

    3. Knitters leave a hole in the fabric of the knit when they're knitting, as far as I know. And sometimes use grosgrain.

      I have a one-step buttonholer on my machine and, to be honest, I've never tried buttonholing jersey. Maybe it would not be too bad? It just seems to me like it would probably be dreadful, especially on a fine knit, but the grosgrain would presumably help? I don't know!

  4. I got nominated for a Liebster and because I love your blog and always look forward to a new post, I nominated you too! so you kinda have to do it! ;-)