Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Ways to drive yourself loopy

1. Attempt to look at anything on the internet about body types and recommended ways to dress those body shapes. I have read a great deal of this sort of nonsense (for reasons that do not merit exploration at this juncture) over the last few days and I feel none the wiser except that most people seem to agree that if you have wide, square shoulders, spaghetti straps are not a good idea. Since I have never in my life worn anything with spaghetti straps other than like, a camisole, this single piece of consistent advice is basically useless. Other than that, literally every piece of advice I saw was directly contradicted elsewhere. Do wear [garment shape]! Don't wear it! Only wear it in plain colours! Only wear it in patterns! Only wear it on Tuesdays in a month with an R in it! Ugh.

This experience does give me an excuse to post this Gemma Correll cartoon that I love, however:

2. INFINITELY worse was my attempt to Google something like "shorts length for over 40". I mean, not that I think my recent 40th birthday pushed me over some invisible line for how long I should wear my shorts. However, I was planning to make some shorts this summer but couldn't find any images of shorts I liked that weren't on ultra skinny late-teens-early-twenties women. This sucked me into a black hole of reading "Style for the over 40s!" blogs, which I have to tell you is a niche heavily colonized by women whose lifestyle is very unlike mine. It's a lot of "I like to wear this look to the country club/church/our annual trip to Bermuda!". I thought the whole Country Club thing was only a punchline to a joke in American 80s movies, but no, apparently it really is a thing for some people.

At any rate, I can inform you that the most common refrain among You Can Be Stylish At 40! bloggers is that shorts length depends entirely on the answer to the question of whether your knees are "still good". At no point does anyone define "good" vs "bad" knees. Personally, I can honestly say I have never looked at anyone's knees and thought "she should really not be showing those off, those are BAD knees". I am not trying to be holier-than-thou on this, I just... don't look at other people's knees in a judgmental sort of way? I'm not even sure what there would be to object to. Maybe you get issued with knee-related standards when you join the country club, I don't know.

For myself, I have concluded that my knees are fine, for both moral and aesthetic definitions of "good", but yet I am no further on in determining how long my new shorts should be.

In which I model my one pair of leggings and a dress I have belted strangely in order to approximate a tunic length top
3. I recently unearthed a pair of leggings from a drawer. I am not a big wearer of leggings -- by which I mean, I own this one pair and I don't think I've ever worn them except to try them on. Actually, my original purpose in putting them on was to decide if I wanted to buy some skinny jeans. About two years ago I bought a pair but the fit at the waist and hip was so appalling I got rid of them about 3 weeks later -- they were basically unwearable -- and went back to wearing all bootcut, all the time because that is what I owned in abundance. These thick leggings, being form fitting, are the closest equivalent I had in my wardrobe already to skinnies. Perhaps unsurprisingly I also became distracted by the question of whether I could become a leggings wearer. My conclusion on the skinny jeans was: I still don't know, I probably have to go try some on somewhere. My conclusion on the leggings was that yes, I might, if and only if I could find patterns for short dresses or tops of suitable length. In the process of determining this though I seemed to empty out half my wardrobe trying things on, and then had to put it all away again. So much mess and all I have to show for it is this one ridiculous selfie!

4. Someone explain to me why I chose to work on a shirt using a pattern full of gathering when I dislike gathering (the action of, rather than the outcome) so much.

5. Do you ever get absolutely caught up in the idea of buying totally unsuitable fabric? I have put 2m of a blue and white floral viscose print in my online shopping basket and taken it out again about 10 times in the last two days. The sensible half of me is all it's a floral! you won't wear it! it's VERY BRIGHT! you won't wear it! but the rest of me just wants it, OK, shut up sensible half.


  1. Despite knowing, intellectually, that no good comes from Googling how to dress my body type and despite my deep suspicion of any discussion of the concept of "flattering" clothing, I've fallen down that rabbit hole so many times. I also like to drive myself loopy by Googling reasons people shouldn't wear black (a good 80% of my wardrobe is black) or looking for professional wardrobe tips for women when I'm feeling insecure about work. It's a special kind of masochism!

    1. I too am highly suspicious of this whole "flattering" malarky. Whether they say it or not, the upshot of all "flattering" definitions seems to be: this will make you look smaller and more dainty and above all, thinner. And just no, I can't get behind an overarching philosophy of telling women to take up less visual space if at all possible.

  2. "Whether they say it or not, the upshot of all "flattering" definitions seems to be: this will make you look smaller and more dainty and above all, thinner."


    It ticks me off. Flattering almost always *ONLY* means that you don't look as fat as usual. And to that I give major side-eye!

    Don't buy the fabric. You won't sew it and then it'll become an annoyance even though it's pretty. I bought a studded ponte that I "just had to have" and now I laugh every time I look at it because I can't imagine what I'd make and where I'd wear it.

    That body type collage is my favorite. Pierogi especially! Hahahahaha

    1. I am with you on side-eyeing all "look less fat!" advice.

      You are totally right about that blue and white fabric being something I shouldn't buy. It is so pretty, but it's not my style at all and even if I made it up, I'd never wear it. *clings by fingernails to non-fabric-buying resolutions*

  3. I just found your marvelous blog...I confess I am a sewing machine amateur... not quite novice but working it out on my own.
    Shorts that are tasteful are getting rare. I am thinking spandex should be against the law! Shorts...a tad above mid thigh...not to tight! This blogpost has a lady with nice shorts...