I’m always on the lookout for pieces I can make that are at once extraordinary and classic. These are the kinds of garments that I keep for years, some of my special pieces have been in my wardrobe for 20 years. For these clothes, I don’t mind spending lots of time on construction and I purchase the best fabrics I can afford. They become my signature pieces and have a certain style that is my own.
I like to have separates instead of dresses for special occasions. Starting with a beautiful pair of black pants, a black skirt and maybe even a tuxedo in gorgeous fabrics you can mix and match infinite outfits.
I came accross this design by Alexander McQueen that has all of these elements. It’s dramatic, but wearable. It’s not really “in style” but will looks stylish for years. I wouldn’t copy this look verbatim, I’d use the fabric, the neckline and the belt and lose the quarterback shoulders and goth sleeves. At this time, I’ve no clue how I would recreate the pattern, but one of the things on my wish list is to learn to drape patterns and this might be my first project. I can see it in a beautiful silk peau de soie and I could spend months searching for the perfect belt. In fact, the best way to approach putting this together is to find the belt first and then choose the color of the fabric…
I found some nice sheer tops on the blog Cheryl Shops, I like this one because it would make a plain, easy to sew knit top look unique. I check in with this blog often to see what Cheryl has found on the web–I like her taste and find some copy-worthy fashions. Here is her post: Spring Shopping Guide: Sheer
There is nothing practical about sheer fabric, so of course the fashion community wholly embraced the trend after last fall’s Spring 2008 runway shows. There is no question that sheer fabrics are beautiful–they’re floaty, they skim the body, and they’re airy and diaphanous. Oh, and they’re sexy. But in order to wear sheer pieces in public and not look like a hooker,
I gathered together a lot of “dressed-up” ideas for my spring wardrobe and now I need some inspiration for casual clothes. This season there are dresses everywhere, but sometimes I just want something to throw on that I can wear to the grocery store! Alternatives to jeans and t-shirts for days when nothing special is going on. For these clothes, comfort is my first priority along with fabrics that I can throw into the washing machine. As I get older, it gets harder to dress down and look age appropriate.
Here are some outfits worth copying:
This is from Diane Von Furstenberg, available at Bloomindales. I’d have to wear the top tucked in–loose and flowy makes me look like a marshmallow. I like the shorts because they’re on the longer side. I can see the top in a cotton voile and the shorts in cotton poplin, fabrics that are relatively easy to find.
I like to wear shirts and shorts. Shirts are cool and comfortable, more so than t-shirts which are cut so skinny these days. I found a couple of copy-worthy shirts at J. Crew–with a classic American sportswear look:
This shirt in broadcloth or linen would be cute with some plaid Bermuda shorts. The only shorts I could find with the look I want are men’s, I like the muted pallet and all cotton fabric:
Here’s another nice shirt from J. Crew, in a Liberty print (I’ve always loved Liberty of London fabric–glad to see it re-surfacing. I probably have some in my stash!):
This will look comfortable but polished with these J. Crew linen shorts:
I’ll have to lengthen them a little.
T-shirt dresses are great to throw on in the summertime. This one looks pulled together with the belt. I’ve been wanting to try some the raw edge finishes I’ve seen in RTW garments, like this one:
After hours of surfing the web, this is all I’ve found that looks interesting. But it’s a good start–I’ll see if I can find fabrics to duplicate these looks.
I’m much better at finding clothes that I love when I have an occasion in mind for an outfit. When I sew or shop just to sew or shop often the clothes never really work themselves into my wardrobe.
My best scenario is to get something new and all of the accessories to go with it, down to the socks and jewelry. Then I have the perfect shoes, etc. for that one outfit and the pieces just seem to all mix and match with other items in my wardrobe.
What I’m getting at is this; I need something to wear to my daughter’s High School graduation. It’s in early June, so I had better start putting it together now. I guess here I need to fess up an tell you that I’m going to India in a month. I’ll be gone for 2 weeks. I know, not such great timing–to launch the blog of my dreams and then take off for 2 weeks. My plan is to sew extra fast over the next month and save some posts for my time away so you’ll hardly know I’m gone.
(Unfortunately, this is not a trip just for the pleasure of it, it’s medical tourism–you’ve heard of that, I’m sure. If anybody is interested, I’d be happy to share my experiences. One thing I’ll be sure to make time for while in India is fabric shopping. E and I will be in Chennai–formerly Madras–just about the fabric capital of India.)
Back to the graduation outfit. June in Chicago is usually beautiful, warm but not uncomfortably so and the ceremony will be outside if the weather permits. This is one of the “Disney World” suburbs of Chicago’s Northshore, the women can dress in whatever money can buy, although in general they’re quite conservative. Not that I really care about what other people are wearing, but I have good taste and I love to put my sewing skills to work. Sewing takes being a clothes horse from conspicuous consumption to creative expression!
As a result of my trip to India shortly before the graduation ceremony, I’ll be on crutches–a little fly in the ointment. So, I’ll have to wear flats and something easy to get around in.
Here’s what I’ve found so far:
A little Ralph Lauren number at Neiman Marcus. Classic, sophisticated, clean lined but new looking in a bright green.
This one is from Diane von Furstenberg, a similar look but a bit more figure conscious. Also at Neiman Marcus.
Oscar de la Renta at Net a Porter.com…I just purchased a black and white batik fabric that would be great for this. I’ll make it this season in any event.
This is a “Ladies who Lunch” look. This one and the next are from Michael Kors and are available at Neiman Marcus.
I’m leaning toward this one, a sweater is always good for a little coverage. A little garden party dress.
I love menswear–tailored jackets, slouchy pants, crisp cotton shirts. The current styles are about as far away as you can get from menswear. I want to stay true to my look, but I hate feeling like I look dated. I have a fear of looking like I’m wearing my mother’s clothes (or that I have my mother’s haircut)! So I weave a few pieces of what looks new this season in with the tailored clothes I really love.
It seems like cropped, full jackets are everywhere! There are but a few long, fitted jackets to be found. If I tone down the fullness, this is a look I can live with. I found this jacket from Piazza Sempione (a line that I love) that combines the “new” elements of a short jacket and bright color. I think the bracelet length sleeves are attractive and current looking. I’m going to put it on my list of things to make, sooner rather than later because it will be a good topper before it gets really warm.
I just purchased a bright orange silk and cotton fabric that has good body–it will be just right for this design. I went to Saks to see the details of this jacket, it has wide elastic at the cuff and a small rather pointed collar. It should be fairly easy to find a pattern that I can adapt to this style. I think it would look better with longer (ankle) tapered pants. I always prefer long and slim under short and full.
Okay, so now the weather seems to be changing and before long I’m going to freak-out because I have nothing to wear! So much for my plan of sewing ahead and having everything hanging in my closet ready to go.
Today’s fashions don’t suit me. I’m too short and too old to wear clothes that are loose fitting (I did that during 3 pregnancies and that’s enough!). In some ways, it’s easier because I see so little that I like, I’m not tempted to over-do. I’ve been scouring the web and the fashion magazines and have come up with a couple of really wearable looks:
I love this outfit from Erin Fetherston…the peach and “greige” palette looks spring-y and the drapey silhouette is flattering. (I just purchased some gorgeous peach silk crepe de chine–it will be perfect for this. Crepe de chine seems to be making a comeback which I’m delighted to see. It’s got a beautiful drape and one of my high priority fabric qualities, it presses like a dream.)
This Phillip Lim outfit is great looking–classic but with an updated look. I’m usually not into colored pants, but I’m going to make some and see if they’re comfortable to wear. Rolling the cuffs makes them look unfussy. I can see wearing these pieces over and over again.
Sometimes, dressing in a current, up-to-date way is a matter of making small changes to classic styles. In this way one can be in style, but not of the style, if you know what I mean. You wear the clothes, not the other way around.
Following are some Spring ’08 styles that have interesting details. I don’t want them exactly as shown, but they inspire me with interesting little twists and turns that I can incorporate into my designs. (This is where sewing your own clothes is such a bonus–you can grab a detail here or there from designer looks.)
This outfit has an interesting, slouchy silhoulette–a way to be comfortable without looking messy. I couldn’t wear the “in your face” print–not my style. But I like the tunic style, the feminine boat neckline, the detail at the neck, cuff and hem paired with roomy slacks that would look great with dressy, flat sandals. I can see wearing this to a barbecue on a cool evening and looking dressed, but not dressed-up. (From Bluemarine Spring ’08 RTW)
This outfit is a great day look for running errands. I’m always looking for casual clothes that will keep me out of predictable jeans or khakis on weekends when I have a million things to do. It would be easy to find a tank dress and layer it over a long sleeve T. What makes this a great look is the rugged belt which I’d pair with rugged flat sandals (no gladiator sandals for me! Aren’t those soooo ’07 anyway?). I’d stick with sophisticated neutral colors for this outfit. (From D&G Spring ’08 RTW)
This would be great for work, but without the fussy blouse. What makes this an “outfit” is the full, trouser cut of the pants and the beautiful sheen of the fabric–I’d pair these pants with a simpler snow white silk blouse. When making an “outfit” from two pieces, accessories make it or break it. Pair these pieces with great shoes (red patented leather?) and statement silver jewelry. (From Adam Spring ’08 RTW)
I’ve decided to do something a little different. Instead of planning my wardrobe a day or two before I’m in need of something and then sewing it with a pattern and fabric I have on hand (no time to shop) and finishing it an hour before I’m leaving (when I could be taking a leisurely shower and carefully doing my hair and make-up), this spring I’m going to sew a little in advance.
This has some advantages:
1) I’ll feel organized because I’ll have what I need hanging in my closet, ready to go
2) I’ll have time to find the perfect fabric (usually online), pattern, buttons, etc. to create exactly what I see in my mind’s eye
3) I can poke around the stores for the perfect accessories and coordinites for my outfits (shopping at the beginning of the season when the selection is best)
4) Hopefully I can inspire you with plenty of time to create similar fashions for yourselves
and some disadvantages:
1) I work best under pressure and when I have an event in mind it’s easy to plan exactly what I want to wear
2) What if I finally lose that last 10 lbs.? My clothes will be too big! (ha, ha–I’ve been using that excuse for years)
3) My stash will probably grow instead of shrink, after all, you have to grab it when you see it because great fabric is hard to find!
So, to start my experiment I will first look for inspiration. I’ll start by perusing the photos from the spring fashion shows on Style.com. In addition, I have files of pictures I’ve torn from magazines and although some are from previous seasons, sometimes the styles have caught on and feel more wearable than when they were brand new. And I have the current fashion magazines which will help me find the most wearable trends. When I’m out, I’ll stop by my favorite stores to see what’s new and pick up a piece or two to get me started.
So far, this is what I’ve found:
This is from the Brian Reyes’ 2006 collection. It would be good for early spring when the temperature is still cold, but you’re ready for lighter colors and fabrics.
This jacket is from my archive of pictures, I don’t know whose designed it. A jacket like this is one of the first things I’ll make–it will be warm with a sweater in early spring and then a good rain jacket.
Another good season spanner, this jacket and pants can be made in light weight wool that will feel less wintery when it’s snowing in April. It’s from my picture archive from Spring ’07. It’s hard to see the details in the jacket, but what I like is the silhouette, pulled in at the waist which creates a peplum look. I can see it in wool crepe or something with some stretch, like heavy wool jersey or double knit.
This outfit looks so modern–it’s from the Badgley Mischka Spring ’08 RTW collection. I always feel like some bright color and pattern in the early spring when it’s usually bleak and cloudy.
Finally, I have to put this green trench coat on my “to do” list as I’ve been craving it since last year. I don’t know the designer, but something about the color makes it wearable with anything from jeans to dresses in any season.
I’ll start looking for fabrics for these designs and in the meantime, I’m going to make the Nanette Lepore knock-off top to go with the black silk skirt I’m altering.