Hi everyone! I’m so happy for the comments and feedback about my long-term goal to really look at my closet this year and try and shape a wardrobe I truly love. I had hoped to post more about this sooner but I’ve been extremely busy at work. Life getting in the way of life, argh!
Anyway, I thought since part of the goal will be to look at what I have in my closet, what I love and don’t, the whys of all that and how to get to the Land of Wardrobe Enchantment™ (not to be confused with the Land of Enchantment, one of my favorite states), you might like to come along for the ride. A bit of a navel-gazing ride, I admit. But I hope that by talking about what I’m working on as I go, it may help some of you out there who expressed you had similar goals for this year, too!
One thing that keeps coming back to me in this wardrobe exploration is this: sometimes how we see ourselves in our head is drastically different than how we look in real life.
Of course this could apply to all sorts of introspective things! But literally I’m just talking about superficial stuff here, clothing.
Hang on a minute though… that’s not so superficial necessarily, is it??
Many of us who either sew or knit for ourselves or love fashion know that clothing can go a long way in making you feel fabulous about yourself! But if you feel frustrated by your wardrobe, that feeling of fabulous may not set in as often as you’d like. (And I’ll talk about that feeling in the future!)
How do you see yourself in the closet of your daydreams? Your own Land of Wardrobe Enchantment? I know that’s a funny way to put it, but c’mon, you know you daydream and envision yourself wearing all sorts of things. (And I mean things to wear in real life on a daily basis, not your fairy princess at the ball daydreams. Because I know we all have those, too.)
In a way, your brain holds the imaginary or perfect version of what your closet could hold. So when you open the closet doors in your imagination, what do you look like? What are you wearing? And what’s missing from your actual real life closet to get you to that place?
I think some of us who collect vintage clothing or sew regularly have a tendency to acquire or make pieces that we love for some reason or another, but don’t necessarily wear a lot. Have 10 gorgeous vintage party dresses taking up a ton of space in your closet, but you only go to a big party once in a blue moon? Or maybe you really love participating in sew-alongs, but then find you’ve sewn a bunch of items you don’t really wear, even though the community aspect of the sew-along was great? Or you love to sew with wool but you live in Florida so you never wear anything you make? Or you collect gorgeous 40s heels but mostly, in fact, wear flats?
They’re all easy traps to fall into that can lead us to Wardrobe Disenchantment, the sad, polar opposite of Wardrobe Enchantment.
Out of everything I sewed, knit or wore last year, I think this was my absolute favorite outfit.
It expresses so many things that I love and don’t always feel I have all the pieces to pull off regularly in my wardrobe. In this outfit, those things are:
- a great novelty necklace
- a full skirt (with pockets!)
- cute halter top
- bold colors
- novelty print fabric (the bolero)
- a combination of prints that work well together
- all great-fitting pieces
(Okay yeah, it doesn’t hurt that it was like one of the most perfect hair days on the history of the planet, too.)
Now that’s not to say I always want to dress just like that, because I don’t! But it’s a great example to remind me of some of the things I love and want to cultivate more in my wardrobe.
- Embracing bold colors and novelty prints even more than I already love them. (And that’s a hell of a lot.)
- A bit of whimsy. (Yeah, that’s silly and intangible, but true.)
- Looking for more necklaces.
- Wearing less button-down shirts so I can wear said necklaces. (I don’t like the two together; personal preference.)
- Skirts or dresses with pockets. (I’ve recently realized I rarely wear ones without pockets because I work from home mostly and then can’t carry around important things like a tape measure or my iPhone. And I never put two and two together until now, but that’s totally one of the reasons I usually wear jeans at home.)
- And I’m really on a full skirt kick right now. (Again, in my daydreaming closet… we had -30 F windchills earlier this week so the only thing I’m wearing right now in reality is fleece leggings under jeans with a sweater, ha!)
When YOU daydream about your closet, what do you see? If it’s not the same as what you’re looking at in your own closet, or in your day-to-day wear, start thinking about what you need to do to change that! What do you need to sew, or knit, or buy? New or vintage? If you work out of your home, do you need to give yourself a goal to get more dressed up every day? (Oh yeah, that’s a cold hard look in the mirror for me.) If you’re unhappy in other aspects of your ‘look’, what else do you need to fix that?
This is the quest to Wardrobe Enchantment! If you’re not there yet, there’s no time like the present to start making it happen, no matter how long it takes. And you’ll be in good company along the way! 🙂
I’m in total agreement about skirts with pockets – i’m even getting to the stage of unpicking the side seams on dresses/skirts just to put some in. So useful.
(as for daydreaming, I would love to make some 1940’s rayon dresses, but i’m honestly too scared to mess up the lovely fabric in my stash)
Oh I know what you mean about rayon! I’ve more or less given up on it. It’s so beautiful but I never want to hand launder it, and I’m nervous to sew with it as it is, so the few pretty rayons in my stash languish.
Smart idea about adding pockets after the fact! I could probably turn a couple of skirts into more worn items that way!
This is great reflection! I find that my weekend wardrobe and my weekday wardrobe are very different, and I’d like to get more of my weekend style into the workplace. On the weekends, I wear lots of vintage — fun dresses, full skirts. During the week, as a lawyer for kids in foster care, I wind up either wearing suits or jeans — for court or hanging out with kid clients. I’d like to figure out more ways to sneak my style into court while still being court-appropriate, and wearing comfy but fun vintage or vintage-inspired clothes that I can still sit on the floor in. Overall, I think I need an infusion of more skirts — if carefully selected, some should be able to span across two or even all three of my wardrobe settings.
Hi Amanda, sorry to hijack a reply here but a little while ago I too had quite a separate home/work wardrobe because of the nature of the profession and was also trying to ‘sneak’ vintage in! I ended up writing a post about it, if you’d care to have a look at my suggestions:
Gosh, and I need more skirts too!
Thanks! I do think there’s ways of incorporating vintage or vintage-inspired looks into work wear, even if it’s not exactly your same weekend style. I’m thinking classic shapes that don’t feel too costumey to ‘outsiders’, you know what I mean? Best of luck on figuring out a balance for work and casual with the kids!
I love this post, and I too am on a quest for wardrobe enchantment! I have lots of pieces that work ‘in theory’ but not in reality, and so I probably only wear 20% of my wardrobe regularly. I have been a naughty party-dress hoarder, and as I am quite a homebody these days, one of my tasks this year is to get selling them, and to buy something a bit more realistic with the proceeds.
Also, I seem to have an obsession with suede vintage inspired shoes. Which is quite frankly ridiculous, as I live in wet Wales in the UK , and you can only wear suede for one month of the year generally.
This has got me thinking, thanks for the nudge!
Ah, we visited friends in Cardiff last spring! 🙂
I’m with you on shoes. I have several vintage suede shoes, but it’s often wet here too in the seasons I’d wear them (mostly spring and fall). So they rarely see the light of day! I’ve resolved to buy no more!
I probably wear a small percentage of my clothes most regularly. My goal is to change that!
Aw, I’m chuffed that you’ve visited Wales!! Let me know if you come over this way again and I’ll organise some kind of vintage blogger meet-up.
Yes, I should stop buying suede shoes too…
I am so totally with you on the pockets and novelty print/whimsy vibes. You raise a really good point and thank you from saving me from a ton of pointless sewing and putting me back in the direction of where my sewing heart is.
In my head I am a 1950’s ingenue with lots of scarlet and kooky prints. I am happiest when sporting a crazy print cotton dress with a full skirt (avec pockets) and a little bolero, so although I probably am at the age where I should be sewing stuff that is more age appropriate I am going to focus on what I like to wear instead. Maybe I am just starting early on my journey to being one if those crazy old ladies who wears purple (novelty prints!) 😉
Really looking forward to seeing your makes this year with your new focus in mind.
I love your style ideas, and your outfits are so cute! Pshaw to age appropriate. I turn 37 this year and it’s taken me until pretty much now to realize I can wear what I feel best in and what makes me happy and I really don’t need to worry about what I should or shouldn’t wear for my age. No reason younger gals should have all the wardrobe fun. A big hell yes to being little old ladies in purple novelty prints! 😉
How do you reconcile Wardrobe Enchantment with reality? Every year, I make a couple corduroy skirts and dresses (allergic to wool) but never wear them because they aren’t warm enough for winter. I end up in modern Levis and sweaters. Even with a handknit sweater, I’m too cold for skirts and dresses.
Oh Andrea, such a good question. And one that I have no answer for in the bitter cold Midwest. Winter I’ve kind of written off wardrobe-wise this year. I used to think skirts and dresses were ok but in reality, I feel so uncomfortable wearing tights and such all day long and much prefer pants. So I’ve resigned myself to finding cute ways to wear jeans (with long underwear for warm underneath) and sweaters pretty much only right now. That means I’ll be raring to go for cuter clothes as winter wanes, at least. lol
In all honesty, I’d prefer skirts to jeans. I hate the feeling of tights under jeans (too tight!) whereas under a skirt I could add leggings, leg warmers, knee warmers, an extra skirt for warmth, etc.
I also usually only wearing tights that require garters, as my tummy hurts after wearing full tights all day. So all of my yummy knit tights? I chop the top off and wear them with garters.
But I also live in Boston. Very very windy, but perhaps less cold than the midwest. I would try and talk about average temperatures, but with climate change, who knows what average is any more?!
For me, there are areas of my wardrobe I like a lot, and others that need some work. One issue I’ve noticed is that I love to wear dresses to work. In fact I almost never wear trousers to work. But at home and on the weekends, all I wear is pants. I’d really like to find some dress and skirt styles that I will actually wear at home, because skirts are so much more comfy.
Sounds like a good plan! I hope you can make it work for you. 🙂
I have seen a lot of sewing bloggers talk about this in the new year and I’m really inspired to do some sketching and hone my vision. I think it also makes sense both as a maker and someone who likes to buy handmade to do this kind of thinking…it’s like once you up the ante to care about handmade and quality, why not also take the time to really envision your dream wardrobe as a whole? Cool….
I really want more dresses, 1950’s style, because I know the silhouette suits me, but I also want more blouses and skirts. I LOVE blouses, but sometimes it’s hard to find the skirts to go with them shape wise, as I am not a big fan of pants. Generally I want to spend this year dressing in more of a vintage style than I already do, especially come winter (in the middle of an Australian summer here) I love my jeans, but want to find more ways of wearing dresses, skirts and blouses in the colder months.
Aunty Maimu says
I too am on the same quest.
In my daydreams I am way more lady-like and sophisticated than I am in everyday life. I have half a closet full of pretty dresses that I almost never wear!
How on earth did that happen?!
So I looked at my everyday life, what do I do daily and so on and what kind of clothes do I really wear.
And scetched a wardrobe full of pants and jackets and skirts that one can actually ride a bike with!
My goal is to make more separates and sell half of my dresses if not all.
I have a complete obsession with children’s print fabrics. I have a dress I made from a 90s Looney Tunes bed-sheet, a 90s 101 Dalmations duvet cover to make into a dress, a Mickey Mouse duvet to make into a dress, and yesterday aquired a Blues Clues bedsheet for yet another dress. (There are othe kids fabrics floating around too, these are just my faves) I adore kids prints cause I think they’re whimsical and fun, and I usually make them up into 40s/50s styled/influenced dresses. And oddly, I also really wear them. They aren’t exactly practical, but I adore them so much that I can’t stop myself if I find a cute kids duvet or sheet at an opshop. And they do blend rather well with my vintage inspired pieces in my wardrobe On the flipside of that, I adore a rock and roll/gothic vibe, as well as a very polished professional look as well – I seriously need three wardrobes haha!
I think my ideal enchanted wardrobe would have more of everything I like to wear, so when I am in a more professional mood, I don’t have to wear the exact same outfit that I always do for that kind of look (I am doing SWAP2014 to rectify that one!), and it would have shoes to match everything. I’m on a tight budget, and while I can buy cheap fabric and make something gorgeous, shoes are something that always causes me problems. I have a pair of running shoes, and one pair of flats that goes with my vintagey dresses, but that’s pretty much it for everyday shoes (I always find gorgeous heels on sale at opshops for like $2, so I buy them, and wear them for performing, but I can’t walk in them for long so I don’t wear them out much!)
Thrift it! It’s what I do. I’m always super cheap and I find all my fabric second hand and my shoes are always cheapo sale finds. (Granted I’ve been trying not to buy anything I don’t actively need lately, but sometimes sales and thrift finds are too good to pass up.)
Akram Taghavi-Burris says
I agree with Ronja. I too get just about all my fabric second hand. Also I’m pretty cheap about shoes. When it comes to shoes I try to always hit the store during their season change where they have last seasons shoes on clearance. This is usually around Oct-Nov where can get clearance priced summer shoes and March-April for clearance priced winter shoes. My best deals come from JcPennys, Kohl’s and Macy.
Hi, I totally agree with your desire for wardrobe happiness! I too wonder what my actual ‘look’ is like compared to my ‘in my head’ look? I smiled at your comment on this 😉
I find myself drawn to cute preppy things and items with lovely floral fabrics. In my head I want to look ‘different’ to the crowd but not too wacky! I think the reality is that to ‘normal’ people I maybe dress somewhere between a young girl and a school head mistress! Mmmmmn! Oh, what the heck!
I too have the problem of having lovely items in my wardrobe that have no ‘friends’. A gorgeous patterned skirt for example that I can’t pair with a top or cardigan because I don’t have the right colours to go with it or more the point – not enough plain stuff! Being a sucker for pattern isn’t always cool.
So. I too share your aim for full ‘friendships’ in my wardrobe and will try…. She says…. To make and aquire more plain coloured clothes.
I await with interest for your further instalments 😉
Fräulein K. says
This year i want to change my wardrobe complete.
Now i have so many “normal” pieces in it, and too less feminie 40-50’s style.
My english is not the best to descibe so you can look at my new pinterest account
xo Fräulein K.
i’m another one of the bloggers working on my perfect wardrobe too. i;m calling it the happy wardrobe project – aim being to define better my personal style and sew more i want to wear. i’m taking a pic of myself each day (not for publishing, just a cameraphone/ mirror job) and thinking about why i chose to wear it and how it made me feel. even after a few days it’s really helping to see what i can learn from it. look forward to seeing what you create for your perfect wardrobe!
This is so true! I struggle with this all the time and it is actually why I started selling vintage – because I had all these great clothes hanging in my closet that just weren’t things I was actually going to wear. I love to experiment with clothes and try out different things/push myself out of my usual routines and comfort zones, but I also notice the difference when I put together an outfit that really feels like “me,” versus ones that feel like I’m dressing up or aping someone else’s style. But I do try to leave a little room in my wardrobe for a couple of those items that are just eye candy, too! Sometimes it’s just nice to have nice things around you …
Ellen B says
I live this post, I really need to get sorting out my wardrobe this year, I made more things last year but this year I will plan more and think about what I need to make outfits that I feel really good in.
Siri Andersen says
This is such a great topic, and very helpful and interesting. I really would like an inspiring wardrobe, with items that I can actually wear. But I face a problem. I work at a factory (where we wear navy blue overalls all day) and I spend quite a lot of my spare time in the stables, so there’s really very little time left to dress “fabulous”. So I am trying to get myself into making more staples, separates that can be practical and with a high degree of mix and match, but at the same time has nice detailing and that little “extra”.
When I started sewing, I always fell for novelty prints and bold colors, and sewed a few dresses I never get to wear, because it is just too much. I am so easily led astray and to date, have never bought any solid color fabric (except for denim for a high wasted WWII overall, which lives in my closet because the style didn’t suit me 🙁 ) I really need a focus! While I do like whimsy, I tend not to dare to wear it, so what’s the point making all those crazy blouses…? Building a wardrobe is hard, but fun 🙂
I like to read you! This article is so motivating! I wonder how I’ll get into this year at the seam … I started sewing my coat and snow just announced for next week!
I think starting with a shirt this year and sketches to see what I’ll do!
Thank you again and good creative year!
A great, inspiring post. I don’t dress vintage (or sadly, sew), but I do let silly stupid things stand in the way of looking the way I’d like to look and dress. Time to take a good look at my habits and behaviors.
This is great. I need to think on this more. What do I love to wear and makes me feel great? I can’t wait to read more of your post because they have really been making me think. I want to buy more vintage but I have a hard time finding things in my size. I also have about 3 different “size” types of clothes in my closet. I want to lose weight so I keep the smaller things I love around but they make me frustrated at the same time because they don’t fit. This is a kick in the pants to just get rid of all the stuff I don’t love!
Thanks for admitting what you’re actually wearing when its been cold out! I feel like I can’t even look at my skirts right now. I keep seeing other bloggers’ outfits and feel guilty about what I’m wearing, but at this point it is all about warmth!
I’ve really got to examine my wardrobe…I’m something of a fashion schizophrenic. I like a lot of different looks, like rockabilly, 1970s styles, beach bum and preppy, etc., etc., but the pieces from each sort of look don’t mix with the others at all! I think I need a few capsule wardrobes for each kind of style I like. You think I’d be good at this since this is what I do for a living, but unless I sit down and treat my wardrobe like a costume design project, I lose focus.
Rochelle New says
Excellent post! I’ll be referring to your Land of Wardrobe Enchantment™ often as I work through my 12 Pattern Challenge. I LOVE color in my wardrobe, but I often mistake color as wild prints only. Which makes it awfully difficult to match separates in my wardrobe. I don’t know why it just dawned on me now, but there are tons of fun colors out there that are plain solids lol (duh, me. I know). So I just bought some hunter green brushed twill and some rust colored corduroy to make a skirt and pants. Both are lovely colors that I’m crazy enough to pair with almost anything! I’m thinking aqua floral print shirt and rust colored pants?! Cuz Why T.F. not?! Thank you for showing me the light 😉
Akram Taghavi-Burris says
Great post! Since the start of the new year I’ve been examining my wardrobe and what I’d like to see in there. My husband gave me a great idea, in the way of a challenge. He told me to wear a different outfit for the next 365 days or so. This way I could figure out what clothes I never wear. I’m calling it my #365outfits challenge. I started this challenge on Jan 8, so I’m a bit behind, but you can follow my daily challenge on Instagram. If your wondering, I probably do have more than enough clothes to accomplish his challenge.
Jessica Cangiano says
Excellent, thought provoking post, sweet Tasha. Would my wardrobe be different (and larger) if I was loaded, you bet (whose wouldn’t?), but aside from that, at this point in the game of life, I can honestly say that I have build a wardrobe that is quite akin to my vintage fashion dream, as well – and this is not a small point, IMO – as one that works really well for the kind of life that I live. Sure, it’s lacking in some areas (trousers that actually fit right, I’m looking at you) and others could be bigger, but over all I’m very happy with it as I head into my 30th year of life and hope that I continue to feel that way even more strongly as the years go on and further vintage pieces reach my closet.
I think the disconnect in my vision vs real life is that my real life clothes are on the plain and conservative side, where in my vision I would like to be wearing more frilly and feminine things. Not only are these hard to come by in new clothes (at least at an affordable price!) but they probably wouldn’t fit my figure or daily activities. Still, I suppose I could find ways to add more girly details with accessories. I recently got some cute satin hair bows that I thought looked very Ginger Rogers but I’ve wondered if people would make comments about me being a grown woman wearing hair bows.
Some very good points! I’m constantly dreaming about a great fitting, classic wardrobe with hints of vintage. I touch on it but don’t ever pay enough attention to the bigger picture, ie things that go together! This post has definitely got me thinking, thank you! 🙂
Yes, yes, a thousand times yes! I spend so much time daydreaming about my wardrobe and it can actually lead to some weird frustration. I need more PANTS. And also wiggle skirts that come below the knee, cardigans with a more 50s cut and the perfect low, pointy heels. More novelty prints for every occasion, and brooches!
The Glamorous Housewife says
Ive really been enjoying your closet series. I wrote a series of posts that might help you. They go through what I think is necessary for a vintage wardrobe. Check it out; http://theglamoroushousewife.com/2012/01/back-to-basics-part-1/
The Glamorous Housewife
Thanks Bethany! I’ve actually looked to several of your posts as inspiration on this. 🙂
I need more tops that don’t need ironing because I hate ironing. I’ll usually iron all my blouses in one batch, wear them all within a couple of weeks, and default to long-sleeved jersey tops for two months. I want to knit more for myself this year, and part of my plan is to make more jumpers/ knitted summer tops to steer myself away from those modern longsleeved tops.
Ah, this is such a good post and something I’ve personally been thinking about for a while- I’ve just not been able to action my thoughts yet for reasons that are too long to explain here.
I might do a post about this article if that’s ok and use it as a starting point for my own daydream/real life closet!! Xxx