A full closet and nothing to wear: my fledging plans for 2014

Hello everyone! Thank you all for the wonderful Christmas wishes, and I sincerely wish you all a very happy New Year and a fresh and wonderful start to 2014!

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what I’d like to accomplish for myself in terms of my wardrobe in 2014. I decided early on I definitely don’t want to set myself any strict goals, but I do have some ideas, so I thought you might be interested to hear a little bit about it!

For me, 2013 was all about getting into a groove with my sewing. While lots of knitting distracted me from sewing another in the last quarter of the year, I feel good about what I sewed in 2013. To some extent, when I sewed, I sewed to fill in some gaps that I felt I had. Needed a tweed skirt—made one. Needed a few patterned blouses—made those, too. I focused on learning more techniques, pushing my comfort zone sometimes, and working out kinks for repeatable patterns. And I feel really good about all that!

However, by the end of the year I felt myself getting a tiny bit bored with some elements of my style and a lot bored with some items in my wardrobe (not necessarily me-made, but sometimes me-made included), so a fresh start is just what I need in 2014.

This year, I’d like to start work on putting together a complete wardrobe. And I realize that’s probably a somewhat strange thing to say.

After all, if we sew for ourselves, or knit for ourselves, or buy clothing and accessories and shoes for ourselves (and we all do at least two or more of those things unless you’re walking around barefoot and nekkid). So presumably we’re trying to build a wardrobe, right?

But in reality, it’s so easy to have a full closet and feel like you have nothing to wear.

A full closet doesn’t mean you have an actual “wardrobe”.

wardrobe3

Think about wardrobe orphans. Or items that only work in one specific combination. Or items that are missing one crucial element to form an outfit. For me, that’s a chronic issue. I may have a particular printed skirt I love, and I may have a dozen plain-colored tops, but in my head only one of those tops actually matches the skirt. And thus I only have one outfit out of it. And all the other tops never, ever get worn, except on rare occasion. Makes. me. crazy. And I am not a gal who’s afraid to repeat an outfit, but crimony, give me some options PLEASE!

wardrobe1

I open up my closet all the time and look around and feel like I have nothing to wear. Okay, that’s a slight exaggeration obviously, because I own and have made lots of things I love. But I’d like to start changing that feeling that my closet is more full of things I don’t wear or don’t like or can’t put in combination with enough other things.

And to change that, I have to assess what I wear and what I don’t wear, and what I’d like to wear but don’t have.

wardrobe2

Look at the things I don’t wear, but I really like.

If I have things in my closet that I don’t wear but I’d really like to wear them more, why is that? What would it take to get me to wear them? Do I need to sew, knit or purchase something (or multiple somethings) to coordinate separates? Do I have no shoes that match? Does it need a camisole that I don’t have? Do I need to just get off my lazy butt and pin dress shields in so I’m not afraid I’ll sweat through it in one wearing and be forced to wash and iron it sooner than I’d like? What’s the deal?

Look at the things I don’t wear and don’t really like.

I know there’s things in my closet I don’t really like. If I don’t think I’ll wear them, get rid of them (sell or donate). If I just don’t wear them a lot because they are special occasion items, a few of those are allowed of course, but maybe they need to go in the basement with my seasonal clothing storage so they’re not taking up “everyday” space. There’s no use having a closet full of things I’m lukewarm over. I’ve long since gotten over the urge to buy every awesome decently priced vintage garment I’ve ever seen that fit me, but I still have many pieces that I’m just “meh” over lingering around, or things that don’t fit.

Look at the items I like and wear, but figure out ways to extend them in other combinations.

Like I mentioned earlier, some items only work in one particular combination—X skirt with Y blouse. What would it take to get more wear out of them? Maybe I need more Y blouses in the same style, but different colors (or prints). Do I never wear it in spring or fall because I have no cardigan to wear with it that works nicely? Knit one, or find a vintage one that fits the way I want it to. Or sew a bolero to coordinate.

Decide what I want but don’t have.

This ties into looking at what I have and deciding what I wear and what I don’t wear, but I need to figure out what shapes and styles I’m in the mood to wear. Also, figure out what accessorizing pieces I need to build multiple outfits from those pieces. Do I need a purse? A crinoline? A particular color of shoes, or style of blouse?

This whole part is perhaps the biggest and the most difficult objective to achieve, and is worthy of an entire post on its own in the future!

Where do I see this all going?

Soon I’ll start sharing more details about patterns and necklines and shapes and styles and knitting, after I bang out some ideas in my head a little longer. Because I know you want to hear about that the most—that’s the really FUN stuff, after all!


My goals? Pretty simple.

I want to open up my closet in spring, summer and fall (winter kind of gets its own exception), and be able to make a variety of coordinating outfits out of the things I find in it. I want to have all the underthings I actually need, in all seasons. I want to love my vintage, love my me-made, love my thrifted and repro and anything in-between that hops into the closet. I want to open my closet and smile!

It doesn’t matter a hill of beans if people tell you what you have is great, what you’ve made is great. If you don’t love it and wear it, and it’s not inspiring you, what’s the point?

2014 will be about starting to make my wardrobe work for me. How about you? :)

Filed: Knitting, Sewing, Vintage Wardrobe

Tagged:

Golly, 41 Comments!

  • This is actually one of my 2014 goals. I buy things that I like but then never end up wearing. Mostly because my job doesn’t have a dress code and it’s always freezing, I opt to wear jeans and a hoodie to avoid thinking too long about it. But I would love to have something to wear all the time, in every occasion, and actually feel good about what I chose.

    I’m definitely going to be keeping up with your entries on this topic. I can’t wait to see how you approach it!

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  • You took the words right out of my mouth (so to speak). I am compiling a similar post on training the eye for 40s style, and a lot of your questions in this post would apply. I’m going to approach my 2014 wardrobe choices in a similar fashion, I think! It definitely will help me keep my project list useable. (Well, maybe not…)

    Looking forward to what you have to share in 2014–I gain so much inspiration from your posts!!

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  • Are you familiar with SWAP (sewing with a plan) sewing? It’s basically wardrobe capsule sewing. I’ve tried to do it in the past but ran out of steam. I love to Google it and look at what other sewists have done, even though most entries are strictly modern.

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  • W.O.R.D. I’m actually selling of a significant part of my vintage collection because I. Just. Don’t. Wear. It. It’s beautiful and interesting, but it’s taking up space and I walk in and look at it and grab the same ‘ol things each time. I think I buy/make vintage based on who I *think* I want to be, instead of who I Actually Am (a crazy punk-rawk bookish nature nerd who looks like a Chrissie Hynde/Ramones mash up instead of the languid 30s diva swanning around in marabou).

    In reality, I don’t wear a lot of vintage because I get cold in dresses in the winter and being long-waisted, many styles don’t fit as well as I’d like. Separates are key for me, so off the dresses go! I am also intimidated by pants, and just need to pony up for some really great Freddies or learn how to make some slacks or capris that I will love to wear.

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  • This is one of my New Years goals too! I’m so over having a wardrobe full of clothes but nothing to wear. Especially after coming home from travelling where I lived out of a suitcase for 3 months.. All of my clothes just seem so blah every morning.
    Can’t wait to see what you come up with! I hope to be following my own progress on my blog too :)

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  • You’ve hit the nail on the head with this post Tasha! My dressing has become very dull as I look at my wardrobe and only see the same dull combinations, then I end up feeling like I have nothing to wear. I’ll be following your progress with eager eyes as I too try to make use of what I have and fill the gaps.
    x

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  • I am also trying to make a big effort to sew/buy an actual wardrobe as opposed to a bunch of clothes that may not actually work together this year. I did try last year, but it was harder than expected. Hopefully I will have more luck in 2014

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  • What you’re describing sounds nearly identical to my resolution for 2013, but I let the project become overwhelming instead of fun and never finished. I’d like to try again for 2014!

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    • Beth, I definitely can see how it could become overwhelming and un-fun! I’m going to try to keep it pretty low-key and plan to take more than a year to slowly figure it all out so I don’t burn out on it. :)

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  • Amen!!! This is EXACTLY how I’m feeling with my wardrobe too, except you’re way ahead of me in your jumping off point lol. I’m giving myself some pretty strict goals, and I’m starting from scratch, but basically you and I are on a path to the same goal. I really like that Idea :)

    I can’t wait to hear more about your finalized plans, and I’ll be eagerly checking in to make sure I’M still on track too!

    Happy 2014 Darling <3

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  • […] recently shared an excellent post about her feelings on building your ideal wardrobe. She brings up a good point that you first need to decide what you don’t like about your […]

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  • Really interesting post!
    As I wear almost only vintage, it’s quite more difficult, but I have made the same with my wardrobe last year… when I begun to buy vintage I fell in love with many evening wear but quite never wear them so I chose to focus on everyday wear… so I had so many coton dresses that I didn’t know what to wear in winter… it’s for sure much more easy when you sew or knitt what you really need!
    But I have to find some courage as you to get rid of another part of my wardrobe!

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    • I know that definitely makes it more difficult, Laurence! And I’m in that boat with you a bit too, as I never intend to have a completely me-made wardrobe, so I do still seek out vintage as well. And I know what you mean about winter. I really have no answer for it… it’s just kind of a drag of a season. :)

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  • Happy 2014 to you! I love seeing what you make, knitting & sewing and gardening and house ideas!

    Hoping for a happy and healthy to you and your loved ones this year! xoxo

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  • This idea is really inspiring me.. This morning i really ‘needed’ a black turtleneck jumper to go under my , yesterday finished, tartan- sleeveless winter dress…. And i found …. 5!!!!! Black cardigans…( how did That happen i wonder……. And i discovered i do have black yarn, only problem here is i am not able to knit a turtleneck in 3,5 hours…. So… That’ll be the next project after my current knitting project….i really have to get more organized….:-)

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    • It’s sometimes hard to convince ourselves to make basics, like a black turtleneck, but think about how worth it it’ll be once you have one. If you haven’t started it by now, you should definitely move it up your queue! ;)

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  • Wow, I couldn’t have summed it up better!! That’s exactly how I’ve been feeling for the last 3 or 4 months but have been so discouraged I haven’t even tried to address the situation and work out how to overcome my dilemma. You’ve just given me the motivation to think about my wardrobe and DO something about it. Thanks!

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  • I can wholeheartedly relate. I really felt like I was in the same boat around the start of 2012, especially because we were in the midst of packing for a big cross country move back then that I knew would result in us living in an area where we had a much busier social life (and thus I’d need to put together more outfits on a regular basis). I made it my mission to fill as many “wardrobe gaps” as I could that year, largely between online shopping (chiefly on eBay and etsy) and thrifting and can honestly say that I was able to fill a good many of them. Now, a couple of years later, some still exists and a couple of new ones have sprung up (finding more vintage appropriate or repro pants that actually fit me half decently, for example, since we got our dog Annie and I’ve been spending lots of time at the dog park and on walks with her, where delicate vintage frocks don’t stand a chance!!!), but I can tell you that it’s totally possible to go from “nothing to wear” to “wow, I have tons of outfits I’m excited to wear” in a matter of months.

    ♥ Jessica

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    • Thanks Jessica! I know moving was part of it for me. Not that we moved across country, but there was definitely some wardrobe culling when we bought out house early in 2012. That combined with working from home a lot has meant I sometimes haven’t focused on filling in gaps as much as I’d like, even though there’s no reason I can’t dress just a tad nicer for ME when I’m at home, too. :)

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  • That’s my problem exactly! I have a closet full of clothes, but only a few of them get regular wear. I hoard beautiful vintage dresses / sew dresses that don’t really work on everyday basis. I need to start mapping my closet and decide what I Actually Need to sew and stop going after pretty but unpractical pieces.

    I’m looking forwards to reading about your process. I’m sure you have a lot of great ideas to provide :)

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  • I have the same exact problem and the same exact plan! To make my wardrobe work for me, actually have whole outfits and looks that make me extremely happy!

    Bon chance!

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  • I really focused on making practical, comfortable, easy to wear yet still cute pieces this summer and it was amazing! ….but now it’s winter and aside from my winter wardrobe being lacking anyways, I get cold easily and hate being brrr all the time. So I’m trying to focus on practical (=warm and comfy) separates for winter too but it’s just not as fun.

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  • I think it’s a great idea to evaluate and work towards building your wardrobe. I set a similar goal for myself in 2013, and I’m still chipping away at it. Getting real about what I wear and being honest with myself about my ideal wardrobe did help to shape my year in sewing during 2013. It seems like you’re off to a great start in terms of identifying the pieces you want in your wardrobe!

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  • So many good thoughts and questions! I’ll be saving this article! Good luck on your endeavors!

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  • Next weekend I’m diving into my girlfriends closet to do just what your talking about. She has admired the way I pull things together and we are both tired of saying we have closets full of nothing to wear! Six months ago I decided to basically do what you posted about and it’s made my life easier and I love my closet but now it’s time to fill in the gaps. Looking forward to your posts on this as I am majorly inspired by your sewing and knitting!
    P. S. I would love to take a peek at your ‘to sell’ pile lol!

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  • I LOVE this post. This is a topic that I became fairly obsessed with in the past few months. I’ve always been a dabbler in many styles and felt that I’d try anything once – but that’s jus not a good way to shop for or sew a whole wardrobe. Inevitably my same favorites get worn again and again. I’m looking forward to reading along with your process!

    One of my sticking points has been admitting to myself that I am not going to become someone who wears vintage all the time, much as I love it – and that’s ok! For a long time I’ve felt almost guilty about it, like I just wasn’t trying hard enough. It is definitely easier for me to wear vintage in certain seasons here in SE PA. Spring and summer are ideal for me because my favorite prints and light cottons work perfectly. Fall and winter are harder since I can’t wear wool and get uncomfortable with very structured outfits. I am trying to hone my style so that the vintage and modern elements flow more seamlessly. I rotate between my favorite vintage blogs and youlookfab.com, which seems like an impossible mix but honestly works really well. I thrift most of my clothes but would like to begin sewing many of them for warm weather, so I need to learn as much as I can about my preferences now. I’m looking forward to more of your posts!

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    • Whatever you choose to wear vintage-wise is totally up to you! There are some people like me for whom it’s a lifestyle and we pretty much dress in a vintage style all the time, some who intersperse a little bit in their modern wardrobe, and literally everything in between. And it’s all okay. I think your plans sounds great, and if it’s a good fit for you and your life, that’s all that matters. :)

      By the way you mentioned winter– I’ve come to find that winter is much more tolerable with very thin base layers under my clothing. My favorite brand currently (very inexpensive, too) is Uniqlo.

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  • I agree with your post 100% and this is exactly what I am planning on doing in 2014. Re-evaluating my wardrobe requirements and filling the gaps with what I need rather than what is pretty or enticing, although hopefully my garments may fall into these categories also :)

    I am really looking forward to seeing how you approach this and hope I can steal some ideas along the way!

    All the best to you and Mel :)

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  • This is a great goal, and though simple it requires so much thought. I’m looking forward to seeing your approach and your inevitable successes! I’m always thinking about what I wear, what I need for work, what I feel good in, and so on, but I really have trouble distilling all that thought into a productive plan. Luckily, I tend to favor very simple garments in solid fabrics so I’m rarely without anything to wear, but I often feel boring. I know this is the opposite problem from what many sewists face, but it’s a problem nonetheless!

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  • This is EXACTLY how I feel but you put it into words perfectly. I can’t wait to see how you do this because I need to do the same thing. I feel like I have too many “almost right” things. I look at something and wish it was one way or the other to make it exactly how I want it. I think I’ll work on this in 2014 too. Thanks for the inspiration!

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  • I have a lot of these same issues, especially things I like but are missing something to go with it to make it an outfit. I have wanted a really nice feminine white blouse for awhile, but it has been impossible to find. I get a lot of my items at the thrift shop. The trouble with that is that it is easier to find nice dressy things. With three kids and being home most of the time, I need more casual outfits but I want ones that I really love, not junky tee shirts from Wal Mart! Most casual clothes at the thrift shops are either worn or not very stylish/no vintage flair. So I think this year I will try some reproduction items in the casual category from some on line shops. Looking forward to seeing more of your posts on this topic!

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  • Given that I have just gotten some tattoo work on my arm, I definitely have to go through my wardrobe and make sure that I have a suitable range of garments for “work”!

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  • One of my goals is focusing on my wardrobe as well.

    I don’t have a lot of vintage and I want that to change, through making/purchasing items that I will a)wear and b)work together. I have come up with base colors for myself and am going from there!

    Good luck!

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  • I’ve never thought about my clothes in terms of “wardrobe”…..but it makes sense! Thank you for the inspiration.

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  • You definitely have a gift for writing well! I’ve been thinking a lot of the same things, but I’m nowhere near as good at phrasing.

    Reply

  • […] my own thoughts on my 2014 wardrobe in mind, I decided to knit something that I really needed and wanted in my wardrobe. A bolero! You […]

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  • […] 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 […]

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  • […] I, like many, have been looking at my closet this year, one of the things I hit on when I looked at the closet of my daydreams was that I don’t wear […]

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  • […] 16, 2014 by mysewingmelee This seems to be a common theme among sewing bloggers lately, including Tasha from By Gum By Golly, Sarai from the Coletterie and Rochelle of Lucky Lucille: the notion (pun very intended) of […]

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  • […] this year, I talked about my wardrobe plans, and assessing what I really wear and what I’d like to […]

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