In the first post in this series, I wrote about discovering the joys of wearing handmade clothes. This post is about looking at your existing wardrobe and find out how you can slowly turn it into a handmade wardrobe. Key adverb is slowly! I know a lot of lovely people who have a (mostly) handmade wardrobe but it is a long process to get there. A handmade wardrobe is also always a work in progress and about mending things you have already made. With all that in mind, let us look at how you can figure out what you need to start making. No use making something you won't wear!
1. Throw Things on the Bed
Open the wardrobe and take out all the things you keep wearing. Do the same with your jackets and coats - everything goes on the bed! Try to grab the fifteen or thirty things you keep wearing - from belts and scarves to skirts and cardigans. If you want, you can arrange them into the outfits you usually wear.
See if any trends emerge at this stage. Do you have more clothes than you thought? Do you have only a very small selection? Do you wear the same five things over and over? Can you sort them into piles of near-identical items (i.e. grey t-shirts) or do you have a very eclectic selection?
2. Time to Look Closer: Colour
Now you need to look at the colours you see. I'd suggest you sort the colours into three categories:
- Neutrals: the colours that bind everything together.
- Core Colours: the non-neutrals you keep wearing.
- Accent Colours: the occasional splashes of colour.
Your neutrals could be colours like black, grey, ecru, beige, khaki, fawn, brown or navy blue.
Your core colours are very individual to you. These are the colours you see again and again in your wardrobe - this can be anything from more neutrals to rich jewel colours or maybe soft pastels.
Your accent colours are the colours you only occasionally wear but you still see them again and again. What colours are your scarves? Your hats? Your jewellery? Maybe you keep being drawn to prints that have tiny bits of green or pink in them?
Becoming aware of what colours you keep wearing will make it easier to decide upon the colours you need to use when sewing or knitting something for yourself. I used to knit a lot of moss green cardigans until I realised my favourite cardigans were deep navy blue and grey!
3. Time to Look Closer: Style & Lifestyle
Many people tell me "Oh, I don't think about fashion - I don't have the time nor the inclination" and I hear you on that. Everyday life can be so hectic that many of us just grab whatever we can afford and what more-or-less fits. However, I promise you that subconsciously you are drawn to similar things again and again, and that your wardrobe will reflect this.
- What items of clothing form the skeleton of my wardrobe?
- Do I have anything that's really too ratty to wear any more, but I cannot bear to throw it out because I don't have a replacement? What is this thing?
- What words can I use to describe the things I reach for again & again? Classic? Country? Romantic? Urban? Punk? Unisex?
4: Think About Your Discoveries
This process is designed to make you think about your everyday wardrobe. I trust you will be honest with yourself here - no embellishing the truth and lying to yourself about being a slinky Bohemian kimono-wearer when you are actually a sweatshirt & jeans girl!
When I first did this exercise, I was surprised to find that I didn't have any jeans and that I leaned towards wearing dresses with bold complementary colours. I had no idea I was so "dressy" in my everyday life! I was especially surprised to see how very little black I had in my wardrobe - I used to live in black clothes! - and how much I used navy as a neutral. The first thing I knitted after all this was a fitted yellow cardigan which has now become a wardrobe staple despite my misgivings! It works!
In the third instalment I'll talk more about how to decide what to make and how to plug wardrobe gaps.