Seeds of a Wardrobe: Real Clothes for Real Life

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Woohoo! We’re officially in the second half of the Seeds of a Wardrobe series. That means we’re getting that much closer to having all the information we need to successfully attempt a truly personal wardrobe rebuild/makeover. Today’s post is about the things we have to do (obligations), want to do (hobbies), and hate to do (chores), and how to use our wardrobe plan to accomplish everything. Not ambitious at all, right? :)

I’d say most wardrobe planners allude to you needing different clothes for different situations via requiring things like a little black dress, a crisp white shirt, wool trousers, and the like. They suggest a night on the town or a formal occasion, an interview (?), and a job (guess the interview went well). Ain’t nothing wrong with that, but even for an unemployed stay at home person like myself, life is way more varied than work and going out for drinks.

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Let’s start with our obligations. As I mentioned, I stay home all day not working. I also care for LJ, but get tons of support from my parents on that front. So I wouldn’t call myself a stay at home parent, as much an unemployed person who gets spit up on several times a day. Some of you might be in a similar boat, whether you are a stay at home spit up wearer or a work from home spit up wearer or – bless your heart – a spit up wearer who has a job in the wide, wide world. Or maybe your life is spit up free (huzzah) but you work two jobs (bummer) that have very different dress codes (yikes). Maybe you’re a career student (lucky) with a six-class load this semester (better you than me). The point is, look at your life and identify what you have to do.

Now that you have that/those thing(s) in mind, I’m willing to bet that (a) the dress code is completely out of your hands, and/or (b) there are times you don’t want to do that thing. So here’s where your wardrobe planning begins. What is the dress code, and within those parameters, what can you wear that would spark such joy that it neutralizes the don’t-wanna-be-here moments?

Example: I worked two jobs for two years straight. One job was administrative, the other retail. For the first six months, the administrative job was at an investment startup. Don’t let the word startup fool you – the guys I worked for dressed as casual as mid-high end button down shirts, Bonobos pants, and loafers can be. Also, the office was on the most high-end fashionable street in Boston. On days I didn’t want to get out of bed, I wore head to toe black and white. It let me match the cute grey flats I kept in my desk, it looked reasonably chic, and I had a ton of me-made garments that fit the bill, including my favorite cardigan. Contrast that with the retail job, where my ‘uniform’ was leggings and a roomy shirt. On my oh-my-goodness-just-no days, I’d crank up the volume and wear the hardest clash in my closet. Think pink on red, head to toe prints, and a fair amount of gold. It seems like the colors were more important, but I needed that cardigan in the office as much as I needed the leggings in the retail setting. I just needed them in black and white or some loud color, respectively. Hopefully that makes sense for you!

Let’s move on to hobbies. Because we sew! Most people who have time to sew, have leisure time to do any number of additional hobbies. But obligations and chores eat up a lot of time, don’t they? So we lose the time to indulge in our hobbies. What if we had a special wardrobe just for our hobbies? It would be a shame not to wear those items. But to wear them, we’d need to put down the obligations and chores and focus on ourselves and what we want to do. So clothes here are not to steel yourself against unpleasant moments, but to motivate you to engage in purely pleasant ones.

Example: as a child, I loved baking. I actually kept baking until my late 20’s, when I moved back in with my parents. (I’m a poster child for failure to launch.) Living with my parents as a nearly 30 year old woman was very hard on all of us, and I let many hobbies and interests fall by the wayside because I was so stressed and life was so tense. Baking was one of those casualties. But here I am, ten years later, living with them again (!!) with a twist – I have no friends and can’t go anywhere fun because there isn’t anywhere fun to go. Re-enter, baking. But you can’t just bake. If you’ve made delicious treats from scratch you know that it’s messy, even for someone who gets several spit up showers a day. Also, sometimes you need to hold things. And why not try to look cute while doing it? Enter, the humble apron. An apron with pockets for pot holders and other random things would be perfect! If I had an apron, I’d definitely bump baking up the priority scale. So even though it’s not a legal garment, it is something I’d include in my wardrobe plan. It would also be helpful to have three-quarter sleeve shirts, so I don’t have to keep rolling up my sleeves to keep them out of the flour.

This brings us to chores. Ie, the worst thing ever. Chores is everything from sweeping the garage (please tell me this is normal) to dusting pictures (again, please), to things that could be considered hobbies or obligations except that you really don’t want to do them at all, like exercise. Surely I’m not the only one who hates stopping my life in order to exercise? Harrumph. I’m still going to make it my-

Example: I’m sure it’s no surprise to anyone that I hate exercising. I have always hated exerting myself. I was probably the only kid in elementary school who voluntarily sat out recess. My best friend (bless her heart) used to cheat for me during presidential fitness week by artificially inflating the number of crunches and shuttle runs I did. This is why we’re still best friends today. I’m all for an active lifestyle – I intentionally seek out physically active jobs and volunteer commitments – but I’m no gym bunny. I’m more of a bar fly. But my new life is intensely sedentary, so I know I need to get out there and move my patootie. I plan to jog, but of course I won’t can’t do that without the proper wardrobe. After lots of thought, I decided I need sweatsuits. Because it’s “cold” right now, I like lots of pockets, and I have the perfect sweatpant pattern – Burda 6789.

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Now it’s your turn! Go through your obligations, hobbies, and chores and figure out what garments would help you execute that part of your life. Re-read the previous post in the Seeds of a Wardrobe series to get a mental sense of where these motivation/armor garments fit into your overall plan. Maybe you need a collection of coats on top of what your climate requires, or an even vaster sea of tops, etc. Don’t worry about ‘going too crazy’ with all this planning – the next post in the Seeds of a Wardrobe series is all about time and time management. For now, all you need to do is brainstorm. Okay, bye for now!

 

Seeds of a Wardrobe is a six post series covering my journey from needing a wardrobe to having a plan for making a wardrobe. It’s a thought and question based method of wardrobe building, with the goal of helping create a truly personal wardrobe that meets real needs, and provides an alternative to methods that dictate what you should wear based on an impersonal, general framework. The first post is here – Seeds of a Wardrobe (post) – and you can see all the posts in the series here – Seeds of a Wardrobe (category) – in reverse chronological order.

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8 Comments

  1. This series is interesting to me because I’m not a planner. My sewing and my wardrobe choices are first fabric driven (see a fabric I love then think of something to make with it) and second need driven (realizing a specific thing I need). I am also a stay-at-home but for myself I prefer the old-fashioned word housewife because some people try to make that something shameful and I want to wear it proudly because it’s not.

    Anyway, I have great freedom of choice in my wardrobe because I rarely have any obligation to dress a certain way. In the last decade I think I have gotten better at making things I will actually wear, though winter is still a problem. I want to look nice even if I’m home alone but I have got into the terrible habit of sweatpants and long sleeve t-shirts (mostly from Duluth Trading Co because they are SO COMFY.) I have made a few t-shirts and sweat pants myself but I also have me made jeans and a lot of really nice tops that don’t often see the light of day because I only wear one once or twice a week for a couple of hours when I go out in public shopping or for whatever reason.

  2. I really like the thought process behind this. I’ve never thought about making clothes for the specific areas of my life. I always think about work. What a wonderful idea to include the other parts of our lives. I think making some garments specifically for chores may help me be more consistent with them and dread them less. Thank you for sharing this!

  3. what a fun read! :)
    Chores are the worst, aren’t they?? And exercise, schmexercise! LOL!

    I am ready for the wardrobe series this summer. I need to be CUTE! and Together!

    And here, here to a new apron. I need to make a new one!

    1. Yay! Glad you liked it :) I was reading a dating book written by a comedian when I was planning this post, and it def rubbed off on me. Yay for a cute summer wardrobe! The series will wrap up this month because (a) I desperately need to get cracking on new clothes and (b) there’s something else cooking for February. 2020 is going to be great!

  4. Intriguing post, Ebi. Got me all in my head about how I live these days and how I can sew things for my current lifestyle. Since I left a corporate job for freelancing and homemaking, I’ve been wearing a black tee and jeans uniform. I mean, it’s functional and easy, but doesn’t do anything for my spirit, ya know? I like how minimalist my default uniform is, but I’m thinking a few fun and flowy pieces in simple shapes would help transition me from functional (it had its purpose) to fun with a capital F (self-care done right). A couple of aprons to keep me in the kitchen and away from take-out, pullover woven tops (worn alone or over my basic tee) for insta-cuteness and wrap skirts worn with bare legs, tights, leggings, and pants (yes, skirts over pants can be quite the look)…So, yeah…plans are brewing like a craft beer. So, cheers (*clink*) to you (for the inspiration) and me (*clink*) for literally MAKING a go of it.

    1. Yay! Glad to get your wardrobe-brain in gear :) also, skirts/dresses over pants actually works really well with the right pairing! My most stylish friend pulled off the look and I was a fan (and occasional emulator) ever since. Uniforms are handy, but pose the risk of making us ‘wear’ ourselves right into a rut. And when life happens entirely at home, that rut can be detrimental. I know I get cabin fever in the worst way. :/

      1. Wardrobe ruts are real. Thanks to you, I’ve acknowledged mine. Admitting you have a problem is the first step. ;-) The second step is sewing away that problem.

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