Fall ’17 wardrobe planning, part 2: Closet inventory

Fall closet inventory
Fall closet inventory

So I mentioned on my Fall Mood post yesterday that, having gotten my sartorial feet back under me, so to speak, I’ve been starting to have a little more fun getting dressed again. Yesterday I talked a bit about color seeping back into the mix, which you can see above, and the other aspect of that is what I referred to as “curve balls” — by which I just mean putting things together in odd or unexpected ways.

I am no Cary and Jenna — as much as I admire their reckless abandon when it comes to pattern and color. But I do like to mix things up, even in my own minimalist-leaning ways. For example, camo is my favorite print on earth because, in addition to being neutral and going with just about anything, it’s fun to mess with. When I bought the seemingly dressy, black silk Elizabeth Suzann Artist Smock in February, I wasn’t convinced I loved it enough to keep it … until I put it on with my camo pants and silver shoes, at which point there was no giving it back. I bought a pair of Ace&Jig pants this summer — black and white, being me — and my favorite thing is to wear them with my snake-print ballet flats. Even just throwing in a tan shoe where a black one would have been the obvious choice, and vice versa, can make an outfit feel more me, more idiosyncratic. More amusing. Sometimes it means I’m wearing something others might find confusing, but if it makes me feel good, out the door we go — that is all I care about.

I’m feeling really good about the clothes I’ve made over the past year — as if I’ve really hit my stride as both a chooser and a maker — and although they are very straight, I feel like they all lend themselves to the odd combos and to the days when I just feel like playing it straight. And meanwhile, I’ve bought a few pieces that raise the quirk quotient.

It feels really premature (in the unrelenting heat) to be putting together this inventory of my fall and winter selects, while many of the clothes from my summer list will continue to play a starring role for the next few weeks — more about that tomorrow. But anyway, here’s what I’ll have to work with over the coming months:

SWEATERS
camel cardigan
yoke sweater
striped raglan pullover
fisherman sweater
black cardigan
grey wool “sweatshirt” (sewn, wool knit)
purple cardigan
black lopi raglan
– boiled wool pullover (J.Crew 2014)
– shrunken cotton fisherman (L.L. Bean c.2010 but still available)
– cashmere turtleneck (J.Crew c. 2009)
cowichan-style vest
black Anna vest
grey vintage waistcoat
Sloper turtleneck

It’s astonishing to me how different this is from last year at this time, when those first four sweaters didn’t yet exist, nor did the grey pullover. Having them all in my closet, waiting for fall to arrive, feels like a major wardrobe windfall. And going through this process, I’m feeling extremely good about my decision to cast on the vanilla cardigan. The grey turtleneck is on its last legs, but I’m hoping to squeeze in a few more wears this year. The next thing I cast on, though, will be a simple grey pullover.

TEES/TOPS
black muscle tee (see also black gauze version)
striped muscle tee
– grey sleeveless tee (Everlane, no longer available)
white linen shell
– dotted chambray tunic (Endless Summer, made by a friend)
– plaid top (me-made, never blogged)
– silk smock (Elizabeth Suzann)
chambray button-up
– plaid cotton flannel shirt (Uniqlo c. 2011)
– plaid wool flannel shirt (Fischer, 2015)

I still need to make another version of my black sleeveless top that’s longer in the front, for layering. And I’m planning to make another flannel shirt for myself this year — another Archer — but looking over the lineup here, I don’t feel any urgency about any other tops at the moment. Although I’m still itching to bring the big-pleated top idea to life. Oh, and I already have the sleeveless tee cut out of the same grey wool knit as the “sweatshirt” pictured, so that will definitely get sewn together soon, perfect for winter layering.

STATE SMOCKS
I’ve been stalking the State Smock releases since we still lived in California, so at least four years, and can never spot one that’s right for me that isn’t already sold. That is, until last month (while I was piecing together the interview with Adrienne) when I scored both an olive drab one and a pale pink one; and then while I was in Denver, I managed to get a white one. I don’t know what it is, but it is the most magical garment ever. If I’ve had the olive one for 50 days, let’s say, I’ve worn it for all or some of at least 30 of them. The pink one gets worn mostly around the house, while sewing, etc. And I expect to wear the crap out of the white one forthwith. I would happily wear one every day of the year. These guys have really given me whole new ways to wear my existing clothes — more on that tomorrow.

JEANS
– threadbare jeans (Old Navy c. 2013)
– natural denim jeans (Imogene+Willie, made in US, 2016)
handmade jeans
– dark cropped jeans (J.Crew Point Sur, made in US, 2016)

I am well-stocked in the jeans department. There are the faded jeans pictured plus the visibly mended pair, both of which are perilously fragile and need more shoring up, but that’s the color of denim I want to be wearing right now: super faded. The natural jeans are great. The handmades are my all-time favorites — nicest and best-fitting pair I’ve ever owned — and the only way to get them to fade is to wear them. A lot. Hopefully the dark denim will seem more appealing once cold weather is upon us. And in addition to the J.Crew jeans pictured, I also have my dark denim Imogene+Willie jeans. (The ones that went to Paris with me.) Definitely no needs here.

PANTS
– b/w patterned pants (Ace&Jig Derby in Highland, no longer available)
olive pants
– camo pants, heavily mended (Gap c.2009)
– wide-leg khakis (J.Crew, 2016)

This makes it look like I have a well-rounded pants collection at the moment, but: the Ace&Jig pants will feel much too thin and flimsy in just a few weeks; the olive pants got ruined in the wash; the camo pants are also perilously fragile and my most beloved ever, so I’m wearing them sparingly; and I don’t wear the khakis very much. The olive “toddler pants,” as I call them, are really the only thing I want to wear right now, so my plan is basically to make four pairs that will replace what you see here: a natural canvas pair, denim, wool herringbone, and camo. Those will get me through the winter, and they’re clearly the most urgent items on my make list right now.

Tomorrow: outfits!

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PREVIOUSLY in Fall 2017 Wardrobe: Mood

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Summer ’17 wardrobe planning, part 2: Closet inventory

Summer ’17 wardrobe planning, part 2: Closet inventory

The best part of doing my whole winter wardrobe plan was isolating the couple dozen garments from my closet that would be the main players for the season. It not only simplified the process of getting dressed, but it changed even how I hang things in my closet. I’ve always been a little obsessive about grouping things by category — pants, sleeveless tops, sleeves, etc. (I might as well confess that I hang them from light to dark within those categories! I am such a librarian. And yes, all my hangers match.) That way, I reasoned, I could see what I have and be able to think. But with that little winter-heroes grid taped to the closet door, I didn’t need to look at the hangers and shelves at all, I only needed to look at the grid (or the outfit grids). What happened as a result is that the active stuff naturally shuffled to the center, right in front of the door, and the stuff that wasn’t in play for that season got pushed progressively to the side. Which was perfect because they weren’t relevant at the moment, and rather than simplifying or clarifying things, having them hung together with the relevant stuff was actually cluttering the process of getting dressed. (I don’t own enough clothes to put things away for the season or whatever — everything fits in my little 1950s closet.) The fact that my closet became what I previously considered a disorganized mess didn’t matter at all — it was actually one less thing to worry about.

So here are the key players for this summer:

DRESSES
– black linen Earthen Slip (made in KC, 2016, no longer available)
linen Gallery dress
blue stripe dress
– black linen Flax dress (new)
– striped linen Flax dress (new)

I love the black slip dress I got last summer but I find the calf length hard to wear and the lack of pockets problematic, so I’m planning to shorten it and add big patch pockets. Not sure why I don’t have photos of the next two — pardon the terrible drawings, [UPDATED 05.15] but you can see them at the links — and I’ll tell you about the two newly acquired (as in, this week) dresses tomorrow.

SLEEVELESS
Lakeside camisoles
black Adventure tee
striped cotton shell
black silk gauze shell

KNIT VESTS/TOPS
Anna vest
Meg-made tee
– WIP: ash linen Sloper

TEES, TOPS, TUNICS
– black Imogene+Willie tee (made in LA, no longer available)
Part Wolf tee (2013)
linen Fen top
blue stripe Fen top
– linen Elizabeth Suzann Harper Tunic (recent acquisition)
– black plaid top (me-made 2015, never blogged)
– black chambray top (me-made 2014, never blogged)
– ivory Madewell tunic (2014)
– tobacco linen Nade Studio tunic (2016)
– secondhand chambray shirt

I have another I+W tee in natural, which unfortunately just looks like a white tee gone dingy, so I’m hoping to dye it somehow. Good ol’ Part Wolf is in here partially as a stand-in for the fact that I want a nice fresh grey tee, more on that tomorrow. The plaid top and black chambray top are both modifications from an out-of-print Cynthia Rowley pattern that I’ve tampered with endlessly the past several years and will be doing so again. Nade Studio is a new acquaintance of mine, Maggie Pate, who I met last summer at a little makers’ market in Chattanooga and who sews every piece herself. I bought this linen tunic from her at Porter Flea in December and have been awaiting the time for wearing it. The chambray shirt will really be an outer layer for summer …

OUTER LAYERS
– denim J.Crew shirt jacket (c.2003)
– WIP: grey summer cardigan

My treasured old shirt jacket has become tissue thin all over, so I’m wearing it sparingly — it’s sort of a stand-in here for my actual jean jacket, which I don’t have a pic of.

SKIRTS
– black cotton embroidered Katayone Adeli skirt (c.1998)
– thrifted grey cotton-linen skirt

I would have sworn I recently took a photo of [UPDATED 05.15] the Adeli skirt, which I bought 20 years ago and basically wore for the first time last summer … and haven’t worn since. But I’m determined to get it into rotation this year. The thrifted skirt is another piece I just got this week ($12!) and will talk more about tomorrow.

PANTS
– black linen Elizabeth Suzann Florence pants (new/sample, pockets added by me)
– wide-leg J.Crew khakis (2016)
– natural Imogene+Willie Willies (2016, made in LA)
– camo pants Gap/mended (c.2009)
– visibly mended J.Crew jeans (c.2003)

… if I can finally get in another round of patching/mending on those poor beloved old jeans AND on the camo pants that have recently had a major blow-out around the cargo pockets. There’s also something not quite right about the fit on those khakis, which I bought around this time last year — I’m going to take them to a tailor and see if they can solve it so I’ll actually wear them more often.

SHOES
– black Jane Sews sandals (2016, no longer available)
– tan J.Crew sandals (2009)
– faux snake J.Crew flats (2017, no longer available)
– silver flats (2016, handmade in LA by Solid State for Goodwin, no longer available)
– black ankle boots (Gap 2014)

I’m putting major emphasis on ankle boots for summer, as discussed yesterday, the challenge being that my 3-year-old boots are looking problematically shabby. They were cheap to begin with, poor quality leather, which means there’s not much that can be done to make them presentable again. So I’m in the market for a replacement, but finding exactly the right combination of heel height and shaft height is SO HARD. Maybe if I finally found the exact right pair of clogs, hmm.

. . .

One notable absence here is my chambray Endless Summer tunic, one of the most hardworking garments I own. However, I like it best as an underlayer, hanging out from underneath a pullover or button-up, and it doesn’t quite light me up when paired with any of the bottoms here on its own, so ironically it’s not in the summer lineup but will be back for Fall. Also not here is my Togue Stripes tank, which is being adopted by my sister.

It may not look like there’s not a ton of commonality between these things and what I’ve described as my ideal summer mode of dress, partly because I don’t have photos of the dresses, [UPDATED 05.15] but I’m also lacking some of the most basic of basics that will help pull it all together. There’s also the fact that these items don’t go together in as many different ways as I would like, so what I need to do is make sure the garments I’m thinking of adding will extend the uses of everything here. For example, the plaid top is here but just barely. Despite the tissue-thin cotton fabric, it feels a little too Fall to me when paired with the black pants or the khaki trousers (and boots or closed shoes, if we’re talking about work). It’s cute and summery enough (by my standards) with the natural jeans and sandals, but I can’t wear sandals to my frigid workplace, so its utility is quite limited in this mix. But I’m into the idea of pairing it with a black linen skirt, and that skirt would also add one more outfit option to almost every top seen here. So more about what I’m making or otherwise adding tomorrow

(Fashionary sketch templates via Fringe Supply Co.)

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Winter ’16 wardrobe planning, Part 2: Closet inventory

Winter ’16 wardrobe planning, Part 2: Closet inventory

Here’s a thing I’ve never done before: Literally laid the contents of my closet out flat in front of me so I could see it all at once, albeit on my laptop screen in the form of tiny photos. Wow, helpful! This is not every single garment in my closet — it is only the items that are relevant to my getting dressed right now, in my current circumstances, season and frame of mind. Well, these things plus a handful of well-loved graphic tees that I do use for layering sometimes, plus a couple of dresses that may make an appearance once or twice this winter. But as I said yesterday, all I’m in the mood for right now is “jeans and a sweater” — the very rut I’ve been trying to break out of! But I’m trying to be realistic here. Not all of these things are being worn (or even up to being worn) at the moment, which I’ll address below, but this little exercise was immediately useful in the opposite way as well: I’m giving the hairy eyeball to anything that’s seasonally appropriate but didn’t make this cut. Those things need to find new homes!

So what do I have? Going across the rows from left to right, with an * indicating things that are either at end-of-life or not currently being worn for some reason. Store-bought garments are identified by origin. For the me-made garments, click through on any of the links for bigger pics/full details —

SHIRTS
– Denim shirt-jacket (J.Crew c.2003)
– Black-and-white plaid flannel shirt (Uniqlo c.2011)
– Denim workshirt* (Madewell c.2012)
– Grey wool button-down (Fischer)
– Navy-and-black plaid heavy flannel button-down (Fischer)

The two wool Fischer shirts are US-made, bought last year when I was desperate for shirts with sleeves. They’re men’s shirts, as is the b/w plaid flannel, so they have to be worn sort of carefully if I don’t want to look like a dude. (I’m all about androgyny but it’s a fine line, especially if you’re mannish like me.) The denim shirt is probably my most-worn garment, has reached a state of overall transparency, and desperately needs to be replaced. I love the idea of sewing a replacement, but realistically I should look for a good known-origins option to buy. The navy-and-black one is more of an overshirt or shirt-jacket. No real needs in this category, although I am wanting a white shirt/top of some sort.

UNDERLAYER TOPS
– Plaid cotton top (apparently never blogged)
Black hemp jersey muscle tee
Blue striped sleeveless top
Black silk gauze sleeveless top
– Chambray dot Endless Summer tunic (made by a friend)

These are all in heavy rotation, which makes me really happy since they’re all handmade — all good use of time and fabric. I also have the three Lakeside camisole tops I made over the summer, which are great layered under pullovers, but I’m short on pullovers to pull over them (see below). As I solve that, those will come into play. (Why not under cardigans? I prefer a higher neckline for that.) So I feel good about this category — there are things I’d like to add, especially the long-planned black/ivory stripe version of the sleeveless tee — but nothing I have to concern myself with between now and Spring.

VESTS/SLEEVELESS SWEATERS
Cowichan-style vest
Black Anna vest
Grey vintage waistcoat
Black sleeveless turtleneck*

I love all of these, but love vests best over sleeveless things, so I’m making more effort to wear these in other ways — like my natural jeans (below) with the Cowichan over either the grey wool shirt or the b/w flannel instead of, say, the sleeveless black tee; or the grey vest over the plaid top and under the black cardigan, which is a favorite combo. The Cowichan is probably my very favorite thing I own — in the sense that I’m super proud of the knitting, it’s a really fantastic and unique piece of clothing, and I feel really cute in it. The black and grey vests are both immensely useful; the sleeveless turtleneck is one I need to get more creative about since I almost never wear it and am not ok with that. So no needs in this category other than just making more use of what I have.

PULLOVERS
– Cotton fisherman sweater (L.L. Bean c.2010 but still available)
Black lopi raglan*
Blue Loopy Mango sweater*
– Grey cashmere fitted turtleneck (J.Crew c.2009)
– Grey men’s cable turtleneck (H&M 2003)

OK, so here’s the big problem spot, just like I thought. I love the cotton fisherman sweater and wear it constantly but it is not at all warm. I love the lopi sweater but it is very warm; the short sleeves offset that in the transitional seasons but make it not as useful as it could be in its more natural season. If I make the sleeves long, which I probably should, it’s a deep-winter-only sweater. The blue blob still amuses me but in addition to being superbulky (i.e. winter warm) it’s not the easiest garment to build outfits around, as predicted. And I love and wear both turtlenecks heavily, but only during the middle of winter, obviously. Of the things I’m itching to make, St. Brendan will be extremely useful but not wildly season-spanning, if I’m being honest. (I’m making it anyway!) And I mentioned yesterday also wanting another really big cozy turtleneck, but that is also of limited use. What I’m most sorely lacking are the few simple light- to mid-weight, three-season sweaters that make the most sense for my life. I’ll have ONE as soon as I finish my striped sweater, but this is a situation I need to take seriously and not get too distracted by heavier, cozier sweaters just because winter is literally breathing down my neck right now. A couple of good sweatshirts would at least help, and be far quicker to make, but thin/warm basic pullovers should be my top priority. OR, sew a couple of sweatshirts and knit a couple of very quick winter things, like St. Brendan or the big turtleneck! That might be the best plan for the near term. Then prioritize lighter pullovers for 2017 knitting.

CARDIGANS
Black wool-linen cropped cardigan
Charcoal shawl-collar Bellows cardigan
Ivory wool-cotton Amanda cable cardigan*
Purple Trillium cardigan*

The black cardigan is an obvious workhorse, and I’ve noted I wear Bellows in the studio year-round. If it’s not waiting for me over the back of my desk chair, it’s in the front seat of my car — always within reach. I expect my Channel in progress to be every bit as useful, and it will be good to have a cozier, woolier shawl-collar, since my Bellows is half cotton. So that will make it three good cardigans, at least two of which can be worn indoors year-round. We’ve talked about my struggles with Amanda; what I haven’t told you is I deliberately shrunk it a little to see what impact that would have on my actually ever leaving the house in it. As dirty as I get at work these days, I haven’t dared attempt to wear it, so it’s still taking up closet space without getting worn. As I’m typing this, I’m wearing my beloved but otherwise-neglected Trillium — that is, I’m wearing it at home with leggings and slippers. It is so light and warm, not stuffy, and I absolutely love the way it fits — plus there’s all the sentimental value — but I can’t seem to make outfits with it that feel like me right now. So that’s my challenge to myself: getting this back into regular rotation. I definitely feel like the cardigans I outlined in yesterday’s post will be very worthwhile additions, at whatever point I fit them into my queue.

PANTS
– Natural denim jeans (Imogene+Willie, made in US)
– Dark cropped jeans (J.Crew Point Sur, made in US)
– Camo pants (Gap c.2009)
– Faded jeans 1, visibly mended* (J.Crew c.2003)
– Faded jeans 2* (Old Navy c.2013)

The first two pair of jeans were both bought this year and I love both. The natural ones are hard to wear to work but my favorite thing to make outfits with! The camo pants are my oldest and all-time favorite pants — the fit of them is amazing — but they are worn to the point of having been mended once with more tears forming as we speak. The beauty of camo is the mending isn’t even necessarily visible! I’ll keep these alive as long as possible. The older of the faded jeans have been repeatedly visibly mended over the past couple of years but have a new very large rift across the left thigh, so they can’t be worn until I address that. The last pair are the ones I’ve mentioned are tissue thin and shred so so easily at this point. They’re in need of major shoring up, which I just don’t know when I’ll get to. So I’m out my two dearest pair of jeans. As was noted in the comments yesterday, these are both at the point that even if I mend them, I can no longer wear them in hardwearing circumstances, so I really need to break down and buy another pair of jeans. One day I’ll attempt to make some, but not likely in the very near future. I should note that I also have a pair of wide-cropped khaki pants that didn’t make it into the photo queue!

So that’s my inventory. Tomorrow: outfits. And then I’ll form a plan of attack.

(Can you believe 15 of these 28 garments are handmade? I never would have thought that possible a couple of years ago!)

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