Wardrobe Planning: November sweater weather!

Wardrobe Planning: November sweater weather!

We went from days of sleevelessness to boots and sweater weather almost simultaneously with setting back the clocks. Sunday was the most perfect early-Fall day imaginable — trees in full color, the ground littered with leaves, and a breezy 78 degrees — and we literally woke up to cold and rainy early winter on Monday morning. The funny part is that on Sunday I was telling myself It’s cool, no need to be in a hurry, and was mapping out an outfit plan in my head that was all about faking sweater weather. (E.g. cowichan vest with tank dress and boots!) Then whoosh, and suddenly I’m standing in front of the closet dumbfounded and planless again.

Here’s the thing I’ve noticed while doing these wardrobe plans over the past year: They’ve slowed down my drive to make or acquire new things and have shown me how to get more mileage (i.e. more outfit combinations) out of the things I own. There’s still that old habit, though, of looking ahead to what’s new or in-progress or on my wish list rather than just concentrating on what I already own. And now there’s this whole new element of having laid out so many outfits over the past year that have never even been worn! So this next little plan is all about going backwards — digging up the unworn outfits, the favorite combos from the past few seasons, and the things that can become new again with just the addition of a cardigan or jacket, a switch from sandals to boots. And this time — for the first time since I began this — I’m not including anything in the plan that’s currently a WIP. Which means I’m also only thinking through the end of November, keeping it a little light still, and yes, looking forward to having my vanilla cardigan and natural wool pants to play with in December.

Wardrobe Planning: November sweater weather!
Wardrobe Planning: November sweater weather!
Wardrobe Planning: November sweater weather!
Wardrobe Planning: November sweater weather!
Wardrobe Planning: November sweater weather!

For details on all of the garments pictured, see my Fall Closet Inventory + camo/denim toddler pants post coming as soon as the natural ones are finished (soon!), but they’re all basically the same as the olive pair, with assorted variations. The black ankle boots are Everlane, and the tan flats are identical to my silver ones, handmade by Solid State Studios. An early holiday treat for myself!

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PREVIOUSLY in Wardrobe Planning: 20×30 outfits and after-thoughts

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20×30 outfits and after-thoughts

20x30 outfits and thoughts

My whole big 20×30 experiment for Slow Fashion October turned out to be more fun and informative than I might have imagined. And also a little bit addictive! (It was also the cause of my taking more selfies in one month than I have over several years. I managed it almost every weekday.) I began the month vowing that I wasn’t going to be a slave to the plan — as I said to the Crafty Planner, it was meant to be a game not a sentence — but once I got started, I found I didn’t want to waver from it. I really wanted to know if I could go a whole month wearing only 20 garments. The answer is … sort of!

For one thing, operating off of a limited number of clothes — especially if you wash them comparatively rarely, like I do — requires a certain level of organization if you’ve got things like a trip and a photo shoot on the calendar. So there were a couple of days where I had pretty much the whole set in the wash and had to wear something else. There were also a couple of weekend days at the start of the month where I basically didn’t get dressed. And while I originally thought I would treat the Rhinebeck trip as a time-out from all this (with the notion that it would be cold there), the mild weather made it possible to mostly stick to the plan after all. The exception being that I only wanted to take one sweater, and it needed to be one that would go with everything, every day, so I traded the camel cardigan in the original plan (which hadn’t been worn) for my little black cardigan.

I also didn’t actually wear 20 garments. The natural pants never got finished, nor the raglan seam fixed on my striped sweater, so neither of those made an appearance, which wiped out a lot of the possible outfits from the lineup. And the persistent warm weather meant the five sweater-sweatshirts in the mix were of essentially no use until late in the game. So in reality, I was working with more like 14 or 15 garments for the majority of the month.

That and the fact that the only real color in the group was in those sweater-shirtshirts meant the risk of boredom was even greater than I originally thought. (It was definitely an unintentional lot of black/white/army.) But it all worked out, and I either made or reinforced some useful observations along the way—

20x30 outfits and thoughts

1) Novelty is critical. My beloved State Smocks — with their unusual volume — are really fun to play with, and brought in an element of newness, which kept things from getting too dull. The two outfits in the middle got repeated on the Rhinebeck trip with just the addition of the black cardigan, and a shoe swap (snake instead of silver) for the second one. Also, I love this cardigan so much with the smocks that I’ve decided not to lengthen it, at least for the time being.

20x30 outfits and thoughts

2) A uniform doesn’t have to be uniform. An easy formula for me is to put on my white linen shell and one or the other of my toddler pants, then throw just about anything on top. These don’t look like five of the same outfit, even though they all have the same foundation.

20x30 outfits and thoughts

3) “Jeans and a t-shirt” can be reimagined. There are a lot of days in my world where all I want to do is put on jeans and a tee, hair in a ponytail, and get to work. But of course those are the days where I inevitably run into someone and feel bad about looking so blah. The fact that I didn’t include a t-shirt in the mix forced me to think differently on those days. The silk smock is as easy as a tee and so much nicer looking. Same goes for the sleeveless tee with my wide-leg denim toddlers instead of regular old jeans. The mix in the middle was my travel outfit en route to NY, perfect for the plane.

20x30 outfits and thoughts

4) Even a little bit of print can go a long way toward keeping things lively. I was soooo happy I had the camo pants and snake-print flats in mix, and had on one or the other just about every day. (Sometimes both.) Had this all been solids, I might not have gotten through it! The outfit upstream with the black vest and camo pants got repeated at Rhinebeck with the black cardigan and snake flats. You can also see here that I actually wore two different pairs of dark jeans in Oct — my handmades one day and the J.Crew made-in-LA pair on several others. So I guess technically that puts the worn tally back at 19 garments.

20x30 outfits and thoughts

5) And last but not least: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. This photo is the same outfit I wore home from Rhinebeck (including the black cardigan in my hand), albeit with different shoes, but this was actually taken on November 1st. I thought I was excited to wear something different once the calendar flipped over, but when it came time to get out the door yesterday morning, the fact is it was much simpler to stick to the list. After all, there are still quite a few unworn outfits on there … and I’ve never felt this reasonably put-together on this many successive days in my entire life. I’d say that makes it a rousing success!

One other thing I want to note: When I picked out the 20 garments for this little parlor game, I didn’t think about their origins. I just picked 20 items that I thought I could wear for a whole month. This post in the #slowfashionoctober feed led me to go back and tally it up. Of the 20 items, 11 were me-made, 1 was a refashion of a RTW piece, 3 were storeboughts from before all of this, 2 are upcycled thrifted goods (the State smocks), and the remaining 3 were bought more recently from known-origins brands. I think that’s a pretty amazing balance and a fair representation of where my closet currently stands.

For a rundown on all of the garments, see my Fall inventory. Photos mostly at Fringe Supply Co. HQ during our little expansion — pardon the dust!

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PREVIOUSLY in Wardrobe Planning: October outfits! (The 20×30 plan)

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Wardrobe Planning: October outfits!

Wardrobe Planning: October outfits!

Wardrobe Planning: October outfits!

So! Here it is: My big 20×30 outfit plan for October (aka Slow Fashion October). Except I picked out my twenty pieces (above, not counting the shoes), started playing closet rummy and quickly made thirty-five outfits without exhausting all the possibilities. Which is a good thing, because this is October and any plan is going to have to have some wiggle room in it. We’re still in the lower-mid 80s right now (and loving it, honestly — the humidity finally broke) but with any luck we’ll be down into the 70s or upper 60s by the end of the month, but there’s really no predicting it. I’m being necessarily flex about the shoes, too: the black huaraches will give way to black ankle boots; the tan sandals will become tan flats. And somewhere in there I’ll need to make a separate packing list for Rhinebeck, where it will be colder than this.

An increasingly crystalline truth is that I can get by in any situation with this combination of shoes: one black, one tan, and a wildcard or two.

There are a few issues here, mind you. Ten of these outfits are based on a natural version of my “toddler pants” (I’ve told you this is what I call my olive pants and their descendents, yes?) which aren’t done. I, uh, had a little mishap. So that’s why they look funny in the photos: They’re wrong and not done. Also, some of those outfits are sleeveless. Will the pants be fixed before the temperature drops? We shall see. Likewise, the dark jeans pictured are my Willies because my me-made jeans don’t have a hem yet, but in reality I could be wearing either pair. And the striped sweater needs one of its raglan seams redone before it gets cool enough to wear it. Hopefully it will get cool enough to wear the sweaters I’ve included — at least once! But I’ll be winging it if not.

So I’m not being a slave to this, BUT (weather permitting) I can get dressed all month from the following without giving it another moment’s thought … unless of course I want to.

I’ll be attempting to document my outfits every day for #slowfashionoctober either in my main @karentempler feed or my Story (those are my Monday and Tuesday outfits up top), and will post a wrap-up at the end of the month — but I can tell you right now this is my favorite array of outfits I’ve put together yet.

Wardrobe Planning: October outfits!
Wardrobe Planning: October outfits!
Wardrobe Planning: October outfits!
Wardrobe Planning: October outfits!
Wardrobe Planning: October outfits!

For details on all of the garments pictured, see my Fall Closet Inventory + Refashioned army jacket + toddler pants post coming as soon as the natural ones are fixed, but they’re all basically the same as the olive pair (with assorted variations).

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PREVIOUSLY in Wardrobe Planning: Pre-fall Outfits!

Outfits! — Pre-Fall 2017

Outfits! : Pre-fall 2017

Outfits! : Pre-fall 2017

You may have picked up on this already, but I’m not really ready to start putting together fall outfits that I can’t wear anytime soon. But I also want to try something different here — at least for the next few months. Rather than projecting a whole season’s worth of outfits at once, I’m going to try doing it one month at a time. October is a very different situation from December, for example, and things change. I make things and buy things along the way, or discover new and beloved ways of combining things. So for the moment, I’m just doing ten outfits to get through the rest of this month, and then I’ll do October. (And there might be a little Slow Fashion October game to propose, we’ll see.)

For now: I’m trying to make peace with these next ten days of “highs near 90” by focusing on the positive aspects of the lingering warm weather. Like I love my tall boots and only wear them with dresses, and I like dresses best when I can wear them with my tall boots, so this is the moment where I get to indulge in linen and boots at the same time. Likewise, I do really like sleeveless clothes, as you know, and it’s nice to be able to throw a vest on over them. (At least while indoors.) These are some of my very favorite ways to dress, and the window may be narrow. Plus it’s a chance to wear some of my favorite summer outfits at least one more time. So I’m embracing it! I’m embracing it! (I’m really really trying to embrace it.)

A big part of why I don’t feel like myself in summer clothes, I’ve come to realize, is simply that there are no layers. Duh. I am a layerer. Layers are fun and make me happy, and when I first put on my linen Nade tunic over a linen dress and realized that’s one way I can wear layers in summer, it was like the choir of angels singing. The same thing goes for my State Smocks — throwing them on over anything and everything totally changes the look of things. And it solves the pocketless dress problem — God bless ’em — so I’m also distracting myself with the fun of them for the time being. (The sketches up top are outfits 9 and 3 from the lineup.)

So I’m getting to practice my warm-weather layering, but that doesn’t mean I hope it sticks around. Come on, sweater weather! I’ve got so much good stuff I’m eager to play with.

(For details on the garments pictured, see my Fall ’17 inventory and Summer ’17 inventory.
Fashionary sketch templates from Fringe Supply Co.
)

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PREVIOUSLY in Fall 2017 Wardrobe: Closet inventory and Mood

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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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Fall ’17 wardrobe planning, part 1: Mood

Fall ’17 wardrobe planning, part 1: Mood

I’ve had color on my mind a lot lately, as we creep all too slowly toward fall, and as I embark here on fall wardrobe planning. These past few years have been about rebuilding my wardrobe from scratch following the great clean-out and the shift in awareness and the upheaval of a move to a new climate and life and all of that. For me personally, basics and neutrals are building blocks — the foundation of a room or a wardrobe — so that’s been my focus. And with the emphasis on handmade and investment pieces, it’s been slow going. In the best of ways. But I’m at a point where I feel like my foundation is solid and it’s time to start layering on the fun.

There are two things I mean by that: color/pattern and curve balls, the latter of which I’ll expound on tomorrow.

The clothes I’ve been making or acquiring over this period have been almost exclusively neutral and largely solids. (I count blues as neutral, especially denim/chambray blues on which I heavily rely.) And it’s been wonderful that they all pretty much just go together, like Garanimals. It’s made coming up with outfits or packing lists super simple, which has its obvious merits. Plus there’s the fact that I feel strong and confident and at ease dressed in head-to-toe neutrals. So there’s part of me that doesn’t want to mess with a good thing. But then there’s the other part: the one that is longing for more lightness (at a weird moment of the year, right?) and for color.

I put together a Fall ’17 Mood board at Pinterest yesterday, which is about color as much as (maybe more than) anything else, and it looks almost like a spring mood board. I think I’ve literally said this before, but it has really struck me profoundly lately: My color palette doesn’t change. It is not subject to fashion winds or trends, or to the different ages and eras of my life.

I have an older board at Pinterest, started six or seven years ago, called All Things Lovely. I don’t add to it very often, and it’s super random and undirected — it could be a book cover, a landscape, a portrait, a ceramic bowl. The only thing the images have in common is they give me such a peaceful, happy feeling that I’m moved to add them to that board. I’m not sure I’ve ever just called up the board and scrolled back through it, but I did yesterday, and I realized it’s my lifelong mood board — the mood of my soul, I guess, to be corny about it. It’s black-and-white-and-ivory-and-grey. It’s all the shades of blues and greens, and blue-greens and green-blues, the softer and murkier the better. It’s lilac undertones. It’s burlap and camel and caramel and nut browns. And there are flashes of pink and yellow here and there. Kelly green is as bright as it ever gets for me, and I like it best mixed with softer greens.

Thinking back through the last several decades of dressing myself, that has always been the case. All that ever changes is emphasis. The past few seasons, it leaned heavily on the darker tones, and now I’m feeling the lighter ones. And what I’m wishing for are the colors that have been all but missing lately. But the challenge is to add without complicating — finding ways to make the colors fold in just as effortlessly as the neutrals, like they do in this pinboard.

Interestingly, the colors have been creeping into my closet bit by bit, which I’ll show you in my inventory tomorrow. And I’ll talk about how I love a little sartorial curve ball and why.

Is it fall yet where you are? (Or the start of spring?) It’s still mid-upper 80s here for the foreseeable future …

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PREVIOUSLY in Wardrobe Planning: Summer wardrobe results

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Summer wardrobe results: Better luck next year!

Summer wardrobe results: Better luck next year!

One of the most helpful things I’ve done for myself with regard to this blog was that winter wardrobe recap I posted in March. I even left myself a pre-fall to-do list — thanks, me! So before I begin to wander into fall planning, this is me making notes about how the whole summer outfits lineup has worked out (I should say so far). In short: WAH wah.

I was super enthused about those plans — especially about the dresses. On days I did wear one, I was so happy and comfortable I thought I might come to actually like summer clothes. But alas, it’s been mostly the same old summer struggle. The biggest factor in the struggle is the frozen tundra of Fringe HQ, but in a just a few months we’ll be gaining control over our own climate! Which means next year will, thankfully, be a whole different story. Still, some things to remember when it rolls back around:

Mending my camo pants (some more) was the biggest win. Basically I’ve spent the past couple of months rotating between those, my Point Sur jeans and my black linen ES pants. Comfortable pants (mainly the black elastic-waist ones) have won out over dresses.

• Dresses have lost out because it’s too cold at work for bare legs, due to lack of pockets in some cases, the fact that I still haven’t found a good replacement for my ankle boots (and a trip to the shoe repair didn’t help the old dears much), and lately because — as a result of not baring them while my arms get incidental exposure— my legs are noticeably whiter than my arms. It’s not a good look.

• Also, my idea of solving the outer layer problem by wearing a jean jacket or shirt jacket just hasn’t appealed. Had I actually finished the grey cardigan, that might have made a difference?

• My favorite overlayer is my tobacco linen Nade tunic, but it also has no pockets, so can only be worn over the dresses that do. It’s been worn far less than I anticipated, despite my crazy love for it, but I think it will get a little more wear in the transition into fall.

• Related: I haven’t worn the thrifted grey skirt yet, but also think it will have a better shot in the waning season.

• I’ve officially OD’d on black, largely because I’m so dependent on the black linen pants right now and I tend not to like black pants with anything other than more black.

• The white linen shell has definitely been useful — it’s especially great with the camos — but it’s so big it looks sloppy with some things. It’ll be great under sweaters come fall, so it’s all good, but I’ll make a right-sized version for next year.

• The linen Sloper is so cute, but I’m just not wearing it. As predicted, it’s very drapey, and drapey is my least favorite trait in a garment. So it may wind up going to my sister.

• The linen Fen top suddenly looks deathly drab to me with absolutely everything and has not been worn once. It needs some contrast stitching or a dip in a dye bath or something.

• I haven’t worn the linen Gallery dress once this summer (for all of the reasons above). If I don’t find myself reaching for it in the next couple of months — when I have the option of wearing any of the outfits seen here — I think I’ll shorten it to tunic length for wearing under sweaters.

The most important lesson is I’ve really only worn 15-20 different garments in the past couple of months, just paired up differently all the time. Pictured up top are some of my favorite combos of the summer — the outfits I have felt the most at home in. And just like with the winter recap, all of the outfits I haven’t worn for circumstantial reasons will thus still be new to me next year!

For details on the items pictured and any other garments referenced here, see the summer closet inventory. (The grey linen sleeveless tee is from Everlane, sold out; similar versions available.)

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PREVIOUSLY in Wardrobe Planning: Squam reflections and outfits