10×10 Challenge: Lessons learned

10x10 Challenge: Lessons learned

The just-completed Spring 10×10 Challenge, my first time doing one of Lee Vosburgh’s 10x10s, was a little more challenging than I expected — in large part due to the fact that these are almost all the same garments from my personal 20×30 thingy last October, so my extra challenge was to try to find new ways to wear the same old pieces … and not feel bored. I.e., the perennial challenge of a smaller, longer-lasting wardrobe. I did manage to put these pieces together in ways I hadn’t before, and I did also get bored. But here are some things I learned and views I had vividly reinforced along the way—

1. A good pair of shoes is everything. These handmade flats were an investment I made late last year — my birthday gift/holiday bonus to myself — and they made everything here look more current and interesting than would otherwise have been the case. It’s a long-held view of mine that a change of footwear is the easiest way to breathe new life into old clothes, and I think that’s infinitely more important when you’re trying to take a Slow Fashion approach to your wardrobe, and intend to wear things for years, not one season. I also realized how blasé I’ve been at times about how hard I can be on shoes, as I used to buy new ones so very often anyway. Wearing these so many days in a row, I realized just how precious they are to me — I mean, I got to watch Julio make them for me through his Instagram Story — and I want to be thoughtful about wearing them.

10x10 Challenge: Lessons learned

2. Comfort is key. I was right in October when I said prints/patterns matter (having included a stripe, a camo and a snake-print flat in that batch of items). I missed that with these 10 pieces. But even more important, comfort matters so so much to me — meaning easy-to-wear, non-restrictive clothes but also “comfort clothes” in the same sense as “comfort food.” In these 9 garments, I included only one knit, and my two pairs of pants were both jeans. I’m a big believer in knits (and not just sweaters), and even had a rule for ages that if a thing required ironing, it didn’t belong in my closet. This was a disproptionately woven mini-wardrobe for me, and that definitely got on my nerves. Especially since we had some seriously cold, damp and depressing weather along the way, which had me longing to feel comforted by my clothes. The stiff jeans almost felt punitive at one point along the way, so I was happy to have a break from them over the weekend.

3. Layers are always the right idea. During this period, we had a high of 37, a high of 82, and everything in between. Which is part of why the silk smock got 4 times as many wears as the sleeveless top — turns out the smock works nicely under a shirtjacket (awesome to have discovered!), and is warmer (and more comforting) than the sleeveless one. Going into this, I thought I might be overdoing it on top layers, but not at all.

4. Selfies are hard! I took a simple mirror selfie all ten days for my IG Story (they’re saved in my Highlights @karentempler if you’re on IG and want to see them all) and had intended to only do the occasional self-timer outfit-of-the-day situation. But I realized I wanted to try to have all 10 ootd’s in the end, plus I’ve had a general aim for myself to get more comfortable having a camera pointed at me, so I added that to the overall challenge. I managed to take one for all but Day 2 (seen above only as garments), and omg I was so over it by the end! But I’m glad I did it — it was good practice, and I even like a few of them. My husband took the best pic, though, when I cheated on Day 8, below.

10x10 Challenge: Lessons learned

(On the 8th Day, above, I cheated. It was 35 degrees and I also couldn’t face my jeans for going out to dinner, so I wore my denim toddlers and boots with my Eliz Suzann silk smock and coat, and toffee Log Cabin Mitts. I’ll tell you about the cowl in this next pic tomorrow— )

10x10 Challenge: Lessons learned

5. Flexibility, as in life, is a necessity. I had said at the outset that I was only including one pair of shoes in the official count, but expected to have to sub in my rain boots on occasion. That did prove true, along with the emotionally and weatherly mandated Day 8 cheat.

10x10 Challenge: Lessons learned

6. I love not having to think about getting dressed! And yet still looking put together day after day. The more Closet Rummy™ I play, the more lost I am without my little outfit grids to consult in the morning. As a small business owner, I am pretty much always on decision overload, and not having to decide what to wear in the morning is a genuine help. (I eat the exact same breakfast every weekday for the same reason.) For the 10×10, I made myself a little set of suggestions and taped them into my mini bullet journal, which kind of cracked me up (so I enshrined it at the end). And even though I did change up a few things along the way, I felt a little bereft the following day when there was no handbook of what to put on!

7. Absence makes the heart grow fonder. This was the biggest surprise. Rather than fixating on (or even thinking about) what new stuff I might like to make or buy, this whole thing left me excited about so many of the beloved clothes in my closet, and the chance to wear them again! Of course, there is still that whole no-sleeves problem, but I’m starting to solve it!

All in all, worth doing. Did you participate, or have you before? What did you get out of it?

. . .

GARMENT COMBOS, IN ORDER OF APPEARANCE:

10x10 Challenge: Lessons learned
10x10 Challenge: Lessons learned

The garments represented, by number of wears—

7 WEARS: blue jeans (Imogene+Willie)
4 WEARS: black silk smock (Elizabeth Suzann 2017, no longer available)
3 WEARS: black linen-wool cardigan
3 WEARS: army shirtjacket 
3 WEARS: white smock (State the Label)
3 WEARS: natural jeans (Imogene+Willie 2016, no longer available)
2 WEARS: ancient denim shirtjacket (J.Crew, c.2003)
2 WEARS: blue button-up
1 WEAR: black silk gauze shell

And 7 WEARS for the tan flats (Solid State Studios, no longer available), since I wore my rain boots twice and my nice boots out to dinner on freezing day 8.

*Not included in the original 10 pieces

.

PREVIOUSLY in Wardrobe Planning: Me and the Spring 10×10 Challenge

SaveSave

Me and the Spring 10×10 Challenge

Me and the Spring 10x10 Challenge

So, as noted, I have some giant gaps in my closet when it comes to clothing suitable for our present weather — and yet I still have to get dressed every morning. I was thinking I’d triage an outfit plan to cover at least the next couple of weeks while I strive to fill in a few hangers (and/or hope for the weather to catch up with my clothing options). But then I remembered tomorrow is the start of the Spring 10×10 Challenge from Style Bee et al. I’ve never done it before, but since I’m already facing the reality of dressing myself from a limited selection of garments, why not go all the way, right?

Choosing my 10 items wasn’t even particularly difficult since I have so little to choose from! It’s also not a very dynamic selection, for that same reason. They are 1 cardigan, 2 shirtjackets, 1 sleeveless top, 3 shirts/smocks, 2 pair of jeans and 1 pair of shoes.

Or, more specifically:
black linen-wool cardigan
• ancient denim shirtjacket (J.Crew, c.2003)
army shirtjacket 
• black silk smock (Elizabeth Suzann, no longer available)
black silk gauze shell
• white smock (State the Label)
blue button-up
• natural jeans (Imogene+Willie, no longer available)
• blue jeans (Imogene+Willie)
• tan flats (Solid State Studios, no longer available)

Eight of the ten were already part of my 20×30 challenge in October, but the shoes were not one of them and I always say the easiest way to freshen up a wardrobe is a change of shoes! Still, it wouldn’t be much of a Challenge to just repeat outfits from that, so my actual challenge for the next 10 days is to see how many new ways I can think of to combine these garments. I was leaning heavily on pants in October, not wearing jeans so much, and the denim shirtjacket gives me 3-4 new options right off the bat, but how many of the remaining looks might be different? We’ll see!

There’s a slight chance I might trade out the white smock for my pink one, which would also change things up. And honestly, I gave only one slot to shoes because this is my first attempt at a 10×10 and I wanted to maximize garments. HOWEVER, it’s been really rainy here, so I’m allowed to cheat on the footwear if weather demands it. These flats were a big investment and I love them dearly, so I don’t leave the house in them on rainy days.

Who else is in? For all the details on the challenge and how to participate, see Style Bee. (I am in no way responsible for this event!)

.

PREVIOUSLY in Wardrobe Planning: The spring make list!

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

Spring ’18: The make list!

Spring ’18: The make list!

Following on last week’s assessments of my wants and my needs, I sat down this weekend with my notebooks and favorite pencil and stack of recent sketches. The simple fact is there are at least a half-dozen things I’m eager to knit and sew right now, all of which are more interesting than the projects pictured here, but I’m putting the needs first — especially since they’re fairly simple things to knock out:

1.) Finish the little grey marl sweater already on my needles.

2.) Fix the navy canvas pre-sleeves Clyde Jacket I got at Elizabeth Suzann’s sample sale in December. Meaning: trim out deep vest armholes (along the lines of one of my State Smocks) and finish the edges.

3.) How many times have I said this? Sew myself a heather grey Linden Sweatshirt. I’m actually thinking I’ll make two: One exactly that, and the second the short-sleeved version in a thicker bouclé knit I also have on hand. (While I have the pattern out …)

4.) Replace my natural toddler pants with an identical pair, this time in undyed cotton canvas. (Fabric picked up for $2/yard as remnant at ES’s garage sale last summer. What did I ever do before I lived near Elizabeth Suzann?)

5.) Make another pair of toddlers in my light blue, recycled-denim canvas, this time tinkering even more with the leg shape and rise. (If you’re confused, I am currently in possession of two fabrics made of recycled denim: one lightweight and drapey, the other one a sturdy denim/canvas.)

6.) Replace the white linen shell.

These are all projects where I already have the pattern (in most cases already traced and tweaked) and also have the fabric ready to go, apart from needing to find good ribbing for the two sweatshirts. So all I need is the time and head space to get going. And then there’s one other near-term thing:

7.) I recently freed myself of the need to carry a laptop back and forth with me every day — hallelujah!! — so I can have any everyday bag I want for the first time in awhile. I’m thinking for spring/summer, I’ll make myself a big ol’ Stowe Bag! (There have been so many inspiring ones posted to the #stowebag feed lately!) I have a blank linen one in progress, just waiting for it’s bias bindings, but I have some ideas about some very specific pockets for this scenario, so may be starting a new one.

That’s more projects than the number of months since I last sewed, I think, but it seems really doable. And then with these necessities (back) in place, I can start to scheme about some more adventurous stuff for … Summer of Basics! More on that to come.

Fashionary sketch panels, Fashionary sketchbook and spiral notebook from Fringe Supply Co.

.

PREVIOUSLY in Wardrobe Planning: Spring ’18 Haves and Have-nots

Spring ’18 wardrobe: Haves and have-nots

Spring ’18 wardrobe: Haves and have-nots

There’s a sufficient level of flux and lack in my closet right now that I don’t feel like I can do quite the same sort of tight, functional closet inventory I’ve done the past couple of seasons. Instead, I’m taking stock of the key haves and the critical have-nots (with underlined notes-to-self along the way), in the hope of translating this into a very focused plan for what I get to knit and sew for myself in the near future. So from all of this will come the make list—

TOPS WITH SLEEVES (that aren’t wool or flannel)

I mean, crickets; see above. And this is the number one thing a person needs at this time of year — actually at least half the year here — when it’s too warm for flannel shirts or wool sweaters (both of which I do have, of course) yet not warm enough to be leaving the house sleevelessly. I have the one cotton fisherman sweater (old L.L. Bean); my blue Archer button-up (and the somewhat redundant chambray workshirt I rescued from Bob’s discards a couple years ago); my little black gathered sleeve top (never blogged); plus my black silk Elizabeth Suzann Artist Smock (no longer available), and to put that last one in the “sleeves” category is to define it loosely. So as keen as I am to sew myself some more pants, I need to concentrate on this area first and foremost.

SLEEVELESS TOPS, VESTS and SMOCKS

Spring ’18 wardrobe: Haves and have-nots

If there’s one thing I have in spades, it’s sleeveless garments. I’m in decent shape for little sleeveless tops, with all my old chums hanging around: black silk gauze shell/black Adventure tee, striped Adventure tee, grey linen sleeveless tee (Everlane, no longer available), striped cotton shell, dotted chambray tunic (Endless Summer, made by a friend). Sadly, the one I lean on most — the white linen shell — was involved in a laundry mishap and is now a sad, dingy shade of not-quite-blue-ish. It can be solved by dyeing it a more deliberate shade of blue, but the little white top is a key piece of my wardrobe missing, so it needs to be replaced asap. A few of the others are looking a bit worse for wear at this point, plus a quick little sleeveless top is my favorite thing to make, so I’ll likely be adding a couple more (in color/pattern), in addition to replacing the white linen one.

In the not-quite-sleeves category, I have my little plaid top (never blogged), my blue stripe Fen and (not pictured) my two Harper Tunics: natural linen and olive cotton (no longer available), the former of which needs a dye job or some contrast stitching or something so it will look less deathly on me. But the olive one is a gem.

This is my favorite time of year for my black Sloper sleeveless turtleneck — either over a shirt or tee, or on its on. I’m also in good shape on vests — from my black Anna vest to my Cowichan-ish vest, which has its window of opportunity right now, to my very old J.Crew holdovers, the denim vest and trench vest. My beloved State Smocks are everything right now, through summer and fall. And my ES sleeveless navy canvas Clyde Jacket cum vest (top row, sample sale score of all time), which needs a bit of attention and then will be a big star of the season.

OUTER LAYERS

Spring ’18 wardrobe: Haves and have-nots

My army shirtjacket is my absolute favorite thing right now, thrown over everything from a sleeveless top to a smock to a dress with boots. The only one of my cardigans still in play is the black Linen Quill cardigan, which I recently blocked out a tad longer and have decided to leave alone once and for all, largely because I absolutely love how the length of it works with my State Smocks. And there’s the lovely tobacco-colored linen Nade tunic from last year (no longer available), which is easy to throw on over assorted sleeveless things. It would really be nice to have another season-spanning cardigan sweater.

PANTS and JEANS

Spring ’18 wardrobe: Haves and have-nots

This is a bit of a sad situation. Of the four pair of “toddler pants” I’ve made myself, two have gotten ruined in the wash. You already know about the original olive pair going all discolored. (I do still wear them around the house or on manual labor days.) Then after relying heavily on the cherished ivory pair all winter, I finally worked up the nerve to wash them — on delicate/cool, even though the fabric had been pre-washed in hot water. They came out about two sizes smaller and several inches shorter, so they’ve gone to a friend’s house for a try-on. (Sob!) That leaves the denim and the camo pairs, plus my clay-colored Wide Clydes, and it’s time to bring back out the black linen Florence pants. I’ve been itching to make some pants in a little bit different shape in a lighter faded-denim blue (among other things), but replacing the natural ones might now be top priority. And then there are my dark jeans (x3) and my natural jeans, but I’m just not wearing jeans as much lately and still feeling pretty happy about that.

SKIRTS and DRESSES

Pretty much same exact situation as last Summer — i.e., I have a couple of newer workhorses and a couple of slightly older things that have gone unworn, and those I’m giving them one more chance. There have actually been two additions, which will show up in outfits and/or Summer inventory — an Ace&Jig Eve Dress is Forte that I bought at their sample sale last fall, and an Elizabeth Suzann Harper Dress in grey linen gauze bought at her sample sale in early December. It’s a big muumuu — invaluable come summer — but I do like it now with my tall boots and army shirtjacket. Still no sign of me starting to wear skirts, and no real needs in this category.

Now to figure out exactly how to fill the holes, and in what order.

.

PREVIOUSLY in Spring 2018 Wardrobe: Mood and strategy

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

Spring ’18 wardrobe planning: Mood and strategy

Spring ’18 wardrobe planning: Mood and strategy

In really starting to think about dressing myself for Spring — or the most important part: what I get to make! — I of course started a spring 2018 mood board at Pinterest, and thought it’d be a good idea to go back through last year’s spring planning posts … but alas, there are none! We skipped over spring last year, and so did my planning. But it looks like I had all the right ideas and attitudes in my summer strategy, even though my plans were largely foiled. This year, I don’t have to worry about being frozen at work (we have control of the themostat now!) but I also don’t want to get ahead of myself. It seems like we may be in for a nice long spring, so I’m thinking in terms of winter-into-spring right now, more than spring-into-summer. Knock wood knock wood knock wood.

So what does this season’s pinboard tell me:

COLOR
As always, I’m in the mood for all the blues and greens, especially the lighter ones, piled onto a foundation of whites and off-whites, khaki/camel/caramel, heathery greys, denim, navy and black. But I’m also longing for a hit of yellow and maybe even a spot of pinkish-red. I used to have a killer pair of men’s chinos in vivid yellow, which works better for me than yellow near my face, so I’m pondering that at the moment. But mostly keeping with my usual palette and thus, happily, my existing fabric and yarn stash. If I buy any fabric at all, let it be for the sake of color.

SHAPE
And I’m still in the mood for loose, easy shapes — floaty tops or soft tees with loose pants, worn with a shirt, jacket or tunic-as-jacket. Not reflected here, though, is what a big vest mood I’m in — from my State Smocks to my sleeveless Clyde to my assorted sweater vests. It’s interesting to me how many of the same images make it back onto my mood boards season after season, which I think is fantastic and as it should be — each season is a slight evolution, not a tearing up and discarding of what I wanted the season or the year before.

Apart from that, I’ll be following much of the logic expressed in last summer’s plan as I start to think about what pieces I’ll be moving to the center of the closet, what I’ll be making to augment that, and how I put it all together into outfits. More to come!

Fashionary sketch panels from Fringe Supply Co.

.

PREVIOUSLY in Wardrobe Plannning: So long winter wardrobe: Notes for next year

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

So long, winter wardrobe: Notes for next year

So long, winter wardrobe: Notes for next year

The trees around Nashville began to bloom in the third week of February this year, following several weeks of mild weather … which followed those few weeks of uncommon cold around the turn of the year. So having a string of last-minute days in the 40s and 50s this week has me feeling all nostalgic and squeezing in these last few wears of some of my warmer sweaters, albeit with lighter layers and, in some cases, exposed ankles. Still, there’s no denying it’s Spring, and I’m eager to do some seasonal wardrobe planning, but first wanted to make some notes for next year:

1) My sweaters skew too warm
At this point, I’ve knitted myself a lovely collection of sweaters for a person who lives at least one zone north of me. With the lone exception of my striped raglan, they are hardy wools and either worsted gauge or heavier. That was all well and good during that extreme cold snap, but it means I’m at a bit of a loss during more typical Nashville weather. That said, I’m not kicking anything out of the closet, or deaccessioning any of my remaining wool sweater quantities. Next fall, I’ll finish the blue Bellows (and figure out how to wear it) and allow myself a turtleneck to replace my sad ratty old one, but other than that, I need to think about lighter and/or non- (or not 100%) wool sweaters, and to be really strategic about what happens to the rest of the wool in my stash. Which means cardigans, lighter fabrics (as opposed to densely packed cables), abbreviated shapes, etc.

2) Monotony and claustrophobia are cousins
My winter outfit plan did eventually start to feel a bit stiflingly formulaic. I think it’s relevant that this is also the most bothered I’ve ever been by the short days, which may in turn be related to how cold it was for part of this year. This winter made me feel claustrophobic, and my wardrobe monotony contributed to that. (As I’m typing this, I’m realizing the actual weight of my sweaters likely played an unconscious role, as well.)

3) More shoes, please
Leaving myself with really only one pair of winter shoes didn’t help, especially as they were stiff and hard-soled. I’m so ready to be free of those boots! Which, for a boot lover like me, is really saying something.

4) Lighten up
Last year’s key message to myself was this reminder: “… what I want after New Year’s is completely different from what I want during the Fall and holidays. I always have an urge to lighten up — the things that felt cozy a week or three earlier suddenly feel dour and depressing — once we’re headed downhill toward Spring.” Having that in mind, I did set myself up with a lighter palette this year, overall, and have appreciated that. So the takeaway from that plus all of the above is to continue to lighten up, in every sense.

In the next few weeks, I will still be able to wear some of the sweater-over-my-shoulders looks seen in the Big Rubble post, the November outfits and the Paris packing plans. But other than that, I’m thinking about spring/summer sweaters — what that really means to me — and spring wardrobe planning overall. More on that very soon!

.

PREVIOUSLY in Wardrobe Planning: Instant sweater No. 1

SaveSave

SaveSave

Instant sweater No.1

Instant sweater No.1: Big Rubble

Last week, my friend Meg and I were at a dinner party at a semi-fancy restaurant. We were seated at opposite ends of a long table and I heard almost nothing of what was said down there all night … except at some point I became suddenly very tuned into Meg saying something about how she never wears the Big Rubble sweater she knitted several years ago (and later modified to a crewneck). You probably don’t remember me going on about this one back then, or more specifically, about how I wanted to be the kid in the kids’ version. Anyway, it was like one of those scenes in a movie where the protagonist is in the middle of some crowded, noisy scene and the camera zeroes in on their ear, which is isolating a single voice from among the din. Or maybe I have some kind of knitter’s sonar. Whatever, I heard her say it. Naturally what happened next is I politely shouted to the other end of the table “CAN I HAVE IT?” Being the best friend a girl could ask for — and a knitter who doesn’t like to see her efforts go to waste — she shouted back “YEAH.” After which I asked for another sweater from her collection, which she also said yes to and I’ll tell you about later.

There had been some drinking, and we’re both pretty silly, so I wasn’t sure whether these sweaters were really going to come into my possession. But when I walked into Fringe HQ a couple of snow days later, there they were on my table. That was Thursday. I got home Thursday afternoon and tried it on. Left it on with my pj pants for the evening. Wore it to work Friday, around the house all weekend, and to work again yesterday. Love. It.

The funny thing is, this is not the sort of garment I would ever have counseled myself to wear, or would ever have actually knitted — the wide elbow sleeves are the sort of thing I might think looks funky and cute on someone else but would expect to drive me bonkers. And this shape on my frame? No. But it’s just so pleasant to have on! Despite not having exactly gotten dressed or made up yesterday, I took a quick selfie (above) and Instagram polled it, and 90% of people chose “wear it everywhere” over “only with pj’s,” so I guess the moral of the story is we don’t always know what’s right for us.

No matter, I’m happy to have this light and cozy thing in my life. I like it even better tossed over my shoulders or wrapped around my neck, which makes it perfect for travel. The shape of it means it can be thrown on over just about anything — including my shapeless black silk Elizabeth Suzann Artist Smock (no longer available?!) — but won’t go under anything other than my ES cocoon coat, which has basically the exact same sleeves. (Maybe an inch longer.) So it’ll be most useful during the thaw, on the sort of days where it’s barely too warm for a coat but you still never know whether you’ll be wearing your sweater, pulling it off and throwing it around your neck, or vacillating between the two. In other words, expect to see me in it at Squam next June, and pretty much everywhere in between.

Instant sweater No.1

.

PREVIOUSLY in Wardrobe Planning: Deep Winter outfits

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave