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

2017 Remake-1 : Black linen slip dress + more camo mending

2017 Remake-1 : Black linen slip dress + more camo mending

Despite my careful planning and copious outfit projections, I’ve actually been struggling a little bit to get dressed so far this summer. For a few reasons: A) I haven’t replaced my ankle boots yet, which dampens my enthusiasm for all the dress-based outfits I want to be wearing. My poor old boots are just way too shabby. B) Many of the outfits in the rundown hinge on garments that are either still WIPs or that need to be mended, refashioned, lengthened or shortened, and thus aren’t actually available to be worn. And C) I really just want to wear my black linen pull-on pants every day, and I do! Yesterday, blessed with a few hours to spend in my sewing room, I decided the best thing I could do with the time was tackle the fix-it pile and get a couple of existing garments back to usefulness. So instead of cutting out the muslin of my Archer for Summer of Basics, as I had planned:

  1. I shortened my black linen slip dress to knee length and added patch pockets (which you can’t actually see in the photo, but I swear they’re there!), and
  2. I mended the 3″ tear in the side of my precious old camo pants.

Which means all of the above and below are now actual wearable outfits:

2017 Remake-1 : Black linen slip dress + more camo mending

2017 Remake-1 : Black linen slip dress + more camo mending

Please excuse the lack of a better (or modeled) dress photo — it was a seriously dark and stormy day. I’ll be sure to include it in a future FO post!

For details on the garments pictured, see my Summer closet inventory. And the more recently added black linen Sloper sweater and white linen shell.

Also, while at Squam I had the pleasure of chatting with Renee of the new-ish East London Knit podcast. Man am I fidgety when you point a camera at me! But if you’re interested, you can watch it here. Thanks again to Renee for inviting me on!

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PREVIOUSLY in FOs: The white linen shell

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Squam 2017: Reflections and outfits

Squam 2017: Reflections and outfits

I have a lot of Deep Thoughts coming away from this year’s Squam Art Workshops, but that’s sort of what Squam does to you. Some of those might find their way into this post in one form or another — I’ll see what happens as I write — but if you really just want to know what I wore, feel free to scroll on down, that’s cool! “Whatever makes you happy” is sort of the number one rule of Squam, so go with it.

(Bob came in and started talking to me just then. I said, in apologies for shushing him, “I’m trying to write about what I’ve learned about myself in the last five years.” He said, “Wow. It’s a good thing you got a nap.”)

The simple summary of the trip is: I had the best, most peaceful time imaginable. I flew to Boston the night before and met my longtime online friend Felicia Semple for the first time at the picturesque Squam Lake Inn in Holderness, NH, near the old camp where Squam takes place. We had dinner and talked each other’s ears off, and the next day we drove an hour and a half to visit the Harrisville Designs mill and take the tour — my first time watching yarn being made. (I couldn’t get a cell signal there, so I’ll be belatedly putting all the images and videos into my Instagram Story today.) New Hampshire is so pretty it feels like you’re in a movie set: Every little general store and fire station is picture-perfectly adorable, and Harrisville is definitely no exception. But even without the scenery and the mill tour, I cherish that chunk of time I got to spend with Felicia, yammering like mad and making observations about the ways we talk about ourselves or our endeavors. As they say, it felt like I’d known her forever, but she’s that sort.

Wednesday evening we checked in at camp and got our cabin assignments. I had the good fortune to be bunk mates with my hilarious sprite of a friend Mary Jane Mucklestone (who I first met taking this class from her four years ago) and two people I’d not met before: the warm-hearted dynamo Anne Weill (who I’ve admired since her graciousness in the face of this snooty post I wrote in 2015) and Camille DeAngelis, who was teaching the writing workshop and is a lovely, gentle soul. We were assigned a fantastic cabin on the tip of the spit of land with the widest view of the lake I’ve seen so far — we couldn’t see another cabin from our dock, just water and trees and the greenest hills — and my teaching cabin was right next door. So yeah, off to a great start.

Squam 2017: Reflections and outfits

The dining hall that night was full of old friends, heroes and new faces, and my hermit heart was racing a bit, in a good way. Everyone was asking me how I felt about being there to teach for the first time, and honestly I was feeling pretty chill about it. I had what I thought was a solid plan and good notes, plus I was already under the lake’s spell and still high from the whole Harrisville adventure. I was a little shy at dinner with my class that night, but by breakfast felt entirely relaxed and ready. Then I ran into our fearless leader Elizabeth on the way to the wooded path toward class and she gave me such an intense pep talk that it got my heart pounding! But that gave me a funny anecdote to open with, so thank you, Elizabeth, in a million ways.

I could go on for days, but what I want to say is it went fine. Better than fine. My students were lovely and relaxed and determined, and nearly all of them even finished their hats! (Note to beloved students: the Debutant pattern is listed on Ravelry, please link your projects!) On the whole, I got to spend several days surrounded by so many people I already loved, so many more I loved getting to know, and many moments just sitting quietly on the dock, gathering energy to rejoin the happy-noisy crowd or teach the next session.

What this all has to do with what I’ve learned about myself in the last five years is this: I’ve spent my whole life telling myself I’m inept at making conversation with people I don’t know. That I’m better in writing than in person. That I prefer solitude to crowds. All of that is true of me, but it’s not the whole story. Since starting Fringe, I’ve forced myself to challenge those notions. I showed up at the trade show the first time without knowing a soul, and now each year it’s a sort of homecoming. Likewise, I’ve traveled to events and workshops and retreats (Squam included) with a few friends and come away with new ones every time. I’m part of a community I value so much, and am so honored to be involved in, and I’m blessed with these friendships and opportunities because I’ve dared to show up and to not sit in the corner. (At least, not the whole time.) I’ve learned that yes, it will take a lot out of me, but it’s beyond worth it and I’ll sleep that part off when I get home. Somehow all of this was amplified in those woods last week. And discovering that I’m perhaps not a half-bad teacher was a whole new level of the process.

There’s more in my head, but that’s the part I feel is important to share here: Please don’t believe all the things you tell yourself about yourself. You’ll be amazed at what you’re capable of.

So this is a love letter and thank-you note to everyone I’ve met, been befriended and/or challenged by these last five years. I’m awash in gratitude. And yes I got that Dottie Angel “I am a W.I.P.” shirt (and tote bag!) at the fair Saturday night and feel it more strongly and proudly than ever.

. . .

So what did I wear? Here’s what was either on me or in my little carry-on suitcase, along with a box of teaching materials, an umbrella, two headlamps, my travel dryer and toiletries:

Squam 2017: Reflections and outfits

white linen shell
black hemp muscle tee
– grey Everlane linen knit muscle tee
– black silk Elizabeth Suzann artist smock, which I LOVED wearing with jeans and sneaks
– secondhand chambray shirt
– old flannel
– purple J.Crew boiled wool pullover from a few years ago, which I finally got around to taking the waist elastic out of and newly adore, wish I’d gotten to wear it more
black linen-wool cardigan
camel cardigan
– J.Crew made-in-LA jeans
– black linen Elizabeth Suzann pants (with added pockets)
– old cutoffs
– my heaviest/warmest LL Bean tights for cold nights
– dirty old Chucks for tromping along wooded paths
grey Orlane shawl

And here are all the ways it went together, from travel day through return-travel day:

Squam 2017: Reflections and outfits

In addition to Squam life calling for a lot of changing of clothes (for example, Saturday was teaching in the morning, knitting on the dock in the afternoon, boiling hot art fair setup, the fair itself, and a chilly night back at the cabin), the NH woods in early June are an unpredictable place, weather-wise (e.g., Friday morning we were on the dock before breakfast, basking in the early warmth, but were huddled around a fire in the living room by mid-morning). So it requires versatility and layers.

Not pictured are the rain boots I wore only the first day (on the plane and the drive up) thanks to the predicted rain being replaced by mostly unseasonably warm weather, and the sandals that never came out of the suitcase. My grey shawl also stayed in my bag the whole time, since I flung my black cardigan around my neck when needed. Pretty much everything else got worn more than once, but I could have gotten away with just the sneakers, one cardigan, the pullover, and I believe in having both the flannel and the chambray. Notes for next year, as I’m hoping there will be one!

Squam 2017: Reflections and outfits

PREVIOUSLY in Wardrobe Planning: The summer 2017 plan

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Outfits! : The Summer 2017 plan

Outfits! : The Summer 2017 plan
Outfits! : The Summer 2017 plan
Outfits! : The Summer 2017 plan

I continue to feel incredibly self-conscious about all this wardrobe planning — especially since I’m doing it publicly — but dang it’s fun and useful! So I’m just gonna get over that. Like I said last week, simply isolating the key players and laying them out in a grid of photos is wildly beneficial for seeing what I have to work with and spotting combinations I wouldn’t have otherwise thought of. There’s an extent to which you could look at that grid and just pick a top, a bottom and a pair of shoes, and I could probably sit and do that all day and come up with who knows how many outfits if I wanted to literally represent each and every one of them — I won’t go quite that far. One thing I’m finding with the summer group, though, is there are quite a few tops in the lineup that really only work with maybe 1-3 of the bottoms — limited usage, but hey, perfectly good outfits.

Outfits! : The Summer 2017 plan

If this were me working on a packing list, there are pieces that would get cut for not being re-combinable enough. But this whole exercise is about finding ways to wear the things I already made/bought and have allotted space for in the closet. (And making sure I’m making wise decisions about where to spend my future making energy.) Plus many of them may also have a larger role in other seasons, so it’s fine for them to factor in more lightly for summer, for variety. (One thing to note, though: If it involves sandals, it’s not a work outfit, so I’m mentally looking at each of those and asking if there’s an excessive-A/C alternative. If it’s sleeveless, it has to accommodate a cardigan or jacket or it’s also not safe for work.)

Or take the case of this linen Fen top:

Outfits! : The Summer 2017 plan

That’s really three versions of the same outfit, and while I like it/them and will wear it/them, it’s a tiny bit dour, even for me. (The first, the best one, can be seen in full outfit sketch form below.) There are other bottoms it technically goes with, but which I’m not including because I know I won’t wear them. For example, it works with the khaki pants but that’s even drearier. It’s perfectly fine with jeans, but just not me somehow. It’s a hair too short for wearing with the camo pants, since I’m not of midriff-bearing age. (Although I apparently am still of camo-wearing age! lol) It’s adorable with the full grey skirt — that’s probably its best outfit, objectively speaking — but on me that’s way too girly. So I’m limiting how much it gets used.

Then there are the really hard workers, starting with that soon-to-be go-to, my ash linen Sloper in progress, at the top of this post. As you can see, it will go over both of my skirts, all five pants and 3 out of 5 dresses — that’s an outfit a week for 10 weeks right there, at minimum. Knitting time and money well spent!

Likewise the sleeveless black tops I made last year (one hemp jersey, one silk gauze), and the two white tops I have at the top of the sewing list right now (white linen tee — also to be done in black linen — and white cotton sleeveless top—

Outfits! : The Summer 2017 plan

Outfits! : The Summer 2017 plan
Outfits! : The Summer 2017 plan

Outfits! : The Summer 2017 plan

The modified slip dress will also be a fabulous use of a little bit of time, since shortened and be-pocketed, it will be able to be worn many different ways, and will easily accommodate an outer layer for work. This little refashion is top-most priority.

Outfits! : The Summer 2017 plan

And what about the pieces I’m trying to be more deliberate about wearing more often? You can see the black, 20-y-o Katayone Adeli skirt factoring in throughout this post, which is marvelous — and makes the full black linen skirt on my to-sew list a less pressing matter. Other pieces I wear only occasionally but love and want to bust out more are the little ivory Meg-made sweater and the black chambray top I sewed up from some scraps back in 2014, just before we moved.

Outfits! : The Summer 2017 plan
Outfits! : The Summer 2017 plan

Possibly the smartest addition to my closet in recent months (of which there have been precious few) was one I thought might be the opposite. When I bought the Nade Studio tunic on impulse at Porter Flea in December, I thought it might be a mistake: I love supporting Maggie’s business and love the piece, but worried that it simply wouldn’t get a lot of use — that it wasn’t very versatile. Once I started playing summer closet rummy, though, I realized it’s actually the star of the show. It looks amazing worn open over a dress or buttoned over a skirt — the skirt just peeking out from that arc in the front hem. These are actually the outfits I’m most excited to get to wear.

Outfits! : The Summer 2017 plan
Outfits! : The Summer 2017 plan

To my great astonishment, going through the process of these Summer 2017 Wardrobe posts has transformed my lifelong dread of summer dressing into something resembling optimism or maybe even excitement. Never thought that was possible. Which isn’t to say I’ll ever feel as at-home in a dress and sandals as I do in a sweater and jeans, but it’s a major and welcome improvement.

There are over 70 outfits pictured here, without exhausting the possibilities of these 30-ish items. Not every piece from the inventory wound up being included here, and admittedly several of those that are here don’t yet exist or are awaiting mending/alterations — but nor have I accounted for a couple of other garments on the make list, each of which represents another good clump of options. All told, it seems like I’m in amazingly good shape, as long as enough of these prove workplace-worthy. And I’m already worked up about exploring how everything here (and some of the never-worn Paris combos) will come into play for fall!

Outfits! : The Summer 2017 plan

For the details on any or all of the garments seen here, see last week’s Closet Inventory (which I’ve updated with pics of the new and previously-missing items).

Oh, and lest I forget, these are my topper options — one WIP and one on the make list:

Outfits! : The Summer 2017 plan

(Fashionary sketch templates via Fringe Supply Co.)

PREVIOUSLY in Summer ’17 Wardrobe: The make list

Summer ’17 wardrobe planning, part 3: The make list

Summer ’17 wardrobe planning, part 3: The additions

I’ve been working from my sister’s house in Florida for the past week — hanging with her and the kids while our husbands are on a fishing trip — and have spent all kinds of time working on this whole Summer ’17 Wardrobe series. The other day, right in the middle of it all (literally Fashionary panels strewn all about her house), we went out to lunch then to her favorite consignment shop and then to this little boutique nearby that is stocked almost entirely with very plain Flax Designs linen tanks, pants and dresses in nothing but ivory, black, natural, grey and an ivory/grey stripe. (The shop’s minimalist selection looks nothing like the website! So funny.) I had been in the shop before with her and knew of this tantalizingly simple solution to my dress problem, but all I knew about the clothes was what the tag said: made in Lithuania. I know that there’s a long tradition of linen production in Lithuania (that’s where pretty much all of the Fog Linen line comes from) and had been wondering if there was any chance Flax was a company I could feel good about buying from. There is literally no company information whatsoever on their website — no About page of any kind — so we did a bit of Googling on our way there and found this video a stockist had posted about them. It’s still not much to go on, but there’s an emphasis on lead-free dyes and the sewing is done in small woman-owned factories, and I obviously feel good about linen on all the levels. So it’s a somewhat smallened leap of faith, but combined with the fact that I knew how much love and wear they would get, I decided to buy two dresses. (And follow up with the company to see how much more I can find out, for future reference.) At the second-hand store, I found a full, grey, cotton-linen skirt much like I’ve been wanting, for 12 bucks!

So in a matter of minutes, my entire summer wardrobe situation changed and I had to come back and rework all of the posts! Yesterday was going to be about how I really don’t have the dresses I’d like to be relying on, and no skirt like I wanted. Today was about those items being top priority … but that all changed. And took a lot of pressure off my to-sew list, which was problematically long for someone who hasn’t managed to sew a single thing since last August. Here’s the current situation:

ROW 1 / WIPs: Sloper and Summer cardigan are both currently in progress. I also keep imagining an oversize, crewneck, cotton Sloper for wearing alone now and layering later, but we’ll see if/when that happens.

ROW 2: My dream in life is to be wearing my favorite outfit — jeans and a perfectly fitting grey t-shirt — and have made them both. I’m making the jeans in September (more on that later) and have been planning to make the tee sooner, but this is a long list, Everlane has a tee that looks pretty perfect (made in LA), and I have a store credit. So this one is looking like a purchase in the short term.

ROW 3: What I’m really feeling the lack of most is white tops, and these are both extremely quick and simple. On the left is a mod of the OOP Cynthia Rowley pattern I mentioned yesterday, which I’ll be making in both white linen and black linen. On the right is another version of my little self-drafted shell, this time in crisp white cotton and probably with some gathers at the neck. These are now the top priority to-do’s.

ROW 4: I think Liesl Gibson’s new Soho Skirt, on the left, might be the full skirt pattern I’ve been wanting, and I’m planning to make the first one in black linen, to wear with everything. Now that I have the thrifted grey skirt of similar fullness, though, I’m going to wear it for a minute and see if it suits me as well — and plays as nicely with my other clothes — as I think it will. In the middle is the Hemlock mod I made last year (and shrank and re-homed) which I want to make again in heather grey. I have some remnant bits of a wool knit that I’d love to use — if there’s enough. If not, I’ll either make it or Linden from regular sweatshirt jersey. This is an absolute must by Fall, but would be really useful at work if I can get it done for summer. On the right is the striped version of the Adventure Tank (view B) that I’ve been plotting since making the black one, and was in my plan for last summer, but never got done. I want it very badly, and have the hemp jersey already, but it’s non-urgent. When I get around to cutting it out, I’ll likely also make a heather grey version.

So that’s 6-7 sewing projects right there, most of them extremely quick. And all of them fold seamlessly into fall.

HOWEVER: First, there’s mending and refashioning to do to get a few of the inventory items to wearable status:
– shorten the black slip dress and add pockets
– mend the light jeans
– mend the camo pants
– dye the ivory I+W tee
– lengthen the black cardigan, which hasn’t been mentioned for summer yet but I was hoping would be useful!

And then there’s the little matter of the Fen (hybrid) dress that’s currently in my Summer of Basics plan. (June 1, y’all! Are you excited?) I still very much want this dress, but it will no longer be black linen, so I’m mulling alternate fabrics and maybe even a more fall-ish fabric, and making it the last of the three projects I start for SoB rather than the first.

With yesterday’s 34 Haves and WIPs, the above would bring my summer-edit total to 40 garments, which I have no doubt I can combine into an entire summer’s worth of work and weekend outfits, which I’m eager to do! I’m sorry to leave you on the edges of your seats over the weekend ;) but being in Florida and lacking some key garment photos, I’m going to do that as soon as I’m reunited with my closet. So I’ll have that to share sometime next week.

I hope you have an amazing and fruitful weekend—

(Fashionary sketch templates via Fringe Supply Co.)

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PREVIOUSLY in Summer 2017 Wardrobe: Closet inventory

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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PREVIOUSLY in Summer ’17 Wardrobe: Mood and strategy

Summer ’17 wardrobe planning, part 1: Mood and strategy

Summer ’17 wardrobe planning, part 1: Mood and strategy

Nashville slid from a very mild winter into a very early summer — we’re talkin’ 88° and humid in mid-April — so my wardrobe planning is likewise skipping right past Spring … into Summer, ugh. I know the conventional wisdom is that summer dressing is effortless — throw on a dress and sandals and go! — but I find it infinitely more challenging, on a couple of levels.

Summer, in general, is really hard for me. In addition to finding the heat and humidity more oppressive than I can convey (it makes me literally claustrophobic and anxious by the time August rolls around), I also just don’t feel like myself in summer clothes — never have. I almost typed “… never will” but I’m challenging myself this year to try to solve this problem rather than resigning myself to another 3-4 months feeling that way. When I stop and think about it, I do know what the strategy has to be; the trick is to actually implement it this time.

The nut of the problem is real heat calls for dresses and skirts — clothes that touch you in as few places as possible — and dresses and skirts tend to feel too girly for me. The kind of somewhat androgynous, tomboyish looks I tend toward are harder for me to pull off in summer form, but if I remind myself how much I love a good masculine-feminine combo, that gives me something to work with. A skimpy camisole top feels more me when paired with mannish trousers; a skirt can feel more me with a muscle tee; same goes for a dress with a pair of funky/chunky sandals or just the right pair of ankle boots. Nashville, for all its population influx and diversity of sub-cultures, is still a place where nobody thinks twice about anyone wearing boots on any day of the year. (This may be the one thing Nashville and the Bay Area have in common: year-round boots.) And let’s face it: In a place this hot, most of the day is necessarily spent indoors anyway, where we run into the other half of what makes summer so difficult: overzealous air conditioning. Dressing for simultaneous bipolar climates is maddening to me.

So the other trick is to think in a more deliberate way about layers for indoors that easily peel off on the way outside. Outdoor outfit + cardigan/jacket = indoor outfit. It’s not complicated, Karen. Which has me focused on that summer cardigan on my needles, the old jean jacket I don’t wear much but should, and the notion of a linen or lightweight cotton “coat” or “jacket” of some kind than can be worn like a cardigan.

Having really learned something from my Fall ’16 Mood board and thorough winter wardrobe planning — the amount of time and thought that saved me in the end — I’m officially committed to the concept. So I recently put together Summer ’17 Mood, which, quelle suprise!, features a lot of the sort of masculine-femine combos I’m talking about.

As I noted last time, my color palette never really changes: I live in black, white, natural, khaki, camel, army, denim, all the shades of blue and grey, with a spot of green or lilac here and there. One difference is I love black even more in summer than in the cold months. Head-to-toe black when we’re talking long sleeves and pants can feel somber, whereas all black with bare arms and legs is my idea of “sexy.” You can see from my summer mood board I’m in the mood for light and breezy things, in some cases paired with a more structured pant for contrast. And I’m feeling like this summer may have extra emphasis on black-and-natural in various combinations.

Next step is to look at what I have to work with as compared to how I’m wanting to dress …

(Fashionary sketchbook via Fringe Supply Co.)

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PREVIOUSLY in Wardrobe Planning: Winter 2017 wardrobe