Wardrobe Architect 2015

This has been a difficult post to begin.  My life has rarely followed a straight line.  So when I try to explain how I have arrived at this moment and my decision to sew my own wardrobe……its really complicated.  Ultimately, I want to share the joy of discovering home sewing, creativity and personal style.  AND! I want to share my experiences as I work through the Wardrobe Architect Challenge.


Every month this year WA has a new set of wardrobe building challenges.  Ive been slow to get started, and admit that my posts all need to be heavily back-dated, but Ive started and Im catching up.  So with that said, the January 2015 Wardrobe Architect challenge invited us to   “Find your core style and explore shapes”  by  reading the  “2014 Wardrobe Architect posts weeks 1-4”  and working through corresponding worksheets & projects.

To date Ive completed weeks # 1-4 and would like to share my personal recap of week # 1:  Making Style More Personal

I sat down with a great writing exercise to inspire my creative side.

Where Ive been and where Im going.

The early years.  When I was about 8 years old my mom taught me to sew.  I learned the basics of following a pattern and developed a quiver of bad habits.  Threading a machine was easy but my interest in the technical side of sewing didn’t really exist.  I made lots of pillows, learned very basic needlework skills and helped my mom finish quilts.  Cute appliqués and ruffles were on my short list.  Once I hit puberty, the 1980’s were in full swing.  Molly Ringwald in Pretty in Pink was my esteemed teen idol.  The freedom and bright color of the 80’s suited my tastes and figure well.  Many of the cutting edge styles weren’t readily available so I became a “trendsetter” with my crazy handmade rayon harem pants and pegged jeans.  

College and practicality.  When I was 24 I was able to qualify for student loans and grants.  I left my Olympia, WA home and headed for a small college town in western Colorado.  I was free and totally broke.  The high fashion of my high school days was quickly replaced by financial austerity and practical outdoor wear.  Women’s specific active wear styling and fabrics were a new concept.  The options were limited and expensive.  Every gal in town wore the same thing because there wasn’t really anything else to choose from.  Sports bras were archaic.  The cotton/spandex tank was it.  I usually wore 2 sports bras to get enough support.  I would line my bras with polyester fleece to wear under my ski clothes because poly-pro sports bras didn’t exist.  We did a lot of modifying back then.  Relocating straps, altering length, improving buckles and zippers.  We were outrunning current technology and found our way around the limitations.

Im wearing non-deployed – olive drab flight suit during a Presidential mission. Photographed in front of Marine One

For love of country.  2001 changed everything.  A fresh college graduate.  No jobs.   The economy was tanked and student loans were due.  If I wanted to have a career where I could afford to pay my student loans, car insurance and rent I had to get creative.  The country was entering a war….and the military was hiring.  I ended up with a sweet job.  I flew helicopters.  This was favorable in many ways.  The high adventure and independence suited my personality.  Pilots and flight crew members wore flight suits instead of regular issue uniforms.  The flight suit set us apart from the rest of the ranks, and we got to wear unique unit patches we designed ourselves. My capsule wardrobe consisted of 6 flight suits,  8 brown t-shirts, 2 pairs of boots.  The colors changed depending on my deployment status; desert tan = deployed, olive drab = non-deployed.  We regularly flew in difficult climates and comfort became very important to me.  The flight suit strengthened my affinity for loose fitting clothing.  It also embodied a sense of independence and confidence.  Amelia Earhart and Beryl Markham became revered icons and I honored how their sense of style was borne out of their adventurous self confidence.

Home Sweet Colorado.  I left the military in 2009.  I came home to a changed country.  The recession was in full swing and the new wave of DIY was going gangbusters.  DIY appealed to my desire of maintaining a higher level of self-suffeciency I developed in the military.  My uniform wearing days were over and I had no idea where I’d left my personal style.  So, I started with some popular and reputable outdoor clothing retailers.  The options and styles had improved since the 1990’s and there were more options.  But……that just wasn’t enough.  Just down the street a boutique fabric store opened a whole new world to me!  The owner was my age, the fabrics were fresh and modern AND the walls were lined with patterns from independent designers!  A changed country indeed!

Fabric covered buttons made from my first and most favorite vintage fabric.
Fabric covered buttons made from my first and most favorite vintage fabric purchase.

I found yardage of a luxurious vintage turquoise and gold floral.  The colors were expressive and feminine and I bought it.  This is the moment I reunited with my sewing machine.  I purchased my first Colette Patternthe Rooibos.  These patterns were different from the old standards.  The containers were beautiful with pages of easy to follow instructions…even a page for notes.

Many of the new independent patterns were adorable and fun to make but my increasing interests in cycling and outdoor sports overtook my clothing

My style choices became a blend of lifestyle and originality.
My style choices became a blend of lifestyle and originality.

choices.  Many of these patterns soon became neglected because they couldn’t bridge the gap between style and function.  My active lifestyle again took the lead in my styling choices.  Layers and clothing for dramatic temperature changes became essential.

Ragalan sleeve t-shirt using a vintage poly knit with orange elephant and navy polkadot pattern.

So today.  I still spend many hours of the day on the bike or on skis, and I still desire a unique look.  I want color and originality.  I want femininity without demanding it.  I am confident and require clothing that supports this theme.  It has to be well built, unique and plays a supporting role to my active lifestyle.

Before I close this post, I have some questions for you…..

How do you define your personal style?

What are your most favorite wardrobe pieces?

Do you like the idea of making your own clothes?  Or have you been doing that for years now?


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