Wardrobe Planning: The new normal

Wardrobe Planning: The new normal

A funny thing happened on the way to a Fall wardrobe planning post: I realized I have a wardrobe to plan around! Two-and-a-half years after I emptied out my closet — moved cross-country to a new climate and culture, had my eyes opened ever wider to the ills of the fashion industry, advanced my knitting and sewing skills, lost and gradually found myself sartorially — I’ve reached a point of normalcy! I’m a person with a functional closet again.

I’m in the midst of a couple of different projects that require me to make outfits, in different contexts and ways. And it being September (albeit still mid-90s here, so who can tell) I thought perhaps I should start thinking about Fall wardrobe plans in conjunction with that. Every season I’ve done this here in the wake of the clean-out, it’s been about envisioning, sketching, queueing — scheming about what I could make (and how quickly) to fill in what was really one giant gap of a wardrobe. For a while there, I literally had nothing to wear.

The way my brain works, tackling these other projects got me wanting to actually inventory my closet, in the form of a photo of each and every garment. And as I started thinking about doing that, and actually doing that, it dawned on me that the panic of the past two years is a thing of the past. That I now have clothes again, and that they add up to a pretty high-functioning wardrobe. And not only that, but they’re largely handmade (full of pride), a little bit small-batch/local, a little bit long-owned well-worn treasures, and only a couple of recent additions come from the fast fashion world. I’d gotten so used to chipping away at this over the years that I didn’t even realize how far I’d come.

So what do you normally do when it comes to wardrobe planning? You look at what you have, think about ways to combine those things, consider a few new pieces to make/buy that will give you new options and freshen it all up a bit. And that’s where I’m at. A whole new normal, to be sure, but so blessedly, happily normal. Which means I’ll be putting together a whole new form of wardrobe-planning post for Fall.

You guys, every garment in the grid above, except for the jeans/pants, was made by me — and this isn’t even all of the handmades. I’m so grateful to so many people for the endless inspiration and encouragement. 


PREVIOUSLY in Wardrobe Planning: Summer 2016 master plan

39 thoughts on “Wardrobe Planning: The new normal

  1. Wow!! This is so impressive. Now that you’ve photographed all the wardrobe you can really see how much there is and how things can be mixed and matched. You’ve made me want to go through my closet next week (as it’s still hovering around 90 here too.). I keep whining about not sewing but if I bite the bobbin and get started I too can become a decent sewist! I am more of a Knitter and spinner and have no problem queuing up sweaters to be knit and fleeces to be spun, but sewing is a different matter!!

  2. What a beautiful handmade wardrobe! So impressive! I’m at just about the same point where I finally have a functioning me-made wardrobe. This is the first year where I don’t really need a ton of pieces. Really looking forward to seeing your plans!

    • The green caught my eye in a good way, too, and I’m wondering if a few other colors in tops wouldn’t be fun, too. Do you knit socks? Bright socks and Birkenstock sandals to show them off!!! Or not…….. LOL

  3. I loved seeing this!

    Especially the endless summer tunic — seeing yours after you made it inspired me to sew one (with loads of help from my mom) in a dress length, and I’ve worn it nonstop for a year.

  4. Beautiful and inspiring! For us knitters, can you share what patterns you used for the gorgeous knit pieces?

    • Only a few of them are from patterns, but if there are specific ones you’re interested in, I can dig up the links to the corresponding blog posts. Just didn’t have time to compile all of that while writing this.

  5. Congratulations! You should be full of pride,it’s a fantastic accomplishment. I listened to a lady speak years ago that wore. beautiful cloths and she said she didn’t have a lot of cloths, she didn’t buy on a whim but what she had she absolutely loved and could go to her closet and pick anything and enjoy wearing it there was never a bad cloths day.

  6. All of these are beautiful pieces that anyone would love to wear. I still get caught up in making pieces that look pretty but don’t go with my other clothes. I need to work on that. And my sewing fitting skills just suck. Your wardrobe is an inspiration.

  7. I am 90% through the deepest and most thorough closet clean out of my life. So freeing to be rid of the items that just don’t work…or never did! This is part of my ramp up to begin sewing clothes again in earnest. You’ve been such an inspiration through this process. So much fun. Humble thanks.

  8. What a beautiful and fun wardrobe! Its a joy to look at. As functional as it seems, it looks like every piece is comfortable – a joy to wear. Makes me smile…

  9. Over the summer I created a web application that lets me plan and generate outfits from my closet a la “Clueless” :-P It was a fun project and I’ll probably use it once the temperatures start to dip!

  10. Good idea to do the inventory and celebrate how far you’ve come!
    I’m slowly realizing that I also have come past the point of needing to make a bunch of stuff for both seasons, and it’s a great feeling. When I first decided to just make what I needed, I had almost no functional winter tops, for example, but I was so dissatisfied with what I was shopping for that I didn’t care!
    I’m loving both having a lot of clothes that I feel great wearing, and having project time to make more involved/challenging/fun things. But I do need to make progress on a new jacket, since my thrifted one is about to fall apart—so I guess there are still a few need-to-make items!

  11. This is beautiful, and so inspiring, Karen. It looks like you’ve also developed a thoughtful color palette for your wardrobe pieces. I am finding that to be my challenge as I continue to sew more of my garments. I recently realized that I am going through the same phase with my fabric purchases that I went through with my early yarn purchases, that is, buying things a bit impulsively, on a first impression basis, instead of thinking about whether the color/print is really something that fits within my overall wardrobe scheme. Still a work in progress….

  12. It’s so exciting (and I imagine, perhaps both relieving and inspiring?) to reach that point of wardrobe satisfaction. I feel like I’m in a similar phase, with a rather functional “core” wardrobe (thanks to careful weeding, more intentional making, and restrained buying), and then the fun part is picking a few nice things to make based on need, versatility, or sometimes, usually for smaller things and stash busters, just pure creative indulgence. I’ve been enjoying borrowing tips, resources, and exercises from the “capsule wardrobe” realm, especially the Un-Fancy wardrobe planner (you can even skip the capsule creation part and just use the first steps): http://www.un-fancy.com/capsule-wardrobe-101/free-wardrobe-planner/

  13. I love that in the process of making all these simple but lovely hand made items you found your minimalist style Karen. Reading the grid of images it’s easy to see you have a love of textiles and textures. That indigo enthrals and that the soft relaxed feel and drape of linen works well with your life. I bet you feel proud of your wardrobe seeing it laid out like this! I’d love to see you make something with that piece of hand loomed fabric that was made just for you – a piece that would tie in with lots of the others now.

    • Oh, I’ve been a devout minimalist for decades, but it’s interesting how even in what seems like such a limited aesthetic to many people, there are so many different ways to go about that, depending on your lifestyle and so on. And I think I’m getting close to having the nerve to cut that fabric!

  14. I’m in the process of building up my handmade wardrobe and it feels daunting at times– I have so many handknit sweaters that I never wear!– so it’s very inspiring to see your handmade things and to know that it CAN happen. I need to get better at wardrobe planning and figure out what actually works for me.

  15. This is dangerously inspiring! I see all these pieces and want to make my own clothes immediately but my bank account doesn’t want to give me unlimited funds! It’s weird like that :P.

  16. This is fabulous inspiration!!! Thank you for sharing!!! This may be the motivation I need to commit to a handmade wardrobe! I have a few pieces, but love the idea of creating my own basics as you have here! Bravo Karen & thanks for sharing your joy and passion, it is contagious!!!

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