Winter ’16 wardrobe planning, Part 2: Closet inventory

Winter ’16 wardrobe planning, Part 2: Closet inventory

Here’s a thing I’ve never done before: Literally laid the contents of my closet out flat in front of me so I could see it all at once, albeit on my laptop screen in the form of tiny photos. Wow, helpful! This is not every single garment in my closet — it is only the items that are relevant to my getting dressed right now, in my current circumstances, season and frame of mind. Well, these things plus a handful of well-loved graphic tees that I do use for layering sometimes, plus a couple of dresses that may make an appearance once or twice this winter. But as I said yesterday, all I’m in the mood for right now is “jeans and a sweater” — the very rut I’ve been trying to break out of! But I’m trying to be realistic here. Not all of these things are being worn (or even up to being worn) at the moment, which I’ll address below, but this little exercise was immediately useful in the opposite way as well: I’m giving the hairy eyeball to anything that’s seasonally appropriate but didn’t make this cut. Those things need to find new homes!

So what do I have? Going across the rows from left to right, with an * indicating things that are either at end-of-life or not currently being worn for some reason. Store-bought garments are identified by origin. For the me-made garments, click through on any of the links for bigger pics/full details —

– Denim shirt-jacket (J.Crew c.2003)
– Black-and-white plaid flannel shirt (Uniqlo c.2011)
– Denim workshirt* (Madewell c.2012)
– Grey wool button-down (Fischer)
– Navy-and-black plaid heavy flannel button-down (Fischer)

The two wool Fischer shirts are US-made, bought last year when I was desperate for shirts with sleeves. They’re men’s shirts, as is the b/w plaid flannel, so they have to be worn sort of carefully if I don’t want to look like a dude. (I’m all about androgyny but it’s a fine line, especially if you’re mannish like me.) The denim shirt is probably my most-worn garment, has reached a state of overall transparency, and desperately needs to be replaced. I love the idea of sewing a replacement, but realistically I should look for a good known-origins option to buy. The navy-and-black one is more of an overshirt or shirt-jacket. No real needs in this category, although I am wanting a white shirt/top of some sort.

– Plaid cotton top (apparently never blogged)
Black hemp jersey muscle tee
Blue striped sleeveless top
Black silk gauze sleeveless top
– Chambray dot Endless Summer tunic (made by a friend)

These are all in heavy rotation, which makes me really happy since they’re all handmade — all good use of time and fabric. I also have the three Lakeside camisole tops I made over the summer, which are great layered under pullovers, but I’m short on pullovers to pull over them (see below). As I solve that, those will come into play. (Why not under cardigans? I prefer a higher neckline for that.) So I feel good about this category — there are things I’d like to add, especially the long-planned black/ivory stripe version of the sleeveless tee — but nothing I have to concern myself with between now and Spring.

Cowichan-style vest
Black Anna vest
Grey vintage waistcoat
Black sleeveless turtleneck*

I love all of these, but love vests best over sleeveless things, so I’m making more effort to wear these in other ways — like my natural jeans (below) with the Cowichan over either the grey wool shirt or the b/w flannel instead of, say, the sleeveless black tee; or the grey vest over the plaid top and under the black cardigan, which is a favorite combo. The Cowichan is probably my very favorite thing I own — in the sense that I’m super proud of the knitting, it’s a really fantastic and unique piece of clothing, and I feel really cute in it. The black and grey vests are both immensely useful; the sleeveless turtleneck is one I need to get more creative about since I almost never wear it and am not ok with that. So no needs in this category other than just making more use of what I have.

– Cotton fisherman sweater (L.L. Bean c.2010 but still available)
Black lopi raglan*
Blue Loopy Mango sweater*
– Grey cashmere fitted turtleneck (J.Crew c.2009)
– Grey men’s cable turtleneck (H&M 2003)

OK, so here’s the big problem spot, just like I thought. I love the cotton fisherman sweater and wear it constantly but it is not at all warm. I love the lopi sweater but it is very warm; the short sleeves offset that in the transitional seasons but make it not as useful as it could be in its more natural season. If I make the sleeves long, which I probably should, it’s a deep-winter-only sweater. The blue blob still amuses me but in addition to being superbulky (i.e. winter warm) it’s not the easiest garment to build outfits around, as predicted. And I love and wear both turtlenecks heavily, but only during the middle of winter, obviously. Of the things I’m itching to make, St. Brendan will be extremely useful but not wildly season-spanning, if I’m being honest. (I’m making it anyway!) And I mentioned yesterday also wanting another really big cozy turtleneck, but that is also of limited use. What I’m most sorely lacking are the few simple light- to mid-weight, three-season sweaters that make the most sense for my life. I’ll have ONE as soon as I finish my striped sweater, but this is a situation I need to take seriously and not get too distracted by heavier, cozier sweaters just because winter is literally breathing down my neck right now. A couple of good sweatshirts would at least help, and be far quicker to make, but thin/warm basic pullovers should be my top priority. OR, sew a couple of sweatshirts and knit a couple of very quick winter things, like St. Brendan or the big turtleneck! That might be the best plan for the near term. Then prioritize lighter pullovers for 2017 knitting.

Black wool-linen cropped cardigan
Charcoal shawl-collar Bellows cardigan
Ivory wool-cotton Amanda cable cardigan*
Purple Trillium cardigan*

The black cardigan is an obvious workhorse, and I’ve noted I wear Bellows in the studio year-round. If it’s not waiting for me over the back of my desk chair, it’s in the front seat of my car — always within reach. I expect my Channel in progress to be every bit as useful, and it will be good to have a cozier, woolier shawl-collar, since my Bellows is half cotton. So that will make it three good cardigans, at least two of which can be worn indoors year-round. We’ve talked about my struggles with Amanda; what I haven’t told you is I deliberately shrunk it a little to see what impact that would have on my actually ever leaving the house in it. As dirty as I get at work these days, I haven’t dared attempt to wear it, so it’s still taking up closet space without getting worn. As I’m typing this, I’m wearing my beloved but otherwise-neglected Trillium — that is, I’m wearing it at home with leggings and slippers. It is so light and warm, not stuffy, and I absolutely love the way it fits — plus there’s all the sentimental value — but I can’t seem to make outfits with it that feel like me right now. So that’s my challenge to myself: getting this back into regular rotation. I definitely feel like the cardigans I outlined in yesterday’s post will be very worthwhile additions, at whatever point I fit them into my queue.

– Natural denim jeans (Imogene+Willie, made in US)
– Dark cropped jeans (J.Crew Point Sur, made in US)
– Camo pants (Gap c.2009)
– Faded jeans 1, visibly mended* (J.Crew c.2003)
– Faded jeans 2* (Old Navy c.2013)

The first two pair of jeans were both bought this year and I love both. The natural ones are hard to wear to work but my favorite thing to make outfits with! The camo pants are my oldest and all-time favorite pants — the fit of them is amazing — but they are worn to the point of having been mended once with more tears forming as we speak. The beauty of camo is the mending isn’t even necessarily visible! I’ll keep these alive as long as possible. The older of the faded jeans have been repeatedly visibly mended over the past couple of years but have a new very large rift across the left thigh, so they can’t be worn until I address that. The last pair are the ones I’ve mentioned are tissue thin and shred so so easily at this point. They’re in need of major shoring up, which I just don’t know when I’ll get to. So I’m out my two dearest pair of jeans. As was noted in the comments yesterday, these are both at the point that even if I mend them, I can no longer wear them in hardwearing circumstances, so I really need to break down and buy another pair of jeans. One day I’ll attempt to make some, but not likely in the very near future. I should note that I also have a pair of wide-cropped khaki pants that didn’t make it into the photo queue!

So that’s my inventory. Tomorrow: outfits. And then I’ll form a plan of attack.

(Can you believe 15 of these 28 garments are handmade? I never would have thought that possible a couple of years ago!)


PREVIOUSLY in Wardrobe Planning: Winter ’16 wants and needs

27 thoughts on “Winter ’16 wardrobe planning, Part 2: Closet inventory

  1. Wow! You are so absorbed in yourself. You’ve definitely a talent! Have you considered volunteering to get “hurting” people organized? You would be a natural. Thank you for the insights you have provided.

  2. I know this may sound blasphemous, but instead of taking the requisite time to knit up some warm pullovers, which you have great need of right now (while your blood is thickening up to adjust to the colder Winter temperatures) why not sew up a couple of Lindens in some lovely wool jersey? It will get you through this immediate pinch until your body adjusts (which it will) and you don’t feel quite so cold. Do you also know about the Toaster sweaters? Another pullover jersey sewn pattern that is drafted for heavier weight jerseys, and stylish to boot…..
    I also think the smock idea is kinda brilliant for dirty work.

    Oh, and one more thing, maybe just for dirty work days you could make yourself a pair of simple (but beautiful) 100 Acts of Sewing pants, in some hardwearing twill so you could save your threadbare jeans….?

    I LOVE these kinds of posts…..

      • I have to second the recommendation for the Sewhouse 7 Toaster sweater–I just finished one in a merino jersey and I love it! I made up version A, which can be done entirely on a serger in less than an afternoon, especially if you skip the topstitching (which I did–laziness/desire for a clean and modern look). I live in a temperate climate and the weight and fit is really perfect for this time of year. I haven’t made it yet, but I am obsessed with the Named Patterns Talvikki sweater, which I think has so much visual interest without being overly fussy and would also be very quick to sew up.

  3. The most worn item in my closet right now is a pair of Eileen Fisher black jeans what can I say, I LOVE em.

  4. I ageee with Samantha – I love these posts, too. They help me focus on my wardrobe and I have thinned out my closet 4 or 5 times over the past year or so as a result. My impulse buying has also gone way done, too. Yea for that! I think a couple of pairs of jeans from a thrift store and a work apron would help with not worrying too much about getting dirty at work. Aprons are so much fun to make!

  5. Great post! I love how you organised / structured everything and now want to do exactly the same :) looking forward to your post for tomorrow :)

  6. Something that might help your winter lack of sleeves would be Fure. Remember those arm warmers?

  7. Great post!
    Regarding Trillium- if you like the fit (and the memories!) how about dying it? Black RIT (or other, more natural choice) might be able to get this into rotation right away.

  8. I was so inspired by your Trillium! Can you layer it with a longer tailored shirt underneath or a short jacket over it? Maybe it’s the color that’s not right?

  9. De lurking to say how much I appreciate this kind of post! It’s very helpful to walk through someone else’s thought processes and learn what slow fashion means in very practical terms. I’ve made a few sweaters for family in the past few years, (one more to go!) but that’s given me time to chew on what to make for myself. Your problem solving has refined my ideas and saved me some wasted time and resources. Thanks!

  10. Love these posts! It’s so interesting to see other’s approach to a fair, serviceable, + personal wardrobe! So great to stand back and see how many things are handmade. :)

  11. Yay! Look at all of those handmades!
    I’d recommend sewing up a couple of Linden sweatshirts from Grainline. I’ve made many and they get worn ALL the time.
    For a slightly different silouhette, check out the Halifax hoodie from Hey June. I want to make the zip up in black merino sweatshirting one day.
    Fancy Tiger also has some awesome Soy French Terry that you should check out for sweatshirts. I’ve made Lindens and leggings from it and even though they are multiple years old they are still going strong! It’s super thick, has a tiny bit of spandex for recovery, and doesn’t seem to fade.

  12. Dear Karen, I love the planning and thoughtfulness that goes in your wardrobe and making. And I love what you make too! I have made two Gables in fingering weight yarn – they are my most versatile and beloved knits for that reason. Perhaps it’ll be a perfect pullover for you too, albeit without the curved hem.

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  14. I second the ‘sew a woollen sweatshirt’ solution. Or even a wool/cotton blend sweatshirt if you can find the fabric.

    You might even be able to find a decent men’s XL sweater at goodwill that you could use as fabric. Unpick the seams (this is actually pretty quick and easy – the seams are generally chainstitched even on the lightest weight sweaters. Just find the right stitch, cut it and undo the seam like a zipper. It’s v satisfying!). Mark out your pattern pieces on your reclaimed jersey, overcast or serge to ‘cut’ the pieces out and away you sew.

    Also jeans, buy some temporary jeans at goodwill. Truly – there will be hundreds to choose from.

    • ps. I often find the fibre blends on commercial garments more interesting than what you can buy as yardage – wool/linen, cotton/cashmere.

  15. This was fun and energizing to read! I don’t do much wardrobe planning at all, but you make it seem worthwhile and enjoyable so I’m tempted. But maybe I will always find other people’s wardrobe analysis more enjoyable than my own, haha.

  16. So I was happy to see that your black sleeveless turtleneck is still in your closet. I love, love that piece and keep hoping to see the pattern written up soon. In the meantime, do you have any suggestions for a similar sweater pattern on Rav or elsewhere? I love the simplicity of your wardrobe. It’s lovely!

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  19. You should really check out the Stylebook app for your wardrobe planning. It’s basically made for exactly what you are doing.

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