So I mentioned on my Fall Mood post yesterday that, having gotten my sartorial feet back under me, so to speak, I’ve been starting to have a little more fun getting dressed again. Yesterday I talked a bit about color seeping back into the mix, which you can see above, and the other aspect of that is what I referred to as “curve balls” — by which I just mean putting things together in odd or unexpected ways.
I am no Cary and Jenna — as much as I admire their reckless abandon when it comes to pattern and color. But I do like to mix things up, even in my own minimalist-leaning ways. For example, camo is my favorite print on earth because, in addition to being neutral and going with just about anything, it’s fun to mess with. When I bought the seemingly dressy, black silk Elizabeth Suzann Artist Smock in February, I wasn’t convinced I loved it enough to keep it … until I put it on with my camo pants and silver shoes, at which point there was no giving it back. I bought a pair of Ace&Jig pants this summer — black and white, being me — and my favorite thing is to wear them with my snake-print ballet flats. Even just throwing in a tan shoe where a black one would have been the obvious choice, and vice versa, can make an outfit feel more me, more idiosyncratic. More amusing. Sometimes it means I’m wearing something others might find confusing, but if it makes me feel good, out the door we go — that is all I care about.
I’m feeling really good about the clothes I’ve made over the past year — as if I’ve really hit my stride as both a chooser and a maker — and although they are very straight, I feel like they all lend themselves to the odd combos and to the days when I just feel like playing it straight. And meanwhile, I’ve bought a few pieces that raise the quirk quotient.
It feels really premature (in the unrelenting heat) to be putting together this inventory of my fall and winter selects, while many of the clothes from my summer list will continue to play a starring role for the next few weeks — more about that tomorrow. But anyway, here’s what I’ll have to work with over the coming months:
– camel cardigan
– yoke sweater
– striped raglan pullover
– fisherman sweater
– black cardigan
– grey wool “sweatshirt” (sewn, wool knit)
– purple cardigan
– black lopi raglan
– boiled wool pullover (J.Crew 2014)
– shrunken cotton fisherman (L.L. Bean c.2010 but still available)
– cashmere turtleneck (J.Crew c. 2009)
– cowichan-style vest
– black Anna vest
– grey vintage waistcoat
– Sloper turtleneck
It’s astonishing to me how different this is from last year at this time, when those first four sweaters didn’t yet exist, nor did the grey pullover. Having them all in my closet, waiting for fall to arrive, feels like a major wardrobe windfall. And going through this process, I’m feeling extremely good about my decision to cast on the vanilla cardigan. The grey turtleneck is on its last legs, but I’m hoping to squeeze in a few more wears this year. The next thing I cast on, though, will be a simple grey pullover.
– black muscle tee (see also black gauze version)
– striped muscle tee
– grey sleeveless tee (Everlane, no longer available)
– white linen shell
– dotted chambray tunic (Endless Summer, made by a friend)
– plaid top (me-made, never blogged)
– silk smock (Elizabeth Suzann)
– chambray button-up
– plaid cotton flannel shirt (Uniqlo c. 2011)
– plaid wool flannel shirt (Fischer, 2015)
I still need to make another version of my black sleeveless top that’s longer in the front, for layering. And I’m planning to make another flannel shirt for myself this year — another Archer — but looking over the lineup here, I don’t feel any urgency about any other tops at the moment. Although I’m still itching to bring the big-pleated top idea to life. Oh, and I already have the sleeveless tee cut out of the same grey wool knit as the “sweatshirt” pictured, so that will definitely get sewn together soon, perfect for winter layering.
I’ve been stalking the State Smock releases since we still lived in California, so at least four years, and can never spot one that’s right for me that isn’t already sold. That is, until last month (while I was piecing together the interview with Adrienne) when I scored both an olive drab one and a pale pink one; and then while I was in Denver, I managed to get a white one. I don’t know what it is, but it is the most magical garment ever. If I’ve had the olive one for 50 days, let’s say, I’ve worn it for all or some of at least 30 of them. The pink one gets worn mostly around the house, while sewing, etc. And I expect to wear the crap out of the white one forthwith. I would happily wear one every day of the year. These guys have really given me whole new ways to wear my existing clothes — more on that tomorrow.
– threadbare jeans (Old Navy c. 2013)
– natural denim jeans (Imogene+Willie, made in US, 2016)
– handmade jeans
– dark cropped jeans (J.Crew Point Sur, made in US, 2016)
I am well-stocked in the jeans department. There are the faded jeans pictured plus the visibly mended pair, both of which are perilously fragile and need more shoring up, but that’s the color of denim I want to be wearing right now: super faded. The natural jeans are great. The handmades are my all-time favorites — nicest and best-fitting pair I’ve ever owned — and the only way to get them to fade is to wear them. A lot. Hopefully the dark denim will seem more appealing once cold weather is upon us. And in addition to the J.Crew jeans pictured, I also have my dark denim Imogene+Willie jeans. (The ones that went to Paris with me.) Definitely no needs here.
– b/w patterned pants (Ace&Jig Derby in Highland, no longer available)
– olive pants
– camo pants, heavily mended (Gap c.2009)
– wide-leg khakis (J.Crew, 2016)
This makes it look like I have a well-rounded pants collection at the moment, but: the Ace&Jig pants will feel much too thin and flimsy in just a few weeks; the olive pants got ruined in the wash; the camo pants are also perilously fragile and my most beloved ever, so I’m wearing them sparingly; and I don’t wear the khakis very much. The olive “toddler pants,” as I call them, are really the only thing I want to wear right now, so my plan is basically to make four pairs that will replace what you see here: a natural canvas pair, denim, wool herringbone, and camo. Those will get me through the winter, and they’re clearly the most urgent items on my make list right now.
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That’s an impressive line up! What really struck me and made me lol is that I know your wardrobe better then I know my own, only because you’ve taken us through the journey with you. That you made the majority and that all the stand out pieces are from your hands is a huge accomplishment. Unless its in your plans to sew your own under garments I would say you hit your goal of a handmade wardrobe. Beautiful!
It’s really amazing. I’ve never really had a specific goal of having an all handmade wardrobe, but thought maybe someday I’d get to 50% or something? But it turns out if you make a thing here and there, and put it in your closet, eventually that’s what you have! I’m astonished.
I’m sure it helps, too, that you take this really principled approach to your making, choosing projects that are “basic” and easy to coordinate, as opposed to going for flashy and fun (not to say that your creations aren’t fun). Prior to reading your blog, I’d say a majority of my sewing impulses could be described in terms like “fanciful”, “wild” or–shudder–“zany”. I’d make things for the purpose of having something that was extraordinary and didn’t really exist in stores, or at least at my budget. To this day my stash is largely comprised of wild prints. This kind of attitude toward clothes-making basically guarantees that you can’t have an entirely you-made wardrobe–unless you have a wardrobe consisting of just loud, distinct statement pieces.
I love this. And look at all your gorgeous handknits!
I’ve been really eager to do this post, knowing I’ve been racking up some beauties lately. It’s thrilling to see them all lined up like that.
!!!???How did the olive pants “get ruined in the wash”!!!???
I had prewashed the fabric in a normal warm colors load, and thrown it in the dryer, and noticed when I was ironing it that it was a little heat sensitive with the iron. So I was cautious about that. Wore the finished pants a couple of times, threw them in the wash — unconcerned, since I had prewashed — and they came out all coppery-splotchy all over, and look like they’ve been worn a hundred times. So now they’re strictly for housework or whatever. They were sort of a test sew, so I’m not too torn up over it in that regard, but I have a whole bolt of this fabric! Which I guess is dry clean only …
Will handwash them in mild detergent in cold water solve the problem?
You mean like if I made another pair out of the same fabric? I need to do some tests with the fabric and just haven’t had a chance yet. Someone else suggested trying to see if a vinegar soak would set the dye.
I so admire how thoughtful you are about all this, and the items you’ve made are beautiful. It’s lovely to look at them all together like this, and to think about how I’d like my own wardrobe to evolve over time. Thanks!
Where is the “boiled wool pullover” from J Crew? I remember those. They were ahead of their time and IMHO had a big influence on the shape of things to come. I could swear I linked one here way back when….could that be possible? I remember finally deciding to buy one and they were all gone.
Karen, it is so fun to see your wardrobe lined up here. To follow along on Fringe, and watch you start with just an idea of what you need and want, and then to fully realize it, has been so inspiring. And I credit you with having a very positive influence on how I look at and approach, my own making. I have a lot less in my closet and what I do have gets worn a lot. And it feels and looks good. And fits. And I don’t need to go “shopping”. Win, win, win, and win. ;-) XO
Thanks, Clare — it means a lot to know people find all of of this helpful! And lord how I do not miss shopping. So happy to spend that time making instead.
I had linked to the boiled wool pullover once upon a time when it was still available, but didn’t dig up the link since it will have expired three years ago. I’ve fallen in love with it again since taking the elastic out of the waist, so it’s just a wide (crinkly but not clingy) waistband and elastic at the wrists. It’s really the perfect shade of heathered lilac for me.
Hello Karen! This is my first time writing in; I’ve been reading your blog for several months now, and I just enjoy it so much. Yours is really the only blog I read regularly. I am constructing my own fall/winter wardrobe right now, and my J.crew winter coat just bit the dust after about 7-8 years of wear. The lining needs to be replaced and it would cost about the same amount as the coat itself. So, I am wondering if you have any recommendations on where to buy a winter coat? Or perhaps my fellow readers have any recommendations?
Thanks so much!
Hi, Kate! I think it really depends on your budget and your requirements.
You realize with your newfound shirt making skills you could easily make a Stae Smock yourself! I’d be happy to show you how easy it would be anytime! (Make shirt longer, add big pockets, you could add sleeves too!)
Oh, I’m quite happy to support what Adrienne’s doing (from the concept to the actual thrifting) and spend my time making other things.
The Artist Smock! Isn’t it the best garment in the universe? It’s astonishing how much I wear mine as well. I have two. One flannel for winter and one cotton for summer. They are heavenly. So glad you’ve added them to your rotation.
I made my own version of the State Smock after seeing it in one of your earlier postings. I bought an extra large men’s cotton shirt at the Sally Ann sale day and had a great time cutting off the sleeves and turning them into huge pockets. It’s the best shirt makeover I’ve done so far.
Here I sit eating my soup on a wet Thursday in Scotland treating myself to hour of Fringe Association. Bliss😌. I love the ‘ease’ of your style. You’ve turned my head on camo and I’d love to see the combo you have written about. I was recently sooooo impressed by your handmade jeans. I had no idea that was possible.
Now………where are my knitting needles? X
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Those state smocks are indeed sooo beautiful, and clearly very functional too. I’d buy if I could, but it would cost me too much (I live in brazil). I will however do something similar.
Anyway, I am going through a wardrobe planning myself, and these posts have been inspirational! Thanks 🙏🏼
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