Wardrobe Architect #3: Exploring Shape

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This week’s task was quite simple and involved ranking different styles of clothing by how much you like wearing them. I tried to go with my gut instinct for this, and there were no shocking revelations.

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I think I have a fairly good idea of the styles that don’t suit me (loose, dropped waists), so this wasn’t a huge challenge. There are some styles which I’m curious to try, and they generally got scored between 5 and 7.

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I suppose one thing this made me think about was how important comfort is to me. I don’t want to have to think about what underwear to wear with an outfit, so spaghetti straps and strapless tops aren’t really interesting to me. As I’ve mentioned before, I really hate 3/4 length and above-elbow sleeves. They don’t keep me warm and they’re hard to put a cardie on top of. I am slowly culling the tops I own with this sleeve length from my wardrobe, and replacing them with short or long sleeves.

I’m enjoying this programme – it’s broken down into manageable chunks which forces you to think about the reasons behind your style. I am looking forward to finishing it though, because I’m impatient to get on with life in my more defined style!

 

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Wardrobe Architect #2: Defining a Core Style

waheaderTime to get back on the old Wardrobe Architect horse/bike/wagon. Week 2 works on defining a core style – something which has been on my mind a lot this week.

When you are wearing your favourite clothing, how do you feel?

My favourite outfits make me feel confident, stylish, comfortable, smart, interesting, effortless, and attractive.

When you’re wearing something that’s not quite right, how do you feel? What are the feelings you want to avoid about the clothes you wear? 

Sometimes I can feel overdressed, like I’m in costume, or like it’s obvious how hard I’ve tried to make the outfit work. If I feel like my outfit is too fussy looking, then I’ll spend a lot of time fiddling with it. At other times I feel frumpy and as if I’ve made no effort. If I don’t feel comfortable with my outfit then I’ll always be very self conscious and compare myself to others.

Beyond

Who do you consider to be your style icons? What is it about them that appeals to you?

I’m struggling with this, as I don’t think I really have style icons. If I had to pick some people, then I’d choose the following:

Alexa Chung – she dresses in an interesting way and doesn’t just wear one style. I saw a quote once that she always wants to look like an excellently dressed boy or a kitten from the sixties.

Clemence Poesy – I really like her laid back French style.

Emma Watson – she always looks well put together, as though she’s made an effort even if she’s dressed quite simply with minimal makeup and hair. I think a lot of it boils down to her nice attitude.

Finally, a bit off piste, but Wes Anderson films – I love the stylised look of them, but I don’t think I would feel comfortable dressing in that way all the time.

What are some words that describe styles that you like in theory, but are not quite you? 

Loose fitting dresses – these look terrible on me, but can look so stylish on others. I can wear a loose top, but it needs to be with skinny jeans or tucked into a skirt.

Full vintage styles – I like a nod to vintage styles in my outfits, but wearing head to toe 1950s would make me feel very overdressed.

Beyond-2

Look over your answers from last week (ha! June!) on history, philosophy, culture, community, activities, location, and body. List at least 15 words that you associate with your answers. Think about descriptive words, moods, and feelings you associate with these things:

Comfortable, stylish, bright, indie, retro, fitted, fun, vintage, freedom, preppy, 70s, cheerful, colourful, relaxed.

Are there other words you would like to add to this list? What other words describe your core style?

Continental, French, patterned, simple.

Beyond-3

Look over the answers to all of the questions above. If you had to narrow your list to only 3-5 words to describe you, which words would you choose?

Preppy, french, retro, comfortable, bright.

Collect 15-20 images that represent these 3-5 words for you. You could create a pinterest board, a folder on your computer, a moodboard, or a collage. Be creative and have fun!

I created my collages using Canva, a really easy to use design tool which I discovered this morning. For photo credits and a couple of extra pictures, check out my Wardrobe Architect pinterest page.

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Moving on up!

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Hurrah! I am back! And I am accompanied by my new life mantra – chill the fuck out!

The past couple of months have been exhausting. I started a new job with a three hour daily commute, We bought a flat, decided not to hire removal men, and then, unsurprisingly, I got sick three times in six weeks. So, yeah, time to chill the fuck out.

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I’ve got space for a sewing area in the corner of our bedroom. It’s not that light, so I’ve added a lamp to the desk and also on top of my trusty Billy bookcase. I took this picture at night – it is normally a bit better than this. I’ll eventually replace Billy with some shelves attached to the wall (he has to stick out into the room a bit because of a plug socket in the way). We’re going to redecorate the bedroom at some point, so I’ll probably wait until then to make any changes.

Most of the furniture is from Ikea, because we bought it in Belgium, and there were very few (cheap) options I found for buying furniture there. I’d like to update it with something more interesting at some point. I got the chair when my old company in Brussels updated their meeting rooms. I have two of them, and I think they are probably 1950s-60s. I’m not a big fan of leather furniture, but I’m also quite reluctant to recover these; they’re a bit scuffed, but I think it adds to their character. They’re really meant to go around the dining table which we haven’t found yet, but I tried another chair at my desk and it wasn’t very comfy. Maybe I should go back to Belgium and see if they have any left in storage?

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After setting up my sewing area, I promptly sat down and finished off a few repairs and a skirt I’d been making. I then sat down and had a think about what I want to sew next. I want to get back on track with the wardrobe architect thing because I really want to sew things which I can wear all the time, and I don’t do that right now. I’m lucky to work in an office where I can wear anything I want, so I should take advantage of that, and make exactly what I want to be wearing.

I’ve got a couple of pre ‘personal style revelation’ makes to show you, but apparently I get less and less photogenic as each day goes by. I’ll reconsider the pictures I’ve already taken when I’m feeling less grumpy about my face.

Is taking pictures of yourself the worst thing about having a blog for you? If not, what is the worst? TELL ME YOUR SECRETS FOR TAKING A DECENT PICTURE!!

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Dolores Batwing Dress

DSCN0937 A couple of months ago, Zoe sent me some pictures of her new batwing top/tunic/dress pattern, and asked if I would mind testing it out. Zoe was my first real-life sewing friend, and is one of the nicest people you could hope to meet, so I was very happy to help. I’d been keen to give sewing with knits a try, and I’d got as far as cutting out a lady skater pattern when I got the email. I’m glad I hadn’t got the fabric cut out as it proved to be perfect for the Dolores batwing dress. I was a little apprehensive, as my only knit project to date was the t-shirt refashion, but this came together beautifully. DSCN0944 The pattern is so quick to put together, with just eleven pages, and four pattern pieces (of which you will need three for each variation – unless you fancy a selection of arms on your garment for ultimate changeable weather protection). I really appreciate this kind of level of environmental awareness in a pattern design, and it’s the kind of touch I’d expect from Zoe, who is the queen of reusing, refashioning and recycling. And, well, lets be honest, nobody really likes assembling pdf patterns. I’d planned to make this really slowly over a week, in order to be able to go crazy with notes, but it was such a quick and easy project that I was done in an afternoon (and I am not a fast sewer). Since I was testing the pattern, I made everything according to the instructions, although I did some neat little tucks on the sleeves, rather than gathering them. According to the instructions, I was a 12 at the bust, grading out to a 14 for the waist and hips. I’m really pleased with how that sizing turned out. DSCN0947 I wasn’t 100% sure that the shape of this dress would really suit me, especially as I usually do not have love for you if you were a fashion born in the 80s, but I’m in love with the relaxed slouchy shape. I’m sure that other people would look fantastic in this dress without a belt, but I am not one of them. This is fine, as I rarely look good in anything without some kind of waist definition, and it’s nice to actually use all of the belts I own. After going through my (extensive) belt collection, I was really surprised to see that it went with pretty much every one of them!! Ben was astonished that I’d made something so practical. What I love about this dress is that pairing it with different belts completely changes the look of the outfit. With a thin black belt, it’d be perfect for work; with a massive gold belt, it’s ready to party; and with a canvas belt it would be perfect for a day at the beach.

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I’ve got a slouchy back, yeah!

I’ve got a fair bit of this gorgeous fabric left (although not enough for the lady skater), so I’m wondering whether to make a long sleeved t-shirt length version. It’s a bit strange really, as I didn’t think I was a pink person… Are you planning to make this pattern? I reckon the long sleeved version would make a fantastic snuggly little black dress for winter. In unrelated news, I thought I’d do a little advertising for my little brother, who is a personal trainer. I’ve been working out with him for a couple of months, and have noticed an amazing difference from my previous sloth-like existence. If you’re based in the Brighton and Hove area and would like to get in shape with a supportive trainer who will write a programme based on your goals and lifestyle, either outside in the fresh air, or indoors at Underground Gym in Portslade, then check out his Facebook page.

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Tokyo: Akasaka and Nogizaka

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Sleeping

During our visit to Tokyo, we stayed at the Hotel Grand Fresa in Akasaka. We chose it because the price was so reasonable,and it turned out to be a fantastic base for us during the trip. It was only a one minute walk to Akasaka station, which was on the very useful C line (sealion!), and you could walk to Roppongi in about 20 minutes.

When we arrived at the hotel, we discovered we weren’t able to check in for about three hours. While this was not ideal after such a long journey, we decided to use this time to our advantage and scope out the local area. The receptionists took our bags and lent us a big umbrella, and we stepped out to experience the city for the first time. They actually came running out of the building, chasing us with the umbrella, which was quite sweet. God, Japanese people are nice.

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When we did manage to check in, we were able to pick and choose from a large selection of toiletries and teas on offer to guests in the reception area. Laden with bath salts, we headed up to our cosy room, which was actually in a different building. Although tiny, the room was well equipped, with a small kitchenette (kettle, sink, microwave), little wardrobe, TV, and JAPANESE BUM-WASHING TOILET!!! Yes, all my dreams had come true. It was wonderful.

Sightseeing

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At the end of Akasaka-dori, across Sotobori-dori, we discovered Hie-jinja shrine at the top of an escalator! The instant we stepped off the escalator, we found ourselves in an oasis of calm, completely different from the bustling city below. We had a little wander around, watching people praying, and enjoying the peace and quiet, before heading back down to earth.

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Taking Akasaka-dori in the other direction leads you to Nogi-jinja, a shrine dedicated to Count Nogi Maresuke, a general in the Japanese army who committed ritual suicide on the day of Emperor Meiji’s funeral, in accordance with the samurai tradition of following your master into death. At 8am on a drizzly Sunday morning, this was a peaceful place to while away some time with just the gardeners for company.

Eating

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Akasaka-dori and the roads around it are full of great looking places to eat and drink. Embarrassingly, we got breakfast from Starbucks on quite a few days, but in my defence, they drew cute little cats on our cups, and the cinnamon buns were gigantic.

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On our first evening, we met up with Paul and Jamie at Akasaka metro, before taking a walk along one of the livelier looking roads to find a spot for a drink and a catch-up. We found a spot in a bar which had covered its walls with posters of J-Pop stars, and had an inflatable vicar playing guitar outside. We ordered highballs, which are incredibly popular in Japan – you can buy them premixed in supermarkets. I wasn’t a massive fan of the ones made with just whisky and soda, but the flavoured ones were a lot more interesting – ginger was a particular hit.

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After drinks, we spent a long time looking for the perfect place to eat, dismissing the many Korean restaurants on offer as it seemed right to eat Japanese food on our first night in Japan. We eventually found a fantastic little Ramen place, where the lady running the joint helped us to work the machine where you selected and paid for your (very reasonable, delicious and enormous) meal. Inside, the restaurant was cosy and felt very down to earth. Although, it seemed that they regularly had famous Japanese guests (and Bruno Mars), as the walls were covered in signed sheets of paper.

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