2017 is officially here, and I have some feelings. Some plans too, but first some feelings. This post comes to you in two parts.
2016 was my first calendar year abroad. Technically it’s been 15 months give or take a week or two, but this has been my first complete year living the expat life. About halfway through December, my parents (both of them) started sending me messages like ‘do you really want to keep x’ and ‘which of the objects in this photo of your room can I sell?’… apparently 15 months is how long it takes before parents start trying to condense 23 years worth of their kid’s life into storage boxes. (to be honest I’m surprised it took them that long…and let it be known in the blogosphere that, for letting me leave all my crap in their basement, they are truly saints).
Then, there was the night when I asked Mom to send my invisible zipper foot – so long as she could find it in all said piles of crap- and she sent me a photo of the foot in question less than 30 seconds later. When I commented on her speed, she said she’d requisitioned my sewing box for her own use.
Now, she is my Momma and I’m certainly not upset with her for taking advantage of (in my opinion) the world’s most carefully curated box of Bernina accessories – I spent my formative years taking advantage of her stuff without asking, after all, and in this new country my heart belongs to an Elna – but I can’t say there was a complete lack of knee-jerk horror there. I don’t know why I thought things would stay how I left them. It’s kind of like a reverse-object-permanence. Once out of sight, our brains dictate that the thing remains static. Any adult who’s driven past the house they grew up in will be able to tell you how false that notion is. I’ve certainly changed this year, there’s no logical reason to assume that the rest of the world would not as well- and that a resourceful mother would not requisition a (beautiful, perfect) sewing box.
Interestingly, aside from select few things (some day, my dear Bernina and her perfectly curated accessory box will join her adopted sisters and I, wherever in the world that may be) – I’ve found that I don’t miss most of what I left behind. Especially not the clothes. On the flipside, I’ve also realized over the past year that I’m no longer fond of wearing most of what actually made it into my suitcase, either. A few months ago I packed up about half of it up under the bed as an experiment, and I haven’t once missed wearing anything I put down there. (There are a few sentimental t-shirts that I’ll never throw away…that’s what t-shirt blankets are for, though)
I have, however, got some pretty big holes in my wardrobe. I have three cardigans (two I hate because polyester), ten-ish shirts, five pairs of pants (three are jeans, two are near-death, the other three are the same pants in three different colors because when you find something that fits okay, you buy ALL OF THEM), three skirts (two are too short but so cute), my jumpsuit (surprisingly versatile), and about eight dresses if you count the wedding-attendee-level fancy ones and the non-work-appropriate ones as well. Add two job interview blazers, two coats and a rain jacket, and that’s it. Who among you, my dear readers, has only ten shirts? Anyone? Jon has 52 (edit: 53 including a recent Christmas gift) printed t-shirts, not to mention the plain ones, the button ups, and the other outliers. I know it’s not a contest, and I know that my left-at-home wardrobe dwarves his, but I’m living my life in repeats, and I don’t even love most of the stuff I’m wearing.
Part two, if you haven’t figured it out already, is the plan: Project New Wardrobe. There’s nothing like being forced to leave 90% of your wardrobe behind (and subsequently rejecting over half of what’s left) to force your perspective on wardrobe planning. The nice thing about it though, is that this time I can put some thought into it. After Erin started her wardrobe reboot a few months ago, I started reading the Wardrobe Architect blog series and dutifully did all the homework assignments. I wrote down my style words, shapes, and neutral/near neutral/statement color palette, made my Pinterest board, identified the amount of wearing ease I preferred on different parts of my body, and made a list of silhouettes – something you can read more about in the wardrobe architect articles if you’re interested – and then I started drawing individual garments.
A ‘capsule wardrobe’ according to broadly accepted definitions, consists of about 20-25 pieces, which seemed like a reasonable amount to start with- keeping in mind that I’m starting from basically nothing. I drew schematics of my pieces, and then made a chart to figure out what pieces needed to be what colors so that they could match other things. (lest I try to make a teal cardi match a teal shirt with teal pants….) I made draft and fit notes, fabric notes, and included thoughts on where I might find potential fabric contenders (stash! stash is good!)
I also made a list of non-handmade items I needed for my wardrobe: Shoes, belts, and a few pairs of tights. For clarity’s sake, I listed the colors and other requirements I had for those items as well. I was very specific in my needs, so here’s hoping I can find those things in a store somewhere. I went on a shopping trip last weekend and managed to find a delightful pair of black patent leather oxfords that would not have matched anything in my wardrobe (I didn’t get them but it’s been a week and I’m still thinking about them…) I ended up buying exactly nothing on my list, but I did bring home some beautiful Japanese denim that you’ll be meeting very shortly…
Lastly, since I haven’t yet shaken the bra making bug (hint: it’s here to stay) – I made an additional list of foundation garments, keeping in mind how things would work with my wardrobe, and incorporating things I’ve been wanting to try. My garter belt, some lighter colored bras, perfecting a panty draft, attempting a strapless bra, etc. At this rate, with my simple design lines and desire for ‘essentials’, I’m going to end up spending more time sewing the foundations than the actual clothes!
The good news is, I’ve already completed some of the things on my lists! My Ginger Jeans were an important, much-worn addition, and I’ve got two more Ginger variations already cut out. I’ve got a few as yet unblogged objects to show you soon (including one in particular that basically made the whole rest of the wardrobe possible), plus four shirt’s worth of fabric (and buttons+ matching thread! Like I planned it!) lined up for when I can figure out why my armscye draft is giving me so many problems.
Also, in case it’s my aggressively flowery writing you’re here for and not the project photos, you may have missed the shirt I seem to be wearing in all these photos. It’s the ‘basic tee’ from my wardrobe architect plans (upper left in the photo above), in a pleasing shade of not-white. The fabric is a luscious cotton/tencel (or maybe rayon?) blend from The Fabric Store, and it’s got a delightful drape, not to mention that the wrinkles fall right out of it. After weeks of going back and forth between ‘dolman sleeve’ and ‘dropped shoulder’ I went for the latter, and just drafted up a quick, loose tee that has features of three of my (old, ratty, RTW) favorites. The inner bits are four thread overlocked, and as you can see I’ve finally got a twin needle adapter for my Elna, so those hems are on point. Just a few stitches skipping over some parts of the neckline that I’m fairly certain is a bobbin tension issue. I also happen to know it washes quite well because within half an hour of finishing it and putting it on, I managed to splash tomato sauce all down the front. For how long I spent deciding on its shaping, construction was incredibly basic so I don’t think it’ll be getting a blog post of its own – but as one of the building blocks of my capsule wardrobe, you’ll probably be seeing a lot of this shirt in the future. The Gingers snuck in for an appearance as well 😉
I guess you could call this my semi-already-started New Year’s resolution. I’m not really one for waiting for a certain time of year to make commitments and all that, and in complete honesty I started the planning phases of this about three months ago so there’s that… but while seemingly everyone else is knee-deep in their ‘end of year wrap up/reflection’ posts and the ‘here’s what 2017 has in store for me’ posts too, now is as good a time as any to make public my commitment to Get This Thing Done. I feel like everyone has a phase of ‘the stuff in my closet isn’t what I want to look like’, and this is mine. Next year, I’m even planning to go home and take care of all the stuff I left in my parent’s basement.
Before I run back to my machines to take advantage of the last few days of my vacation, I thought I’d leave you with my ‘2016 best nine’ from Instagram this year. The represented highlights were getting engaged, going to Hawaii, and getting back to blogging and sewing with things like bras, swimsuits, my liberty dress, and the omnipresent Ginger Jeans. The unrepresented highlights were moving to the other side of the world, starting a new job in a new country, my visa getting approved, and the whole, slow, ongoing process of creating a life we both love to live in.
Hello 2017, it’s lovely to finally meet you!