Building Something New

This week, one of my favorite sewing blogs, The Coletterie, is starting something called The Wardrobe Architect. This might be what I need to get started.

The first post is more of an exercise, with a worksheet asking questions about 7 areas that help shape an individual’s style: history, philosophy, culture, community, activities, location, and body. So…here are my answers to the worksheet.

How has your personal history informed the way you dress? When did your tastes crystalize? Have they changed over the years, and why?

I grew up in the 60s and 70s, with a mother who, well, didn’t dress up very much. She wore jeans and T-shirts, no makeup, etc. Things didn’t change very much when she went to work, mostly because she worked in an analytical lab in a hospital until I was 16. When we moved to rural Pennsylvania when I was 16, I dressed so as to not be noticed: jeans and T-shirts or jeans and long-sleeved shirts or turtlenecks. When I moved away after college, I discovered Goth (or it discovered me – I think I’ve always been that way a little bit). Vintage black dresses, T-shirts with the sleeves ripped out, even dyeing my hair plum red (Pro tip: if you really want to make a difference in your hair color, it might be better to bleach your hair first, especially if it’s very, very dark). When I moved to NC in the late 80s, it pretty much stayed the same, with some concessions to having to go to work every day. Now we live in CO, and I’m moving away from being a SAHM. Which has enabled me to both wear nothing but jeans and T-shirts every damn day and not buy or make myself very many clothes (the money’s only meant for 2 people here, not 3).

How does your philosophy, spirituality, or religion affect your aesthetics and buying habits? Or, what aspects of those things would you like to see reflected?
Simply put, not much. I would love to be able to buy based on ethics, such as paying attention to where and by whom my clothing is made, but financially I can’t. Which is more than a little unethical in itself – and I’m not talking about MY ethics here. Stepping down off my soapbox…

How has your cultural background shaped the way you look? How did the aesthetics and values you grew up with affect your tastes as you got older?
My cultural background growing up pretty much reinforced how I dressed at the time. Not everybody in the late ’60s dressed like Mad Men or hippies. In our house, handmade items were pretty valuable; if somebody took the time to make you an outfit or bag – or anything, for that matter – it was a sign of great love and affection. It meant a whole damn lot. Something solid, that would last for a long time, was worth spending money on rather than what everybody else was wearing.

How are you influenced by the people around you, including friends, family, and other communities you’re involved in?
I’m not terribly influenced by my family, as they’re far from us. I’m more influenced right now by the other parents that are where we live. I still like to dress so as not to be noticed… Still jeans and T-shirts, but I’m starting to dress in dress trousers and a nice pullover sweater when I have lessons or have to do something at my daughter’s school.

How do your day to day activities influence your choices?
Right now, I still stay at home and only go out to teach and do things with our family. So it’s easy to not bother with dressing any particular way at this point.

Does the place you live inform the way you dress? How does climate factor in?
I live near the Rocky Mountain foothills in Colorado. The climate is High Desert Freakishness. I can never, ever, put anything away. One day can be 60F and sunny, the next can be 30F and a blizzard. In June. Or November. Really, any month of the year. So every single item of clothing I have has to be able to be layered at a moment’s notice or never put away.

In what ways does body image affect your choices in clothing? What clothes make you feel good about the body you live in? What clothes make you feel uncomfortable or alienated from your body?
The whole idea of Not Being Noticed, or only wearing a couple of things, is from my body. Or, rather, how I feel about it. This is probably a whole post in itself.

I’ve only been actually skinny once in my life. I know what it took for me to get there, and I never want to go back to that. Having said that, I’ve only recently started to accept the way I look. Not like, probably never, but accept. I can be stronger and more healthy, but I will never look like a model. Certain kinds of clothing – revealing, or very body-hugging – are out for me. I just don’t feel comfortable in them. There are some kinds of Goth wear that are fine for me, but that require more self-confidence than I have to wear them. I still love vintage clothing. For me, that means Victorian, Edwardian, pre-WWI/”Titanic” style clothing.

My body is getting older, and I feel that some of my favorite things that actually look good and aren’t jeans are age inappropriate. But that’s another post for another day as well.


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