Wednesday, September 11, 2013

F for Fail in Visuals

Not to be over-dramatic with my title, but when I look at my handmade wardrobe as a whole, I honestly feel that I've done a pretty poor job at developing a visual language that feels natural to me. Maybe you see a few recurring themes, but it's faaaaar from being how I want it to be.

These thoughts are coming after Tilly's great post "Sewing for your style".

I've always admired sewing bloggers like Jane, Tilly, Zoe, Gertie and Lladybird who were able to have a very defined style and just develop, grow and expand it in ways that felt very natural to them. They are using clothes to develop a visual language that is theirs and theirs alone.

This has definitely been a goal of mine, ever since I started sewing, but it hasn't really worked out. Why?

I think my problem has been methodological. So far, my method has been no method at all. I always thought that the visual thing would simply happen on its own. "If I like it, I go for it." has pretty much been my modus operandi, all the while hoping that, one day, the stars would align and my handmade wardrobe would magically become cohesive.

The truth is, like many things, defining your visual language is a process that takes both time and efforts. What Tilly's post helped me realize is that you have to actually sit down, and think about it. Go on Pinterest, create mood boards, pay attention to what you react to most and work on consciously defining your style.

This, Readers, brings me back to the most basic question of all:
Were I to have "a wardrobe that makes me drool on a daily basis," what would it look like? 
Food for thought!

18 comments:

  1. Yup - I can relate to this! Sometimes I find that my sewing projects are based more on what I want to sew rather than what I want to wear! I think slowly, slowly I'm getting there. My long term goal is to participate in Me-Made-May next year and be able to show off a cool, cohesive look...we'll see...x

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    1. Yes, exactly. What I want to sew rather than what I want to wear!

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  2. For me, whenever I receive the new collections from Ann Taylor Loft or Banana Republic or something - I always look through them for inspiration. I usually find tons of stuff that are "me". It's how I plan my sewing wardrobe lately :)

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    1. Yes, that's a good idea. I should try that out.

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  3. I also realized, after reading TIlly's post, that my hand-made wardrobe is not very consistent but at this stage of my sewing journey I am quite happy about it. I think the change will come with time and some good planing.

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    1. Fair enough, it does take time to develop. Nice that you can be compassionate with yourself. :-)

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    2. Are you maybe being a little hard on yourself? Surely the clothes, fabric etc you enjoy are a statement about you in themselves, even if they don't appear cohesive. Unless you're selling your 'look' as a commodity, how much more interesting and stimulating your wardrobe can be through its diversity seems far more appealing to me. I'm no intention of disparaging anyone who prefers a 'style' but it can't be for all of us. Life would be dull if we all aspired to the same things at a particular stage in our lives. Long live inconsistency too- therin lies development and growth.

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    3. Interesting perspective, Heather Hanna!

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    4. I guess it all depends on what your personal goals are with your sewing. Developing a cohesive aesthetic has very much been part of it for me from the beginning, so I'm eager to focus more on that from now on. But first, we'll need to sew our way through that fabric stash!

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  4. I felt the same after reading Tilly's post! My sewing and style is all over the place and I get easily tempted and distracted. Although I would love to have more of a 'look' going on, I would also be very sad if I had to restrict myself only to certain colours and styles though. So I'm stuck in the middle really!

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    1. Experimenting is fun, it's true, but I think that 1) I've done enough of that. 2) I can always experiment in my sewing for others.
      Thanks for reading!

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  5. such an interesting question, and i've also been thinking about it lately, as i feel as sewing has helped me define my style. at the beginning, i'd just sew any fabric i could put my hands on and liked, but now i realise that it doesn't matter how pretty the fabric is if i don't feel comfortable in the finished garment. so i try to think hard about my projects in the planning phase, so that i can slowly build a hanmade wardrobe i truly love. so, yes, i think a fantastic wardrobe that is "you" and cohesive requires some thought. (but also, heather hanna has a very interesting and valid point) for me, i try to start with silhouettes i know work for me when choosing patterns and really restrain myself when i shop for fabric...

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  6. My style is so all over the place I have a hard time narrowing it down. I'm also pretty trend conscious so it gets tweaked every season (What can I say, I'm a slave to fashion). Trend conscious modern vintage bohemian with a touch of preppy doesn't really roll of the tongue, you know? I always find it easier to figure out my style when I have to go anywhere for a long weekend. It's so concise and right there... for NYC this weekend I packed easy classic basics in black and white, with a few fun dresses and skirts for variety. I'm definitely narrowing down my look to something since I started sewing, but I'm still not entirely sure what it is. I guess having a SET style doesn't appeal to me much since as a designer I'm constantly being attracted to new things like a magpie.

    Speaking of F for fail.... I still haven't mailed your Anna because the post office near my work closed and I keep forgetting to take it somewhere else. Sigh. I'll try and do it next week. I'm sorry!

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  7. I've found that starting my sewing journey this year has made me more cohesive in my tastes, but also more adventurous. I'm not a fan of clothes shopping and I feel quite self-concious, but I am quite creative so the process of choosing patterns and fabric, and internet research on them has actually encouraged me to branch out from jeans/t-shirt/trainers! I haven't been following your blog for long but looking through your studio, I think you are developing a style. There are lots of classical timeless silhouettes in block colours (not sure if that's your intent?!), maybe it's not as obvious as Tilly's, but I think you're being a bit harsh on yourself!

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  8. I had a few style fails last year and ever since have been more careful about the outfits I choose to sew, which has meant that I've been happy with just about everything I've made this year - at least style wise, but .. having said that, sometimes I find it a bit boring to sew in my style. Sometimes it feels as though I have put up style walls around me.

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  9. Maybe you are being a little too hard on yourself. I mean sewing your own clothes should be fun and who cares if it is cohesive or not. The ladies on the popular blogs who seem to have a cohesive visual language may also only have this on and for their blogs. Crafted in itself. I think crafting a cohesive style language for yourself if that is your goal should also be a fun thing as if you were dressing up a different personality. But actually expecting to craft it for yourself and your life, maybe that's far too restrictive to who you are. Am I still making sense?!

    Anyways, love reading and seeing the clothes you make on your blog. Cheers, Stephanie

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  10. There is no cohesivness in my sewing, and that's what i love about it. It feels like trying to define "a style" is almost limiting in a way. To me it's more about "lifestyle" and what you feel comfortable wearing everyday, and how much versatiliy you want to be able to have with your clothes. I love that I'm able to wear a rather casual skinny jeans + (handmade) buttoned up shirt one day, and a tailored wool skirt (handmade) with a fitted sweater the next... It doesn't necessarily feel cohesive but both options feel "me". To me that's what sewing is all about: going different directions and making clothes that are special on their own. The golden rule being to make sure you sew garments that fit your lifestyle, and your existing wardrobe. But if cohesivness is what you're looking for, I'd say start with 3-4 basics. Try to create a "mini collection"that feels cohesive and that you can easily mix and match with your 3-4 favorite RTW garments. Then take these 4 basics and use them as a base to create variations.And then start adding new patterns, always looking at "does this new piece fit with the rest?". It's a process :)

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  11. I feel what you're saying. Tilly's post also made an impression on me. I'm just starting out making a fresh and brand new wardrobe. There are no basics that are part of my existing clothes - I hate everything, but I can't walk around naked (nor would I). So I've started creating a private pinterest board to get a better bead on my style tastes (although, I think I know where I'm going). Seeing it is a more concrete visual than in my mind's eye. The next test is making a few basics that fit my ideas.
    I'm new to your blog but what I've seen I think looks great. It's creative but doesn't appear particularly disjointed. Looking forward to getting to know your blog better.

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Thank you so much for taking the time to share your thoughts! Comments are moderated on posts older than 20 days, so they won't appear immediately. :-)

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