Building a wardrobe...of sorts.


How to Start a Capsule Sewing Plan

Do you have a sewing plan but get starry-eyed by all the new things and before you know where you are, you've made a good few garments but still have nothing to wear. No idea how it all fits together? It's all a blur and nothing seems to go with anything else? Random cloth buying but keep changing your mind about what to sew?

Need Help? Here we go...

A capsule wardrobe isn't workable for most people. We like a little spontaneity. Some lee-way when it comes to new things, whether we sew them or buy them.

A framework though, and sewing or buying things to fit the framework, is really good. It gives a bit of focus. It narrows down the choices and it stays with you when you wake up in the morning and you have no idea what to wear.

Life has changed so much over the past six months and caught us all napping. Most of us don't commute anymore. We're WFH but we still need to get dressed. Mostly! Here are a few ideas to build a framework around.


CHOOSE YOUR COLOURS



Do you have warm tones in your skin or cool? Turn your wrist and look at the veins. Generally speaking, those with blue/grey veins have cool tones and those with green/yellow veins have warm tones. Now look up colours to suit your skin tone. You can wear almost every colour. You just have to find the right tone for your own skin.

Pick one base colour. I used to all spend my days in an office or in court in a black suit. I never wear black now. For me the base colour is always navy. For you it could be black, brown or grey, depending on your skin tone but your base colour should be a neutral.

Then pick two other neutrals to go with the base colour. I pick white and grey. They both go with navy and they all go together. You could pick brown and cream or another combination but all three colours have to go together.

Then pick some accents. I usually choose variations of brown, blue, red and green. Chestnut, tobacco, army green or forest green pale blue, royal blue and pink. They all go with the three colours I've already chosen.

So, write this down;

1. Base Colour

2. Two Neutrals

3. Three or Four Accents

The objective is for everything to go with everything, so the clothes can be swapped around to produce the maximum number of combinations.

CHOOSE YOUR SHAPES


Proportions, Proportions, Proportions.

Not size. This framework is for all shapes and sizes. What you're thinking about is the silhouette. I prefer architectural shapes, trapeze lines and volume. I don't like anything tied around my middle but it has to be neat at the shoulder.

You might prefer form-fitting and nipped-in or totally loose and drop-shouldered. It's completely up to you. But the shapes you choose need to be consistent, that way, everything looks good together. If your shapes are inconsistent, things won't fit with others.


CHOOSE YOUR GARMENTS


Let's start with these!

Coats

My basics are a single-breasted wool overcoat, a parka and a single-breasted raincoat. They suit my silhouette. I don't like things tied around my middle. My coat and raincoat is navy, my parka is grey tweed.

Yours could be any shape you choose, as long as it is in your base colours, goes with the rest of your wardrobe and the silhouette you create is one you're comfortable with.

Jackets

I like a Pea Coat, a padded jacket and a chore jacket. My pea coat is navy, my padded jacket grey and I have two chore jackets, one cobalt blue, the other military green. I like my jacket to finish in line with my crotch. No other way of saying that! Not too long, not too short, but ok to wear with skirts and dresses. Too long or too short and the silhouette is ruined.

The padded jacket goes under the parka for warmth, the chore jackets fit under the wool coat and the raincoat.

You could pick a blazer, a drawstring jacket, a denim jacket, anything, as long as they are in the neutral colours you picked and go with your bottoms. They could sit on the waist or mid thigh, whatever length goes with the proportions you are trying to create. But if everything is going to fit together, your basic jackets should be the same length. When the basics are there, you get to experiment later.

Trousers

Mine are not formal. I have navy cord, navy linen and navy wool linen blend, denim wide-leg, French navy cotton, grey heavy canvas, white cotton, dark green linen. All the trousers go with all the coats and jackets but each has a different shade and texture. That keeps it interesting.

Jeans

Mid Blue, straight-leg selvedge. Turn them up to show off shoes and high-tops and that lovely selvedge. If you like high-waist, go for it. I like mine to sit two inches or so above my hip bone. That's just me.

Your jeans will go with all of your jackets and coats.

Dresses

Whatever suits you! My preferred style is trapeze, neat at the shoulder, loose fitting, long. Mostly blue. One red. Wear all your jackets, coats and knits over them and t-shirts under them.

Layer up and wear all your clothes all seasons. You can wear a white dress with boots, a long sleeve t-shirt underneath or a navy cardigan on top. You can wear a black or navy dress with some strappy flats in summer.

Skirts

I don't wear many skirts but I'm just making the Paper Theory x Peppermint Magazine Pocket Skirt to remedy that. The length of all my woven and jersey tops will go with this skirt.

Again, your chosen silhouette, your three to four colour palette. It might be a brown pencil skirt. Does it go with everything else? Good! Is it the right proportion? Excellent! Go for it.

Jersey Tops

I pick loose-fitting white crew neck t-shirts and striped Breton tops. That's it. They finish about three to four inches above my jackets. Always. They can be tucked in or worn loose. White looks casual under the jackets and goes with them all. Stripes go with all the trousers, jeans, jackets and coats. I now have about 300 different combinations before I've even got to the rest of my wardrobe. Do you see how it's building up?

You might go for a different colour and a different neckline, maybe more fitted, but they should all be within your original colour palette.

Woven Tops

Mine are white, navy, green, blue. I have a random pink one but it's within my red accent colour family so it goes with everything else. They all finish mid-hip. They are all loose.

Choose the silhouette you prefer and keep to your chosen colour palette. They should all go with everything else. Now you have about 600 different combinations.

Knitwear

A slouchy knit, finishing mid hip but wide enough to skim the hips. A cardigan of the same length. Wear over all the dresses, trousers, jersey tops and woven tops.


THAT'S IT!


These are the building blocks of your wardrobe for all seasons. Ideas to set you thinking.

You could start with 15 garments, add a pair of boots, nice trainers, some sandals and a heel if you like and it would be yonks before you ran out of ideas.

I hope this is helpful.

Next time I'll look at how to add colour and a bit of vim to your chosen few and then I'll look at pattern/fabric combinations for the coming season.

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