Building a wardrobe of sorts...part two

OK, so last time we had a look at a framework for your wardrobe. Not a capsule, but a basis upon which to build and develop a cohesive look (if that's what you're after).

I received so many emails and comments about the last post. So many of you found it really helpful. It isn't stuff we don't already know, just a way of setting it down that makes it easy to follow. There are no rules. You choose your own colours and proportions to make it work for you. But once you've done that, you can build with the framework in mind.

If you missed the first part of this series, it's available under the 'Resources' section of the website here.

If you'd like to make a sewing plan for the coming months, then going through this process every once in a while is great.

Autumn is the best time to start looking at cementing what's already there and putting your plan in place to fill the gaps you identify, because it's usually when we start thinking about those bigger projects; coats, jackets, heavyweight fabrics and garments which take a long time to make. In the spring, it's all about lightness and garments which don't take up as much time to make.

In this post I'm going to have a look at how to use colour and print to add a little vim to your basics.

Last time we looked at our base colours and had a look at the list of garments we need to make a whole load of combinations that mix seamlessly. You might have your base colours and a few accents now. You may have had a good look at your existing wardrobe, identified which garments to keep and seen where the gaps are.

Some people can do this type of editing in their sleep but I need to write everything down, to get familiar with all the things in my wardrobe and to really think about the combinations. I don't have lots of clothes but I still have wild cards and things that haven't worked. And I still have gaps and most of all I have things I want to sew because I love sewing. But making random things is not in my plan anymore.

My wardrobe now looks like this; all of my basic garments, my coats, jackets, trousers and skirts are solid colours; navy, grey and white. My layering pieces are solids or stripes; t-shirts, shirts, knitwear. Everything goes with everything else.

If you know me then you know that print is not really my thing. Print for me is a check or a stripe. That's as far as I go. But what follows applies whether your thing is sedate checks or wild florals.

My accent colours are all variations of brown, green, red and blue. Yours will be different tones but they will probably be a combination of those colours and your accent colours will form the basis of your accessory drawer(s) and your dresses and skirts.

When I want to add a little interest, I use colour or print in my dresses, skirts, my woven tops and in my accessories. I prefer my print be on a woven rather than a jersey. That's just me.

But here's the key to selecting your prints and colours.

The background of any print you choose for autumn/winter should always be the same base colour as your main base; black, navy or brown, if one of those is your chosen base.

The background for your summer prints should always be either white or cream, depending on what's best for your skin tone.

The background of your stripes should be either white or cream, depending on skin tone. Really good stripes are difficult to come by (we're working on it!).

Once you know what background you're looking for, look for prints that have your accent colours in them. Do you see how this is building up? Once you have your prints, be they floral, animal, geometric, dots or stripes, they will go with all of your main pieces. They will layer with all of your basics and if you chose the shapes that are consistent with your basic wardrobe, you'll have pieces that will transcend all seasons.

Print dresses can be worn under solid colour jackets and coats, under knits, and layered with jersey tops underneath. Print skirts can be worn with solid colour tops and knits and can be worn with solid colour jackets and coats.

Print tops can be worn with solid coloured trousers and skirts, under solid colour jackets and coats, under knits, and layered with jersey tops underneath.

When you have more experience or confidence with prints, you can pick backgrounds in you accent colours, or even go completely off-piste and clash like mad, but if you're new to this, pick your base colours as backgrounds. When you scroll through instagram and see someone who is expert at clashing prints, look closely at the colour combinations. There will always be a unifying theme of accent colours. That's why it works.

When it comes to accessories, winter hats, gloves and scarves should be in the darker tones of your accent colours. Mine are grey, royal blue, claret and dark green, maybe a mustard or an ochre; rich jewel tones to add a flash here and there. All the accessories, again, go with all the main pieces. Same with colourful necklaces. Buy them in a consistent colour palette and you can mix and match to your heart's content.

Summer scarves and hats should be in the lighter tones of your accent colours. Mine are pale blue, some pink, and a neutral linen.

Another way. of doing this, if you prefer not to use print or too much colour, is to dress tonally. If your base colour is brown, select different shades and textures within the palette. Brown tweed, corduroy and moleskin with oatmeal cashmere and copper/mustard/ochre accessories. Navy velvet with a pale blue check linen and glossy navy brogues. Claret donegal tweed with with burgundy leather gloves and a pale pink silk scarf. You get the idea?

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

When you get really clever at this, you can add all kinds of prints and you don't have to stick to the same base.

You can add all kinds of colours by building on your main accents, like contrasting collars or ribbing, striking linings but as a starting point, this is a formula for you.

Add boots, trainers, loafers, sandals and a (tiny) heel, a tote bag, a clutch, a cross-body and that's your wardrobe all set.

Choosing colours and prints can be tricky because there are so many options, especially when shopping for fabrics online. Scrolling through a sea of squares boggles the mind a little. At least, armed with a plan, you can begin to narrow it down a bit and get your sewing organised.

I hope this is helpful.

Next time I'll look at pattern/fabric combinations for the coming season, taking all of this knowledge on board.


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