Last week I spent a whole day picking clothes from my wardrobe and trying them on to see what outfits I could create. I learned a lot that day, so I thought it would be good to share my musings on style and outfit creation with you in a blog post.
The aim of my day was to just pick an item of clothing and try styling it in a way or ways that were comfortable, would suit my mostly casual lifestyle* and felt like me. If I liked how an outfit looked and felt I took a photo so that I could keep it for reference and didn’t forget the combination.
*I mentioned casual lifestyle but I adore dressier clothing so I aim for what I think of as elevated casual in my style when I’m out and about*
Recently, I’ve been more mindful of my own body proportions when putting together outfits. I feel like an outfit is more pleasing to my eye when I lengthen the line from my waist to the floor. My legs and body are pretty much the same lengths as each other so if I wear a top that finishes at lower hip level with cropped trousers and flat shoes this would really draw the eye down and give the illusion of me looking much shorter than I am. If I switched out the top for a short one and made the trousers full-length I instantly have a longer-looking line with the illusion of more height. If I then put on a mid-heel-height shoe the proportions of my lower half are elongated even more…throughout my day of dress-up, I kept these thoughts in mind.
For the first few outfits, I wanted to try on both of my pleat-front trousers the Tatjana’s and the Adelines. The fabric in both of the trousers has flow and a drape with a smooth texture and I came to realise that they would be more suited to Spring or chillier Summer days because I disliked them with any of my winter coats. I’m not sure but I think it’s a texture thing…to me the smoothness and drape of the fabric didn’t sit as well with the weight or texture of a winter.
A combo that I absolutely loved with both pairs of trousers was with my blush and blue trench coats I loved the long drape of my blush coat with the flow of the trousers. I also really loved pairing the trousers with my bright graphic print long-sleeved tee…the elevated casual vibe of the pairing really surprised me in a good way and I would never have thought to try that particular combo before.
Next, I tried on my short cream jacket with the pleat fronted trousers and I didn’t like it at all and not that much with my wide-leg jeans either. In fact, I only liked it paired with narrow-leg jeans. It’s funny because when I made the jacket I 100-per cent believed I would wear it with wide-leg trousers.
And while I’m talking about my cream jacket you know how I changed from the original designer-intended mandarin collar and made a regular collar instead? Well, it was a mistake I’ve realised I don’t like the collar it gives me the wrong style vibe completely… maybe it’s too sweet… I don’t know, I can’t quite explain it, but when I tucked the collar inside out of the way I instantly loved the jacket more. I plan on unpicking the collar and making a mandarin style one instead.
Another jacket that I tried out was my beloved wool leopard print one and I found out that I preferred it with slim jeans or trousers more so than wider legged ones.
Anyhow before this post turns into a really, really long essay maybe it would be easier if I share a few of my likes dislikes and revelations etc in a little bullet point list.
- Love a longer layer worn over a soft trouser
- Not at all keen on collared tops. I have my Grasser polo top which I do really like a lot, but I wasn’t keen on how the collar worked with the collars on some of my coats, They seemed to fight for attention and I think overall I prefer, round, scoop, ‘V’, or draped necks
- A soft trouser is strictly for me to wear in Spring/cool Summer. They don’t feel right for Winter
- If I wear a soft trouser I like either a tucked in top or a semi-tucked top to add structure and shape definition to the silhouette.
- I need to work on styling my leopard print coat a bit more
- I surprisingly loved pairing my grey peacoat with my wide-leg jeans
- I need to shorten a cream cable knit sweater to wear with my wide-leg jeans and leopard coat
- I realise now that I don’t like midi skirts on me after all. I have to work too hard to style them and I think a shorter style works a bit better with my proportions and existing footwear My grey ribbed knit midi will be shortened to above knee and my rust rib knit one will be repurposed into a top.
- My grey cable cardigan (which I shortened a bit a while back) will be useful in Spring as a topper. I like it worn casually over flowy trousers and with my wide jeans.
- I love my sparkle blouse with my wide leg jeans.
- I rediscovered my black and maroon flat loafers and will love them worn with my grey knit skirt once it’s been shortened.
- I really like my black, white and grey waterfall front Lisette coat worn wrapped across and belted. Loved it styled over a shorter skirt and loafers.
- I often like some contrast in an outfit…. like adding one bright colour or in the form of tonal contrast. Cream and ivory are often my go-to shades for adding more contrast so it makes sense to have a lot of items in these colours to help me build outfits.
- I want to add a few bolder colours that I’ll take from the Deep Autumn palette. I was once typed as a Soft Autumn, but I think I can take more contrast with my dark hair. I occasionally steal Soft Summer colours too 🙂 If I don’t add complete new coloyrful garments, even a colourful bag will add that colour pop that I’m after.
- I think I should try to add a few necklaces here and there. I’ve never been much of a jewellery wearer, though I quite like wearing earrings occasionally, but I could see how some of the outfits that I tried on lacked a little something extra.
And there you have it lots of little revelations from just one day of playing dress-up and I barely scratched the surface, to be honest. I could easily spend another 2-days doing just the same. I didn’t create any summer combinations and I could have done a whole lot of deep winter outfits as well.
Here are some photos of outfits I tried. These aren’t all of them that I tried, however, and I haven’t accessorised them with jewellery or bags. It wasn’t a very bright day either, so the photo quality isn’t as good as usual and my hair isn’t at its best so you’ll have to excuse that too 🙂 I concentrated on my wider legged jeans and trousers for many of these photos and looking at the outfits overall, I can see that I think I need to add a few brighter coloured items, maybe red/pink/aqua…Anyway here are the photo collages:
Moving forward, as I already mentioned in my notes I have a few actionable things to consider when sewing more clothes and I also have to schedule a trip to a charity shop because I purged three pairs of shoes a pair of boots two sweaters and a top.
As for actually organising my storage…well, I decided to move all of my dressy going out shoes to the very top shelves of the wardrobe so that just my everyday footwear is visible in the bottom shoe rack. I also decided to group items on the hangers by type first and foremost rather than being arranged by colour first. I’ll group by colour within each category instead. My jeans and all of my sweaters are on shelves above the hanging area and very dressy items for evenings out are stored under my bed. Off-season things plus a few coats are in the spare room.
Well, I think I’ll bring this post to a close because it did turn into quite a long one, so if you’ve read this far thank you! I don’t think of this as the end of my style research though, more like the beginning of a work in progress. I’m sure my tastes will change again over time and more sewing mistakes will probably be made, but that’s life, isn’t it? For now, though, I feel like this was a good exercise for me and I have some new outfit ideas plus some plans for upcoming projects.
Feel free to chat in the comments. Let me know if you’ve done any outfit creation sessions yourself or maybe you’ve decluttered or found out new storage solutions etc I’m always happy to chat.
See you soon!
Some really lovely combinations here. I am so impressed that you have the energy to try on all these clothes in one hit, I’d just finish up with a mess everywhere! I found the styling options really interesting and your musings about elongation as I’m quite short, but can no longer wear high heeled shoes.
Thanks, Sue! Oh, believe me, there was definitely a hell of a mess after I’d finished my session. Our bedroom looked like a clothes bomb had gone off! I’m surprised that you say you’re quite short because I always think that you look quite tall in your photos and I think it has to do with your long, slim leg line…so I don’t think you need to worry about your clothing proportions too much. Unlike my short-legged long torso’d self 🙂
I think your impression of your long torso/short legs is a little exaggerated, Diane: we all look at certain parts of ourselves with particular criticism, when it is not what others notice! I probably have slightly shorter legs/longer torso, but I choose to be more critical of my fat tummy, so there!
One way to lengthen the leg line in some of your outfits is to limit the shoes you wear with a specific pant and optimize the pant length for a specific heel. I used to do this 20 years ago much more than I do it now, bc I have been wearing narrow pants and heel height doesn’t change the look of narrow pants.
But with wide legged/trouser looks back in fashion, it comes into play more: I noticed that with your wide leg jeans and one or two boots, you could have hemmed the jeans an inch or more longer. But then you remove some of the flexibility of the pant (to wear it with flats or low shoes). We can’t really have our cake and eat it, too, I think!
Perhaps we are our own worst critics eh? Though my camera’s 35mm lens can sometimes have a tendency to elongate things 😉
I totally get what you mean with those wide-leg jeans and yes, I hemmed them in case I wore them with a flat shoe/sneaker….and of course, then I go and buy a sneaker with a wedge to create more height…lol! So perhaps I will lengthen them!
Second vote on the blue trench, white jeans and wonderful coral top: I think the high contrast of the top accents the blue and white. This outfit really sang for me. Perhaps the coral color near your face is a key factor.
If you do not wear a lot of jewelry, consider some scarves for Fall, Winter, Spring to wear with your wonderful outerwear collection: this is an easy way to bring attention to your face and still wear a more neutral or paler top.
I would suggest you put on a neutral lipstick, Diane, just to bring a little more color to your face when you do this mega try-on. I think it would perk up everything!
The Mandarin collar will give a bit more verticality to your short cream jacket and perhaps draw the eye to your face more?
I love your two non-denim trousers, but I am not thrilled with the new jeans trouser style, somehow (not your pair, in general). I am chronically slow to accept new fashion trends, tho!
I really like your green trouser-pink trench-abstract print white T together: very nice!
Your Lissette coat, grey cardigan and Leopard coat are all wonderful pieces: you should sew items to bring out their best!
Thank you as always for such a lovely thoughtful and interesting comment, Joan. You’ve made some great suggestions, so thank you…I’m inclined to agree that I need something that adds the focus around my face…I’ve craved a bit more colour or contrast for a while now, but it takes time to get that into a wardrobe. I’ll definitely try more lipstick…in fact after I’d taken the photos I thought how washed out I look but to tell the truth, I’d been getting anxiety (it’s eased now) and my it showed on my face!
I’m quite excited to get moving and shake up my wardrobe a bit ☺
We love our clothes, particularly as makers, but I know how massive try-ons can be stress-inducing!
Hehe, they sure can!
Your coats and jackets are just amazing. Those are always my favorites among your creations.
Ohhh, thank you, Kathy.
Such fun! I think the leopard coat might be better with a different coloured bottom half. The green and the leopard print read very similar in the photo, and I notice a lot of your outfits have contrasting pieces.
Thanks, Catherine! Yes, that’s probably it… I am leaning towards craving a bit more contrast, and it might also be a fabric weight thing. The trouser fabric is quite fine.
I am so impressed by your variety of outerwear! I just can’t seem to wrap my head around coats as anything more than functional, which is a bit of a drag, as I live in a climate that needs them at least 8 months of the year. A try on session is on my radar, as my taste seems to be in flux right now. I’ve been wearing old favourite winter pieces occasionally, but they’re not giving me the satisfaction they once did. I don’t think it’s the lure of the next new thing, though I suppose it could be! New combinations are a good place to start. Enjoyed reading your thougts!
Thank you, Chloe! Hmmm, I think you definitely could focus more on outerwear if you wear it a lot…think of all the cool coat fabrics and silhouettes available. Could perhaps be the catalyst you need? I can also empathise with you because I feel in a little bit of flux style-wise. You could definitely start with a try-on session, it really helps to focus things.
What a fun day you’ve had, no doubt eager to continue the exercise another day! I have done it too and it definitely unclutters the mind, as well as the wardrobe. Thanks for sharing – I love your posts. Awesome.
Thanks, Christine. Yes, I’m keen to have more sessions like this as it really does help to unclutter the mind.
Great post, very helpful. I have been doing a bit of this too and a photo helps to keep a record and provides a objective critique. Love your long trench coats and your styling.
I like your style of elevated casual. Always inspired by the quality of your sewing. Thanks.
Thanks for the kind words, Pat 🙂 And I’m glad to hear that this struck a chord with you too.
What a great idea and I will definitely try this exercise, especially with the photos.
My favorite outfit is the blue trench with the white jeans and booties. Such a long line.
Not sure about the leopard jacket and green pant combo though. The jacket seems a bit short for those pants but I’m not sure how I would change it.
Thanks, Meg! I love the blue trench outfit too 🙂 That leopard jacket outfit isn’t my favourite either, but for me it’s more the lack of contrast. I don’t mind the length. It’s ok, but something definitely isn’t working with it. Lots to mull on..
What about an above the knee pencil skirt and matching scoop neck tee or tank in the same color as the greenish trousers to help the leopard jacket? Then add a pop of deep red for shoes or belt…
Hmm, something along those lines could work. Thank you 🙂
This is an interesting project! My favorite look is the pea coat, especially the length. And any colored too I much prefer to white or cream. May be the lighting. This convinced me that wanting to make a couple coats is a good idea!😊
Thanks, Heather. Yeah, it surprised me how much I like the pea coat wide jeans combo too 🙂 As for the cream sweater in many looks..it was just what I’d put on the first thing that day and I kind of just kept it on as I was concentrating on the coats and toppers. More coloured tops would be nice. Ooh, and the top under the leopard jacket is different to the other one and sadly it’s altered in colour from rich cream to a mucky off-white and I think it needs to go.