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Wardrobe Architect

  • Wardrobe Architect, Week 6: Organizing my Palette

    Look at all the colors in my palette! Look at all the colors in my palette!

    This week’s challenge is to organize our list of colors into a wearable palette. This assignment was more informative and much more mortifying than I expected. It reminded me of those times in college when I thought an assignment was going to be easy (I read that book last year in European Intellectual History. I’ll just skim it again and write the paper), but after starting on it, I realize the assignment will be very difficult.

    When I saw Sarai’s limited number of colors in her wearable palette, I thought, “I’ve had my colors done, I have tons of colors in my palette.” I can just take a photo of my fan of colors. Assignment done! Then I noticed that Sarai asks us to look at the colors in our current wardrobes.

    95 percent of my clothes are only these neutral colors! 95 percent of my clothes are only these neutral colors!

    It’s true, the number of colors that would look good on me is enormous.

    But when I look in my closet, I realize how few of them I actually wear.

    Black, chocolate brown, white and dark gray are heavily represented, even in tee-shirts. Many of my outfits barely have a pop of color. Only five colors appear as rare pops in my closet: bright pink, red, royal blue and dark purple. 

    The sad few pops of colors that rarely make an appearance in my wardrobe. The sad few pops of colors that rarely make an appearance in my wardrobe.

    I took a quick peek at my stash — can I look forward to more colors in the next year of sewing? Ummm….No. My stash is black and gray and white, with a rare pop of color. 

     

    No gold pour moi! No gold pour moi!

    As far as metals go, I only wear white gold or silver. In fact, Pati Palmer is considering using me as an example of someone who cannot wear gold in her upcoming book. She took photos to show how bad I look in gold. 

    The colors that are currently in my wardrobe can serve as a good (although boring) basis for a wearable palette. I pledge to incorporate more colors into my wardrobe after I work down my stash!

    Silver is much better. Silver is much better.

  • Reflections on Lessons Learned and Teaching

    Calling all Princesses!  Calling all Princesses! 

    As I venture into this new phase in my life, this sewing, tailoring, teaching phase, I’m trying to find my niche. When I started this blog post last weekend (I had a busy week), I was getting ready to teach three new classes at Selvedge Studio in Missoula: Princess Seams, Sewing With Knits, and Sewing Essentials: From Wanna-Be to Designer in 2 Hours.

    I prepared folders for each theoretical student I prepared folders for each theoretical student

    For the past few weeks, I’ve been frantically sewing up samples, practicing altering different patterns, and writing curriculums. I had both a Princess Seam class and a Sewing Essentials class scheduled for yesterday, and I wanted to finish my sample for Sewing with Knits.

    I cut out samples of different fabrics, made a grid showing how to sew with each, and marked a sample of each with sewing instructions. I cut out samples of different fabrics, made a grid showing how to sew with each, and marked a sample of each with sewing instructions.

    Unfortunately, all of my preparation was for naught. No one signed up for the Princess Seam class, and the Sewing Essentials class was postponed until March 8. At least I’m ready to teach the classes. Now I have a little time for some selfish sewing (my favorite kind!). 

    Do you teach sewing classes? Which are the most popular? How do you get people to sign up?

  • Wardrobe Architect Week 5 -- My Color Story

    Ethel calls these pinks my Ethel calls these pinks my "skin tone enhancers."

    A few blues work for me. A few blues work for me.

    This week, Sarai at Coletterie is asking us to tell our "color stories." Sarai has a wonderful sense of style and color. She wears her favorite colors and looks great. 

    These are the complimentary colors that bring out my eye color. These are the complimentary colors that bring out my eye color.

    I, on the other hand, needed help to figure out which colors look best on me. I tended to want to wear colors that look great on other people, not realizing that my skin tone was completely different from theirs. I had my "colors done" when I was in my 20's. It was a great move for me. I stopped buying things that just sat in my closet without ever blending into my overall wardrobe. Now, everything goes together. Really. It's true. I know that my basics are navy blue, black, gray and white. I cannot wear cream or anything but the darkest brown. Bright colors and jewel tones look best on me. I am a "contrasting winter."

    Ethel found all of these colors in my hair and said I can actually wear them! Ethel found all of these colors in my hair and said I can actually wear them!

    These are my eye color enhancers These are my eye color enhancers

    I had my colors done again last year. My hair has gone from almost-black to almost-white, and I wondered if the change made a difference in what looks best on me.  I went to Ethel Harms, who lives in Lake Oswego, Oregon, while in Portland for a "Sewing Vacation." Ethel not only does a great job explaining color theory and why certain colors work for you, she also gives you a cute little fan of colored fabrics that easily fits in a purse. Ethel confirmed the bright colors, jewel tones, and basic colors my first colorist suggested. She also pulled colors out of my hair and my eyes -- adding some warmish colors to my palette. 

    Even if you decide to wear whatever colors you want, I think it's great to understand which colors actually look good on you, so you can make an educated decision And, getting your colors done can keep you from overdoing your stash (too much).

  • Wardrobe Architect Weeks 3 and 4

    For weeks 3 and 4 of Wardrobe Architect, Sarai asked us to think about the proportions and silhouettes that look best on us. She suggested we go to Polyvore to create our own style sets. I'm so excited! I have always wondered how people created wardrobe sets in cute little boxes!

    There is a link in the sidebar to my Polyvore sets. I'll be updating them regularly.

    Proportions and Silhouettes that work for me

    Okay....Yay me for figuring out how to create a 'code block' and show you all my Polyvore sets, but boo for me:  I can't figure out how to caption each of them. So, I'll caption them from way down here. On the top left, I have tunics and leggings, which I love because I have long legs. I have to be careful that the tunics don't billow out from the bust in a tent-like fashion. On the middle top are khakis and a girly top -- one of my favs for the weekend. On the top right, a short skirt with a matching flow-y cardigan and tights -- one of my favorites for spring and fall. Middle row on the left is a wrap dress with a blazer. Everyone who advises how to dress based on body type says a wrap dress is great for someone with an hourglass figure like mine. This is a go-to work outfit for me. In the middle is an A-line skirt with a striped t-shirt -- a great spring or fall outfit for a work day when I don't have many meetings. Middle row right -- pencil skirt with a fitted blazer -- is what I wear on a work day when I have an important meeting or need to be on TV. The bottom left square contains boot-cut jeans and a flow-y T, which I love for weekends. Finally, lower right, a v-neck dress with a waist and a flow-y cardigan, my most comfortable work wear in the summer.

    Thanks again to Sarai for getting us all to think about our wardrobes!

  • Wardrobe Architect, Week 2

    Katharine lounging in the most classic of outfits. Image Source: (Photo by Haynes Archive/Popperfoto/Getty Images) Katharine lounging in the most classic of outfits. Image Source: (Photo by Haynes Archive/Popperfoto/Getty Images)

    Meg in a beautiful tissue-weight knit. Image source: sixpacktech.com Meg in a beautiful tissue-weight knit. Image source: sixpacktech.com

    Sarah Richardson looking wonderful. I have a gray dress, gray tights, and red shoes! I just need that beautiful necklace. Image Source: www.themarionhousebook.com Sarah Richardson looking wonderful. I have a gray dress, gray tights, and red shoes! I just need that beautiful necklace. Image Source: www.themarionhousebook.com

    Sarah in a classic, well-constructed pink blazer. Image Source: www.sarahrichardsondesign.com Sarah in a classic, well-constructed pink blazer. Image Source: www.sarahrichardsondesign.com

    This week, Sarai at Coletterie is challenging us to: Uncover the styles that make you feel like yourself and attach words and images to them.

     

    By answering Sarai’s questions, I discovered I like clothes that are:

    • Classic
    • Well-Made
    • Beautiful
    • Smart 
    • Friendly

     

    Sarai then asked us to identify our style icons. Strangely, I have never pondered my icons. As I started thinking about who I might choose, my first thought was Katharine Hepburn, the original tall beauty. Perusing photos of her on the ‘net, I loved her classic, sometimes androgynous, outfits. Yes, she is an icon for me!

    My second thought was Meg Ryan. She is cute, petite, and blonde, very different from me, but she gravitates toward simple well-constructed clothes that fit well. She stays on the list.

     

    Then I realized who my true style icon is: Sarah Richardson, host of the Canadian TV show, Sarah’s House. I love her interior design ideas, and her clothes are to.die.for. Tweed jackets with jeans, cute cardigans, perfect color combinations, I love her real, honest beauty. 

     

    Now that I have identified my style icons, I will have an easier time determining if a piece of clothing is “me” or not. Thanks Sarai!

  • Wardrobe Architect, Day 6

    None of these three good dogs is actually evil. Their owner just can't figure out how to make their eyes look normal. They are posing with our collection of snow boots, hoping a walk is in their future. None of these three good dogs is actually evil. Their owner just can't figure out how to make their eyes look normal. They are posing with our collection of snow boots, hoping a walk is in their future.

    The topic for Wardrobe Architect Day 6 is Location. Sarai asks, Does the place you live inform the way you dress? How does climate factor in? 

    Climate is a huge factor here in Montana. I have experienced snow during every month of the year here, and the temperature can fluctuate wildly during the day and from one day to the next. I have boots for deep snow and light snow. I have cleats I can put on my boots on icy days.  I always have a collection of shoes under my desk at work so I can wear snow boots outside and change  when I get inside. Layering is key for keeping warm outdoors and staying comfortable indoors!

  • Wardrobe Architect, Day 5

    Kate, Charlotte and Mairin at Mairin's graduation. Kate, Charlotte and Mairin at Mairin's graduation.

    Today's Wardrobe Architect theme is Activities. Sarai asks, "How do your daily activities influence your choices?"

    Well....I have many activities to influence my choices:

    1. I'm a mom of two young women who love to say, "you're going to wear THAT?"

    2. As the the executive director of a community health center, I am frequently in the public eye -- I need to wear dresses, blazers, slacks and blouses.

    3. I love to hike, swim and do yoga -- I must be able to change into exercise gear in a flash.

    4. I LOVE to sew -- the easiest activity to dress for. 

  • Wardrobe Architect, Day 4

    Today's Wardrobe Architect topic is Community. I love the beauty of the trail system around Helena, Montana, my town. I also love the casual attitude about dressing. If I wear a skirt on Saturday, people ask me why I'm so dressed up.  I always need to be ready to quickly change into hiking clothes so I can walk out my door and hit the trail. 

  • Wardrobe Architect, Days 2 and 3

    The next two topics on the Wardrobe Architect journey are: Philosophy and Culture. If I were to sum up my spiritual beliefs in one word, it would be Tzedakah — the Hebrew word for both charity and justice. I believe that giving what we can to others leads to justice in the world. My belief is Tzedakah, my upbringing in casual California, and my adult life in even-more-casual Montana shape my desire to dress well but not spend extravagantly on what I wear. Sewing clothes that fit with fine natural fibers fits with both my spiritual and cultural beliefs. Thank you, Sarai at Coletterie, for guiding us all through this introspective journey! I am learning new things about myself!

  • Wardrobe Architect, Day 1

    Here I am in a classic wool flannel blazer. Photo by the amazing Pati Palmer. Here I am in a classic wool flannel blazer. Photo by the amazing Pati Palmer.

    I am following Sarai Mitnick at Coletterie on her Wardrobe Architect journey to "design and build thoughtful attire." Our first exercise is to answer questions about these aspects of ourselves and our style:

    • History
    • Philosophy
    • Culture
    • Community
    • Activities
    • Location
    • Body

    I will be discussing one of these each day. I'll start with History. Sarai's question is: How has your personal history informed the way you dress? When did your tastes crys- talize? Have they changed over the years, and why? 

    I grew up in California in the 1970's. The cool adults were wearing bell-bottoms and polyester shirts. My mom shopped at Talbott's. I wanted to be anything but "classic." I went to college on the east coast with kids from New York City who were uber edgy with their ripped jeans and black on black on black. I couldn't figure out how to dress like them. Now I find myself dressing mostly classic, but always with a twist, a subtle nod to the tackiness of California in the 70's, or the coolness of those kids from NYC.

    How does your history affect your style?

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