So last fall I started a series of posts pondering my lack of enthusiasm surrounding my personal wardrobe and (lack of) style.  Essentially it boiled down to I had sort of let things go, and then everything fell off the rails and started crashing and burning, and my wardrobe reflected this.  Since my last Wardrobe Planning Post, I’ve participated in the Wardrobe Sudoku Contest on Pattern Review and have used this to gain valuable insight into my sewing habits and clothing preferences.  On top of that, I seem to have been reading a lot of very popular books about clothing, wardrobes, and organization lately, so I’ll throw some mini reviews up here for those as well.  On top of that, it is commission season ’round these parts, so I’m waist deep in skating fabrics, which, of course, means that all I want to sew is non-skating things.  I think I’ll reserve my “things I really want to sew right now but can’t” list for another post, since the other musings here will be more than long enough.

Although some of my grand plans from the inception of my wardrobe overhaul have been somewhat slowed, the whole process hasn’t really come to a stop.  At least, not in the intellectual hypothetical sense.  I’ve been reading quite a few books about clothes, cleaning, and storage.  I figure I’d review a couple of them here and share the inspirations they have provided:

How to Get Dressed: A Costume Designer’s Secrets for Making Your Clothes Look, Fit, and Feel Amazing by Alison Freer

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I read this book during the Thanksgiving Holiday week last year.  I actually really love this book.  The author, a Hollywood costume designer, gives great tips on achieving a stylish look, using the sorts of trickery that happens on movie sets.  She has some fun stories, and has make me a true believer of Topstick Toupee Tape, and emphasizes that half the battle of looking put together is fit, fit, fit.  Word!  Her idea of hanging EVERYTHING because that is how Hollywood designers do it is interesting, but, as my tiny closet can attest, impractical.  However, her suggestion to use as much vertical storage as possible was a much appreciated suggestion, and my recent acquisition of vertically stacking hangers has made me quite happy.  Definitely worth a read if you feel like you know what your style is, but aren’t quite sure how to get that finished, polished look.  Also great for tips on clothing care, alterations, in a pinch fixes that can save your sanity.

The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo

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At this point I think everyone who hasn’t read this book has at least heard of it.  Marie Kondo is an organization guru from Japan, whose essential premise is that one should only keep things that spark joy.  While there are certainly varying opinions over the validity of this method of organization, I have to admit that for me, it seems to work.  I’ve always had a problem getting rid of things, but listening to the audiobook was more inspiring and soothing (and way cheeper!) than going to a therapist, and has actually allowed me to get rid of several bags of clothes that had needed to be gotten rid of for nearly a decade.  I’m slowly building up more bags of clothing to remove from my closet.  I did my first clothing purge following the Kondo method – dump EVERYTHING in a pile, then sort by what gives joy.  Honestly, I had so much stuff that I think a lot of things passed the “joy” test only because I had been using them recently, but not because I actually love them.  Also, it is a bit more difficult to do the clothing purge with sewn items.  For example, I probably *could* get rid of a lot of the things I’ve sewn over the years, but I’ve got an emotional attachment to either the making of the item or the fabric.  And I have a few things that bring joy when I look at them, even though they will honestly never fit over my boobs again.  I really will need to do a second Kondo-esque purge I think, likely after I have more specifically defined my style (see below) and continue that purge into the areas of my shoes and accessories. I got distracted by life and never quite made it that far, but, I must admit, I like this method.  It makes you realize how much you have and how much of it you really like.  I know this method may not be for everyone, but it has actually allowed me to remove things from my life and feel ok about it for this first time in forever, so for that I’m giving this book all the thumbs up.  Honestly, what I’d love is a month off of life to just Kondo the shit out of everything, but for now I’ll just look forward to summer hours and having a bit more time in a day to accomplish things.

The Curated Closet by Anuschka Rees

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In light of my recent wardrobe endeavors, my sister gave me this book for my birthday.  D’awww, thanks!  I’ve not yet read the entire thing, but I have decided that I will need to go back through this book much more thoroughly and partake of all the exercises to get full benefit from this book.  Which is fine.  I mean, that is why I did get this book in the first place.  It is interesting to see how these guidelines both compliment and contrast with those from the Wardrobe Architect series which is what I was using before.  The author of this book is also the author of Into-Mind, which I did look at when considering color palettes, so I’m not completely unfamiliar with many of her suggestions and methods, but it is great to have it written out in essentially a step-by-step format.  While many of the steps are very similar to part of my wardrobe planning that I have already completed, there are some important differences and distinctions, which I think might be more useful for honing in on a personal style as opposed to planning a capsule wardrobe.  After reading through most of this book, I have realized that is an important distinction, and has perhaps clarified for me what I should really be aiming for at this stage of the game.  I’ll post updates when I find time to investigate the methods in this book more fully.

Other Assorted Musings:

I’ve posted the above books in the order that I ready them, but, I’ve realized, it would have been much better if I’d read them the other way around, at least in terms of wardrobe planning.  I think using A Curated Closet to define a personal style should be done first. It should help one begin to identify what they like and why, which can be useful information before starting the Kondo process.  Kondo’s book should be second.  Her advice about keeping items that spark joy could be done without identifying a personal style (and, indeed, I expect there will be at least a few items that spark joy that wouldn’t specifically fall into a defined style), but by having a personal style first it would be easier to decide on those items which the person is unsure about either keeping or getting rid of from their wardrobe.  After those two books, the wardrobe should be fairly paired down, and the majority of pieces should (theoretically) be feeling pretty cohesive.  The third book should be How to Get Dressed.  This book does have some general tips about creating a style, but it is not the same in-depth process as is described in A Curated Closet.  Honestly, the best advice in How to Get Dressed is really the information about caring for clothing, and cheats for making clothing look great.  It is a perfect book for those who already have a set style and long-term investment pieces and just needing to learn about the finishing touches and caring for their beloved pieces.

To jump from book to other randomness… After the Wardrobe Sudoku contest and my attempts at creating a capsule-type wardrobe I have realized a few things:

(1) I love prints, and shiny things, and texture, but I do not love wearing them all together.  This should be used to direct my sewing a bit more.

(2) I think I really do like the idea of sewing capsule wardrobes, because it actually motivates me to finish all the items.  I never quite finished my Tim Gunn challenge way back when I started the blog, but I did finish the Sudoku challenge, and in only 2 months!  Granted, many of the sudoku pieces were less involved that the Tim Gunn pieces, but, many were not.  So perhaps the idea of planning a mini coordinating wardrobe isn’t the worst plan.

(3) I’m too old and too tired to deal with uncomfortable clothes.  I recently refashioned this Burda top I had made several years ago by cutting the sleeves short.  It actually looks better that way, and I was excited to have a sparkly top to wear to dinner.  Of course, I wore it for all of 5 minutes around the house getting ready to go before I took it off and threw it in the donate pile.  The fabric is just so scratchy!  Even though I gotta give points to that top for making my butt look fantastic.  But, it’s not worth the chaffing.  I ended up wearing a simple cardigan and long (secretly geeky) necklace over a lace-timed tank top.  Less flashy, more chic, waaaaaaaaaaay more comfortable.  Something to consider moving forward with my wardrobe planning.

(4) All of the decluttering books have been pretty up-front about the fact that one should get rid of all things that are worn, stained, torn, or otherwise un-reparable.  Though the How to Get Dressed book does discuss options for saving cherished pieces, even she admits that there are some things that are ready to move on.  This is something I *really* need to embrace.  I I’ve been afraid to do this, because it would leave me with very little clothing, but, after the sudoku contest I realize I can churn out knit tops pretty quick.  So I really should dedicate a month to replacing the tops in my wardrobe and getting rid of the threadbare, pilled, and otherwise unsalvageable pieces I’ve worn to death over the past decade.

(5) I really need to reorganize my sewing space.  I’m not going to do this until I have completed skating costumes for the season, but hopefully this summer.  Perhaps after Kondo-ing other things so I can move stuff around a bit.  I have a vision for my space, but it will be some major man hours to move things around to achieve it.

Unrelated Random Thought: Next year I’m going to Costume-Con 36 in San Diego!  I’m so excited I decided to get a ticket for this event.  It is a 4-day costuming convention, with themed days, multiple masquerades/costume contests, and a “Future Fashion Folio” contest, where seamstresses get to make a costume from a sketch/design given to con-members in advance.  Plus there are supposed to be workshops and vendors…. Yup, I’m excited.  Except now I need to make four days worth of costumes.  Eeep!  If any blog readers out there are also planning to go, let me know so we can meet up and geek out about all the sewing-related costume-y goodness things!

And, finally, not really a random thought, but just a general observation: I have too many sewing things going on in my head all the time.  Even though I know “sewing plans” posts are the kiss of death, I think it will be good for me to just massively dump all the things I’m thinking about somewhere, just to get them out of my head.  So don’t be surprised if you see one of those pop up sometime soon.  Maybe not too soon (I do have a bunch of skating costumes to get down to sewing), but probably by the end of the month.

Also!  If any of you have read any of these books and employed any of their methods (to either success or failure, no judgement) please feel free to jump into the comments section!   It would be great to hear what other people have tried and what has worked for everyone.  If you have any other thoughts, or your own random musings, feel free to post those too!

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