Week 1: Making Style More Personal

The first week of the Wardrobe Architect programme has us reflecting on the influences that contribute towards our dress identity. Of the seven areas to choose from (History, Philosophy, Culture, Community, Activities, Location and Body) I've chosen Body.

I didn't feel drawn to any of the other areas, and though I guess this topic is a fairly typical pre-occupation of many women (I feel a bit sexist saying so), it really is the main motivation that got me starting sewing again.

So here are my reflections on prompts from Coletterie:

  • In what ways does body image affect your choices in clothing?

Alot! When I am slimmer I tend to wear less lycra and jersey clothing in favour of fitted clothes and woven fabrics. At the moment I'm carrying quite a bit of weight so there are relatively more pairs of leggings and longer baggier t-shirts than I would ever wear when I'm a few stone lighter. This is the case for a couple of reasons:

  1. I find fitted clothes more uncomfortable. This might be down to me not buying the correct sized clothing out of shame, therefore they are "more" fitted than they would be otherwise.
  2. I carry weight around my top half. I also like to cover up as much of the top and middle part of my body with silhouette hiding shapes as possible as I carry the most amount of weight in this area. However my legs (from mid thigh down) tend to stay relatively slim so I don't mind tight leggings.
I actually prefer more tailored looks and fitted clothing but if there are any risks of lumps being exposed I reach for the lycra and the baggy tops. When I'm slimmer I do also get my legs out a bit more as these are probably my most reasonable feature and I feel less like a round lollipop if I'm not carrying the weight around my hips.

  • What clothes make you feel good about the body you live in?
I generally have quite a balanced figure even if I don't have much of a defined waist; my chest and hip measurements are proportionate in both the slimmer and fatter versions of me but I do have silly tiny ankles and wrists and disproportionately large upper arms and thighs so anything that exposes flesh has to stop mid thigh and preferably 3/4 down the arm (cap sleeves are not my friend as they serve to highlight the fattest area of my arm and sleeveless is definitely a no-no!).

I never used to wear slim legs trousers or jeans,especially in the nineties and noughties when the style was for bootleg and wide leg, but also because I have wide thighs and hips in proportion to my ankles so have always felt like a lollipop in this shape.  But, in the last couple of years I've actually found I can wear a style of slim leg due to having slimmer calves, as long as the hip seating is right. I also like dresses and skirts that draw attention away from my upper body, to my pins.

The only bit of my upper body I don't mind so much is my neck; I have a fairly long neck and though I used to wear a lot of polo necks I realise now I probably didn't do myself any favours in doing so! I feel best in boat or deep but narrow necklines, possibly because both balance out my wide shoulders.

  • What clothes make you feel uncomfortable or alienated from your body?
Any tops that finish above my hip line, a big no no! I've never ever been a fan of crop tops as I have a sticky out belly and I just don't like how it looks. High-waisted trousers also seem to serve only to emphasise my rounded tummy so avoid like the plague, and as much as I love the idea of accessorising with pretty coloured belts I just can't seem to wear them well!

I used to have an almost entirely black wardrobe and now I own literally 1 item of black clothing (a lace dress I made for a Christmas party); not even black trousers or a skirt. I just don't like it and I think it washes me out as I have a very pale skin tone. I find it strange how I used only to wear this colour and now I avoid it at all cost.

Oh yes, one final pet hate - boxy shapes. I think because I have broad shoulders and a fairly wide waist the last thing I need is a boxy shape to make me look more apple shaped. I've recently made a beautiful linen jacket which I'm really proud of but the fitting is terrible on me. I think the shoulders are too broad and the waist, too wide (despite using the pattern to fit my measurements), the result ending up like a commission for the Miami Vice costume department, gutted! For the record, I may post about this jacket at some point as I really want help fixing it!!

So I hereby declare the inaugural Wardrobe Architect Programme officially underway,and look forward to a more rational and coordinated wardrobe in 2015.

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