I don’t know if you will agree, but I find the freedom that sewing my own clothes provides can at times be as daunting as it is liberating. By applying a few basic pattern cutting skills to the plethora of sewing patterns available, virtually any style, shape or detail that you could find within ready-to-wear is within our creative capabilities. With near-infinite possibilities, how do you make decisions about what projects you will undertake?
Many sewing blogs recently have been addressing issues of body shapes and figure types and the ‘rules’ that state what is meant to suit each variant. In particular, many sewers interested in vintage/retro styles have been investigating what decade’s style of dress is most likely to flatter them. Personally, I tend to distrust rules that restrict women and discourage them from experimenting and having fun with any look that they may enjoy. I would argue that any style or garment can suit all but potentially the most extreme body shape, with some modification to the proportions or detailing. Having said that, I do see how these general guidelines can help some people see the wood for the trees and I must admit to having found some truth and direction myself from the discussions that abound.
Of course, an entire industry has sprung up to provide guidance on what shapes and colours to wear. Many individuals and companies claim to possess the ‘secrets’ then charge considerable amounts to divulge them. But whether you chose to follow or reject the guidelines that these categorisations imply, few genuinely find no interest in them altogether, even if you then chose to disregard the advice.
Many of us our are aware of what silhouettes we are apparently meant to be aiming for in our shopping and garment sewing, but what about fabric choice? With the incredible variety of fabrics available to the home sewer, particularly with the advent of the internet, how on earth do you make a selection? I think most adults already have well defined colour preferences, as colour is such an emotive sensory stimulus. However, last year when I was scraping the barrel for topic ideas on which to base an English language class with a particularly awkward teenage girl, I came across an approach to personal colour categorisation that puts you within one of the four seasons that sparked my interest:
The Woman of Spring
If your season is Spring, your skin has a peachy complexion and most likely freckles. Your hair is light blonde or reddish. A black blouse makes you look pale because the contrast is too strong for your skin. Warm, fresh colours cast a positive light on your face.
The Woman of Summer
Your skin has a somewhat cool, slightly violet tone. Your hair colour ranges from ash blonde to dark brown. That’s why warm colours are not suitable for the woman of Summer. Cool, subtle shades draw attention to your face.
The Woman of Autumn
If your hair is dark brown with red highlights and your skin has a peachy to golden yellow shade, then you’re a woman of Autumn. Bad colours for an autumn are pure white or black because they cast dark shadows onto your face, making you look older than you are. Warm, earthy tones are much better because these natural colours enhance your complexion.
The Woman of Winter
The dark or black hair of a winter is contrasted by her fair complexion with a cool undertone. Natural and earthy colours do not complement this contrast. Clear, bright and strong colours accentuate the cool aura of a winter’s skin.
After some thought, I realised that I am a ‘Woman of Winter’ (!), and actually the colours I naturally gravitate towards for clothing (red, blue, black, turquoise, navy) are the strong or bright shades that my categorisation prescribes, and my general dislike of muted subtle shades seems similarly well-founded. So, what about you? Do you think you fall into one of these categories and, if so, do you already generally follow the rules of that category? What do you think about these types of categorisation? Are they useful or restrictive?