Weekend Reading: “Perfect” wardrobes, creative block, and vintage sustainability



Portland is known as The City of Roses and at this time of year, it’s clear why. They’ve burst forth everywhere.

I took this photo Wednesday in a local rose garden on my lunch break. It’s been a tiring week, but there’s really nothing to remind you to stop and smell the proverbial roses than actually stopping to smell the literal ones.

Have a rejuvenating weekend, friends. Here’s some reading for you:

  • I found this post on perfectionism and wardrobes illuminating. She talks about looking for “adequacy” rather than perfection. The notion of satisficing as a key to being happier (link to PDF paper) has been on my mind a lot lately.
  • It’s possible to replace fast fashion with fast sewing.
  • Karen is running a Sporty Summer Sewathon. Can’t wait!
  • Loving Margaret Howell’s Spring collection. I like a wee bit more sex appeal in my warm weather clothes, but I really dig MH’s gamine vibe.
  • I’m interested to check out this book on ideas for getting over creative block. I’ve been focusing on the creative process a lot this year and maintaining my own sense of fun and adventure and interest in all that I do.
  • Could the clothes on your back halt global warming? This is an incredibly detailed (and sprawling) look at sustainable clothing, particularly vintage shopping. “For items to be used over and over again, of course, they have to last. But making and buying better-made garments is not completely the solution, as those manufacturers also need to make clothing people will want to keep.”

Sarai Mitnick   —   Founder

Sarai started Colette back in 2009. She believes the primary role of a business should be to help people. She loves good books, sewing with wool, her charming cats, working in her garden, and eating salsa.

Comments 16

Jet Set Sewing

I’m so glad people are starting to focus on clothing sustainability. Clothes shopping is so different from when I was a child/teen/20-something in the 60s/70s/80s. Back then, you shopped in spring and fall, and everything had to work for six months, as well as go with what else was in your closet. Things were more expensive and we didn’t buy as much.
But you could buy a couple of well-made work outfits with skirt, pants, jacket and several tops in coordinating fabrics, and it was easy to rotate. Now everything is horribly made and doesn’t go together at all. It’s like having a closet full of marshmallow fluff.
I was lost in the black/gray drap-ey Eileen Fisher zone until I started sewing again. Now I make things like colorful Chanel Jackets and vintage Charles James skirts for fit and quality, and I’m much happier.

gabriel ratchet

“a closet full of marshmallow fluff” ! that’s exactly it!

the WA series brought home very clearly to me that i’m actually most comfortable in the eileen fisher zone…. and i sew for it, too…. and as sustainable goes, some of the pieces that went back into the closet after the great purge were EF, and at least 10 yrs old, and worn in regular rotation. gotta know who you are.


Loving those, especially the stuff about perfectionism!


The article on perfectionism is a push to me to make a related comment to your request for input on the Wardrobe Architect, which is: Please be sure to include a chapter on handling transitions and change. I loved the exercise, but can see where if you get pregnant, lose a lot of weight due to illness, go through shape changes at mid-life or whatever, it can really throw the process off track. How to handle that as you move through the steps? You can include tips for making alterations and adjustments as you go, include a lot of selvage in the seams, include a little extra length in the waistband, use elastic here and there, etc. It would be tempting to give up mid way through if some screw gets thrown into the works, as is what often happens in life. We can plan a little bit for change, and change is a guarantee!


Robin, thank you so much for this! I’ve spent the last quarter century (!) spending minimal thought and resources on clothing, doing the mom thing.

I’m far behind the curve…for the WA process. I know what I like when I look, but I’m not sure what I’ll like when I put a garment on, my body has changed so much. I have decided to make a number of different styles, mostly to make sure that what is in my brain works IRL. In short, I need to figure out the building blocks before I can build the house.

I’m also feeling a little sassy about the whole thing. I like dresses and skirts that have some swish and movement, and want fitted or semi fitted tops to avoid the potato sack syndrome, and that is probably what I will make, regardless of conventional flattery rules.


Thanks for linking to the article on perfection and minimalism. This is something I feel strongly about. I think sewing should be fun, and our wardrobes should be something we enjoy, but unfortunately there is a tendency these days toward a lot of negativity and guilt. It’s not enough that women feel bad about their bodies, now they need to feel guilty about the clothing they put on their back. Lets lighten up already!


Hmm, I agree to an extent. I think it’s like food. Of course you should enjoy it, but the more mindful you are about it, the better your experience will be.

Feeling guilty isn’t particularly helpful, in any case. I think it’s about exploring what choices make you feel good in the long term.


The last article link didn’t work for me. Is it just my computer?


Thanks so much for posting that last article! There are so many layers of sustainability issues in disposable fashion — from labor practices to water waste to unsustainable agriculture to the cost of transporting new and discarded items — and that article brought them together so thoughtfully. Such a great read!

Katie R

Fascinating reading–really enjoyed all of it. The last article really made me stop and think about my aversion to thrifting clothes or upcycling. I grew up poor, always had hand-me-downs, and that stigma has stuck with me well into my adult life. But, I’ve thrifted and redone furniture to furnish my home. I don’t have anything in my house that’s “new” (except for my mattress) because I enjoy the process of finding, fixing, and recreating. That includes my little coffee pot. Plus, I avoid the guilt that I’ve experienced when buying mass produced items. Some items have been from friends and family and are extra special due to that connection. I’m going to have to check out some of my local thrift and vintage shops. Maybe find a couple of missing pieces for my capsule wardrobe…


re perfectionism – one of my favourite quotes (I’ve never found the source) is

“don’t let perfectionism come between you and a damn good job”



such lovely roses!

I have a question, unfortunately not connected to this post!

As I am a proud owner of the oolong dress, as well as the taffy blouse and the truffle dress, one very important question before I cut:

do the patterns have seam allowances or not? Because it says so in the oolong directions, but I didn’t see allowances marked as such.

I’m sorry if it is a silly question, but I am a complete beginner and I don’t want to ruin my fabric! I plan to dress a la colette this summer :)

Thank you



I just wanted to tell you that I love your photo of those beautiful roses. I just stopped and sort of stared at them for a few minutes… I could practically smell them! It’s been a rough couple of days but those roses, for some reason, just gave me a nice, much-needed moment of calm.


I just returned from Florida and am now reading this – thanks for the link love.

As always, you provide illuminating articles to end theweek. Maybe I can start yours with a great read from this weekend’s WSJ?

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