Introducing The Wardrobe Architect: Crafting a small wardrobe that reflects who you are



The Wardrobe Architect is a popular series that ran in early 2014. It’s currently being expanded (with help and feedback from you) into a comprehensive toolkit. You can read all the posts here. If you want to give feedback and get first access when the toolkit is finished, enter your email:

You and I are builders. We love to construct things and to use our hands. We enjoy the focus and the flow of creation. And most of all, we like the sense of accomplishment we feel when our sewing projects are finished.

But one thing I’ve learned from many aspects of my life is that design is just as important as implementation.

I use the term “design” loosely. Really what I mean is planning. Whether you are building a complex piece of software over several years or tiling your bathroom floor, the more time you spend thinking about how you want to do it, the better the result and the less time wasted in the end.

But lately, I’ve been feeling that my wardrobe – the thing I spend so much time building for the sheer fun of it – is created a bit haphazardly. Yes, I definitely think about what my style is, whether I need something, and whether I’ll wear it. I know generally what colors I like and what shapes suit me.

But just as often, I sew something just because I like it or the fabric is pretty. And that’s fine. But when the majority of what you’re sewing (or buying) isn’t really planned in the context of a wardrobe, you do end up with a few problems.

Do these sound familiar?

  • You acquire things you don’t use.
  • You feel regret over purchases, whether it’s fabric you’ll never use or a blouse bought because it was on clearance.
  • You tend to buy quantity over quality more than you’d like.
  • You buy things that are “close enough.”
  • You don’t have a chance to think very deeply about your purchases, like the environmental or ethical impact.
  • When buying fabric, you go for the bright and shiny instead of the fabrics you really like to wear.
  • You make clothes that don’t really fit your life well (another party dress?)
  • You have an overwhelmingly long list of sewing projects you want to make and no idea of how to prioritize them. This can actually be kind of stressful for me.
  • You feel like your wardrobe is all over the place.
  • You don’t know how to put outfits together from what you have, so you keep acquiring more instead.

That’s a big pile of issues. Do any of these ring true for you? I know they do for me, some more than others.

Architecting a wardrobe

I propose that you join me on an experimental project this year.

Let’s go from being builders to being architects as well. Let’s think about form and function, the deeper implications of our choices, how clothing reflects each of our identities, and how we can sew more and buy less.

This year, let’s work to build wardrobes that reflect each of us, and let’s do it together! It’ll be fun.

I am not going to pretend to be some sort of fashion guru, and I’m not going to prescribe you buy or make anything in particular. I want this to be a project of discovery that we embark upon together. I want there to be discussion and feedback on what works and what doesn’t, because it’s going to vary from person to person.
But there will be a structure and a creative process, and hopefully one that’s enlightening for each of us.

How it will work

Each week, I’ll post on a topic related to wardrobe planning. These posts will build on each other, hopefully creating a process we can work through together to refine our choices, understand our own tastes better, and create wardrobes that we love.

At the end of each post, I’ll conclude with either a topic for discussion, or a creative exercise we can do together. Again, I want this to be a group project so we can learn from each other.

We’ll start with several posts on defining our own styles, and how it relates to who we are. We’ll then get into more pragmatic techniques, like creating uniforms and planning capsule wardrobes. Last, we’ll talk about editing and culling.

This isn’t about minimalism. But it is about personalizing your sewing even more than you already are and thinking about your aesthetics a bit more deeply.

Next week, I’ll start by talking a bit about defining a personal style, and we’re even putting together a little worksheet/questionnaire to get the gears turning.

The posts (so far)

Join us!

Would you like to join me? We’ve even got some buttons for your blog:

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You can also use the hashtag #WardrobeArchitect on twitter, pinterest, or instagram for anything you post related to the series. I can’t wait to get started!

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.

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