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

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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:

<a href="https://blog.colettehq.com/wardrobe-architect/the-wardrobe-architect"><img src="https://media.colettehq.com/promo/architect-125.jpg" width="125" height="125" alt="The Wardrobe Architect" /></a>

<a href="https://blog.colettehq.com/wardrobe-architect/the-wardrobe-architect"><img src="https://media.colettehq.com/promo/architect-300.jpg" width="300" height="250" alt="The Wardrobe Architect" /></a>

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.

More about our writers

Comments 266

Philippa gloria&me

Building a practical wqrdrobe is something I’ve been struggling to do for a while (make clothes I’ll actually wear and that co-ordinate) and is a main theme of my blog. It’s good to know others think along the same lines – I’ll definitely be joining in and seeing what I can learn for myself and from others! Unfortunately I’m not on Twitter but it will all be on my blog.

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[…] The Wardrobe Architect is a series of interactive posts presented by Colette patterns that help define the participants style. Each post ends with a worksheet and a discussion question for the discussion board, very scholarly. I decided to participate in this series because I felt like the definition of my style could use a little tightening up. A year or so ago I participated in the Wardrobe Code style program. It was really great program that made me think about and helped to define my style. It was my first time really examining my style and wardrobe so I decided to take this opportunity to have some fun and define my style further. So far the activities have been great and something that I really look forward too, I encourage you to give it a try. […]

Elizabeth Koz.

I am so excited to bring some focus to the clothes I sew and build a personal style at the same time. Thanks for such great project!

A Bouquet of Buttons bouquetofbuttons.be

what a great idea! I’m very in!

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Deb

I am new to this site… kind of stumbled upon it… believe someone has been peeking in my closet.. I would love to join this!! Is there an actual place to sign up?

Cynthia Adkins

What a wonderful idea! It really fits with my goals for 2014. Not only do I want to sew more this year, but sew more wisely, creating a cohesive wardrobe that works rather than a mishmash of projects that caught my eye. I also want to incorporate my knitting into this wardrobe,for the same reasons . Thank you, I’m looking forward to this project. :)

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Melanie mwatsondressmaking.com

So many of those things apply to me too! In fact, one of my goals for this year is to sew *less* for myself but with more purpose. So thank you for this thoughtful and relevant series.

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Narya cekerceker.blogpost.com

Great idea! Over the past two years I’ve been trying to make clothes that fit both my lifestyle and personality, but somehow the result was never what I expected. It always seemed like I’m almost there where I wanted with my sewing…but this “almost” part is what annoys me the most. On the top of that, this year I need to be very careful with my finances and make thoughtful choices when it comes to buying fabric and clothes.
This project is exactly what I needed :)

Sethlina Amakye truegracelovelina.com

I need this in my life!! Thank you!

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Nancy gmail.com

Where I live totally influences the way I dress. I live in the central Valley of California. Everything here is CASUAL. Even in the nicest restaurants (and we have a lot of great restaurants) you will see people in jeans and other casual clothing. I tend to dress more casually because of this. Also, the weather here is VERY hot in the summer, but freezing in the air conditioning. Therefore, my style in summer is mostly dresses with sweaters or jackets that are needed indoors, but taken off immediately outdoors. Being a teacher of elementary school, I need to be comfortable. I love to dress nicely, but have terrible feet, so always have to plan what I wear around my shoes!

Mel

Yes please, this sounds just what I need to be thinking about (and have been for some time). Perhaps this will help get me to the next step in the process – committing to decisions so that I will get something SEWN!

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Kat frlfroestelig.blogspot.de

This! This is one of my favorite things to do…. planning!
But I still don´t get the right plan about my wardrobe…. will do this!

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Edyta

Thank you so much for this. I cannot wait to start, but I want to start slowly and thoughtfully. This is one of my biggest problems, on one hand I love making things and planning crafting projects, on the other hand I am overwhelmed with things I do not use and need. I am really looking forward to what this project will bring to my life!

Valerie Illuminati valeriei.blogspot.com

I’m going to blogging throughout my whole experience revamping my wardrobe with your posts at valeriei.blogspot.com! Here’s my comment on how my personal history influences my style…

My mother dressed me almost up until junior high school. She liked cute, frilly clothes and dresses, and liked to do my hair in tube curls with dramatic bows. That’s what I was used to, though often, when I got to school, I would untuck my shirts, unroll my socks, and try to shove my hair into a ponytail. When I reached junior high, I was more interested in the “emo” scene — probably, in a way, as a rebellion against the frilly outfits of my childhood as well as the conservative aesthetic of my family. I wore goth parachute pants, torn skinny jeans, Pokemon shirts and shirts with band names plastered across them, and neon, plastic barrettes with Converse Chuck Taylor hightops. I stuck to what I saw as a “rocker aesthetic” even through early college. In late college continuing through today, my style moved more towards an indie and alternative rock look, and finally became more refined to what it is now — a little more classic, a lot more simple, with a love of subtle, alternative-inspired details here and there. The little details are important to me — the quality of the buttons, a small embellishment right there, a quirky hem on a skirt. I think along with me, my taste in clothing has grown up, but I still have a love for those little dark embellishments that show a little rebellion. Black leather moto jacket with a pastel shift dress and buckled ankle booties? Bring it on.

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Sharon

Am I too late to join in? I have 2 closets of clothes and 80% of them don’t get worn. I have broad square shoulders and narrow hips and have a terrible time finding things that fit. I’m probably eons older than everyone here but I started sewing seriously 5 years ago. The only things I have made from scratch are a button front shirt and a simple lined jacket. I keep reverting back to jeans and mens t-shirts to get anything close to a fit.

How can I be a part of this?

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Lena mrsgarlichead.com

I am really really new to sewing, so I think I wont be making much of the staples I am currently thinking about adding to my wardrobe, but I am excited about this series and about the prospect of having a plan!

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