Friday, December 02, 2011

On Dressing For Myself

With those shockingly pink trousers out of my system, I am contemplating my next make.

A white-collared dress is still high on my wishlist, but the collar fabric came a cropper in the washing machine.  I pre-washed the pink cord.  Separately.  Then I ran a white wash:  pillowcases, a towel, underwear, the white fabric.  And guess what?  Some, but not all, of the items emerged with a distinct pink glow - nooooo!  I am going to wash it again, but I am cross.  Surely this should not be possible?  There must have been pink dye residue lurking in the depths of my washing machine, despite the whole rinsing and spinning process.

So I might crack on with my Colette Jasmine blouse while I think about it.  I am considering a contrasting neck-tie using a slice of this charity-shop ra-ra skirt.  What do you think?  Too busy?
I have been reading reviews of the new Colette Sewing Book with greedy attention.  I am hoping that FL has listened to my extremely heavy hints and that I will receive a copy on Christmas day... but he can be quite unpredictable in the gift department.  I may have to buy my own!  I particularly enjoyed the extract over on Casey's blog here, and Ali's piece here.

 To quote Sarai of Colette:
"I believe in a personal approach to style.  To me, that means wearing things that make you happy.  This takes a bit of reflection and a dash of restraint."

Restraint?  Really?!  If I had deployed restraint, I would not own a pair of day-glo "mental" trousers, as one commenter put it ; )  I suppose it is all about context.  Those pink trews are, I admit, somewhat inappropriate for a senior management meeting.  In those circumstances, I exercise so much "restraint" I am no longer myself.  Which is perhaps a comment on the mismatch between my true personality and my day-job!  But I don't see a way to changing career in the near future.  So, with "a bit of reflection", I would love to make and wear clothes that are work-appropriate but still "me".  I think I cracked it in the summer, with my "40's blouse and trousers"  look, but the cold weather has me foxed and boxed in.
I need a plan!  Sound the trumpets!!  Call my Ladies-in Waiting!!!
Things I like:
There is a side to "my style" which is not being explored at the moment.  In addition to "the vintage look", I really love the simplicity of many Japanese sewing patterns:  those easy-going dresses with high waists or no waist at all, worn in soft warm layers.
I have until now viewed this as a look for "homewear" and haven't invested much time, effort or cash into making up the styles I love, prioritising my work wardrobe.  In the summer, my Lisette Portfolio tunic/dresses absolutely expressed this side of my style. 

Inspiring Dress from Anna Allen at Etsy
Anna Allen again
But what if I made myself a comfortable Japanese-style dress or two to wear to work?

My initial reaction to the idea was "too casual", but I have seen some of the younger fashion bloggers totally work this look in a way that makes it seem 9-5 appropriate.  Keiko Lynn being the prime example.

All it takes is a bit more polish and attention to the details of accessories and make up.  And if your dress is a simple pop-it-on-and-go style, you have more time to spend on the "extras" like combing your hair (ahem!)

The key will be finding the right fabric.  Which is where I come unstuck.  It needs to be warm and not completely plain or I will turn into Little Orphan Annie.  Which is what got me thinking about plaid.  The stuff in the picture above, earmarked for my Jasmine blouse, is too thin for a dress.

So I find myself obsessing about a sewn-to-order dress I saw on Etsy...
Velvet Bird dress - eek I might have to buy this one!
As worn by A Beautiful Mess  (too short for me in that photo!) and FernandRolland (just right!).

There's a lovely interview with Ms Velvet Bird herself here.

I could wear a polo-neck sweater underneath on a frosty day, a cardigan on top on a normal day, or even throw my bare arms to the wind if the sun shines... ooh!  Sold!


mooncalf said...

Wow we work in different places! I thought we were pretty casual but I can't see anything on Keiko Lynn's blog that wouldn't raise eyebrows through the roof!

There again, so would pink corduroy! And bare arms.

Actually, maybe we're horribly conservative.

*goes to check*

Susan in Peckham said...

I wore my handmade, brught green tunic/dress out to a posh dinner with ex work colleagues last night. The make turned out better than I could have hoped (and totally me!) but is a departure from my normal repressed, absent-of-personality work wear. I got loads of compliments which makes me think I can stop repressing my personality and sense of style so much at work.

Re the plaid, could you line it with a heavier-weight but plain fabric to make it work as a dress. I have an old dress lined with a wool fabric that seems to work pretty well - lining for warmth as opposed to just for opacity.

Alessa said...

I love the Velvet Bird dress, the bow really makes it pop!
I also think the Lisette tunic would work well in a warm plaid wool fabric... :D

Roobeedoo said...

Mooncalf - neither my pink (trouser) legs nor my blue (skinned) arms will ever be exposed to the scrutiny of my boss - honest! But I still think Keiko looks immensely "pulled together" in her outfits. Maybe I have lost all sense of what is and isn't appropriate for work through so much exposure to blogland!

plankface said...

I think with stockings, smart shoes, a nice sweater and a tasteful piece of jewelry, a smock-ish dress can be totally office-appropriate! At least that's what I tell myself about once a week ...

christinelaennec said...

I think trying to wear things to work that are true to you is well worth the trouble. And if you feel sharp in an outfit, most people will accept you on your own estimation. Sorry about the pink dye thing. At least it didn't happen AFTER you'd made the dress with the white collar!

Scruffybadger said...

You know this is a personal debate visited in my head too. Strange to say my handmade work wear at present, is more colourful and stands out from everyone else where I work. I'm not sure if less formal clothes would be a step too far for me. I've decided I need to brush up my casual home look too as laziness is drawing me to a distinct lack of style, sometimes 'shock' forsaking my handmades for uber comfy slobbing out clothes. I need to make me dome more comfy clothes as you describe, smock type cosies to wear whilst off work. The 'to sew' list grows ....

Scruffybadger said...

Oh yes, and months ago I sent the link to the Colette patterns book to my son as 'top of my wishlist' for Xmas. Imagine my horror when recently checking amazon found it is out of stock. I will be devestated. I could have bought it, nay, could have pre ordered it, but recognised it would give me huge joy to open it for Christmas.... I'll try not to fret. Father Christmas won't be bringing a tailors dummy either ....

Roobeedoo said...

Scruffy - I heard that lots of people had their pre-order cancelled by Amazon, so you probably are no worse off than you would have been! I expect I will be buying my own copy on 26 December... even if it is from the States!