Dear friends, curious old classmates, fellow pedestrians, if you ever wondered why I dress the way I dress, this post might help you find out! I am waaaaay behind the Wardrobe Architect project, but it’s better late than never, right? So here it goes! (Please excuse my excessive use of brackets (I do apologise (for the personal photo album too.).).)
How has your personal history informed the way you dress? When did your tastes crystallize? Have they changed over the years, and why?
As you can see I had killer style when I was in kindergarten. I also remember being pretty happy in the clothes my parents picked out for me and my sister, (my dad was the fashionista in the family back in the days…). As a teenager, I guess I just wanted to feel comfortable in my clothes and with my body and not stand out from the crowd even more (I am not the typical Hungarian looking girl, you see). It basically meant covering up as much of my body as possible, in fact that photo of the blue sundress is a rare one. It was taken in Athens and it was extremely hot and that was probably the only time I worn something like that since I was a child. When I moved to London I experienced what’s it like not to be bothered with what other people might think about me for the first time in my life, so I started experimenting with my looks. In the past 2 years I think I’ve managed to be more conscious about wearing the pieces I feel best in, although I sometimes feel like I dress a little old for my age.
How does your philosophy, spirituality, or religion affect your aesthetics and buying habits? Or, what aspects of those things would you like to see reflected?
Although I find many “green” movements rather questionable, I feel very strongly against wasting anything. I would like to explore more ways to reuse existing resources and reducing the clutter around me. Having a wardrobe that expands only by adding handmade pieces to it, would be another step for me in moving away from the way too fast high street fashion. When I discovered the magic of buying vintage/charity shop clothing, the most appealing factor was not only the uniqueness of the pieces, but also the fact that you are saving a piece of history by giving it new life.
How has your cultural background shaped the way you look? How did the aesthetics and values you grew up with affect your tastes as you got older?
I’m half Hungarian and half Nigerian. Although I appreciate my fashionable ”heritage”, the well known traditional Hungarian embroidery, and I love the African print fabrics and headwraps worn all over Nigeria, none of these have inspired me in choosing what to wear in my everyday life…yet! I do find the so called “etno” look desirable on others, but I don’t feel like myself when I occasionally wear an afro during the summer, when I’m too lazy to straighten my hair.
How are you influenced by the people around you, including friends, family, and other communities you’re involved in?
I have never dressed according to any subcultural “dress code”, since I never belonged to any such groups. I kind of hate to admit it, but the biggest influence on my style is my sister, who has a flawless style and always inspires me to at least try to be a tad bit more elegant and classy. Although while she likes to dress appropriately to every occasion, I prefer to wear whatever I feel good in.
How do your day to day activities influence your choices?
I stubbornly cycle e v e r y w h e r e. Come rain or shine, I’ll go by bike. I would like to think it’s not mere stubbornness though, or my hatred of public transport, but a statement I make everyday about not being lazy and doing something no one around me does, something I’ve never thought I could do. Long story short, I need clothes to do all that cycling in. And I don’t mean head to toe lycra obviously, but normal clothes that allow me to move my legs, heavy enough to retain my modesty in the London wind, and won’t be destroyed by a little rain every now and then.
Does the place you live inform the way you dress? How does climate factor in?
I am a Londoner now, and even though everybody hates this weather, I kind of love it. I come from a place with four seasons, two rainy ones, one extremely hot and one extremely cold, so I’m happy with the moderate climate and I’ve made peace with the sometimes constant rain too (it really is just water!). This means you can wear pretty much whatever you want, and I bet that’s why London is one of the fashion capitals.
In what ways does body image affect your choices in clothing? What clothes make you feel good about the body you live in? What clothes make you feel uncomfortable or alienated from your body?
Since I was a teenager I’ve had rather sensitive skin which is actually why I got interested in fashion. I had to find creative ways to hide the problematic areas and show whatever was left. I also turned from alarmingly skinny to healthy, to bigger… and now back to curvy (I guess), but to be honest, my weight has never played as big a part in my wardrobe planning as my skin, even though I wouldn’t mind having leaner legs…and arms, etc. Because of this, I feel most comfortable in flouncy skirts and black tights, high neck- and waistlines, short jackets and I’ve learned to love anything backless. I don’t really like wearing jeans or trousers, anything low-cut and short skirts or dresses that hide my waist, which happens to be the slimmest part of my body.
In the next task I will be making a moodboard based on the the words I associate with the clothes I wear and the way they make me feel, but before I bore the hell out of whoever reads this (thank you guys! ;)), I’ll show you my brand new little pleather skirt (that’s not a typo!).
I have a feeling that Dior won’t be suing me after all…
Here it is. I’ve probably spent over 20 hours in total on putting this dress together…and I’m only fine with the result. Not as ecstatic as I’ve expected to be, which is probably due to the fact that it existed as a problem for about a year, then when I figured out how to do it, well…it got boring! It’s unfair from me to say that I’m not even half as much in love with this dress as with the kimono dress, as I have actually worn this already, unlike that one. To be honest, I wore it with a jumper on top, which is pretty cool as I can dress it down, but I have a feeling that there will be hardly any occasions when I’ll feel totally comfortable wearing it without a bra, as I (and Mr Galliano probably) designed it to be worn…
And a little bit about the construction, as it was a struggle, but it turned out well. I’ve learned on my first attempt of making this, that I need a short kimono sleeved bodice pattern so that there are no armhole seams. As I couldn’t find any, I drafted one by modifying a basic sloper. Then I made a muslin from the lightest gauze like fabric out there, which seemed to be a good fit, but the dress was a lot heavier (obviously!?) and felt too loose around my waist. Since I didn’t want to alter the chiffon bodice to avoid further fraying, I decided to insert an elastic band into the waistline, which successfully cinched it in a little. Then I attached the velvet ribbon first from the outside, then from the inside, hiding all the seam allowances neatly.
The closure on the back of the bodice caused a headache though, as the crocheted thread loop for the button (a result of the most boring 30 minutes of my life), weakened the fabric. I decided to sew grosgrain ribbons there instead, which seems to be working a lot better.As for the he invisible zipper in the skirt bit, well, it turned out as it should have, pretty invisible.
The edges were finished by zig-zag stitching over an embroidery thread then cutting the excess fabric off, which gives the hems some definition, as well as it makes the fabric tear easily (see on the picture of the sleeve below). The floral fabric on the bodice was first basted then hand sewn from the inside of the dress, but it was done in a less than professional way, as I got really impatient by the end of it, as you can imagine.
All in all, I’m happy it’s finished and I hope I’ll get to wear it more!
Image sources: Title: Dior dress, background images of the Dior dress: Style.com, all other images are mine.
At the beginning of this year, while I was slowly getting ready to plan how to…well, plan a new wardrobe, Sarai at the Coletterie has already started doing that. She came up with a brilliant project, The Wardrobe Architect, which takes you along the steps of dreaming up an ideal wardrobe and realizing those dreams, by analysing shapes, colours, silhouettes and examining how we feel about our bodies wearing the clothes we choose to wear.
I think if you get a little serious about making your own clothes, sooner or later you come to a stage where you buy less RTW and more fabric. Then you realize that you are making things that are interesting to sew or just pretty, but they don’t quite fit into your existing wardrobe. The next step is the reality check, when you promise not to buy anymore shiny new fabric and to make clothes that will fit well, and will fit well into your lifestyle. That’s where I am right now, and looking at the discussion about the Wardrobe Architect, I am not the only one here.
I’ve found 3 projects in the past few years that have really inspired me to turn my hobby (sewing, obvs!) into a more useful part of my everyday life, as well as to end the daily struggle to find well fitting, comfortable clothes in my closet that make me feel good about myself and reflect who I think I am.
Fashion designer and artist, Natalie Purschwitz, decided to get rid of most of her clothing and only wear what she makes for an entire year. This included everything from clothes to underwear, any accessories and even her shoes. I loved the project as it was as much about showcasing her distinctive style daily, as about exploring what works or what’s useful. It also looks at the process/habit of creating every day, not for pleasure or work, but to fulfil the very basic need/urge to dress up appropriately for every occasion. I also felt that it was a strong statement against the fast fashion culture, and it can be viewed as a proof of one’s ability to rely on herself as much as possible. (Images: makeshift)
1 Dress. 1 Month. 1 Cause. Actually it started off with 365 days of wearing the same little black dress by a girl called Sheena Matheiken, “as an exercise in sustainability and a fundraiser to support the Akanksha Foundation— a non-profit organization providing education to underprivileged children living in Indian slums.” In it’s second year, the UP welcomed different girls, different dresses and different charities for month long periods, which made it even more interesting, by providing several views on the challenges of wearing the same dress every day, and the amazingly creative ways to do it.
The idea of ditching the casual/formal labels and the ability to transform one piece of clothing into something extremely versatile is the most appealing aspect to me in this project (these dresses can be worn front-to-back, for example!). Being able to wear the same dress for very different occasions, eliminates the need for “special” clothing, which leads to a smaller wardrobe. Which brings us to the last bit of inspiration… (Images: Uniform Project)
When I was a kid I wore one of my pyjamas until only a few threads held the back of the shorts together. When my mum binned it, I took it out and kept it under my pillow as long as I could… I guess that’s what they call an emotional connection to objects, right? That’s probably how I ended up with a wardrobe of which 78% of the clothing only gets worn less than 5 times a year! I know that number, because last summer I took a picture of every item of clothing and shoes I own, before we moved flats. I was inspired by an artist called Simon Evans and his project where he photographed everything he had. This is another reflection on consumerism and I think cataloguing your possessions is a great way to turn unused objects into memories and make the decision to give it to someone who would happily use it. (Images: on the left : my own photos, one on the right: Stylecouch’s Blog)
Here is my plan of action, before I start planing my future closet by following the Wardrobe Architect project:
- I will assess my existing wardrobe, select the useful/rarely used pieces and sell/donate the latter. (Before the end of February!)
- I will stop buying any new clothing AND fabric without a plan, and will keep reminding myself of the consequences of such actions… (Until the end of 2014, at least.)
- I will build my new wardrobe around the existing pieces and will try to design a few multifunctional pieces.
Is there anyone else as excited about following a route to an organized wardrobe, or do you already have a good system for that?
All you need is a long piece of fabric. No threads, no sweatshops, no deliveries…But then you’ll need one for when the other one is in the wash. And one warm and one light one of course. Then one for your wedding. And one for your sister’s wedding. Oh and a sturdy one for painting the walls/gardening/whatever messy thing you do. Aaaaand we are pretty much back to where we are now, aren’t we?
I’ve meant to write this post for way too long now. The thing with procrastination is that it gets worse by the minute. Oh, the guilt. There isn’t a day passing by without thinking about all the posts I want to write, about the things I want to sew, the friends I want to call…you get the idea. So every single day when I have a new item on my imaginary to do list, it just adds to this big rolling ball of things I should do, just so that I can end up all frustrated and deciding to just crawl up in my bed and pretend that I’m sort of being creative by watching how other people ARE creative on Pinterest.
To end this agony, I’m putting down my 12 resolutions for this year to make my baggage a little lighter, and because I still have some crumbles of the January hopefulness. I’m dropping the oldies like exercise more, lose weight, read a book a week, sew a garment a month, etc; and will try to have more fun with the new ones. Here is what I wish I’ll be doing in the next 342 days:
2. Start learning French (in progress).
3. Start playing cello from September (probably here).
4. Make a wedding dress for a friend. (Wohoo! I’ll keep you posted.)
6. Make a dressform.
7. Try fabric dyeing.
8. Make/wear handmade jewellery.
10. Be more consistent with blogging/ stress less about failing to do so.
11. Join a sewing group, preferably
create find a local one.
12. Sell something I’ve made.
+1: Fall in love.
Do you remember that Dior dress I used as inspiration to make a similar one, about a hundred years ago? Well, I don’t blame you if you don’t, I would have forgotten about it too, did I not feel guilty about having yet another UFO in my drawer. So here is a quick recap of the starting point and the mistakes made on the way.
Image source: Style.com
At first I used a cap sleeved bodice pattern and almost gave it all up after I realised I should have cut the bodice in one piece with the sleeves…you know, like on the Dior dress, so that there aren’t any unnecessary seam finishes showing through the transparent fabric.
So I decided to draft a short kimono sleeved bodice. I also changed the base colour from red to black as I stupidly thought it will be ready by Autumn and it will go better with my black tights, but guess what…It’s still not done!
I have recently ordered a box of different sewing machine feet and I tried the rolled hem one on the neckline, but unfortunately the result is rather inconsistent, because of the thin fabric and the unstoppable unravelling…The situation is similar with the French seams, although I’m sure it’s more of a question of practice than anything else.
I finished the edge of the front panels by zig-zag stitching over embroidery thread and cutting the excess fabric off.
Then I came up with a
brilliant way to make pleats in the chiffon, attaching it to a piece of tulle, which worked out really well, apart from one little problem: the tulle is way to stiff to be sewn on top of the chiffon!
I know, I know, I should have seen this coming and I kind of did, but I thought it’s just going to give it a little support. Well, it’s way too much support, so the idea is to take it all apart and do it all over again now with a chiffon & chiffon combo. But before I take it apart I’ll try to show you next time how I did the pleating!