I first started playing around with developing a minimalist wardrobe back in 2017. I refer to the wardrobe I’m aspiring to as many things: capsule, minimalist, handmade… but the one word that definitely describes it is slow!
Developing a style/wardrobe that works for you and your lifestyle takes time… particularly when you’re making a lot of the clothing yourself. I’m enjoying the slow process of making more considered choices and shopping for/making clothing that will be in my wardrobe for a long time.
I’ve been thinking a lot recently about the idea of having ‘uniforms’ for different elements of my lifestlye. I was never a fan of having a work uniform – but being able to say ‘when I do this thing I wear that thing’ certainly made things easy. I think many of us have uniforms for different occasions but don’t necessarily think of it in that way.
So I made a list of my ‘uniforms’ taking into account how I spend my time, what I feel comfortable in and what suits my shape. It’s really helping me to stay focused on where the gaps in my wardrobe are and what I want to make!
Uniform 1: Skirt & top (or dress) & optional cardigan
This is my most versatile uniform, both in terms of when I would wear it and how, with just a few pieces, you can swap and change to make a lot of different outfits. I wear something along these lines for most nights out, work events and workshops. It’s an easy look to dress up or down depending on the occasion.
In terms of making/shopping – I always make sure the skirts I buy/make can be worn all year round. So nothing too warm and heavy that wouldn’t work in the summer and nothing too light and summery that wouldn’t work with tights and boots in the winter.
When I choose cardigan patterns I normally have in mind that I will wear them over a skirt & top or dress so I like them to be either long like the Esme cardie or to sit at the waist like Lilac.
I have a big gap in my wardrobe where dresses are concerned. Most of my old dresses were ill-fitting or uncomfortable so I haven’t held on to many. I’m keen to sew some that are flattering without being too fitted so that they’re comfortable… wish me luck!
Uniform 2: The shirt dress
This is my favourite uniform – I pretty much live in shirt dresses… but I only have a few! Sewing more is in my plan.
I have a plaid shirt dress and a denim shirt dress that I wear with leggings (a lot!) in the winter. It’s such a comfy working-at-home outfit that also feels decent enough for nipping to the post office or going for a walk. I can pop a jumper over the top when it’s nippy and it’s an easy outfit for going to the local pub after my pilates class because I can just put the shirt dress on over my leggings and t-shirt. Perfect!
I made an Alder Shirt Dress a couple of years ago and I’ve worn it so much! It was meant to be a toile, but I never got around to making the denim one. It’s pretty huge on me… which I initially thought was a problem, but it’s so comfy and the fabric has softened with time so the size and drape feel fine.
I wear it for working at home, going out and work events – on it’s own in the summer and with a jumper over the top and tights in winter. I definitely want to make more and have seen this pattern hack to make a sleeved version which I really want to try.
Uniform 3: The jumper dress
This is currently very much a working-at-home-on-extremely-cold-days uniform because the only jumper dress I have is really scruffy, unflattering and super warm (knitted in alpaca) so I think I would explode if I walked into a warm room.
I’m planning to knit a couple of new jumper dresses which I will most likely just wear at home (due to the getting too warm thing), but will hopefully feel nicer in and less embarrassed when I have to answer the door!
Uniform 4: Jeans and top
This uniform will soon become extinct because I only have one pair of jeans that fit well and they’ve gone very thin and holey! I’ll repair them and continue to wear them for occasions where scruffy is acceptable, but in the future I would love to make some jeans. I need to up my sewing skills a bit first, but any tips for jeans patterns would be gratefully accepted!
Here are some old me-made-may photos of happier times when my jeans still had some shape and no holes…
I was also going to talk about sustainable shopping and colour palettes… but this turned into a long blog so I’ll save that for another time!
Do you have a uniform/uniforms?