A Few Thoughts on Wardrobe Planning

One quick thing I want to touch on after our last post about my Martine Pullover is that I don’t think there is one correct way to plan a wardrobe!

In my last post when I said that I’m not into doing wardrobe surveys and drawing each garment out, that doesn’t mean I don’t plan. Or that the way I do plan is the “right way” to plan. Or that everyone even needs to plan! If you’re into going where the wind blows you sewing wise, then great! If that’s what works, that’s what works. There are so many ways to go about your sewing projects – from a simple list in your head, in Evernote (which is what I’m currently doing) to a full on wardrobe planning book such as The Curated Closet and other similar books.

Sometimes the garment making world seems like everyone is planning one way or making in one type of style, and if that’s not the way you work or what you like it can feel slightly alienating. At least that’s how I felt when I realized that a strict capsule wardrobe wasn’t working for me and also how I felt a many years ago when it seemed like I was the only one not sewing form fitting garments. I got over that when I realized that this is what works for me and what makes me happy in my making and my wardrobe though.

Are you a basic list maker? A full on capsule planner? Do you just make as the inspiration strikes? Or somewhere in between?

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20 Responses to A Few Thoughts on Wardrobe Planning

  1. Nicole Shepherd says:

    I used to be all over the place with garment sewing and still am to some extent. It’s hard not to be when there is new fabric coming out all.the.time! I struggle with fitting and sewing knits, but with more practice I will get there. I need more basics and neutrals versus crazy prints. I’m taking a class at my LQS this next Monday that is about building your handmade wardrobe in the hopes that helps me find my focus. The girl teaching it sews and knits amazing things! She also teaches a fit class, which I’ve taken as well.

    • Jen says:

      I totally agree, when new fabric comes out I get so excited figuring out what I can make, it can be so overwhelming. I think I’m the opposite of you because I’m now trying to figure out what prints I can add to my wardrobe! I love the idea of this class, what shop are you taking it at? It’s such a smart idea!!

  2. victim98 says:

    My planning involves me realizing I don’t own any pants I want to wear then I try 5 pant patterns for the next couple of weeks. It gets cold outside and I make a ton of sweaters. I feel like a frumpy old lady in my Pj’s so I go find a ton of pajama patterns and get to work. It works for me and i am happy.

  3. Phyllis says:

    I’m a basic list maker. I don’t do a ton of planning and that works for me. And I realized just last year or so that I don’t wear button down shirts. Ever. So, I purged my closet of them all except a nice denim one I hope to get some wear from. All I sew are knit tops and dresses with the occasional woven pants/shorts. I sew pretty basic styles too because I know that’s what I wear–no party dresses unless there is an occasion for me to actually wear it. And I try to stick to a basic color palette that works for me.

    • Jen says:

      Sounds like we have a very similar approach to our wardrobes – minus the button ups 😉 Also when I first started sewing my own clothing I made so. many. party. dresses. Can you even imagine? I’m laughing just thinking about because what I actually wore in the late 90’s to early 2000’s wasn’t remotely that style, it’s just all I could get pattern wise at the time!

  4. Brigid de Jong says:

    I am trying to be thoughtful about what I make, but it’s slow going. Dresses are easy, that’s one outfit right there, but I don’t wear them that often to work. I just finished a blouse in a fabric I bought because I liked it…and now I have to make pants to wear with it because it has navy as a base color and I don’t have any navy pants. I want navy pants, but then, there it is. I’m trying to think about what I wear and love to wear and find that niche…I’m getting better, but still not there.

    • Jen says:

      I think it’s a constant process even for people who seem online to have it figured out, so just remember that! One of my favorite color combinations is navy & black (as evidenced in my next blog post) could you make the top work with black pants? Mixing and matching is so much fun!

  5. Jess says:

    I might be edging toward planning junkie at this point, I just love list-making and sketching and dreaming, and the clarity that a bit of wardrobe planning brings me. I think it helps me stay centered when my creative brain wants to go all places at once. I’ve been playing with the capsule wardrobe thing for about a year now, though I’m not super strict — I guess I like to get plans out onto paper but I don’t view them as set in stone, just part of the evolution, so it doesn’t feel constraining. I recognize that not everyone enjoys planning and I love the tone of this post — as in so many things, “you do you” is the key. What I’m realizing is that perhaps even more valuable than the pre-planning process, for me, is finding ways to reflect and keep track of things — what am I no longer wearing, what I am always reaching for, what imaginary item do I find myself wishing I could throw on?

    • Jen says:

      Oh I love watching you plan! It’s so hard for me to treat things I write down on paper as not set in stone, I need to learn from you. The last part of your comment is exactly what I do in my own wardrobe process but was unable to state as eloquently. It’s really so important to do this isn’t it!

  6. My idea of wardrobe planning is to decide–whether I record those decisions for posterity or not!–what types of things I need/want to make and then do that, haha! I analyze what I have now, and which parts of my wardrobe aren’t working for me the way I want. Mostly I stick to garment types (pants, shirts, skirts) and try to pair pattern ideas with them and go from there. That being said, I do let my creativity take me where it may: sometimes inspiration strikes and you just have to go with it! I never try to build around a color palette or “style concept” as I find those things too restrictive for something that is supposed to be a fulfilling creative outlet; my style is more than just one concept or color group, and I would never dream of limiting or defining myself that way. I also like having a fairly large wardrobe, which goes against pretty much every single Capsule Wardrobe approach out there! =)

    • Jen says:

      Ha, that’s all you need! It sounds like you’ve got a perfect mix of figuring out what you need and making that but not in the stressful, limiting way that I find strict capsule wardrobe plans can sometimes feel. I love that you allow yourself to go where you feel – that’s part of the fun of it all isn’t it!

  7. jessamyb says:

    This is such a timely post for me, as I just started reading the curated closet! I have never been a wardrobe planner, but I was never that really into clothes. They were usually just a functionality thing. Now that I’m sewing my own clothes, I feel like I need help! I’ve been making things helter skelter, and feel the need to hone in on what I really like/what works for me. I’m hoping working through the book will give me a little bit more insight into what I want to wear most, which will in turn focus my sewing. I’m not entirely sure I’ll build a true capsule wardrobe, but would really like to get to the point where I enjoy wearing all the things I make!

    • Jen says:

      Honestly I feel like everyone goes a bit random when they start sewing. It’s a great time to build your skills, try different things, and not worry so much about building the most cohesive wardrobe because you’re learning so much so quickly! It took me years to go from wanting to try sewing ALL THE THINGS to figuring out what I’d wear and sewing those things. That said, sometimes I just want to sew a random thing in a random color or print because it’s fun or tests my skills and I’ll never ever wear it. That’s totally fine too! It’ll all come together in time, I promise!

  8. katherine says:

    I like your attitude of sewing what makes you happy and what works for you. That is the approach I use as well.

  9. Sewniptuck says:

    I am all over the place sewing on a whim, hence I have a lot of stuff that doesn’t go with other stuff! I have to be at ease with this I think because skill development is much more important to me than a ‘wardrobe’… but then again it would be great to just pull out something that works from the craziness of my robe! BTW I wasn’t in love with Lark till I saw Heather LOu’s and now see what a beautiful garment you have drafted 😉

    • Jen says:

      I think you’ll eventually strike a balance between skill development and a cohesive wardrobe. And even if you don’t, no big deal, because skill development is amazing and so fun! Also thanks for the kind words on the pattern 🙂

  10. I have always just sewn what I felt like sewing. But this year I’ve joined in with the #makenine2017 thing on Instagram. So I picked 9 things that I needed and put those on that list. I’ve made 3 so far, and I’m finding that I am getting loads of wear from each one because they fulfilled an actual need, rather than just a spontaneous urge. So that’s very rudimentary planning, but it’s been working for me so far!

    • Jen says:

      I totally love Make Nine!! So genius – it’s structured enough that you get garments you’ll love to wear but loose enough that you’re not likely to get stressed out in the same way as seasonal wardrobes. I definitely don’t think planning needs to be any more complex than that, especially if it’s working for you which it sounds like it is!!

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