I want a wardrobe of clothes I like, in colors that suit me, that will work together nicely. Is that so much to ask?
I cruised the Vintage Ad Browser (google it) in the clothing category in the decade of 1940, delighted by the color combinations there. Wine with bright green, Copenhagen blue with goldenrod, dark teal and dusty pink, muted red and pale green - so many pretty colors!
Inspired by these colors and by the Fashionable Forties' blog (which details a Swedish wardrobe plan from the 40s and the blogger's journey through the process of making such a wardrobe) I've settled on two palettes of neutral colors: one for fall/winter and one for spring/summer. Yes, we do have at least 2 seasons here in northern California.
Fall/winter colors are brown, wine, and dark teal, with Copenhagen blue, navy, and goldenrod for spring/summer. Each set of neutrals will work well together, and my several red accents I already have (belt, shoes, handbag) will work with all six colors. I will try to collect some green accents for fall/winter, and white for spring/summer.
What clothes shall I make? More importantly, what clothes will I wear? I'm not keen on dresses or suits - I'm a casual person, with no need or desire for dressing "corporate". I like separates, so blouses and skirt and trousers. I'll make two dresses (maybe three) and several trousers and skirts, and as many blouses as I can stand. Some jackets of the same colors and materials as a few of the skirts to stand in as suits if I need. But I won't wear a matching skirt and jacket very often, if at all. That's a dandy plan for when I'm holding at one size, but what to do in the meantime?
I want to have two skirts, two trousers, and two blouses that fit me at all times. So far, I have dropped one dress size about every two months. So I'll be making a couple of garments a month to stay clothed. I can do that.
I have one pair of trousers, a modern cut in a nice dark brown stretch sateen. And a pair of distinctly unflattering Levis 501 button fly that are getting baggy. For future construction, I'm looking at Wearing History's Smooth Sailing pants, and probably a self drafted less wide-legged pant.
I have a great four piece skirt pattern that is part of a Vintage Vogue reissue suit (one skirt in wine already in the closet), and I've partially constructed a four piece half circle plaid skirt (I love a plaid skirt with some swing to the hem) with bias front and back seams. It is hanging up to let the bias finish stretching out.
I have two stretch tops, and one woven cotton blouse in my closet that is not a vintage pattern, but has that feel: a mint green with sprays of flowers scattered over, pointed collar and short sleeves. I figure it has a few months left in it as I can take the side seams in a bit when I have to. I have several repo vintage patterns that I've made in the past that look good, and I realized today that I have a lot of dress patterns (what was I thinking?) that can be truncated into nice blouse patterns.
Cheap cardigans will stand in for jackets for the next 10 months.
I have one short trenchcoat in electric blue which will be loose but not horrible for I expect the next 40 pounds. I'll be very sad when it no longer fits. And a great vintage coat that I need to take in. And I'll make it again when the current coat is too large.
Yes, that is not a lot of clothes by the overstuffed standards you see on various makeover reality shows.
So I'll spend the next year trying out patterns, practicing finishing techniques, and confirming my color palettes. I will the the Queen of Cheap and Cheerful fabric.
Then in January 2015, I hope to be stabilized at a good weight, when I can start making long-wearing, lovely versions of my favorites from the previous year in quality materials.