I don’t know if it was turning 45 or if it’s just been a long simmering dissatisfaction with the winter version of my trusty uniform but I recently decided a change was in order.
It is generally acknowledged that I have dressed the same way since at least 1992, hence the tendency by everyone around me to refer to my wardrobe as ‘the uniform’. I am assured by many it’s a classic look that I continue to rock. The basic elements are black, denim, boots or clogs with touches of animal print. The variation on the uniform during the warmer months are cute little skirts I’ve made myself over the years. I figured if I wanted to overhaul the winter variation of pleated black wool Talbots skirts (I seriously have at least three of those), I should start by taking a cue from my summer wardrobe and dig into the trunk full of winter fabrics I have in my sewing stash.
First I started with a makeover of a piece I love, but never wear – leopard print corduroy capri pants. The fabric is oh-so-soft and these were really comfortable pants. But as I got older, they didn’t flatter me anymore. It seems my rear end has gotten flatter as I’ve aged and as these pants got bigger on me, the less they seemed to work on me. They were generously cut – reminding me of the culottes my mother made me out of polyester back when that was the thing in the 1970’s, so they were most decidedly not flattering. I couldn’t bring myself to get rid of them though, because, well, leopard print. And it was nice fabric, so a makeover was in order.
I took a seam ripper to the legs and turned it into a skirt. Because the legs were so wide, I didn’t need to use any filler fabric to allow them to be wide enough to walk and sit in (as is often the case when you turn pants into a skirt). Bonus, I was able to adjust the rear of the skirt as to make it more flattering to my derriere. I’m still not entirely sure this piece flatters, but it will get more wear in this new iteration, so there’s that.
That done, I delved into the trunk of winter fabrics. Most of the bigger hunks of fabric I’ve picked up at old SPCA Rummage sales (may they rest in peace) for a song. I took an old Burda pattern I’ve made myself previously, slightly altered it and used that as the basis of a new a-line skirt. For the first one, I used a delicious black wool that’s almost felt-like. I had been stewing on this skirt for weeks, when the Thursday before Oysterfest, I decided I needed a new skirt to wear. Not wanting to run out and grab a zipper, I made due with a festively pink one, thinking that somewhere along the line, I’d seen where contrasting colored zippers were a thing. (Edie meanwhile rolls her eyes and informs me only I think it’s a ‘thing’. So maybe I’m starting a thing?)
The skirt fits perfectly, is comfortable, is most decidedly not pleated and gets worn at least 3 days a week. I may need another, but I don’t have enough fabric left and on a recent trip to Joann Fabrics, I discovered the closest thing they have to that fabric is $35/yard that doesn’t have nearly as good of a hand feel to it. (I know, Joann has crap fabric and I will be checking out the local stores that carry better fabrics, but I was there for a zipper and thought I’d look around….)
Which brings me to the next skirt. The old Burda pattern I used for the above skirt is one I bought with the intent of making myself a skirt out of at least some of the 5 yards of chocolate brown Pendleton wool I scored for $10 at one of the rummage sales. For I don’t know how many years, that hunk of fabric has sat while I debated what to make out of it. I can’t even keep count of the number of ‘practice’ skirts I’ve made with that pattern in anticipation of finally using that fabric.
So, what was it that made me finally gather my courage and jump in? An orange Ann Taylor sweater Aunt Jenny gave me that when paired with black, made me feel halloweenish. I knew a brown skirt would be just the thing and it is. See?
This time around, I bought a zipper that would blend, not contrast and added a sweet little bit of vintage trim around the bottom.
I’m not done overhauling the winter wardrobe – I have a hunk of charcoal grey wool queued up for my next skirt and I’m kicking around ideas on combining the black I have left with scraps from the charcoal for yet another original. And there is still a serious amount of chocolate brown left for something major. Edie doesn’t seem interested in my making her anything out of the brown wool, so I am considering a jumper or maybe even a cape. For the time being though, it’s quite nice to have a few new clothes that feel like I’m breaking out of uniform while keeping in line with what I’ve always worn.