See, sewing a wardrobe for me is a challenge. I'm plus size, I love vibrant colors and prints and I work in a conservative environment where a corporate work wardrobe is required AND actually stated in the employee handbook. So when I first started this job (four years ago this month and I can't believe I've lasted here that long!), my wardrobe was in no way up to the clothing requirements for the job. I will admit that I took some wrong turns ~
A co-worker actually taunted me about this jacket...
And this outfit never really worked well...
However, I preservered and I believe that I now have a well rounded work wardrobe entirely sewn by me. Seriously, I could never find these garments at a retail outlet in my size. Although I am inspired by several internet sources, and quite a few catalogues and magazines. So, if you need to make a wardrobe for a conservative workplace and value fashion, style and a little color, I would like to share my "go-to" sources for inspiration for my wardrobe.
Most of us know about style.com - we check it every season when the fashion shows occur. But do you realize that the shows for each designer is on the site for several years? And do you realize that after the season ends that they add many extras like upclose pictures of designer details? I use a lot of the details in my garments to make them unique but still fit within the confines of my workplace requirements.
I love the Talbots site. I loved it before they revamped it and lately it is one of the first places that I go when looking for new ideas! It is primarily classics but lately they have upped the ante and added color and details that just make you want to look like the models...well, okay, I do! *LOL*
Dillards is a chain store like Macy's that primarily services the southern United States. But I love how they have great sections on store lines that I can bookmark and copy to my heart's content. The Alex Marie line and the Antonio Melani line provides loads of inspiration when I'm hunting for a new way to make my TNT dress pattern sing.
4. St. John's
I LOVE these designs! I think my still unmet goal of sewing amazing pantsuits comes from the designs on this site. Every season I'm inspired by what they show. Sometimes I need to tone down their color and print combinations because these outfits are definitely for the ladies who lunch crowd but I love these garments...and you know that they don't do plus sizes! *LOL*
5. Honorable Mentions
I always check these sites too but only when I'm digging deep for inspiration:
Ann Taylor, Banana Republic, Chicos, JJill, Coldwater Creek - too much of their stuff is basic and I'm looking for that level that's just above basic. However, I usually can find something that starts my creative juices flowing, so they are worth investigating. Also, several of these sites are trying harder to attract women like me so the styles, the colors and materials have been updated...definitely worth spending some time checking them out.
I also love magazines and subscribe to all the fashion magazines ~ InStyle, Bazaar, Elle, Marie Claire, and Lucky. I don't subscribe to Vogue anymore...just pick up the interesting issues from the newsstand. Besides styles...I'm looking for interesting details, colors and combinations.
But the most valuable tip I can pass on is that I don't look at sizes. Sizes mean nuthin to me since I can make just about anything. What's important to me is the shape of the garment. Does that shape look good on MY body? Will the silhouette and proportions work for me? If so, the picture gets cut out, or it gets saved to my computer and goes into the inspiration file.
I think there are two important elements here - knowing what works for you and knowing how to make it. I learned how to do that from these two books ~ "Make it Your Own - Personalizing Patterns for Creative Design" by Lori Bottom and Ronda Chaney and "Making a Complete Wardrobe from 4 Basic Patterns" by Rusty Bensussen. If you want to learn how to take a pattern from it's humble beginnings and imagine it into anything you can think of both of these books will teach you how to do it...and so much more!
Finally don't be afraid to experiment...to try something out...to go in a different direction than you've gone in before. Yes you may fail...and I've done so too but then again you might end up making the most amazing garment! Something that you wouldn't have thought you could make...and believe me once you have one of those triumphs under your belt...it makes it much easier to climb out on that limb and take another chance.
I know not everyone requires the kind of work wardrobe that I need but the challenge of a TNT pattern or making a wardrobe is not just for me. We all have to get dressed every day and need clothing that makes us feel good about ourselves. I believe these principles can be applied to any lifestyle...just know what colors work for you, what fabrics make you feel good wearing them, what style you want to portray and be adventurous! Isn't that why we sew, to get what we want?
Think about it and let me know...