Five Favourite Items from My Closet

Remember the excerpt from the Colette Sewing Handbook last week, about thoughtful planning for your sewing projects? Do you remember the part about choosing five items you love and feel good in from your own closet, to get a sense of your personal style and guide your future sewing projects?

Just for fun, I thought I’d go ahead and do the exercise and share the results here. You guys have seen me make all kinds of projects, choose all kinds of fun fabrics, and from the Me-Made and Self-Stitched challenges you’ve seen some of the outfits I put together. And you know a bit about me and what kinds of things I like. So it’s safe to say, you may have an idea of what my personal style is like.

Here are my five! I love each of these pieces for different reasons.

1. Twin Spruce Dress. Yes, I know, you’ve seen this dress a million times already. But I really do love it! I always feel great in this dress. I feel pretty, comfortable, and most importantly I feel like me in it. If I were only allowed to wear one garment, forever and ever, this would be my pick. I love the full swishy skirt, the awesome vintage print, the flattering neckline, the fitted bodice. It suits my small-on-top, big-on-bottom shape by highlighting the small and hiding the big. This dress is underlined with cotton muslin so it’s fairly structured, but feels good next to the skin. Even if I’ve gained a bit of weight (or eaten a big meal!) this dress always fits because of the generously-cut full skirt. There’s plenty of room to move without feeling too bulky, and I never find myself adjusting or fussing with my clothing in this one.

(old photo – I wish the weather looked like this outside right now!)

2. Rose-print Pendrell Blouse. This is my go-to blouse when I need to look pulled-together, and when I don’t want to be fussing with my clothing. I feel pretty, covered-up, professional, colourful, and girly! I’ve worn it to many networking events, my ‘Dragon’s Den’ presentation for school, my guest speaking event for the Coquitlam home ec teachers. It never fails me! It’s easy to tuck into solid skirts and trousers. So it’s a good idea to make more ruffly, printed Pendrell blouses as I do wear them! It would be nice to have a couple more pretty blouse options. It’s polyester, which normally I hate, but the open armholes keep it cool and it’s wonderfully easy-care. (No need to iron!) I hand-wash it, and hang it up to dry. The next day it’s all clean and ready to go!

(another old photo – it used to be so bright in the office over the summer!)

3. Red pumps. These poor shoes are wearing out and getting stained and I don’t care! I love them. They look awesome with dresses and skirts, and unexpectedly cute poking out of jeans. They’re comfortable, bright, and fun! They’re a very classic shoe in a fun colour, the heel is high enough to flatter the leg without making it hard to walk. Once they’re too worn out to wear anymore, I’ll be on the hunt for a replacement pair. Who knew red pumps would be such a staple in my shoe collection?

(photo from last September – modelling my Beignet skirt!)

4. Sunset Cowl. I wear this all the time! It’s cosy, soft, and warm. I love the golden yellow and it looks surprisingly great with many colours – purple, red, brown, teal! For some reason I have quite a few grey tee shirts (not a good colour on me) but adding the warm yellow near my face is more flattering. I want more of these in a whole rainbow of colours. A close runner-up is the Honey Cowl, but coral doesn’t go with as many things as the yellow does.  Both are amazing for cycling. No scarf ends coming undone and waving unevenly in the wind, or getting wrapped around my arm and looking foolish! This is a useful, warm, practical piece that also adds bright colour to any outfit.

(more sunset cowl photos here!)

5. Tan wool coat. This makes every outfit look better! (No, I didn’t make it. It’s from H&M about three years ago.) It’s not too long so it makes me look short but it covers my butt. Usually I’ll have a couple of inches of skirt sticking out, showing off whatever’s underneath. The warm tan colour is more flattering than black on me and looks great with my favourite colours – red, teal, turquoise, browns. It’s belted so it drawns attention to the waistline, the slightly flared silhouette hides hips and thighs. It’s getting very ratty up close, but looks good from far away!

(took a quick photo yesterday – it looks like I’m staring down Diana but at least you can see the details of the coat!)

So what do these five items have in common? What words would you use to describe them? I’m definitely drawn to brights as opposed to neutrals, with the exception of the wool coat. Colour makes me happy!  I like to be comfortable without sacrificing style. The items I’ve picked are classic styles – pumps, the vintage dress, a simple cowl – but in colours that stand out. Colourful classics? That’s not a bad description. I have all kinds of items that are novelty pieces, but my favourites are the classic, easy-to-wear, always-look-good pieces that I know I’ll feel good in. Pretty, practical, comfortable classics.

Honorable mentions go to my Colette Chantilly dress and my black printed Lonsdale dress. The cotton seersucker of the Lonsdale is cool and breezy, and I wore it to death over the summer! Walks in the park, dinners out, family events, or to the office. It went everywhere and I never felt underdressed or overdressed, too covered-up or too exposed. Just right! I made the Chantilly near the end of the summer and it’s fitted without being tight, which I love. The colours are amazing! And the cotton batiste lining makes it modest enough to be comfortable, adds a little extra poof to the skirt, and feels soft next to the body. All three of these dresses are fitted on top, fuller on the bottom, with a defined waistline. It’s a silhouette I love to wear and feel great in!

One other thing they all have in common? They’re very well-worn, almost to the point of wearing out. I bought the tan coat over three years ago when Mr Sewaholic and I started dating (on a road trip to San Francisco), and I still love it just as much. The red pumps I bought last fall and they’re getting close to the end of their life, too. The yellow cowl was one of my first knitting projects, it’s knit rather loosely and has definitely gotten longer, and is starting to get very fuzzy. The moral of the story? If I love something, I wear it a lot! So making similar items is a good investment of time and money. Knitting more cowls, sewing more printed blouses, and investing in colourful pumps are sure to be smart additions to my closet.

On second thought, these items do make a mini-wardrobe! Printed, feminine dresses or blouses, fun footwear, classic coats, and cosy knit scarves. If that’s my signature look, I’ll take it! That is actually exactly what I’m wearing as I write this, too – a printed dress in shades of blue, the tan coat, scarf, tights and boots. The boots are more basic than interesting but that’s because I cycled to work. This is a neat exercise to do, as simple as it seems!

What are your five favourite items to wear? Do you see any other similarities in my favourite five items that I’ve overlooked? Do these five items paint a good picture of my personal style to you? If you play along, I’d love to see your five favourites!

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25 Responses to Five Favourite Items from My Closet

  1. Bri November 8, 2011 at 7:11 am #

    This is a fun idea, your pieces are great. I wonder if I could narrow down to just 5 favorites!

  2. Jessie November 8, 2011 at 7:36 am #

    Those are some great classic pieces–and I agree that making duplicates of beloved items is always a good idea! I’m trying to churn out more warm things (wool skirts, petticoats, bloomers, etc.) to fill out my winter wardrobe, and I know I’ll love them when they’re finished, but I always hate sitting down with an old pattern and repeating the same process over again. It’s so boring! The same darts! The same gathers! I don’t know, maybe I have a disease. (Or I’m just easily bored.)

    Do you have a strategy for making repeats more fun?

    • Tasia November 8, 2011 at 8:59 am #

      I wish I had a strategy for making repeats more fun! I prefer to move on to the next, exciting thing rather than make something again.

      I’d suggest making similar styles, but not necessarily the same thing! So if you love wool skirts, don’t plan to make the same one five times or you’ll get bored. Instead find one or two similar patterns that have the same shape and feel!
      Or, add details that make the second version a little more special. Maybe a trim, or a lace edged lining, or a contrast waistband. Something that gets you excited again!

  3. Caroline November 8, 2011 at 8:06 am #

    I have to say, this post and the Colette book tour post have me feeling pretty lost and ashamed. I could be such a clotheshorse because I’m so easy to fit (and I sew!). But I have no common sense when it comes to assembling a wardrobe! I end up in jeans and a knit shirt almost every day. In fact, my man and I ended up going wardrobe shopping at a great thrift shop the other day and I found out he’s just like me! We were trying to rectify this yicky feeling our wardrobes were giving us, but we only left with two pieces each (granted, I did get an awesome skirt and button-down; they’ll be my favorites for about two days). Anyway, it’s like this: choosing new clothes is like pulling teeth.
    So you’ve given me a logical startpoint. What pieces do I like? No idea! What qualities appeal to me most. …totally lost. Off to my closet to choose my favorite things! Hope it’s not some really embarrassing cycling clothing! ;)
    This really is something I’d like to get better at — it seems so fundamental.
    PS – love your cowl. In my world they’re called “headtubes,” named by myself and a friend after a part of a bicycle frame. And you’re right: they’re a great bike accessory for just the reasons you mentioned. You can even pull one edge up over your ears and chin and secure it with your helmet. I normally knit a few each winter to sell in my shop.

    • Tasia November 8, 2011 at 8:56 am #

      You know, choosing clothing isn’t easy! Sometimes I feel like we’re just supposed to know how to put together a brilliant wardrobe that looks good, fits us, and suits our style. It’s just not that easy! I agree, it seems fundamental, and yet it’s just assumed that we know how to do that. (Without throwing everything out and starting over. We’re not made of money!)

      It doesn’t help that fashion magazines are always changing their mind. Skinny pants are in! Wide legs are in! Maxi skirts are in! and then the whole ‘things you can’t wear because of your body type’ articles often contradict what’s in style. Whenever I go to the mall I’m left feeling like everything I own is *wrong* and I should buy all new clothes. (The mall is sneaky like that!)

      I think the point is to think about what you feel good in – and build upon that. I found upon doing this exercise is that I love full skirts, I feel great in them, and yet I don’t own many that work as outfit building pieces. Making a navy full skirt, a tan full skirt, and a black full skirt (not necessarily the exact same pattern, but similar styles) would do wonders for my outfit-making capabilities!

      And you know, just because I feel great in things, doesn’t mean that’s always what I wear. I wear plenty of clothes I feel gross in! Either because I’m supposed to love jeans, so I really really try! Or because I haven’t spent a ton of money on my wardrobe in the last year so I’m wearing what I have, not necessarily what I’d choose.

      • Anne November 8, 2011 at 11:44 am #

        “because I‚Äôm supposed to love jeans, so I really really try!”

        That’s totally me! I’ve always wondered if there’s something wrong with me, because I feel like the only person in the world (at least, the Western world) who doesn’t love wearing jeans. I have a few pairs and wear them because I’m “supposed” to, and I’ve been told I look fine in them, but I never feel quite right wearing them. Fashion magazines don’t help, because they’re always promising me that all I have to do is try them on until I find the mythical “perfect” pair…

        • Tasia November 8, 2011 at 12:00 pm #

          Ha! I totally agree – “all I have to do is try them on until I find the mythical ‚Äúperfect‚Äù pair‚Ķ” who has that much time, anyways? And my problem is slight weight fluctuations – they may fit this week, but not so much next week. Jeans are not that comfortable (for me) to sit down in all day, or to move around in, and they end up lumpy and wrinkled.

          And the funny thing is, I’ve probably spent more money on jeans than any other article of clothing, because a) I don’t want to make them and b) I feel like I’m supposed to. Imagine if I’d taken all that energy/money and applied it to making a few perfectly-fitted, full or A-line solid-coloured skirts? I’d be much happier with my wardrobe!

          • Anne November 8, 2011 at 12:26 pm #

            You’re right about spending money on them- I spent about $100 on the only pair of jeans I own that I feel close to comfortable in… and I still don’t like them nearly as much as other, much less expensive items in my wardrobe! Besides, my favorite outfits that I see on other women almost never involve jeans… that should tell me something right there.

      • Caroline November 11, 2011 at 9:33 am #

        So, so true. And frustrating. I just took in the legs of some of my jeans — even going so far as to unpick the seams and recycle the denim thread so it’d match — only to see a few weeks later that bell bottoms were sort of back in again. Ugh! I’m not one to succumb to fashion trends; I’ve always liked simple, traditional clothing that is close to my size. I still have items I bought 15 years ago, but I have to be more honest with myself — a lot of this needs to be carted to Goodwill. And I wouldn’t mind replacing it.

        One trick I do try to use is to put my summer stuff away in the Winter. That way, each Spring I can open the boxes and… it kinda feels like Christmas! Old clothes somehow seem new again!

        The most frustrating thing I suppose is not really having the time or money to even make my own clothes, and even worse, seeing them not turn out as I’d hoped half the time. Having a sharper eye, quicker hand, and fashion vision IS something I’d like to work on, if not to make this all more clear and easy for me.

  4. Marie November 8, 2011 at 8:59 am #

    Those are beautiful makes Tasia, great idea for a post! Sadly, I don’t have 5 handmade items that I love…YET. Hopefully I’m getting there though ;o)

    • Tasia November 8, 2011 at 9:02 am #

      It’s OK if they’re not handmade! Three of mine happen to be, but the red pumps and the tan coat aren’t. And it can be jewelry, accessories – anything that makes you feel great was the impression I got from the book. In the photo page I borrowed from the book, there are shoes, scarves, jewelry as examples – these colours, textures and themes give you an idea what you’re drawn to and what might work well for future projects!

  5. Heather November 8, 2011 at 9:57 am #

    Hey Tasia, great post! I love that one of your favorite pieces is one of my former patterns. I’m so glad I trusted my instincts that I was sending them to a good home! All the best.

  6. Tiffany W November 8, 2011 at 10:47 am #

    I will play along…

    5 things that I love in my wardrobe.

    РKelly Green Dress from Anthropologie– It has a 1950’s vibe. It has a fitted bodice and full skirt. The bodice has a collar causing a v-neck effect. The dress has cap-sleeves.
    РGray/Navy Plaid Dress from Anthropologie – This is a vintage styling of the1940s. It has a fitted bodice and pencil skirt. I feel sexy in this dress without showing anything. The bodice has a little cloth flower on the left side like a brooch.
    РBrown Floral Sleeveless Dress from Ann Taylor – This dress has a fitted bodice and an A line skirt. Again, the bodice is v-neck.
    РGreen Sweater from Anthropologie – This sweater is very feminine. It has a collar and buttons up to the bust line. It is fitted and is normally worn with a camisole underneath. It also has knitted flowers in place of a brooch.
    РDark Wash Jeans with straight legs. I love to wear these jeans with heels. They fit nicely around the hips and bum. The straight legs make me feel tall. With a nice top and heels, it’s a dressier way to run errands on the weekends with two little ones under foot.

    From these items, I would say that I like the feminine styles of the 1940s and 1950s best. A “Classic” or “Regal” style might describe these items. I have a strong attraction to Audrey Hepburn or Grace Kelly style and present. I like wearing dresses in the summer instead of separates. Since I am pear shaped, I like to have things fitted on top and not to have things too tight around my legs as my hips are the widest part of me. No skinny jeans will be found in my closet. I am heavy into earthy tone colors. Greens and Browns dominate my closet mixed with blues and burnt orange. My favorite store is Anthropologie. However even there, I find many clothes I really like but do not fit me well. This is why I started sewing 10 months ago.

    However, I haven’t got to a point where I like anything I have made for myself. I love sewing for my 3yr old daughter. I can have fun with cotton prints and fit is not an issues when making children’s clothes. Sewing for myself has me asking many questions. What is the best fabric for this project? How do I get a proper fit? I since haven’t made the Pendrell Blouse yet because I struggle with the fabric choice. Having to purchase all your fabric online doesn’t help the confusion. I have purchased the Colette Book and I am looking now for fabric for the first project now. I plan to go in order as a new seamstress and learn something.

  7. Vicki November 8, 2011 at 10:56 am #

    I so enjoy this website. I am a retired grandmother but I still love clothes and dressing

    I have been reading you girls’ replies and it seems to me that before you make another garment, look in your closet and take out everything you don’t really love to wear including pants, tops, jackets, skirts, shoes, dresses and jewelry.

    Now with the pieces that are left, see what you can put together to make an outfit or two, or three, etc. Then make a list of what you need. I would like to recommend a website by the name of She will show you how to dress, what to buy and many other useful bits of information. She does charge a yearly fee but it is very reasonable. She even does color charts for you (also very reasonable).

    Tasia, I really like all the dresses and other pieces you have made even though they are too young for me. I have beautiful granddaughters that would love what you make.

    Anyway, I hope this will help you in this quest we girls are always faced with.

  8. Becky November 8, 2011 at 11:58 am #

    I’ve been thinking about this ever since seeing your comment on Facebook yesterday, and while finally having some time to sit down with my own copy of the Colette book. And I think it’s a tough call, narrowing down to only 5 things that are my favorites! I’ve also noticed my style kind of changes with the seasons, so I’m thinking a little more in terms of cold-weather vs. warm-weather wardrobe. I don’t think I’ll list here, since I have to think about it more, and it’s a question worth posting about on my own blog, I think. I can say off the top of my head that I have more absolute favorites that I’ve made for the warmer weather stuff, since when it gets cold all I want to do is wear pants and sweaters because I’m just cold all the time. That’s the biggest challenge for me, and one I’ve been trying to work on over the last couple of years–staying true to my regular style while still staying warm!

    I think if I had to summarize, though, I’m generally most drawn to prints, 2 entirely different color palettes (bright or earthy), funky jewelry, and a combination of fitted and flowy in the same outfit. Maybe that’s why I have trouble with the whole concept of a cohesive wardrobe– I like too many things!

  9. Anne November 8, 2011 at 12:15 pm #

    It was fun to see your 5 faves! You manage to look both classic and fashion-forward at the same time, and I love your color choices.
    I’ve been thinking about my 5 ever since reading the book excerpt you posted the other day, and I think I’ve got it:
    – Multicolored paisley maxi halter dress- I pretty much lived in this one all summer long. It’s a riot of colors including bright magenta, aqua, and yellow, and it’s in silky rayon
    – Nautical tee- boat neck, 3/4 length sleeves, light blue and white horizontal stripes, and a image on the front with mermaids and anchors
    – Gray floral jersey dress- This is a fall/winter staple of mine- medium gray, with a yellow and white floral pattern, v-neck, 3/4 length sleeves, knee length
    – Bright green wedges- I absolutely love these round-toe, green and white shoes with a 3 inch plaid-patterned wedge heel, to the point where they probably won’t last much longer :(
    – Paisley scarf- light coral/orange color with gray paisley pattern. I love how it goes with pretty much any outfit, especially anything blue, and it makes me feel instantly put together

    The verdict- Everything’s patterned! I love paisleys, florals, and stripes, and although I don’t have a ton of them in my wardrobe, the items I do have get a lot of wear. I guess that tells me what I should be sewing more of in the future! (Which works out perfectly, as I just got a bag of vintage fabric at a thrift store that was all florals and stripes!) Beyond that, I suppose you could call my style feminine and eclectic, with a retro (50’s-60’s) influence.

  10. Katy November 8, 2011 at 12:27 pm #

    Those are great pieces. I love them all! I also like your Lady Grey coat and Beignet skirt. Shame they’re not in the top 5 but you must have so many lovely things that it’s hard just to pick 5. My best value pieces that I reach for time and time again are: 2 of my Crescent skirts, 2 denim skirts that I made and jersey tops to go with jeans. While I love dresses they don’t get as much wear as separates. I think that’s ok though if you still like them as they can be reached for on special occasions.

  11. mala_14 November 8, 2011 at 1:11 pm #

    I have to say, I always love how you dress. You have a style that is distinctly yours, that is stylish without being trendy. I notice that your items are very winter coloured, even the summer ones. I tend to gravitate toward autumn colours, which is something I only noticed recently. Building a good wardrobe seems tough for me though. My feet are really difficult to fit, so finding comfy shoes is always near impossible. I wear runners almost exclusively. I often go around thinking, “I could make my wardrobe a lot nicer, but my shoes will never match it.” Which leaves me in my t-shirt and jeans mode, unfortunately. However, on the plus side, I’ve realized that I have a real love of cardigans and they make all outfits look more put together. Much better than hoodies. Especially with a vintage brooch pinned to them. :)

  12. Alessa November 8, 2011 at 2:17 pm #

    I love your mini wardrobe! Red pumps really do make an outfit and I totally love your twin spruce dress and rose Pendrell!
    I have more than 5 garments in heavy rotation, but the most important ones are probably my denim mini skirt (works for all seasons and in a myrad of outfits), red chucks, the red&black pashmina scarf I got in Thailand (good in summer instead of a jacket and to double as a picknick blanket, absolutely essential in winter) thrifted red jersey dress (do you see a pattern?) and a thin black longsleeve… :)

  13. Melissa November 8, 2011 at 4:25 pm #

    I’m a relatively new reader of your blog and I’ve gotta say, I love your style! Can I steal your 5 items?? (I’m definitely going to try that Simplicity dress pattern and that cozy cowl!) Also so great to find a local pattern designer. Looking forward to trying some of your patterns and following along on your blog sewing adventures :)

  14. Ari November 9, 2011 at 4:50 pm #

    Tasia, if your cowls are made of wool or other natural fibers and are getting uncomfortably stretched out, you can block them. Blocking allows you to reset the shape of knit garments. All that needs to be done is to soak a cowl in cold water ( if it’s wool) and lay it out in the shape it needs to be in, pushing or pulling it to the right length. Leave it to dry undisturbed and it’ll be all good again.

    • Tasia November 30, 2011 at 2:03 pm #

      I tried blocking it already! The poor cowl is too loosely-knit so it stretches back out as soon as I lift it up. I still love it though!

  15. Alice Stribling November 30, 2011 at 1:56 pm #

    I have to let you know that your post inspired me to start my own Gap-tastic cowl! It’s a lovely navy merino. Great post!

    • Tasia November 30, 2011 at 2:02 pm #

      Well that is fantastic! It’s a pretty easy pattern, and while I’ve made a few more complicated cowls, the yellow one is still the one i reach for! Navy will go with everything, too!


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