As much as I think taking Me Made May photos is a hassle, it's just as easily one of the most helpful tools for figuring out where I want to take my wardrobe. Last year, when I did my wardrobe architect project, I chose some colors for my clothes and I'm really pleased that the color scheme shows in this year's Me Made May. This year, I came away wanting to focus on elevating my wardrobe with 'weird and wonderful' pieces, and breaking free from my 'uniform'.
On a more macro level, the challenge also helps to identify key players (pardon the terrible sports references in this post) and garments that might need to be benched (ahem..). I've gathered up the best-of and the worst-of for today's post, so you can see how the things I've been blogging about have fared long-term - what's made the cut in real life, and what hasn't. Are you ready?
1. MVP award (there it is again) has to go to the Ginger Jeans squad. Honestly, I don't think I'd be able to pick just one pair as a favorite even if I tried. My corduroy pair developed a hole in the butt that took me a few months to get around to mending, and I didn't realize what a difference their absence made until I finally had them back in rotation. I cut the legs off my first pair this summer (cheap denim + insane off-grain leg twist) and wore them as shorts when it was warm enough, so I think it's fair to say they all get equal wear. It's getting to the point where I'm contemplating an eighth pair.
2. The square sleeved cardigan. Interestingly, I've recently developed a love-hate relationship with this thing. I love that it keeps me warm and that the tight sleeves stay out of the way, that it goes with almost everything in my wardrobe and still pretty much looks as nice as the day I finished it - but I can see now that I'm wearing it too frequently. I need to mix up the cardigan selection or else I'll turn into 'that girl with the pink hair who only wears that one sweater'. One of my upcoming projects is going to be to batch-sew some cardigans - at the moment, I only have four plus two knitted ones - and three of the four are problematic (more on that in a moment)
3. Partial Band Bras. The Me Mades you don't see every day - I've made a lot of bras, and I do still wear most of them, but the ones that I reach for every day are always the pink and purple partial band ones. So comfortable, I forget I'm wearing them, and with such a good shape! What I really need is to make about four more.
4. The jumpsuit I still haven't blogged about! I promise I will eventually. The merit of this jumpsuit is that it makes me look (and feel) incredibly put together (I had two very big work meetings in May, I wore the jumpsuit to both and impressed my boss each time. Related? I choose to think so.). The coolest part, though? It's so darn comfortable! Totally secret pajamas, the wrinkles just fall out of it (even if I stuff it in a suitcase) and also since it's lined down to shorts-level, it's surprisingly warm. Also, it wins the "most complimented by strangers" award hands down.
5. Linen short sleeved button-up. Love it, want 100 more in different variations, would wear only this draft for the rest of my days, my only problem is that there's only one of them. The end. Next few I might make with sleeves, but just for variation's sake.
6. Vintage Vogue Barrel Coat. I've been wearing it constantly all winter, and it's even more perfect than I had hoped. It's just right for a New Zealand winter and it also represents, in its unique 40s styled, jewel toned colored shell with a pop of crazy inside, exactly the direction I want to take my wardrobe in for the coming year - I'm thinking of it kind of like an 'inspiration piece'. A very cuddly one, too. I've recently let it tip me over the edge into making cropped cardigans (I hate the way my longer cardigans look under the coat, but I need a layer underneath it with SLEEEVES) and the first such cardigan (also to be blogged, but I'm wearing it sneakily in the first photo of this post) has been a success so far as well!
The Lesser Successes
1. The Culottes. Now. I don't feel totally fair putting the culottes in this category, because actually they do feature prominently in my wardrobe, but we had a little bit of a style disagreement that left them shelved for several months this year. Finally, I realized that I could just handstitch the pleat down a few extra inches in the front and back and all my 'those pants basically have an arrow that points to your vagina' issues would be solved, but it took me a while to get there. (woe are my google search results right now) So - they've been altered, and now they're being given another chance, hopefully to be catapulted out of this section.
2. The longline cardigans. I do wear these and they're warm and cozy, but they feel the least 'me' of the bunch. I do think they still hold a place in my wardrobe, especially for travel and winter weekends, but I hate feeling like I'm wearing them because they're warm but not because I like how they look. It's a shape thing, I think, and I do feel they're too casual, but other than those two ephemeral thoughts I can't really figure out what bothers me so much about them. Weird, especially since I thought I'd love swishing about in them like the capes with arms that they are.
3. I'm using this item marker for 'things that are not seasonal or not work appropriate' - My clothing storage space is limited so I really need to be conscious of the number of things I make that fall into this category. My first jumpsuit, the floral pleated skirt, and the feather dress don't work for work, and the succulent crop top only barely, and only when it's warm. There's nothing technically wrong with them, they just don't fit as well with my lifestyle. Honorable mention in this category to the camis - worn constantly on summer weekends but abandoned as soon as it got cold. Second honorable mention to the sheer kimono sleeved top because even though I love wearing it, the fabric is incredibly fragile and it loses a bit of body every time I wash it. I'm choosing not to categorize these items as successes even though they technically are, as a reminder to myself that I need to acknowledge the usefulness of a thing for my lifestyle before I choose to make it. I'm totally fine with summer-only and weekend-only clothes, but it needs to be intentional.
The Complete Failures
1. The Orla Dresses. After the initial honeymoon phase wore off, I wasn't wild about these two. The waist is too high for me, I didn't choose good colors for my wardrobe, and they're just kind of overall not my favorite shape. They also created this weird inter-dimensional perception filter around my boobs which made them look completely flat- not a thing I ever thought was possible. I gifted the rayon one to Lill, whose style works well with it (and whose boobs also looked fine???), and the other one is currently adorning my dress form at Jon's parents' house, where it goes very well with his mum's decor.
2. The Juniper Cardigan. This one is my own fault - I chose two colors that don't go with a single other thing in my wardrobe. I mean, really - what was I thinking? I like the pattern and I think it's a cute cardigan, but these colors honestly just don't belong in my wardrobe right now. Sad face.
3. That weird lapelled cardigan I made ages ago. I never wore it (the lapels flopped funny) and then Lill stole it out of my wardrobe and I honestly didn't even notice it was gone for 4 months. It, much like that Orla, is in a much better place now.
4. The pencil skirt. Honestly? I'm still a bit beat up about this one. Maybe because it's the most recent of the failures. I LOVED this project, I loved the totally different shape, and I wore it fairly frequently. It was another one of those pieces I wore on days I wanted to feel a little fancier. I really took my time with the finishing details on this one, so I was pretty devastated when the back seam blew out one day. The fabric wore badly - pilled, snagged on everything, and strained at the seams a bit, so it wasn't exactly a surprise, and also the reason I've chosen not to attempt to mend it (it was a pretty catastrophic failure...) - I definitely chose fabric that was too delicate for the strain of a closely fitted skirt. I'm saving the fabric so eventually I'll figure out how to refashion it into a lighter-wearing item, but in the meantime, it's a lesson in fabric choice for all of us. And a reminder to make another pencil skirt.
Like I said, this year's Me Made May documentation was incredibly useful for sending me in a wardrobe direction, and also making me think critically about the things I've already made. Hopefully this post has been useful for you in your own clothes-making journey, and also at pulling back the curtain on what happens to things 'after the blog post' - I know it can seem like sewing bloggers just write and write endlessly on how cool and wonderful the next new thing is, but the fact of the matter is that there's a honeymoon phase after you finish a garment, and when that phase wears off, at least for me - you're left with either a lifelong friend (that beautifully worn in pair of Ginger Jeans I'm going to have someday soon, if I keep wearing mine 3 days a week) or a relationship that actually didn't work out after all. (like my Orla dresses. If you go back and read those posts, I had nothing bad to say about those dresses at the time - I honestly did love them! It was just that those feelings ended up not lasting.)
It's easy to get swept up in the 'must make more all the time' feeling when you see so many people posting new things (and designers posting new patterns!) all the time. I'll be completely honest with you, I am contributing to that cacophony with my own posts, and I love the act of making too much for that to change anytime soon. I am, however, trying to avoid jumping on popular bandwagons just because everyone else is making a thing. At the same time, I think it's important to show you roundups like these so that you can see that there's life past the day the photos are taken, and that although opinions are accurate at the time, sometimes they change in the rear view mirror.