What’s my style? Rambling and plotting my next projects…

Evening bumblebees. I have no new finished items to show off today. Normally I skip these days on the blog – I’m more of a show and tell girl than a waxing philosophical girl. At least, as far as the blog is concerned… but I’ve been mulling over a thought all day which led me to to a google search chock full of big hair, 80’s fashion and a slight identity crisis. And here’s what got me started.

Lovely, isn’t it? All spring-like green and a super-awesome-o piece of dupioni silk woven from hot pink and emerald green strands. So nice. This is for my shabby-chic skirt that I’m making as part of the Spring Palette Challenge. That’s right. Shabby-chic skirt. I don’t know what else to call it – here’s a photo…

I think the skirt’s cute.  A bit on the long side, but something different. It’s in the book Sew Serendipity by Kay Whitt. Since I’m showing off photos, here’s a shot of the coat from the same book that I’ll make as a bonus item (meaning: “if I get around to it”…) the ‘classic tailored jacket’…

Isn’t that the most wonderful collar? I’m thinking it’ll look perfect in this Anna Maria Horner velveteen we got in at the shop today… VELVETEEN!!

My search over the last few days for the perfect fabric for the skirt got me thinking. About my style. I have to admit to a bit of psychosis, style-wise. While the coat has a bit less of the shabby-chic vibe going on, the whole book is very cute, mixed prints, all cottons, all in that shabby vibe. I love all the patterns in the book, but have to admit I don’t think they’re really “me”

And then there’s my other project that I worked on today. Again, a piece for the Spring Challenge. This one is the other skirt. I initially thought I’d do something in basic grey – perhaps a pencil skirt with a kicky pleat on the bottom. The fabric I found is a rayon linen blend that’s much too stiff for my initial design idea. I thought something shorter would be better – more like a classic denim skirt. I flipped through the pattern sites then found this perfect skirt on Anthropologie.

It’s probably hard to see the detail, but in addition to the little scallop on the hem and the funky welt pockets, there are also external darts that are topstitched down. Perfect for a bit of mid-weight linen! I spent part of today using a favorite skirt pattern (Butterick 4877) and David Page Coffin’s trouser book to draft a pattern for the skirt. And, I ask you… what style is this??

Take these projects, add my penchant for full skirted, fitted bodice, vaguely reminiscent of the 50’s dress and my new love for anything with a fitted midriff band, I’m just sort of all over the place (as opposed to some people with a very defined aesthetic…)

I’m sure I’m like a lot of other people. Prior to sewing, my main thought in buying clothes was ‘works well enough, looks ok’. Often I’d sacrifice either the ‘looks’ or the ‘works’ part – you know, I’d find a dress that looked great on me, but was in drab colors. Or I’d find the perfect wool coat with a too-maternity-esque cut that didn’t really work for me, but I’d buy it anyway because the color was so great. I have a friend who says she’ll buy a piece of clothing if it ‘covers her up.’ I totally get that. Pre-sewing days, I think my design aesthetic was similar to me car /valet aesthetic – good enough to go to a restaurant downtown without embarrassing myself.

Of course, sewing changes a lot of things. I look in the mirror a lot more. As fellow bloggers know, it’s a strange world to step into sewing blogging. There are more pictures of me on the internet than I’d have been comfortable with a year or two ago. The more we look at myself, the easier it is to be a bit more objective about what I’m seeing. And then there’s the byproduct of sewing that is figuring out what works. As much as I’ve always yearned for the androgynous, slightly punk vibe for myself, I think I’d look ridiculous trying to rock a Patti Smith look with a Kate Pierson shape (ah, the beehive…) And then there’s the miraculous ability to make things that have not only the right look, but also will work on my body. What fun.

But I’m still not sure what my style is (other than a clear love of green floral dresses.) Which brings me back to my google search. I thought long and hard today (well, not that hard) about what influenced me in those young tender teenage years where I started to get my groove on. That was a long time ago. I liked clothes a lot in high school, in an oddball sort of way. I had a lot of Benetton and Esprit stuff (but only if there were no labels showing – remember those Esprit bags and sweatshirts? egad), and a lot of thrift store stuff. I wore my hair flat when we were reeling out way out of big-hair 80’s. I searched some photos of my top five – uh, style icons? That seems like a bit of an over commitment, but we’ll go with that. We’ll start with #5. (welcome to the 80’s. What can I say?)

Molly Ringwald

I hesitate to include Molly Ringwald, but like it or not, she was a redhead and so was I (although she’s not really one and I really am…) I had to put up for YEARS with people telling me I looked like her, which is not at all true and never was. I never really liked her clothes in any of her movies, although I loved the breakfast club boots. But I bet I could nearly recite all her lines with her. I studied her like she possessed the secret to life…


Jami Gertz in the Lost Boys

I loved this movie too and especially Star with her gypsy ways and her giant hair. And her vampire boyfriends. I liked the vampire clothes too, although I never really developed a one-track desire for men with motorcycles. I guess some things never change, because while searching for photos it crossed my mind that I’d like to find a pattern to make a cute white cotton shirt just like Star’s.


Meg Ryan in When Harry Met Sally

I watched this movie to death in my junior (?) year of high school. I remember not liking her hair but loving her makeup. I didn’t like all of her outfits, but I certainly spent an inordinate amount of time trying to find the perfect pair of shorts and a red sweater to copy this look. I liked the vaguely Annie Hall vibe of a lot her outfits. And, as a slightly OCD type myself and highly impressionable, I viewed the scenes when she was organizing (movies, ordering in the restaurant, etc.) as valuable lessons in how to life my life.

dying young

Julia Roberts in Dying Young

I think this moving came out my senior year of high school – so early ‘90’s. The era of (much missed) floral dresses and combat boots. I really need to get another pair of boots. Her wardrobe was all dresses and sweaters and giant overalls and more giant hair. In a house by the sea. There was even a vineyard and a maze. If it wasn’t for all the cancer and crying, this would have been a perfect movie. There was even some excellent jazz.

And now, for number one. Everyone’s favorite entre to soft-core naughtiness (not why it’s number one) and the most excellent 80’s movie wardrobe ever….

9 and 1/2 weeks

91      93       92 

Sigh. That’s right. I said it. My number one style-impact-movie from my formative years was 9 and a half weeks. Sure, there was a lot of nookie in the movie, but that aside I thought it was so pretty. She went to a street fair, she bought a fish still flipping around at the market. She had witty dinner parties. Also, there was a lot of super cool digital equipment – intriguing to a budding gadget geek such as me. AND there was a boat and I’m pretty sure some Billie Holiday. Sigh.

Wow! Pulling myself back into the present, I shall leave you to contemplate the wisdom of curtailing the movie viewing of impressionable youths. I’m off to surf some costume websites to find that perfect pair of spectator heels…


  1. Psycho Sue- Sew Misunderstood says:

    snuggy buggy. i like your style influences. its a mix of boho and 90s Seattle look. what comes across about you (as a reader and a friend) is that you are a "cheerful" dresser. When i think about snuggy buggy i think -COLOR-PRINTS-FLIRTY-YOUTHFUL BUT SOPHISTICATED- NOT COOKIE CUTTER. But think about what makes you feel GOOD, and make that your style.

  2. angie.a says:

    Great post! My formative youth style icon/movies were everything Molly Ringwald (loved her) and Can't Buy Me Love. By the time I entered my junior year I think i had already mocked up all of the outfits from that movie. But even then I had a fierce vintage love. My grandma gave me her "best" dress and pumps from the mid-1940s, black wool crepe with pretty draped pleats and the shoes were TDF. Seriously. Oh, and a tiny black velvet hat with veil and rhinestone pin. My mom has them all packed away, but somewhere there's a photo floating around of me in that getup. And a video too, singing Mr. Sandman.

    I'm enjoying your blog alot! Whether you post a finished outfit or not. ;)

  3. Alexandra Mason says:

    Such a great post!…and a picture of Kiefer as a vampire on a motorbike :) Going to go and look for my Lost Boys dvd now.

  4. ckh says:

    I visit your blog because I love your style – whatever you may call it. You make clothes that look great and you always look so happy in your pics. You inspire me to make clothes that FIT. I'm new to sewing and have yet to finish my second thing – that's taken me forever to finish (can you say Crepe sew-along?) (And that's overlooking the fact I'm in the middle of several things.) So I especially like that you can see something you like and whip it out, making it look fantastic, of course. I'm living a bit vicariously through you. :)

  5. Joy says:

    I think Sarah's descripter (bohemian….) is right on! Maybe we could hire her to put words to everyone's style.

    As your sewing evolves and you can create what you really want, maybe you do fall into a groove that seems totally eclectic to you but is somehow definable to others.

  6. Sarah says:

    From reading your blog and your posts on the Colette Patterns forum, I thought that you were bohemian with a dash of preppy and a dollop of eclectic. I love your style! I miss the flowery dresses and Dr. Marten boots of the 90's too. *sheepish grin*

    My style is a bit hectic, to say the least! I love retro styles from the 40s to the early 60s, bold prints, colour, striped tighted, and feminine fit. The best I can do is say I'm Rockabilly with Swing and Punk thrown in and a sprinkling of kitsch.

    PS: That is a very pretty Singer machine you have in the background there. I sew on a Singer Featherweight from 1946.

  7. Gaidig says:

    I don't feel the need to put a label on my style. I don't think there is one that fits. I tend to pick and choose from different eras and styles; I like '30's hair and hats, but 40's and 50's dresses, but I'm also into punk and steampunk, and then I like tailored suits… Still, I find that there is a certain commonality that emerges when I look at my style board on pinterest. I do find that I have gotten girlier over time, and I am more interested in filling out my wardrobe with dresses now than ten years ago, when I wore one of five pair of Doc Marten's every day.

    Actually, the other day when discussing various clothing and style issues with a friend, I used you as a style icon. You have definitely inspired me to start making dresses, and learn to fit.

  8. Ashley says:

    Great choices, I particularly love that coat!

    Everything I seen you make on this blog has been fabulous, I thank you have great style! By "defining you style" do you mean your looking for a label for it? I agree with @LAP, just call it eclectic. I don't think most people fit strictly into a category (if they're honest with themselves) anyway, I know I don't.

  9. Sigrid says:

    I can totally relate. I feel like I should have figured out my style by now, but I keep flipping between different eras and aesthetics, because I just LOVE some aspect of the style. I blame the movies too. Plus we live in an era (maybe for the first time ever) when anything goes. But, if you look at all the stuff you do like I think there is definitely a look that emerges.

  10. Tanit-Isis says:

    Ahem. Um… I'll take the compliment, but defined style? What blog are you reading? I just made a fluffy circle skirt and freakin' skinny cargoes in practically the same week! Like Roobedoo said, it's all up to you. The only reason to seek out style themes is to make sure you have at least some clothes that match with each other…

    Inspiration, on the other hand, is where you find it :)… I love that tailored jacket (almost enough to look into actually getting the book!). The skirt has very cute potential, although I'm not a big prints person—I would love to see it in tone-on-tone, or maybe fabrics of different textures but the same colour… because that's more "me". You will make of it what's "you"… and with any luck love the heck out of it!

  11. LAP says:

    Oh the ditsy floral rayon dress with lace ups..so so iconic in my fashion history.

    I would call the style of that skirt "eclectic". And the awesome Anthro skirt is classic sportswear with eye-catching details. It's too clean to be bohemian artsy- that's its genius.

    So really, when you look at your movie style icons, it's clear to me that your style is sexy tomboy. Practical, tailored, with feminine hair and makeup. A pretty dress with men's shoes and thick socks.

  12. Laurwyn says:

    You should document this with pictures of you :)

    Yes, I am curious bee!

  13. Catherine says:

    Oh you and Roobeedoo have said it all – I am the same! I have so many different styles that I end up taking the easy, dull route most of the time! Oh and some of those films are my favourites (and Desperately Seeking Susan!!) – I could go on listing films and other inspirations forever……Thank you for this post it has really got me thinking!

  14. Roobeedoo says:

    Ah, but what about Desperately Seeking Susan?! That movie was my downfall – all those leggings with biker jackets and vintage dresses and curly blonde streaky hair and far too much eyeliner?
    I do this too – the trying to identify "my style" thing – but as one of my commenters pointed out to me, you can be different people on different days, and why the el not?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

CommentLuv badge