If we haven’t met somewhere in the sewosphere before, I’m Alex and I blog at Sewrendipity.com about sewing a sustainable, meaningful wardrobe. As I am all about making clothes that have meaning and that will live in our lives as long as possible, this year’s challenge spoke to me like never before. I am advocating styling as a way of bring back to active life garments we have made before and maybe no longer love, so this was a perfect opportunity to put this principles into practice, AND take part in a community challenge, which I don’t do very often.
Creating a meaningful wardrobe: My philosophy
Before we skip to my outfits, I wanted to share a bit more about what a meaningful wardrobe means to me – and I promise it all makes sense and links in to my take on the challenge (you can also read more on my blog).
When we learn to sew (especially if it’s later in life), we have a tendency to sew all the dresses, usually in quirky quilting cottons. That definitely happened for me, and I actually have very few items from the early days of my sewing journey. But what also happened, at least in my case, was that as I got a bit older (I started sewing when I was 27, I am now 36), my tastes changed significantly and the garments I had previously made were just not ‘me’ anymore.
Now, from a sustainability perspective, the best thing you can do for your clothes, once you made or bought them, is to wear them for a long as possible. And, as I mentioned, I am definitely firmly into the sustainable closet camp. This meant I had a bit of a conundrum on my hands. I have clothes I don’t like any more, but I also don’t want to be sewing like mad to replace everything I already had. But I love sewing. And I love wearing clothes that represent me… Hmmm.
The solution I came up with was to slowly sew a few curated pieces that will stand the test of time in both quality, techniques, physical and emotional longevity and also versatility (the 30 wears test). Plus, coming up with ways that I could mix these new, meaningful garments with things I already have. I’m not gonna lie, I did have to part company with a few items (mostly passing on to my friends or my sister, but also a few to charity shops). But for the majority, I found creative ways to bring them back into rotation.
And this brings it back to our Day and Night Dress Challenge. I have a bit of a different interpretation to most other bloggers, in so much as I chose not to make something new to go with my old dress, but made a conscious effort to find a few meaningful items I have made recently that will complement and enhance my now forgotten ‘past me’ garment.
So, about my dress…
This is one of the garments that I was most proud of making. Ever! It’s the first seriously difficult one I made, one that I designed myself, constructed and fitted to perfection. It was the first time I worked with faux leather, the first time I lined a garment, the first time I did a toile, the first time I pattern hacked, the first time I wore a me-made garment to a significant event in my life. Also, fun fact, this was the garment that I took to my Great British Sewing Bee audition (and that potentially got me on the show).
I made this dress while going through an incredibly stressful period at work and every night, to be able to fall asleep, I would think about sewing and dream up new designs. And one night, I had a brain wave, and so this dress came to be.
It’s a mash-up of Vogue 1102 for the top part and a Burda Magazine 02/2009 skirt for the bottom. The fabric is a stretch cotton that used to be printed, but I dyed it black. This was also the first time I overdyed something. The red pleather accents are in fact upholstery pleather, but I really did not know better back then. It still works though.
I wore it to my best friend’s wedding back in Romania, and it was the first time I showed all my friends a garment I made myself that I was truly proud of.
You can tell this is a pretty special dress to me, with a lot of emotional load!
But I haven’t worn it in years! It’s just been sat like a relic in my closet, loving looking at it from time to time, but never coming out. It’s a bit too revealing to wear to work, a bit too fancy to wear on a night out and I can’t really wear to weddings anymore because many people would have seen it (I know, we all have those hang-ups).
So it was the perfect candidate for this challenge.
But I must confess, I was really struggling to think how could I make it more day-friendly. It was meant to be an evening dress, which was easy, but the low back was in no way suitable for going to the office, for example.
THE DAY VERSION
My recent style is quite minimalist, a bit oversized sometimes, streamlined, polished, yet comfortable. Which is what this dress was not. It’s tight, figure hugging, low back and has pleather! Plus, I must admit, I was definitely waaay skinnier in 2013, so it’s a bit too tight for comfort right now.
So for the day outfit, I decided that the most important thing was to fill in the back. So I needed something to layer it with. In comes my trusty self drafted viscose jersey turtleneck.
This is the perfect wardrobe stable for the colder weather. I have worn it many times under pinafores, short sleeved dresses, under jumpers, and even on its own with more colourful bottoms. It’s nice on the skin, wears well, looks good and so comfortable.
And so there I had my solution to sort out the revealing part. I think it works really nicely to turn my dress into some sort of a pinafore-look.
I also added the biker jacket for a bit of an edgier look. This is one of my all-time favourite items, a Mona biker jacket from Make My Lemonade. My sister once told me ‘now that’s a piece that truly looks shop-bought’. I’m pretty sure she meant it as a compliment…
To complete the look, I wore my favourite boots, these platform Zara boots that I got for £12.99 in the sale. The look towering, but they really are the most comfortable high heels I have ever worn. I liked that the studs on the boots go with the hardware on the jacket for a bit of an edgy feel.
I won’t be wearing this combo to the office in a hurry, but I can definitely see myself going out in it for a dinner date.
THE NIGHT VERSION
For the evening part of the challenge, matching the dress with the occasion was not the issue. My challenge was what else to add to make it an outfit.
One of my best loved, most worn and most praised items came to my rescue again. The red coat, which is almost famous in my group of friends. My husbands jokes that this coat got me a seat in business class when I was travelling to the states once (not true, I actually had the ticket as it was a business trip). People stop me on the street to tell me how much they love it. This is a Butterick 6244 Lisette pattern in red wool, which I had originally bought from a charity shop (Oxfam).
So here we are pairing two pieces that are very dear to me, and yet, it never occured to me to put them together! I feel it’s a match made in heaven! The reds are not quite the same shade (the dress is a bit more orangey and the coat a bit more blueish) but somehow I think it still works.
I was going for a classy look, so I paired them with stiletto heels, of course. I don’t wear heels that much anymore (unless it’s platforms), but there is a lot to be said about pencil skirts and high heels.
Well, I thoroughly enjoyed the challenge which allowed me to reconnect with a garment I love dearly, but also pair it with some other pieces that are now staples of my wardrobe. A win-win overall and I hope some inspiration for you all to challenge yourselves to do the same!
HOW CAN YOU GET INVOLVED IN THE DAY AND NIGHT DRESS CHALLENGE 2019?
- Find your lonely dress in your closet! Sew up 2 extra pieces to coordinate with your dress for a day look and a night look.
- Let other people know about it. Use #dayandnightdresschallenge on Twitter and Instagram and follow the Day and Night Dress Challenge Facebook group.
- Keep reading here to find out the latest. Follow Elizabeth Made This on Instagram andFacebook.
- Post a picture of your newly styled dress and extra pieces in your day look and your night look to Instagram to enter yourself. Don’t forget to tag me @elizabethmadethis and use the #dayandnightdresschallenge.
- Grab the graphic below and post it on your site and/or repost on Instagram: