I don't consider myself to be a natural when it comes to putting a stylish outfit together. I can spot when something works and when something doesn't but I don't always know why. And that intrigues me.
So I set out on a mission to find out more and to learn about the rules and strategies to be able to create stylish outfits more of the time, and even be able to plan ahead when creating my sewing collections.
As part of this mission I've been connecting with wonderful personal style experts like Sylvie Hart. What I love about Sylvie is that she doesn't let me get away with just discussing the theory, she encourages me to take action and experiment.
I wanted to find out how Sylvie uses inspiration from others to help her create stylish outfits adapted to her own personality. So rather than just explain that we agreed to a challenge where we would each find two outfits that we liked and aim to recreate them.
You can hear more about our challenge in Episode 17 of the Sew Mindful podcast but it turned out to be much harder for me to put into practice than I could have imagined when I agreed to it!
As I began the challenge it was easy to find garments and outfits that I liked but when I asked myself the question "do I like them enough to recreate them for me" the answer that kept coming back was "no, not really", or "yes but I have no idea whether that would even suit me".
Since I was planning to make whatever outfit I decided on I knew that there was going to be more effort (and cost) involved in recreating it than there would have been if I was just ordering it online, trying it on and then being able to send it back if it didn't suit me. That seemed to really encourage me to think about not only do I like this outfit but do I like it enough.
But one of the beautiful outcomes from my internal Q&A was that it forced me to get creative to find a way to understand more about what styles and combinations do suit me. Sylvie had mentioned about taking one piece from my wardrobe and trying to style it in new ways that I maybe hadn't tried before.
This idea snowballed and I ended up spending an hour putting on different combinations of tops, bottoms and layers and taking lots of photos so that I could compare the different silhouettes and style lines side by side.
It turned out to be great fun and super useful (and I was so focused on my experimenting I seem to have forgotten to smile - but I was having fun, honest!) Because I was just interetested in the silhouettes I turned the photos into black and white to make them easier to compare.
This had the benefit of also helping me see the comparison of wearing light and dark garments in different combinations. I was struck by the power of the keeping the tone of the outfit the same when compared to trying to combine light and dark.
I also got chance to see the impact of different hemlines and fullness and the different silhouettes it created. I have started to pay more attention to how wide my sleeves are particularly at the armhole because the closer they fit, the longer my upper body looks (which is much better for my petite proportions).
And I played around with changing the lengths of my tops and skirts to see which proportions seemed to work best. Whilst tops that cover my bottom allow me to hide a bit more, they are not the most flattering and shortening my tops to the upper hip versus the low hip is a much better look. I like the effect of the longer jacket with the short skirt too as that has the effect of elongating especially if the colours are similar tones.
I learnt a lot about my style preferences in trying on the different combinations and viewing them fairly objectively in black and white. Some of the top lengths that I imagined would look great were not the most flattering and other combinations that I thought wouldn't work turned out to be some of my favourites.
I was also interested that some of the combinations that Sylvie commented on that she preferred were not always my favourites. So whilst the feedback and observations of others is really helpful, I've learnt that I also need to trust my gut with what I feel comfortable and beautiful in too.
I did pick an outfit to recreate. It was great fun to do but I'm not sure it was a raving success. It was my first attempt though so I am giving myself some grace and celebrating the learning process probably more than the final outfit LOL!
But I have learnt so much more about using my creativity to solve problems and that there really is no subsitute for taking action. That is the only way to really embody learning.
I'm always interested in new ideas so if you have tried any experiments then please share them in the comments with any of your key takeaways.