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I am a mother, a new grandmother, and a teacher. But whatever happens in my life, I keep sewing. I have worked as a political communicator and now as a teacher in my formal life. I have also written extensively on sewing. I have been a frequent contributor and contributing editor of Threads magazine and the Australian magazine Dressmaking with Stitches. My first book Sew.. the garment-making book of knowledge will be published in May 2018 and is available for pre-order from Amazon


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Sunday, July 3, 2016

Style when life changes

For a while now my friend Carloyn at Diary of a Sewing Fanatic has written about her transition from dressing for a Manhattan corporate office job to one that has a dress casual approach.

I have followed her on this topic with interest.

My own life is also under transition.

For a long time now I worked in political communications, where you were always on for the media, and then as a university prof. I admit to a far amount of vanity with my sewing for work.

I admit it.

For instance a term required 24 lectures and I made sure I had 24 different outfits for every lecture. My female students sometimes commented on this, many knew I sewed for myself, and I enjoyed having an audience of sorts to sew for.

It has been almost a year now since I have taught in the classroom. Instead I am teaching my courses online and can do that from home or anywhere I am at the moment. This really suits my life right now and I enjoy not being tied to a specific location every Monday and Wednesday or Tuesday and Thursday.

I also really like the online format. I have designed the courses I teach and work to keep them dynamic. I am on video cam on my laptop so the students still see me, and I can see most of them. The conversations are active, either when a student takes the mic, or by the constant flow of texting at the bottom of my screen.

However what to wear is no longer an issue. They see me from the neck up and like so many news anchors I have seen who wear a jacket on the top part of the body that shows, and jeans and runner below, the pressure to dress is not the same.

My life now is so much more home based. I prepare my classes from my dining room table and this summer will be spending two days a week taking care of kids while my daughter works, and hosting various friends and family.

Most of my former wardrobe is now irrelevant.

I thought about this when I wistfully looked at the new Vogue dresses - many are things I would have made before, but really they represent the kinds of things I have just taken and donated to Value Village.

I know there are some bloggers who are largely at home and say they still sew and wear this stuff but really I don't know how they do it. How do you walk the dog, scrub out the bath, sit and mark papers in a pencil skirt and heels?

I want to look stylish of course, like I always have, but not sure how to do that. What we have going on here is a work in progress and likely some new mistakes as I try to figure this out.

Interestingly one of my sisters told me to watch Frankie and Grace on Netflix and, although those ladies are older than I am, they are where I am going eventually, and I am intrigued by their styles, which seem to represent two different versions of non working women dress:

One one hand you have Jane Fonda in shirts and fitted pants (so think she looks frail IMO but that is off topic) and Lily Tomlin in loose layers.

I note a lot of sewers are going the Tomlin route and it certainly has its advantages - easy to fit and sew for one. The Tilton sisters look, the Louise Cutting look.

I am pretty sure I am somewhere in no man's or no woman's land between these two ladies and not sure where it is going to turn out.

In my experiments I have made a few new pants shapes lately to see how I like them. I am still wearing support hose on the leg that had the dvt and I am not sure how I feel about that in dresses. In the winter in tights it is not an issue. I am also letting my hair go grey, it is in so much better condition when I do, and those two things at one time seem a little much for me right now.

It is interesting but changing your style can actually make you feel quite vulnerable - that is both surprising and a challenge.

So on that note I am going to share some actual outfits I wore on actual days this week.

These are another pair of Stylearc Talia pants and a way too long crochet top I made (you have to remember I am the most rudimentary crocheter, just a beginner) because I was so pleased I could do the pattern that I just kept going. These are wonderfully comfortable pants and I made them shorter as per the pattern.

I know I looked a bit rumpled but this outfit was worn on a day of taking care of an almost 2 year-old, a 4 year-old, and a 6 year-old. We played school, pioneer family and topped it off with a request from Scarlett that we do a spa day in the backyard.

This is what that looked like:

That's yogurt on her face and she was thrilled. The other two ate their cucumbers and went on the trampoline.

Some time ago I made Louise Cuttings Easy, Ageless and Cool pants (took note of the comment that a reader would not let her husband see her in them ) which I shortened by three inches to see how that looked:

Better but still big. Note I have thoughtfully styled these with a $7 Vera Bradley handbag my daughter bought me at a consignment shop and a banana. Wore this driving my husband to pick up his motorcycle at the shop. I call these my house cleaning pants. The giant pockets on the sides of the legs are excellent for picking up the random stuff you unearth while cleaning like bobbins and toy wheels under the couch or clothes pins on the lawn.

Finally I also tried Stylearc's Tessa pants in black linen. Of the very many elastic waist wide pants Stylearc has right now these are actually the narrowest and despite the claim that they have just enough fullness to fit smoothly at the waist I found them fairly gathered. I also had to remove 4" in length which is unusual for me as I am 5'9" even still I am going to have to go back and chop off some more length I see here - I won't be wearing these with heels in my front yard.

I am giving myself credit for trying new things but not sure if the loose look really works on this rangy midwestern body (rangy except for the middle part). 

I feel I am starting from scratch here at this new stage and obviously have a long way to go to figure out my new style for a new stage.

My question for you all is, what is your at home/casual style? What works for you and what doesn't? I could use some help here. I really could.

Those Vogue dresses are looking pretty good.


Anonymous said...

I think you do yourself a disservice when you question if the loose style is for you. It's all in what the eye gets used to and IMO you look great in the relaxed style. When I see form fitting clothes on anyone, I think - how uncomfortable, how unattractive! Stay with the new relaxed fit.

elliemae28 said...

I too need a balance between fitted and loose. Being retired I need mainly casual clothes, but at times long to make something dressier. I find that mixing in some details provides a challenge and keeps it interesting. And congratulations on letting your hair be a natural gray. I have never regretted letting mine go gray and am even growing it out longer. I'm 64 and happy with me today.

Angela said...

Oh my - I understand exactly what you mean! My kids are now essentially grown up (17 and 19) and I'm not dressing for a professional job, but my "style" of dress truly hasn't been any different than a teen. I WANT to look more "dressed" and yet still be comfortable, not sloppy and lazy. I have also watched Grace and Frankie, and had many of the same thoughts. Fonda's look simply "looks" better to me, and yet not as comfortable for day to day life, while Tomlin's look is comfy but too often (in MY opinion) has crossed the line from comfy into sloppy. And I'm not one for wanting layers of cloth "floating" around me - being honest, I'm far too likely to end up with sleeves in my plate, knocking things over, etc. Just say I've never been accused of being coordinated. LOL!

And so, I've been trying to decide what looks better than gym shorts and tees (even if they are often Lands End short sleeve tees) while still comfy. As I am "of that age" I get hot easily, no long-sleeves here, not to mention I live in a very hot area of the country anyhow.

I'm quite looking forward to others comments!

Anonymous said...

It's a question I have asked of myself many times, how to look good yet not overstyled or in the wrong type of clothes for the occasion. I'm afraid I haven't found the answer yet, I'm still a work in progress but I have identified some conditions I need: comfort, harmony and colour, no black on my top half or, I look dead.

Grooming is also a necessity for me, hair, nails eyebrows and subtitle make- up I think if you've got this going on you can get away with lots of simple daywear.rhat you can change in a second if you have to and that you won't cry over if it gets spoiled or ruined.

I'm investigating TSW Trio pants at the minute, they look worth a shot.

Good Luck!

Alexandra said...

Interesting post. Life in transition offers so much - both great and not-so-great. It has taken me a long time to figure out what to wear for my mostly stay-at-home lifestyle, but I finally got it. A comfortable stretch denim or ponte above-the-knee skirt and a drapey rayon jersey top. Super comfortable around the house and also looks nice for errands and other public appearances. I deal with arctic A/C by adding a simple cardigan or a hoodie. Also, accessories are important. I think that's the biggest difference in dressing for office vs. dressing for home, but also one that makes a huge difference in put-togetherness.

I think you pull off the looser styles really well. It will be interesting to watch your new style evolve.

Anonymous said...

I know exactly what you mean by not knowing what your new style is or should be albeit for completely different reasons. Out of the blue last year I was struck by a particularly nasty autoimmune disease and as a result both of that and the (thankfully lifesaving) medication I am now such a completely different shape that I barely know where to begin when it comes to dressing or sewing for myself. Everything I previously absolutely knew to be true, including all the standard alterations I always made, has gone straight out the window. It's a quandary and I'm not close to an answer yet.
Good luck with your quest.

Carolyn (Diary of a Sewing Fanatic) said...

Oh and stay away from the Vogue dresses...they just make me sad that I can no longer sew them! *LOL* However, I think I'm going to start sewing some things for my daughter so that I can still sew those pieces I loved making!

Anonymous said...

I'm having the same dilemma. I'm a self-employed CPA who works from home. I still need a few pieces from my old corporate wardrobe, but not many. I'm basically wearing jeans and t-shirts while I figure this out. I want to look pulled together and be comfortable at the same time.....

Melissa said...

I too am in a wardrobe transition. I'm late 40's and work from home. My main wardrobe has been skinny jeans and a long top but I am so sick to death of my jeans but trying to find a look that is smart casual but age appropriate is so hard.

Have to agree with you re Jane Fonda.

Jodie said...

I'll wade in! Now I'm still a working teacher but.....Barb - I really liked the fitted shirt over the TSW? cropped wide pants. I feel like that combination of fitted over loose works best to my eye (but really do you like it?) I'm a fan of jeans. Love them. And I can buy them cheap to fit and then roll them up (the skinnier ones) for summer. I worked for 2 years at a Aboriginal high school - my usual "school" clothes of dresses/dress pants/skirts and tops + cardigans was too much. So I switched out to jeans plus top plus cardigan. Worked better got boring after a bit though.
Have you tried the Hudson pant? I love the comfort, the elastic waist and the pockets. I made two pairs in wovens for school and LOVE them. I will make more just need to straighten the leg out a bit and add length (I made slightly cropped for spring/summer). Plus a looser top might be the look you like. I need pockets for dog walking or to hook my school keys into for school. Here's a link http://truebias.com/2014/07/hudson-pant-variation-woven-track-pant.html You might need to play with the rise - they are designed for a knit, so I made 2 sizes bigger with my wovens and it's okay. Next pair I'll add to the back rise and a little to the leg....perhaps slightly deeper pockets too. However, it's a bit of a wiggle to get them on BUT not a lot of extra fabric around my waist. Good luck!

theresa said...

I went hog wild at the Hancock's closing sale, buying Vogue patterns, as like you and others above, I'm sorting out my style as I drift into senior citizenry. Being a jeans and camp shirt kind of gal trying to up my game I went for tunics and classy pants, although a wrap dress pattern (always wanted a DVF wrap) found its way into the mix as did a Butterick Tilton. And two Louise Cutting patterns arrived in the mail recently so it's time for exploration. I'm following your's and Carolyn's journey with interest.

Robin said...

This is a subject we all approach sooner or later. Since my twenties, I've always been a fan of looser, less structured clothing. In my former business/educational work settings, I struggled with conforming to dress codes for nearly 40 years. During those years, my 'uniform' defined me. Now that I am 60 and semi retired--I am enjoying sewing and wearing my casual styles. My clothing conforms to my lifestyle. There is a certain elegance that accompanies women who gracefully embrace and enjoy this season of their lives.

Angela said...

LOL, I remember reading a comment by a famous model decades ago (no joke - Cheryl Tiegs maybe?) who commented that it took the same amount of effort to pull on old jeans and a t-shirt or cute slacks and a blouse, and she looked ever so much better in the latter so why not look good? That comment has stuck with me for 30 + years.... and yet too often I end up in the 'old jeans and t-shirt' look. Honestly, this reminds me of figuring out what to make for dinner. The cooking part isn't hard, it is the figuring out 'what to make that will make people happy' that is tiresome. Dressing isn't hard, the question is WHAT to wear. Off to get something done now....

Anonymous said...

Love your styling. As someone who loves clothes but finds the add ons of accesoriesimpossible I like that humour around the whole presenting yourself.
I am retired, country lifestyle, very quiet socially. Skirts, style arc peta, jasmine and eddie pants. Woven, simple tops and some jersey tops. Dresses, how I love them but have co e to accept the fact that, if each dress gets one wear per season (year), then I really do not need to make more.
The thing has to be fabric. Beaitful lines in clear colours, silks, best viscose and cottons in beautiful patterns. To me that is what makes it an outfit.
And, although I think you looked great in the photos, I do find something very sack like about a lot of those loose flowing clothes.

Sheila said...

All the tops in your photos finish at crotch line with a straight hem. Not a flattering look. Have you considered a high/low hem? Found it made a big difference on my 70+ body!!

AlaskaBerninaGirl said...

I have 2 years and 9 months to retirement so am truly transitioning right now. Sick to death of the office attire look and just want to get home, be comfy and able to run around with my dogs or work in the garden or sew or do some type of diy or watch sports on tv now and again. My favorite go to pants or capris are the stretchy but not too tight legging types in a medium weight fabric. So comfortable and actually nice enough to run to the grocery or hardware store. Although I have a few pair that I won't leave home in I think these are nice looking enough especially when paired with a tunic, or maybe they are not and I just don't care what total strangers think anymore? Good luck in finding YOUR style and may it be comfortable enough to keep you happy.

annie said...

You look great in almost everything you sew and wear. But you don't seem to be wearing your special stockings. What's with that???

Cashmere Sally said...

You hit a topic close to my interests, for sure. Check out my blog the last few months for real winner patterns for this retiree/casual style made up from Marcy Tilton. Seams to Me (cashmeresally.blogspot.com)

Barbara said...

Annie I am wearing them, just toe less ones so I can wear flip flops and of course with pants the colour is not obvious.

barbara said...

after trying a myriad of trouser patterns my solution was to try on and purchase a cheap pair of RTW that fit almost exactly the way i liked. i opened every seam, pressed it well and called it a pattern. i made the few adjustments i felt i needed and i never looked back. by adding pockets of varying kinds, trims and different lengths, i have pants that suit every need. the cost of the "pattern" pants was significantly less than what i had already spent on printed paper and print-at home patterns and who knows what i would have continued to spend?

should have done it much sooner.

sewingkm said...

This topic really interests me as a fairly recent retiree who wore me-made conservative jackets every day to work. Actually I've been retired for 4 years and it's taken me that long to figure out what to wear. DH and I travel quite a bit so my clothing needs to be travel ready - think knits. Just this year I've added 'flowy' print vests in poly and/or silk which has significantly dressed up my knit tops and relaxed-fitting leggings. I even sewed up a duster in a lovely silk print which adds drama and fun. I feel happier finally finding a way to jazz up my boring though comfortable wardrobe. Enjoy your journey! Karen

velosewer said...

Experimenting with styles as your life changes is a must. My weekend wear is my outlet for experimenting with styles when I'm ready to get less corporate. That said, my weekend clothes are still comfortable and fitted because clothing that's too wide overwhelms me.

The styles you've chosen work so enjoy them.

Debbie Iles said...

Looks like you're doing well with your transition. I feel like it takes a bit of time to get to know what the new you wants in any wardrobe transition. I transitioned from mostly suits to mostly casual some time ago. I'm still transitioning as the kids get older, less grubby, and more adult work/play kicks into my life. I feel like sewing helps a lot with casual wear. I wear a LOT of silk and beautiful fabrics every day, but I make them up in simple styles that are comfy and suitable for running around in and dress them down with flat shoes (flowy shirts, nice shorts, simple dresses) - this has been a gradual change though. It takes time to figure out what works well and looks good. I've never been one to under-dress. I also allow myself the luxury of making a really nice (challenging sew) item each season (even though it won't get much wear - say out to dinner a few times). That quenches my sewing needs ;-).

Coberly said...

Just found your site and really admire your style. I'm older than you, shorter and rounder, so from my point of view,
I perceive you can wear anything you want and pull it off. I look forward to reading deeper into your posts.

On a side note: IF and when you decide to part with some of your more "professional" items, I hope you will check
with your university or one near you to see if there are scholarship or student success programs geared to
helping/mentoring non-traditional students develop style (in all forms) that will serve them well when they transition
to the workforce. Our university has programs for both women and men, single parents who work full time, take care
of their families, and go to school. Some are transitioning out of the military, some are women who have found their
way out of abusive situations. They have no money, sometimes low confidence, little grasp of how to put themselves
together, and older than their peers. They are grateful for all the help they receive.
Thank you for taking
the time to share your pleasure as your work through the process of making the changes you want to make. I'll be
pending a good amount of time here and learning from you.


JuliaRu said...

Ok, this may sound radical, but I'm going to suggest you consider (not that I know this is right) styles (even though casual) that have a bit of snap to them. You have a no-nonsense approach to things and drapey fabrics and styles seems the opposite of that (?)

so maybe structured but comfortable. crisp fabrics? can you take that idea anywhere? I'd love to hear what you think about that.

Barbara said...

Judith nail on the head. Exactly what I have been struggling with and the moment I read your comment I thought that's me. Now what does casal snappy look like?

Jodie said...

Hmmm casual but snappy....I would think shirts not tops. Pants in wovens that you can press or sew a crease into. You love colour so add it in knit cardigans or vests....tops that skim but aren't too loose. Or if they are loose in a really drapy fabric so that they don't overwhelm,

This help at all?

Lisa Danny-Roberts said...

Twin sets work for me. I get overheated easily so a sleeveless top and a loose weave knit cardigan over it make me look pulled together but not overdressed. I like prints for the sleeveless top and then take a color from the print and make the cardigan.

Scenic Route said...

I, too, think you rock the loose-pant look! I love it for summer & sandals. Barbara you seem to have tapped into a really big demographic here! This very issue is what caused me to return to personal garment sewing about 12 years ago. I was/am so disappointed with the one-age-fits-all available in stores; never mind having mainstream swathed in polyester!! Yikes. The joy of sewing is that I have been able to experiment with looks--in gorgeous natural fabrics. The search goes on for the perfect balance of comfort yet sharp, current not trendy, age appropriate but not frumpy, etc. goes on! Keep on keeping us thinking and laughing about all this!
PS great move on letting the hair go natural :-)

Brenda said...

Casual snappy to me is a simple silhouette that is semi fitted with interesting internal seams. I look at Eddie Bauer and Title nine catalogs for inspiration. One other key is high quality fabrics, I think.

I've started my retirement transition (done in three years). I know I've got plenty of "professional" fabric left to sew but I know I won't wear too-dressy styles after I'm finished teaching. I'm experimenting with casual details such as contrast binding and collaged fabrics (sort of upscale patchwork). Finding inspiration on line is a challenge. I'm not drawn to "art teacher chic", but do love wearing casual dresses.

SuzieB said...

1. Your hair color looks great-especially in the black outfit with that gorgeous gray & black print jacket ( with your PERFECT pattern matching on the pockets)!
2. If the turquoise crocheted top belonged to me I would crochet a contrasting color band at the bottom (a darker turquoise, summer green, or coral - maybe even white) in a contrasting stitch and wear it every day during the summer as a short summer dress. Or I would keep it as is and wear it with above-the- ankle footless tights & flip flop style sandals in the same color as the tights. I'm seriously in awe of anyone who can crochet a garment and actually wear it!
3. I would like the pants better if the legs were narrower - even if they were loose at the top - which is covered by your shirts in all of the photos. Narrower seems to be a cleaner look with flat shoes.
4. Love the blue striped sleeveless top as well as the black one. Please say the black top was made from a pattern (& post the #) because I would like to make one in every color of tissue knit & cotton voile in my stash! That's my perfect summer top.
5. Scarlett is a doll! Like her sis & bro, I would have eaten the cukes & jumped on the trampoline, also.
6. My disclaimer: I have no business giving fashion advice to anyone. My summer everyday go-to attire doubles as painting clothes, etc.
7. Crisper: have you looked at some New Look patterns from this perspective lately? I think one of the sleeveless versions of 6429, a dress pattern, would look great shortened to tunic length and made up in heavier pique or even a crisp seersucker.

SewCraftyChemist said...

My favorite of those posted here is the blue sleeveless shirt and pants. I think the shirt should be a few inches shorter. It looks great with those pants and would look good with a walking short, a slim pant (knit for comfort), or a slim knit skirt.

I think people assume dress = dressy but it doesn't have to. And knit dresses, IMO, are the epitome of comfortable!! One piece dressing (add another layer -- jacket, cardigan, vest, scarf-- as desired) and in a knit for comfort and the ability to move around freely.

I think someone else said it but fabric choice can really take something from smart casual to dressy. Eg a straight skirt in a bright color or print will read different than the same skirt pattern with a black pinstriped suiting.

I am nowhere near transitioning (late 30s), but I struggle with casual dressing. I feel put together for work but the weekends and casual events are hard for me. Too casual and I feel dumpy and sloppy. But I don't want to look like I'm in my way to the office either. Sigh :)

SewCraftyChemist said...

My favorite of those posted here is the blue sleeveless shirt and pants. I think the shirt should be a few inches shorter. It looks great with those pants and would look good with a walking short, a slim pant (knit for comfort), or a slim knit skirt.

I think people assume dress = dressy but it doesn't have to. And knit dresses, IMO, are the epitome of comfortable!! One piece dressing (add another layer -- jacket, cardigan, vest, scarf-- as desired) and in a knit for comfort and the ability to move around freely.

I think someone else said it but fabric choice can really take something from smart casual to dressy. Eg a straight skirt in a bright color or print will read different than the same skirt pattern with a black pinstriped suiting.

I am nowhere near transitioning (late 30s), but I struggle with casual dressing. I feel put together for work but the weekends and casual events are hard for me. Too casual and I feel dumpy and sloppy. But I don't want to look like I'm in my way to the office either. Sigh :)

Sally King said...

I LOVE sewing dresses and skirts. And then I look at them hanging in my closet as I reach for my jeans and a tshirt. Have made some woven shirts that are fun - but old habits are hard to break. You are a classy lady and could pull off whatever style you choose, so why define yourself with just one look? Ladies older than we are worked and mothered in dresses.... Why can't we?

Miss Rosie Lynn said...

A great question I think we all struggle with - even if only on the weekends. I find I like linen pants and tunic tops - but not always together. Wide leg pants require a closer fitting top or shirt on my body, and tunics that are a bit longer need narrower pants legs - and I'm not meaning leggings. I find I need to balance the top and bottom - either with colors or volume, not unlike putting together a suited look for a corporate office. And I always wear some amount of makeup, and jewlery. I need to feel put together.

So, Vogue dress patterns? They often make great tunic tops. Just sayin', :-)

Have fun on your journey of self discovery!

linda said...

I love the crochet top the best, I don't think it's too long and I love the extended shoulder, wish I could crochet.
linda in Melbourne.

Eimear Greaney said...

So know what you mean! -I made a pair of cigarette pants/ankle grazers/summer trews last year and am living in the again this year - I drafted the pattern myself and was brutally honest on measurements (I have drafted patterns for my measurements 3 years ago.....in the vain hope I will transform back) I used a vintage high waist trouser pattern also as I wanted a v high waist. they are great and my only fitting issue was to put a curve in the top of the outside thigh (took me a while to figure this, but as I was dealing with a slight excess of fabric rather than trews being too tight it was much easier). The other pair of trousers I made this year and I feel rather 'cool' in them were the vogue Rachel Coomey 1507 (link is https://theupsew.wordpress.com/2016/06/03/rachel-trews-vogue-1507/). I love them as I would not normally go for peg leg but these are quirky and a quick and interesting make, there are a few blog posts on these and I hope to make a pair for a friend of mine too

JuliaRu said...

Snappy casual:

you feel relaxed yet would be capable of going out in the back yard to kill a snake if needed, both effectively and with speed.

to change the look from one event to the next would require at most changing one item of your outfit.

one pair of shoes works with most of your outfits.

no big deal if it all ends up in a hot clothes dryer.
: )

Anonymous said...

The "styled with a banana" comment of course reminds me of that Vogue release where each model was carrying a huge tropical leaf. Of course I am usually styled with an empty dog poop bag making the pocket stick out as well as what ever else.

Beyond the banana, as a shorter rounder older observer I think you look terrific in each outfit. Since I tend to get really dirty in lots of my home life I tend toward really grubby shorts/tees (its hot here a solid half of the year) or knit legging type pants with tees or woven shirts under a parka. No tropical leaf.

It does sound like there is great interest in the topic of what to wear in one's casual life......and as someone with room for improvement I'm looking forward to my horizons being broadened!


Bunny said...

Oh, I know this challenge well! I had to "dress" for my former career and loved that type of sewing. I really miss that! But I get my joys from making coats, jackets, and more tailored casual clothing. The jeans and tee thing is not my style and I occasionally wear it but that's the exception. Having been retired for five years and now back to work in a VERY casual environment, I find I really enjoy wearing well tailored casual clothing. Examples would be GAP chinos with a cool tee, flowy rayon pants with a tailored linen shirt, shirtwaist dressed that like Crafty Chemist says, definitely do not have to look dressy. Think chambray and rolled up sleeves, sandals on the feet or leggings and flats underneath. As much as I love the voluminous comfort of the art teach garments, they really do nothing for me. I occasionally make them but find I just don't wear them. I am also a huge fan of full skirts that are very casual. Again, an example would be an Essex linen and cotton blend in big box pleats and a definite waist. I put that with a v neck tee and am soooooo comfortable. I love the comfort of skirts and its a silhouette I find works for me. You'll figure this all out, Barb.

Rise said...

Similar discussions are happening on Fabrickated: http://fabrickated.com/2016/07/02/thinking-about-the-casual-wardrobe-part-3/

I am in a bit of a muddle, as I have middle-age spread which lends itself quickly to a dumpy look. I work at home much of the time, and with meetings where those around me are Very Casual, but I am in a professional position, so wearing a sweatshirt along with everyone else isn't appropriate. At least to me.

For my situation, I am discovering what I believe the fashion folks call a column--monochromatic, as in your last picture, but not black. Simple to put together with different layers. I haven't done it in the past because it seemed boring, but I am thinking it tends to read a little more stylish.

I love the striped shirt and pants on you--crisp, a little more fitted but with room for air to move and cool you, and the way you worked with the stripes shows off your skill with a needle.

Thanks for a great blog, it's one that I am always pleased to see in my feedly.

SilverMom said...

Major hot topic! (Especially amongst those of us who have or are transitioning to a different kind of wardrobe.)

I finally decided that my approach to this question would be to add more AF elements to my wardrobe. (AF: What a friend of mine calls "artsy-fartsy".) Still casual, but with a fun, just slightly out-there twist. This month's example is a pair of Louise Cutting's My Swing Set pants (cropped length due to operator error, but I'm liking them!) made from my grandmother's white jacquard cotton bedspread (circa 1930), topped with a Saf-t-Pockets Journey Jacket of white cotton organza embroidered with ladybugs and assorted other beetles. Too fun and totally not what I ever could have worn in my professional life.

For the same kind of AF vibe, I love Sewing Workshop patterns though they are hard to adjust for my generous and complex curvature. One of my sewing buddies with a more architectural body type (like yours) who is early into retirement is rocking the SW Tremont Jacket.

Thanks for opening up such a great discussion.

Marianne said...

Also in transition... As I work less, I will be wearing the clothes I normally reach for a minute or two after walking in the door. I'm one of those super sensitive types; I only feel good in soft, nonrestrictive clothes. (In fact my first thought after seeing your beautiful coat was: I wonder if the collar is scratchy..?) I also love the invisibility of aging, so don't want to wear anything that attracts attention, either because it is especially unique and attractive, or because it is sloppy and unkempt. So for me all this means wearing mostly woven, elastic-waisted pants (Jalie 3243), with well-fitted knit tops or tshirts. I make these out of fabrics in cheerful colours and/or patterns, and try not to be too ridiculous in my combinations. ("Mom! What are you wearing!" Haha!)

Kay said...

I think the proportions of the crochet outfit are off, the top is too long and bulky. The second one looks good with a fitted top and loose pants and the last one is attractive, too, rather dressy looking. I think whatever fits your lifestyle and feel good in would be fine. With your height and slim built, you are able to carry off practically any look or looks.

I've been through several looks since I retired a few years back. First it was capris with a shortish top, then almost leggings with long tops and now am going back to slimmer tops now that I've lost some weight. Have also decided that my simple basic styling lacked imagination so am looking for patterns that have more interesting lines and more unusual colorful fabrics. I used to enjoy putting together outfits for work and dressing for the day, but retirement clothes have been a big yawn, so maybe that will put some excitement back.

LinB said...

As a Woman of a Certain Age, with all the attendant issues of hot flashes and thickening waist and compressing spine, I have settled into a "look" that is basically a well-fitting trouser under a loose overblouse or tunic. Trousers/jeans must fit like a dream, not too tight, not too loose (and I have a deep rise, and thin thighs, and an increasingly flat derriere, so I do extensive alterations on rtw as well as sew my own trews). Top must skim body, to allow air circulation, but not cling anywhere. I eschew knits except for woolen cardigans in winter, and woolen socks ditto.

All fabrics must be of natural fibers, as close to 100% as possible. North Carolina lets me wear light cottons and real linen nearly all year. Wool is for winter, which lasts about Dec.-mid-Feb. where I live. Although, if we ever get snow, it is usually in March ... but I digress.

Both my body image and concerns about skin cancer lead me to be pretty covered most of the time. I don't do sleeveless, I don't do any pants shorter than ankle length, most skirts are well below my knees. The sun is not my friend.

Leigh Wheeler said...

I'm still working, but like Carolyn, my environment is jeans and a t-shirt casual. I prefer to be more put together. I like jewelry and cool shoes, but like to be comfortable.

I find I feel 'put together' with three pieces. Twinset plus jeans + funky shoes (not tennis) and a pretty necklace (I make them). Or a scarf. A crisper look could be a woven shirt with a collar with some interesting detail.

In cooler weather I can wear funky jackets.

While you don't need suit jackets, a knit one with some structure would work, or more crisp fabrics, add detail, use an interesting fabric.

Like Carolyn, I also like the Chico's look of solids with a cool "jacket" over it all. I have a silk chiffon "jeans jacket" that I love to wear in summer. It's super light, the fabric says dressy, the design says casual, and it throws on over a tank top very well.

So maybe think about what you like wearing and change out the fabric or design elements.

Happy sewing!!

Erika said...

Although I'm not there yet, I totally agree with Christine: "The thing has to be fabric. Beaitful lines in clear colours, silks, best viscose and cottons in beautiful patterns."

Beautiful fabrics elevate anything.

I LOVE the pants for cleaning - with big pockets. Dang I need a pair of those!!

Margaret Delong said...

Love the linen Tessa pants! Definately my favourite, and I think the most modern. The first pair may be an inch or two short?
Beautiful crochet top :-)

Margaret Delong said...

Sheila is right- when you look at the full photo, a hem other than straight hem would be best, especially with your lovely height!