the Everyday Wardrobe: Game Plan

As it happens, this whole Everyday Wardrobe thing came about as I was sewing whilst at home. I was stitching at my machine soaking it all up in my half baked polyester sweatpants and a ratty see-through tank top (sans bra, of course!) when all of a sudden, the doorbell rang. This is not the first time this has ever happened either. But this time, something inside of me just clicked and I thought to myself of the irony of my position. I make beautiful clothingΒ  – lots of items I rarely wear because they are either too fussy or too fragile or I have nothing to go with them – and I bum around in digusting RTW pieces that have lived their full life and then some and then the doorbell rings and I’m just supposed to answer.

To be honest, I could care less what whoever at the door thinks of me and what I’m wearing, but the weird thing is that I care about me and what I’m wearing and how I present myself to anyone. I don’t feel that great when I’m at home alone and bumming around in crummy clothes that I wouldn’t dream of being seen in. Sure, there are days when all I want to do is lay around in pjs. I think everyone has those. But I’m talking about every single day wear. Getting up on a daily basis and just getting dressed either for work or for play or for just plain old that’s what we do as human beings.

So after the doorbell rang and I answered it and there was the UPS man delivering a package, I decided that I needed to figure out why I wasn’t dressed. So I went to my closet and started trying to put an outfit together that I wanted to wear to do things like get orders from the shop ready and shipped and such. What I found is that I have a closet full of clothes and nothing to wear to an everyday event like life. Instead, I have a closet full of clothing that either is too uncomfortable to wear to my everyday life or needs to be altered to be worn in the everyday or would be a great everyday piece but I have nothing to wear with it. No wonder I’m always wearing my pj’s around the house!

So here’s the Everyday Wardrobe Game Plan that I came up with:

Step 1 ~ Go to your closet. Pick out one article of clothing. ONLY one. Don’t overwhelm yourself to start with – you can defeat yourself before you even begin (I do this alllllll the time). The article of clothing can be a blouse, a skirt, a dress, jacket, etc. Anything that is an actual article of clothing. No accessories. We’ll worry about those later. This garment should be something that you love, can’t bear to get rid of but never wear. It should also be something that is comfortable and that you feel is worthy of wearing everyday. This is a big part of it! Don’t pick that strapless dress that you have to pour yourself into! Pick something you want to wear everyday, can see yourself wearing everyday and actually will wear everyday. We’re going to call this garment the Never Worn Garment or NWG for short.

Step 2 ~ Ask and answer yourself these questions about your NWG:

  • Why don’t I wear this?
  • What would make this garment more wearable? Can I alter it?
  • What colors and styles can I pair this garment with to make it wearable?
  • What shoes and accessories can I pair this garment with to make it wearable in the everyday?

One very important point in this step is deciding on what type of shoes you plan to wear with your NWG. This can make or break an everyday outfit for me. If I plan to wear my NWG in the everyday, I have to have a comfortable shoe to go with it.

Step 3 ~ If you need to alter the NWG, now is the time to start that process. If you don’t need to alter your NWG, take the garment to your fabric and sewing pattern stash and now its time to start pairing patterns and fabrics with the NWG to try and make an outfit. For instance, take a skirt and go to your stash and find 2 fabrics and 2 blouse patterns to go with it. Again, start small. Decide on one or two sewing patterns to work with (doesn’t mean they have to be easy or hard), then pick your fabric. Don’t have the right fabric? Head on over to your local fabric store, taking your NWG with you and pick some up!

Step 4 ~ Make the garment that you’ve picked to go with the NWG – we’re going to call this the Everyday Wardrobe Garment or EWG for short. Next accessorize. You’ve already thought of the shoes, so now have fun with belts, scarves (maybe you can even make a matching one!) and jewelry. And just like that, you’ve made magic happen – you have an outfit instead of a Never Worn Garment!

Step 5 ~ Once an entire outfit has been made, utilizing the NWG from your closet, now its up to you if you want to:

  • make something more to go with your NWG
  • start the process again, but this time use your new EWG
  • or, start with another NWG from your closet

Here’s the crazy thing: Once you start the process, you find that your new EWGs start coordinating with more NWGs in your closet! It’s addictive and this type of wardrobe planning gives you a wonderful sense of accomplishment, makes you feel like a rockstar because you’re actually wearing clothes that go together and that you love and you can wear them everyday and feel comfortable. I’ve also found that this helps destash your fabric stash (who would’ve thunk?) and utilizes garments you already have!

Please note that I’m not saying that you have to throw out glamorous pieces of clothing (or any piece of clothing) that you want to wear for a special event. Keep them. I’m also not saying that I would just stop sewing those types of garments altogether either. I might sew them, but a whole lot less (if at all). I’m also not saying that you can’t wear dresses and silk and wool and other such upscale types (on the contrary, in fact – you know I love natural fibers), but maybe its time to rethink how these types of things are worn in the everyday. I’ll be showing many many ways to incorporate beautiful fabrics into your everyday. That’s what I’m doing. I’m working with what I’ve got first and thinking up brand new garments second. This is actual wardrobing instead of making a closet full of white elephants which is exactly what I tend to do. I’m not saying that you have to have a closet full of knits either, because I still love wovens and will be utilizing both over the course of my journey. I’ll be going over each of the above steps more in depth over the next little while showing you exactly how this has worked for me.

What do you make of all this? I would love to hear your thoughts! My first attempt at this strategy and its outcome will be up tomorrow!

Later Taters,

PS ~ the above photos are actually of something I’ll be showing you in the future (though not tomorrow) – a real bona fide NWG!


55 thoughts on “the Everyday Wardrobe: Game Plan

  1. Such a great post and a good reminder to sew up a mix-n-match wardrobe. For me the real killer of an outfit is the shoes (like you mentioned)…I really need to get some comfortable shoes. I also have a lot of slight mending to do…just little fiddly things that would make all the difference in the clothes I do have in my wardrobe! Great posts…I look forward to your outfit tomorrow πŸ™‚

  2. I too have these garments. I did a closet clean two years ago and threw too many favorite things that no longer fit. Today I’m almost down to those sizes and what is in the closet needs some altering down, but new tops. I lined up fabric a few weeks ago, but not mentally ready to resize patterns to fit.

    Glad I found you to inspire me to start! Spring will be here soon and I find I’m only wearing black and navy!

  3. Great plan, I so have to try this!
    BTW: I would totally pair a simple Tee with this skirt, inspired also by the first picture of the “naked” dress form with skirt. I think this would make a totally wearable everyday outfit, too.
    Happy EWGing,

  4. Thank you for doing this!! I thought I was the only one who liked sewing things, but generally just wears jeans and tee-shirts. This will definitely help me match what I have with what I want to make.

  5. I’m so glad I’m not the only one who looks like crap around the house lol. Seriously the moment I get home from work I take off my bra and put on a big ratty t-shirt and just have my underwear on the bottom. So, when the doorbell rings, it really is a scramble for me since I have to find pants quickly.

    I’m so excited about this project. I’ve known I was missing a few things too that are more comfy to wear around the house (a.k.a. some light weight comfy shorts) so now I have an extra motivation to get them done!

  6. Great Post and what a great plan! I am a dress fanatic – which I guess is fine because I work in an environment where I can wear them, but at the same time I wish I had more seperates as well, and some more casual weekend clothes. I think I’ll join in and concentrate on those areas!

  7. Sunni,
    Thanks for leading us through this process. It is obvious, but I need someone to lead! One problem I have is that most of my NWG are in that catagory because they are uncomfortable. They are too tight or too loose or too something. I don’t have many orphans that fit and are comfortable. Then there are the shoes. Why is there such a disconnect between comfort and style in shoes? Fortunately, I am of an age where “practicle” (read ugly, but comfortable) shoes are more of an expectation than for those of you who are younger. Thanks for this series of posts. I look forward to getting more details.

  8. This is a genius idea! I love how you bring attention to the unworn, find a way to add it into the wardrobe and create new, highly wearable garments to go with it and to wear independently. Great methodology. Can’t wait to watch this series unfold.

  9. I’ve actually started yesterday evening! I picked out an oversized baggy skirt and am planning a nice knee-length skirt by shortening it a little and slimming the hips. I’ve already pinned it out and removed the stitching on the sides. can’t wait to finish it and actually wear it! Your EWG inspires me too! Happy sewing

  10. So awesome! You’ve almost read my mind about a lot of this. I’m going to try to accompany you on this journey! Looking forward to more of these posts!

  11. I think what you are doing is great. Life is an event that we all should dress for. Even if we are to spend the entire day in our house/apartment, it’s important that we dress for the occasion, even if it’s a mundane one.

  12. omg nwg ewg= wow(g) i retired lots of years ago and went from uniforms (very ugly with lots of black basketweave leather accents and heavy metal (not in the musical sense) accessories (think badges, guns, handcuffs); my style has become levis 505, fitted white t-shirts with big shirts/hoodie/double breasted wool gabardine jackets, always accompanied by stylin’ flip-flops. your posts on this ‘awakening’ jolted me out of my lethargy. it’s time to grow up and stop presenting as an aging SoCal denizen. i probably won’t give up the sandals, however, unless it’s raining…very hard…and it’s below 60 degF. thanks for letting me work through this process with you. i have some ideas and i’m sure my husb and very adult children will be relieved, not to mention my stylish 90 something mom.

  13. I did a project like this a few years ago. Best decision. I need to be “public ready” all the time and presentable at the door. After a few compromising situations, I addressed the problem. I did do some wardrobe editing, but sort of purged a bit too much. It was September, I gave away all my coats because I was making new ones. Long story short, sewing time evaporated with family issues and I didn’t have a coat! I had to shop, spent lots of money, made one coat. Lesson learned, Sunni is correct. Take your time but this is a great idea. Comfortable yet classic clothing is a good base and add pops of colors and accessories to suit your style. Good luck to everyone, I will look forward to following the process.

  14. This will be an interesting experiment for me, as I have been losing weight and need to improve my alteration skills. First up: a white button-down oxford cloth shirt. I love the fabric of this basic shirt, but it now looks like a tent. I’m nervous about altering it, but there are two darts in the back so I might be able to do it without having to take out the flat-fell side seams.

    Oh, and I do have a pile of mending, too….

  15. What a great topic! I’m eager to see what you do next. This is really timely for me as I go through my fall wardrobe and sewing plans. I’m definately passed the pregnant-baby-nursing days and it’s high time I got on with a wardrobe suitable for a grown up! I think I’ll go look through the closet now.

  16. Since I am a very practical person, this really appeals to me. I love beautiful clothing, but I rarely wear “dress up” clothes. I am in capri pants and tee shirts almost all the time! But, it would be great to make capri pants and tee shirts that are to my taste and that fit my form well. That’s all it takes to make most of us feel “put together”, don’t you think? And, it makes us feel good about ourselves. Lead us forward, Sunni!

  17. I love your thought process on this! I think we’ve all been guilty of sewing gorgeous things that would be everyday-wearable if there was just something in the closet to go with. Even though I’m having to cheer from the sidelines for now, I’ll definitely be utilizing this plan in the future!

  18. I think you are giving great advice, and I look forward to hearing more of it! I checked out my closet and I see a lot of orphans, mostly nice pieces that I never wear. I’ll follow along with transforming NWG to EWG, I think my first step= refashion a buttondown shirt to be less stuffy, maybe a sleeveless casual top. Also, what a true point about shoes!!! Thanks Sunni!

  19. Great post Sunni. Very inspiring. I really need to do this along with you. It’s just starting to get warmer here in Sydney and I look in my wardrobe and what do you know? Just nothing comfy to wear. And you are sooo right about shoes. I think very outfit should start with shoe choice. They are the most difficult to find as far as 1. something comfortable and 2. something in which you would allow yourself to be seen in public.

  20. I love this, Sunni! I do the same thing, because making something complicated means it will hold my attention more. But once it’s done, of course I have no where to wear it! I need to make simpler patterns for myself (and no more of this dry-clean only fabric nonsense), because that’s what I actually wear every day. Good challenged- I’m eager to see what you make. πŸ™‚

  21. this is a great idea. I have in the past 18 months lost 60lbs and so have had a huge wardrobe clearout, and am thinking about what i need to fill up the gaps. i have a few things that fit fine now, but i need to make some things to go with them – oddly it is tops i really need which is unusual for me (although i am dying to try to make some trousers!). i think i need to bump my alma up my sewing queue to go with a great denim skirt i bought in the sales!

  22. Fantastic!!! I’m going to do this this weekend, maybe even tomorrow. While I’ve started making more wearable pieces, I still have those NWG lurking in my closet. This is just what I needed to get those puppies in rotation.

  23. Sunni, that’s awesome inspiration and a lovely combo you’ve come up with! Looks like a very comfortable and elegant everyday sewing outfit.

    Sweatpants are the devil (though very comfortable, they do nothing for your morale). I say, bring back the housecoat! There are some lovely vintage patterns out there for the elegant loose-fitting robes that just need a belt and accessories to take you out to the store.

    Looking forward to seeing where the EWG project takes you!

  24. I am going through my wardrobe at the moment too, it is a seasonal thing for me, like a hay fever. I ruthlessly remove every winter garment I have not worn all winter (it is getting warmer here in Australia) and only sewing clothes that compliment my favourite pieces. It works!! πŸ™‚

  25. This is perfect! I’ve recently started sewing for myself and the thing I’m struggling with is that I’m being inspired by all these great bloggers sewing lovely, pretty things in the most up to date pattern but then I’m getting frustrated because I either don’t wear that style / the fit doesn’t suit me and I just need to start with some basics and things that will easily incorporate into my current wardrobe. So it’s great to be able to focus back on what I need in my wardrobe. πŸ™‚

  26. This is a great idea. When I sew separates though I usually sew in pairs, a top and a bottom. Also I like pairing my fancy dresses with casual shoes like esparadilles, canvas shoes, or converse, or tougher stuff like keather jackets, army/navy jackets, or beaten up hip length cardigans. A lot of it is in styling, and I think very luxurious pieces can be mixed with your more day to day stuff. I know it’s not very “vintage” but I think it looks more effortless when everything doesn’t match precisely so.

  27. What a great idea! I have at times thought of trying to make a ‘garment chain’ – where each garment I make has to be able to be worn with the last one I made! The result would be a ‘chain’ of tops and bottoms, where each item would be able to be worn with at least 2 others (the previous and next links on the chain). This sounds like the same sort of concept, except with NWGs, which is really even better because you are getting wear out of something you already own. Great strategy!

  28. Great timing, I have just started doing something similar. I have a stash full of silks and instead of leaving them for special outfits I am starting to make them into everyday blouses etc. I firmly believe that beautiful fabric can be made to suit everyday wear and as someone with two small children I don’t have the opportunity to go out wearing special clothes so might as well make use of what I have.

  29. Hold on- do you mean that I’m not the only one who makes for a fantasy life based on just wanting to sew a patetrn, not being able to fit iot into my lifestyle? I just assumed the rest of the blogging world led more richand socially diverse lives than I did….oh, I feel a little better now. I may stop scowling at the closet.

  30. Great post I have sewed quite a few things I am happy with but still never seam to have any more outfits to wear this sounds like a great way to get things matching. Thanks.

    I love this notion! Maybe now I will sew something for myself that I will actually wear instead of just admiring! πŸ™‚

  32. Pingback: Testing the Waters
  33. I LOVE LOVE LOVE this idea! I’m all about the everyday wear (no silk can survive 12-hour days in a chemistry lab) and this is a fabulous way to go about it! Can’t wait to see more!

  34. i rarely sew for every day wear. lol guilty as a lot of you.
    I don’t even leave my bedroom unless fully clothed. It might be boring jeans and a button front shirt and sandals, but I am dressed. the “girls” are always holstered.
    I should probably pop on some mascara and find a new way to wear my hair (ponytails rule).
    I have been trying to branch out, but I feel all funky in a dress or skirt, like I am naked…even in a maxi. LOL I need help….do they have a 12 step for the fashionless? hahahahaha

  35. This is a great distillation – down to something I could actually wrap my head around too. I will definitely look forward to your progress, as my wardrobe quandary is similar: stuff I love that doesn’t really play well with others. I hope to work alongside you doing similar. Thank you!

  36. Between you and Steph over at 3 Hours Past, together with the way my own head has been working over the past few months, I’m slowly working towards my own Everyday Wardrobe! Not only is my wardrobe very sparse because a) I hate shopping for RTW b)we don’t have a lot of spare cash for clothes and c) I’ve not had a lot of sewing time for the past couple of years, but also the stuff I do have doesn’t readily translate into Everyday. I can cover meetings and funerals fine. And dinner at a swanky restaurant. But the school run on a cold autumn day…not so much.
    All that is about to change.
    Thank you for helping me clarify my thoughts.

  37. Great posts! I think you have really hit the nail on the head with the Everyday Wardrobe idea. Your advice for turning NWG’s into EWG’s is a great way to add functionality to already sewn garments. I hit this point in my sewing last fall and it really jelled with this year’s spring/summer sewing. I resolved to make clothing I could wear everyday, as opposed to “event” sewing (birthdays, anniversaries, parties). I made clothing that was stylish, comfortable and functional in my everyday life. And it worked. I have worn something I made nearly every day this summer (and enjoyed doing it). Already planning my fall/winter daily wardrobe–more challenging than summer, tho.

  38. Just wanted to chime in to de-lurk and say thank you for this series of posts! I’m definitely struggling with this as well. I’m at the end of my first pregnancy and recently went through my boxes and boxes of pre-maternity clothes. How can I have so much stuff and still have very little to wear? I’ll most definitely be re-introducing things to my wardrobe with a lot more care and planning post-partum.

  39. What a fantastic concept. I am just revivng my sewing skills and have been fluttering all over the place making all manner of things, usually on a whim when I see fabric that I like. Problem being, nothing goes together and I am making a very disjointed wardrobe and not very wearable for every day!!

    I love your plan and can’t wait to read and do more. I started today by taking a shirt tht I barely wear because of these gold beads on it – I took them off and wahla, I feel much more comfortable with it:)

    Thanks again and await more great ideas and insights :))

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