Its Fashion Revolution week! That means this week we uplift the voices of those in the garment industry, and examine what we can do to reduce our fast fashion consumption while asking brands ‘Who Made My Clothes?’. Of course, for many of us home sewists we know who made our clothes, so maybe the better question to ask is ‘Who Made My Fabric?’ – a difficult question to get answers to sometimes!
One of the ways we can reduce our consumption is to re-wear our existing clothes as much as possible, finding new ways to style them and refashioning garments that aren’t getting worn, which brings me to the purpose of this blog post…
Last week I started a new job, not just any new job but my first ‘proper’ (not irregular freelance) job I’ve had in six years. After being a stay at home mum and working from home for such a long time, I definitely didn’t feel like I had any ‘work appropriate’ clothing and upon finding out my start date I set about making a new dress. I chose fabric from my stash (which I bought secondhand via eBay but can be found here on Minerva) and I cut out a Sew Over It Heather dress, a pattern I had been meaning to make for at least five years but felt it looked a little work-ish and was hesitant to make.
It sewed up quickly and easily and I like the clever pocket construction that hides in those front seams. But I quickly came to realise that I didn’t really need a new dress and was instead using sewing as a way to cope with those starting-a-new-job nerves. Definitely not a bad thing, the meditative nature of sewing makes it a useful tool for so many of us to manage mental health but obviously I’d need more than one outfit if I was going to work five days a week. So I turned to my existing wardrobe to see what was in there.
Now, I feel at this point that I should talk about what is ‘work appropriate’ as I have a lot of feelings on what women feel we need to wear in order to be taken seriously. I thought long and hard about whether I should cover up my tattoos for the job interview, but I decided not to as I was going for a creative role and they are a part of me, if you want to employ me then I come with tattoos! I know wonderfully professional women who are excellent at their senior roles who only wear fit and flare dresses made from colourful quilting cottons, their attire is part of them and if they are excellent at their jobs then as an extension of them – their clothes are absolutely work-appropriate. I think my concerns about not looking work appropriate stems from having snot/food/general toddler stains on me for years as well as wearing ill-fitting maternity wear for a long time after needing them. So, it was perhaps no surprise at all that I discovered there are loads of clothes in my wardrobe that can be worn for work! In the interests of showing how things can be re-worn I thought I’d put a few ‘work’ outfits together.
This outfit is probably my favourite. The jacket is a Grainline Studio Morris Blazer I made in 2018 (blog post here), the top is a silk shell top I bought from the charity shop last year and the trousers are my toile pair of Sew Liberated Arenite pants. Necklace, handbag and shoes all secondhand from eBay.
This monochromatic look is cute but I think it needs a jacket. I hope when I finally have enough linen scraps to make the patchwork jacket I have in my head this is exactly the outfit I will wear with it. The top is a TATB Stevie top I made as part of my secret dress, and the trousers are an Ikat dream I bought from the charity shop a few years ago. Necklace was bought new from Seasalt.
I really like this one, I have paired my dyed green tencel Farrow Dress with my Simple Sew Cocoon Jacket and I love how easy this was to throw on. Bag is secondhand, necklace was new from Seasalt. Unwashed hair, models own.
This one is pretty casual but the silk top makes me feel smarter than just wearing a t-shirt. The top is a Helen’s Closet Ashton top I made from half a metre of silk (not yet blogged) and the trousers are my green linen Arenite Pants. Bag was bought new but is now on it’s ninth year of wear, necklace new from Seasalt and shoes are secondhand from eBay.
Finally it’s time to wear my new dress, I love the pockets! The fabric was secondhand but the pattern is Sew Over It Heather Dress. Bag, necklace and shoes all also secondhand.
I am really pleased that some of these clothes were made by me, some were thrifted, some are brand new (my new dress) and some were made years ago and yet these clothes from different places and times can be combined together to create outfits I would be happy to wear to a meeting in my new role. Wish me luck!