Wanna Be Sewing: My Core Style

I was a tomboy in the 90’s.

So, it’s kinda funny to me that I love to dress all ladylike now. I’m also surprised by the fact that there’s a core style at the heart of what feels like a haphazard attempt at dressing myself.


Inspired by the prompts and exercises from the Wardrobe Architect 2015 Challenge going on at The Coletterie (shiny new badge on the right), I’ve been thinking hard about my core style, what influences it, and how to describe it. I like the idea of THOUGHTFUL wardrobe sewing for the entire year.

Using the images from this pinterest board, I’ve jumped right into January’s challenge: Defining Your Style.


To help articulate my core style (so it translates into sewing clothes that make me happy, that feel like me) I filled out this nosey, but effective worksheet. The results of that introspection led me to the five words that describe my core style: classic, feminine, confident, playful, natural.


It took some time to narrow down that list. Being so honest was a little intimidating. Ultimately, though, the words started to tell a story about the woman I am/want to be.


I have had a long standing crush on the following women.

The graceful and talented Dorothy Dandridge.

The bold and authentic Jill Scott.

The powerful but soft Oprah Winfrey.

The petite and curvy Marilyn Monroe.


The sultry and self-assured Kerry Washington.

The ageless and amiable Phylicia Rashad.

The stunningly gorgeous Thandie Newton.

The smart and sartorial Michelle Obama.

As my style icons, these eight women embody one or more of my core style words.


I really enjoyed digging deep on this topic. I already feel more prepared for some serious wardrobe building. Next week, I’ll be sharing some of the silhouettes that will become a part of my core style and 2015 wardrobe.

What words or people represent your core style? Has your style changed over the years?

11 thoughts on “Wanna Be Sewing: My Core Style

  1. thank you so much for writing about this! As a sewer, my big dream has always been: sewing all my clothes myself. But my hole life, I’ve been struggling with style and colour and shapes. After becoming a mom, and reading about minimalism, I cleaned out my closet and since that, I’m a bit stuck.
    I found the wardrobe architect a couple off months ago and the blog into mind some weeks ago and I’m thinking a lot about it, but i’m not really getting forward. This challenge is just what I need!
    All this other sewers trying to do the same will hopefully give me a huge boost to get along and actually make what I want and need.
    I enjoyed reading about your style and inspiration. In my mind, I love the same things but in real life, I’m the tomboy 🙂
    It’s going to be interessting!


    • Hi. Thanks for your comments. I’m glad to know the post was useful to you.

      All of that studying about shapes and proportions and closet purging (I need that badly) should put you in a good place to define your core style.

      My current style, my dream style (the one I haven’t quite sewn) AND my current lifestyle (motherhood is kicking my style’s ass) were a big part of figuring out what makes me happy. My 90’s tomboy still shows up, though. Converse sneakers, cowboy boots, and hoodies for instance do/will make appearances in my outfits…but finding ways to stay true to my core style (such as adding a floral neck scarf and french braids) is gonna be the key for me.

      Good luck with your wardrobe building. Let’s keep inspiring each other this year to see it through.


    • Can I suggest you go easy on yourself, it’s a steep learning curve. I went cold turkey on buying clothes for a year and had a miserable time. Now my wardrobe is filling with me makes, it takes time and the pressure to populate your wardrobe can be anxiety provoking nit to mention counter productive because it’s easier to make something quickly rather than something desirable – just my 2c worth. Good luck x


      • That’s good advice. Approaching this self-made wardrobe thing sensibly (like filling in gaps with store-bought items when necessary) and with beginner’s mind is the key. It’s hard to remember that sewing is supposed to be challenging AND fun when we put too much pressure on ourselves to manifest the ideas in our head.


  2. Once again, you’ve pulled me in. You would think at my age (53) I could define my style. Maybe articulate it so clearly that there would be no misunderstandings. After struggling with some health issues that included weight gain I am just coming to terms with my new body. So there are a lot of things in a state of flux. I came across the WA project last year. I even created a note book. But that is as far as I had gotten. But I am bound and determined to get this wardrobe thing down pat. I always say I’ll start with the basics, then I’d bail. Too boring! But there are days when I regret not having a beautiful white shirt or a perfect pair of black trousers in my closet. I have a few don’ts/won’ts: trainers, puffer coats, jeans (trousers style, ok) sweat pants. And I have a few absolutes: gele(headwrap always), leopard anything, wax print anything, heels. I’ll start with the exercises. I look forward to making this journey with you. BTW-my style icons are/were: Josephine Baker, Marlene Dietrich, Naomi Sims, Diana Ross, DVF, Kate Beckett from Castle though I find myself drawn to Martha Rodgers arty-eclectic style more and more.


    • Accepting and understanding my body (now and when I’m carrying extra weight) will be a lifelong process for me because I know there’s more changes coming – especially now that I’m in the motherhood to menopause stage of things. That state of flux you talked about is why I feel so compelled to put some thoughtful constraints on my wardrobe.

      You’re right about some parts of the Wardrobe Architect exercise being boring. I skipped the parts I thought weren’t relevent to me or didn’t resonate. However, choosing my style words, rating my “happy shapes” and exploring silhouettes for them has been really helpful to me.

      By the way, I LOVE wax print fabric. They are always in my fantasies about mixing prints (the playful side of my core style). But, even though I live in the DC area, I haven’t run into any sources for it. Please share if you know of some – local or online.

      Your style icons are some of my favorites, too. I named my daughter after Josephine Baker!


  3. Whew, that form is exhaustive — kudos to you for working through it! I know my style pretty well: use noisy patterns and bold colors to dress like a librarian in the workplace and a willful five year old on my own time. I lack sensual/sexy grown woman clothes and feminine/ladylike clothes though, so filling that gap is my project for 2015.


    • I liked how the Wardrobe Architect exercises helped me solidify what makes me happiest to wear. There are some styles I like on the hanger, but when I wear them in the real world, I don’t feel as confident or I feel frumpy or out-of-character…anything really bohemian or too quirky (novelty prints) just doesn’t feel like me. Coming to terms with that helped me narrow down my core style – something I needed to do to keep from being distracted by all the pretty things to sew.

      Speaking of sewing the pretty things….here’s to our year of LADYLIKE MAKES!


  4. Pingback: WTF Do I Wear in the Meantime? | Wanna Be Sewing Something

  5. Thank you for sharing your wardrobe journey. Of course I am reading it back-to-front since I just discovered your blog (thanks, Oona!), but I think your posts are really honest and helpful. I’m trying to do a similar thing, and finding it tough!


    • Thank YOU for saying you dig what I’m doing. Honest and helpful is EXACTLY my objective because this sewing thing IS hard! People need to know it doesn’t come easy. It takes time, dedication, and lots of wadders. 😉


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