Friday, January 04, 2013

Starting with a Jacket...

Toast jacket

Image from Polyvore

Let's just suppose that I bought this jacket in the January sale at Toast (reduced from £175 to £88).
And that when it arrives it fits me perfectly (there's the catch!)

How about building a refreshed grown-up work wardrobe around it?

 Rather surprisingly, when I went through my box of sewing patterns, I was drawn to the idea of making dresses.
A dress under a jacket?  Very work-appropriate, and very unlike my style to date!  But I enjoyed wearing my Robe Sureau with my tailored Tara Starlet jacket at that interview.  I wore them together again for an important meeting a few weeks later. 

From left to right:
1- New Look 6543, a very simple figure-skimming shift (pattern sent to me from Cecilia in New York - thanks Cece!)  In a plain colour I think.
2 - Another Robe Sureau - I have my eye on some Italian viyella-like fabric at Croft Mill for this.
3 - Simplicity 2798, a Project Runway pattern which Jessica has used to great effect.  Lots of possibilities with this one!  I love the pleats on the sleeves and the shape of the yoke.
4 - McCalls 3463, a 1970's smock that is probably best kept for homewear, but we'll see...
5 - Robe Bleuet - I love the look of this dress but it will require careful fitting and fabric choice to avoid looking like an old-fashioned nurse's uniform.

In terms of separates, as well as planning to make a couple more Airelle blouses and a few Renfrew tops, I spotted this blouse pattern in the stash (far right, dated 2003):  New Look 6952.  I really like its simple fly-front, open collar and three-quarter-length sleeves.  That yellow version (View C) has a tiny self-fabric frill at the sleeve and hem edges - cute!  I once had a Zara shirt with that detail... and yes it was in about 2003 now I come to think of it!  Not pictured, but brewing in my brain is a Pattern Runway Pussybow Blouse.  I have the perfect material set aside for this.

I also plan to make the Simplicity 5351 skirt in the centre-right view... but a little bit longer than my mustard cord version (main picture and centre-left).  I rather fancy a magenta wool to pick up the colour of the stripes in the jacket.

And finally, the Betsey Johnson flippy skirt, Butterick 3289, is still calling my name.  I have some orange wool crepe earmarked for this pattern... though it might be diverted to sew the Project Runway dress instead - whichever project grabs me first.  Looking at the pattern again, I might even try out the jacket - that could be an interesting alternative to a knitted cardigan :)

OK, that's a plan. Now I just need to stalk the postman until the jacket arrives. Fingers crossed it fits...!

The January sales are perplexing me.  I thought it might be a good time to buy a few "good pieces" but of course it's all the tat that ends up in the sale.  So despite thinking I could relax a little, I can't bear to drop my ethical standards or my preference for natural fibres and end up buying absolutely nothing.  It might be easier if I could stand to go to a real live shop, but I feel a rising panic at the thought.  So, online scouring is the order of the day.

If nothing else, it provoked me to fill in two surveys from Boden, telling them what I thought of them. 


shivani said...

that's a fab jacket. I hope it fits - it will go with so much! looking forward to seeing your new work wardrobe come together!

(ps, Did I miss something? Why are you angry with Boden? My sister works there (and as a company they're incredibly decent to their staff - though perhaps their ethics aren't that great?). I could feed through your comments to her via the back door...)

Roobeedoo said...

Shivani - maybe I was having a grumpy old woman moment with Boden! But one of the images they plan to use in their next advertising campaign was just so... underage provocative-looking.

Annabel Vita said...

That jacket is gorgeous and would definitely smarten up some nice dresses without being too bland! Two shops I like to check the sales for are People Tree ( - nice and ethical but expensive) and Brora (normally too expensive even after sale)

Kestrel said...

That is a lovely jacket but I like your sensible approach that you can't get too carried away with a wardrobe fantasy built around it until you know it fits! So if you do buy it I hope it fits!
I'd be interested to see the Robe Bleuet made up too but the Sureau is definitely a winner for sure.

Miriana said...

Looking at your early post on your working wardrobe , I'm not sure that the Rob Sureau is a great choice for work wear (given what you've written about where you work). There is something about skirts that pouf out (especially ones with gathers) that doesn't sit well with office wear in my mind. Something more a-line / pencil shaped would be better. It doesn't need to be boring as something in a lovely rich Autumnal colour would look great with the jacket.

Apologies if this reads bluntly / rudely. I tried to pick words carefully, but no doubt haven't done so particularly well.

But you may be planning on making it for non work wear. If so, then go for your life.

Mary in TN said...

Love the new jacket. Hope it fits. It is a great piece to form the foundation of a new work wardrobe. The idea of a dress is great. I'd do sheath style rather than one with gathers at the waist and I'd try to match the main color of the fabric. New Look 6543 would work well without the pockets. An A-line skirt rather than puffy, swirly,swingy, flippy would also work really well with this jacket. The New Look 6952 shirts all look good with this jacket. I'd wear the Simplicity 2798 dress by itself or spice it up with some fab scarves. Yeah, I know this sounds like the power dressing of the higher ups in your office, but sometimes in order to change the image they might have of someone (really creative and quirky and therefore not to be taken seriously nor promotable [speaking from personal experience here])one needs to be boring and fit in. The main thing about this jacket is that it is a classic style that will wear for years and years, and I sure hope it fits you when it arrives. I like to get work wardrobe ideas from, a relatively expensive U.S. store but one which is known for classic styles and fits. Haven gotten many compliments on suit separates purchased there and they have fantastic sales. They are also one of my main sources for silk scarves. Don't know if they have any UK outlets or not, but there must be something similar in the UK.

Stevie said...

Roo, that is a beautiful jacket! I LOVE Toast but have to wait until im on a grown ups wage packet before I can buy it :P
Your plan looks great. I think you will be looking very stylish!
Also I'm doing a London Swap and Meet up in Walthamstow probably on the second of February, It would be great to meet you finally! Just drop me an email at or a comment on my blog if you fancy it.
(This also extends to anyone else who wants to come, if you dont mind me advertising it Roo! )

indigorchid said...

That jacket looks great - perfect to build a work-wardrobe around! Looking forward to seeing what comes!

laura said...

jacket, hair, shoes..a good start to sorting out a new compact work wardrobe. I find one or two slightly fitted dresses v. useful; if sleeveless can be worn with jackets or cardis; a jumper underneath or a jumper over top which mimics a skirt. Somehow easier dressing than skirts. I agree with poster above that slimish skirts are better for the work environment, but I tend to be pretty preppy/classic in dressing. I like to think of work clothes like they were overalls or a uniform--no extraneous fichus, flippy bits or stuff to get in the way,,even if it is fixing a paper jam in the

jessica said...

Love this plan! Even if the Toast jacket somehow doesn't fit properly, the Tara Starlet jacket might also fit your plans? Possibly.

Dresses under a jacket, very work appropriate indeed. Really quite an elegant look! And you don't have to do it daily, I think (hope :-P) that people tend to be forgiving of the occasional creative outfit if you generally dress up. I'm always amazed how a few staples can take me a long ways in my work wardrobe - I have 1 black cardigan, 1 pair of black slacks, and 1 grey blazer that get help me work-appropriatize about 70% of my handmades :-). Perhaps a few lovely dresses will become quite the work wardrobe staple for you?

For the Robe Bleuet (yes, I went and ordered my Deer and Doe patterns yesterday after leaving you a comment!) maybe a solid in a rich autumnal color like plum or burdgundy? Or maybe a deep color with a small print (navy? Gold? Brown? Gray? Am I crazy?) I love Simplicity 2798, but fair warning, I think I shaved a full inch off the perimeter of the sleevecap, it was very mutton-ish otherwise.

Sadie said...

Oh, that is a nice jacket. I'm a big fan of dress + jacket for work, as you can probably tell from my blog! I think only having two things makes it easier to co-ordinate than separates and no having to make sure things are tucked in at the waist and your top isn't riding up. I'm currently working on the 'shoes' part of the equation though as the latest purchase was teal suede lace-ups I may not be quite on the right page yet...

Judith said...

Ohhh, a new jacket plus a whole new wardrobe to plan so it doesn't feel lonely in it's new home! Can't wait to see what you make first to wear with it - a dress, skirt, shirt...

natalie said...

A simple shift or four.
Linen, possibly? Or wool?
Neutrals, ochre, bitter chocolate, terracotta.
No prints.
Thread dyed fabric.


Valerie said...

Lovely jacket! I hope it fits well. I think the Robe Sureau could work in a solid color and with a belt, but slimline sheath dresses would be a sure thing. Another option would be a dress with a plain bodice, round neck, long sleeves but a skirt with soft centre pleats.

Scruffybadger said...

I need a work jacket. You have shown me the light! I currently wear separates and round neck cardigans. I have made the odd work dress ( new look 6000) but haven't a jacket that works with it, otherwise to me, it is the perfect work dress. Your styling always works in my eyes, your individuality shows, and you have a great mix of colour and pattern. I tend to reserve dresses with gathers for casual wear, so i look forward to you showing how it's done. My ideal work dresses are shifts, sheaths and those similar to the peony. As well as your usual pencil type skirts i also really like flippy skirts at work, as when made in the right weight fabric, they feel great and girly with a weeny heel. Have you thought also about a work ginger? I've made the odd one and it's also a good fitting smart skirt also. So much choice!!! At the end of the day I love making my work wardrobe speak about me and my style, which I can see you're doing with our thoughts here. It's fun, and choosing the jacket first is a smart move!!

rosyragpatch said...

Lovely jacket! I have my fingers crossed that it fits. I think dresses are a great idea to go with it. Dresses always seem easier to wear than separates. I've got a couple of dresses planned & I've sent for Robe Sureau since I saw yours.

jessica said...

OK Roo, I am going to wildly contradict myself and offer up a new suggestion. If the jacket fits, I suggest buying 3-4m of a nice deep chocolate wool, midweight, to make a pair of trousers and a pencil skirt or A-line skirt. These will go with the jacket and most of the tops/blouses you own, and I think in your weather they will take you spring to fall. At the same time, buy yourself a plain cardigan in white, cream, gray or black. This will be the alternate to the jacket. From here, you'll have a mini capsule that will take you through most of the week, as the trousers and skirt can each be worn 1-2 times per week, the cardigan and jacket will mix and match across the trousers and skirt, and you can fill in the last day or two of the week with your current work attire.

Monday: brown trousers, jacket, persimmon tee
Tuesday: brown skirt, cardigan, purple Airelle
Wednesday: brown trousers, Renfrew (spotty or circus), cardigan
Thursday: brown skirt, jacket, aubergine tee
Friday: peasant Airelle, side button Kelly, cardigan.

Etc. etc. The trousers I would pick a pattern like Sewaholic Thurlows or your Eva Riding pants (but skim a couple inches off the width of the pants?), something classic. Same with the skirt - classic, high waisted so that you can tuck in the blouses that need a good tuck.

Then, make yourself 1-2 shifts in plain, rich colors like aubergine, gray, ochre, etc. The idea being that you could wear each shift once a week, or maybe once every other week (and therefore take care of 30% of your workday wearings! 2 shifts, worn 1-2 times per week total, comes out to an average of 6 times per month, out of 20 work days per month). Just pick conservative colors that match the jacket or 1+ of your cardigans, and that could be worn weekly without anybody commenting (so, unfortunately, probably not tangerine. Yet. That comes later, after you've got your basics down!)

Those 4 garments, plus 1 shop bought cardigan and 1 jacket, would be a solid foundation. Of course, if it was me I might go crazy with so much somber sewing, and would probably want to throw in a fun, fripperous weekend-wear make or two along the way.

And for the cardigan, I would put ethics on hold for the time being. Right now, we're talking about the tradeoff between your mental sanity (i.e. time spent scouring the Internets and agonizing), and World Good. World good is nice and all that, but heavens, at the end of the day it's Your World that you occupy - think of it as a fix to tide you over until you can devote proper time to slowly finding the perfect garment. It's fine if it has no cables, nothing interesting, just a crewneck plain cardigan. You will find it boring and you will wear it 2-3 times per week because it goes with everything.

Also, assuming my assumptions about what weight wool would be versatile enough for you - I think chocolate brown would go well with a lot of your spring tops too (that green Liberty Sencha you don't like, Raindrops on Roses with the white cardigan over it, white Lisette blouse etc.) It would also go with your handmade cardigans!

Howzat for opinionated? ;-).

Roobeedoo said...

Wow - Jessica! Thank you so much for so much thought! Your comment didn't fit into the email, so I had to come here to read it! LOL
You know my wardrobe better that I do ;)
I am pondering. I already have some brown wool in the stash, so I could make a start sooner rather than later, though I suspect I need a dash of tangerine or I will go nuts!

acharmofmagpies said...

Jacket over dresses - gorgeous. And something I've been thinking of after watching the beginning of a war movie (on Christmas Day, so declined to watch the end) and seeing the heroine say goodbye to her husband in a beautiful dress and jacket combo. I thought to myself "hmm, that's how it's done!" You'll create some beautiful pieces to go with it I'm sure!

Seraphinalina said...

You know I think I have New Look 6952. 2003 seems about right, it's one of the first patterns I purchased. I made two of them although neither are wearable. The first was just broadcloth as a muslin, the second, well, I marked the pieces with masking tape and then forgot to take it off and ironed over it. Oops.