Personal Style | Comfort and Confidence in Your Clothing

a woman wearing a khaki green sweater and a peach floral skirt with a collage about confidence in your clothing

Continuing with my PERSONAL STYLE series, today’s post is about the importance of keeping comfort and confidence in mind, while you create your own unique wardrobe. Click here for Part One (about creating your own unique style description) and click here for Part Two (about using colour theory to create a signature colour palette). Click here for Part Four (about paring down your closet with Minimalism).

Dressing For Who You Are & How You Live 

As I’ve been thinking about personal style lately, I’ve been realizing the importance of not just liking a particular style, but also feeling comfortable in what you wear. By this, not only do I mean physical comfort, but mental comfort; or in other words, confidence in what you wear.

Finding comfort and confidence in your clothing can look completely different for each person. Once you have narrowed down your ideal style vision and filled a scrapbook full of beautiful editorial images, it’s not going to be of any help to you if you aren’t going to wear those sorts of garments in real life. You need to also keep in mind the physical comfort of an item and how you feel while wearing it…and what is comfortable for one person to wear, might be just a fantasy wardrobe for another. And while dreaming up your fantasy wardrobe can be fun, it’s not very useful for creating a closet that truly reflects your personal style on a daily basis. Figuring out the clothing styles that you like to wear, and that make you feel good, is an important part of creating your ideal wardrobe.

So what do I mean by considering the physical and mental comfort of an item? For example, consider an outfit of sweat pants and a t-shirt. While we would consider that to be a physically comfortable outfit, I personally would never wear that because it’s not mentally comfortable for me. It specifically makes me feel very conspicuous and un-confident, and so it turns out to be an uncomfortable outfit.

On the flip side, another example could be wearing a bold statement piece, such as a hat. I love hats and when I wear them, I feel more like myself so, for me, that is a comfortable outfit. And while a hat may not be physically uncomfortable, many people wouldn’t wear dream of wearing a hat because it would make them stand out from the crowd and for them that would be exactly the opposite of comfort for them.

a woman wearing a vintage 1960's style pillbox hat and a woman wearing a straw boater hat

When choosing clothes that you both look good and feel good in, you need to keep in mind both of these types of comfort. Here are some of the things I have helped me see not just what I like, but what I actually wear on a regular basis, and then making sure that the things I wear are also things I like– those two don’t necessarily go hand in hand!

One thing that has been helpful is determining my body type. I had never heard of the Kibbe or Style Essence body typing systems until I stumbled upon them last summer, and I found them to be a helpful tool while going through my closet. There are several different body typing systems out there, which all feature a spectrum of body types, and while I can’t really figure out which type I am for certain, it doesn’t really matter. None of us fall into exactly one “type”, so as long as you get a general idea, it can be helpful. Like seasonal colour theory, I would recommend that you take or leave whatever works for you, and use it as a good starting point.

I haven’t been professionally typed, but I did a quiz and found this website, Truth Is Beauty, to be the most helpful for me. I fall somewhere in the Classic/Soft type, with a more rounded and soft silhouette. This wasn’t “news” to me, but it still was helpful. While I’ve generally always known which pieces I liked on me for silhouette (mostly through trial and error) I actually found this kind of body typing to be incredibly positive and helpful for how to dress your best. Instead of focusing on your body as something that needs to be tweaked and molded into the “ideal shape”, these systems focus on each body type as having their own strengths and unique qualities. There are specific styles of clothing that suit each body type particularly, so (rather than trying to squeeze into one specific fashion trend, doubtless ending in frustration and feeling bad about yourself) wouldn’t it be better for us to all suit the clothing styles to our bodies, rather than the other way around?

katherine helpburn, audrey hepburn and sophia loren

For a Dramatic body type, for example, there are the straight, angular pieces such as blazers and tailored pants like Katherine Hepburn wore.

For a Gamine, you have the classic Audrey Hepburn cropped boyish look that always looks undeniably chic.

And for the Romantic body type you have the elegant and sensual Sophia Loren silhouette.

(There are more body types than this, so make sure to check out the links at the end of this post if you want to read more!)

When you realize that each body type has its own strengths, it is freeing to embrace the garments that particularly suit your own body shape and make you look fabulous, instead of trying to force yourself into garments that would look good on someone else. It is incredibly liberating to realize that just because something works on everyone else, doesn’t mean it will work on you…and you shouldn’t feel bad about yourself for that!

One of the particular examples that body typing made a difference for me was when I thought about plaid. I absolutely love plaid, but I don’t always like it once I put it on. I realized that, of course, putting a straight line on a curved body isn’t going to look as amazing as it would on a dramatic body type, but if I turn my plaid on the diagonal, it doesn’t feel like I have a line drawn around the widest part of my body (and the same goes for stripes).

Knowing which garments particularly suit your body type is a very helpful tool for building your wardrobe because you aren’t going to end up buying things that end up at the back of your closet. And when you wear clothes that suit you well, you are automatically going to feel more confident and comfortable. Of course this doesn’t mean you can’t wear things that fall outside of your body type; of course you can! At the end of the day, if I love something I am going to wear it. For example, both these coats are boxy swing coat styles and they are are two of my favourite vintage pieces. Even though this boxy shape isn’t a recommended silhouette for my body type, I absolutely love these coats and there is no way I’m going to stop wearing them.

a woman wearing a 1960's swing style coat

On the other hand, sometimes even when things do physically fit you and suit your body type, you might not feel amazing in them. Just because something looks great on you, doesn’t mean you have to like it and wear it. My Gramma told a story about how she once complimented a bank teller on her burgundy suit, and the lady said that she always got compliments on it, but she didn’t like it herself. Perhaps she couldn’t afford to replace her work clothes, but wouldn’t it have been nice if she could have gotten something that she looked nice in, but also felt confident in? Many of the pieces of clothing that I have gotten rid of over the past year have been pieces that just felt a little off for me in some way, and I didn’t feel confident in them for some reason. Once I came to the conclusion that it was OK to not like everything the way I thought I would, it was freeing to be able to pass those pieces on to others, and look forward to creating a wardrobe full of pieces that I do feel comfortable in and love to wear.

In your wardrobe, when you find those pieces that you love to wear, the ones that always make you feel like a million dollars, stop and take a moment to think about why you like them. For me one of those pieces would be my circle skirts. The silhouette is a good one for my body type, and it always makes me feel great.  Knowing that I like this silhouette of skirt helps me as I add pieces to my wardrobe, since I can narrow my search down to pieces that I already know are tried and true winners, rather than having to sift through everything I come across.

On the other hand, for those pieces that you don’t wear very often, why don’t you like wearing them?

As I’ve taken this closer look my closet and evaluated why I like some things, and don’t like others, another realization has been that I don’t like wearing anything too fussy. I don’t want to have to fuss and fidget with things, because then I am automatically not comfortable- I’m too busy wondering whether my shirt is coming untucked!

Or maybe some items don’t fit you the way you like, or there is something you wish you could change about it. Can it be altered to fit you better? One of the downsides of off-the-rack clothing is that it is not made for you specifically, and as a result many of us are walking around in ill fitting clothing. It’s amazing how something as simple as hemming a garment can make a huge difference in how it fits and how comfortable it is.

collage of different garments hanging from a peg rack to illustrate personal style

Also, don’t forget to take time to think about whether the items you have in your closet actually fit into your lifestyle. While I do have those fantasy pieces that I never wear but will still never part with, these pieces are not the majority of my wardrobe.

For everyday wear at home I prefer to wear more serviceable cotton rather than delicate fabrics (when I’m working, I don’t want to be worrying about whether my clothes will get ruined) but I still do like to look put together. The majority of my closet is full of simple skirts and tops (and my favourite harem pants!). They might not make regular appearances here on the blog, but I am wearing them most days, and they do still reflect my own personal style more than the aforementioned sweatpants!

When it comes to creating your dream wardrobe, you want to make sure that your closet is full of items that you find not only physically comfortable, but that you feel good in and excited to wear. Your wardrobe should be full of pieces that make you feel like yourself, and you want to make sure that you are wearing your clothing, not having it wear you. The great thing about fashion and personal style is that you are the one who gets to choose what finding that confidence in your clothing means for you!

Have you looked into the body typing before? Which Style Essence are you, and do you follow those guidelines in how you dress? And do you have any favourite pieces that reflect your personal style and give you a boost of confidence every time you wear them? 

You can read more about the Kibbe body typing system and the Style Essences system here.

Social Saturday | April 10

a candle in a pretty floral teacup, sitting on a nightstand

Hello, Dear Readers, I hope you all have had a good week! I had a rather busy one, since I had some big work projects occupying quite a bit of my time, but I’m glad to be here at the weekend now.

a vintage metal colander filled with brown chicken eggs and one large white goose egg

I mentioned before that my mom’s geese have been laying eggs. They’ve got 16 eggs currently and are sharing (not very well, I might add) a nest, so I guess we’ll find out soon whether we get any goslings or not! One of the first eggs was rejected, so we brought it in and look how much larger it is than the chicken eggs.

a ceramic egg tray filled with brown eggs

The chickens have also been laying so many eggs lately; we’ve currently got 7 dozen, with more added each day. We’ve got to start making more omelettes and merengues, I think. We are going to let one of our hens sit on a nest (once the weather is more consistently warm) and hatch out some chicks like we did last year. That will be lots of fun!

a grapevine branch wreath with easter egg decorations on it

Speaking of eggs, here are the (fake) eggs that I decorated my wreath with, for Easter. I use this same branchy wreath for each season, switching out the decorations with berries or pinecones or acorns depending on the season. It works quite well, because then I don’t have to store bulky out-of-season wreaths, and can just store the stems. Do you like to decorate for each season?

a mint floral teacup with a beeswax candle poured into it, sitting on a lace tablecloth

In other news, I did a bit of candle making this week. I saved all of the bits of leftover beeswax from my other candles and then melted and poured them into this teacup. I got the idea of using a mismatched teacup years ago, from a Christmas decorating book, and finally tried it a few months ago. It worked quite well, so I decided to make another one this week for my friend. After a bit of a disaster, where I didn’t melt enough wax and then accidentally pulled out the wick before it was cool, it eventually turned out ok! Have you ever tried candle making?

a cup of earl grey tea sitting on a table with a bag of tea beside it

My sister got me this Lavender Early Grey tea blend a couple of weeks ago, and I’ve been enjoying it as a treat. OK, I’ve been drinking it almost every day… but I just want to make my everyday a bit more special I guess! I usually drink my tea plain, but this one is nice with a little bit of sugar and milk.

On the subject of fancy teacup candles, and special blends of tea, I also recently discovered another YouTube channel that I’ve been enjoying. It’s called Inspired By Nikki, and she covers so much about elegant and feminine lifestyle; from wardrobe to decorating and home. If you want to get a bit more elegance into your everyday, then I think you’ll like her channel!

Well, that’s all I have to share this week. I hope you are doing well, and hopefully enjoying warm Spring weather and sunshine too!

Dressing Up For Easter (In A New-ish Skirt & Necklace)

nicole wearing a tan wrap skirt, lace blouse and straw cloche with green flowers on it

For some reason, Easter always seems an appropriate time for a new dress or hat, doesn’t it? I think that traditionally this was a season when people would get a new special outfit… at least we did when growing up. Usually my mom would make me and my sister new summer dresses and we’d debut them on Easter Sunday. Now that I’m grown up (and have to sew my own clothes!) I haven’t always had a new outfit for Easter, but I do still enjoy the process of choosing a special outfit and hat and dressing up for the occasion.

This year, I chose to wear this new-ish wrap skirt that I sewed last summer, paired with a lace blouse and my straw cloche (because it just doesn’t get enough outings). 

woman dressed up for easter in a wrap skirt and lace blouse

This is probably one of my favourite sewing projects of all time, because it turned out so well. I love it when the inside of a garment is just as lovely as the outside, but that doesn’t always work out. We know, from looking at vintage garments, that throughout history the inside seams of a garment have not always been tidily finished either, but it always makes a garment feel so much more couture when they are. I made the skirt out of a lovely rayon-linen blend- it wrinkles like crazy, but has the most beautiful drape to it, so it’s worth a few creases. 

woman holding a brown wicker purse, wearing a skirt and high heeled shoes

kat cadegans dragonfly wing pendant

Also sort-of new to my wardrobe, is this beautiful necklace, by Kat Cadegan. I met her at a sale a few years ago and have been wanting to get one of her pieces ever since. Anyways, since I hadn’t gotten one yet for myself, my siblings gave me the Dragonfly Wing Pendant last year for Christmas. I used to follow her on Instagram before I quit social media, and she makes so many beautiful and unique pieces of jewellery. (My sister has her Hummingbird Skull Pendant, which is also amazing!)

woman wearing a natural straw cloche hat with an asymmetrical brim and a decorative ribbon with green fabric flowers

I also realized while planning this year’s outfit, that I am in serious need of a pair of brown high heels. I’ve thought that in the past too, since I had to pass on the last pair I had, since they didn’t fit properly. I don’t want to go and invest in a pair, since in the past few years my feet have decided that they don’t like to be in high heeled shoes for more than a few hours, but there really is a gap there in my closet. Especially since I’ve been trying to create my signature colour palette, I’ll have to be on the lookout for a good pair at the thrift stores! 

Well, that’s all for today; I hope you all had a good Easter. 

Did you get new Easter dresses or outfits while growing up? Do you like to dress up for Easter still?

woman wearing a lace blouse and a straw cloche hat with a green ribbon and flower decoration, while standing outside

woman wearing a sparkly ear climber earring with rhinestones

woman standing outside in front of trees, wearing a tan skirt, lace blouse and straw hat

spring plants coming up out of the ground among the dead leaves

Happy Easter

pale daffodil bloom

I’ve had the words to this hymn, My Worth is Not in What I Own, in my mind lately, and have been reflecting upon them as we come up to Easter this weekend. 

Two wonders here that I confess
My worth and my unworthiness
My value fixed, my ransom paid
At the cross
And I rejoice in my redeemer
Greatest treasure
Wellspring of my soul
I will trust in him, no other
My soul is satisfied in him alone

 

Happy Easter, dear Readers. ❤︎ May you each have a wonderful holiday, as we celebrate the death and resurrection of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ!

How to Refashion a Hat

a woman wearing a white and black leopard printed sweater and a black wool fascinator hat with a flower

Today’s post is a revamped edition of one I wrote several years ago as a guest post for Jessica of Chronically Vintage about how to refashion a hat. I came across it again recently and decided that I wanted to revisit it with some new photos and give it a home here too. And, since Easter is this weekend, it’s the perfect time to share these techniques and inspiration in case you have a hat that you’d like to refashion! 

I don’t actually own very many true vintage garments, and many of my “vintage” garments are actually ones that I have sewn myself or altered from thrift store finds. I mostly rely on making or refashioning clothing to give it a vintage vibe (whether that means adding embellishments, changing buttons, hemming to a better length or altering the fit) and then adding in accessories for the final touch to get that vintage look.

The sad, but true, reality of vintage is that there is a finite amount of it left in the world, and as time goes on it just gets more and more scarce and, thus, unaffordable for the average person. This definitely doesn’t mean that those who can’t afford or find true vintage have to miss out on this fashion style, though! Just as with any other trend or style, as in centuries past, women have made for themselves what they couldn’t afford to buy or couldn’t find in the shops, and I live by this principle today too. Thrift stores are great places to rescue cast off pieces of clothing or accessories and then refashion and embellish them so they’ll fit your own style. 

Hats are great accessories for really pulling an outfit together, but sometimes it can be hard to find good hats that are not in disrepair (shattered veils, stains, moth holes…) and putting together a hat collection, when a hat that is in good shape costs a lot, is just not feasible for many of us hat lovers. This is why I have turned to making and refashioning hats: so I can get that unique vintage look, without spending a lot. If you pick up mildly damaged or ugly/boring hats that have potential, and are willing to use your creativity to alter them, you can easily build a hat collection for a fraction of the cost. This also gives you a chance to try out different styles of hats and see whether you like them before investing in the “holy grail of all hats” (whatever that might be for you). When I first started getting into wearing hats, I invested in some beautiful vintage ones that I didn’t end up liking on me. For example, over time I’ve discovered that I like my hats to have a higher crown like 1960’s style pillbox hats, rather than the flatter Juliet cap style of the 1950’s. I learned this the hard way, after I had already bought several beautiful vintage hats, and I ended up having to sell them because I just never wore them…at least they went to new loving homes! Now that I have an idea of what kinds of hats I like to wear, though, when I see one for sale at antique malls or second hand shops, I have a good idea of whether it will make a good candidate for refashioning.

My checklist for hats that I would be willing to take a chance on or pass by would be:

  • A hat that is not smashed out of shape, unless you think it can be steamed back into shape. If the hat is very crushed, it’s not going to turn out well. If you decide to try and reshape it, you’ll need some kind of hat form to do so, depending on the style of the hat.
  • One that doesn’t have large stains on it, unless there is some way to cover them up with new embellishments without it looking odd. While I don’t mind some “character”, I don’t want it to look dirty.
  • If the veil is torn, which is very common, see if it could be removed entirely. Most hats will look totally fine without a veil. Also, you can still buy Russian netting at many fabric stores, so you may be able to simply replace the damaged veil with a new one.
  • If the hat is lacking in embellishments, or the current ones are ruined, you can definitely make new ones (one example I am going to share today).

an ugly hat

I picked up this little black felt hat for a song, from an antique store, along with a couple other hats that really needed some help. I remember seeing this hat several years ago in West Edmonton Mall (I recognized the label) so I know that this hat is not actually vintage. When I saw it new, I thought the embellishment on it was so boring that I passed on it. It seemed like they had a good thing going with the veil and the leaves. . . and then ran out of ideas, so they just plunked a little brooch on top. However, when I saw it for sale second hand, in good condition and at a much better price point than it was new, I picked it up thinking, like Lydia from Pride and Prejudice, “Look here, I have bought this bonnet. I do not think it is very pretty; but I thought I might as well buy it as not. I shall pull it to pieces as soon as I get home, and see if I can make it up any better.”

philip treacy's 2015 collection mint green hat with a chiffon pompom on top

Soon after buying this hat, I came across this image from Philip Treacy’s Autumn/Winter 2015 collection, and absolutely fell in love with it. In case you are wondering who Philip Treacy is, he is a UK milliner who counts the Royal Family among his clients. I absolutely love this hat: it is so outrageous and over the top, and really what’s not to love about mint? As soon as I saw it, I started thinking about how I could make something similar, and I decided that a large flower on this hat base would be just the thing.

Here is how I created the flower, and how I styled the finished hat for an updated 1940’s look.

I made my flower out of chiffon, since we had a bunch left over from a past project. You could use stiffer organza too- which would give you the rounder pompom shape that Treacy’s has, or tulle or netting, which would be softer. I cut out a ton of circles, 5 inches in diameter. You will need 30-50 circles depending on the material and stiffness, and how full you want the flower to be. Don’t worry about being too precise, as the edges will be melted and the pieces will be gathered for the final flower. And definitely do cut your circles through several layers at once, to save yourself time!

singeing the edges of chiffon circles to finish them

I didn’t want the fabric to fray to pieces, so I singed the edges to finish them. Singe the fabric by CAREFULLY holding the material over a candle until the edges start to melt and curl. Be very careful with this, since you are holding a meltable material over top a flame!

You will need to hold the fabric about 6 inches away from the flame and slowly dip in and out and across so the heat starts to curl it. You don’t need to bring the fabric very close, otherwise the heat will start melting the entire circle, rather than just the edge. (Voice of experience. . . ) You should probably do this in a well ventilated area too, by the way. 

folding chiffon circles to make a flower

Once you have singed the fabric, you will be left with curled lily pad shaped petals. Take a circle and fold it into quarters. Stitch through the corner of the folded piece, catching all 4 layers, and loop to tie a knot so it won’t pull through the fabric. 

Continue to string together the folded circles using the same method, until the flower is at your desired fullness.

stringing chiffon petals to make a flower

Once you get a fuller shape, you can gather some of the centre petals so they are fuller, as the soft fabric likes to “flop”. If your fabric is stiffer, you can continue stringing until you get a pompom shape. For mine, with the softer chiffon, I gathered the entire flower together in my hand and stitched through the entire bottom of the flower to give it some shape. Just play around with the fabric and arrange it into a nice shape- there isn’t a hard and fast method.

gathering the chiffon circles into a petal shape

If your flower is softer and going to lay open, you can sew a button, a bead or other embellishment in the centre of the flower to cover up the stitching. If your fabric is stiff, you can just keep adding to it and you will get a lovely round shape and won’t need a button at all.
Sew a little round felt disk to the bottom, to keep the flower in shape. If possible, do not glue the flower onto your hat, since the glue may seep through the light fabric. 
sewing the flower onto the hat

Sew the flower onto the hat with cotton, or other natural fibre, thread. If possible, don’t use a polyester blend thread, as over time polyester can cut natural fibres, and you will be left with holes. You could also add a brooch pin to the felt disk, instead of sewing it directly to the hat, so it is removable, in case you want to use the same hat base for multiple embellishments. And then you’re done!

woman wearing a black felt hat with a large flower on it

I don’t have a before picture of this hat on my head, because it was severely unflattering, but here is the after! A giant flower is really what this hat was missing. Mine turned out a lot smaller than I was originally planning for and less pouffy because of the fabric I chose, but I think it works well for the style of the hat. By simply adding some embellishment, this hat is now completely transformed! 

Here are some other ideas for how to refashion a hat with a different look, which might work for you if a giant pompom/flower isn’t really your thing. 

Vogue patterns

From Chapeaux Élégants, 1942

  • Bows. I’ve seen this kind of hat with a giant stiffened bow, upside down bows, bows made out of contrasting fabric or coordinating, ribbon bows, right side up bows or a myriad of smaller bows…the sky really is the limit when it comes to bows. I’d really like to make a giant sculptural bow one of these days! 

  • Loops and twists made out of wool, or sculptural ribbons. This is a really simple, yet architectural embellishment. I’ve also seen where the wool is looped back onto itself in all sorts of different shapes. This is a much simpler hat decoration, but one with a lot of impact. If you can find a similar colour of fabric, or a contrasting colour, this is a very easy embellishment to create.

Sears Catalogue 1947/48

  • Feathers. You can use smaller feathers, or even large curled ones. I have a pheasant feather that I want to steam into a curled shape and attach to a hat, but I haven’t got a hat yet to put it on!

  • A cluster of artificial flowers. You could either group purchased flowers, or make your own ribbon or fabric flowers. I’ve seen so many different types of flowers on hats, it all depends on what you plan to wear the hat with.

If you’re looking for some hat inspiration, here are my favourite places to look:

  • Online vintage shops. This is a great place to look for true vintage inspiration.
  • Pictures of the Royal Family, the Duchess of Cambridge in particular, who are often seen sporting beautiful hats.
  • Allport Millinery is an Australian milliner with such amazing hats- her website is just full of gorgeous pieces.
  • A new-to-me designer, Rachel Trevor-Morgan Millinery, who I stumbled across while browsing on Pinterest.
  • Of course, we can’t forget Philip Treacy, where I got my original inspiration from.
  • And if you’d like to see more “hatspiration”, I’ve created a Pinterest board of the lovely hats I come across while browsing!

woman wearing a black wool skirt, leopard print sweater and a black hat with a veil and flower on the top

I love how this hat turned out; I’ve styled it in many ways over the past few years. This outfit I paired it with is one that definitely has a Classic vibe to it, rather than overtly vintage, but I’ve worn the same hat here and here before. It’s quite a versatile accessory! 

I hope this has inspired you to look at the garments and accessories you have, with an eye towards how to make them work for you. Maybe it will inspire you to pick up that ugly hat or other item you would usually pass up in the thrift store, and refashion it to become your new favourite piece. Maybe all it needs, like this hat, is a new embellishment!

woman twirling outside

woman walking away outside wearing a skirt, sweater and hat