Tuesday, January 28, 2014


When you are wearing your favorite clothing, how do you feel (e.g. confident, sexy, poised, powerful, etc)?
My favourite clothes make me feel cool and practical, like I look awesome and am ready for anything. This is especially true with cold weather clothes, because I feel protected and prepared. Button-down shirts are one of my favourite items of clothing because of the range of different styles they can evoke and their practicality, simplicity and comfort.
When you’re wearing something that is not quite right, how do you feel? What are the feelings you want to avoid about the clothes you wear?
I hate feeling cute or frilly in any way, and so avoid anything with lots of overt florals, lace, pink or other related details like ruffles. I also dislike feeling restricted by my clothing, in terms of activities. I dislike feeling as though I'm trying to be sexy or hot because of how inauthentic it feels.  

Who do you consider to be your style icons? What is it about them that appeals to you?

Emma Stone and Kristen Stewart are probably the closest people to style icons of mine. I like Kristen's give-no-fucks grunge attitude and Emma's classic shapes and neutral colour palette. They also seem to wear clothes of quality (mostly I'm sure because their budget is a little more than most) and it shows. 
What are some words that describe styles that you like in theory, but are not quite you?
I love black and goth vibes but always feel like a poorly put-together teen goth when I wear a lot of black. This is mostly because I *was* a poorly put together teen goth. Retro styles are cool but often feel costume-y and upkeep-heavy, as well as verging into cute territory. 

Look over your answers from last week on history, philosophy, culture, community, activities, location, and body. List at least 15 words that you associate with your answers. Think about descriptive words, moods, and feelings you associate with these things:

I did this exercise on a piece of paper and noticed that all the words fit into three categories:

Simple                                  Rustic                            Cool
Classic                                 Indie                               Dark
Neutral                                 Grunge                           Edgy
Quality                                  Warm                             Unusual
Comfortable                        Autumn                          Modern
Versatile                               Russet                           Dusky
Look over the answers to all of the questions above. If you had to narrow your list to only 3-5 words to describe you, which words would you choose?
I think I would choose Classic, Neutral, Russet, Dark and Modern 

My 15-20 visual aids to this exercise are at http://www.pinterest.com/ellendando/wardrobe-architect-exercise/

Thursday, January 16, 2014


One of the hardest things about starting a blog is the first posts. What do you write? Introductory things are almost always boring, but launching straight into content seems... abrupt. 

This is kind of both. I'm learning to sew in an attempt to figure out my style, learn a practical skill well and make things that keep the creative control freak within happy. I've been sewing on-and-off since I was a kid, but it started in earnest last year. I followed the Picnic Dress Tutorial  from One Avian Demon, semi-successfully.

Semi? There's definitely a dress. It fits, mostly, and covers all the bits it's meant to. It even looks OK. For something effectively self-drafted, I did pretty well. But the devil's in the details and the details on this dress are horrendous. 

Check that zipper. Yikes. 

Ever since I've been actually sourcing and attempting to follow patterns, with the occasional guidance of my mum and a LOT of internet research. 

The next wearable thing I made was Grainline Studio's Scout Tee; I made 2, both colour-blocked and stiff as boards for being made from homespun: 

My love of Grainline Patterns knows no bounds, so I've made an Archer muslin and some Maritime Shorts too... 

The shorts in particular get a LOT of wear. I've also 'self-drafted' some things, including a cotton summer dressing gown and a simple dress, both from thrifted sheets: 

The dress in particular borrows a lot from the Scout Tee and Colette Patterns' Pastille Dress.

Not shown (except for the Archer) are the gazillion drafts and muslins made of various garments, particularly the Pastille Dress, which I have yet to make a 'real' version of. I figure they make much less interesting viewing than the finished products, generally. 

Soon to come on this blog: actual photos of me in the clothes. First I have to figure out the self-timer on this frigging camera. Stay tuned, and follow @novesseblog on Instagram for more goodies! 


Homework #1 

1. How has your personal history informed the way you dress? When did your tastes crystalize? Have they changed over the years and why?

I wouldn't say my tastes have crystallized; I always seem to be shifting between the black-heavy, almost punk edges of the style I favoured when I was a teenager, and the more woodsy, autumn style I gravitate toward recently. I've always rejected cutesy, twee or overly 'feminine' clothing mostly out of a desire to avoid the concurrent stereotypes, and favoured muted, more 'serious' tones in an effort to not draw a lot of attention to myself. I much prefer simple styles, patterns and colours because I feel that anything too busy very quickly overwhelms my features. 

2. How does your philosophy, spirituality or religion affect your aesthetics or buying habits? Or, what aspects of those things would you like to see reflected?

Attending Catholic schools for 13 years (K-12), complete with strict uniform guidelines, affected me aesthetically if not morally. I enjoy clothing that doesn't take a lot of effort to pick out, a uniform-esque approach that now manifests in having a lot of the same category of clothing. I appreciate how subtle changes to a uniform create a certain effect, and the small rebellions against the dress code set me up for the counterculture influences still in my style. 

3. How has your cultural background shaped the way you look? How did the aesthetics and values you grew up with affect your tastes as you got older?

Dressing a certain way was never a huge priority for me as a kid; often I'd wear boy's clothes and not give a single shit about it. I find that still reflected in my love of 'masculine' styles like pants, button-down shirts and boots. Thriftiness and quality were always thought about in my house re: clothes, and my mother made a lot of my wardrobe before my other 4 siblings came along. That means that, despite gravitating toward a high rotation of cheap trend pieces when I could finally afford to buy my own clothes, I now try to look for simplicity and high-quality in the pieces I buy. 

4. How are you influenced by the people around you, including friends, family, and other communities you’re involved in?

My immersion in the emo movement when I was 15-17 (and die-hard metalhead status for a few years afterwards) still inserts tiny influences in my style. I still like blacks, reds and greys, still wear black skinny jeans a lot, etc. However, it's tempered by my tendency toward nerd-quietness and seriousness, and the country background I grew up with and its own muted palette and practicality. Wearing bright or aesthetically LOUD items in my small country town meant people would notice, and not always in a good way. I would also cop a lot of shit in my country-based family for any kind of out-there style experiments. 

5. How do your day to day activities influence your choices?

My day-to-day is not particularly active; many of my hobbies involve the indoors. However, even though that would mean I can experiment a little with style, I still try and wear things that don't interfere with whatever I'm doing. Bracelets and rings drive me nuts, my hair is tied back 80% of the time, my favoured earrings are studs - if it's distracting me, it goes. Same goes with low necklines or high hemlines - if I'm more preoccupied with keeping myself decent than whatever I'm doing, I try and adjust. 

6. Does the place you live in inform the way you dress? How does climate factor in?

Yes, yes, yes. Australia means a) casual, b) factor in the heat and c) don't draw attention to yourself. Flip-flops and shorts are acceptable wear in an extraordinary amount of places and months, and resisting that in the name of style isn't easy. It never gets truly cold where I live so the coats, jumpers, scarves and boots I adore wearing are often too warm even in winter, except on perhaps five days of the year. Because the general population are so casual it means that any kind of style that asserts itself can be seen as pushy or pretentious unless you're in the heart of a decent-sized city. 

7. In what way does body image affect your choice in clothing? What clothes make you feel good about the body you live in? What clothes make you feel uncomfortable or alienated from your body?

I see myself as quite short and cute, in a childish kind of way, and so my clothing choices reflect trying to always make myself more adult and serious, intellectually. This is then tempered by a desire to be approachable and/or friendly, a contradiction I'm still not quite on top of. I feel good in practical clothing that doesn't require constant adjusting, and colours and styles that I love. Anything too frilly or revealing makes me a little uncomfortable, as do things that are a little costume-y. I prefer slouchy, not-fitted things but struggle with the resulting silhouette in photos, particularly as I am not photogenic at all and tend to look fat in pictures. 

Overall I think my taste is largely still evolving, and will change as I move from student to professional, novice to... not a novice? (I want to say 'master' but... no, there has to be a middle ground. Google is saying 'novice to ninja' so that will do. Ninja.) 


I'm very excited to be following along with the Wardrobe Architect project on the Colette Patterns blog. I'm always looking to make my wardrobe more compact and effective when it comes to showing my personal style, and this seems like a good way to do so. 

I'll be posting the follow-along pieces here and on Instagram (follow me, @novesseblog!) in addition to other posts about sewing, style and my own life.