Changing Your Clothes

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Practical vs. Extravagant: The Great Debate

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Last week, when I was trying to plan a special holiday outfit, toying with various pieces of fabrics and patterns, I found myself in a familiar place of indecision. I had put together a selection of more or less coordinated fabrics from my over-abundant stash: I started with a gorgeous sequinned fabric with cutouts and a fabulous pointy border, which I thought would be most appropriate for a skirt, but this would necessitate some sort of lining. I came up with a tie-dyed georgette which looked wonderful under the sequins, but which was semi-sheer, so I found a bright coral satin for the undermost layer of what was now a 3-layer skirt.

(Those of you with sharp eyes and memories may recognize this satin from my recent post about making a skirt from a custom-fitted muslin; the satin lines that skirt. Good thing I like this stuff— even after making this second skirt, I still have a lot left over!)

Finally, I added a coral stretch velvet to make a simple top (with all that going on in the skirt, the top really needs to be simple). Here are the four fabrics:

Fabrics for dancing outfit

Fabrics for my dancing outfit: The sequinned beauty with the tie-dyed georgette underneath and showing through the cutouts in the sequinned piece, and the satin underneath both (you can see a little of this by itself in the lower right corner). In the upper left corner is the stretch velvet.

I also chose a skirt pattern that is quite simple, a semi-circular one with an asymmetrical hem (longer down one side seam than the other). (I just checked, and my pattern is now out of print, but I’ll post photos of the whole outfit a bit later.) And for my top, I decided to make Butterick 5283, View A (apparently out of stock, but at least I found a picture of this one):

Butterick 5283 pattern

Butterick 5283 pattern; I made View A (top right), very simple but with an interesting twist detail in front. (Click on the picture to go to this pattern.)

So now I had the fabrics and patterns nailed down, but before I could begin cutting anything out, I had to settle one final question, the one that comes up almost every time I’m making (a) a dance outfit, and/or (b) anything with sequins or any other fabric that doesn’t really qualify (except in my world) as daywear-appropriate:

Do I make this outfit as practical and versatile as possible, or do I throw sartorial caution to the wind and make it as extravagant as I really want to?

Here are the choices in this particular case, as I see them:

1. Make a 2-layered skirt with the georgette and satin only, producing a skirt that can be worn on many occasions, not just for evening or dancing; the colors are dark enough to wear in fall and winter, but lightweight enough to look appropriate in spring and summer. I could wear it with anything from tank tops to sweaters to leather jackets.

1a. If I choose this option, I would want to make a separate overskirt from the sequinned fabric. (I’ve often done this since I’ve been into dancing, tying a floaty, dancy overskirt on over anything from jeans to skirts.) This way, the sequinned overskirt could be worn with other outfits; with the cutouts in this fabric, I could easily see this as a layer over narrow trousers, East Indian-style.

2. Make the skirt with all 3 layers, which would restrict its use to evening/dancewear, for the most part.

Once again, The Great Debate has reared its ambivalent head. Did I go with practical? Or totally extravagant?

Stay tuned for the next exciting installment of… The Great Debate!

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Author: colormusing

I'm a writer, color palette creator, and designer of fashion, costumes, graphics, knitwear patterns, and yarn.

2 thoughts on “Practical vs. Extravagant: The Great Debate

  1. I’m so glad to see Butterick! Can’t believe they are still around. I remember them when I was small and Mom used to make me things. Very fun. Hmmm…I err on the side of wearing something more than once – so practical? But, if you wear it every year, then that’s the same thing. 🙂

  2. Pingback: Practical vs. Extravagant: The Follow-up « Changing Your Clothes

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