Changing Your Clothes

Shopping, Sewing, Upcycling, Repairing: Make the most of your clothes!

Makeover Monday: A New Wardrobe ORDer

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Last week, after discovering that I would be heading to Chicago for 8 days, I told you about my initial travel-wardrobe thought process. (This boiled down to the types of pieces I thought I’d need, taking lodging, events, and weather into account.) Since I will be leaving in about a week, my priority now is to create a color palette, so that’s what I’ll focus on today.

Aside: In case my punny use of ORD is causing a raised eyebrow or two, let me explain: ORD is the airport identifier for Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport. It will probably happen again. End of aside.

Changing Your Clothes is primarily about making the most out of what we already have, so that’s what I’ll do first: make over my Santa Fe Wardrobe from last fall. To my closet!

Oh. A funny thing happened on the way to my closet… I got distracted by this piece of fabric, bought just 2 days before I found out about this upcoming trip:

Cotton print fabric

Cotton print fabric. This is a medium-weight cotton with a bit of stretch, but it was the print I couldn’t pass up! (I’m extremely picky about prints.) It’s destined for a vintage-inspired dress.

When I first bought this fabric, I had a dress in mind, specifically, Vogue 8787:

Vogue 8787 pattern

Vogue 8787 pattern. (Illustration courtesy of Vogue Patterns. Click on the image to see this pattern.)

You know me… it’s practically impossible for me to make a garment exactly as the pattern shows it, even in this case, when the pattern gives me neckline, sleeve, and skirt variations! Here’s what I want to do: make the cowl-neck bodice (but with a contrasting lining instead of being self-lined in front); relatively straightforward. It’s when I get to the skirt that I really want to have some fun, to wit: I’m going to use the pattern for the fitted skirt in front, and the full skirt in back, plus lengthen the back by tapering from the sides down to the center back, and also tapering the front skirt slightly up towards the center— all to create a high-low hemline effect, and make the silhouette more interesting at the same time. Oh, and I’m also going to use contrasting lining for the skirt (I’m thinking chartreuse, which you’ll see in the following fabric groups), so that from the front, which will be shorter than the back, you’ll be able to see this lining color behind my legs.

Tip: I have to say, I usually wouldn’t choose anything with white in it for travel use, but I’m coming around to the idea of allowing myself one item that isn’t strictly practical in my travel kit. It will be practical for wearing in sticky weather, since it’s cotton and will be lined with breathable Bemberg rayon, and also because I’ll need something nice for a couple of evening events, but in terms of use value, hmm, maybe not so much. Never mind, it’s coming with me! (Assuming I get it made in time.)

Enough about this dress for now— let’s move on to colors! Starting with this print, here’s how my new color palette is evolving:

Building my palette

Building my color palette. Details of this process follow.

Photo details: 1. Because I really do want to use as many things as possible that I already have, I usually start my travel wardrobes with accessories. Here, my favorite turquoise necklace and a wedge sandal (both from my Santa Fe Wardrobe) blend nicely with my cotton print. But I don’t want a wardrobe with nothing but turquoise (at least not this time). 2. Looking through anything turquoise, I found this cowl I knitted from cotton yarn; I’m loving the addition of the chartreuse with all the shades of turquoise, aqua, and teal. 3. From my fabric stash comes this gorgeous chartreuse silk georgette. 4. Digging further into my fabrics yields (clockwise from far left) iridescent sequins (stretch), chartreuse georgette, citron rayon/spandex knit, and dark green stretch lace.

With all this vibrant color, I feel the need for some calming (but never boring) neutrals:

Adding neutrals

Adding neutrals. The 2 fabrics at bottom add some grounding to the effect of all these beautiful colors. At bottom is a dark charcoal grey ponte knit that will be a skirt, and above that is another heavy knit in a fantastic smoky, sage-y teal color.

Color tip: I’m most drawn to colors that I think of as “in-between” colors. Here’s my test: if I can’t immediately think of a name for that color, I will probably love it. This is not just for the sake of being different; it’s because I’ve found that colors like these are the most surprisingly versatile. In my experience, the more “definite” a color is (e.g. fuchsia), the more effort I have to expend to make other pieces work with it. In the above photo, the fabric just above the charcoal grey at the bottom is a wonderful example of the kinds of colors I’m talking about: it’s not quite sage, not quite blue, not quite grey, not quite teal. And it will go with virtually everything I own.

And here’s the whole collection with the original print added:

Adding the print

Adding the print to the mix. I think the print adds a touch of humor, and the white also lightens the palette.

Tip: It’s unlikely I will use all these fabrics in this travel wardrobe, especially given the time constraint, but they are incredibly useful for developing color palettes, and also for sparking ideas for texture and color mixing. Even small fabric scraps (or balls of yarn) are helpful.

At this point, after revisiting last week’s ORD post, I’ve decided to add a jacket to my list of pieces to pack. It’s something I’ve been wanting to make anyway, and I think it will be a great addition to my entire wardrobe, as well as for this trip. And along with jacket fabric, I thought I’d see what I could find to add to my palette. Here’s what a tour of 3 fabric stores yielded:

Newly-purchased fabrics

Newly-purchased fabrics. 1. Nylon/spandex novelty textured knit in a beautiful ultramarine. 2. Emerald bamboo knit. 3. Aqua cotton/spandex knit. 4. Silk/cotton in palest aqua, for lining my jacket. 5. Smoky sage cotton destined for my jacket.

Tip: I decided to go with a contrasting color (4) for lining my jacket (5), partly because I’m obsessed with the color combination of these 2 fabrics, and partly just because I’m looking forward to the luxury of the silk/cotton lining. Oh, and the lining color also connects with the rest of my developing color palette. Linings are a great opportunity for playing with different colors and even prints!

Now I’m going to lay all these fabrics out side by side, just to see them from a different angle:

Building the palette

Building my color palette (encore). It’s interesting to see how the feel of each grouping changes, by adding more colors.

In these photos, I grouped the fabrics according to color families; below, they’re going from dark to light to dark(er):

A different ORDer

Colors in a different ORDer. It’s a great idea to experiment with alternative groupings.

And before I get to the final palette, here’s everything, including the original accessories:

Fabrics and accessories

Fabrics and accessories. With all this color excitement going on, I wanted to make sure that I hadn’t strayed too far from my original color palette concept. It remains to be seen how many of these fabrics I end up using for this wardrobe, but at least the colors are in place. Speaking of which…

… This is my Santa Fe Wardrobe palette— look familiar?

Santa Fe Wardrobe palette

Santa Fe Wardrobe palette. Almost all these colors appear in my ORD palette. (I created this palette in ColourLovers; click on the palette to see my other palettes on ColourLovers.)

And here, I’ve translated all my fabric colors into the new ORD palette:

My new ORDer palette

My new ORDer palette! I’ve tweaked some of the Santa Fe colors (the turquoise is brighter, for example), and replaced the bronze with the deep ultramarine blue, but otherwise, this is quite similar— meaning I already have clothes and accessories from my Santa Fe trip that will work in Chicago! I created this palette in ColourLovers; click the palette to see all my palettes!

For me, choosing the colors for a wardrobe (or even a single garment) is one of the biggest hurdles. Now that this momentous decision has been made, my next step is to make a specific list of garments and accessories to pack. This will make it clear what items I’ll actually have to make (in less than a week!). Right now, the things I’d really like to be able to take with me are the dress mentioned earlier, and the jacket, but these are both fairly involved projects that I just might not have the time to complete. We’ll see.

Tip: The jacket I want to make is from a Craftsy class I purchased recently, called The Starlet Suit Jacket. The class includes the downloadable pattern, video instruction, and tons more, including interaction with other people participating in the class. Craftsy classes are a great way to not only add to your technique repertoire, but also to gain access to designs like this jacket that may not be available elsewhere. (Please note that I do not receive anything from Craftsy for recommending them; I just really like them!)

Okay! I have my colors and fabrics, so that’s it for now. Next time, I’ll let you know what garments I’m putting together for my ORD wardrobe!

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Author: colormusing

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

13 thoughts on “Makeover Monday: A New Wardrobe ORDer

  1. Lovely! I travel all the time and I never thought about choosing a palette for each trip. It’s such a good idea; everything in the suitcase will “go” together. I’ve got to give this a try!

    • I do tend to be color-oriented, but my travel wardrobes of the past were mostly black-based (to be “practical”, or so I told myself). Black is not a great color on me (I’m fair with auburn hair/green eyes), so I’m working on changing my wardrobe to include lots more color— these mini travel wardrobe projects are great incentive!

      P.S. If you’d be interested, I’d love to have you do a guest post, maybe about the difference having a color palette makes to your packing?

      • That would be fun – I’m really looking forward to using your method the next time I pack for a trip out of town!!

  2. Gorgeous color palette, perfect for this bright summer season, and I have to complement you on the great trip packing idea — sticking to a palette! Genius.

    XOXO Nensi

    • Thanks, Nensi!! I always start with the idea of a color palette, because to me, that’s the easiest way to organize packing— in this case, since it’s summer, I started with a summery color (turquoise), and built it from there. P.S. I’m doing a follow-up post today about building a palette with what’s in your closet already (as an alternative to using fabrics, like Monday’s).

  3. Love the print fabric and the color palette – so Mediterranean blue – Bon voyage!

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