Thursday 1 June 2017

Lessons from Me Made May 2017

Overall I really enjoyed my second year of Me Made May. I decided I was going to try and wear only handmade clothes this time (except underwear, shoes and accessories) with no full outfit repeats, and it worked surprisingly well. I also promised myself I was going to make a pair of trousers and a cardigan during the month, which I also did. I've posted the trousers but not the cardigan, as it's a black Coppelia that looks exactly the same as my red one. I'll probably wear it next time I need to blog a skirt or something.

This is what I learned this year:

1. I have a strong preference for a streamlined silhouette.

The conventional wisdom I've always heard is that women with larger hips should wear more voluminous skirts to disguise them, but looking at my photos it's very clear that I don't actually like that. With the exception of my grey Tiramisu (which I thought was going to serve as the starting point and inspiration for a whole new wardrobe, but is turning out to be something I love despite the fact that it doesn't really fit my overall style), everything I wore this/last month is fitted fairly close to my hips and emphasises my natural body shape. This was something I'd started to figure out last year, but I was still making and wearing floof because I thought I liked it under certain circumstances, or because there was such a fuss generally about certain patterns. I'm not saying I'll never make a flouncy skirt again, especially if I do persuade myself to go back to lindy hop, but for day to day wear it needs to fit my hips.

2. My interest in looking vintage has plummeted.

The circle skirts and tea dresses and retro silhouettes I wore last year were nowhere to be found in my outfit choices this time. I wore short skirts, cropped jackets, shorts over tights, interesting wrap maxi dresses, bright colours and neutral prints. There's probably still a few vintage ideas in there (especially with my current hairstyle), but I don't think anyone would look at my month's photos and think, "ooh, she's got a very vintage aesthetic". Similar to above, it might be a well I'll dip into for dance dresses, but they would be costumes and I would be treating them as such. In the future I'll be looking out for patterns and companies with a more modern aesthetic and nice details.

3. I actually like layering and need to think about it a bit more critically.

I have spent the last year or so looking for a completely basic, no closure, cropped cardigan pattern. I've never found one and I actually bought a cardigan last year. I wear it a LOT and one of the things I worried most about doing an entirely-handmade Me Made May was how I'd cope without that cardigan. What I discovered fairly quickly was that I was dressing much better; the cardigan is so black and boring that it takes away from an outfit rather than adding to it. I'm not going to throw it out or anything, but I am going to take the opposite approach and try to find patterns for really interesting layering pieces that are going to make my outfits look more pulled together.

4. My wardrobe and style makes way more sense to me this year.

Don't get me wrong, I wore a lot of nice things during Me Made May last year and I discovered a lot of new outfits I wouldn't otherwise have thought of. But stylistically I was all over the place and by the end of the month I was mostly wearing things I'd panic-sewn because I didn't have enough stuff (I did have enough stuff, I just didn't want to wear most of it). This year I have a clear sense of what my style is, I was making clothes at my normal rate, and though I did start to panic about not having enough stuff two thirds of the way through, it was baseless. Most of the non-occasion-specific stuff in my wardrobe got worn, and making enough outfits for thirty-one days with no complete repeats was much easier than I thought it was going to be.

5. I don't have any style-breaking holes in my handmade wardrobe anymore.

The only thing I really could have used and didn't have during Me Made May was a jacket in another colour. Everything I've made goes with at least one other thing I've made, it was easy to put things together, and I didn't feel like I was missing anything. My wardrobe doesn't feel broken without my black jumper anymore. I mean, I still love that jumper and I still want to make one at some point, but I can easily do without it now. Obviously this will change when my circumstances do, but right now I can stop overthinking about what I "need" and start focusing on things I'd like to try.

6. I can look good even when I don't like the way I look.

My self-esteem is in the pits right now, and it's been difficult to make things, photograph myself wearing them, and put those photos on the internet. This month I've had to do it every day, and sometimes I've hated it. Don't want to be seen, don't want to put make-up on, quantifying my self-worth in Instagram likes stresses me out, etc. But I did it, and now my Instagram has 31 photos of me looking cute and stylish for a whole month straight. I've gone out in bright colours and eye-catching patterns when I just wanted to hide under a blanket, and as the month went on it got easier and easier.

All in all, a successful month. Next up: something new! Yay!

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