New Life New Wardrobe? (Sew Your Kibbe Challenge Update and Wardrobe Planning Post #14)

I happened to come across this blog post at DIY Wardrobe blog (you can read Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4 of the series here as well), and was enamored with the idea of making pie charts to examine my wardrobe. Why? Well, pie charts. I mean, obviously. But also because looking at some else’s life pie chart really helped me realize that the structure of my life has changed a lot in the past 3 months.

I haven’t been entirely detailed about what I’ve been up to on the blog, but I think it’s been fairly apparent that I’ve had a very busy year.  Truly, it has been a whirlwind. When I had originally conceived of the Sew Your Kibbe Challenge, my plans for the year had been, while not entirely non existent, much less time consuming than they turned out to be.  When I look back at where I was a year ago, I had just started blogging the Sew Your Kibbe series, and had just started to ponder the idea to perhaps turn it into a sewing challenge for 2019.  I was also pondering the best time to undertake a transitional career change; I knew my old job would not be working out for me in the long-term and I was trying to plan an exit strategy, but it wasn’t exactly an imminent issue either. So I figured working on a wardrobe transition would actually coincide nicely with my efforts to change my work situation and everything would sort of motor along in the way it had been.

So, what happened?  Well, in a nutshell, skating.  I don’t really want to go too in-depth as to all of the nitty-gritty details, but suffice it to say, there have been a number of changes (some expected and many not so much) that have resulted in my needing to put a lot more time and effort into skating than I had anticipated at this time last year. Ultimately, I think many of these changes will be to the betterment of the sport, and I hope that my efforts and involvement will propel these things forward. However, I really hadn’t planned for skating to take over as much of this year as it has ended up doing. I don’t regret it; it has truly been a wonderful experience and I have learned so much, but it has also been an incredibly demanding endeavor that has engulfed every spare moment I’ve afforded to it over the past 10 months.

In addition to that, I’ve also proceeded with my efforts to find a different career path.  Happily, I started my new job mid-summer (after having been away at skating events for over 5 weeks), but as with all transitions, it was a bit of a struggle to find time to keep up all my regular activities with a new 8-hour activity smashed in the middle of it all.  (Though, really, it’s more like a 12 hour activity. I mean, whoever came up with the idea of commuting is the worst, am I right?)  I was having a bit of a depressive funk/panic when I realized how difficult it would be to fit in sewing or sewing related activities, but I’m slowly learning to work it out.  Realistically, the Kibbe dream wardrobe is not going to happen by the end of this year. But I have made a sweater, and a top, and I’ve been putting together the remaining pieces of my forever UFO that’s been on a dress form in my sewing space for like the past three years.  (Literally – I went back to check and sure enough, I had started this project at the end of 2016.) It might be the world’s slowest project, but at least there has been some progress.  Now that things are a bit more settled (well, as much as they can be; there’s going to be more work related changes in my life very shortly), I might be able to find more time to work on sewing things.  I mean, I fully anticipate that skating will keep the majority of my spare time occupied for the foreseeable future, but I might try to employ the “10 minutes a day” technique, or maybe even the “sew one seam a day” technique to make sure I can at least get something accomplished sewing-wise. And my Saturdays are definitely becoming more of a selfish me-time than they have been in the past. At this point when it comes to sewing, something (even a little something) is certainly better than nothing. 

So, what does all of this have to do with the main topic at hand, which is, if you recall, pie charts.  Well, the pie chart of my life has changed.  Dramatically. And despite my best intentions, the pie chart of my wardrobe has not.  The main problem is that the majority of my work clothes before were incredibly casual.  That hadn’t necessarily been my intention, but at a certain point I had to accept that it was simply more practical.  I pretty much gave up on being “stylish and put together” and settled for “easily washable.” I mean, realistically, I don’t think I’ve ever been really “stylish and put together.”  When I was younger I was too tired to care, and when I was slightly older I was too busy to care.  At a certain point in this blogging journey I started seriously pondering wardrobes as a concept, mostly sprung out of my fascination with sewing and everything that goes into garment construction, but I still can’t honestly say I’ve ever really had a set of clothes that makes me look and feel “stylish and put together” on a regular basis.

My former life… Much more time spent in jeans, t-shirts, and leggings.
My new life… Much more time sitting on my behind at a desk.

So, as you can see, the sections of casual clothes and exercise have decreased dramatically, and there is now this whole new semi-professional bubble that didn’t even exist before! Practically speaking, I have enough sleep and exercise clothes to get by, my needs for formal suits are about the same as they were before, so I’m fairly covered there, and my assorted social events and casual free time can utilize the wardrobe I had before. So taking out exercise and sleep (which require their own sets of garments), here is what the breakdown of my wardrobe should look like:

So about 50% of my wardrobe should be work-appropriate clothes.
Is it?
Nope. We are not even close.

I mean, clearly, this was the underlying intent of the Kibbe challenge this year. However, with those projects on a bit of a back-burner, and with my needs changing so much, I think I need to really look at my current wardrobe more critically. I did do a bit of a Konmari style clear-out a while ago.  While I haven’t really had the time to extend this method beyond my wardrobe, it was the first major clear-out/declutter I’d ever done.  And the folding method has been the best life change I’ve implemented in recent memory. But, with the recent work-related life change, I think it is something that needs to be addressed again.  A lot of things I’ve kept from the last go-round aren’t exactly in as great a shape as they were before (it has been a few years), some things just don’t fit anymore, and I think I really need a better inventory method to help track what I have and what I really need.

I do think the Konmari method is helpful, in that it does teach you to really appreciate the things you truly do enjoy. However, I’ve also found this video from stylist Lauren Messiah to be incredibly helpful as well, in a more pragmatic sense:

I was having a bit of a problem in that I was wearing the same 4 tops and same 4 trousers to work every week over the summer. Now that fall is here my options for tops have expanded a bit, but I’m still cycling between the 4 work trousers I have, and that needs to change sooner rather than later. Originally I had only 2 pairs of work trousers, which I’ve had for years but only came out when I was judging, so, while I hate to admit it, I did end up buying some RTW pants. And, I have to say, they kind of suck. The pants I’ve had for years already look in better shape than the new ones I’ve bought, because the fabric is this awful cheap poly nonsense. It definitely wasn’t a great investment, but it has gotten me through the first few months of my job. I don’t feel good about the environmental impact; realistically I don’t expect the fabric on these pants to last the year. But when facing the “I need clothes now” issue I think sometimes we can all make poor choices. Of course, this was only underscored by reading The Conscious Closet, which looks at sustainability in clothing.  I need to do a proper review of this book, but suffice it to say, it is well worth the read and I highly recommend it.

Ultimately, this all underlines the fact why I need to sew my own clothes. Aside from the fact that I’m hoarding a mountain of fabric in my house and really need to do something with it all, it had become really clear that it is increasingly difficult to find decent quality in RTW.  I know everyone complained about quality 5-10 years ago when sewing blogs really started becoming a thing, but I have to say, it’s way worse now. My pants from 10 years ago are still going strong. My pants from 10 weeks ago are practically disintegrating at the seams.

So, where does that leave me now? Well, I think I’m going to stay committed to the idea of the Sew You Kibbe challenge, even though it’s quite clear I’m not going to achieve it by the end of the year. Honestly, I’ve actually got a few projects in mind that definitely were not on the radar at the start of the year, though I will admit that is partially due to the fact that one of them is from a new pattern that came out recently, and the other is sort of a planning ahead in case I have an event to go to in the near future with a very specific dress code sort of a thing. The first project would definitely have been in at least one of my Kibbe wardrobe plans, whereas the other… well, the other is definitely be tailored to the event for which I am creating it.

After that, though, I’m totally going to revisit my Sew Your Kibbe wardrobe plans. Because, honestly, I’m still excited by them, and I desperately need to add those sorts of pieces to my very lacking wardrobe. I may reconfigure things a bit now that I have different goals as far as how many garments I would like to have for a work wardrobe, but the original plans are still pretty spot on for things I think I’d like to wear. But I am going to let myself be distracted by the shiny things first though, because that’s where the mojo is leading me. And it’s not that I can’t use these upcoming projects as part of a Kibbe inspired wardrobe. It’s more that these pieces may be the least practical aspects to the wardrobe. But, hey, when the Sewjo strikes, sometimes you have to listen, and lately the sewjo has definitely been striking. So I’m having fun with frosting, and that’s what I plan on doing for the last two months of 2019.

Well, that and praying that my pants will hold together until 2020.

26 thoughts on “New Life New Wardrobe? (Sew Your Kibbe Challenge Update and Wardrobe Planning Post #14)

  1. All the best for the Work Semi-Professional wardrobe. I moved role at the current place, and now don’t need suits as I mostly just sit behind a computer. I’ve been enjoying wearing my slightly less formal pieces (though we’re not a jeans/khakis place). Getting the balance right is always a challenge in a wardrobe (for me anyway).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s how I feel. There are people who go full business suit, but I really don’t need to, so I’m trying to walk the line of “I’m a professional, but I also work behind the scenes.” Add in the California casual aspect to life here and it feels like a pretty narrow path for wardrobe options.


  2. Glad the sew-jo is back! I’m all for sewing what makes you happy rather than working to a strict plan. Interesting what you say about RTW clothes having gone down in quality. I buy RTW for my son and they’re great, but I haven’t tried to buy adult RTW for ages. I really like my Burda culottes (with long boots in cold weather) for a smart office look that’s not too OTT. You made the same pair – in fact I think yours inspired mine 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. My goodness DoctorT you’re busy! Totally agree about the commuting things – it sucks. I don’t miss it at all. Also agree about the quality of RTW… Of course, I buy cheap stuff so I guess it’s to be expected. But a pair of leggings I sewed two years ago have outlasted any that I’ve purchased since, even though I didn’t buy the best quality fabric.

    Best of luck with the career change! Looking forward to see how you adapt your sewing plans. ♥

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I love a good pie chart (or several!) There’s something about seeing all that information in a visual that really brings home what needs to change. Semi-professional workwear sounds like a tricky category to navigate but on the upside, I wonder if there could be pieces here that straddle two categories to make it a bit easier – maybe some formal trousers that also work for semi-professional days, and the odd casual top that would cross over too?

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Ummm, I am MEGA-excited to see your semi-profesh wardrobe take shape!! I honestly don’t know of many blogs/IG accounts of makers who have professional jobs and it’s kind of a bummer because I can only read so many reviews of the latest knit jogger/kimono-sleeve tshirt/bathrobe pattern. Congrats on the new career path, and kudos on navigating the craziness of your summer/fall, and cheers for a lovely end of 2019. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I definitely enjoy reading how you organize everything in your life and your thought process with them, but would definitely love to hear a little bit more about the skating activities and how they have become more important in your life…I am a skater too, or was until moving to AZ several years ago and would love to get back into it somehow….not sure how though as my physical abilities are not as strong due to aging (ugh) So enjoy everything you can until you physically have to cut back. And I love reading all about your sewing because I love sewing, but again, can’t do as much as I used to. Thanks for your detailed posts!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Oh, that pie-chart idea is brilliant. I am currently doing the capsule wardrobe, which also ended up being the same 4 pants with the same 7 tops and while that was quite liberating, my life is changing just now too and also, the pieces in my capsule are falling apart from having been in constant rotation.
    I am planning to dedicate an afternoon to just pinning and doing the Wardrobe Architect thing. Now I am also keeping Kibbe in mind, no more shapeless sacks for this theatrical romantic (Sorry, Burda.).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, the turnaround time between my summer schedule and my work start was really small; I was super desperate! It’s ok because it’s getting me through, but it certainly isn’t optimal.


  8. Congratulations on all the exciting accomplishments this year. I am impressed that you’re able to look back on it with a balanced perspective – incredibly challenging but with many positive outcomes. 👏

    I returned to an office job this year after almost 15 years of retirement/work at home and went through three stages of wardrobe planning: 1) Excellent! I will sew all the things to make a Dramatic Classic work capsule wardrobe! 2) This office is mostly business casual – I will just avoid suits and still aim for professional. 3) Oh the hell with it, I’m never going to have time to sew, I’ll just wear my old business clothes from 15 years ago. Did I ever kick myself for tossing most of my great-fitting pants back then, just because I thought I would never wear them again! Ugh! I too had to buy a pair just to get me through the week. Completely agree with your assessment of modern RTW quality. “praying that my pants will hold together until 2020” is real!

    It was lucky that I had started on a bit of a Kibbe journey late last year and made a few coordinating tops and jackets/cardigans that could be worked right into the business wardrobe. At this point, even though I think I could possibly work in a bit of sewing time, I don’t think I will sew anything for work right away. I don’t really feel inspired, and I actually think I have enough of everything for now. I probably need to find a good frosting project to inspire me!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Congratulations on the new job. And on having the headspace to reflect on what you have and need in terms of clothing. I too am in the process of adding to my professional wardrobe after some years of updating my casual wardrobe. Staying on track of sewing garments that require care and precision, and take longer, has been a trial at times. Sometimes I just want a quick project too.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Love the pies. I had been thinking of doing something similar because I have trouble sewing to many shiny things while my daily wardrobe is rather uncohesive with a lot of holes.
    Your doing great on moving into your new life plans. My husband has recently changed and started a new job while still doing his old job on off days. It’s really felt stressful and crazy for us too, but hoping to settle into a new normal eventually. So, I really get it. Here’s to a new year!
    I’ve really enjoyed your articles this year.

    Liked by 1 person

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