Wednesday, June 17, 2009

One Problem, Several Solutions: =(T+D+L) =(T+T+C) =(T+D+C) =(T+T+L)

While surfing Japanese pattern books on eBay and Yesasia, I noticed a common thread between how I wore dresses in India from the Taj Mahal travel SWAP (pattern review writing in progress, to be posted soon), and how dresses and long tunics are commonly styled in the Japanese books:

Summer Style Recipe:
  • 1 T-shirt or Tank
  • 1 Dress or Tunic with spaghetti or thin shoulder straps
  • 1 pair of Leggings or Capris
Start with t-shirt and leggings, mix with dress or tunic on top. Add sandals or shoes. For warm temperatures.

Traveling in India, I felt too exposed to wear only a dress with strappy shoulders, so I layered them over other pieces. I wore capris under dresses and tunics on the trip, due to not having leggings in my closet since the 1980s. This combo was so comfortable! No worries about inadvertent indecent exposure due to straps slipping, neckline gaping, and bending over hem-lifting. No thinking about where my hem was while climbing out of vehicles, sitting in chairs, climbing stairs, etc. I wear pants 99.5% of the time, so I guess you could say I don't think very lady-like.
So let's assemble the ingredients ...

1 T-shirt or Tank
Oh please, I did marathon laundry last weekend and folded stacks of T-shirts that would fill a Gap store. All sizes and colors and styles. So T's and Tanks are another topic for another day.

1 Dress or Tunic
Japanese, U.S., and European patterns offer endless choices for stylish tunics and dresses. It does take work to look beyond the stiffer cottons in the Japanese photos and see how the style lines could be more flattering. I prefer drapier, flowier silks, rayons or jersey knits that don't stand so far from the body and make you look shapeless, bulky, frumpy. No offense to the Japanese photos. The stiffer cotton look is just not for me. Today's email from BurdaStyle showed exactly what I'm looking for in the Azalea dress -- some stylish detail, drapey and flowy in the right fabric, contrast fabric detail.

Have fun with fabrics! Try border prints, lace, rayon batiks, layered cotton voile or batiste. This is a chance to try sheers because you're wearing layers underneath. At Silk Road Fabrics in Austin, TX I have found silk/rayon brocade over-dyed and washed, once shiny and firm but now matte, soft and flowy. Transformed into a completely different fabric. Beautiful effect and perfect for dressing up this look with a silk jersey T.

1 Pair of Leggings
Although leggings are a (weak) trend right now, they're not easy to find RTW in many colors and they're expensive for what you get. So I'm searching for new or vintage legging sewing patterns to make leggings with stashed lycra knits. Some patterns: Butterick 6223, McCalls 5394, McCalls 5427, McCalls 5769, Stretch&Sew 5750, Christine Jonson Base Wear One, Simplicity 7449, Burda 7791. Some are undoubtedly vintage early 90s or 80s. Most can be found online for a few bucks. I have no idea of the pros and cons of each for fitting and comfort. I may try several for comparison. The Lazy Milliner wrote a post about teaching a legging sewing class at Vogue Fabrics.

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