Tips on sewing a workwear wardrobe

Workwear. One of those words that sounds terribly boring on the surface but has so much inner potential. While I do prefer non-fussy and easy to wear pieces, I also advocate for a working wardrobe that makes you excited and happy to put on clothes in the morning. When it came to off the rack options, my struggles had always been fit and price point. Being short and dressing professionally can often be at odds with each other. And then it suddenly struck me, with a twist in colours and fabric choices, there was no reason that I shouldn’t or couldn’t sew my own workwear. Here’s a peep at what I picked up recently and my plans creating your own ready to work sewing capsule.

Before you get too excited picking out patterns left and right, it’s crucial to evaluate your everyday environment both at work and on the way to/from work. This is especially important if you transit as you’ll need to account for weather and temperature challenges. Personally, this translates into comfortable but weather proof pieces that will keep warm on the road but still dust off nicely when I step into the office. Full length pants with ankle coverage so I can pair with boots along with an easy pull on waist design so I’m not fumbling with zippers and buttons. Options in crisp wovens or wooly knits would be ideal.

The magic word of the fashion world, layering is something to keep in mind when planning a handmade wardrobe as well. Lots of brands offer patterns that contain a mix and match set of pieces that you can duplicate in different colours and textures but still maintain a cohesive overall look. These are great if you find a silhouette you love or don’t want to fuss with piecing together individual separates. All the hard planning is done for you so all you do is sew it up and go.

If tackling a whole working capsule seems much too daunting, start off with one key area in your collection that you want to expand. For me, this means tops, blouses and sweaters because while I can get away with wearing the same two pair of pants throughout the week, I am missing interchangeable top pieces that add fun to dressing up. This translated into buying designs for silky tops that will make use of all the fun prints I always see in the fabric store but never know what to do with. Think multi-seasonal, the same pieces could be worn solo or layered under a long vest in the chillier months.

Its sounds like common sense but having a vision of the colour palette or specific fabric for your sewing pattern before you check out means you’re more likely to sew  it and see it to completion. I would say this takes the most experience to truly grasp because it’s so easy to just see the design as its made in the photo sample. Figure out what element attracts you to that pattern and how will it look with the rest of your closet. When I see Butterick 4136 for example, I know it’ll be so stylish as a gingham or tweed skirt paired with tall suede boots and a cozy sweater.

Just as I started this post talking about the challenges of great fit in a professional capsule closet, I want to end on this note as well. If you do a little extra digging, you will find that the Big 4 (Vogue, Butterick, Simplicity, McCalls) do have a few options for petite sizing which means you’re more likely to get a better fit straight from the envelope with minimal adjustments. Most of today’s picks were chosen for exactly this reason and I can’t wait to get started on them.

Follow my sewing progress on Instagram #sewwithgerry through the week to see what I’m making.

Happy Sewing,

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