Wardrobe Architect 4: Proportions & Silhouettes

I must admit I struggled with this month’s exercises. In the first place, there’s the confusion of the terminology. Both ‘proportions’ and ‘silhouettes’ seem to be referring to the shape of garments that you wear together. Jeans + t-shirt + sneakers, for example. I might call it an ensemble, but regardless of the label you choose, that’s what we’re talking about.


The second problem I had is that at first I could only think of one ensemble that I wear – leaving aside for the nonce such things as headwear (always) and footwear (socks and slippers, mostly; shoes or boots outside).
I wear a long-sleeved full-length dress pretty much every day. But there are variations on the theme. With or without belt; with or without cardigan/jersey; skirt full or straighter. Occasionally short sleeves in summer.

Then I realized that there are other ensembles I wear – sometimes. Tunic over full skirt, tunic over loose trousers, tunic over laplap (straight wrap skirt). But I don’t want to include these in my wardrobe architecting, much as I enjoy wearing them, because they leave me stranded without pockets (cue Scarlett-O’Hara-at-intermission moment again).

What else is there? Then I remembered: one of my dresses has fasteners all the way down the front (it was designed to be a throw-on layer over less-modest clothing), and I often wear it half-open over a full skirt, in a vaguely Elizabethan sort of way.

Portrait of Mary Tudor, Queen Mary I (1516 - 1558), circa 1550s
As the dress contains the all-important pockets, this is a satisfactory outfit, even allowing for different combinations – had I more than one of each sort of garment, which I don’t. I have occasionally worn the dress with loose trousers and a tunic or long slip, but there comes a point where you wonder if you are still wearing a dress, or just adding a light coat with convenient pockets.

Of course, if we’re talking about what we’d like to wear, I’d love a dress designed to look like a full skirt and matching waistcoat, which could then be worn over a variety of shirts – allowing for a simplicity approaching or even exceeding that of my husband’s wardrobe.

Not that I have ever seen such a dress, mind you, in person or otherwise. But I have hopes that one day, as I pursue my sewing endeavours, I will eventually gain the necessary skills to make myself one of these dream-dresses (with perhaps a matching jacket).

English women's riding habit c 1890 LACMA
What are your favourite ensembles (/silhouettes/proportions)? What ensembles do you as yet only dream of?

What do you think?