Dressing to Alter Your Mood

A Call to Remake My Wardrobe

I’ve been thinking about making over my wardrobe for awhile (probably since Me Made May). Many of my basics are getting old & you can’t wear a black shirt & look good once it’s faded to gray. White shirts look awful all pilled up. Elastic waistbands become pretty dowdy once the elastic has stretched out. These things can also wear on your self esteem.

I don’t want to replace my run of the mill shirts & skirts with run of the mill me made garments. That’s not why I sew. I’m on the lookout for interestingly cut patterns.

Dressing to Fit Your Mood

Oak Alley, dress
I was ecstatic to be at Oak Alley Plantation (inspiration for Twelve Oaks in the book “Gone With the Wind”, not the location where they shot the movie, but much prettier). This special occasion called for a bright & twirling dress, the one I made for my college graduation.

When I’m happy I wear bright & often form fitting dresses & skirts. When I’m depressed I wear looser solids in darker colors. There’s a special outfit for when I want to blend in.

Sometimes wearing something I’ve made can give me a boost all day long with plenty of good warm & fuzzies.

When I’m really depressed though, I don’t want to wear anything I’ve made because I want to wallow. Pity party for one. Warm & fuzzies not welcome. I’m no fan of martyrism, but I think everyone feels bad for themselves at some point. When I’m in a depressed mood I wear baggy & sometimes frumpy things- jeans with big sweaters are great for this. Consequently, I feel dowdy & a bit slovenly all day, which just feeds into my inner sturm und drang.

Audrey Hepburn, jeans, sweater
If only we could all look as chic & energized as Audrey when we don a plain sweater & jeans.

If I re-make my wardrobe so it only has things I love, will that help keep me from wallowing as much when I’m having a bad day?

Will making my own sweaters & jeans bring me closer to happy Audrey & further from looking like a stressed collegiate slob? Sure, it won’t magically turn my frown upside down as all my woes vanish in the breeze, but can it make a tiny difference? Small things add up to big things.

My Plan

If my closet is only full of interesting designs that are almost exclusively made by me, I won’t be able to “punish” myself & indulge in my mopey feelings by not wearing an outfit I’m proud of- although I suppose I could still sabotage myself by wearing things that clash, but I don’t want to know how down in the dumps I’d have to be to do such horrid things. Sidebar, planned clashing can be very fun.

This RTW top has interesting sleeves & is the type of thing I’d like to make.

Shirt, sleeves
Look at the sleeves on this RTW top, they’re segmented into three parts.

I made this Vogue top this summer because of the interesting cut of the raglan seams.

t-shirt, raglan, sleeves
These raglan sleeves run parallel to the shoulders & plunge downward to the armscye. A seam runs down the top of the sleeves as well, helping give shape & lessen wrinkles.

I love this Issey Miyake jacket. The side front seams by the pockets subtly curve away from the body because they’re not sewn down. The pants also appeal to me, but I’m not sure how or where I’d wear them. Issey Miyake, Jacket, pants

Another Issey Miyake that I have to make, but I haven’t been able to find fabric with a big enough grid. Has anyone seen any?

Issey Miyake, tunic, grid

I like this LiaLia dress, but am unsure if I’d wear it because of the exposed back- I refuse to let my bare skin touch the dirty Chicago Transit Authority seats. Perhaps a cardigan.LiaLia, dress, Vogue, pleats

I’m drawn to the intricately folded bodice on this DKNY dress, but have been having difficulties finding stretch cotton wide enough.

DKNY, dress, Vogue

I’ve got my fabric ready to go for this dress, but it seems like it will take a long time to complete & I have so many projects to work on. DKNY, dress, Vogue

Everything you’ve seen so far have been basics that aren’t basic. Taking a unique design & making it solid or in a few different shades of the same color makes it basic for me. Solid colors will give my wardrobe versatility as I’ll be able to mix & match more things. The interesting designs will help me love what I’m wearing, which should help buoy my mood. This will especially come in handy as the days get darker & the dreaded holidays approach.

Your Plan

If you buy my idea that self-made clothing can help boost your mood when you’re glum, will you start planning your sewing projects around things that could make you happy on a daily basis?

What’s your favorite color? Go through your closet. Do you need to make more things in those shades or do you have plenty already? When you walk down the street & see someone wearing something you’d love to have, what about it catches your eye?

Think about the things you wear all the time & how you can make them more interesting. Would changing the cut of things appeal to you like it does to me? Or maybe you need to use different materials, like sewing up a very basic camisole in pure silk.

If you’re always drawn to prints on other people, but don’t think you can pull them off, try incorporating little bits. You know those dresses that have a band, or a sash, just under the bust but above the waist- make the main fabric in a solid & choose a matching print for the sash. Or, you could edge your shirts & skirts like I did with this top.

t-shirt, trim
Detail of green trim on a scoop neck t-shirt.

Conversely, if you wear a lot of prints but are drawn to the solids you see on other people, take one of your favorite patterns & reinvision it as a solid or color blocked. I used McCall’s 6561 for my veggie dirndl dress, but it was designed to be color blocked. It would be a nice pattern to try out more solid fabrics if you’re used to working with prints.

color block, dress, McCall's
My version is much less wrinkled on the bodice than what you see on the model, so don’t let that picture put you off. Plus it was pretty easy to sew up all the different pattern pieces.

So what do you think? Is dressing to alter your mood a bunch of phooey? Or do you think those small changes add up?


22 thoughts on “Dressing to Alter Your Mood

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  4. you’re so right about this. so right! though i also find that my mood really affects my perception of what i’m wearing, too. a recent example – on saturday, i threw on comfy trouser-style, light-weight jeans, a loose grey t-shirt and a long grey wool cardi and felt willowy and wonderfully chic. on sunday, a funk cloud blew in and the same outfit looked sloppy and unflattering and horrid. in fact, everything i put on yesterday looked sloppy and unflattering and horrid! one’s mood certainly does play a huge role in clothing selection, and, for me, it’s probably easier to regulate my wardrobe than my mood! maybe i need to edit out some of the pieces that enable funks…

    • That’s a really great point. Last night I made a top that I was kind of ambivalent about & I knew it was probably just my mood. That was confirmed when my boyfriend genuinely really liked it even though it was not at all skin tight- boys!

  5. You are so right about this! This week the English weather has definitely changed for autumn and my pretty summer dresses are no more… I don’t mind the weather change so much, but the RTW jeans and top I’m now wearing are not making me feel good!
    Thank you- your post has focused me on thinking about what pretty, but warm, things I need to make!

  6. I love this post! Thanks! Very well written! When I started sewing it was all about bright prints and dresses and within the last 6 months I have slowly made the transition to more practical items and replacing the RTW wardrobe (unknowingly). Like right now I am wearing a self made top and trousers. Before I only had crazy print dresses that do not fit everyday or normal moods. Like sometimes you just want to feel normal and blend in a bit more but not disaoppear. 🙂

  7. I think you’re on to something about clothes affecting mood. I think one still needs comfort clothes though, but they need not be dull and completely shapeless. I have a couple of long-sleeved knit dresses and a 70s jumpsuit that are great for vulnerable days.

    • Vintage is always nice for comfort- my vintage pieces just feel so special to me. That is part of what I was trying to get at with this post- that even the basics can be made in a way so they’re more than just basic, not because we’ve sewn them, but because of the design details we used.

  8. I totally believe that what I’m wearing can affect my mood. I have a black and white polka dot skirt that always makes me feel better when I wear it. I also have clothes that I can only wear if I’m already in the right mood. One of the best things I’ve discovered about sewing for myself is that I no longer save anything “for best” – I can wear anything I’ve made whenever I want because if it wears out, or gets stained/ripped/whatever I can always make it again (and often the new version is better than the original because of different fabric choices).

    • That’s a great outlook about not cherishing what you sew. While I wear everything I make, I easily get freaked out if anything happens- like a stain. It feels like I’ve completely ruined something I spent so much time on. I’ll have to keep in mind what you said about knowing you can make it better.

  9. I always dress for my mood – or for what my mood needs to be! Knowing that I look awesome is a real confidence builder for me. But I love dressing for the days when I don’t have to be awesome, too. I like what you said about using your sewing time to make unique pieces – I do the same thing. I buy my basic suits – in my job, I have to dress at a certain level – but my blouses, tops and dresses are usually items I have designed and made myself. Weekends I can be totally self indulgent – love it.

    • I agree about self-made clothing being a big confidence builder. If you take a look at my previous post, Sewing for the Life You Want, I mention making office clothing with wacky linings. I enjoy it as a tiny rebellion- if I have to dress a certain way then I’m going to do it as much on my own terms as possible. Although I’m lucky now that my current job allows me a lot of latitude with what I can wear.

  10. Lol! We are totally on the same wave length. I just ordered one of the key components to re-working my wardrobe. The shoes (or boots in this case)!!! I am so stingy when it comes to shoe shopping and of course I only love the super expensive styles:-p But I decided if I am going to reinvent my look I need to spend a little money on really doing it right and the shoes play a crucial role. These boots would look pretty stupid with my stock yoga pants. Be expecting to see some transformation posts in the near future:-) Looking forward to see what you do!

  11. You write so well about such thought provoking things. I have to think about your post for a while before I can comment on it. Great post.

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