Sunday, October 24, 2010

October Refashion Challenge III - Refashion #21 :: Bella

This time I started out, again, with a crewneck sweater that's been sitting in my closet, unworn, for several years now. Like the blue sweater, it's a bit large on me:

Anyways, as I was thinking about what new type of refashion I could tackle for my third crewneck, I was inspired by the black color to make this refashion very classic and simple: black and white, light embellishments, and a ballerina neckline.

Hehe, my dad only managed to catch one eye! Serves me right for tilting my head. Anyways, this was quite simple to pull off. I simply removed the ribbing at the neck, then I put the sweater on and measured where I wanted the neckline to reach - in this case, I extended it about 1" width-wise in either direction then curved it down and blended away to the front center. In the back, I lowered it about 1.5" and made a similar curve. The fact that it perfectly echoes my clavicle is, between you and me, the happiest of coincidences. I took the sweater in about an inch on each side, and narrowed the sleeves, too.

Courtesy of Sigrid's recent tutorial, I used some bias-cut silk ribbon to finish off the neckline by simply encasing the raw edge and handstitching in place. I got two sizes of buttons: one set to set off the neckline, and one set to hold my turned-up sleeves in place, as before:

Remember that huge fuss I made about handmade wedding wear? In the end, I wore this sweater and black slacks, set off by a pair of faux pearl studs, a peacock feathered headband and my hair pulled back in a bun, and a ring/bracelet set from my aunt. Very black and white. Very "erg, it's an outdoor wedding in a foggy part of California and the weather forecast calls for rain, I would rather be warm than fancy." Very "let's be honest, that gray dress is a tad too small and it has no stretch, I'd rather eat comfortably than be fancy."

Given that it was the Ritz Carlton, I was probably the most underdressed person there, although I like to think that personal style counts for something, so maybe we'll say "understated." And though I was ultimately happy with that choice, it did create a fair amount of hand-wringing on the night before the wedding.

The thing about Silicon Valley is that it holds enough people who don't think twice about dropping hundreds on an outfit, that whenever a fancy-type social event pops up on the calendar, it gives me pause that my handmade garments are somehow "good enough." Meaning expensive-looking enough, meaning fashionable enough, meaning ... well, meaning that they don't even look handmade, if I'm honest with myself. It's a strange type of inferiority complex, made stranger by the fact that I've known the bride and groom for almost 15 years, known my circle of friends who attended for over half my life.

Honestly, nobody who really knew me would care what I wore so much as the fact that I was there to share in the happy occasion, and as I stood there fretting on Friday evening, I realized I just needed to get over my insecurities and figure that if I just stepped into the room with confidence, nobody would even see the clothing I wore, just the smile on my face and the happiness in my eyes, happiness that these high school sweethearts were finally tying the knot after 10 years.

And maybe some people did point and whisper, but whatever. This is just who I am. And OK yes, maybe my mom does have a point that I could keep an eye out for some fancier black pants [and that, no, I can't just add fancy decorative trim to existing black pants ... she totally knows me, as she's the one who pinned in this sweater at the waist and arms] ... and OK yes, maybe next time I won't finish my outfit the night before the wedding [actually, I didn't even get the sleeve buttons in place in time] ... but I am happy I stuck to the plan and didn't resort to my high school Homecoming dress, if only because that's what I wore the night the bride and groom went to their first school dance together. Although, hm, now that I think about it, maybe that would have been poetically fitting ...


poet said...

This turned out very pretty! I'm inspired to try incorporating more buttons in my self-made garments!

I completely agree about the strangeness of our society with respect to dressing for formal events. But there's no need to feel awkward, I think: I always feel like I beat the system when I show up to such an event in a self-made or thrift-store gown that cost me $20 or so, and look as chic as the other people who spent hundreds on their dress... :)


Violet said...

Sounds like how I would have dressed for a wedding. It's only in the last few years that I've managed to get away from minimalist black and white.

willywagtail said...

It's perfect. No need to worry because other people don't have taste or are compressed by the parameters of fashion catalogues and labels. Cherrie

Stephanie N. said...

It's so classy!

Roobeedoo said...

I spent the weekend tying myself in knots worrying about a tartan-themed wedding. In the end I decided to buy mad tights and a giant hair bow: both in bright red plaid. If I get mysewign finished in time I will add a plaid top and a satin skirt, but if not I am going for a punky funky mismatched "look"... and to hell with burgundy! ;)
I love your refashioned neckline - very "Audrey"!

Alexandra Mason said...

It looks wonderful!

Ali said...

Hooray for you! There's something to be said about chic, which you can't buy ;) The sweater's classic, and ditto on the button-love. I hope you danced a lot. That's my favorite part of weddings -- it's the only time I get to indulge my undying love for the Macarena and the Electric Slide (or perhaps the proceedings were more tasteful?)

I agree about the reality of living in an area that's both wealthy and yet casual, special events become a big brouhaha. But erring on the side of personal style, I think, is always the best, even if only for the confidence needed to pull off any ensemble.

So, I was thinking, could I recruit you for a refashion project? I've got a knitted poncho handmade by the boy's godmother and that I've never worn. It's knitted, so I'm terrified of cutting into it. Free for a consultation? I mean, for the love of knitted things, you probably should stop me from making a mess of things ;)

sigrid said...

This is my favorite sweater re-do ever. The black and white look with that neckline is so perfect.

And yes, I think we can all relate to the insecurity about dress that these formal occasions create. Does spending a lot automatically give one the confidence to look chic? Perhaps. Best to just imitate the attitude .

Zonnah said...

I love it and think it looks really flattering on you!

Anonymous said...

You did an awesome job! You have what it takes-don't doubt it and wear your stuff with pride and confidence-that's worth a million bucks.

Anonymous said...

Lovely and well-played. The neckline looks great on you - and I like the button detailing.