Dressing Out Loud

Heading into summer, I’m determined to make my wardrobe bolder, stranger, and and more badass! My teenage years were defined by trying desperately to “fit in” at school, then my twenties were all about developing a professional wardrobe… in my early 30’s I started sewing and revelled in making a wearable comfy wardrobe. Now that I’m heading into my late 30’s (36 in June, baby!), I feel ready to stand out from the crowd sometimes. What’s the point of sewing if you don’t sew your dream wardrobe?

(Ok, so it helps that I finally have a permanent job in the city, and won’t shock people so much with my sartorial choices!) 

Here are some of my favourite “dressing out loud” creations from the last year or two:

Dressing Out Loud

Left: Groove Dress in a bold print. Right: Tribute Month dress inspired by Oonabaloona!

Dressing Out Loud

Left: Sallie jumpsuit. Right: Cocoon dress in large-scale floral. 

In solid colours, there are these boxy styles that also play with texture:

Dressing Out Loud

Left: Textured Velvet Ebony. Centre: Silk Noile Ultraviolet tee. Left: Trinbute Month Suki kimono in iridescent woven. 

Honourable mentions that I haven’t quite figured out how to work into my wardrobe:

Dressing Out Loud

Left: Wax print maxi. Right: Winslow culottes. 

On the flip side, I sew a lot of clothes that make me feel pretty in a conventional way, like my Comino Cap dresses, Santa Fe tops, drapey cardigans, and maxi-dresses.

Dressing Out Loud

I will always love sewing and wearing those clothes… but I also enjoy clothing that makes me feel powerful and unique. For me, that usually means a boxy cut, drape and volume… or really giant prints that turn any pattern into the avant garde!

Dressing Out Loud

With that in mind, I’ve got some ideas for future projects: 

  • colour-blocked dresses like the three on the left, which are from Gorman and Tata Naka
  • drapey knits like the Tilton Tee (I’ve already bought the pattern) and this Simplicity cocoon dress
  • a really bold large-scale geometric-print Suki Kimoni jacket
  • another Closet Case Pattern Sallie Jumpsuit
  • and to be practical, some basic black/grey/white tees to mix with my culottes and wax print maxi!

Are your tastes getting wilder with time, or do you aim for elevated classics? 


23 thoughts on “Dressing Out Loud

  1. Ha ha, you had me worried for a moment, I though “O Gillian, what next?”, but I like your taste! I’m excited to see what you come up with!

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    1. Hehehe – I think my version of “rebellious” is still typically restrained! 😉 Nothing TOO crazy here… but definitely a little more fun!

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  2. I love this post (and that wax print skirt!). We are totally opposites – I have spent so long trying to like big colours and prints on me, because they look so great on others (you included!). It never feels right when I wear them, so am going back to smaller scale / geometric prints, textures and solids!

    Go enjoy standing out – you look awesome 🙂

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    1. I really like textures and solids on other people! I’m rather obsessed with linen tent and cocoon dresses, but i just know I don’t want to wear solid linen!

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  3. Gillian, I love the fact that you’re going BOLD !! I’ve always liked bold stripes, colors, etc., but thought that due to my weight issues, I should wear ‘just black’!! Someone suggested I wear 3/4 sleeves also. Hello! I live in southern Arizona! ! I enjoy your posts and confidence. I smile every time a new post comes through. I’m going to give ‘boldness’ a try!! Besides having a weight issue, I wear loose pjs , does you know of a pattern w a bralette in a pj top? Keep up the great work!!

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    1. Rules about dressing as such BS, aren’t they? But you are right, things that people warned us to do once can stick with us for a long time. As for pyjamas, I just bought the new Tropo camisole from Tuesday Stitches (aka the renamed Seamstress Erin), which is a fitted long tank with shelf bra. Would that work for you? https://tuesdaystitches.com/shop/tropo-camisole/

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  4. I’ve never been afraid of colour and I doubt that is going to change tho’ I also like the idea of classics to make getting dressed (especially in the winter) easier.
    I like your choice of colour-blocked dresses, especially the yellow-sleeved one on the left. What is the name/designer of that pattern?

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  5. I don’t know that I can answer this q right now because I’m in a microclimate (life-wise). I can barely be bothered to wash my hair much of the time these days, much less make (or buy) exciting things but I usually love clothing and style (as you know) so I have to assume this has as much to do with the chaos in my life as with my changing ways. When I was your age, I had my most fun and exciting sartorial time to date – knew myself, what I liked, could afford it, body was behaving in a way I understood and liked etc. As I’ve moved more into my 40s, I’ve become less interested in patterns and colours, more in drape (to some extent so that I can appear to have retained my pre-peri-menopause shape). To clarify: I have lost the weight that really upset me a few years ago, given the way I changed my diet to improve my bone health, but I have little time to maintain my fitness, and no question, one’s body does not retain tone optimally in the late 40s without giving it the effort. Oh well, I’m trying to be an example to myself. This is a moment in time and I hope I will return to my former love of fashion.

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  6. I really love your taste, Gillian, and adore just about everything that you sew for yourself. You really know how to put together a stylish but comfy-looking wardrobe. Saying that I love your bolder choices the most, especially your “Oona” dress and that absolutely wicked wax print maxi. You have such an eye for shape and proportion and colour. In my 30’s I totally lost my way style-wise. I was always a huge risk taker but seemed to have metamorphosed into a beige, boring middle-aged woman, especially since I have just about doubled my body weight. I would love to wear stuff that was more me but don’t know if I still have the balls to do it. We will see. I look forward to seeing what you come up with. Xx

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  7. I honestly don’t know! I feel like my style has always been more typical silhouettes and crazy prints, and I don’t think that’s changed. I’m at a point now where I’m trying to figure out how to get more cohesion in my wardrobe without having to sew a bunch of boring solids to go with my prints. It’s challenging when I’m really a separates girl. I need to learn to mix my prints!

    Also, I didn’t realize we were so close in age. I just turned 37 about a month ago.

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  8. Yes! What a fabulous personal challenge! I definitely identified with the desperation to fit in as a teenager – I was so painfully conscious of that when I was at school and I didn’t want to appear different. Thank goodness for getting older, I say! You can have so much more fun with what you wear when you’re not bothered about what other people will think. I’m looking forward to seeing what you make this Summer.

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  9. Hi, Gillian! I Will turn 65 next month, and in the past I have mostly aimed for elevated classics. I sewed for myself from age 8 into my teen years and beyond, but dropped it due to complications from fibromyalgia as I got into my late 30’s. I have just recently taken up sewing again and your posts have been a big inspiration to me. I am finding that I am drawn more to edgy styles now than I would have been previously. This past weekend I found the Hallå pattern site and am loving the look of their styles and the edgy color and print combinations portrayed in the photos of their “ real makes”.

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  10. I covet your Sallie Jumpsuit 🙂 As I’ve gotten older, I find I have distinct seasonal uniforms: overalls/Renfrews/Hudsons/cardigans in the cool weather and linen pants/Maya Tops/smock dresses/cardigans in the war weather. I also stick to a palette of 6 bright colours that all work well together

    You know how much I love your style 🙂 I am so looking forward to seeing your new bold makes!

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  11. I really love this post and especially all your “out loud” outfits. That wax print max and the oona dress are stunning.

    I like your observation that boxy shapes, drape, and volume = powerful feeling. I feel the same way!

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  12. OH, that Suki Kimono sounds fabulous! I think the Suki is a perfect pattern to step out of one’s comfort zone with.

    Of course, you’ve just shown us that you are fearless when it comes to colour and pattern and print! Your makes showcased here are all fabulous!!

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  13. This will be fun to watch! Having a permanent job is a great opportunity to flash a bit more YOU. (Says the girl who just signed permanent papers in January)

    I find I’ve waxed and waned in my stunt dressing over the years. It depends to some extent on how my mental health is—I’m more out there when I’m happy and confident. When I was anxious and stressed I dressed more to hide. On the other hand as I’m feeling a little more settled in the last six months or so I’m craving easy comfort. Or maybe that’s just winter!

    Have fun!

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  14. I love your style no matter what you make. It is very clearly “Gillian” in each case. I try for comfort in my sewing, but also style. Be that 40’s, 50’s, 70’s or this decade’s business casual. I sew it all and wear it all. I have come to the conclusion that using my color palette in my fabric choice and focusing on fit makes it all flattering and joyful to wear. I think you have both flattering fit and your color palette down to a science so now you can go wild with silhouette and interesting details. Go that extra mile and make a statement of joy and self ❤

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