The Savvy Sage of Sewing Stimulation

Joanne’s Questions re: Investment Dressing

Two questions off the blog that show the dilemma a lot of folks run into when they are trying to start the investment dressing process.  (BTW, I LOVE questions, so ask away!)


From Joanne: 

I’m still trying to make a list of essentials for a working wardrobe. When I was a kid I had 3: play clothes, school clothes, and church clothes. It’s just not that simple any more. My play clothes include clothes for outdoor activities as well as the “bottom of the barrel” items I wear to do house work – that a spill of a little bleach will not ruin. Outdoor activities include swimming and walking right now. Instead of school clothes, I now have work clothes, but they divide into clothes for the office and clothes to wear to court. The clothes I wear to court will also work for church. As an adult, I need clothes that I can wear on formal and semi-formal occasions. Then the undergarments for all this!!! As I am working out a wardrobe, I am also changing sizes, which can be a bit disheartening. But I value of becoming healthy over a fully stocked wardrobe, so I do what I can and try to make choices that stretch. Any advice you have on essential pieces or other ways of looking at the wardrobe building process would be most valued. Thanks for all you do!!

(BTW Joanne is an attorney not a repeat offender!!!!  But you knew that already!)


Here’s the first recommendation for Joanne….go through your closet.  I know I am always saying this, but this is a matter of not only culling out all the stuff that gets in the way of you seeing what is useable/functional, but also gives you a great idea of what you need.   After you do this, you can see the holes much more clearly.




Next thing to do is your color palette.  There are four categories.  If you’re not that familiar with color, there are several books out that deal with this.  My favorite is Color Me Beautiful – it’s old, but it’s good.  Once you find your palette, this further eliminates other garments that you do not need.



Can you see what we’re doing?  We’re eliminating those things that are not in the correct color palette, that don’t fit into our style of life, that don’t fit us and what we aren’t using any more.

Then there is size.  As Joanne says she is loosing weight, after a recent discovery of a health condition which is now being treated is causing her to enter into a weight-loss program that is doing just what it’s supposed to.  For now, she is still in a state of transition.  When she settles into a certain size, then she can begin to really work hard on her wardrobe.

In the meantime, she will have to add a few things that will be transitional:  that means she may have to let them go quickly, or that they can be altered easily (like a loose garment with a belt).  And she will most likely be faced with having limited options until her weight and size settle down a bit.  This will be a temporary situation, and hard to avoid and hard to endure – it is for a short time, but it’s easy to realize that the up side is tremendous here – smaller size, and the thought of a much more functional and fabulous wardrobe.

It’s hard for Joanne to do too much in the meantime while she is loosing weight, except plan and get herself ready for the transition.  She could make a few garments for that smaller size, but I don’t like recommending this.  For one thing, this can put a guilt trip on you that can sabotage you.  Secondly, making something that doesn’t fit is always tremendously harder than fitting yourself as is.

So for this reason, Joanne can do some very basic fill ins here, but that’s about it.  In the meantime, she can plan for her future wardrobe.

Here are the planning steps she needs to take next:

  • Basic wardrobe components – prioritized
  • Style fill-ins (for each style category she has) that will be prioritized

Here are Joanne’s lifestyle categories which she fortunately has already done….she has several category of clothes

  1. Work clothes – A. Court & Church (more formal), B Office (less formal)
  2. Working around the house
  3. Cocktail, Dinner more formal Clothes

So the first thing she needs to do is set her basic category – that would be in all of her lifestyles..Work, Office, Cocktail/Dinner.

Using her color palette, she would have one outfit for each category.  I happen to know Joanne, and know that she is a Winter category of color, and would wear black beautifully.  As boring as that is, she would do well with an LBD and a black jacket.  This shuld be her first project to make.

The LBD can transform from Court to Work to Cocktail/Dinner easily, which change of tops and accessories (jewelry).  For example:

For Court: jacket & dress together with a nice Omega type necklace

The first thing to realize is that court is dependent upon really one person (or 12) and you’re either appealing to the judge or the jury.  So you can’t over dress nor can you under dress.  If you’re too dressed up in front of the judge, he/she is going to think you’re a little uppity;  if you’re too dressed up for the jury, they’re going to think you’re rich and either resent you or think you’re a show-off and need some comeuppance!  On the other hand if you are under dressed, then the judge will be insulted and the jury will think you’re not serious.  A lot to loose either way.  The best way to dress – as classic, plain and black and disappearing as possible.  You want them to see you and relate to you, but you don’t want them to see you too much or be obviously showy or not showy enough.

This sounds like a mind game, but it’s not…..a black dress with a black jacket (yes, boring, but that’s what we’re after here), and as one accent a small omega-type necklace.  Just enough classic accent so as to hardly draw any notice at all.

This is the perfect thing to wear to Court.

Back at the office, take the jacket off, and you can wear a short shawl or scar around the neck.  An LBD, particularly a comfy one (get a fabric that has a hard finish woven with 3% Lycra in it) will take you a long way.

But say you have to go out with someone special tonite (after court, and an in-office meeting) no time to change.  Put the jacket in a clothing bag, and you have a scarf, and some jewelry.

Here are two looks.  Joanne (because she’s in the winter category) should wear only silver, pewter, platinum and white gold.  Depending upon the event – if she’s at dinner in a more conservative tone, the Pashmina wrap with diamond like studs and bangle bracelets (probably a few less that is shown here) work gorgeously.  If she’s in a kickin’ sort of joint with her honey and wants to look a little sexy, tighten that Pashmina up a little, wear all those bangles and dripping earrings for a little more celebratory look.  Same dress, just a few extra accessories.

Finally for church:

Black dress with black jacket and pearls and the diamond-like studs – perfectly dressy, yet conservative enough for church.

Three looks and all with two pieces of clothing and some accessories, which are size-proof.

1 Comment
  1. I know I haven’t said it lately or often enough – but you are simply AMAZING!! Thanks for all you do for all of us!!

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