During my teenage and young adult years, I had assumed that if I wanted to have an interesting wardrobe or be considered a stylish person I would need to own hundreds and hundreds of clothing items—it’s easy to feel that way when mainstream fashion media and red carpet stars seem to have completely new wardrobes every season and fast fashion stores like H&M encourage quantity over quality. I’ve let go of my “more is better” belief, but as I was curating my blog photos for this post it still felt taboo for me to show myself wearing something more than once within the same month.
But, if I am trying to cultivate a sustainable wardrobe and showcase my efforts in doing so, I will have to start choosing quality over quantity. One major signifier of quality is rewearability. Plus, I always get excited when I see a garment repeated in a blogger’s outfit posts because I like to see how someone wears the same piece over time; hopefully some of you out there feel the same way.
So, let’s start with my self-made red skirt. Yep, my last post featured it. And this post will feature it again! 🙂 Because I wasn’t kidding when I said that I love this skirt. It is truly a wardrobe workhorse!
Without further ado…
Three Ways to Wear One Skirt:
(1) Try color-blocking!
Here I’ve paired the skirt with the silk-blend tee that I thrifted from Crossroads Trading Co (first posted here). I really love the resulting combination of yellow, white, black, and red. I feel like I’m channeling a really angry bee in this outfit. I added my pair of maroon faux fur earrings (DIY! and half hidden against my hair…), because bees are a little fuzzy, right?
As an aside, I’d like to take a moment to note that these are the first and only photos of this skirt that I’ve posted where the pleats are actually sitting properly. If only those pleats would sit like that every time! Maybe it’s because I never iron this skirt before wearing it…
(2) Play with contrasting styles of dress:
I really like the contrasting silhouettes of such a short and tight top with the poofy and prim pleated skirt. The houndstooth pattern of the top, the fishnets, and the studded navy blue loafers add some punk rock vibes to what might have been a preppy silhouette.
(Apologies if anyone from the punk & punk rock scenes is reading this and believes I have used the terms incorrectly. I’m simply referring to fashion tropes, but feel free to enlighten me to a better use of the terms and/or a different way I could have described my outfit!)
Full disclosure: The houndstooth top is from American Apparel, a company that leaves me with a mixed bag of emotions. I like that they are committed to American manufacturing and they are widely accessible, but I wish they had more environmentally friendly options (like using more linen and organic cotton and less polyester) and their marketing campaign is arguably sexist. Usually I avoid them because I don’t want to support a company that I feel so uncomfortable about. But I couldn’t resist one of their recent summer sales, and I had been itching for an off-the-shoulder top for a very long time. I could have tried to make the top, but this was a case of convenience and price winning out.
(3) Try a tonal ensemble!
As an adolescent, I was never a huge fan of pink. To me it was “too girly.” Only in the past five years have I realized how sexist that idea is: inherent in my initial dismissal of pink as “too girly” is the idea that being girly is a bad thing, and inherent in that is a very specific (and false) idea of what it means to be a girl. Pink is not inherently a “feminine” color; it was actually once considered more suitable for boys. The meanings associated with one color can change with time, but ultimately a color is, well, just a color.
Once I started letting go of my stereotypes about pink, I realized I actually really like it. I like the attention-getting *pop* of a neon pink and the subtlety of a pastel pink. So when I was trying to find an outfit for my former roommate’s wedding, I realized that this neon pink sweater (thrifted from Goodwill!) and my red skirt would go great together! Add some pink-violet lipstick and my vintage red leather heels and I am a walking display of reds. I’ve always wanted to try tonal ensembles. While what I’ve done here is not quite tonal layering, it’s the closest I’ve ever gotten!
So why does this skirt work so well and get worn so often?
- Durability: I put a lot of care into the sewing of this skirt. While there are many things about it that I would do better next time, overall it is a very solidly built piece because I made it intending to wear it for years. The fabric I chose is also very hardwearing: it’s a medium- to heavyweight “eco twill” made from organic cotton and recycled polyester that was probably intended for bags and work clothes. Which means it’s a little heavier than most dress fabrics, but it won’t tear or wear down anytime soon.
- Color: The skirt is a solid color, which makes matching it up with other clothing items a lot easier because I don’t have to worry about clashing patterns. While red isn’t typically considered a neutral color, it works with a lot of garments I already own.
- Pockets: A lot of ready-made garments that are marketed to women do not come with pockets. And even if they do, the pockets are usually tiny and unusable. But pockets are inherently practical features; they exist to keep things in, oftentimes important things like keys or tissues for allergy season. And I like practicality in my clothing. I also like to have a place to stick my hands if I’m feeling awkward. The pattern for this skirt included pockets in the side seams (woohoo!), but even if it hadn’t, I would have found a way to incorporate them, because I NEED POCKETS. (For more information on the politics of pocket distribution between the genders, check this article out.)
- Silhouette: The pleated, knee- to midi-length skirt is a classic silhouette and can be worn well by people of a variety of figures. And, as you saw above, I can rotate this skirt between a variety of formal and casual looks, which means I’m going to keep pulling it out of the closet year after year.
- Weight: The skirt is not quite summer weight, but it’s not wool coat weight either. It’s a nice in-between that works in all seasons. In the summer, the skirt’s volume still lets air reach my legs so I don’t suffocate. And in the winter, I can wear tights with it without feeling too restricted.
So, there you have it. My trusty old skirt came back for a few encores, and will likely come back again. I hope you all like her as much as I do!
—S. (a.k.a. AMisplacedPen)