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How to Break Out of a Style Rut and Wear Something New

Dear Jenny: How do I start wearing prints?

Posted in: Style & Wardrobe • July 11, 2022

Welcome to the third episode of Dear Jenny, a sewing advice column for everyone!

If you’re new to this video series, you can catch up on the Dear Jenny playlist on the Seamwork YouTube channel.

And now let’s see what advice Jenny has this week.

A Prints Newbie, I’m so excited for you! You have an infinite number of possibilities ahead, and I know how many possibilities can create a feeling of overwhelm and excitement.

Before we talk about how to add color to our wardrobes, I want to touch on something A Prints Newbie mentioned in their letter—the fact that they mostly wear black.

It’s ok to wear black

If you love wearing black, if wearing black makes you feel confident and happy, there’s nothing wrong with that! I think we should all wear whatever makes us feel good, and black can be an empowering color for sure. In fact, I have several black prints in my rayon challis collection (there’s actually a black version of this print I’m wearing now). Plus, I live in New York City, where black is definitely a staple color, and I will never stop wearing black.

Now, A Prints Newbie says they want to bring more color and brightness into their wardrobe, so let’s talk more about that.

Your style unlocks confidence

Wearing colorful prints can be so much fun, and experimenting with our clothes and personal style can unlock new feelings about ourselves. Trying new-to-us garment silhouettes and colors and styling ourselves in unfamiliar ways can help us see ourselves from new perspectives and can have a real influence on our self-confidence and self-love.

However, wearing colorful clothes can also make us stand out. And if you’re anything like me, you might be nervous about standing out and being judged by others. With this worry, it can be difficult to dress exactly the way we want or to explore what our ideal wardrobe might look like. So I challenge you to actively practice not caring what others think about your clothing choices. Practice catching yourself and redirecting your thoughts when you start to wonder what others will think about your outfit or how you look.

OK! With all that in mind, let’s talk about incorporating more colorful and printed fabrics into our wardrobes.

4 Ways to Bring Prints and Color Into Your Wardrobe

I’ve got four ways to add color and prints to our wardrobe, but first, I want to remind us all that the only person we need to dress for is ourself. Yes, there are times when we’ll decide to dress following established rules to minimize any potential harm that we could receive from dressing differently, but I do believe that we should all dress in a way that makes us feel our very best—even if that means wearing silhouettes or colors that others might not like or approve of.

1. Start small

First, we can start adding color into our wardrobes in small ways. We can try wearing bright-colored shoes or jewelry with our usual all-black outfit. Or if we’re feeling really nervous about wearing colors or colorful prints, why not start by wearing bright undergarments to keep our exploration into color a personal secret for now. Starting super small can help us test out different colors to see how we feel about them and help us get used to wearing brighter things over time.

2. Incorporate a single color or single-color dominant print with neutrals

When we’re ready to add more color and print to our clothes, try a single bright color or a print with one dominant color. I like to start with a color I’m already comfortable with and try adding that color to other neutrals.

For example, a bright-colored tank top paired with black or indigo jeans.

You can also try adding a bright color to an individual garment made primarily of a neutral color.

Let’s say you’re sewing the Seamwork Bud or another button-up shirt. You could make the shirt yoke and the sleeve plackets a bright color or a single-color dominant print, while the rest of the shirt is a solid neutral. Adding the color to pieces in the back of the garment can also help us ease into this new wardrobe we’re making.

3. Follow your intuition and make it work for you

When we’re ready to expand into new-to-us colors, I want us to remember that we can absolutely wear all the colors! Even ones we’ve been told we can’t for whatever reason.

Perhaps though, you really love green, but you feel like you just don’t love the way green looks near your face. Let’s practice listening to our intuition, then consider ways to experiment with these feelings.
So we love green! But maybe this particular version of green isn’t making us feel great. Why not test different versions of each color to figure out the best versions for ourselves? Do we like a more blue-green or a more yellow-green? Do we like a darker green or a paler green? A richer green or a more muted green? Each color comes in different hues, tints, shades, and tones, and I promise there’s a green out there for all of us.
The other thing to consider is that colors and prints will look differently when worn on different parts of our body. So just because we don’t love that bright grass green as a shirt right next to our face, we might really like it as shorts or as a panel on a color-blocked skirt.

4. Research and copy what’s already been done

Finally, when we’re ready to start mixing different colors (or maybe different prints), do a little online window shopping to see how other designers and makers are mixing colors and prints. If you find an image of a colorful outfit you love, why not try making and wearing that same outfit or using that same color combination? We don’t need to invent every idea ourselves, especially while we’re still in the early phases of introducing more color into our wardrobes. I love leaning on the creativity of others to help me try new things.

Before I go, I invite you to practice working through our fear or discomfort so we can try those things we want to try. Let’s push ourselves to find more self-confidence and more joy in our everyday lives. Whether that’s talking to strangers at a sewing social event (watch Dear Jenny Episode 1) or wearing all the colors of the rainbow in one outfit, we should all try new things and create opportunities for ourselves to explore and grow.

Thanks so much to Seamwork, and I can’t wait to see you next time on Dear Jenny!

Watch Dear Jenny on YouTube

If you want to get even more advice from Jenny, check out the Dear Jenny playlist on the Seamwork YouTube channel.

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