Friday, 9 August 2013

A Wardrobe Re-examined

Since discovering the change in my work-wardrobe needs, I've gone back and re-evaluated the wardrobe that I'd planned out.  Unfortunately, the conclusion I came to was the that the list of clothes I had was not really a functional wardrobe. It was more a list of styles that I wanted to include.  

Luckily, I've since found Mary Brooks Picken's Harmony in Dress! Mary wrote a number of etiquette books  between 1915 and 1957.  Harmony in Dress was written in 1925 and is all about the etiquette of proper dress.  It's at least 20 years before the styles that I'm looking at, however its hard to turn down a lovely ready-made list of what a 'proper' wardrobe would consist of.  

Mary includes an itemization of the wardrobes required by School Girls of various ages, 'The Home Woman', 'The Business Woman' as well as information on travel and morning wardrobes.  I've come up with a hybrid of the Home Woman and the Business Woman's wardrobes that I think will work well for me. 

The Business Woman
One of the first things I noticed about both of the wardrobes is a distinct lack of separates. There is one skirt and blouse set in the Business wardrobe, presumably to match the suit jacket.  But the Home wardrobe doesn't even have that.  I'm not well enough versed in 20s fashions to know if this is a general fashion, or if Mary is writing for a specific class of society.

One of the smaller differences I noticed was that the Business Woman needs twice as many hats as the Home Woman.  The only explanation I can come up with is that the Business woman goes out more often, but I'm really not sure.  She also needs an extra pair of shoes... 
The Home Woman
I'm not sure if this is a modern idea, or if it's because my workplace has a black/white dress code, but I'll need at least some separate items between work and home.  However, there is some overlap between the two wardrobes, so I certainly won't need both in their entirety.  

I started by combining the two wardrobes together and eliminating the overlap.  Then, I traded some of the dresses for tops and skirts.  I love dresses, and I would never plan a wardrobe without them, but while I'm building my wardrobe I think I need the versatility of separates.  

I'm also not sure about the underwear, hosiery, footwear, hats and miscellaneous.  These are also the parts of my wardrobe that I'll likely have to purchase, so I think for the time being I'll let them happen as they do and I'll focus on them once my clothing is sorted out.  

So, my revised wardrobe plan is as follows:

1 Winter Coat
1 Spring Coat
1 light suit jacket

3 casual dresses
1 light afternoon/officce dress
1 wool afternoon/office dress
1 light office dress

Skirts and Waists:
3 casual skirts
3 casual tops
2 office skirts - heavier
2 office skirts -  lighter
5 office tops


  1. I'm just glad the home woman gets shoes. Not to follow the old "Barefoot and pregnant" trope, of course. :P

  2. Well she'd hardly be presentable to entertain if she have shoes. Barefoot and pregnant came later. This is the era of vacuuming in high heels. (Ok, maybe not really, but leave me to my visions on this yah?)