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Sewing for Myself : Figuring out My Style in the Middle of Change, by Sarah (@meinthemeantime)

Eclectic. Fun. Creative.

Years ago, while preparing to go to a family event, I walked into my parents’ room and asked my father “Do I match?” And my dad laughed and said “Sarah, you’ve never matched a day in your life. And somehow it always works.” I recently told that story to a coworker and she also laughed and said “That’s so funny because the other day when you walked into work, I thought to myself ‘Gosh, I would never put those colors together but Sarah makes it look good.” I love what this story says about me.

Romantic. Light. Happy.

I love clothes. I absolutely love expressing myself through what I wear. I don’t necessarily follow trends or understand current fashion. I wear what I want and what makes me feel good. But, I have found it difficult to put my style into words. I tried to create a pinterest board and didn’t even know what words to type in. And as my life and body have changed over the years, I have wrestled with how to dress myself. All my life I’ve loved dresses. So much so that for years, if people saw me in pants they knew I was either very depressed or ran out of clean clothes. After I had two small children and enrolled one in a co-op, I quickly learned that dresses weren’t always conducive to wrangling toddlers. So I needed to figure out how to incorporate pants into my wardrobe in a way that felt authentic to me. Cue a mini identity crisis that coincided with a life-changing diagnosis.

Comfortable. Functional. Easy.

I started sewing in 2019 shortly after I learned I had a severe form of lupus nephritis (an autoimmune disease that attacks your organs). First sewing was an adaptive creative outlet - something I could do sitting down. But as the impact of the disease and the powerful treatments drastically changed my weight and appearance, sewing became a way to dress my body in clothes that fit me and felt like me. However, I still couldn’t quite identify my style.

Sassy. Elegant. Bold.

So I found a website that had steps to help you figure it out. The foundational step included an inventory of your current favorite clothes and outfits. When I did that I quickly identified a pattern, but there was one problem: all those clothes fit a body that I no longer had. So how do I dress this body with its curves in different places? I noticed I struggled to find inspiration looking at clothes on other people’s bodies, especially when they don’t look like mine. So I set out to understand and articulate my personal style.

Abstract. Universal. Beautiful.

Before beginning, I followed several sewists who look like me. Then, my first step was to experiment. I began pattern testing which introduced me to shapes and skills I otherwise might have missed. The second step was to notice which colors and shapes made me feel most me when I wore them. And then I looked for inspiration outside of fashion, in the colors in my home that called to me, in the shapes of trees my eyes are drawn to, in the qualities of people I feel connected to.

Floaty. Flirty. Eclectic.

And a more clear vision emerged. To test the results of my little private experiment, I asked my friends and family to share words that described my fashion style. I was so pleased to see how nicely those words fit with my self-analysis. I would describe my style as fun, eclectic, happy, romantic, floaty, breezy, and with a touch of hippie. I think I shall call her: Floaty Flirty Eclectic. My dad said if I were to design and sell clothes, I should “just call it Sarah because no other name could really characterize it.”

Style. Me. Sarah.

More than the articulation of my style, this journey has taught me essential components of what “style” means to me. I have learned that style is fluid and flexible, changing with my mood and current lifestyle. I welcome and embrace that change. Style is experimental and I’ve always loved to play with clothes. For example, for months in high school, I only wore shirts made of scarves I found in my grandmother’s antique chest. So my style is a way to continue to express different parts of who I am. Lastly, I learned that my style effectively translates who I am on the inside to how I look on the outside. I noticed that the words that people used to describe my style also describe significant parts of my personality. As a person who values authenticity this was encouraging and beautiful to realize. No matter how much my body changes or my life changes, the core of who I am is consistent. I have the incredible opportunity to create a wardrobe for myself that expresses just that. And I don’t even have to match. =)

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