Wardrobe Planning Tips from Rachel Pinheiro

We have been inspired by all the handmade wardrobe planning tips from our favorite sewing designers and bloggers this year, and this issue’s installment – from Rachel Pinheiro – was no exception.

By Rachel Pinheiro of House of Pinheiro

(Read the full article in the June/July issue of Sew News.)

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Developing Your Personal Style

Going down the rabbit-hole of personal style has been a fun journey. I love thinking about fabrics, shapes, moods. I’m a visual person. I need to draw, collect fabric, create inspirational boards and test ideas on a daily basis. When asked how I have created a body of work with such a strong sense of personal style, I tend to say that I pick things that I love. Instead of categorizing what I wear on a recognizable formula, such as classic, modern, etc., I follow three directives.

Does it make me feel powerful in my own skin?

Is it comfortable to wear?

Do I know where I’m going when wearing it?

Another useful tool is categorizing my whole wardrobe, including my sewing plans and what I buy (new or vintage), as individual functioning elements. Everything in my wardrobe is categorized as either a foundation, key or statement piece.

Foundations are the clothes I pair with my key pieces when I want to look more casual. These garments are usually a bit more generic and offer a starting point, functioning as an outfit basic. Use this type of clothing to introduce new color palettes, trends, seasonal fabrics or specific trend details. For example, I love wearing turtlenecks during autumn and winter, so I continually introduce new fabric textures and colors, in addition to trying different sewing patterns. Sometimes I will have a turtleneck substitute project, such as a sweater pattern. I usually know how and when I will wear each item.

The key pieces are the workhorses of my wardrobe. I try to keep the fabric choices of the highest quality as those garments are meant for longevity, worn over and over again. For key pieces, I try to stay within my favorite neutral colors for maximum wearability. I will often sew key shapes and lengths that cannot be dated easily, such as a pair of tailored wool trousers or leather circle skirt. For these items, avoid using trends as inspiration.

Statement pieces are one-off items with wow factor. The clothes allow me to explore design concepts and interesting construction methods or use really precious fabric. Or make a labor-intensive couture dress using traditional chita (cheap folk fabric from Brazil) just because I felt this was the perfect birthday party outfit. My statement pieces usually incorporate trends and unusual fabrics.

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I don’t know anyone that doesn’t have a few uniforms, or tried and tested matches. I navigate my different outfit formulas by toning it down (foundation + key piece) or toning it up (key piece + statement). My personal goal is balance those three elements well to fit within my lifestyle and my desire to create. Using this system, the same sewing pattern is easily adapted to any of the three categories depending of my most immediate needs. I satisfy my creative side by infusing my sewing with a directive to maintain a good wearable closet. I don’t intend to only wear handmade. Sewing a really standard basic white knit tee will rarely be on my plans, but identifying where my wardrobe is lacking makes me a conscientious buyer.


 Wardrobe Planning Tips from Rachel Pinheiro
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