I don’t usually make New Year’s resolutions but I’ve got a lot of creative and personal goals that have been adding up since my momentous birthday two months ago, and I feel like setting them to sail this month.

Last year I started taking stock of my wardrobe as a way of acknowledging my age. I was soon to be 40, and that means something in terms of style and expression, right? While I wanted to challenge myself to me more experimental with fashion than I’d ever been I kept thinking about investing in some classics, things I’d want to always have around for the next 20 years.

I came across a book called The Pocket Stylist, which at first I was afraid would come down on the stifling side of fashion prescriptive-ness. I really don’t need prescriptions. But I was pleasantly surprised to find a kind of French motherly guidance on the art of dressing well. Understanding silhouette and composition on a body helps one’s style just as learning these basics in design make for better photographs. The book’s advice ranges from dressing for your figure to guidance on makeup and undergarments. It kind of bypasses all the now-ness of fashion to help a woman understand her DNA of style, no matter her age or lifestyle.

In all of this I realized I have a lot of special unique pieces but few basics. I live in a fashion-schizophrenic world and my clothes reflect that. We have more disposable clothing than ever, and on the other hand more bizarre fashion statements than ever. I need some things that say, I’m here no matter what you feel like today. I go with everything; I’ll last forever. Like a good nude lipstick. Or a shirt that goes with everything. I don’t own a single white t-shirt. I haven’t bought a pair of jeans that fit me in four years. I have a lot of fancy heels and boots, but not a single pair of neutral-colored dress shoes.

So I’ve been trying to fix all that. I’m thinking this year will be the year of investing in, and sewing myself, some of these basics.

The first thing I really want is a good trench coat. I never thought I’d wear one, they’re just so beigey, but the fact is a trench would be a pretty useful coat in Texas. “Everybody” says a trench should be in every woman’s wardrobe. I’ve seen them on all types from teenage punk to mature woman and gotta say, they can be pretty cool.

I’ve thought about making one and in fact own both a McCall’s and Burda pattern for trenches (it seems like I have a Burda magazine pattern for everything, but I’ve yet to sew any of them) and even some taupey cotton twill that would make a perfect trench, but all the flaps, belts and buttons just scream time I don’t have to sew.


{via Burda Fashion, September 2010 pattern}

And I definitely don’t want to sew jeans, although loads of people have done that successfully. Although I’d love to tackle a basic white button-down shirt.


{via Burda Fashion, October 2010 pattern}

And a few t-shirts. I wear stripes a lot and will definitely be making another black and white stripey tee.


{via Burda Fashion, issue February 2010. Excuse the cheesy yacht dude.}

This might be the year to get over my fear of sewing trousers and make some summer linen pants.

How about some classic coats like an old-school parka or a simple blazer? I’ve got to find an excuse to sew another jacket after my experiments with the Lady Grey coat.

And a safari jacket is up there with the trench coat. I used to have a beat-up army jacket and this might be the thing to take its place:


{via Burda Fashion, May 2010 pattern}

Or silk pajamas? I have to admit I’m pretty lazy in the pajama department but they’d be so easy to make.

So I guess I’m setting both style and sewing resolutions.

What are some basics you always want to reach for but never have?