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The Wardrobe Architect: My Silhouettes


The Wardrobe Architect is a popular series that ran in early 2014. It’s currently being expanded (with help and feedback from you) into a comprehensive toolkit. You can read all the posts here. If you want to give feedback and get first access when the toolkit is finished, enter your email:

I thought I’d share the silhouettes I came up with for week 4 of the Wardrobe Architect.

I decided that it would be easiest for me to create different silhouettes for warm and cool seasons, since I tend to dress pretty differently depending on the season.

Fall and Winter

Let’s start with Fall and Winter. These were really easy to throw together since it’s Winter now and I could just look at the outfits I’ve been wearing constantly for ideas. I was able to break them down into five main styles.


Fall Silhouette No. 1: I live in knit dresses in the Fall and Winter (and Spring too, really). They are so comfortable and easy. This is one of the styles I wear most often, with a fitted bodice and a full, above-knee skirt. I sometimes put a semi-fitted sweater over it. It’s important to me that the sweater is short so it sits around my waist, or I think it interferes with the fullness of the skirt too much.


Fall Silhouette No. 2: A fitted mini or pencil skirt with a semi-fitted sweater is another staple silhouette for me. I almost always wear flat shoes with short skirts.


Fall Silhouette No. 3: The shift dress is a must for me all year long. Most of mine are Laurel dresses. Since shifts are usually short, I’ll go with flat shoes. And I’ll usually add a cardigan for warmth.


Fall Silhouette No. 4: A fitted pencil dress is so perfect in the Fall. Some are knit, some woven. I like them with long sleeves and a knee-length skirt, to balance out the fitted shape. A big warm cardigan or sweater coat also keeps it from being overtly sexy, I think.


Fall Silhouette No. 5: Cigarette pants are one of my most-worn shapes. I usually wear a sweater with them for warmth, sometimes with a button-up shirt beneath. Any kind of shoe works, though I wear flats most often.

Looking back over these silhouettes, it’s obvious that it makes sense for me to own a decent number of nice semi-fitted warm sweaters, since I wear them so often. And that I should probably have a few more knit dresses.

Spring and Summer

Our summers in Oregon are warm, sunny, and surprisingly dry. We usually have at least one major heatwave.

The thing is, Summer only lasts a few months and the rest of the year is cool and wet. But being a gal who grew up in sunny southern california, I am drawn to summer dresses like a moth to a flame. I have way more than I need, and most of them scream SUMMER. So one thing I’d like to do is have outfits that are a little more transitional.


Spring Silhouette No. 1: This is probably my favorite thing to wear in the summer: a cute sundress with a fitted top and a full skirt, and a pair of heeled clogs. It is so comfy and makes me feel lovely. Most of my sundresses are vintage and bright colors or prints, and I’d really like to add more in pretty neutrals instead.


Spring Silhouette No. 2: Again, the shift dress is a standby because it’s so classic and comfortable. Just add flat shoes or sandals.


Spring Silhouette No. 3: This is a silhouette I’d actually like to wear more than I do when it’s hot. Every year when the heatwave arrives, I am dying for a really bare, strappy, loose fitting dress to keep cool. I don’t think I actually own a single one currently, but I’d like to.


Spring Silhouette No. 4: This is another workhorse silhouette for me, shorts and a button up. I balance the short length on bottom with a cool, loose fitting button up, maybe in cotton lawn or chambray. I wouldn’t mind adding some linen shirts in there maybe. The great thing about this outfit is that I can do anything in it: ride my bike, work in my vegetable garden, go for a long walk… all thing I love in the warmer months.


Spring Silhouette No. 5: This is another silhouette I’d like to wear more than I do. I already do the cigarette pants a lot, but I’d like more loose-but-bare camisole style tops to wear with them. They’re chic and pretty, and show off my shoulders which I rather like.

Honestly, this exercise was a huge eye opener for me. Although I knew I liked and wore all of these things, I found it really helpful to actually list out the silhouettes I wear (or want to wear) in this structured way. I can really start to see the holes now, and I’m so looking forward to planning out my Spring/Summer capsule wardrobe soon.

If you’ve done yours (or just have some thoughts on the exercise), please feel free to add a link in the comments!

(If you’re curious about any of the items used in these collages, see my Fall Collection and Spring Collection on polyvore for the details.)

Sarai Mitnick


Sarai started Colette back in 2009. She believes the primary role of a business should be to help people. She loves good books, sewing with wool, her charming cats, working in her garden, and eating salsa.



February 11, 2014 #

i blogged about my silhouettes here:

i like fitted tops and more flared skirts – from a-line to circle. i am going to be getting rid of straight skirts and skinny jeans from my wardrobe i think! i knew these were styles i liked but i have been guilty of being swayed by current fashion for skinny jeans. for trousers and jeans, the slimmest i will go is straight legged, with more emphasis on bootleg/ flared/ wide legs to balance my silhouette.

i need more flared skirts and slim tops and i need to crack trouser making! and y’know, more dresses, obviously.

Kate McIvor

February 11, 2014 #

Thanks Sarai. I love this exercise. I posted my boards on my website:


February 11, 2014 #

Wow Sarai, I love just about all of the silhouettes you chose and would wear them myself! I need to add those to my silhouette collection on Polyvore – can’t believe I waited until now to use Polyvore for outfit planning, it’s a great site.

I posted my boards on my blog, here:

I realized that I love fitted tops with full/flared/A-line skirts and dresses, and I need more cardigans and jackets in my closet. I’m already starting to plan on things I need to make when the weather turns warmer!


February 11, 2014 #

I should really do this. I feel like I wear the same thing what ever season it is or what the weather is doing. I should try and pinpoint a few things I like but don’t wear enough and some new things that I think I would like but have never tried.

Rachel Kaye Estelle

February 11, 2014 #

Love these silhouettes! Beautiful. I’m a bit behind on this project, but I posted my core style boards last week here:


February 11, 2014 #

I have found it incredibly hard to come up with introspection about my own wardrobe (which I guess has its own message for me!), but I love your silhouettes. I would happily wear any of these outfits!


February 11, 2014 #

This has been so much fun! And a bit eye-opening. I realize I really like dresses and skirts but most of my dresses are summer things (like you I am drawn to them like a moth!). And I love, love, love wearing knits but many of the things I have sewn myself are wovens and the patterns I am drawn to are vintage and totally inappropriate for my life. I am so excited to get into sewing things more because they will make me feel good AND be practical!


February 11, 2014 #

Sarai – this is such a great theme. I hope you revisit every Fashion Week or yearly.

It’s so easy to be distracted by things that sparkle, as it were, and fall victim to buying/sewing something because it’s new or fresh….then let it hang in the closet because, for me, I rarely wear skirts/dresses, I look like crap in ruffly frou frou, I hate to iron garments to wear them…etc. I survive on the word Pragmatic.

Fashion week/change of the seasons/Pinterest….all tempt us with the sparkly new.

This exercise in FOCUS is much appreciated.


February 11, 2014 #

This exercise is eye-opening for me because it has forced me to look at what-I-settle-for-wearing (especially in winter) and what-I-want-to-wear. I have only two silhouettes for winter which is ten months here in Ontario. I need to expand that a bit. And my summer silhouettes are even less put together. I, like some of your other readers, have been swayed by both glittery styles and style-ruts. This is quite eye-opening. Thanks for doing this!


February 11, 2014 #

I haven’t done my actual post yet, though it’s scheduled to go up tomorrow. I seem to like a pairing of one fitted/one flowy thing–a fitted shirt with an a-line or maxi skirt, or a looser top with fitted pants, for instance. At least, as long as said looser top is long enough to cover my hips and backside, lol.

Marliese Thomas

February 11, 2014 #

As an hourglass girl, I agree with all your silhouettes! I don’t wear cigarette pants as much as I’d like, simply because it is hard to find some that fit well (that Clover pattern is burning a hole in my sewing room).

Also, I’ve gained some weight, so many of my semi-fitted hip-length sweaters are now more fitted waist-length ones, ha! Thank you again for creating this priceless series!


February 11, 2014 #

Love your silhouettes! I’ve posted mine on my blog and also have a Pinterest board (links below). Really enjoyed this exercise!

Jet Set Sewing

February 11, 2014 #

It’s a great exercise as your silhouette changes so much in your 50s. I find I have to think long and hard about not looking too young and not looking to old. What works for me is having a base that skims the body with accent pieces on top (jackets, wraps, scarves, jewelry). That and accepting yourself as being older so you can express yourself without hiding. The good thing is that after menopause, you really don’t care so much. Whatever your age, your best accessory is “joie de vivre”.


February 11, 2014 #

I’ve enjoyed looking at everyone’s sets. I’m still working on it, although I have noticed that I gravitate toward A-lines Knit Dresses paired with leggings. It’s true, that as I see what I love and will work for me, are the items I need to invest in.


February 11, 2014 #

What this exercise made me realise most was that, though I knew what shapes and styles I like, I have been ‘watering them down’. I love striking colours and patterns, but was afraid that wearing them consistently would make me look a bit crazy. As a result I can now see that many of the items I have in my wardrobe are just OK – they tick some of my boxes but not all of them. Which is why I feel so ‘meh’ getting dressed every day.

Polyvore turned out to be an excellent tool for actually building ideal outfits, I could create that balance between colour and shape, and when I saw them put together – they didn’t look that weird! (or at least, not to me…)


February 12, 2014 #

Your sets look really pretty! I agree that winter and summer dressing can be very different. I’ve come up with fewer winter silhouettes because for me, winter dressing has to be functionnal and there are just a few formulas that work well for me while keeping me warm. Summer on the other hand is fun! I find it so much easier to put together summer outfits that make me happy so I tend to play more with shapes, colors and prints.
So, I’m making a mental note for next year to really try to inject some fun into my winter wardrobe. (right now I’m focusing on my spring/summer wardrobe and have even begun sewing for spring).


February 12, 2014 #

This is fantastic. I attempted to put together a silhouette board, but it was stealing into my sleep time so I had to put it down. Then low and behold, all you lovely ladies have created exactly what I had intended. Tailored shirts, skinny jeans, pencil & A-line skirts and shift dresses with the ever present cardigan.

Ive gotten ahead of myself a bit, on a recent ski trip, I brought along a bunch of thrifted fabric and cut out some patterns. Mostly A-lines, sorbetto tops and laurel shifts. This is typically one of the most time consuming parts of my garment making regimen, and I enjoy doing this while on vacation… feels more relaxed. This winter Ive been making gobs of bias tape and I looking forward to finishing some new items with it.

Jen (stitchynotions)

February 12, 2014 #

I really enjoyed this exercise. It made me realise that I had become a bit ‘lost’ in my style.
This is a combination of getting older (late 40’s), working mostly from home and getting caught up in buying sewing patterns that aren’t really my style.

It has brought me back to the styles I used to wear which will hopefully simplify my sewing and my wardrobe. Just because I am older doesn’t mean I can’t wear those styles, I just have to modify them slightly. I have posted my experience on my blog: and also pinterest board :

Many Thanks for helping me to find myself again.


February 12, 2014 #

I really enjoyed going through the exercises these last couple weeks. My life has changed a lot in the last few years, but my style hasn’t quite caught up. Really sitting down and thinking about what I like has been immensely helpful, not only in thinking about clothing purchases, but also in what styles I want to make. I think when we make things, we can get caught up in the process and end up with beautiful things that never see the light of day. This has helped me be more thoughtful in my color and pattern choices for me made things.

I shared a bit more about the evolution of my style over on my blog:

And added my silhouettes onto Pinterest:

Thanks so much for creating this project. I really enjoy reading everyone’s comments and seeing the different ways we express ourselves.


February 13, 2014 #

Yes! Have finally put together 5 Autumn/Winter sets in Polyvore! Great fun! Haven’t figured out how to share them yet though, sorry. I’m also wondering why I only wear the same silouette every day in Winter – jeans, long sleeved top and a jumper with knee high boots. At least now I have more options to work on putting together for next year. It seems, like Sarai that I need more jumpers. I have also realised that I don’t wear skirts because I don’t have short enough tops and jumpers to wear with them. Now to make a start on Spring / Summer sets! Thanks so much for this series Sarai, it really is so helpful, I have never really thought this much about my wardrobe, which explains why I feel like I have nothing to wear!


February 13, 2014 #

I am loving this assignment! It makes planning sewing projects such a breeze. There is just one thing: I can see I wear lots of pants and dresses, but I have no skirts whatsoever in my wardrobe scheme. I’d love to wear them, but I don’t because I don’t know how to make a uniform out of them. Maybe I should go to the store (or my closet) and try on (not buy!) some skirts and tops to see what sticks…

Is someone else finding there are pieces they just don’t how to wear? Does anyone have any tips so I can learn?


February 14, 2014 #

Love your Silhouettes!
…but I have to say the spring ones are really geared towards young women.

Got any ideas for us older women that don’t wear spaghetti straps or sleeveless anymore?
Myself, I tend to favor loose elbow-length sleeves when it’s warm out – hiding upper arms.


February 14, 2014 #

These are my silhouettes, not ones I’m recommending for anyone else. These are my answers to the Wardrobe Architect exercises, so they’re meant to be individual.

You may want to look over the previous exercises in the series, especially the one on shapes.


February 16, 2014 #

Sarai, the climate over there sounds very similar to where I live, down here in Tasmania, Australia. We need to be prepared for cold more of the year.
Since I come from the very hot northern part of Australia originally, I’m partial to a lovely flowing sundress, on the few occasions it’s hot enough!
So that my dresses can be worn throughout the year I now avoid halterneck and spaghetti straps as these don’t work well for me in winter. Instead I go for dresses with wider straps, cap sleeves or even just a hint of a sleeve as I feel these work much better for winter, as I think they look good worn over a long sleeve top/thermal. Although this solution might be a little cutesy for you!


February 17, 2014 #

Is there any chance of a Colette fit-and-flare knit dress? I live in them in winter, too, but it’s so hard to find the perfect pattern.


February 17, 2014 #

Maybe. :)


February 18, 2014 #

This series of posts has popped up at such a perfect time for me. I am an art teacher in Indiana and I have been awarded a grant to study garment construction and pattern making, with the end result being a completely handmade wardrobe. The Wardrobe Architect is really helping me get focus for this huge project.

p.s. Laurel is the most perfect pattern I have ever sewn. Perhaps I’ll just make 10 of them and call my wardrobe done!


February 18, 2014 #

I am going to sound like such a dunce. I’d love to create a visual of my silhouettes, but where do you find all those great shots of clothing items? Do you just trawl through online retailers looking for examples of your look? Can you suggest any specific sites? I really am clueless.


February 18, 2014 #

I created these using polyvore. Should have made that more clear!


February 20, 2014 #

I love your strappy summer tops and dresses, but what do you wear under them? Strapless bras kind of take the fun out of summer tops for me.

Rachel Kaye Estelle

February 22, 2014 #

I found it incredibly hard to do this part. Which is why I’m so far behind! My silhouettes:


March 4, 2014 #

I think that my history of uniforms is coming into play here–I only really identified one silhouette: full bottoms (pants or skirts), fitted tops (with a deep V). Sleeve styles can change, and textures change with the season, but the basic shape is always the same. I feel like this makes my clothing choices boring, but it’s what I’m comfortable with. Upon consideration, I guess there’s a little variation in the fullness of the bottoms, too–straight skirts (not pencil) to half-circles… I guess I’ll really have to focus on textures and prints to make my wardrobe have some variety!