My Last Jacket

boucle1Well, first off let me say that I know this won’t be my last jacket…but I would like to aim for something less formal. I started sewing again over fifteen years ago in order to make jackets for my job as a university professor. Even though I live in Southern California, ground zero in the casual clothing movement, I liked to wear jackets when I lectured to students. Who knows what they thought, sitting there in pajama bottoms and cut offs, but it gave me a sense of authority.

Now I’ve been retired almost four years, but I keep making similar jackets. They might look great in a lecture hall or a conference room, but they don’t really fit my life of reading, blogging, and walking to the library.

After consulting many blogs and wardrobe planning books, I have learned that I am what is called a “table top dresser.”  On the bottom, I wear an endless stream of dark colored pants, now mainly navy blue. On the top, I wear either dark or patterned tops and some kind of jacket, except when it is very hot. It’s the “some kind of jacket” that has me stuck.

This particular creation, made of bouclé (a fabric made of twisted yarns of different sizes)  took a very long time to sew. I didn’t want the hassle of a Chanel-style jacket, with its patch pockets and trim. Instead I thought I would whip up an easy one from a tried and true pattern that used bouclé but didn’t scream “lady who lunches.” The fabric had other ideas.  Because it disintegrated on cutting, I had to leave very wide seam allowances and mark the stitching line with hand basting. Now I have a dressy jacket that weighs about ten pounds. Maybe I can wear it to the theater come winter.

Although I have begun to make cardigans, somehow they have not yet replaced jackets in my sewing pantheon. They don’t have the same heft, the same substantial pockets, the same challenge as a jacket.  But I will say this for cardigans—they always get worn.

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8 Responses to My Last Jacket

  1. Jen O says:

    The fabric you found for this jacket is gorgeous! To me, great color and texture like this textile has is best seen in a simple cardigan jacket like the one you have made. It’s all about that wonderful fabric, isn’t it.

  2. It is such a beautiful jacket! I understand about unruly fabrics though. They tend to take the fun out of the process for me.

  3. Looks beautiful and very Chanelish! (They don’t always have to have trim…) I’ve decided that jackets like that aren’t all that dressy if you wear them with jeans and a simple top. At this age it’s good to stand out from the pack.
    And I always think I’ll “whip something together” and it never happens!
    Great job!

  4. Thanks for the expression “tabletop dressing”! That jacket has lots of great colors in it — it looks like it would pair with all sorts of bottoms — not just navy and brown. Have you read Advanced Style by Ari Seth Cohen? It’s a book, not his blog, but it’s full of inspired dressing by women of retirement age and waaaaay beyond. One wears a blue tweed Chanel jacket with tan chinos, big earrings — and she’s fabulous at 90 or so!

  5. Martina says:

    For something more casual–and if you can forego sleeves–how about a lightly padded vest (sometimes called a body warmer)? A bit ago I was searching for something to wear on walks or for running to the store that would have enough pocket storage so I wouldn’t have to pack a purse and that would provide some warmth but not be as encumbering as a coat or jacket. I bought a body warmer sort of thing at a thrift store and have liked it well enough to consider making a couple more.
    I’m making rather than buying so that I can get the right length for me and pockets just where I want them.

  6. M-C says:

    The jacket is beautiful. But you know, spending a lot of time sewing stuff that doesn’t fit your life is only a smidgen above sewing stuff that doesn’t fit your body :-). Maybe you can make a conscious effort about cardigans? Make more interesting, varied cardigans that you feel like wearing? In fact , if you’re in LA maybe you can just experiment with interesting tops, and leave the 3rd layer to that work world? I’m sure the librarians would still be nice to you :-).

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