Deconstructing “It’s Comfy”

We all have those clothes – RTW or handmade – hanging in our closets. The go-tos for slouchy days that keep you from looking like you walked out the door in PJs. The ones for imperfect weather days, if it’s chance of rain or 90 degrees with humidity, because they stand up to whatever life has to throw at them. Those that, if you work in an office like me, you can throw on without thinking in the morning and know that it’s appropriate office wear. The clothes that you wear so much that you (maybe just me) start to wonder if you wear it too much.

When pressed for a reason why it holds such a place of honor in your heart and wardrobe, the only thing you can come up with is, “It’s so comfy.”

Let’s deconstruct the whys behind what makes a garment “so comfy”.

Most of these takeaways will seem like over thinking common sense, but I often find that my common sense leaves the room when I’m fabric or pattern shopping. So, it’s important for me to identify the reasons why a garment is highly re-wearable while I’m sewing or RTW shopping. In a perfect world, ALL my clothes and sewing projects would be highly re-wearable (excepting special occasion items).

For this exercise I’ll be using a RTW top from my closet that fits my definition of comfy, so while the checklist logic is transferable, my criteria for comfy and the “comfy takeaways” might not work for you.

The Example Garment

Front, back, and side views (the quality of these pics are why I’m not a profesh blogger)

Front, back, and side views (the quality of these pics are why I’m not a profesh blogger)

Neckline is faced on inside, front and back, smoothly covering any bumps from pleats and enclosing raw edges

Neckline is faced on inside, front and back, smoothly covering any bumps from pleats and enclosing raw edges

  • Fiber content: 95% rayon, 5% spandex
  • Fabric: smooth knit jersey, definitely not a stable knit but hasn’t sagged out on me yet; a firm lightweight or a lighter mid-weight jersey
  • Color: bright-ish green, slightly more on the yellow-green spectrum than blue-green that the pictures show
  • Design lines and construction (because we’re sewing nerds):
    • Raglan sleeve attachment on short, almost cap sleeves that are gathered at the sleeve hem with elastic on the inside
    • Straight cut on bodice below bust, with front and back pieces the same width
    • Pleats on scoop neck serve both a design and functional purpose by providing some bust shaping
    • Facings – see pictures
    • Seams finished by serging

Wardrobe Versatility: How does it fit into my overall closet?
My two default color palettes are earth tones and brighter cool jewel tones, both of which include this green. I wear this shirt in both my 9-to-5 and on the weekends.

Comfy TakeawayThe color/print can be worn with the majority of my closet, neutrals and non-neutrals, and the garment can be worn in the two most significant time-chunks of my life (work and weekends).

Fabric Care: Does it wash well? Do I need to press or other fussy prep work between wash and wear?
Machine wash, check.

No pressing, check.

Comfy TakeawayFibers and fabrics that are the most washing machine friendly (for my machine, this is primarily cottons, rayons, and synthetics). Construction that can withstand machine washing (serging and machine-stitched seams hold up well; not so much hand stitching or bias cut on everything). Garment style that does not require perfectly pressed fabric, such as a tailored shirt, combined with a fabric that is wrinkle-resistant or doesn’t need perfect pressing, such as linen or the no-wrinkles-here knit fabric in this example.

What makes me want to wear it?
I wear this top when I don’t feel like putting effort into my outfit du jour. I wear it in really hot or really crappy weather, because dampness is a tolerable discomfort with this shirt. If I’m deliberately outfit planning, then I’m up for actually putting effort and thought into what I’m wearing, so I’ll end up challenging myself to use something that’s not in regular, constant rotation.

Comfy TakeawayGarments that don’t require “thought” because it’s basic and flexible enough in design (color, detailing) and fabrication (fabric, fiber) to do anything (tucked/untucked, casual jeans to work slacks, range of motion) and go anywhere (weather, work, casual).

How do I feel about myself when I wear it?
When I wear it for the office or out-and-about, I want to feel confident, competent, AND comfy – ratty old louse-around-the-house shirts only give me the comfy part. This is a smooth rayon jersey, so it feels positively delightful against my skin.

I’m human, so I sweat, and I need fabrics that breathe well and don’t retain moisture and scent. The shirt is primarily rayon, and the low spandex content doesn’t interfere with its ability to breathe wonderfully. When I do sweat through it, the material dries relatively quickly and doesn’t seem to trap BO. To feel good, I need to know that I look good AND smell good under pressure.

Comfy TakeawayThe physical properties translate into a metaphysical “feel good”, defined by whatever adjectives fits (un-self-conscious, confident, pulled together, composed, interesting, not overwhelming, etc.). Fabrics and fibers that make me forget it’s there and don’t irritate the skin . Fibers that breathe, don’t create a steamroom effect, and don’t excessively trap odors under them when I sweat.

What’s the range of motion?
The knit fabric, looser fit, and the raglan sleeves give me full range of motion in my arms and body without feeling constricted anywhere, worn tucked in or flowing loose.

Comfy Takeaway: FREEDOM!!! To move.

How much work needs to go into putting it on?
Does it need special foundation garments? Does it have hard to reach by yourself zipper or closures? How hard is it to use the restroom? Does it need an underlayer garment for modesty?

Comfy TakeawayNothing extra needed beyond a basic bra to get it on my person and make me presentable for public; just pull on over my head and go.

Ending Notes

On the Comfort to Aesthetic Value spectrum, this particular shirt is on the extreme polar end of the “comfort” side, criteria for warmer half of the year. (Criteria for winter would differ slightly but not dramatically; more of an emphasis on warmth.)

Comfort to Aesthetic Value Spectrum

Comfort to Aesthetic Value Spectrum

The recent upsurge in fashion blogs for capsule wardrobes and sewing blogs for “PAC” and “Sewing With A Plan” (SWAP) sewing show that we are becoming more conscious of getting the most out of our clothes, whether purchased or handmade. For me, analyzing what I already have that I use the most is the first step towards a sewing project that will get plenty of mileage.

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12 thoughts on “Deconstructing “It’s Comfy”

  1. Like all this, and would add: neckline can be counted on to flatter face, no matter day, makeup, or skin condition. (That’s a deep vee-neck or flat boat for me, not a scoop, but everybody’s gotta figure out her own.)

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  2. Great post! Knit tops definitely fall into my comfy range as do long lightweight cardigans. I also find good jeans with 1-2% lycra fall into my comfy zone, too.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Great post! I’ve started to do the same with some of my favorite garments. That is, overanalyze why I enjoy wearing them so I can make things I’ll actually wear. Unfortunately, practicality is not abundant during fabric or pattern shopping for me either.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Shopping practically is definitely hard, but I find that I’m less easily distracted by “ooh pretty prints” when online shopping. Still a lot of temptation, but I try to apply a similar mindset when fabric shopping as I do when RTW shopping – I need jeans, tee-shirts, and notions for the 2, so I’m going to stick to those “sections” of the store, rather than saying, “Ok, I need a whole new wardrobe.”

      Going to Joann’s in person is a sure-fire way to come home with regret fabric purchases.

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  4. I think the biggest problem so many of us have is that we are too distracted by the pretty dresses (or whatever) that we really don’t have a need for. I know that I see other bloggers sew up pretty dresses and then I want one too, but I chase around after two boys all day–couple that with the occasional farm work, and dresses just don’t cut it.

    BTW, if you are looking to make up another blouse like that in a different color, try Kwik Sew 3593. It’s pretty much exactly that. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for the pattern tip! I actually own this shirt in 2 colors, the green shown and a blue, so I really shouldn’t add a third colorway of the same style to my closet…

      I’m with you, I see dresses sewn up on blogs and think, “ooh pretty, I wants, my precious!” before I snap out of it and realize I only wear dresses during the warmer half of the year. So, I’m better off planning separates projects that are somewhat less glamorous but that I’ll wear for 11 or 12 months out of the year.

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  5. The not needing special underwear chimes with me. I refuse to make anything that doesn’t cover bra straps in the usual place, has deeply revealing armholes or ultra low back plunges.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, it’s really not practical for day-to-day wear to have to dig for the strapless or long-line bra, or worse, go with the silicone cup bras. My mornings are best spent eking out every minute of sleep I can, instead of futzing around for the right foundations or deep thoughts on an outfit. Special occasion clothes require special occasion underwear, but unless you’re an Oscar nominee during awards season, not every day is a special occasion day.

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  6. Pingback: ‘Well that didn’t work’ | Tropical Threads

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