What do I wear now? Sewing wardrobe planning for a post-pandemic work-from-home-life

What do I wear now? Sewing wardrobe planning for a post-pandemic work-from-home-life

For most of us, the pandemic has caused a permanent shift in worklife.  If your company hasn’t completely shifted to remote work, you may now be offered the chance to work remote part time. And remote workers are all WFH until June at least, until a wide use of vaccines brings people back to offices (part time) safely.

So what do I wear now? What do I sew now? I looked at the things I was wearing, and picked the best, most comfortable patterns that fit my new life.

My bet is fixed waist pants might never return – so there are a lot of options here to help you sew comfy. This is the fall/winter/early spring edition.:

Chic, but still comfortable bottoms:

Track pants/joggers:

I like the Tailored Track Pant from HotPatterns. Released probably 8-9 years ago, in the very early days of chic track pants, these are easy to sew and come with trouser cuffs below a slim track-pant leg silhouette. A classic channeled elastic waist (sewn on) with pockets rounds out this well-fitting track pants. I added a classic jogger cuff, but you can also do elastic channels on the ankles if you’re using woven fabric. People also rave about the Jalie joggers (Jalie runs slim but comes in 27 sizes so it’s versatile). A tip, the HP joggers feature a fit that is perfect for curvy hips (you can see this in the line drawing). But if you’re not curvy, just flatten the waist curve before sewing the waistband for a more straight fit!

Elastic waist woven or knit pants:

My go-to pant is the Christine Jonson Taper & Wide Leg pant. This pant has a wide leg pant with a slight taper at the ankle, perfect for pants that are roomy but not too crazy wide. If you prefer a straight wide cut from hip to hem, just chalk that onto your fabric as you cut. These have no sideseam and take about 20 minutes to sew (perfect if you suddenly find yourself with pandemic weight gain!) I love adding a cargo pocket to the side, there are some stylish options in the September/October 2020 issue of SewNews magazine to try.  This one is for woven OR knit pants (in the wide leg), for the skinny leg one, make these in Ponte with a yoga waistband instead. Like ‘loose leggings’.

Pietra Pants and Shorts are my newest fave for woven fabrics. With a center front seam, angled front pockets, a high front waist with stay and back elastic, these pull on pants come in wide leg, shorts AND skinny leg pants. Seriously, I’m in love. I might never go back to skinny jeans with these.  A similar one for ponte knit is the Christine Jonson Perfect Pant Skinny.

Emerson Pants & Shorts: A cropped wide leg pant, perfect for warm weather or showing off your fancy booties, these pants are a pleated front, elastic back pant that looks like a trouser. If you have to go back to the office, make these. You can also quite easily extend them to full length pants too. Just draw them longer with chalk on your fabric when you cut them out.

Try longer midi skirts instead of pants

I like the Christine Jonson Base Wear Two knit skirts or the Pencil and Tapered skirt. I’ve sewn both in knit fabrics and they are so comfortable. These look great with booties or sneakers.  Knit skirts, in my opinion, are the perfect bridge between casual and workplace. When I travel, I wear these as they are way more comfortable than pants. I love the Christine Jonson Ruched Pencil Skirt in the midi length sewn in a soft rayon/lycra. I made one of these in a fun print, and wore it on an overseas, overnight flight. With my thick plane socks and a warm sweater, I was so comfy. Yet, when I landed, in Dublin, bleary eyed, at 5:30AM, I still managed to look good!

Hot Patterns makes a fun curved-hem drawstring waist skirt, a 2-hour A-line skirt both of which sew up in about an hour (I think the two hours is “check Instagram a bunch of times and go get some coffee” rating!)

Perfect WFH tops & tees to sew:

With the pandemic, I’m a sucker for a cozy sweater or sweatshirt. HotPatterns makes the most stylish tops that look fancy but are comfortable. To that end, the Beatnik Sweatshirt, the Superstar Sweatshirt and Sweater Dress are both great options for stylish, but fancier sweatshirts.  You can wear these to work, no problem. Whether that be the commute down the upstairs hall or to your actual office.

For a base layer, hands down, my favorite base layer tee shirts for well-fitting basics are from Christine Jonson. The Banded Neck Tee, the Raglan Tee and Turtlenecks are my favorite. The Shirred Turtleneck is the nicest looking turtleneck you’ll ever wear solo.

If you want a woven tee shirt, I like the Scout Tee from Grainline Studio. Well-fitting (make the top a smaller size or two than usual, as the neckline will gape, the size lines are close together, so I just use a larger seam allowance of ¾” to alter for this.) I’ve made this in cotton voile and silk noil from my LFS, and it’s divine. Looks great with jeans or any of the pants or skirts listed above. Hot Patterns makes a number of tee shirt style blouses for woven fabrics, too.

And for a cozy sweater option, check out the La Megeve Top and Pants from my new favorite line, Naughty Bobbin Patterns. This top is for faux fur (OMG!) or fleece or other heavy-ish fabrics. PLUS, in the “looks like a classic shirt, but in knit” try the Cookie knit shirt! The pattern company offers both a Hollywood-inspired set of patterns, as well as basics that are exceptionally well drafted and thought out.

Wraps, capes, jackets and coats in a WFH world:

I love a good cape or wrap – blanket style at my WFH desk (slippers on my feet) or draped just so cross my shoulders when I walk the dog, these are perfect for your wools that you’ll never make into business suits again. Go for a ruana cape, or a rectangular cape or even a poncho.  You don’t need a pattern for a ruana or a rectangular poncho, instructions abound on the internet.

For cozy knit fabrics like ponte, French terry and fleece, I like the Hot Patterns Glamour Poncho and the HP Fast & Fabulous poncho. These all look great with track pants.  Some people have made both in woven fabric, and I concur, with the RTW sizing, you can make your sewing pattern size and get by with a drapey woven fabric. In HP I wear my RTW size which is an 8, instead of my sewing pattern size which is a 12-14.  

If I have to wear a jacket, the knit moto jacket from Christine Jonson Patterns is a favorite. I sewed one in navy ponte and left it on a connecting flight in Los Angeles and was so sad. But I got way better navy ponte from my local fabric shop, so I am making another. I also have one in black. This jacket makes everything cooler. Wear it over anything I’ve listed here for an instant style update. But, still feels like a knit cardigan – because it is!

Coat-wise, I’ve sewn the Cambria Duster twice now, which my LFS owner says is a “socially acceptable bathrobe”  – just be sure to use a more coat-like fabric (I used heavyweight linen) or it will look like a robe!  Feels like one at your WFH desk though, so go for it over track pants and a tee.

I’m also going to make a couple of longer cardigans from the HotPatterns Birthday Mini-midi-maxi Cardigan pattern. And I have a coat-weight heavy rib for the Mighty Morphin Cardi Coat also from HotPatterns. Seeing a theme here?

I’d also love to sew a sleeveless Nikko turtleneck (and sleeved turtleneck dress from the same pattern) for 2020, to wear under cardigans.

I work at my desk at home, and I work standing in my basement – my shoe of choice in the winter is a FUgg boot (faux Uggs), and in the summer, sneakers. All of these are chic enough to wear with sneakers or booties for walking the dog, or riding to my LFS, but still comfy enough for WFH.

I will WFH forever more (I used to own a building for my office, but sold after 15 years), but when I do return to my nomadic coffee shop life, these garments will come with me!