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The Conference Suit

March 20, 2011

Over the years, I’ve found nothing counters the stress of writing (for academic purposes, that is) better than creating something tangible. My original blog came about from that very discovery. Thus, confronted with a paper to write and deliver at my professional society of choice’s annual meeting, it seemed only logical to me that I should make my suit for the conference, too.

(One might argue that in reality, nothing increases the stress of writing a conference paper than deciding to make the suit to wear to deliver that paper, but as you may have noticed I prefer to ignore logical logic.)

Wearing suits usually makes me feel like I’m playing dress up. I don’t usually wear them, they tend to be more conservative and/or formal than I need, and they never, ever fit me well. This one isn’t tailored or anything, but I think it avoids all of those. I actually ended up being a bit overdressed. (Oh well. I also read my paper too fast, because my session started 8 minutes late and guess who was the junior scholar on the panel.)

I got a great dark dark brown cotton with a subtle stripe at Winmill fabrics (for $5 a yard! And I would have paid $10!). It pressed well and had a nice feel to it, but I chose to underline for a more structured look to the jacket. I ended up underlining with a sheet I bought on clearance at Target for making muslins. Who knew?

The jacket is New Look 6867, with a lot of modifications. I made two muslins to get the fit of the princess seams so it didn’t overwhelm my small-ish top half. I also added flat piping from the fabric on the bias. Most importantly, I added a seam to cut across the fronts from the neckline to the underarm. I was drawn to the neckline in the first place, and this highlights it further.

I lengthened the sleeve from three-quarter to full. My modifications require me to mess with the armhole, and I ended up with a very non-traditional shaped cap. It worked–I don’t know how–but it has emboldened me to experiment a bit more in this vein. My mods ended up making the sleeve too short with a traditional hem, so I separated the outer layer from the underlining for a few inches at the bottom and just sewed them together. I like the bit of spice the underlining adds when I gesture, which made air quotes more tempting than usual as I delivered my paper (don’t worry, I resisted the temptation.)


The buttons are the best I could do with a very pathetic selection at you-know-where. This is pathetic, because I live 20 minutes away from Windsor Button, but sometimes being done is more important. I can always change ’em, but I have to admit the bit ‘o bling is growing on me (especially now that I’ve seen pictures).

The skirt is just a straight skirt. I’m quite proud of it, though, because this is my first one and I figured out how to add a lining. And do a nearly invisible hem, yesssssss.

And, because I was happy, I signed ’em both.

PS The most amusing anecdote regarding this ensemble is that I met a fellow scholar from Ireland. As we were discussing our work, he suddenly said in his delightful Northern Irish accent, “I have to ask, where’d you get your kicks?” Which was funny, because I’d picked them up on clearance ($25) at the last minute at a JCPenney’s in the middle of nowhere Tennessee while curtain shopping with my mother-in-law. And I hadn’t brought my wallet, so she bought them for me. Still need to send her a gift card to make up for that!

PPS I have to be the most awkward model ever. Any tips for good self-timing shots?

2 Comments leave one →
  1. March 21, 2011 12:11 pm

    Whoa. Dude, you made a suit!!! And a beautiful one at that. You have such mad skills. It looks so perfect on you. Plus it has a real modern, chic vibe.

    PS – LOVE the signatures on your clothes. What a cute idea.

  2. March 25, 2011 5:32 pm

    This is stunning. It fits perfectly and looks so beautiful and tailored. LOVE. I am in awe of your mad skills.

    Also, I love your shoes too.

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