Black Grainline Archer
When I worked long hours and weekends were my own… I wore a lot of black. Then things changed. I had a baby, and quickly discovered two reasons that black wasn’t working for me anymore. One is obvious: as any new parent quickly learns – you end up wearing what the baby eats. Not a few cute crumbs delicately sprinkled, we’re talking smears of gummy baby food paste – plastered mainly across the front and back of whichever side you favour holding the baby. Black fabric accentuates this fine ‘paintwork’. Secondly, as I suddenly found myself spending hours standing in light-filled park as kids hurled themselves down slides, my black felt out of context. My world changed – and slowly my wardrobe did too.
But I don’t think this gentle drift away from all-black dressing in the past decade-and-a-bit was just me. I wasn’t alone – it seemed to be happening everywhere I looked. For many years, we Melbourne types used to pride ourselves in wearing all black – our town had a reputation for it. It set us apart from our arch rival, Sydney, and marked us as arty, serious, and vaguely European in our outlook (so we like to tell ourselves). But something seemed to happen in the early 2000s – and I’m pretty sure it wasn’t just my first baby! – and suddenly these all-black outfits, which had once seemed so chic and stylish, looked a little…dated. And safe.
My own secret theory regarding the demise of all-black dressing centres around Sex and the City. Well, SJP’s Carrie Bradshaw to be exact. That character really did expose many of us to a whole new way of dressing – of experimenting with crazy colour, print and texture, and having fun ridiculous amounts of fun with fashion. Say what you like about her dubious choice in men; her disappointing clinging in the last season to the traditional happy-ever-after; and those two awful movies that followed the final series; but Carrie B had some amazing outfits over the years (this Harpers Bazaar gallery has 50 of her best), and she really brought a joy to getting dressed that I suspect was pretty infectious. Black just seemed a bit drab in comparison.
But time’s moved on, TV’s moved on, and playgrounds are no longer my daily haunt. And recently I realised I have hardly any black in my wardrobe (not counting basics) – and I miss it. And again, I’m not alone here – lately I’ve been quietly admiring lots of new black-on-black outfits and pins and features in magazines (we’ve collected a few here) and getting excited about how fresh it all looks. Fashion is so fickle (or I am).
So I decided to make a black shirt. Reign in your excitement! It’s my second Grainline Archer shirt, but this time I decided to make the size smaller, which was a better fit. I skipped the front pockets again on this one, and chose the square cuff. Once again the pattern read like a dream but making a shirt is probably my slowest sew. Each step is doable but a shirt has so many elements to sew… cuffs, collars, plackets, buttons etc. It all takes time. Despite this, it was a pretty smooth make and I really liked working with my chosen black fabric – a very light cotton from Clear It that is just the weight I wanted as it feels extremely light but it’s still opaque.
I made this shirt at a recent craft camp and I’ll admit when I tried it on and buttoned it up there were a few jokes made about architects and sommeliers. It does look vaguely uniform-y but I kind of like that, and I plan to wear my new shirt to work. I’m daydreaming I’ll look modern and fresh and faintly like those willowy black-clad ladies crowding Pinterest. I’m just hoping in that mad family scurry to get out the door I don’t get toothpaste on it!