Design development: the every day wear-ability test

{at the park with the kiddos before my SS2011 collection release last year}

I’m sure you’ve had this happen before. You see a cute design and think, “oh that’s crazy adorable!!!” and then two seconds later you’re asking yourself, “but how would i wear it? would i actually wear it at all?”. It’s kind of the worst.

I don’t think most people realise this, but i’m really quite serious about my designs being wearable in real life, and appropriate for normal situations.

My passion for wearability means that part of my design development is what i like to call “the every day wear-ability test“. Which basically means, before i finalize a collection,  i wear the samples a lot, for a few weeks to test out how they work in real life. I don’t skip this step – it’s almost as important as pattern testing.

Does that sound a bit extreme to you? a bit strange? it’s not really. Here’s why i do it: If you never wear a garment made from one of my patterns, then it was basically a waste of time to make. You’ve probably noticed that i care a lot about whether you get a lot of use out of a pattern – that’s why i include so many ideas at the end of pattern instructions, and it’s why i include variation tutorials here on my blog. The same goes for my ready to wear collections – i won’t put it in a final collection unless it’s already in my heavy rotation, because it’s sad when you buy a special piece of clothing and never actually use it. I believe that if i don’t want to wear a sample every second of every day, if i don’t adore it, if i don’t find an excuse to put it on- then it’s not a valuable wardrobe addition. It’s also a great way to test whether i’m being true to my aesthetic. Lets be honest, i could design a lot of things i wouldn’t actually wear – so making a point of using my pieces in real life before releasing, is a great way to weed out the pieces that don’t have a true “Megan Nielsen” feel to them

That’s why i started the “every day wear-ability test”. I really don’t care about making ball gowns, or once off cocktail or event dresses. I’d rather you had pieces you could enjoy every day, that make you happy when you put them on.  It’s also why you’ll probably see more separates than dresses in my collections.

So whats in my test? It’s pretty simple. I take all the samples i’ve made (there’s normally something between 5-10 per design) and i put them in heavy wardrobe rotation, i’ll wear a different one every day for a few weeks. Then i go about my day. I go grocery shopping, i walk to the post office (up and down the big hill), i take Bunny to preschool, i carry heavy things, unload and reload the giant double stroller into the car without looking like a bafoon (it’s quite a feat, let me tell you dears), carry kids, sit on the floor (get jumped on by kids hehehe), go to the park, go on excursions, sew, sit at my desk – collapse in a heap at the end of the day – you name it.

If i feel stupid wearing said item in a normal daily activity. I can it. Done. If it doesn’t “work” in normal life (impracticality, wardrobe malfunction etc), then i also ditch it. And lets be honest, if i don’t want to wear it – how could i expect you to?

Though it probably delays releases a bit, i wouldn’t give this important stage up for the world.

So i guess if you’re really observant… you might notice a few future pattern sneakpeeks from time to time (also if you see me at the supermarket trying to unload my giant stroller whilst wearing a ballgown, you’ll know i’ve segued into evening wear … also please stop me hehehe)

Becoming a Designer series by Megan Nielsen

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  1. says

    I totally agree. I’m fairly good and making things that I will wear – no sparkly party dresses for me! Your research has worked. I’ve made 2 Darling Ranges dresses (one yet to be photo’d) and a Banksia (again yet to be photo’d) and I want to wear them all the time.

  2. says

    You’ll be happy to hear that I wear all of my MN clothes ALL THE TIME. Probably too often:) As I’m sitting here I realized I’m wearing my Kelly skirt right now, and I wore my Briar sweater yesterday. Seriously, I’m an addict. I love you and your sweet kids!


  3. says

    yes! the “everyday wear test!” lately i’ve made the shift to making sure my sewn garments are items that will get lots of use. the last time i made a dress that doesn’t fall into this category i was quite blah about it once completed. your efforts to make wearable patterns/clothes are not crazy!

  4. says

    This is a great idea! I think we all want clothes to look good, but ones that we can go about our everyday stuff, not have to get changed the moment we get home.

  5. says

    This is truly inspiring! I love to hear that so much thinking goes into your patterns! Thanks for sharing it makes everything so much more personal!

  6. says

    I’m not that much of a internet reader to be honest but
    your blogs really nice, keep it up! I’ll go ahead and bookmark your website to come back down the road. All the best