It seems anything stereotypical of the 2000 decade isn’t something that we who lived through those times tend to look back upon with a mix of nostalgia and disgust. There is a lot of things that I felt good wearing back then but am in no hurry for it to resurface as a trend for 2022, and I am guessing many of you, my dear readers, are in the same boat. Yet, just as the story of Britney Spears has remained relevant in the headlines for the last 20 something years, so has the all denim look that she popularized seem to have a quiet staying power for fashion. Britney Spears is a music star in her own right, but her iconic denim-on-denim style has had its own lasting fame just as popular as her songs.
In recent years, the rich and famous from Meghan Markle to Dua Lipa (just last month) and more have been spotted rocking a modern spin on the “Aughts” trend. Not that I really care what celebrities are wearing – they are often terribly out of touch with the common person on the streets. Even still, people love to emulate celebrities because, after all, that is how Britney’s double-denim trend took off in the first place! Here in the United States, we seem to have a year-round, all-occasion, undying love for denim, so a continuation of the trend just makes sense anyway. I just took the idea one step further and not just paired up different denim washes, but combined colors of novelty denim for a personal, self-crafted take on the trend.
I’m rewinding back 18 years with this post, where I am still wearing the same outfit that I was wearing in 2004 – complete with the same shoes and hair clips! The blouse is a vintage-inspired 1990s ready-to-wear favorite but the skirt is me-made from back then. I was trying to channel my sense of style as an awkward teenager while still trying to stay in touch with trends on a very limited ‘fun money’ budget. I don’t think I did that badly at all pairing this outfit together back then because I still love it, not just for being wearable and relatable for today.
I only recently came back to tweak the skirt with nicer finishing details and gave the blouse a slight refitting, updating both to suit my body of today. Now, I can enjoy this color blocked denim skirt for years to come still, and thus never grow out of the one thing about Britney Spears’ influence on early “Aughts” fashion that I most loved. I appreciate when I can still wear and respect the items that a young me crafted early on in my sewing journey! It feels so full-circle to relive my better fashion choices which I made in my past and reclaim them as an adult. It is all these little things from 20 or so years back which speak to who I was then and what has made me who I am today. I may now be appeasing more of my vintage tendencies than I did in the past, but I am still finding ways to marry both old ways of dressing and modern fashion through crafting my personal style. Not much has changed, after all, I suppose!
FABRIC: dual tones of medium weight all-cotton denim lined in a cling-free polyester lining
PATTERN: New Look #6389, year 2004, view D
NOTIONS NEEDED: lots of thread and a zipper
TIME TO COMPLETE: I no longer remember how long this took me to create, but I do remember it was as easy as was labelled on the envelope
THE INSIDES: cleanly serged (overlocked)
TOTAL COST: There is no way I remember what the cost was from 2004, but I needed two cuts of each, about 2 yards in length of the lighter color denim and about 1 yard of the darker…with really good denim as this is not being cheap!
A long length, 3 yard, all denim skirt may sound heavy and oppressive, but this is not the case once my garment is worn. The curved, bias panels create a wonderful cut to the skirt so the grain of the denim flows (as best denim can) and wraps around me, moving with my every move. After crafting this skirt, I believe that utilizing a bias cut in denim is the best and most comfortable way to wear several yards of the hefty material. Furthermore, lining the denim skirt with silky polyester – and also cutting it out on the bias – keeps this whole skirt substantial while still relatively weightless and an absolute joy to wear!
The eye appealing play on colors that the arched paneling provides visually shapes the silhouette of the skirt as well. It is slimming, yet flared out past the hips for both ease of movement and even more interest. How the dual tone panels hang, depending on how I move, changes the look at every viewing angle. There is so much complexity here for what may seem a ‘simple’ skirt. I am still very impressed that teenage me had the crazy idea for this in the first place. I’ve always enjoyed taking calculated chances with my sewing practices. I haven’t yet had a time where these bold chances don’t end well, but this one is an extraordinarily success, especially when I consider how far my sewing skills have come since 2004.
That being said, I could no longer fully enjoy wearing the skirt exactly as I had made it with a sub-par elastic gathered waistline. It was what the pattern provided for, but was a bad idea for a heavy denim skirt. My skirt was too substantial of weight and too shifty with the bias cut for mere elastic and the gathered waist made my middle bulky whether I tuck a skirt in or out. Last year, I had enough of it, and wanted to appreciate this skirt as it deserved. So I revamped the waistline into something slimming, sturdy, and up to my current higher standards for my handmade wardrobe – a darted fit with a zipper closing.
To start with, I stitched a basting line around the waist under the casing to anchor the lining and denim together. I detest unpicking, so I then simply cut off the old elastic casing, keeping my basing line. Next I installed a center back zipper under a slit faced with some thick cotton sateen scraps from on hand. The obvious, significant progress just seeing the improvements to the skirt at this point already made me so excited, but it needed some tailoring still!
With the skirt on me, I figured out where and how deep to add in darts to fit. I did a combo of pinning and marking with my water soluble ink pen. Then I took the skirt off and re-measured all of my markings to make them symmetric around my body, even, and perfectly measured out. No wonky, haphazard, slapped on darts here! I did a bunch of smaller darts to both spread out the fullness in increments as well as keep the bulk down. Finally, I made a bias faced finish along the skirt’s top edge, turned that under, and top-stitched it down. It’s simple, lays smoothly, and easy to undo if (at some point in the future) I ever need to tweak the darts again. Now, my skirt is perfect!
I still get such a laugh over my choice of decorative, novelty top-stitching for the side seams down my skirt. This is something I did when I first made the skirt in 2004, not anything newly added afterwards. It is a trailing leaf design. I am not sure if I love it or not, but I do not detest it. I vaguely remember feeling that a solid, plain, straight stitch line didn’t have enough panache for such and interesting project, nor would it be enough to hold down the denim seam allowance. I didn’t want to have to do a double line of stitching, either, and I was fed up with never using the other 49 other options available on my mother’s fancy Bernina sewing machine. The decorative stitching did the job, and does sort of blend into the fabric from a distance. I do respect the fact that I bothered to alternate thread colors when I top-stitched the panels. The dark denim got thread the color of the light colored denim, and the other way around for the opposite color denim panels.
I almost always chose sewing patterns that were labelled as “easy” when I was sewing for myself as a teenager since I never really had much free time at all. However, it is the little, well-thought out details like customizing my thread colors which show me that I was still determined to not let my situation completely dictate my creative ideas. I don’t remember specifically realizing such at the time, but it makes sense, knowing myself, and I am not surprised at all. I realize this skirt was probably no longer “easy” for me to make the way I added so much to the original design by lining it, color blocking it, and using a challenging material such as denim. Yet, by doing such a good job back then, the only thing to “fix” 20 years later today was the waistline and closure. What I spent back then in extra time and attention was well worth it and paid off later on as I may have only hoped but never expected.
I specifically wanted to focus on the early 2000s for yet another motive besides my pure enjoyment of refreshing a past favorite creation. This oldie-but-goodie outfit is a mere appetizer for a bigger Y2K era project yet to come very soon – a dress suit! I take it as an important task to find the best redeeming factor possible for the betterment of our communal attitude towards those crazy early “Aughts”! I have realized anew that that many fashions in that decade were really not as bad as the general stereotypical styles of those times. Just hear me out on this and go look at the projects I have already sewn of a pattern from the 2000 decade – my golden tapestry wrap dress, my velvet “tree skirt”, or my leather and chiffon tunic. Otherwise, you can just wait for my Y2K suit to be shared! I hope this post’s outfit is a pleasing and unexpected example of something redeeming from that time. Furthermore, I trust my post will inspire you to think beyond those “easy” patterns to improve upon them with a good sprinkle of your own personal taste and creativity. Don’t be afraid to refashion and improve upon your own sewing creations, just like me, so you can enjoy them as long as you want to!