After all, isn’t the best way to follow up an enormous pattern haul a trip to the fabric store to take advantage of the $1.99 Simplicity and New Look sale? Okay, the truth is that I would have let this one slip by as I wasn’t yearning for anything in particular from Simplicity, and quite frankly I *never* yearn for anything from New Look. Until this morning.

I was catching up on my blog reading, on which I had fallen sadly behind while toiling and shopping in Helsinki, and I discovered Amanda’s latest and greatest Simplicity 6909. And you know how I feel about a feminine dress rendered in menswear. Her version is chic and adorable, and I’m going to need my own for work. I might have put it off, as I’ve got other projects lined up for now, but when I checked out the pattern, I discovered this view:

And that is pretty much what I was envisioning for my new houndstooth that I picked up at Eurokangas. I was going to draft it myself, but I’d rather pay New Look $1.99 to do it for me.

I’ve only ever bought one New Look pattern in the past, and that probably over a decade ago. For some reason, I’m never drawn to them. But I think this may be because I have a hard time getting over the way they are styled on the envelopes. I’m often not imaginative enough to get over my initial impressions of them based on the photos, which is too bad because once I really look at the drawings, a lot of their stuff is cute with lots of potential. But I’m often not drawn in enough to take a close look at the drawings. Today I picked out three New Look patterns:

Those are 6824, 6587, and 6909. (Again, crappy cameraphone photos, sorry!).  My point about the styling is that I find that a LOT of the New Look pattern envelopes really don’t do a good job of showing off the versatility of the patterns. Instead they tend to stick to a very “Sunday Best” aesthetic of pastels and bedsheet florals for a look that emphasizes “pretty” and de-emphasizes “stylish.” I have nothing against pretty, mind you. Nor do I have anything against pastels or florals, both of which can be used to stylish effect. But somehow this aesthetic repeated so frequently and amply throughout New Look’s catalogue really make me think of an outdated home sewn-looking wardrobe. Maybe this is the market that New Look is after, and perhaps there is a vast sewing audience whose sewing aim is a closet full of garden party dresses and the pretty floral skirts of your favorite kindergarten teacher, and for whom “chic” is not of interest. But given how versatile these patterns are it’d be nice if they did a better  job showing off potential variety that they offer. You know, for the unimaginative people like me :) As it is, I find that only a handful of the photos and illustrations of the New Look envelopes look stylish (6909 is one notable exception, though I still take issue with the boxy fit of the sample), even though a lot of the patterns could probably be made into very stylish garments.

As a counterpoint, these are two Simplicity patterns that I picked up (What. I know I said there wasn’t anything I really wanted, but I was there and they were on sale, and they are cute. Whatever.) 2403 and 2648:

In terms of the patterns, these dresses aren’t that different in character than the New Look ones, but they are rendered in fabrics that make them look much more chic (and, in my opinion, just as pretty.) Look how much less home-sewn this dress looks. It could have walked out of Zara or Banana Republic:

Anyway, I don’t expect that New Look will be changing their stylists anytime soon, and if they’ve been around this long, then they must be getting through to the right people. I guess it’s up to me to develop the ability to look past the cutesy fabrics and see the potential for chic myself.

Or I can just keep relying on other bloggers like Amanda to make chic dresses so I can steal their ideas ;)