Friday, December 02, 2016

If you want to go back and catch up on how we've arrived at this point, the earlier posts are here:
January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November.

The second of our six wardrobes looked like this when we left it in November:

capsule wardrobe in brown, beige and orange

As I did yesterday, my first project is to try to fit these pieces into the Four by Four template. It seems to me that this wardrobe still could use a casual skirt. She already has 2 skirts, they they're both pretty dressy - maybe khaki is an option.

Four by Four wardrobe in brown, beige and orange

When I look at the existing wardrobe in terms of weather and dressiness, I find the same thing that I did yesterday - a shortage of simple tee shirts. That bottom right quadrant is pretty sparse:
evaluating a capsule wardrobe for functionality

And finally, when I lay all of the pieces out on the basis of their position on the body and in an outfit, I sort of feel like I want another cardigan. It seems to be a signature of this wardrobe, and when I saw another one in a gorgeous color, I knew what I wanted to add!
evaluating a capsule wardrobe for balance

I graphed out the shoes, and frankly I think they seem okay, but I felt that maybe another pair of summery casual shoes might be a nice addition...

evaluating the balance of a shoe capsule wardrobe

So these were my choices to add!

additions to a capsule wardrobe in brown, beige and orange

Here's where we leave the capsule wardrobe - options for any occasion:

capsule wardobe in brown, beige and orange

And these are the accessories:

accessory wardrobe in brown, beige and orange

As with any well-chosen garment that you choose to add to a capsule wardrobe, there are lots of possibilities for how to wear your acquisitions:
three capsule wardrobe outfits with an orange tee shirt

three capsule wardrobe outfits with a cinnamon cardigan

three capsule wardrobe outfits with a khaki skirt

This wardrobe has been fascinating to work with; the different feelings of the deep oranges and the softer beiges give a lot of variety!


How to Evaluate a capsule wardrobe in a brown, beige, and orange color palette
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Thursday, December 01, 2016

Back in November, when we left this wardrobe, it was in pretty good shape. Eleven outfits had been collected into a pretty coherent, and pretty comprehensive, capsule wardrobe that would see most people through a great many of their activities:
capsule wardrobe in navy, teal and white

As I've said before, no wardrobe is ever really finished. Clothes wear out, or get damaged. Our sizes change, and sometimes, we just plain get completely fed up with a garment that we've worn a lot, and feel the need to replace it. So it's useful to have a few different ways to really look at a wardrobe and determine what might be needed, or useful, or helpful, to add. I thought of a couple of different ways to evaluate things...

First off, I thought that it would make sense to see if there were appropriate garments in the wardrobe to pull together a Four by Four wardrobe. There's nothing really magical about the Four by Four, but it does ensure that you have a reasonable balance of tops to bottoms, and enough neutral "second layers" to be able to use your other clothes efficiently.

For this wardrobe, I found that there are a lot of nice, basic navy garments here, but that a second navy jacket, blazer, or cardigan might be worth considering.

Four by Four wardrobe in navy with jade and turquoise

Another thing that I thought would be worth considering was the degree to which our heroine would be "covered" for a range of temperatures, and a range of "dressiness." So I built a simple grid upon which all of the clothes could be placed. (note that the location of each piece is pretty arbitrary!) What I notice here is that a couple of pieces for warmer weather casual might come in handy - she has 2 pair of shorts, but only 2 tops that are really ideal for them. That suggest a couple of tee shirts, to me...

Evaluating a capsule wardrobe in navy for usefulness

And one last evaluative technique that I wanted to consider was just to lay things out according to their "layering" role in a wardrobe. The top row is pieces that are strictly second layers. The middle - the upper layer of "tops" - is for pieces that can be worn on their own, or that can also be layered with something under them.

Then comes the regular tops, including dresses. (Dresses could also be considered bottoms, or they could have their own category.)

And finally, the bottoms - shorts, skirts, pants, capris....

Evaluating a capsule wardrobe in navy for balance

This is, in a way, a little bit harder to interpret because it doesn't really have any sort of indication of what would be a correct or appropriate amount of each type of item. But it might come in handy in the future, so I'm sticking with it.

When it comes to evaluating accessories, I'm going to focus mainly on shoes, because they're the only really important kind of accessory for which there might be a serious omission or "gap."

Evaluating a shoe wardrobe for balance and usefulness

Here, you can see that there's nothing in the bottom left - that cool weather casual footwear category...

So this is what I've chosen as our final additions to this wardrobe:

additions to a navy capsule wardrobe

After all of this, here is the "finished" wardrobe:

capsule wardrobe in navy, teal, and turquoise

And these are the collection of accessories:

Accessory capsule wardrobe in navy, silver and turquoise

Just in the interests of making certain that our new garments are going to be useful, I'm going to put together three complete outfits using each new garment. As you look at these, you can see that the owner of this wardrobe is going to be very well-dressed for a wide variety of activities and events!

Three capsule wardrobe outfits including a navy cardigan blazer

Three capsule wardrobe outfits including a turquoise tee shirt

Three capsule wardrobe outfits including a teal tee shirt

The earlier months of this series can be found here:
January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November.

Because there's a lot involved in these detailed evaluations, I'm going to take SIX days to finish up this series. It's interesting to see how differently these wardrobes came together, and what various pieces seem best to "complete" them.


How to Evaluate a capsule wardrobe in a navy, teal, and white color palette
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Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Someone sent me this painting a few days ago, and the first thing that I noticed (after just generally admiring the lovely art) was the touches of teal and cool brown accent:
How Much Can Accessories Affect Your Capsule Wardrobe?

And I have to let you know that this painting set a record last week for the highest auction price EVER for a Canadian painting. Well worth it, in my opinion...

I was intrigued with the idea of a very conservative, mostly navy and grey wardrobe, accented with those two surprising accent colors. So I started with a few pieces, including a navy pantsuit. If you're looking for suit separates, I highly recommend Talbots - they have a variety of colors and fabrics.

Let's start with these basics - this is literally a Wardrobe Slot Machine, or a Whatever's Clean Wardrobe - you can't combine these 9 pieces badly, unless you start wearing pants on your head and tying the shirt around your hips as a skirt...

How Much Can Accessories Affect Your Capsule Wardrobe?

I just wanted to picture ALL of the possible iterations of these garments - 27 in all. Sometimes it doesn't really sink in unless I see it...
How Much Can Accessories Affect Your Capsule Wardrobe?

How Much Can Accessories Affect Your Capsule Wardrobe?

How Much Can Accessories Affect Your Capsule Wardrobe?

I'm not advocating that you only own 9 pieces of clothing, but if you wanted to start a capsule wardrobe, or a travel wardrobe, these 9 wouldn't be a bad way to begin.

Now, I wanted to experiment strictly with accessories in the accent colors, just to see how it worked. First up, the deeply delectable laboradorite, set in gold. When shopping for this stone, make certain that it's got the right amount of blue/green visible for your preferences; some of these stones can be very brown.

laboradorite jewelry set in gold to accent a capsule wardrobe

Honestly, if someone gave me these six pieces of jewelry, I'd be tempted to overthrown the reign of the pearl in my life and start over! And that delectable square ring comes in six different stones... sigh...

The other thing that I wanted to visualize was if cool brown leather accessories would look right with navy and grey clothes. Men have been wearing brown leather shoes and belts with their suits for a long time, but their brown is more that warm cognac/caramel brown. This is quite a different animal:

Brown leather accessories for a capsule wardrobe

First up, three outfits, with the jewelry. I vote that this is a complete and utter success!

How Much Can Accessories Affect Your Capsule Wardrobe?

My feeling for the brown leather accessories is mixed - I can see the appeal, but I personally wouldn't wear it. It's much more a statement for the woman who loves it...

How Much Can Accessories Affect Your Capsule Wardrobe?

I was considering building a larger wardrobe based on this painting, after I'm back from Paris. Does the idea appeal?

How Much Can Accessories Affect Your Capsule Wardrobe?
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Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Yes, I got back from Florida late Sunday night. And yes, I'm leaving for Paris on Thursday....

Somehow, that got past me when I was planning these trips individually! But it's going to be fine.

When planning a travel capsule wardrobe for cold weather, it's critical to start with your outerwear. During the day in Paris, virtually EVERYONE is going to see me in my coat, and only the rare person in a restaurant and maybe a museum will see what's underneath. Thus, the coat is pretty important!

For this trip, I felt like I wanted to wear my red Barbour jacket. Partly because I want a break from black, partly because it's a wonderful jacket (with two big snapped pockets that completely obviate the need for a handbag!), and partly because it's such a perfect color for the holidays.

I have a couple of secondary priorities for this trip, too:

  1. I want to take my hiking shoes with me, in case the weather becomes foul. The shoes have stellar traction, and are weather-resistant, which might be important. I figure that if I bother to carry them all the way to Paris, it won't rain, nor snow, the entire time we're there!
  2. So that I can maximize my relaxation on the flight, I want to take my Sennheiser headphones. My big, bulky, awkwardly-shaped Sennheiser headphones that have their own case. This changes a LOT for my carry-on bag.
So this is my plan:
  • three "pods," all based on black trousers - one pair of dressy-ish pants in which I will fly, one pair of corduroy pants, and a pair of black jeans.
  • three different, but primarily black and white, sweaters to go with each of the pairs of pants, and
  • the necessary tee shirts or white shirts to complete the outfits.

The big accent? SIX Hermes scarves!

This should be fun...

black, white and red winter travel outfit
cardigan - unknown (mine is from J.Jill); tote - L.L.Bean;
tee - L.L.Bean; pants - Eddie Bauer; shoes - Munro;
earrings - Majorica; jacket - Barbour (similar here); suitcase - Tumi

I've had my reindeer cardigan for a couple of years, and I really love it (mine zips, and is a little bit... less... "out there" than this one, but this one is perfect for the visuals here.) I really think that having it with me during the holiday season will be fun, at least for me if not for anyone else! With a sweater like this, only a simple tee shirt is needed.

My next "pod" takes shape around a comfy pair of black cords, a cashmere v-neck sweater, and white shirts! Add in some scarves, and I've got 3 outfits...

Please note that this plan absolutely REQUIRES laundry be done. I'm traveling with my friend La Photographe, so we're staying in a different hotel than I'm usually in - the Best Western Jardin de Cluny. Highly recommended - I love their single rooms, I love their breakfast, I love the location, I love the excellent staff...

And just around the corner: 5àSec, the same-day laundry service that makes this travel plan work!

My second "pod" is a simple turtleneck and jeans, with three different (quite old, in 2 cases) scarves that will look perfect with a red jacket.

The only other things I'm taking will be those hiking shoes on which I've set my heart, a change of shoes from the ones I'm wearing on the flight, and another tee shirt!

what to pack for Paris in the cold weather
1st scarf - Hermes Les Fetes de Roi Soleil, 
2nd scarf - Hermes Entente Cordiale, 3rd scarf - Gucci;
 white shirts - Lands' End; cords - L.L.Bean
cashmere sweater - J. Crew; 4th scarf - Hermes Parures des Maharajas,
 5th scarf - Hermes Les Clefs, 
6th scarf - Hermes La Cle des Champs; turtleneck - Lands' End;
 jeans - L.L.Bean; hiking shoes - Keen;  
athletic shoes - New Balance, tee shirt - L.L.Bean

I'm not worried about wearing athletic shoes most of the time; the last time I was in Paris, most of the people that I saw were dressed in just about this way. We don't have anything dressy planned, and it's more important to be comfortable than anything else. Wearing New Balance shoes puts you in the majority in Paris!

Assuming that I have 3 or 4 pieces of laundry done two times, I'll be in great shape - I have all of the following outfit options:

2 outfits including a reindeer cardigan

three outfits including a black v-neck sweater and an Hermes scarf

three outfits including a black turtleneck and an Hermes scarf

Partly as an experiment, and partly just to cut down my luggage as much as possible (so as to accommodate the aforementioned headphones and hiking shoes), I'm minimizing my accessories significantly. Normally, I'd take all of my earrings (it's not that many, really), all of my headbands, and a stack of bracelets. For this trip, this is a pretty clear representation of what I'm taking. There will probably be about 5 pairs of socks, and I suspect I'll wear a red headband...

minimal accessories to pack for Paris

It's almost amusing how much I'm rearranging in order to get these headphones into my bag! But I really am curious to see how much having them with me can change the experience on the plane - I know that last night, my headphones were so inadequate that I had to really turn up the volume of things in order to just drown out the women in the row behind me. (not a pretty story...) This might not be a great experiment, but I'm going to see!

travel extras - Sennheiser headphones and a Cocoon electronics organizer
These grid boards with lots of elastic straps are genius - I use mine for my back-up phone battery from Anker, my charging cords, my travel chopsticks (yes...), and anything else that dangles around in my bag. The back has a zipper pocket that would be ideal for documents you need at some point, or even spare currency. They come in a variety of sizes, so you can choose a size that's optimal for you. It's wondrous for tidying up my bag!

So beginning Thursday, and through next week, you'll still have blog posts on The Vivienne Files, but I won't be responding to comments or questions. I'm only taking my phone with me, and it's really appallingly inadequate for communication, beyond Instagram. But DEFINITELY follow me on Instagram (where I'm called the poorly-capitalized and spaced "viviennefiles" without the quotes) to see what I'm seeing.

And of course I'll report back...

A travel capsule wardrobe for a winter trip to Paris, France
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