Tuesday, January 23, 2018

I am asked this question more frequently than I might have expected - it goes kind of like this: "I really like my wardrobe, for the most part, but I feel like I don't really have a good focus or defined style...."

That's tough to address, but I'm going to give it a try!

Let's start with this wardrobe; frankly, it looks pretty nice just like this!

Unfocused and unrefined spring wardrobe from Lands' End
all clothes - Lands' End

My first thought is to sort all of the clothes by function, to see if maybe our heroine doesn't have enough pants, or needs a couple of tee shirts - that sort of solution would be pretty straightforward! But this wardrobe seems pretty well-balanced for functionality...

spring wardrobe sorted by function

My next thought is to see if we can gain some insights into our heroine's preferences by sorting her wardrobe by color... HERE'S where I find that it gets interesting....

(yes, I try to choose these wardrobes are randomly as possible so that I don't go into the analysis with a preconceived answer to the situation...)

I think it's clear that this woman likes navy. LOVES navy, maybe. And that she's comfortable with cool-toned accent colors, including a range of shades of blue and nice accents of hot pink.

When I saw that this heroine owned a handful of warmer-toned pieces, along with a stray grey garment, I could see a path. First step is going to be to consign or donate those six garments, to leave her with a smaller but much more clearly-focused wardrobe for spring.




But realistically, this is a time for our heroine to pause and reflect about how she got her wardrobe to this point. Does she REALLY love navy? Or was she told by a significant other that she looks good in it? Did she wear it as a child and just finds it comfortable? Is this a heart-felt preference, or externally-imposed? This makes all of the difference...

Spring wardrobe sorted by color

That color step is really important, because it's an error that so many of us can make so easily - what's more obvious than a pair of khakis? And what's more appealing than mint green, or pretty shades of coral and apricot? But just because something's pretty, or considered to be a "must-have" item, doesn't mean that you should have it in YOUR wardrobe...

A Refined Spring wardrobe

Now that the wardrobe is more focused, I'm going to build some clusters, so that we can begin to group pieces into outfits. This first cluster is the first one that I saw - that dress with the cardigan over her shoulders, or the capris and striped tee with the cardigan - both perfect outfits!

navy spring wardrobe cluster
Cardigan - Lands' End; dress - Lands' End; tee shirt - Lands' End; pants - Lands' End

Next, I wanted to look at 3 tops, with a pair of pants to wear with them. This would be really nice to pack for a quick overnight trip...

wardrobe cluster of navy pants with 3 tops
pink top - Lands' End; floral & striped top - Lands' End; ivory top - Lands' End; blue pants - Lands' End

Now we want to make sure that her jeans can get worn effectively - a couple of tee shirts, and a sweater to wear with them...

spring wardrobe cluster around a pair of jeans
sweater - Lands' End; pink tee - Lands' End; striped tee - Lands' End; jeans - Lands' End

She has 2 pairs of jeans, so I'm giving her 2 clusters built around her jeans. And yes, if she really loves this floral print, having both a long-sleeved and a short-sleeved top is fine...

wardrobe cluster built around a pair of jeans
floral polo - Lands' End; floral tee - Lands' End; marled sweater - Lands' End; jeans - Lands' End



So far, so good! We now have 9 short-term "orphans." Fear not, they're going to get some care... It's important to note that no dress is ever really orphaned, because they are worn alone, and don't need much wardrobe support...

9 wardrobe orphans
cardigan - Lands' End; blue tunic - Lands' End; blue marled tunic - Lands' End; blue top - Lands' End; black polo - Lands' End; pink long-sleeved top - Lands' End; dotted pants - Lands' End; striped dress - Lands' End; floral dress - Lands' End

You know my long-standing belief that a few neutral pieces can do a TON of work in a wardrobe...

adding 2 neutral garments to utilize some wardrobe orphans
tee shirt - Lands' End; tank top - Lands' End

These 2 tops give us some mileage for those great dotted pants, and worn with navy pants, they're going to look wonderful with that striped cardigan!

Navy wardrobe capsule for spring

So let's see what we can do with these last pieces... I'm seeing tunics, I'm thinking LEGGINGS. I abhor seeing leggings worn as pants, but when worn with a top that comes down to hip-level, they're perfect.

adding leggings to a wardrobe to utilize tunics
leggings - Lands ' End

Maybe 2 pairs of leggings? With 4 tunics, it could make sense...

a wardrobe capsule of leggings with tunics



Now that we've got all of these garments into useful clusters, I'm going to indulge this heroine's love for hot pink and get her another "2nd layer" in a great accent...

a hot pink cardigan
cardigan - Lands' End

This is how her wardrobe looks now - not a lot of big changes, but it all "hangs together" just a little bit more. If you love navy, wear navy. Yes, all of her pants are navy, but there's nothing to apologize for if that's what you like!

Focused and Refined spring wardrobe

In the interest of helping our heroine plan for the future, it's worth taking some time to put together a color palette for her wardrobe. Everything here (except maybe that ivory top with blue piping?) looks just right with this color wheel...

Focused and Refined spring wardrobe with color palette

If you've gone through the exercise of figuring out how many garments you would ideally have, it can be challenging to get to that number. This is one way to take a pretty good wardrobe and polish it up just a bit!

love,
Janice

How to Focus and Refine a Pretty Good Wardrobe
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Monday, January 22, 2018

On Friday, I pulled together a wardrobe for one of you who has a fun trip planned with adult children:

4 by 4 Summer Travel Wardrobe in navy and beige with aqua and pink accents
cardigan - J.Crew; tank top – L.L.Bean; skirt – L.L.Bean; pants – L.L.Bean; striped top – Rag & Bone; cardigan – Halogen; shorts – L.L.Bean; cropped pants – L.L.Bean; aqua striped top – L.L.Bean; navy tee - Uniqlo; aqua tee – Lands’ End; pink tee – Lands’ End; sleeveless linen top - Uniqlo; cardigan – Uniqlo; dress –Christopher Esber; dress – Eileen Fisher

This was the color scheme with which I was working:

color palette for a summer wardrobe in navy and beige with cognac, pink and aqua

There are already some accessories in her wardrobe...

Accessory wardrobe for travel in gold, navy and cognac
Earrings – Sarah & Sebastian; earrings – Lily Flo Jewellery; clutch – Nina; bracelet - Vitae Ascendere; watch – Fossil; brown bag – Frye; tote – Longchamp; scarf – Rebecca Minkoff; loafers – Taryn Rose; sandals – Kork-Ease; gold sandals - Söfft; navy sandals - Bionica

So let's start with my new template for accessories, and plug in the pieces that we already have:

Stage 1 for a 6 by 4 Accessory Wardrobe

For me, earrings are VERY important - I'm choosing an accent pair in aqua, and then a really simple pair of gold studs that can be worn for days without thought... Similarly, both an accent striped bracelet and some classic gold bangles are being added to her accessory wardrobe...

adding earrings and bracelets to a 6 by 4 Accessory Wardrobe
Aqua enamel earrings – Raphaele Canot; gold stud earrings – Kendra Scott; striped bracelet – Talbots; gold bracelets – Kenneth Cole New York

I ALWAYS believe in a good brooch! And necklaces don't take up much space, but can really change the feeling of an outfit.

adding a brooch and necklaces to a 6 by 4 Accessory Wardrobe
Leaf brooch – Oscar de la Renta; rainbow necklace – Dina Mackney; aqua necklace – Nadri; multi-strand necklace – Treasure & Bond

After these additions, we can clearly see the last 4 pieces that might be helpful...

Stage 2 of a 6 by 4 Accessory Wardrobe

Since our heroine is going to be in Italy in the summer, I thought that a packable hat could be both fun and useful! One big scarf and one pocket-square give some fun options, and a belt that matches her sandals and her brown bag could be a nice touch.

Adding a hat, scarves and a belt to a 6 by 4 Accessory Wardrobe
Hat – Eric Javits; beige striped scarf – Sole Society; cotton pocket square – Bar III; belt – Halogen

Here's the finished wardrobe:

a completely 6 by 4 Accessory Wardrobe in gold, navy and cognac

Here's where it gets fun - returning to Friday's outfits, and adding some accessories!

2 ways to wear a marled navy cardigan from a 4 by 4 Wardrobe

2 ways to wear a beige cardigan from a 4 by 4 Travel Wardrobe




2 ways to wear a navy skirt from a 4 by 4 Travel Wardrobe

2 ways to wear beige shorts from a 4 by 4 Travel Wardrobe



2 ways to wear navy pants from a 4 by 4 Travel Wardrobe

2 ways to wear beige capris from a 4 by 4 Travel Wardrobe



2 ways to wear a beige dress from a 4 by 4 Travel Wardrobe

I've always felt that accessories make a tremendous amount of difference; do you find that to be true for you?

love,
Janice

What Accessories Should One Pack for an Italian Vacation?
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Friday, January 19, 2018

A true story - requested by, and written by, a reader! How much fun is this?

This was the color palette she requested:

travel wardrobe color palette of navy, beige, cognac, pink and aqua

She is finally getting to travel with her ADULT children. She doesn't have to worry about packing for them, or making their plane reservations, or making sure they've taken Dramamine, or keeping them occupied at the airport...

navy travel outfit
Earrings – Sarah & Sebastian; cardigan - J.Crew; scarf – Rebecca Minkoff; striped top – Rag & Bone; tote – Longchamp; loafers – Taryn Rose; pants – L.L.Bean; watch – Fossil; suitcase - Rimowa

She can concentrate on packing for herself!!!

dressy outfit in navy, for warm weather
Earrings – Lily Flo Jewellery; cardigan – Banana Republic; bracelet - Vitae Ascendere; dress – Eileen Fisher; clutch – Nina; sandals - Söfft

Her children will magically show up in Italy for a cousin's wedding, and then they will travel together afterwards - Florence and the Amalfi Coast!

4 by 4 Wardrobe Template after travel outfit and special occasion outfit are included

2 navy garments to add to a 4 by 4 Travel Wardrobe
Tank top – L.L.Bean; skirt – L.L.Bean; sandals - Bionica

3 beige garments to add to a 4 by 4 Travel Wardrobe
Cardigan – Halogen; shorts – L.L.Bean; cropped pants – L.L.Bean

She will probably stop in Switzerland en route to see a childhood friend.

4 by 4 Travel Wardrobe after Stage 2

She won't have to wake her children up for breakfast every day!

adding accent tops and leather goods to a 4 by 4 Travel Wardrobe
Bag – Frye; pink tee – Lands’ End; aqua tee – Lands’ End; aqua striped top – L.L.Bean; navy tee - Uniqlo; sandals – Kork-Ease

Stage 3 of a 4 by 4 Travel Wardrobe

They will simply appear in the morning while she is drinking her coffee!

Adding some neutral fill-in pieces to a 4 by 4 Travel Wardrobe
Cardigan – Uniqlo; dress –Christopher Esber; sleeveless linen top - Uniqlo

a final 4 by 4 Travel Wardrobe in navy and beige with aqua and pink accents

2 ways to wear a navy marled cardigan from a 4 by 4 Travel Wardrobe

2 ways to wear a beige cardigan from a 4 by 4 Travel Wardrobe

2 ways to wear a navy skirt from a 4 by 4 Travel Wardrobe

2 ways to wear beige shorts from a 4 by 4 Travel Wardrobe

2 ways to wear navy pants from a 4 by 4 Travel Wardrobe

2 ways to wear beige capris from a 4 by 4 Travel Wardrobe

2 ways to wear a beige dress from a 4 by 4 Travel Wardrobe

This could be heaven!

Thanks for the wardrobe idea, and for the idyllic story...

love,
Janice

p.s. Accessories for this 4x4 wardrobe will be the subject of Monday's post!

A 4 by 4 Wardrobe for a vacation to Tuscany, Florence and the Amalfi Coast
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