Friday, June 03, 2011

From the Style Shelf: Working Wardrobe by Janet Wallach

After 30 years, her hair still terrifies me!

One of my very favorite bloggers, the beautiful Caramel Cupcake ( has been analyzing her style books, and it prompted me to pull some of mine off of the shelf and look them over again.  And first would HAVE to be Working Wardrobe, which came out the same year I graduated from college.  (yes, that would be 30 years ago...)

For someone coming out of college with a wardrobe utterly unsuited to the business world, and a job in government waiting for me, the idea of building one of these capsule wardrobes was intoxicating.  I still find these illustrations by Christine Turner to be sort of rivetingly elegant.

Forgive the blurry edges of the scans - I was unwilling to squash the book flat in my scanner to get perfectly focused images!
By the time I'd read the back cover, I was hooked!

Dream wardrobe for someone who'd
been recently defined as a Winter!

In that "Dress for Success" era,
the idea of wearing brown was quite daring.

I always harbored a fantasy of being an Autumn...

Capsules for a warmer climate.

The other dream wardrobe for me - and I've always wanted
a good excuse to walk around holding my lapels as
the women in the first two illustrations are doing.
Elements of the philosophy behind this book have stuck with me, and can easily be seen when I pack a suitcase.  So I guess it's hats off (of the supernaturally puffy hair) to Janet Wallach for introducing me to the Capsule Wardrobe!


  1. I haven't looked at this book in a long time! Capsule wardrobes have always fascinated me! I might have to go dig my copy up again, just for fun! :D Have a great weekend!

  2. Wow, what a blast from the past. The illustrations remind me of the Vogue patterns from the 1970's and 1980's (I thumbed through many a Vogue pattern book growing up and well into my 20's). Classic elegance never goes out of style, and the book's principles hold true today.

  3. I am having a wonderful time browsing your blog, which I found over the weekend and had to comment on this post - I am slightly younger than you and British, so my fashion bible was a cheap Marks & Spencer own publication called Dress for your Lifestyle (Kathryn Samuel 1985) that I still own and loved! Your book and illustrations made me smile, so familiar even though I don't know your book - back then, my teen magazine ("Jackie") used to feature the latest fashions as drawings very much like this...
    In fact, the first capsule wardrobe I ever came across was in an English teen magazine in the mid 70s when I was only about 11; I clipped it and had it for over 25 years until I lost a lot of old papers! It involved a white trouser suit with wide lapels and wide leg pants, a turquoise/white striped shirt (also the lapels!), some amazing platforms and some red and yellow, too, as I recall - I was fascinated at all the possibilities ;))
    Only now that I am old enough to resist other people's fashion ideals and be realistic about my short curvy figure am I finally reducing my wardrobe, looking at spending a bit more and after all this time, actually getting myself a proper capsule wardrobe suited to my real life - crazy, yes?! So I may well get back to you on that LOL

  4. I also am having a wonderful time reading your older posts! I remember this book from my younger days. Unfortunately I was in high school at the time and just couldn't make the logical leap to casual clothes. This post has just sparked my imagination. I have tons of clothes and nothing to wear. Perhaps I need to sit down and do some planning. I still find it difficult to translate these "formal" pieces into things I might wear now. Wish me luck!

  5. This was really an interesting topic and I kinda agree with what you have mentioned here!
    Homecoming Dresses