Wednesday, August 08, 2012

A Four by four Capsule Wardrobe: finishing fall

all clothes - L.L.Bean

12 more garments, also from L.L.Bean.  And then, I thought I would show all of the possible outfits... When I got up to 48 outfits, I threw in the towel.  And these outfits were assembled BEFORE I ever started using the navy corduroy pants, or the navy tee shirt, or the striped oxford shirt, or the blue jeans...

So okay, this wardrobe doesn't include any lime green.  No orange.  No abstract prints. No platform pumps...  Some of us are fine without those things.


all clothes - L.L.Bean

all clothes - L.L.Bean

Scarf – Missoni, scarf – Marc Jacobs, grey boots – Pas de Rouge, grey flats - Rochas




These 24 garments could last many people the entire winter...


21 comments:

  1. You always find the best shoes....those grey booties are really cute!

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  2. How about one using TravelSmith clothes? This is very instructive for me. Really appreciate your imagination and sense of color.

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    1. Hey, I like some of their clothes, too (pick & choose carefully). Their whole point is how to travel with coordinating pieces to get as many outfits as you can. I found I don't like their reversible clothing, though; just doesn't fit right and I don't like the feel of the poly fabrics. I like a lot of their ideas/concepts, though.

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    2. But the Travelsmith fabrics are terrible, not ever something I'd want to wear in real life. Yes, study the catalogues and then buy elsewhere.

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  3. Janice, I love these wardrobe capsules that you make--they're visually beautiful and really effective in making your point. However, one thing I often notice is that if I drill down to look at individual outfits, they aren't practical for me. That's because I run very cold, and in winter for example I'm only comfortable if I wear two layers of long sleeves on top. So, looking at the garments you have chosen, I could actually wear fewer than a quarter of the outfits you've posted. Even imagining that your short-sleeve and 3/4-sleeve tops are long-sleeved, that still leaves me with just under half the outfit options up there.

    I guess my intuition is that wearing more garments per outfit means you need more garments overall to make the same number of outfits with the same sense of variety, but I wonder if you would disagree. I know I'm not the only cold-blooded person out there, and I would love to see you construct a wardrobe that takes layering requirements into account. Pretty please? I'm very curious to see how you would approach this.

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    1. Sarah,
      Have you tried silk long-johns?

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    2. Yeah, but it's kind of a different version of the same problem: a top that's roomy enough to layer over silk long johns is too bulky to layer under many cardigans. So, obligate layering = fewer outfit options per garment. Maybe I just have a case of the congenital whim-whams, but I definitely know other people who have a similar winter-dressing strategy.

      (Also, I know your comment is really just meant to be a tip/strategy for keeping me comfortable, but it's interesting to think about how this plays out in regard to Janice's system. Just as a thought experiment, if you routinely wear silk long johns, you are going to need more than one to accommodate washing, etc. So you have more garments--in the sense of items made of cloth that you have to spend money buying and space storing. But they don't "count" in this wardrobe system because they're not visible. But if you're going to wear 2 tops every day, why not make them both visible and have more variety in outfit options?)

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    3. Hanes Men's Sweats, Size Small, Heather Gray x 5 sets -- warm and coordinated all winter when temps are low and all summer when the air conditioning is set to 'freezing' to please everyone else.

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    4. I have a set of silk long-johns that I bought from Academy that are as thin as a spider web. Wore them on an Alaskan cruise (in July, not hard-core Alaskan winter!) and they were perfect. And THIN. Just sayin'.

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    5. My mother runs cold and has always worn a very thin cotton or natural wool chemise (knit, very fitted undershirt) depending on the season. Many people in Northern Europe do this. I have always been too hot so I don't but seriously, they do not bulk. For smoothness, I would choose silk. I used to get the Danish natural wool (so thin, so thin) for my children as long johns and long-sleeved undershirts when they were little. They are the softest against the skin. My friends wanted them for their kids. I do have 2 in my size in my drawer. The woolen variety (natural, unbleached) and they will be there just in case I need the warmth. They may last me the rest of my life but they are wrapped around a lavender bag to keep moths away. Old-fashioned gems.

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  4. Thank you so much for your efforts, you can't imagine how much they've inspired me. I'm trying to build a 4 x4 red/black capsule, but it's slow going so far.

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  5. ...this wardrobe doesn't include any lime green. No orange. No abstract prints. No platform pumps... Some of us are fine without those things.

    But it COULD though, and isn't that the best part of these Core of 4 wardrobes? The Expansion and Integration pieces could easily include a lime green t-shirt, an orange hoodie, or a pair of 7-inch platforms, if those are part of your overall style choices and work with your life.

    I love the versatility of these cores, because they offer this very solid framework on which to experiment with individual tastes and styles.

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  6. Every time I see one of your posts like this one, I realize that I have outfits in my closet that I never realized that I have have. I have a peachy pink (is that a color?) cashmere turtleneck sweater--and I could wear it with gray jeans? Imagine that!

    Thank you for all of your posts. I'm still waiting for someone to suggest the BEST articles to purchase from LL Bean.

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  7. Susan--LLB has free shipping. If you get their Visa Card (not the greatest, but I have one solely for LL orders), you get FREE shipping, RETURNS, monogramming. LL also has reviews, so you can peruse them to see what others have to say. As I mentioned to Vivienne/Janice the other day, the new Indispensable knit line looks nice: they have a shirt dress that has almost perfect reviews.

    With the credit card, you can try on as much as you want and see what works for you.

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    1. Some of my catalogs in the past year have offered free shipping even without the credit card! I like that L.L. Bean has also carried Polartec items, which is an American manufacturer I try to support.

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    2. I should clarify my own comment. L.L. Bean still carries Polartec items - it's a several-weight winter fabric - but they haven't been manufactured by Malden Mills, which was a multi-generational family factory, for about five years and instead are now owned by an equity firm/investor called Crysalis Capital (Philly) and I've come across in reading (to my dismay) that some Polartec may now NOT be made in America and instead have gone overseas like too much other in the manufacturing world; I hope not. The recession got to so many companies; I've been missing some of my favorite mail-order catalogs, which I still love to thumb thru at my leisure, although I know I can go online. (I recycle the catalogs, but I know they're becoming a thing of the past.)

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    3. Vicki, I did not know that about Polartec. I always bought for that reason as well as it is often the perfect weight.

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    4. Yeah, I still feel like I don't know the whole story, though. It seems Malden Mills spreads out over acres with lots of buildings, and there are plans to convert the acreage and/or structures to housing, yet they keep one factory, but I can't figure out where they're actually making clothes. One blogger said something about any Polartec labels with "Q" on them (?) are made in China but, you know, hearsay(?) On Wiki, which is I believe where I came across this initially (but I don't remember; I was doing some "digging" because I was curious), it said that, at one time and I don't know when, the (former?) employees were trying to put together their own manufacturing group. I've bought Polartec in this ensuing period and I didn't sense any difference in the quality of the clothing. If anyone knows of anything concrete, I'd like to know the "real" facts. I remember feeling deflated a few years back, learning that Sears had bought out Lands' End. I had a favorite item there where I thought former quality was diminished afterward; however, I still occasionally buy at Lands' End. When I was a teen, there was a swanky brand whose name I can't recall as I'm writing, which dropped out of the picture for awhile, and then I saw it pop up at Walmart, which just shocked me. On that particular item, though, the quality was still very good. Who knows what goes on behind the scenes with these companies and brands? I think L.L. Bean is the real (original) deal and I believe The Vermont Country Store is still owned by the same family. They feature the family prominently in their catalogs.

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  8. Janice, love your romantic weekend ensembles over at A Femme d'un Certain Age today; they address my black/red thing. Thanks.

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