Wednesday, September 05, 2012

A Common Capsule Wardrobe

I used to work in advertising, and thus I have hung around with some of the most eccentric, exotic and extraordinary people imaginable.

Flash back to a large conference room in a major European city (this happened at LEAST three times...).  The room is full - a couple of hundred advertising professionals from around the world.  There are amazing haircuts, astonishing eyeglasses, jewelry you've never seen before or since, scarves of every possible description, tied in every way you could envision.  Shoes?  The mind reels just at the memory.  And the socks were a thing of beauty...

But the most interesting thing, to my mathematical, always analyzing mind, is that literally 90% of the people in the room, male and female, were wearing at least one of these twelve garments, shown below.  There were wearing other things WITH these garments - snazzy jackets, or a brilliant silk top - but they almost always had one or two of these garments in their ensemble.

A Simple Capsule Wardrobe Core



Yet at no point would you have noticed that Elena from Greece was wearing essentially the same outfit as Lars from Brussels...

The devil is indeed in the details!

love,
Janice

PS - For more info, check out our Guide to the Common Capsule Wardrobe.



37 comments:

  1. Can't help comparing this to Mad Men glamour. Despite the dreadful social and gender politics and the cigarettes, those were the days. Sigh.

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  2. I agree. And I'm. STILL in advertising!

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  3. Well, luck you!

    The devil IS in the details. Always.

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  4. I was born and raised in Germany, and I think we dress in neutrals because our wardrobes are so much smaller and these clothes can be worn over and over again. Jewelery and scarves do not take up much space.

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    1. I think these are so common because they work well as a canvas for all the fun. All great artists start with a blank canvas and then a wash of some sort. These are like the wash on which to create.

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  5. I have a very small wardrobe but love the fact that I can get many colorful scarves in a neat little box to create all sorts of variety. :-) Makes life beautifully simple.

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    1. I am seeking a "very small wardrobe" but dont know what to put in it so this holds me back. What do you use Lisa?

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  6. All basic classics that never seem to date...but they are crying out for accessories to personalize them.
    Now I need to get my hands on a fabulous denim shirt.

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  7. How to accessorize if you don't wear scarves? I have tried but I just don't feel like I'm a scarf person, I don't feel like myself in scarves.

    My current strategy is print blouses and colorful camisoles, but sometimes I can't fit those in to what I'm wearing.

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    1. Being short and admitedly round, I find scarves around the neck too fussy, but I love colourful scarves so tie them on my handbag. Is this too "old-fashioned"?

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  8. I agree! Accessories make the world of difference.

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  9. Funny -- I have clothes just like these, but still have trouble making an ensemble. Sometimes it's because I stop with the basic items -- sweater and jeans, for example, without going the extra distance. Fortunately, there are times when I accessorize with belt, shoes, bangles, etc.

    Your blog constantly gives me new ideas, especially on how to step up informal attire.

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  10. So what you are saying is these people were bums.

    These clothes look like what you wear to clean out the garage.

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    1. You must have skipped over this part: "There are amazing haircuts, astonishing eyeglasses, jewelry you've never seen before or since, scarves of every possible description, tied in every way you could envision. Shoes? The mind reels just at the memory. And the socks were a thing of beauty..."

      In other words, most people in the room had one or two of these basics but they all did very different things with those basics, in terms of accessories and statement pieces.

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    2. Well, the sweaters are cashmere, the black pants are exquisite cotton, and white and light blue shirts are crisply starched and pressed; I can only assume you must have a very clean garage...

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  11. I look forward to you putting accessories with these basics and showing us how you would do it.

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  12. Janice, this made me laugh! Looks just like my retirement wardrobe for my country life. I still have special things for occasions, but these items (plus a denim pencil skirt) are what I wear every day. My sweaters are good ones, so are my shirts; my jeans and pants fit well. As these basics age, I do wear them for chores that are kind of grungy. But the difference for me now (thanks to you mostly) is that I always personalize the items with scarves, jewelry, belts, socks, shoes and boots.

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  13. I love your posts, Janice. And I meant to tell you a couple (few?) days ago how much I love your new wardrobe additions.

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  14. So true, and if you add a black suit, the same for architects. The "creative class" (per Richard Florida) often eschew colour. Many designers stick to a uniform, always in neutrals.

    And yes, exquisite quality is the secret code, otherwise these clothes look student-in-a-carrel.

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    1. Student-in-a-carrel! I love that phrase, Duchesse. (And I'm happy to see you are back to blogging and commenting.)

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  15. This is wonderful!

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  16. I ditto Susan.....take these wardrobe basics and show us the amazing details to make these pieces and "outfits" different! Di

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  17. I ditto Susan too...
    Please, please, pleeeeease! :-)

    PS: I love your blog. Really. You taught me a lot. Thank you!
    Francesca

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  18. Good morning, Janice! As always, a wonderful post! I did want to let you know that the colleague with whom I shared your blog showed up yesterday exquisitely turned out ... in garments that are variations on these ... with lovely shoes, scarf and cardigan. She attributes the change to you. Just wanted to let you know you are having an impact. Susan (Mpls)

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  19. Ahhhh,

    This makes so much sense.
    I feel motivated to keep the quality, reduce the overall number of pieces and make it work. I also would love it if you could slowly introduce us to the 2012-13 accessories that take the outfits from basic to memorable.
    Imagining we could only buy one in each category: boots, shoes, scarf, glasses, necklace or bracelet or watch.
    Thank you so much for all your posts and ***** on this particular one!
    J

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  20. .....and handbag, especially handbags

    J

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    1. Completely agree. Handbag, shoes and outerwear.

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  21. As the gal who recently had her closet rail collapse from too many clothes, I have to say, I am intrigued by this idea...

    It's easy to re-create this wardrobe, using more glamorous items, such as pencil skirts and fitted sweaters. So don't despair, fellow-ladies-who-refuse-to-wear-Oxfords!

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  22. This was the last thing I read last night before bed...As I settled down to sleep, I kept thinking about this post. It made so much sense to me!

    Here are my questions:

    1. If you base your life on a minimalist wardrobe (with great accessories), how often are you doing laundry? I find myself plagued by spills and splashes. If I wear one top for a whole day, I need to wash it.

    2. I'd like to know how to wear small scarves to look good. I have several small, vintage scarves -- maybe 14" square. Pretty patterns, good colors. But how do I wear them?

    3. I might just have to live without these options, but I have not found a way to hide a protruding tummy when wearing a button-down shirt. It's especially noticeable when I'm sitting. The only thing I've come up with is to wear a button-down under a pullover -- any other tips would be greatly appreciated.

    Jora

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    1. Love all the comments. I disagree w/ Duchesse just a bit: I think black basic items--even if you can't afford top quality--look good--or at least better than they are. Colors like camel--fabric quality makes a big difference.

      Jora--I have been cursed w/ a tummy (and a flat chest) so I ONLY wear shirts out, for comfort as well as for appearance. I also have learned that a big scarf is great camouflage. I don't wear regular thin cotton shirts--more thicker knits made of ponte or cotton blend. There's a cotton knit shirt at LLBean that I'd like to try but I'm not really in the market for anything new.

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    2. Small scarves can be folded on the bias and tied around the wrist or the neck - twice wrapped around the wrist is hard to tie, but easy to wear! Or tuck into a shirt or jacket pocket - their original use. And of course tied around the handle of a handbag...

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    3. I also have the laundry-question. I love the idea of a capsule wardrobe, but I can't wear a shirt more than one day.

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  23. What is the 12th item? I only see 11 - it appears a top is missing.

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    1. Maybe you're not seeing the white blouse on the 2nd row, far left? Depending on your monitor, it might just fade into oblivion...

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    2. You're right - I switched computers and now I see it. Thanks!

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  24. Like Swissy, this set of clothes looks much like what I'm wearing in my retirement. I simply haven't the lifestyle - or the inclination to go get one - to justify buying more formal clothing, so this simpler collection makes a lot of sense.

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