Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Capsule Wardrobe Emerald(ish) and a Common Warm Wardrobe

Yes, you probably could find an emerald this color...  

Earrings – Suzanna Dai, peplum top – Dorothy Perkins, scarf – Anne Selby, shoes – French Sole

Top row – L.L.Bean, cream shirt – Kitsune, peach blouse – Chloe, cardigan & v-neck sweater – L.L.Bean, brown long
-sleeved tee – La Garconne, tan pants – Jil Sander, cream jeans – Les Copains, brown pants – Maison Martin Margiela 


  1. Love your blog! I agree with your idea of less but higher quality clothing. It does raise a question (at least for me). How do you care for your clothing to keep it in good shape for the long run - cleaning, storing, etc? I'd love it if you could do a post on wardrobe maintenance and care (shoes and accessories too!). I apologize if this question has been asked before but I couldn't seem to find any headings in your tags regarding care or cleaning.

    1. I second this request! Please help with the storage, maintenance, tailoring and cleaning component of the Vivienne-endorsed wardrobe. I've been trying to invest in quality but with tailoring and cleaning costs, I wonder is it worth it? Just need some reassurance! Thanks.

    2. Need to chime in here (and hope that Janice answers, too) -- it is absolutely worth it in the long run to buy fewer and better. If you buy fewer and better quality things and have them tailored to fit --- they are in it for the long haul. They will last. They do last. I dry clean very little now and don't launder things every time I wear them if they don't need it. I hang my sweaters and jackets on padded hangers (on the shower curtain rod) over night to air out before putting them back in the closet. I sometimes wear a light silk t-shirt under a lovely sweater -- easier to wash that than hand wash a sweater. The Laundress (NY) sells wonderful made to last forever clothing care products. I love the garment brush I just got to brush my wool skirts, pants, jackets -- after every wearing to get the surface clean. Most dry clean clothing I wash (by hand or in a bag in the machine). I'm signed up for a mending class at the local yarn shop to learn how to do minor repairs myself(including doing a better job darning my socks myself. I have to admit a love of wool and cashmere and silk, I'm a knitter so not afraid of sticking wool and most silks into tepid water with a mild detergent -- Ecover delicate wash for most things, Eucalan for wool -- amazing stuff. I even wash wool trousers, but don't buy the kind with linings). Winter weight wool is cleaned at the end of the season and stored in pillow cases with little sachets of lavender (I buy the lavender in bulk at the co-op and put it in the muslin tea bags they sell there, as well -- natural moth repellant). Clean and polish the shoes often (also let them air out after wearing for a day before putting them back in the closet) and have a good relationship with a local shoe repair shop for heal repairs, etc. Dry cleaning is soooooo hard on fibers. So is over washing with harsh detergents. Sorry for going on. But recall a good friend in Luxembourg who has American students on an annual basis being horrified that one girl brought 10 pairs of jeans and that she wore them only once before wanting to wash them. Need to rethink how often things need to be cleaned as part of maintenance.

    3. Garment brush (I recommend Kent, but here are less expensive ones. I just expect my Kent to last another 20 years); I have several other lint brushes. I even use the dreaded lint roller on my cottons; steam is your friend; I have a couple of different hand held steamers, my trusty steam iron and a Hoover steamer that you can hang a suit or 2 separates in. Spot cleaning goes a long way as does a good brushing and airing your clothes out. Avoid wearing anything 2 days in a row or put another way, ROTATE your clothes as much as possible to avoid wearing any one thing out prematurely. If you wear a shirt, or t-shirt under your jacket or cardigan, the outer layer will definitely require less cleaning than the one next to your skin and it probably goes without saying but bathing before dressing also helps cut down on how often your clothes may need cleaning.

  2. Not speaking for Janice, but I do believe in fewer items, but of higher quality. I'm going against what I used to think: quantity of choices (such as buying a sweater I liked in every color at Old Navy) rather than quality. What I ended up with was a wardrobe in which I didn't wear half the stuff I bought (or more than half) and in which I was only reaching for a few items. So...I'm trying to move away from this. My first step is noticing what I really "reach for" as my go to items. And then, when they wear out, replacing them with something of equal, or higher, quality.

    That said, the laundry question still is one I am curious about. I am a terrible spiller! I would love to have fewer things, but that would also bring up laundry day as every day. I'm not sure I could do that.

    However, I just have to "second" the quality issue: I have some extraordinary classic hand-me-downs from my mom from the 70's. These are some classic pieces from Gucci and Hermes. They fit me like a glove (which proves I am exactly the same size and shape my mom was in her 30's) and are in amazing shape. I can't afford to replace a Gucci item with another Gucci item. But, I take super good care of them. And, if and when they do wear out, I'll choose something of excellent quality. I can't spend $1500 on a pair of pants. But, I'd rather spend $250 on a wonderful pair from Theory or Tahari or Vince, than spend the same amount of money on a dozen pairs of lesser quality.

    I do buy trendier pieces (such as funky jewelry, colorful scarves) at less expensive stores. That part of me is okay is something wears out. But, for classics, I do try to go to the best.

    Finally, Janice has wonderfully used J Crew and, especially, LL Bean clothes in many of her collections. These aren't Walmart prices, but they're very well made items.

  3. As the world's worst homekeeper, here's my two cents. Drycleaning is not good for the environment or your clothing, so do as little as possible. Brush woolens. Cashmere can be handwashed.

    As for tailoring, I am lucky to have a body that fits into the clothing that's out there. Nordstroms sent me an invite for a charge card. One of the perks: free alterations. If I lived near a Nordies, I would definitely get the charge for that reason alone. (Of course, by alterations, they might just mean hemming--but who knows?)

    There are lots of great easy care items out there. I love the new synthetic/natural blends that can be machine washed.

    1. My two cents: I love the Woolite Dark Wash for colors and dark clothing. I notice that over the course of a few years, black clothing doesn't seem to fade nearly as much. The 'Dark' has a faintly rose fragrance that I really like. (I haven't tried the stuff designated "Color" on the label).

      Unfortunately, though, I've had to cut back on my use of the Dark Wash, as my boyfriend gets awful allergic skin reactions to detergents with color or fragrance. In the last year I've used the Kirkland "Free" Detergent that doesn't have fragrance, and my clothes still come out looking really nice.

      The BF has an LE Washer and Dryer, with a ton of settings, so I am able to 'handwash' with no spin, and set clothing to dry on a no-spin rack inside the dryer.

      Pantyhose, bras, and other dainties, go into zip-up lingerie bags and into the LE, or I wash them by hand in the sink.

      I handwash or gentle cycle (either in my sink or in the LE washer): silk (if the tag indicates it can be washed), wool, cashmere, nylon, polyester, anything that ISN'T leather, rayon, acetate, or silk that says 'dry clean only'

      I try and eyeball the sturdiness of the fabric and whether I think the dye is set well, and then I use the hottest water possible - which is usually the warm setting.

      And when I shop, I try to buy stuff that can be washed. But if it has to be dry-cleaned, and its something that I LOVE and would have great difficulty replacing, I dry-clean on a regular basis (after 1-2 wearings), to remove any permanent staining or deterioration to the fabric from lotions, oils, makeup, or deodorant.

      I forget the company that does the leather wipes, but I think we get them at Target or Costco, in the same section as household cleaners. I wipe down my leather coat, gloves, and shoes on a monthly basis. The wipes clean and moisturize the leather.

  4. I found one thing that helped my wardrobe was to set aside specific times each week for maintenance chores. All shoes worn during the week are wiped down/polished/brushed on Thursday, all sweaters are checked to be depilled on Wednesdays, ironing on Sunday, mending on Friday, etc. Since the items are all handled and closely looked at there is no more pretending to myself that items are fine and can be worn one more time and problems aren't made worse. Since I am doing it weekly I can't excuse myself for running around with a dropped hem because that favorite skirt isn't going to be out of circulation more than 6 days.

  5. That is a lovely green, Janice.