Saturday, October 05, 2013

Capsule Wardrobe Project 333: The Full Lagerfeld

Yes, Karl Lagerfeld wears the same outfit every day.  And I'm going to be getting close to that point...

I can see how people who are continually immersed in fashion all day, every day, can get completely burned out on making clothing choices.  For every garment or accessory that I show here on my blog, I estimate that I look at over 100 items that get rejected.  Sometimes, I can say with confidence that I looked at over 500 pair of pants, or 700 bracelets, before I found what I really wanted to include here for you.  

After I've written a blog post, I want to wear absolutely simple, plain, easy and uncomplicated clothes. I don't need to have more than a dozen discrete, discreet outfits, so this upcoming Project 333 clocks in with fewer than 33 garments.  I can see that the number of garments might continue to gradually diminish as time passes.

Now, if the weather would just begin to resemble autumn!









I'm using little rolling suitcases as page dividers here, to remind myself that I often feel that I only need a suitcase of well-chosen garments, and that anything more than that might be superfluous!

51 comments:

  1. This selection /collection is perfect. I could wear it the rest of my life. Jo @ Let's Face the Music

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  2. Yeah, but I have seen your photograph and you don't look nearly as scary as Karl. ;)
    That said, I can understand your desire to pare down clothing choices. You have lovely clothes and your accessories are beautiful. I had fully intended to wear only yoga pants today while baking some bread. Now I think I will make some effort to look a little more presentable for the husband...
    Have a wonderful weekend.

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  3. It all makes sense, it looks as if it all belongs to the same person. Which is not true of my wardrobe when I lay it out on the bed. Your coherence of vision suggests a deeply honed personal style signature. The real life SAHM me still fights with the fantasy Sophia Loren and other '50s divas lurking within, over who gets the clothing budget. Rather too many purchases that I have no place to wear taking up space and cash in my closet. On a positive note, I do have few clothes and they are of good quality. On the negative side, I either have to do laundry very frequently or visit the supermarket in a velvet evening coat and a silk shift dress. Process, process, it's all a process....aiming for cotton velvet jeans and a needlecord jacket with purple silk lining and a merino wool shell as a daily washable compromise of need versus desire.
    I think you've told us before but I can't locate it - how do you create a montage as above with photos of your real clothes? Is there some clever app thingy? (I'm 33 and sound about 103 with that comment!)
    Many thanks, Margot

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    1. Being a SAHM doesn't mean saying goodbye to style... Or rebelling against it with the velvet evening coat! LOL I'm also a part-time SAHM, and I've noticed, that just taking things just one notch up (eg away from jeans to your cotton velvet trousers) introduces a style injection that is unbeatable.

      Bookbutterfly

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    2. SAHM equals washable. Fortunately a lot of velvet is, as are pungently coloured cords. When I had young kids anything wrecked by peanut buttered fingers was out: no suede or silk, for example. But it is very hard to find good-looking dresses that wash.

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    3. Thank you both for your insights. Yes, washable is the key leit motif of my wardrobe! I do find quality helps; I have washed and washed my Brora cashmere jumpers and jumper dresses and they just grow softer as they age. I wear them to burp the baby, mow the lawn, clean the windows, machine wool wash at 30'c, dry flat, and they are as good as new. As I am UK based it is a simple matter to return them to the cashmere mill in Scotland where they were made via Brora to get small wear holes invisibly repaired.
      Paring down to a 33 type wardrobe enforces a distilling of vision which is how I confronted the fact that glamour is central to my identity. So i try to work it in to my daily life, not save for special occasions, as I don't have the spare capacity of extra clothes to do anything else. The greater the closet discipline via fewer items, the greater the development of authentic and individual style. A very worthwhile exercise which hopefully morphs into a habit for life.
      But yes Duchesse, I do hanker after a bit of suede and silk but alas, not for several more years yet!....
      Margot

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    4. Give in to the Sophia Loren in you!! Don't say no to glamor just because you are a mom. Try wearing fine fabrics in prints so that stains and paw prints are hidden. Silk can be hand-washed.

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    5. You can use polyvore.com to create montages

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    6. I agree. Maybe not a silk blouse just now, but underthings and scarves maybe...and what's so wrong with teaching the babies that fine things feel nice too? When I was a new mum, my son always wanted to stop at the leather goods store and caress the leather gloves.

      Bookbutterfly

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    7. My children do adore my cashmere. One 12 year old Brora jumper that has worn too thin under the arms to be re-repaired is now my son's snuggly, he strokes his face with it whilst reading a book. When he had to draw a picture of his family for school, I featured in red high heels (which are indeed my favourite shoes, very walkable Chie Miharas) and a fuzz of purple circular scribbles, apparently this represented my snuggly softness that he associated with me!! (He's eight.) I put all my children in Brora cashmere as babies because it machine washes so well, is often in gender neutral colours and can be handed down between siblings, and their skin is one sixth of an adult's in thickness so textures can feel too scratchy and annoying.
      Margot

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    8. I promise I will shut up pronto, so sorry Janice for crashing your blog, but one final suggestion for SAHMs who long to pep up their utilitarian clothes. These aprons are fabulous, hand made in the UK, thick cotton drill so they stop a zillion dirt stains reaching your clothes underneath, totally indestructible and absolutely washable, and they are so feminine and thoroughly cheering.
      http://www.poshpinnies.com
      Margot

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  4. I have a very similar capsule wardrobe, but I've narrowed my items down to about 12 items. I know not everyone wants to have such a narrow limited selection, but it really suits my lifestyle and needs.

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    1. I am adapting Janice's principles to Jennifer Scott's ten-item wardrobe. My exquisite taste combined with my limited budget mean that I just cannot afford 33 items of the quality that I would want. My goal is to be just like the actual Vivienne with just about 15 items or so for Autumn/Winter and 15 for Spring/Summer.

      How do you manage to have just 12? Do you only buy certain colors? I really admire the discipline. I have decided to wear almost only dresses, which means that 12 to 15 items will get one through 2 weeks without repeating. I also am not in a hurry to amass the 15 items. I want to only buy things that really make me feel proud. Right now I am under 10, but I am finding that I really enjoy wearing the clothes that I have and I always feel chic.

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    2. Color is an easy way to go. That way, everything matches. A site search on capsules will bring up those based on a color or on a single item, etc. On the one hand it could seem like iron discipline, yet on the other, I find it a refreshing antidote to the overwhelming choice one could have...

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    3. I checked the video for 10-piece wardrobe, and if you count the "extras", she actually has about 35 items - so it's pretty much the same as P333! Her collection was really nice and well-thought out, so lots of inspiration there.

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  5. The grey sweater with pockets in the first pairing is by whom? I really love it and can see it in my clothes. I'm having a between- seasons breakdown of a sort. I need to tear through my closets and sort out the summer- only garments. I've been contemplating how to arrange what's left. I have two small closets and clothes are parceled out between them making it difficult to visually put outfits together. Wouldn't be so hard if I could get it down to 33, would it! For whatever reason, I find it intimidating.

    Janice- when you show us the chosen 33, I always think, "It's a bit boring." Then, when you put the capsules together, I think, "Gorgeous!" What a gift you have!

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  6. LOL! I watched a documentary about Karl Lagerfeld, and remember being struck by his walk-in closet. It's huge (for Paris standards) and filled with all black and white. And a few variations thereof. And his accessories- from chains to those fingerless (cyclist) gloves. He accessorizes like crazy.

    I remember thinking, 'that's an awful lot, for someone who seems to be wearing the same thing all the time.' From then on, I started to take a closer look, and realized that he hardly ever wears the same combination of elements twice, but the colour-story and the form, makes you think that he does...


    Bookbutterfly

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  7. Endlessly classic and lady-like!

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  8. Any chance you can identify the item brands/names, especially the shoes? Thanks!

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  9. I know you love argyle sweaters Janice and I am intrigued by that. I've gone looking for nice argyles and haven't found one yet. Can you show us a few current options that are for sale out there?

    I think your wardrobe is perfect and I want you to know that you have greatly influenced me. For the last year or so, I've been playing close attention and you have informed my clothing purchases. I've still made a few mistakes, but I am making fewer mistakes.

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    1. I recently received a Land's End catalog and there was a whole section called Forever Cashmere. Included are 3 argyle cardigans in pink/orange/beige, red/gray/white and black/white/gray. Online currently at $179 for regular and petite sizes and $199 for plus sizes, they are not cheap.

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  10. Love. Love. Love. So simple. So elegant.

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  11. You have such amazing style-if only I could have just this collection all to myself!

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  12. I'd wear just about everything here. Great picks, Janice!!

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  13. Fabulous as always. Thank you for this excellent public service you provide!

    I'm wondering if you found it easier to put together your Project 333 collection now that you are working from home and not going to an office daily. Your clothes are as chic as ever, but did you find that you could dispense with a few formal garments in favour of some more casual ones? I work from home and find that I have more casual than formal items. - Laurel

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  14. I am very interested in where to find some of these pieces. In particular the pieces in the first image of outfits - the grey sweater with texture/patterned skirt and the black sweater with the same skirt and those very awesome shoes. I would also like to find a black cardigan with the lighter stripe across it like the one pictured. Leads would be helpful - thanks

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  15. Alber Elbaz, Geoffrey Beene, Marc Jacobs, Christian Dior, Perry Ellis and other designers all wore a 'uniform', at least for long stretches (Jacobs has changed.) Diana Vreeland wore nothing but black cashmere separates to work for an era. I take succor from this and like the clothes shown, though the dresses look light for frigid winters.

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  16. I strive to be able to pare down my wardrobe as you have. I believe I could easily have just 33 items per season, as I am uniformed during the work week and usually put on lounge wear after work - however, I just can't seem to be able to part with things I have already bought! I have purged a lot since really diving into this. I, however, think that it is easier with those who can wear black and white! So jealous! An old boyfriend's mother used to have a "uniform" of black, white, and denim. It was genius - I have really wanted to be able to duplicate something like that as she looked fabulous and fashionable every day; but it is so hard to do the same thing with brown and ivory. I wish clothing manufacturers offered "basics" in chocolates and ivories!

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    1. If you look good in brown, have you considered charcoal or navy? Whenever I look at a black and white capsule, I just imagine all of the black as one of those colors instead. They seem to be easier to find than brown, and both look much better on me than black which makes me look like a corpse.

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    2. Brown comes and goes as a fashionable color, but I think it is a great neutral if it looks good on you. I've chosen black and navy as my neutrals because brown doesn't work on me. My skin color is brown, so the color usually washes me out. But I do love off-white as another neutral and have decided to not buy stark white clothing. I like the discipline this decision has given me even though I haven't found anything to buy in ivory/off-white. Use shopstyle to help you find items in your chosen colors and save your money until the fashion tides turn toward brown again. It will give you a very unique look.

      Also, you may consider adding the popular deep reds or oranges that tend to be popular this time of year. If they suit you.

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    3. Also, just because I sometimes dream of a chocolate brown wardrobe, a few leopard print accent pieces may work for you and there are so many right now. And DvF has their Julian wrap dress in chocolate brown. Also, pale blue goes really well with chocolate brown.

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  17. Your collection is simply beautiful. Thanks for showing us and it will be my inspiration for my project 333!!

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  18. I'd love to see you (or any real, non - model woman) in any of these combinations.

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  19. My main wardrobe is even plainer than yours, owing to complete lack of argyle! Sadly, my accessories are not as good as yours.

    Just beautiful, as always.

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  20. The more you know the less you need.

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  21. I've been away for two weeks on holiday (including from the internet) but thinking of you every time I opened my suitcase, which was rigorously Janice-pared (though with nary an argyle.) Thank you, thank you for all your labors for this blog, for us. You are very deeply appreciated!

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  22. I swear my wardrobe gets smaller with each passing season. A lot of this has to do with the fact that I now refuse to by cheap clothes. I too am wishing for autumn. Will it ever come? I miss my cardigans.

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  23. There have been many comments on this 33 and on the VF general about quality vs cheap clothing. Is there an unspoken price point that separates one from the other? I find that most of the designers or manufacturers listed are too expensive and/or use fabrics I can't wear (wool) or won't buy (anything that can't be washed) and/or that are only made in sizes that are too small for me. I still learn a lot, but sometimes it is disappointing to not be able to put what I learn into practice.

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    1. I don't think that there is an unspoken price point that separates cheap from quality, but the more you educate yourself and the more you touch clothes and try them on, you will understand what you want for yourself. Not long ago, I would have thought that more than $100 for a dress was too expensive for my budget. My budget hasn't changed much, but when I limit myself to neutrals or a limited palette and really consider how the item makes me feel emotionally and physically, I find that I am willing to spend $200 - $300 on a great black silk or wool dress rather than $75 on a polyester one. I'm even considering having on of my favorites remade by a seamstress (probably in silk) which would cost about $500.

      I have decided to buy a black cashmere cardigan. J. Crew has some options that look good, but when I did a little online research I found an article explaining the difference between relatively cheap cashmere and more expensive cashmere. From reading the article I learned that the better varieties get better as you wash and wear and should last a very long time. Now I cannot afford Loro Piana at all, but if I wait a few months I can buy Bompard. I have more research (and saving) to do, but I am now leaning toward something better, but more expensive. Now if I decide I need a brightly colored cashmere sweater, I may have to go with J. Crew, but I would wear it less often.

      Cashmere, merino, and silk can be hand-washed with a gentle detergent. Are you not able to wear any wool? What about alpaca?

      I'm so glad you asked this question. I am learning a lot from the other answers!

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    2. Nope. No wool or alpaca or anything like them at all. I have one cardigan made from linen and a little bit of wool and lined and even over whatever is underneath, it's annoying enough to be a distraction when I wear it. It's been this way all my life. I've tried excursions into Merino and cashmere with the usual itchy results. Silk and cotton both work, as do the non-natural fibers.

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    3. It sounds like you have some good parameters within which to explore. So you can't wear wool, but there are still cotton, silk, linen, and leather for natural fabrics. And if you don't mind non-natural fibers then you should find a lot of options. There's no reason why you should stick to natural fibers if that's just not your thing. And there are different levels of quality for all natural and non-natural fibers. Do your research and spend a day at a department store just trying things on and feeling the fabrics against your skin. Stretch, sit, and walk a bit in every item. Look at the seams and seam allowances. Try on some items in three or four sizes and consider what the tailoring possibilities are. Try on things that are way out of your budget, just to learn about the fabric or designer. Go to the men's departments and try on things if they tend to fit you better. Don't let anyone pressure you to buy anything, but feel free to ask a lot of questions about the designer, the fabrics, potential future sales, and items that may be coming in. Men's clothes are often better made than women's. I have found this to be true at the Gap, which I gave up on for basics ages ago. But my sophisticated male friends get away with some of their items and look pulled together. This probably holds true for Banana Republic and J. Crew and most similar brands, maybe even H&M.

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    4. Another idea - check out the high-end designer collections at stores like Target and Kohl's. They are likely to be made in a better range of sizes than most brands and are also more likely to be machine washable.

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  24. My perspective on this is that a big designer name is no longer a guarantee of quality these days, some shocking prices for garments that are 100% polyester, with merely the final making up and a label attached in Europe, crazy! I work out the percentage of my budget that I can afford in a year, the core items I need, and divide to create a ball park figure for each piece. Sometimes something I would have paid full price for anyway happens to be on sale, so I end up with a surplus, which i could then rechannel to upgrading a potential purchase to a higher price point, or set aside for when i stumble upon something fabulous that adds an extra dimension to my existing wardrobe, usually a scarf or other accessory.
    I look for natural fabrics, ethical production (for me that is made in EU, for you perhaps made in USA), and thorough construction. I get to know my favourite labels, like Brora, Anne Fontaine, St James, and their quality, after many years and many washes so I know that what I pay is 'worth' it for quality and longevity plus environmental sustainability. Cost per wear boils down to pennies. I end up sensing instinctively if a piece is right for my wardrobe and worth its price tag when i've taken all these factors into consideration. Don't know if that helps?
    Margot

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    1. This is Anon at 4:49, the one hunting a black cashmere cardigan. You've just introduced me to Brora! How long do your favorite Brora sweaters last you? I would likely wear a good cardigan once or twice a week.

      Thank you!

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    2. i have Brora cardigans which are 15 years old, very very soft now, worn once or twice a week during Autumn and Winter, still fit beautifully. Exquisite complex colours, with flecks of blues and greens within a green jumper for example, and shell buttons. I de-bobble them occasionally with a cashmere comb that one can buy from Brora for very little. Machine wash on a 30'C wool cycle (gentle spin) with Woolite or other gentle detergent, dry flat on a towel away from direct sunlight, can press with a cool iron. As i wrote above, I do live in the UK so can return them to the cashmere mill for mending now and then - generally I find small holes can wear in the under arm seams, after about 7 or 8 years. That's just friction from a body wearing them, would happen in any jumper eventually. Worth every penny, with a range of styles from classic to very hip and funky. Ethically sourced cashmere from Mongolia, the cashmere is spun and knitted in Scotland, the garments mostly made in the Uk or Italy, excellent customer service, they ship all over the world. Can't recommend highly enough. Their wood tweed trousers are lined with silk - how often do you encounter that quality any more?! Hope that helps, Margot

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    3. Wow. Thank you so much! You are a wealth of info!

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    4. Margot - Since you are in the UK, I wonder if you favorite retailers for nice umbrellas that last. I'm looking for one or two to match my new carefully curated wardrobe.

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    5. Anon@11:06am, I go to these chaps
      http://www.james-smith.co.uk
      Every type of umbrella and parasol the heart could desire, made properly, to last, with style. Worth a trip to London to visit the actual shop; it's amazing.
      Margot

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  25. P.S. Anon@9.15pm, the fit issue might be resolved by the brands that you eventually choose. I wonder if a lot of fast fashion low-price garments, usually made in the Far East, are designed around a fit model who is Chinese, most of whom are much more petite than the average North European. We are all built differently, wild generalisation but I have a French shape, not a German one, so i look to brands that cater for my typical build. (Pls don't shoot me for such comments, German ladies tend to be taller and often have a fuller bust, no negative connotations, just difference). There will be brands out there where the block/fit model/other aspects at the beginning of the pattern cutting stage, will align more closely with your own personal proportions. It takes research and some frustration to source those lines but they will be out there. Don't give up, the hunt can be fun!
    Margot

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  26. You called it exactly. Unfortunately, I didn't get my mother's ectomorph characteristics but rather my father's mesomorph ones. According to Inside Out Style, my body shape that used to be an 8 in my youth, is now an H. I have always had fit problems with my large bust, requiring me to wear tops and dresses that are typically 1-3 sizes larger than my pants and skirts. I've often had to buy men's jackets because the largest women's size wasn't large enough through the chest. No long-sleeved women's shirt with a button cuff will work for me because my arms are too long. I do enjoy the research, and at least at 5'8" I don't have the problems my 6'3" and taller female cousins have.

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