Saturday, February 15, 2014

Building a Capsule Wardrobe by Starting with Art: Shopping with Nicolas de Stael's Abstract

Start With Art posts are among my most popular, and certainly ones that I love to do, but I've recently received some emails that expressed concern about how to actually get started with implementing a focused wardrobe based upon a work of art.  So this is one possible approach...

This beautiful work is Abstract, by Nicolas de Stael, and these cool, subtle colors are amazing for the upcoming summer.  If you're comfortable wearing white, or if you have a good relationship with your dry cleaner, I would start with the crisp clarity of white for the initial four summer garments.  Sandals that pair white with silver, and some silver loafers, might be all the change you need to update your existing wardrobe in this direction.

If you're nervous about wearing this much white, substitute the deepest petrol blue...

Abstract – Nicolas de Staël, shirt – Ter et Bantine, sandals – Natural Soul
skirt – Ter et Bantine, cardigan – Haider Ackermann, cropped pants – Etro
silver loafers – Rose Petals

If you've got budget and ambition to add to this summer wardrobe, look to the cool greyish blues for your next "pod" of garments.  A lightweight sweater is useful for many of us even in the heat of summer - yours might need to be short-sleeved.  A couple of tee shirts, and a skirt which echoes both the colors and the serene horizontals of our painting.  Deep teal sandals, and a matte silver bracelet are your next wave of accessories.

Painting – Nicolas de Staël, sweater – Brunello Cucinelli, sandals – 
Pantofola D’Oro,  tee shirt – Closed, skirt – Toga Pulla, grey tee shirt – 
Minimum, bracelet – Chen Fuchs

Maybe by late summer you're ready to hit the sales and round out this wardrobe - one more tee shirt is always useful.  A cotton tunic can always be nice as a swimsuit cover-up or when the weather cools a bit. Add two more "bottoms" in petrol and khaki (note the touch of tan in the painting) and you've got a good balance of tops to bottoms, and lots of choices.  A pair of silver earrings, and a silver and white scarf go perfectly with everything else you've purchased this season.

Painting – Nicolas de Staël, tee shirt – Isabel Marant Etoile
earrings – Lara Bohinc, linen skirt – Shu Moriyama, capris – Jil Sander
cotton tunic – Pomandere, scarf – Brooks Brothers

Wouldn't this be a great travel wardrobe?





  1. A delightfully cool, even snowy, palette for summer. Lovely.

  2. Thank you so much Janice ! You have work so beautilly with "my painting" ! I LOVE this wardrobe, so pure, calm and serene. I would live happily in these clothes. Once again, many thanks ! Martine

  3. I love this idea! I'm just terrified of wearing white on my bottom half. As a pear shaped woman, I'm afraid the white would only accentuate the difference between my upper and lower hemispheres. Thoughts?

    1. As another pear-shaped woman, I feel your fear. I love the look of slim white jeans under one of those minidresses I feel too old to wear. Instant tunic! I also find that a top with an asymmetrical hemline over white pants or slim skirt is much more flattering than a horizontal line cutting straight across my hips. And finally, simplest of all, a simple white top over white pants or skirt, with a mid-thigh-length cardigan left open at the front, which creates a long vertical line of white. I think Janice has talked about this last idea before.

  4. Beautiful. This one is a stunner.

  5. Love these colors! I don't wear as much white - I'm all about grays and blues!

  6. Brilliant! My favourite thus far.

  7. Love everything about this post, including the painting. Beautiful..tho not practical here in scotland. :(

  8. Janice, I am newly addicted to your wonderful blog. Many thanks for all the inspirational ideas that you come up with. I sew a lot of my clothes and am so eager to hunt out fabulous fabrics and get to work!

  9. As an artist, I'm really appreciative of using art to inspire wardrobe capsules! Very imaginative. With this one, I do long to see a "pop" of bright color; say a compliment to the blues. Perhaps an orange pattern scarf? Thank you for encouraging me to see my clothing in a fresh way.

  10. Denim or chambray plays nicely with this as well.

  11. Hi, agreeing with all of the above, I love this post. White is a difficult colour for many women of a certain age and hip measurement, but I always buy loose fitting linen pants in white which just scrape above my sandals, with a darker top as I find white on top washes me out completely. However, we should not shy away from white, there is a shade of white for everyone.

  12. Another stunning capsule. A winter wardrobe in these colors would be lovely, too.

  13. I LOVE this wardrobe, although I'd have to tweak the blues slightly to better suit my coloring. Now I have a template for adapting my summer wardrobe. Thanks, Janice!



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