Thursday, April 17, 2014

A "Two Suit" Wardrobe in Navy and Beige

Another visit to this concept, keeping the beige linen (I'm SO lazy...) and using navy as our other neutral.  I'm going to try to explain the steps for choosing these items in more detail, so that you can recreate what I do in your own closet.

Also, I want to address the question of having multiple pairs of dark neutral pants. Often, we're told that "you shouldn't own three pair of navy pants", but I heartily disagree, because of the wide variety of navy pants that you might own. In this particular example, I've included very narrow navy capris in a cotton fabric, a wide-legged trouser (full-length), and a silk-like palazzo pant.  My feeling is that these three pants give three very different outfits when combined with the same top: capris are on the casual side, the dress pant is very work or meeting-worthy, and the palazzo pants can be quite dressy.  As with all fashion or style advice, your mileage may vary, and you should make your own choices!

First up, the navy "suit-equivalent" of a cardigan, two very different trousers, and a simple dress that can be worn alone or with any kind of jacket, cardigan, or shirt-jacket over it.  Navy is a drag to match, so it makes life easier if these pieces can be found in the same store, or from the same manufacturer.
Cardigan, caprispants, dress - Dorothy Perkins
The next "suit" has much more casual options!  If you weren't interested in shorts, you could substitute a skirt, and if the sleeveless dress is too revealing, you could look for one with elbow or 3/4 sleeves.  The cardigan can be worn with almost anything you own, and when worn over the sleeveless dress, it makes it appropriate for work or more conservative requirements.
all garments - L.L.Bean
I've always believed that every closet should include a core of solid-colored, simple tops - enough of them to be able to avoid daily laundry.  While for this particular wardrobe it would be most obvious to choose navy and beige, I've opted to replace the beige with white, because it's more flattering near the face, and will go well with anything you choose.

all tops - Target

There's a very wide range of directions that you could choose to go when choosing accent colors to go with navy and beige.  I've chosen two subtle, sort of dark-ish colors, but you could easily work with pastels like pink and lilac, or brighter colors like leaf green and turquoise...
all tops - L.L.Bean

Next, I look for printed, patterned, or textured tops which combine the two neutrals.  These can be floral, any sort of abstract/geometric print, or something as whimsical as this great butterfly cardigan. And a tweedy textured sweater is always useful, except when outdoors in the sweltering hot weather. 

Cardigan – Oasis, sweater- Acne Studios, blouse – People Tree,  striped tee – People Tree

Just to round out the wardrobe, and because I think 24 garments is a nice tidy number (especially if you want to buy all-new hangers for spring!) I add four more things.  One pair of neutral, but much more dressy pants, a soft and relaxed tunic shirt, a whimsical printed skirt that could go to work or to any casual social activity, and a pair of jacquard pants.  Note that this is definitely NOT a "whatever's clean) wardrobe - there are some tremendous possibilities for unattractive pattern mixing here...

Palazzo pants –Dorothy Perkins, blouse – Velvet, skirt- Monsoon, jacquard trousers – ‘S Maxmara

But this is a summer wardrobe with tons of possibilities:

NORDSTROM - Shop Comfort Shoes for Spring


  1. "tremendous possibilities for unattractive pattern mixing" will keep me giggling all morning.

  2. You, Janice, indefatigable blogstress, are anything but anything but lazy.

  3. The unattractive pattern mixing phrase make me laugh too! Excellent post!

  4. Unattractive pattern mixing :))
    I always wonder about these women posting photos of themselves in wild variations of pattern mixing and wonder if they ever bother to really look at themselves.

  5. I'm also laughing at the pattern mixing phrase. Too funny. I love these building block posts.

  6. Hello Janice, first, love the blog! It's one of the first things I look at on my computer each morning. Second, one suggestion: consider changing from fully justified text to left justified text. The ragged left margin of the fully justified text is harder to read as the eye doesn't know, from line to line, where to start reading. Thanks!

  7. " . . . consider changing from fully justified text to left justified text." Anonymous, I think that the text isn't fully justified, instead it's centered. If it were fully justified, both the left and right sides would be even. And, anonymous, for what it's worth, I also love this blog!


    1. Yep, I realized after I made my post that I meant "center justified" not "fully justified." But, by then, it was too late!

  8. As I've read about pattern mixing on many different blogs, thinking that it might be fashionable but there's a strong probability of getting it all wrong, I too enjoyed your comment about unattractive pattern mixing!

    I know how hard you work, but if you're feeling particularly energetic, would you be able to repeat this for navy and grey? Pretty please!

  9. I actually never even noticed the centered text until anonymous pointed it out. Anyway, I love these posts since so many of my clients are casual to business casual. These outfits work much better for my lifestyle than suits. I never made it to my big closet purge a couple of weeks ago, so am hoping to make a dent in it this weekend. I'll keep the past couple of days posts in mind while trying to create new outfits.

  10. Thanks for sharing the thought process as well as the collection of pieces. I've been struggling to streamline my wardrobe for sometime now and these posts with the thought process is very helpful.

  11. You are so right that navy is hard to match. But finding a manufacturer that makes a navy dress, pants and jacket seems impossible. The cardigan in your post is cute and would work for many work situations, but not for important meetings, especially if they are in Europe or Asia. Eileen Fischer has come out with many basics in navy this season but no jacket. I looked at Dorothy Perkins, thanks to your links, but no jacket.There is Yohji Yamamoto, who uses the same gorgeous ink blue wool every year, but it is expensive. Anyone with good ideas?

  12. Pendleton i think keeps some colors very standard...i love their clothes..some great outlet prices in camas wa not far from portland or..