Friday, May 02, 2014

A Winter Capsule Wardrobe, and the Full-Year Assortment, from Ma To-Do List: Dressing

Let's see if we can jointly make sense out of all of this, shall we?  First off, working from the list of garments in Ma To-Do List: Dressing, I chose these garments as the Winter Capsule:

A winter capsule wardrobe from Ma To-Do List: Dressing
Wool coat – Mango, parka – Lands’ End, cashmere v-neckFeragamo, dress – Vanessa Bruno Athe, plaid shirt – Esprit, wool trousers – Helmut Lang, tank tops – Uniqlo, jeans – Current/Elliott, knitted cap – Hunter, mittens - Debenhams

Yes, they suggested sleeveless tops for layering.  The authors are in France, not Chicago...

In order to anchor all of this in some neutrals, I'm going to pull in seven simple, neutral garments to act as the core of all of these lists.

a core seven-piece neutral wardrobe
all garments - L.L.Bean

So I pulled out the outerwear and the swim suit, and this is the ensemble wardrobe that you have if you take their four "capsule wardrobe" suggestions together:

the total capsule wardrobe from Ma To-Do List: Dressing

Frankly, I think this isn't a bad wardrobe at all.  There are enough neutrals here to give you plenty of options for building outfits, there are plenty of accents in rose that make it clear what your color preferences are, and garments in a range of weights and cuts that will accommodate most seasons.  You couldn't really complain that this wardrobe was too monochromatic, devoid of prints, or dull...

So this mightn't be the way I personally would go, but it is yet another way to think about building a wardrobe.  Each season, isolate a dozen "garment types" (i.e. parka, swimsuit, silk dress) that are essential, and make sure that you have them all.  This might only require making two or three purchases per season...

Some of the options you have from this wardrobe:

8 outfits from Ma To-Do List: Dressing

8 outfits from Ma To-Do List: Dressing

8 outfits from Ma To-Do List: Dressing


  1. This is fantastic! Gives me great ideas to switch in my own style and colors.

  2. Much less cohesion than I've learned to shop for from studying The Vivienne Files and, though I wish I could say that LLBean ever worked for me in building wardrobe basics, it hasn't. I ordered a Bean spring cardigan in orangey-red because I loved the way it looked in one of your blog posts. But, like everything else I've ever in my life ordered from Bean, it made me look squat and dumpy and styleless and was immediately returned. I guess we all eventually learn what brands as well as colors and styles work for our body type--and which ones just don't and won't.

  3. I think there is value here but I also think this could too quickly become another version of "must-have" lists. To follow this, one is still going to have to do the leg work to determine which items he or she needs each season with regard to lifestyle and climate.

  4. This is a nice collection - more my style than some more monochromatic sets. With a few swaps for personal style and brand preferences, it could work for me really well! Thanks!

  5. This is a much truer representation of my wardrobe. Although I would love to go monochromatic/whatever's clean, I rediscovered prints when I lost weight. I am going to play in my closet this weekend, and see if I can limit myself to 6 bottoms, 6 tops, and 6 toppers in my solid neutral colors, then add my accent colors and prints to the mix. I guess it's a good thing our spring weather has been delayed. Thank you again, Janice, for all the hard work you do for us.

  6. This is very reflective of my wardrobe, and that doesn't necessarily make me happy. I suppose if you only shop for specific items, and only for replacements, it might work. But for me (who likes to shop) it's too easy to wander from such a loose plan and before I know it, I'm in the closet-full-of-clothes-and-nothing-to-wear place. :( Since I've been applying the principles found in some of the other capsules and the whatever's clean wardrobes, I've been much more disciplined in my shopping and much happier in the mornings. BTW, I think this is much more reflective of ME than of the series. As always, the combinations and beautiful.

  7. These selections might be more varied than most...but there is not a single top that would not be compatible with any of the bottoms! Always something to wear

  8. I think that this wardrobe is bright and sunny with enough neutrals for balance. Personally, I have too much print in my wardrobe and will try edit when I get home. I think that I prefer your basic capsules to the Ma To-Do Method.

  9. Hallo - I have been "lurking" for a little while. I love the blog and everything "clothes". After seeing many references to the "Ma to-do list dressing" book, I bought my own copy - in French! Does it come in English or is everyone here a fluent French language speaker :) Anyway I am busy translating, which isn't too laborious because I love clothes.
    Best wishes and I'll continue to "lurk".

    By the way, I've just read the bit about you getting married in Chicago - did this happen today?

    My daughter and I had a happy visit to Chicago a few years past. Saturday 30 November was like a beautiful spring day. We wore jeans and a Tee and no coats for most of the day; the only cold place was Navy Pier. Sunday it snowed and the airport (not O'Hare, the other one) put up stranded travellers on folding beds. Amazing experience, beautiful city. Another visit is close to the top of my "to-do" list.

  10. I don't even read French fluently, and I've been working at it for 40 years! But I love working my way through books in foreign languages...

    We got married on the first day of spring in 2004... It was beautiful...

  11. Honestly, I think you do a much better job than the French author. I know you made an approximation of her suggestions in order to have links to the items but I think you do much better on your own. It does work, I can see that but your combos are much prettier. :)

    1. I agree. I also think that even though this grouping of clothing items might, technically, 'go' with everything else, when I look at these clothes, except for the dominant shade of pink, it reminds me of the choices I have in my closet. The choices I have haven't necessarily made a lot of sense to me, though. I personally have found it extraordinarily helpful to see the clusters and/or groupings of clothing sorted coherently, in Janice's style and organizational sense, to make some order out of all the choices I already have. For me, choice has led to feeling overwhelmed, which reading this blog is really helping with. As they say, having more (choice, in this case) is not always better.