Friday, June 27, 2014

How to Build a Capsule Wardrobe from Scratch: A Brief Pause to Check the Map

This seems like a good time to stop for a moment and assess what we've accomplished so far with our capsule wardrobes, and make sure that we're happy with the direction in which we're moving.

The items that we've brought into the capsule wardrobe so far give us over a dozen outfit options (I'm showing 2 dozen, but if you take off the cardigans, there are additional outfits).  Some of these outfits work better than others, but none of them are unwearable.  

What might be reasonable to do right now would be to stop and look at each of these outfits, and decide if we're comfortable with most of them.  Certainly some are going to be... not to our taste... but if your choice of colors has been correct, then most of the outfits should hold some appeal.

So, before we've gone too far down the road, let's double-check that we're happy with the direction.  While it would be annoying to decide that we're going the wrong way, at least we'll save getting terribly invested (financially and emotionally) in a wrong wardrobe.

I can speak from personal experience about this - when I left graduate school, I bought 100% into the navy/grey/burgundy wardrobe that was considered de rigeur for business graduates.  My instincts always cried out for black/grey/red, but red was considered too flashy for someone just out of school.  I spent a ton of money, and for months wore suits that I didn't really adore, because I was trying to do the "right" thing... sigh...

How to build a capsule wardrobe from scratch - A pause to evaluate our clothes.
earrings – Max and Chloedark scarf – Erfurtcaramel tee – Hallhubercoral tee shirt – Warehousecaramel wool and cashmere cardigan – Customer Loversbracelet – Tiraphan Hasub, watch – Fossil, light scarf - Play Manteroivory silk top – Jaegerblack trousers – Mint Velvetbag – Dorothy Perkinsblack cardigan – Michael Michael Korsblue linen shirt – Jaeger copper twill trousers – Lands’ Endcaramel jeans – Toast, black ballet flats – Armanibrown ballet flats – Frye

How to build a capsule wardrobe from scratch - A pause to evaluate our clothes.

How to build a capsule wardrobe from scratch - A pause to evaluate our clothes.

How to build a capsule wardrobe from scratch - A pause to evaluate our clothes.

How to build a capsule wardrobe from scratch - A pause to evaluate our clothes.
earrings – Toosis, nautical scarf – Brooks Brothersblack white red scarf – Vince Camuto, black tee – Hallhuber, blue shirt - Uniqlo, black cotton and cashmere cardigan – 10 Crosby Derek Lam, watch – DKNYbracelet – Simon Sebbag, white cotton shirt – Diane von Furstenberg,red blouse – Cutiegrey cardigan - Mango, black linen trousers – Viyella, black jeans – Current/Elliott,  grey pleated trousers – Alberto Biani,bag – Gregory Sylvia,  grey ballet flats – Café Noir, pointed toe loafers – Kelsi Dagger Brooklyn

How to build a capsule wardrobe from scratch - A pause to evaluate our clothes.

How to build a capsule wardrobe from scratch - A pause to evaluate our clothes.

How to build a capsule wardrobe from scratch - A pause to evaluate our clothes.

How to build a capsule wardrobe from scratch - A pause to evaluate our clothes.
earrings – Kasturjewels, square scarf – Radical Chic, brown cotton tee – Uniqlo, yellow top – Uniqlo, chocolate brown fleece cardigan – L.L.Bean, watch – Timex, beaded bracelet – Chan Luu,  blue and brown scarf – Paola Pecora, blue blouse – Uniqlo,beige pants – The Row, ivory silk blouse – Jaeger, tote – Coet, tan marled cardigan – Junarose, brown twill trousers – Lands’ End, brown jeans – Viyella, tan ballet flats – Michael Michael Kors, tassel loafers – The Flexx

How to build a capsule wardrobe from scratch - A pause to evaluate our clothes.

How to build a capsule wardrobe from scratch - A pause to evaluate our clothes.

How to build a capsule wardrobe from scratch - A pause to evaluate our clothes.

How to build a capsule wardrobe from scratch - A pause to evaluate our clothes.
earrings – Majorica, navy and grey scarf – Hinge, pastel scarf – Twisted Muse, silver grey tee – Hallhuber, lilac tee shirt – Nougat London, grey cashmere cardigan – Jaeger, watch – Fossil, bracelet – Majorica, navy cardigan – Dorothy Perkins, white cotton shirt – Diane von Furstenberg, pink shirt – Fenn Wright Manson, silver grey trousers – Viyella, grey jeans – Rebecca Taylor, navy trousers – Jacques Vert, bag – CK Calvin Klein, navy ballet flats – Geox, tasseled flats – Trotters

How to build a capsule wardrobe from scratch - A pause to evaluate our clothes.

How to build a capsule wardrobe from scratch - A pause to evaluate our clothes.

How to build a capsule wardrobe from scratch - A pause to evaluate our clothes.

How to build a capsule wardrobe from scratch - A pause to evaluate our clothes.
wooden earrings – Hring eftir hring, zigzag infinity scarf - Brazen, khaki tee – Target, turquoise blouse – Ralph Lauren Black Label, tan cashmere cardigan – La Garconne, watch – Armani Exchange, bracelet – Chan Luu, ivory silk blouse – Jaeger, striped scarf – Missoni, olive cardigan – Merona, tan trousers – Hallhuber, beige jeans – Morgan, Olive trousers – Isabel Marant Etoile, bag –  Longchamp, maroon tee shirt – Linea Weekend, olive ballet flats – Chloe, penny loafers – Cole Haan

How to build a capsule wardrobe from scratch - A pause to evaluate our clothes.

How to build a capsule wardrobe from scratch - A pause to evaluate our clothes.

How to build a capsule wardrobe from scratch - A pause to evaluate our clothes.

How to build a capsule wardrobe from scratch - A pause to evaluate our clothes.
earrings – Dorothy Perkins, pastel scarf – Collection Weekend, navy silk tee – Theory, aqua tee - Reiss, navy wool cardigan – Miu Miu, bracelet – Brooks Brothers, watch – Anne Klein, beige and navy checked scarf – Aquascutum, tan pants – Uniqlo, white silk blouse – Nic + Zoe, yellow tee – Warehouse, beige cardigan – Marella, navy trousers – Viyella, navy jeans – Uniqlo, bag – Halogen,  ballet flats – Me Too, black penny loafers – Cole Haan

How to build a capsule wardrobe from scratch - A pause to evaluate our clothes.

How to build a capsule wardrobe from scratch - A pause to evaluate our clothes.

How to build a capsule wardrobe from scratch - A pause to evaluate our clothes.

How to build a capsule wardrobe from scratch - A pause to evaluate our clothes.
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45 comments:

  1. Wow! The work you do is just mind-boggling! Thank you so much, Janice!

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  2. Hi Janice,
    I left graduate school before "dress for success" came in, so it was minis in the early 70s, then long swinging chic dresses in the later 70s and bright colours all the way through until the 80s when theserious office look came in. But my fave was the early 90s with Joan Collins shoulder pads...Needless to say I need your blog to master current looks and this is a fantastic series.
    Kate

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  3. Thank you so much for this amazing amount of work! Your efforts are inspiring and appreciated!

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  4. Wow!, yes, says it all. The vision, the dedication, the sheer amount of time and gift you pour into this blog, Janice, is incredible.

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  5. You have come up with combinations that will dress me for a few weeks to come.

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  6. I think most of us have tried to do "the right thing" at some point in our lives, even when we knew it wasn't the the right thing for us personally. I do love this series... after learning that I am a Bright Winter, I want to build a wardrobe around that seasonal palette, but I am a dirty blonde and my analyst suggested that the darkest neutrals in my palette other than black would probably be more flattering, so I am looking at navy, charcoal, and grayish taupe. I love the super-saturated brights in the palette, such as red, cobalt, kelly green, turquoise, and fuschia and I love the kelly green colorway of the Hermes scarf featured in this post:
    http://theviviennefiles.blogspot.com/2014/05/choosing-scarf-hermes-in-orange.html
    I will be trying to follow your advice from this series to build a wardrobe around that scarf.

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  7. This is so impressive! I find working on one grouping to be a challenge and here you've put together six! I think the thing that each reader needs to remember when shopping with this concept is line- getting the right line for your shape. The challenge, of course, is getting the right line and then finding the right color- definitely a practice in patience. I'm your newest subscriber- thank you for creating this great series!

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  8. Interesting! After looking at the individual outfits in a couple of the colorways that I thought I liked, I really didn't like them anymore. But the olive/tan/burgundy/teal is ME. I need to print out the picture of your core wardrobe and take it to the store when I shop!!

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  9. I think what is working for me at age 61 is olive/burgundy/teal/purple as accents with a few more neutrals than you suggest - black, navy, white, sand. Those are the colors I have most of in my closet and wear the most often. I have the closet space for more pieces, and I get bored with "uniform" - probably my parochial school days steered me in the other direction! Please give me some information on picking prints - I love color/pattern, and this might be a way to add a tiny bit of something beyond my typical palette to satisfy my aging hippie lady habit. Thanks for the tremendous amount of effort you put into your postings - they are favorite part of my day. - Nan

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    1. Prints arrive early next week - my birthday is Sunday, so I might miss a post, but they're what I'm working on right now!
      regards,
      Janice

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    2. Oh, happy birthday, dear Janice! May every joy come to you.

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    3. Happy Birthday Janice! Wishing you all the joy life can bring, and especially Good Health!!
      You have the same birthday as my dad. He will be 76 years young.
      Thank you for all your wonderful and creative work.
      Irene

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    4. Happiest of birthdays, Janice! I'm loving this series, as I do all of your work. Thank you for sharing your fantastic talent and insight with all of us!

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  10. I love all your postings. But this series has been especially helpful and inspiring. Without buying much (or possibly ANYTHING), I could create several of these color-themed collections from my existing wardrobe. It will be an opportunity to refresh my look and make it seem like I've been shopping!
    I agree with Nan--reading your blog is a favorite part of my day. Thank you!

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  11. This past year I decided to focus on wearing my olive neutrals and to beef up my sparse collection of tan/camel neutrals. I also added several teal/aqua tops and sweaters. I love these colors but have felt a little like the only one wearing them. Watching you work with them has given me more confidence to move forward in this direction. My coloring has gone from cool to warm over the years and these colors do flatter me more than the old "winter" cool color palate I used for years.

    By the way, my sister was in town last week and she helped me do yet again another closet purge. We left a lot of good black pieces in my wardrobe and some grey and navy. I feel like I have too many neutrals, but I have been reluctant to get rid of these "more conventional" neutrals and I have a lot of nice pieces I've collected in them. My sister said something interesting. She said, "I think you should keep them and always have some of them in your closet. When you travel to big cities like New York, San Francisco or Paris, this is what everyone is wearing. There are just times and places where you want to look more sophisticated and that requires black, navy or grey." What do you think about that?

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    1. It's very true; in most large cities we live in non-stop dark colors. You can always use them as a base for more colorful and expressive garments when you're home, and then have them available for travel!

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  12. I am definitely a black and grey "winter" but I find the brightness of the red and blue overwhelming at my point in life. The look at that works for me the navy and grey unit. It is easy to adjust for my needs by substituting black for the navy pieces. (Navy is just harder to find and to blend plus the color is more "unstable" and subject to fading.)

    I love the idea of olive and khaki. However, I don't love the turquoise with olive so much even though it should work. I wish I could wear the brown and tan; all of the combinations are attractive. The shade of blue in the brown and tan group should work with many basic colors.

    Very, very interesting post. I think I learned more from what I don't like so much. I also join the chorus for thanking you for all your hard work.

    Susan in WA

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    1. You can always work black and grey neutral with pastel colors - rose, lavender, dusty blue all look great with both black and grey. That way you don't have to replace all of you black things in one move - you can migrate more gradually if you really feel that you want to.

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  13. Brilliant series, thank you.

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  14. I think I've figured it out. Every one of these has at least one color I do not like. If I can swap out one for something else, I might find a combination I like. I do not like purple in any form--periwinkle to bugandy--and a royal blue that reads purple is also a turn off. I also don't much like teal in its various permutations. Give me the earth tones and the yellow-red hues, along with some black and some ivory.

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    1. Dear Shreddie,

      Come up with five colors you like - two neutrals, a light neutral, and three accent colors, and I'll use those colors in my "summing up" post (whenever I finish this Start from Scratch series!).

      regards,
      Janice

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    2. Happy Birthday, Janice!

      I have been staring at my closet, and I think what I see is khaki, black, ivory/white, rust to goldenrod and moss-not-olive. I also seem to have a rather high number of grey stuff, but I'm not sure how that happened! I also see ballet flats, ankle booties and mary janes. You are a champ. Janice.

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  15. Love it!I I am taking notes already.
    I love the black, white, red set, and I am swapping blue for pink. But the grey does not really appeal to me... would navy be a workable solution or is it too close to black?
    Arte

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    1. I know that navy and black worn together is supposed to be terribly chic, but I just never seem to be able to make it work! Maybe winter white, or taupe?

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  16. These are great, but I can't stand scarves. They look ridiculous on me. Do you have any advice on what I can swap in for the scarves?

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    1. Necklaces, bracelets, brooches (brooches are woefully underused, in my opinion), or patterned tops. I'm going to venture into printed blouses and shirts next week....

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    2. Although I do wear scarves, my favourite is large chunky beaded necklaces. You can buy these online or in the jewellery section in womenswear clothing stores, but you can also buy the beads in bead shops and either string them yourself, or have them strung for you. It's a great way of brings different colours together in an outfit if those same colours are reflected in the beads in a necklace.

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    3. Ah, I'm working on those right now! My birthday is Sunday, so I might miss a post, but you'll be seeing printed tops and some amazing necklaces early next week.
      regards,
      Janice

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    4. Anon, Have you perhaps thought of using a knotted scarf 'necklace'. I have a very short neck (cannot wear turtlenecks), and the usual scarf solutions often feel so fluffy and in my face to me, but I have never failed to receive a compliment on my knotted necklace approach. They are wonderfully lightweight, yet chunky, and so easy to travel with in no space at all.

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    5. Thanks for the great ideas!

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  17. I agree with above posts. This blog is the first thing I check from my phone every morning. I just love it. You give so much inspiration. Thank you for your great efforts appreciated by so many.

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  18. I'm back! I made my own pretend wardrobe using your help from this series. I created a board on polyvore if anyone is interested in seeing it. It was very fun to take the instruction and make it to my own taste. I've used light gray as my first neutral, navy as my second and coral and lime for the accents. It is intended for summer in my warm Sacramento. Here's the link: http://www.polyvore.com/cgi/set?id=126527389

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    1. Everybody should take a look - it's a brilliant combination of colors, and some lovely garments! thanks for sharing,
      regards,
      Janice

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    2. Wowza! Such a pretty grouping. I especially love lime and light gray. Such a refreshing combination. Like a wardrobe Mojito.

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    3. Thank you all for the sweet comments- I am having so much fun with this project!

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  19. Janice, Just wanted to add my thanks to your continuing efforts. Like many others, your blog is something I read every morning with my coffee, and I so rarely post a response. But I would seriously miss you and your blog (and travels!). Always so much to see as well as ponder the implications and possibilities..

    I have been wearing capsules (red, black, grey with changing accents) for over 30 years, and have finally tired of the red. So this summer, with your unknown encouragement, I went to navy and tan with green and yellow accents. I am loving the change, and it was not a fortune. I may go back to my basics this winter, or I may choose to stick with a navy core, we shall see where the whim takes me.

    I must also add that I have found so many occasions to point friends to your posts...just yesterday a friend excitedly told me her husband surprised her with their first trip to Paris in two weeks. She was agonizing over clothing and packing, but here is this current series and your own March packing posts to save the day. I don't think you will ever realize the many women and lives you touch, but I have to say it just to give you an inkling of your impact.

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  20. Happy Birthday to you! I hope you celebrate in a special way! Your absolutely my favorite blog!
    Karen

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  21. Janice, thanks for your blog. I just spent three hours commuting home (wreck on the interstate with multiple fatalities so I am not complaining--just very tired) and it was so nice to sit down with my laptop and take a look at what you had for today. I enjoyed looking and pouring over each item and it was a wonderful way to unwind from a stressful day. I hope you have a wonderful birthday this weekend!

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  22. I'm 'playing along at home' with my own colors. Long term my biggest shift has been to nearly eliminate black from my wardrobe and my short term shift is introducing a casual camel capsule (say that 3 times fast) as a trial run for camel as my second neutral. Every time I see punchy blues with camel I swoon. This bodes well for my wardrobe as one of my 4 accent colors is sky/cerulean blue.

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  23. My travel wardrobe is very similar to your gray-black combo but I use red not cobalt blue as the accent color. I also travel with fewer clothes (only one pair of black pants -- but I might replace the second pair with a black pencil skirt for theater, dinner, etc., and either long or short sleeve tops, depending on weather and destination). But There are still countless outfits to make from a limited wardrobe.

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  24. This is by far the most helpful guide to assembling a wardrobe I've seen anywhere. You should consider writing a book in case you haven't already done so. I'm so glad I discovered your blog. Thank you!

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  25. I appreciate all the effort and knowledge you have shared in this blog! Please continue to post for clueless souls like me!

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  26. This is so awesome that it is bewond words - here is my summer 2016 navy - taupe Starting From Scratch board:
    https://www.pinterest.com/veselestvari/starting-from-scratch-summer-2016/
    Thank you, thank you, thank you so much!

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