Monday, July 07, 2014

A Question about Building a Capsule Wardrobe from Scratch

coat – Sportmax,boots – Aqualitalia by Marvin K., scarf – Jimmy Choo


First off - let's get the fun things out of the way - Queen Lucia, you won the Claire McCardell book!  Please send me your mailing address to theviviennefiles at gmail dot com, and I'll send it right off to you.

And dearest Sharon - I need your mailing address too, because I still have your travel toiletry kits from last week.  Send me a note, and goodies will be on their way pronto pronto!

Okay, now I'm going to ask for your opinions/input.  I am not, in my own mind, finished with "Starting from Scratch".  At a bare minimum, we need a winter coat and boots, a dressy outfit for warmer weather, a couple of warm-weather outfits, one more round of accessories, and maybe one ensemble for super-cold weather.

What do you think?  Does that sound complete?  Are there specific things that you want/need me to address?  I know that a warm weather skirt and top was specifically requested, and that's what made me that that we don't really have anything here, yet, for a swelteringly hot day.  

So I'm seeing "Starting from Scratch" going through this week, unless you have additional needs and wants.  It's basically all about you, you know...

love,
Janice

38 comments:

  1. Yes, please keep "Starting from Scratch" going a little bit longer!

    In addition to the items you mentioned, how about adding a coat for spring and fall. Something equivalent to a trench coat. (I know that you already have a casual jacket in the mix.)

    As always, thanks for all the good work that you do.

    kris

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  2. Can't thank you enough for this series. I sat down over the long weekend, pulled everything out of my closet and tried to follow each post, pinpointing omissions. What an eye opener! I realized I had been trying to make a set of wardrobes happen at once: professional and casual navy winter and summer, and professional and casual black winter and black summer, and none were complete (and I don't mind mixing black and navy). No wonder felt like I was making purchases but I didn't have that "grab and go" freedom that I have been trying to achieve. Thanks for the focus! To answer your question, I think some seasonal guidance (with raincoats) would be great.

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  3. Hi, I read often but rarely post, and have been following this with great interest. In my mind, the collection you have created will be great for spring and autumn in many climates, but will not have enough warm options for winter in cold climate, nor enough options for summer in warm climates (much less hot climates). I live in Sweden and have been thinking not only about a coat for winter but also a selection of warm scarves, fingerless mittens, chic hats, and of course boots for our upcoming winter months. Advice on how to look chic without freezing is always welcome. It may be that another sub-wardrobe is required; summer-weight trousers definitely will not do and even spring weight won't work without long underwear or tights.

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  4. I am enjoying this series immensely! Like the lady above, I too have been playing with pieces in my closet and figuring out what I am missing to complete a full wardrobe. Please do continue by adding some extreme weather outfits. I am in Minnesota, so we get the very cold winters as well as some hot and humid summer weather. All of your posts are wonderful, and this one has contained so much helpful information. My dream of having a beautiful, functional and simple wardrobe seems in reach!

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  5. Please expand so each palette can include a version of the Common Wardrobe. Since you introduced that concept to us I can't imagine any wardrobe being fundamentally complete without it. I think most or all palettes still need a blue jean, denim shirt, and a few other key pieces. I worked out what they were over the weekend as I've been following along in my closet, but don't have the full list in mind just now.

    Far less important, but you could include one or two dressy pieces that would allow dressing up something in the existing wardrobe for a sparkle-type evening or holiday event.

    Finally, if I'm not mistaken, we are missing a dress and also a blazer or similar nice tailored versatile topper. I know you're more a cardi gal than a jacket gal, but many of us need both jacket and cardi to cover the basic needs for warmth, formality and structure that a 3rd piece / topper provides.

    Thanks for this brilliant series. It is a great help in making a stategy for a terrific fall wardrobe with minimal w

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  6. Meant to end with ...with minimal investment. This series is a brilliant shop-your-closet series that can winnow the wardrobe down easily if that's the goal, and almost guarantee smart buying to fill true specific gaps instead of over buying or blind buying.

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  7. I've been watching this series with great interest; I actually see two wardrobes I'd use...one for spring/summer, the other for fall/winter, just because of the color choices. But what I'd pick for the summer wardrobe palette might be someone else's choice for winter, just because they would like brighter colors in the darker season. So...seasonalizing? Can we make that a word? ...each wardrobe up for either SS or FW would be great. And if it's to be a year-round wardrobe, well, that would cover that as well.

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  8. I loved this series and see that many people could use the concepts to successfully build their wardrobes but I am a full time mum and part time student and feel the wardrobe so far, for me personally, feels very formal. The climate I live in is subtropical and the need for cardigans, jumpers and jackets is minimal, it is the middle of winter here and I have only just swapped from cropped pants to jeans. I would love to see your ideas applied to a wardrobe suitable for warm/hot weather and a casual lifestyle.

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  9. Okay, in addition to the other ladies who live in climates with long, cold winters and hot humid summers (I'm in New England), I have another twist -- two lifestyles. By weekday I work in an office at a desk on a computer. It's high tech, so there's no dress code (Bermuda shorts are worn in the summer) but it's still an office. By evening and weekend, I'm outside with my family and dog -- amusement parks, hiking, biking, mini-golf, dog walking. It's not real athletics that would require specialized clothing, but I get stuck into thinking that I need two separate wardrobes. How can I mix the dressy-casual for work with the outdoorsy-casual for play?

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  10. I think all the ideas above are wonderful additions and love this concept. My eternal question is what to wear to weddings ? I usually attend one a year and would not be able to figure out what to wear to a wedding from your current ensembles. I have recently attended a wedding where the groom wore denim. I wore a casual and conservative sundress. Next wedding is and afternoon wedding with cocktails prior to the ceremony at a catering hall. Both of these weddings are/were located in New York. The next is Ohio so I will need something packable. I know people wear "anything" to weddings these days am old enough to be a parent of the bride and groom at these weddongs. I prefer to wear a dress or a suit and can never figure out what to purchase. Thanks, Joan

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  11. Don't stop! #desperateforguidance

    I agree with all of the above. I live in four-season country, and I think I need ideas on how to cover the worst of winter and the worst of summer. I'm also thinking summer vacation: Bathing suit, coverup, what to wear to the tiki bar.

    Thank you for this series. #gratefulasheck

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  12. Thank you so much for this series, it is very helpful. I also would appreciate some extreme weather suggestions. I have a wedding to attend in Wisconsin this winter, and even events like the rehearsal dinner and wedding itself will take some robust outerwear. Plus, there will be dogwalking and other outdoor activities. Summer has its own challenges in the South, where I live. There are days when wearing a scarf seems positively stifling. The only other variation I can think of is an airport/TSA friendly wardrobe chosen from the larger core wardrobe.

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  13. You could take each wardrobe in a different direction. I like the way each personal touch in a previous post had a different feel to it. For myself, I would first add some tailored jackets, and a work bag.. so it would become more of a work wardrobe for me, but others could lean towards casual, edgy, romantic etc.
    Actually, I'd be happy with whatever decide to do!
    Alice

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  14. I am happy with whatever you treat us with. Rarely is there not something new to learn. :)

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  15. As I follow your silver/grey wardrobe, I see lots of possibilities with just a few pieces. I think that you have given us the basics and now it is up to the individual to fine tune according to lifestyle and personal preference. You are a fine teacher as someone asked me at church yesterday if I used to work in fashion or marketing.

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  16. You've given us such a good foundation for building a wardrobe. Once these pieces are in place it will be easy to add the items that each of us need to personalize our clothing. I love that blue coat you've shown.

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  17. Janice--why not go the whole way and really reflect how we all actually live. Couldn't you also add in some attractive hang out at home/clean the house and gym or recreation clothes? So many of us spend half of our days dressed like this and shouldn't these clothes also be carefully thought through, kept within our color schemes and attractive as well as durable and functional. That way if we should happen to get caught cleaning out the fridge or running to the gym, we still maintain our style and wow factor?

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  18. I love this series so far. I would also request more warm weather items. In Texas we go from hot to less hot most of the year. We have a few cold days in January. Thank you for sharing your vision with us!

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  19. From my point of view playing along on Polyvore it became clear around about No.10 that there was a conflict in the choices for those of us that live in seasonal climates - the casual jacket I might pick for the summer, say a denim jacket, or maybe a little suede number would get no use whatsoever come the winter when I want something waterproof padded and much longer (avoiding the numb bum!) same with shoes, boots in the winter, flat and sturdy for snow, flip flops in the summer....maybe as you go on you continue with the options you could give a 'cold climate' example and a 'warm climate' example? That way those of us that have to live with both extremes of temperature can include both options, and those lucky enough to have a consistent climate only need pick the one that applies? Whatever you do decide to do I shall read with interest as always! Thanks for all your hard work! Charlie M.
    http://charlotte-mcfarlane.polyvore.com/?filter=sets

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  20. As a regular reader of your blog, in my opinion this is one of your best series (I also like the holiday packs a lot too). Merci beaucoup so much for your hard work.
    Like some comments before, I would agree that this possibly needs something pretty to hang around at home in. Something comfortable that is immune to cat and dog hairs.
    It feels good to wear nice clothes at home too, but for me it is important that these be easy to care for (non-iron, but natural fibre for me) and comfortable too.
    Since I live in a climate with cold winters and warm summers I tend towards two sets of wardrobes, which may differ in colour. Some colours I only enjoy in a particular season.

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  21. Janice, if you are inclined to add more to this excellent series, I will read and absorb avidly. If you never write another thing, I will remain forever grateful for all of your help.

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    1. Lori, I second your beautifully written sentiment.

      Many thanks Janice, for all you do. This series, in combination with a little "elbow grease" on my part (ie, working through my entire closet, compiling screen shots of items that fit my individual preferences and newly defined palette!), has been most enlightening.
      Roberta

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  22. Janice, this has been a wonderful series. Thank you for your hard work. "Starting from Scratch" encouraged me to match my wardrobe items to your plan, which made me realize that I have almost complete wardrobes in several neutral combinations. My closet consists of solid colored items, with an occasional stripe thrown in. My missing link would be a top or two that combine my neutrals and accent colors (subdued designs for me). Every posting is educational and very helpful.

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  23. Really appreciate what you've already done, but I'll echo several earlier comments: I'm currently trying to plan for a 4-month trip to France that will include a wide range of temperatures, and activities ranging from athletic events to the opera, with plenty of work in between. Your wardrobes are great inspiration but I need to add more "extreme" clothing.

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  24. Although I'm still not ready to take on my whole wardrobe, I did apply my backpacking experience and your lessons to com up with a lightweight, concise capsule for three weeks in France in September. The capsule had to cover everything from beach combing to sightseeing to eight days in Paris. It also had to cover warm to chilly.
    Victory! ---Susan in SLC

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  25. just another voice saying "yes please," keep going with this series as long as you can think of things to add! I, like many of the above folks, live two (or more) totally separate wardrobe lives. There's my work wardrobe (attorney -- so clothes range from linen skirts and lightweight tops for non-court summer days to black wool suits for jury trials in winter, and everything in between), my evening playing-with-the-dogs or working-in-the-garden wardrobe (shorts and a t-shirt in summer; jeans and a fleece in winter), and then there's a middle ground of going-out-with-friends clothes that may or may not be pulled from one of the other two wardrobes. (Actually, my casual and work clothes live in completely separate closets, and rarely cross over!) Some unification, with an eye towards the practical (I cannot wear lacy or expensive tops when I'm training dogs or pulling weeds!), would be much appreciated.

    So far the series has been spectacularly helpful, BTW, so thanks so much! And I love the suggestion a few commenters have made to actually work through this exercise with my own closet. On it!

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  26. Please continue!! And thank you.

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  27. I love this series....it does make me want to pitch my entire wardrobe and start from scratch. Definitely some summer clothes and a dressy outfit for winter and summer.

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  28. This is an excellent, excellent series. Please continue these posts! I always struggle with the capsule wardrobe containing everything for every need, so it makes sense to maybe have a capsule built for each type of activity. For example, a casual capsule from scratch, a work wardrobe from scratch, an evening/event wardrobe from scratch, etc… A lot of the items in these wardrobes might overlap, but I think that it would illustrate where items could cross-over (for example a work skirt might also work in an evening ensemble). It would also be incredible if you could show more outfit options for each capsule.. perhaps examples of dressy outfits, casual, work that could be made from one capsule, which may help with all the scenarios we encounter! Thanks for all your hard work, I read your blog all the time, but never post :)

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  29. Please continue for another week or more. Two of your ideas that seem so common sense the way you approach them, have had me slapping my head and saying ""Duh!" I need to purposely choose a hoodie or other informal jacket to go with my clothing. I have carefully chosen sweaters and coats, but tend to just grab an informal jacket then wonder why it doesn't really work with my other clothes! I also need to carefully choose a matching skirt and top in a one of my neutral colors so I will be prepared for funerals and other such occasions without having to scramble at the time. I don't know why I have taken so long to learn these things, but keep up the teaching--I have lots more to learn.

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  30. I second the motions for more warm weather options and more jackets/blazer options. And lastly: please do another series in the near future, featuring different color wheel combos! For example, my foundation colors are navy (including denims) and black -- can that work? You have those colors in your wheels, but paired with a lighter color. Therefore the sense I get is that each foundational color set needs a dark and a light color (e.g., beige and navy, black and light gray). But what about those of us who have two darker colors (e.g. my black and navy/denim, or say black and charcoal gray) or two lights as our foundation colors (e.g., white and beige). Your thoughts?

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  31. This has been a wonderful series. Thank you for your thoughtful posts and great illustrations. I also live in a four season climate and would love to see this expanded to include the extremes. I lived a few years in Chicago in my younger days and well remember the extremes from the cold February winds blowing in from the lake and the hot August days that made your felt feel like they were sticking to the asphalt. That's similar to my four seasons now - minus the asphalt. :) I would also love some ideas on how to add a wedding guest type skirt/top to this wardrobe that will get used more than once a year. I don't want to buy a dress to wear to a wedding and wear it just once or feel that it has become known as my fancy dress. Is there a way to incorporate those items into the wardrobe to give them more use?

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  32. Janice I am so grateful for all your work and expertise. I never feel that you are pressuring anyone to dress a certain way. As a younger woman still starting my career, I find this has been a helpful series to know where to start with purchasing the bigger items. Before discovering such websites I spent my money on the key items (coats, boots, bags) basically all in black and white. Then I discovered how horrid my skin looks all in black. That's why seeing these different capsules develop is so helpful. I've become a minimalist not only by choice but to save money, and I want to be very precise when I buy clothing. Anyway, what I wanted to suggest is more explanation on how you chose your color combinations. Also, I would love to hear from anyone who does not have black as one of their colors. Is it possible to consistently find the clothing I need without resorting to basic black? I have used it just because it is safe and easy, but I look my best in rich deep fall colors. My ideal color wheel that I'm constructing is olive and whisky/cognac as the neutrals, and maroon, plum, and mustard as the accents.

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    1. It seems to me you have cracked the hardest part by knowing what colours you are best in (which sound gorgeous by the way). Why not just ignore everything else 'normal' (black) and buy season to season as you see the pieces you love? Most of your colours are in fashion at the moment so you shouldn't have too hard a time finding them.

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  33. I have found this series very helpful; I have lost 45 pounds over the last year and you have helped me really think through my replacement purchases. I am actually starting from scratch again.
    What about a nice coat or jacket for Spring and Fall...one that could be worn for both.
    And some attractive but sturdy outfits for house and yard work...don't want to schlep around in sweats!
    Thanks again.

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  34. I love this series,and please continue with it.Because it has really help me realise what I was missing in my capsule.
    I just want to say that you are doing a grate job and your blog is just the thing I need to make my capsule wardrobe.Thank you so much

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  35. I would like to see a couple of versatile dresses and another skirt or two. As mentioned above, having the ability to dress for fancy occasions with the everyday wardrobe is really helpful. Thanks for all your wonderful posts!

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  36. Something for super-cold weather please. I want to see how you make an LL Bean down coat look stylish. This has been a brilliant series -- thank you for your work and your fine eye.

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