Wednesday, July 16, 2014

How to Build a Capsule Wardrobe from Scratch Step 18: One last review, considering Whatever's Clean, and A Common Wardrobe

Many of you have been following the concepts of A Common Wardrobe, or a Whatever's Clean wardrobe, and you've expressed great curiosity about how those ideas work with this much larger capsule wardrobe-building concept.  So let's see if we need to make any last tweaks to our wardrobe to be as inclusive and versatile as possible...

First off, remember this bad boy?  This was the original Common Wardrobe - garments that I saw day after day on my co-workers from international advertising agencies. These garments and accent items were combined in all sorts of different ways, and accessorized like mad:


How to build a capsule wardrobe from scratch - step 18 - final review
all clothes - J. Crew, a couple of years ago...

I threw my analytic brain at this, and defined each of these garments functionally, i.e., the first is a "dark neutral sweater", the second is a "light neutral tee" etc.


Then, I went back to our wardrobes and filled in the various categories with garments that we had in the wardrobes.  First thing I noticed is that NONE of our wardrobes included a denim shirt, so I've chosen one to add to each wardrobe.  And there were, in all cases, a couple of very basic items that we'd just never added.  First off, in the black and grey wardrobe, there is no plain black sweater, nor a plain white tee shirt!

How to build a capsule wardrobe from scratch - step 18 - final review
Black cashmere turtleneck – Jil Sander, grey tee– T by Alexander Wangwhite tee – French Connectionblack tee – Hallhuberwhite cotton shirt – Diane von Furstenbergblue shirt - Uniqloblack cotton and cashmere cardigan – 10 Crosby Derek Lam denim shirt – Nili Lotanblack v-neck sweater – Vincegrey pleated trousers – Alberto Bianiblack jeans – Current/Elliott,  black linen trousers – Viyella
So a simple shopping expedition to find these classic basics gives you everything needed for a Whatever's Clean, or a Common Wardrobe.  You can't deny that these would give a ton of additional versatility to your existing black and grey wardrobe. 

Can you imagine the response of your friends if you all went shopping, and this was your shopping list?
How to build a capsule wardrobe from scratch - step 18 - final review
Black cashmere turtleneck – Jil Sander, white tee – French Connection, Denim shirt – Nili Lotan

 Similar situation here - simple, neutral tops had been neglected...

How to build a capsule wardrobe from scratch - step 18 - final review
Brown sweater – Gestuz, beige tee shirt - Uniqlooff-white tee – Chloebrown cotton tee – Uniqlo, ivory silk blouse – Jaeger, blue blouse – Uniqlo, brown fleece cardigan – L.L.Beandenim shirt – Nili Lotan, brown Henley tee - Uniqlobeige pants – The Row, brown jeans – Viyellabrown twill trousers – Lands’ End
How to build a capsule wardrobe from scratch - step 18 - final review
Brown sweater – Gestuz, off-white tee – Chloe, denim shirt – Nili Lotan, brown Henley tee - Uniqlo
 Basic tops are the theme here... they're so easy to overlook, but can do so much of the wardrobe "heavy lifting" day to day.
How to build a capsule wardrobe from scratch - step 18 - final review
black turtleneck – Uniqlocaramel tee – Hallhuberivory silk top – Jaegerblack tee shirt – Warehousewhite shirt – Whyredcoral silk blouse– Equipment,black cardigan – Michael Michael Korsdenim shirt – Nili Lotan, black long-sleeved tee – Mint Velvetcopper twill trousers – Lands’ Endjeans – Toast, black trousers – Mint Velvet
How to build a capsule wardrobe from scratch - step 18 - final review
Denim shirt – Nili Lotan, black tee shirt – Warehouse, white shirt – Whyred, black long-sleeved tee – Mint Velvet
Of course, if you're not interested in a denim shirt, don't buy one!  Similarly, if these very neutral tops don't strike a chord with you, you're certainly free to omit them from your wardrobe.  As much as these additions add versatility to your wardrobe, if you don't LIKE them, and won't WEAR them, they're certainly NOT going to be versatile, are they?

How to build a capsule wardrobe from scratch - step 18 - final review
Army green cashmere sweater – Jason Wukhaki tee – Targetoff-white tee – Chloeolive tee – Shu Moriyama, ivory silk blouse – Jaeger, turquoise blouse – Ralph Lauren Black Label, olive cardigan – Meronadenim shirt – Nili Lotan, green tee shirt -  James Perse, tan trousers – Hallhuber, jeans – J. Brand, olive trousers – Isabel Marant Etoile
How to build a capsule wardrobe from scratch - step 18 - final review
Off-white tee – Chloe, denim shirt – Nili Lotan, green tee shirt -  James Perse

How to build a capsule wardrobe from scratch - step 18 - final review
navy cashmere turtleneck – Jil Sander, beige tank top - Uniqlo,   white tank top – Oasis,  navy silk tee – Theorywhite silk blouse – Nic + Zoe  green shirt– Silvian Heachnavy wool cardigan – Miu Miu,denim shirt – Nili Lotan, navy tee – Lands’ End,n pants – Uniqlonavy jeans – Uniqlo navy trousers – Viyella
How to build a capsule wardrobe from scratch - step 18 - final review
Denim shirt – Nili Lotan, navy tee – Lands’ End, navy cashmere turtleneck – Jil Sander 
 This wardrobe was pretty complete; the navy long-sleeved tee was the only missing item (except the universally overlooked denim shirt).  This tee shirt might seem ordinary and quite plain, but under one of your cardigans, it provides a simple, warm base for jewelry or a scarf.  Sometimes, accessories look best if they're against a more plain background that lets them stand out on their own. 

How to build a capsule wardrobe from scratch - step 18 - final review
Navy cotton sweater – Closedsilver grey tee – Hallhuber,white tee – Majesticnavy silk blouse – Theorywhite cotton shirt – Diane von Furstenberg,  lavender blouse– Marni Editionnavy cardigan – Dorothy PerkinsDenim shirt – Nili Lotan, navy tee – Lands’ Endsilver grey trousers – ViyellaNavy jeans – Valentinonavy trousers – Jacques Vert
How to build a capsule wardrobe from scratch - step 18 - final review
Denim shirt – Nili Lotan, navy tee – Lands’ End
Tomorrow, if I can keep my eyes focused, I'm going to show the final final wardrobes, as well as a few combinations that are possible... Then I'm going to work through the steps with a new color scheme that one of your sweeties requested, so that we can get one more good primer on how the steps work.

Is this helpful?
love,
Janice
How to build a capsule wardrobe from scratch - step 18 - final review
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18 comments:

  1. Yes, A core wardrobe with a focus,. What a nice time to regroup, right before fall.
    Hope your feaeling better! Wishing you a speedy recovery!

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  2. I sat down last night and slotted in all my existing clothes into your categories and was happy to see that I have a good solid core of useful, quality, versatile garments. What shocked me, was that my 'gaps' are items that I have seen, and still mourn that I didn't buy - because they felt too extravagant. Your 'system' has enabled me to validate my instinctive desires. So...this now gives me the confidence to go for those items in the future.
    Only by analysing and organising my existing clothes have I realised that I do have a good eye, a good sense of what suits me and a good grasp of the parameters of my regular sartorial needs, and I should now go for 'whappage' (great Janice term! :-) ) in future, bold in the knowledge that these exquisite items will add huge 'value' in many ways to my existing wardrobe.
    I calculated last night that I bought a certain purple/gold/red pashmina, an utterly beautiful, very well made one, 15 years ago from Liberty's. It still looks pristine in spite of numerous hand washes, adds a 1000 megawatts to an outfit and is so versatile I have done everything from wrap my sleepy children in it at the end of a long day, worn it on an evening stroll on the beach and worn it to formal dinners and balls. Really, I shouldn't be scared of occasionally shelling out on a major piece. It really does repay in so many ways for many years.
    Hope you feel better soon Janice.
    Lucy

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  3. This is pure genius, thank you for breaking it down so clearly!

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  4. Yay, the common wardrobe is back!!! I have gone back to the archives many a time, because it addresses exactly my way of dressing. Thanks for the updates.

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    1. Ah Cornelia, it was your note that reminded me to revisit this essential core of garments to make sure we hadn't missed anything. You were a ton of help!
      big hug,
      Janice

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  5. I just can't even say how helpful this is being to me. I just downloaded your excel version of the new worksheet, and I'm about to use it in my closet to see where I'm set and where I have gaps. I hate extraneous stuff -- this speaks to my essence. Thank you so very much!

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  6. Love the new worksheet, thanks!
    I have a question about how you choose accent colors, for your consideration. All your starting from scratch wardrobes have accent colors that are distinctly different, but the accent colors in my closet are more of a range, from dark green to turquoise to dark marine blue that I am naturally drawn to. Would you consider the range to be 1 accent and choose something like coral to provide a pop of color? Choose 2 accent colors from the range? Any suggestions appreciated, thanks.
    RC

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    1. Great question! I'm eager to hear replies to this!

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    2. It's really up to you - I think that you could have a great wardrobe using (for example) navy and grey as your neutrals, and every possible shade of purple as your accent - anything from the sheerest lilac to the most rich and saturated grape. If you wanted to toss in something like turquoise to this wardrobe, it would certainly look great, but it wouldn't be necessary.

      When I choose accent colors for The Vivienne Files, I often choose colors that I don't see women wear that often - especially buttery yellow, mint green, and other pastels. There's really no science to how I choose the colors, and there are no rules for how to make them work in your wardrobe. The only key is to have a plan, to LOVE your plan, and to stick to it ruthlessly.

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  7. I have a grey shirt from Anthropologie that fits into this category and wear it as a second layer over a white tank top. If is a basic piece that although you refer to as common is a workhorse in my wardrobe.
    Your wardrobe series is like having a personal shopper....merci.

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  8. A million million thanks for this. I feel so relaxed and peaceful having our common wardrobe in our "closet" with all the other carefully chosen pieces and sets.

    Your work on this series has been a mighty service to all if us. How to thank you?

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  9. Is it helpful? Yes!!! Thanks so much for all you do.

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  10. This has been an outstanding series. Notes have been taken on each step of the wardrobe building. Photos have been taken of clothing items. And the work of wardrobe building is underway (using mostly items from my existing wardrobe). Thank you, Janice, for all the time and effort you put into this project, as well as each and every blog post.

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  11. Hi Janice!  This is my first comment.  I found you a month ago, and I have been devouring every post in the archives...and I'm finally caught up!  I started innocently enough by browsing them using your *extremely helpful* subject heading links, but I soon realized that I wanted to read ALL of them.  So I did!  What a WEALTH of helpful and inspiring information!  I want to encourage everyone to at least browse through them on favorite subjects.

    The amount of information you freely give to all of us is simply UNPARALLELED.  You are such a generous and gifted person.  Thank you, thank you, thank you.

    I love this current series.  It is especially helpful to see how you analyze the holes in each wardrobe, as well as how you combine this plan with the other wardrobe-building patterns you have used before.  It is all very helpful and instructive.  I love it when you explain how you analyze the clothes.  It makes it easier to lift out the concepts and apply them to our own closets.  I think the combination of explaining your analysis AND showing examples is perfect!

    I know people have been saying this since you started your blog, but with this series you have outdone yourself (which is *really* saying something), and so I add my voice to the chorus:  it's time for a book!

    Grateful for everything you do,
    Di

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  12. Ah basics... how useful they are and how much I hate to buy them... I really must try harder.

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    1. MUST TRY HARDER!!! Just think of it as a splendid excuse to buy some cashmere, or silk...

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  13. Ah, this is helpful! And I realize that I misread the Common Wardrobe before: I saw it as three sweaters (of different types, all in the same core color), three button front shirts, three tees, three pants (in varying degrees of formality). I didn't realize that the sweater in the bottom left corner was supposed to be a long-sleeved tee ....

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  14. This whole series has been so, so helpful. Thank you for all your hard work!!

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