Saturday, July 19, 2014

How to Build a Summer Capsule Wardrobe from Scratch in Navy and White

Someone specifically requested a Starting From Scratch capsule wardrobe in these colors, and many of you have expressed concerns about how to implement this plan if you're dealing with scorching hot summer weather.  I really felt like I wanted to go through an entire wardrobe in one post, just to clarify and illustrate one more time how I see this project working.  So here you have it!

Please note - the white garments here really ARE white - they just show up looking sort of beigy/grungy against the background. I generally don't promote the wearing of mungy clothes...

How to build a summer capsule wardrobe from scratch in a navy, white, and purple color palette

 The first three steps are pretty straightforward: pants and shoes, then a cardigan and tee, then a neutral top and jeans.  The biggest differences here are that I focused on linen (which I love for warm weather - if my clothes are more wrinkled than my face, it makes my face look smoother, doesn't it?)  Also, I grabbed a sleeveless white top, and supposedly "lightweight" jeans.  I don't have any personal experience with these, so I think you'll have to shop judiciously for them.

How to build a summer capsule wardrobe from scratch in a navy, white, and purple color palette
Navy linen trousers – Dorothy Perkins, navy ballet flats – Vaneli, 
navy cardigan – Jaeger, navy linen tee – Jaeger
white shirt – Dorothy Perkins, linen jeans - Uniqlo
 The next steps are where things start to change - this is the ONLY scarf in the entire wardrobe, and it's in the darker neutral, since I figure you'll only wear a scarf if the weather is coolish, and that would suggest the darker clothes.  In Step 6, instead of a scarf, I found a bracelet in the perfect accent colors.  More linen in Step 7...

How to build a summer capsule wardrobe from scratch in a navy, white, and purple color palette
sapphire earrings – Allurez, bracelet – Brooks Brothers, watch – Daniel Wellington,
 star scarf – Becksondergaard, bag – Michael Michael Kors
turquoise tee – Lauren Ralph Lauren, hot pink top – French Connection
bracelet – Links of London
cardigan – Nougat, pants – Dorothy Perkins, sandals – Vince Camuto
 Step 8 originally included a necklace with the two accent colored tops, but I'm putting in another pair of earrings instead - cooler, I am told. Step 9 is still a skirt and a top, but a short-sleeved top, and a skirt full enough to give some air circulation around your legs.  And for Step 10, I stuck with a hooded sweatshirt, thinking that you still probably need something to keep from freezing solid when you walk into an air conditioned environment.

How to build a summer capsule wardrobe from scratch in a navy, white, and purple color palette
Lace trimmed tank – Uniqlo, earrings – Chen Fuchs, purple tank – Uniqlo
navy linen top – Jaeger, navy linen skirt – Jaeger, navy sandals – Rampage
sleeveless silk top – Equipment, sweatshirt – L.L.Bean, shoes – Kenneth Cole Reaction

Step 11's complete outfit is pretty similar to what I've done in the past - a dress rather than separates; sometimes one piece is just easier.  But in Step 12, I've gone completely off the rails of the original plan - the winter coat, boots and scarf have become a swimsuit cover-up (or lounging kaftan), sunglasses, and sandals for the beach or pool.  If it's not snowy, you can go a radically different direction with your choices!

How to build a summer capsule wardrobe from scratch in a navy, white, and purple color palette
Cardigan – Dolce and Gabbana, dress – L.K.Bennett, slingbacks – Taryn Rose
sunglasses – Roberto Cavalli, kaftan – Wallis, sandals – Uggs Australia

The accessories in Step 13 are quite a bit different from the usual - I stuck with two pair of accent earrings, because they're the easiest jewelry to wear in hot weather.  An amethyst bracelet will be pretty with your dress or with separates, and instead of a brooch (to WHAT would you pin it?) I thought we could use a hair band to keep the sweaty tresses out of one's face.  Too hot for necklaces, but a 2nd pair of sunglasses is only practical, and since the first pair were a vivid accent color, these in a neutral would be handy.  And as much fun as it is to carry a summery tote, sometimes you need a more classic bag.

How to build a summer capsule wardrobe from scratch in a navy, white, and purple color palette
bow headband – Bow Arts, turquoise earrings – Guillermo Arregui
 amethyst earrings – Khun Boomnavy sunglasses – Italia Independent
 bag – Park House; amethyst bracelet – Bhavest,
Step 14 is all about leisure clothes, and I realized that we didn't yet have shorts!  Another sleeveless top that includes you neutrals and one accent color will be versatile, and another hooded sweatshirt might be necessary if your white one gets dirty.  And another shorty kaftan for lounging...

Step 15 is still a dress and cardigan, but the cardigan is short-sleeved, and the dress is a sleeveless mix of accent colors with white.  Silver sandals can be worn for day too...

How to build a summer capsule wardrobe from scratch in a navy, white, and purple color palette
top – Miss Selfridge, sweatshirt – Sun 68,
 white shorts – J Brand, tunic – Emilio Pucci
cotton cardigan – Windsmoor, dress – Precis, sandals – Prada 

Step 16 - balancing our neutrals: we don't have simple, sleeveless top in EITHER of our neutral colors.  While these aren't scintillatingly thrilling to buy, they might be something that you wear every week.  Sometimes, you just have to bite the bullet and stock up on basics...

Step 17 is just another "taking stock" step, using the original concepts of the 24-piece wardrobe.  This is the time to think of obvious garments that your wardrobe "should " have - like shorts, for warm weather, and then making sure that you have these things in your core colors. Which, in fact, we DON'T have, in navy...  And since we're not really working with both long-sleeved and short-sleeved tops, I decided to opt for the most classic, easily found possible tee shirt for a navy and white wardrobe - the stripe!

And in Step 18, we evaluate one LAST time, considering if we could pull together A Common Wardrobe - 12 pieces of absolutely neutral garments.  We're missing a tee shirt in our light neutral - these wear out fast, so it makes sense to stay on top of having one in stock.  While a denim shirt might not be all that much fun in hot weather, a roomy chambray can make a nice change from your neutrals and brights.  And just to round things out, a turquoise tank; this top almost certainly wouldn't be in A Common Wardrobe, but we have space, and in hot weather having a lot of tops can be the difference between laundry twice and week and laundry once a week.
How to build a summer capsule wardrobe from scratch in a navy, white, and purple color palette
Tank tops – Oasis
striped top – Dorothy Perkins, shorts – Vulpine
white tee – Dorothy Perkins, chambray shirt – Steven Alan
turquoise tank – Morgan

Hot weather accessories - nothing much around your neck... You could always go crazy with hair wraps and head bands if your hair lends itself to wearing them...

How to build a summer capsule wardrobe from scratch in a navy, white, and purple color palette
Turquoise stud earrings – Chen Fuchssapphire earrings – Allureznavy sunglasses – Italia Independentturquoise earrings – Guillermo Arreguibow headband – Bow Artsturquoise sunglasses – Roberto Cavalli, amethyst bracelet – Bhavest, navy clutch bag – Park Houseribbon chain bracelet – Brooks Brothers, turquoise and pink bracelet – Links of Londonwatch – Daniel Wellington, star scarf – Becksondergaardamethyst earrings – Khun Boom, navy sandals – Rampagewhite sandals – Vince Camutosilver sandals – Pradanavy ballet flats – Vaneli, slingbacks – Taryn Rose, canvas shoes – Kenneth Cole Reaction, dotted bag – Michael Michael Korsblue thong sandals – Uggs Australia

And a wardrobe with enough dark neutral to look mature or serious if called upon to do so, but with plenty of brights and white to keep the summer thing foremost in your mind!

How to build a summer capsule wardrobe from scratch in a navy, white, and purple color palette
navy linen tee – Jaeger, navy tank top - Oasis, navy linen top – Jaegernavy cardigan – Jaegernavy ground dress – L.K.Bennettwhite tank top – Oasiswhite tee – Dorothy Perkinswhite shirt – Dorothy Perkins, white cardigan – Nougatnavy shorts – Vulpine, navy linen trousers – Dorothy Perkins, linen jeans - Uniqlo navy linen skirt – Jaegersleeveless floral top – Miss Selfridgewhite linen cropped pants – Dorothy Perkins, white hooded sweatshirt – L.L.Beanwhite shorts – J Brand, chambray shirt – Steven Alan, blue kaftan – Wallis, turquoise sleeveless silk blouse – Equipment, large print dress – Precispurple cotton cardigan – Windsmoorpurple hooded sweatshirt – Sun 68purple tank – Uniqlotunic – Emilio Pucciturquoise tee – Lauren Ralph Lauren, turquoise tank – Morgan, striped top – Dorothy Perkins, hot pink cardigan – Dolce and Gabbana, hot pink top – French Connection, lace-trimmed tank – Uniqlo  

How to build a summer capsule wardrobe from scratch in a navy, white, and purple color palette
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  1. Janice, this is fabulous! I am almost done with the fall/winter wardrobe plan and am bookmarking this for next spring. I love seeing the different ways you adapt the concept.

  2. This is completely gorgeous. I love this color combo!

  3. Thank you. This is terrific! Love the prints. I am going to combine this hot weather combo with the navy & grey combo for cooler weather. That will cover the entire year here in Orlando, Florida.

  4. Very nice! But I would swap out that headband (or one of the other accessories) for a sun hat!

  5. I especially enjoyed this post since my spring/summer wardrobe is based on navy and white here in Florida. It's pretty representative of what I own with the addition of a few casual daytime dresses ( I like J McLaughlin's for the easy wear and care fabrics in fun prints), a few more pairs of shorts and a pair of white jeans. I think what Janice has put together here would suit my entire wardrobe needs for four to five months. Thanks!

  6. Janice, You are a wizard! These are my go-to colors, and this step-by-step through your starting from scratch process is sooooo helpful. Thank you so much for taking the time to do this. Ellen

  7. I really love seeing the wardrobe "grow" in one posting. I've applied this to my own closet, which in summer is more of a denim blue and white with paler shades of pink, lavender, and turquoise. I could use more prints, but I just don't care for most designs I see. I do wear bold jewelry to balance the too-sweet pastels and I find gauzy scarves very useful in summer. Thanks, Janice.

    Your long-time fan,


  8. I've started playing with accessories a lot more and agree that a necklace is not great in hot humid weather. However, I found this which is super lightweight, fun, comes in several colour ways and is made in Montreal. I bought the multi version.

    I'm not connected in any way with this, just wanted to share my enjoyment. Hope that's okay.

    1. I just checked - coral and black are still available but multi is sold out :/ great find

    2. Love it! IMHO, this type of necklace is perfect for hot summer wear. It's practically weightless, but it can give even a tee shirt just that extra bit of flare. Look also for necklaces from "seed beads" which are tiny but lovely.

  9. I really enjoy your wardrobe posts, so clever and well organised, and am thrilled to see a hot weather version.
    It seems more difficult to me to have wardrobe variety with fewer layers, but you've made this very interesting.
    I agree though, that a fabulous sunhat or two would be useful accessories.

  10. THANK YOU!!! I love these boards! They are GORGEOUS!

    I applied your principles, and "shopped my closet." It was actually fun. I love dresses, and since it rarely goes under 95 for 8 months, would have to swap out all but one of the cover ups with something else. Perhaps a dress or two.

    And, I agree with another commenter, the hair fascinator would need to be a sun hat.

    Now, I know that I am missing accessories, really fabulous sun glasses, and a purple t-shirt. I will need to replace my black t-shirt it is a work horse!

    Thank you so much for your time, and talent. You have made my life more stylish, and my world more organized!

  11. Wow! You did my wardrobe! Thank you! This is awesome!

  12. Wonderful. These are my go-to colours for summer.

  13. Hi Janice!

    Been following your blog for months and am seriously considering taking the plunge with the olive, khaki, maroon and turquoise capsule.
    Am still a little nervous about wearing turquoise with olive.
    Any suggestions on this would be very useful. Thanks! May

  14. Love this post - and all the others too. First time in my life I understand how to create a good wardrope.
    It´s been totally lost... But now I did your' s starting from scratch. I found out what´s too much and what I don' t have. Greetings from Finland :)

  15. Love this combination Janice, I can translate it to a winter collection too, as these are the colours with black instead of navy and Turquoise/Teal instead of the blue, and I bought a sunhat this year as we have been having so much sun!!
    Absolutely fab!! Thank you.

  16. Wish this was my wardrobe. Loooove the colors and I love that you put the blue shorts in there.

  17. This is really great and mutch appreciated, but to me it looks more as a summer casual wardrobe. How about starting from scratch summer proffesional wardrobe? Please?

  18. Really, really nice post. I live on the Atlantic coast of Florida where it's hot and humid for at least nine months of the year. I love the other capsules, but this one is one I can really use to shape future wardrobes down here. My biggest problem was what to substitute for scarves (which I love but overheat in), so thanks so much for addressing that.

  19. Dear Janice, thanks a lot for this series. I was working on my wardrobe then discovered your "from scratch" instrustions and followed them. I finally came up with this collection (see my Pinterest board: in which I incorporated several items I already own actually so I built around those. I couldn't find enough short-sleeved tops or blouses yet, but they'll probably be available here (=Germany) very soon. As I chose navy and cream as my core colors, I didn't use another light accent color, but chose coral, olive and brown to go together. I learned a lot just by reading all your blog posts, it esp. helped me choose shoes which I usually find intimidating... so I wanted to say a big THANK YOU for all the work you did and that you shared this with all of us. <3 Any comments on my wardrobe from all the nice women here.are highly appreciated.

    1. Your wardrobe is really wonderful - it's clear that you did a lot of work, and the results are beautiful! I think you will be very happy with your lovely wardrobe.
      big hug,

    2. Thanks Janice, I have now ordered several of the items and they arrived today. They are really wonderful and as versatile as I had hoped. I am very happy and think I am on the right track now. Your blog helped a lot! I had tried to put together a capsule wardrobe before, but your step-by-step approach was easy to follow and plausible. I will use it again whenever I feel the need to come up with a new capsule. You're my superstar! :)

  20. Dear Janice,
    This may be an older post, however so needed by me here in Sydney. Tomorrow will be 40 degrees and there is still all of January, February and March.
    Thank you for your guidance and hard work. I really enjoy reading your posts.
    Wishing you all the very best for the New Year!
    Irene, Sydney