Thursday, August 14, 2014

A Four by Four Capsule Wardrobe in Black, Grey, Camel and Cream

Yesterday, someone asked if it was possible to change the colors in the Four by Four Capsule Wardrobe.  Well, yes, I plan to show a whole BUNCH of these so that we can see some of the color schemes from The Vivienne Files Color Planner in action.  (that's why I asked which combinations are your favorites; so I can work specifically with them)

All of yesterday's grey garments are still here, but the other three colors have been switched.  If I were building this wardrobe for myself, I would ABSOLUTELY buy the scarf first - it's currently available through Hermes - and then very gradually build around it.  This is a scarf that would be a perfect long-term focal object for all purchases; the colors and the design are just that perfect!

This is the capsule wardrobe:

travel capsule wardrobe wardrobe planning minimal wardrobe
Silver stud earrings – Caterina Buterablack and silver hoop earrings – Alorwatch
 – Skagen,bracelet – Tina Tangblack wedge pumps – Cole Haan, scarf – Hermesgrey
 woven loafers – Bottega Veneta, tote – Sandra Cadavidsilk blouse – Jaegercashmere 
sweater – Dear Cashmerecrepe skirt – Jaeger, crepe trousers - Jaegercolor blocked sweater
 – Balenciaga, striped tee shirt – Isabel MarantEtoile, star printed blouse – Aquilano.Rimondi 
marled front sweater – Faith Connexioncap-sleeve top – IRO, camel and black sweater – Kenzo 
, tree blouse – Stella McCartney, camel blouse – Roberto Collina

And this is our color scheme:
black grey camel cream color plan scheme graphic

Starting with four simple black garments - remember that this, right here, gives you four outfits.  They're not colorful or memorable, but they are an excellent base for a scarf, some jewelry, a jacket or a cardigan.  Never lose sight of the potential of the solid, neutral column...
wardrobe planning Four by Four black clothing
Silk blouse Jaeger, cashmere sweater – Dear Cashmere,  
crepe skirt Jaeger, crepe trousers - Jaeger

And yesterday's more relaxed, but still excellent quality, grey garments:
Grey crewneck – Diane Von Furstenberg, jeans – True Religion
cardigan – Diane Von Furstenberg, trousers – Piazza Sempione
Items blending black and grey are next. Color blocking, stripes, tweed and floral are all represented here.

Color blocked – Balenciaga, striped tee shirt – Isabel Marant Etoile
star printed blouse – Aquilano.Rimondi, marled front – Faith Connexion

Now we bring in touches of camel and cream. You will definitely want to also consider a solid blouse or top in cream, and also in camel; with your amazing scarf, you will find plenty of ways to wear them!

Cap-sleeve top – IRO, camel and black sweater – Kenzo
tree blouse – Stella McCartney, camel blouse – Roberto Collina

Yesterday's exceptional pewter loafers are still here, as well as the simple but interestingly detailed silver earrings, and one of my favorite watches. I'm quite taken with the black and silver earrings (why do I not already OWN these???)

This very neutral wardrobe really opens the door for lots of wonderful accessories... 

Silver stud earrings – Caterina Butera, hoop earrings – Alorwatch – 
 Skagen, bracelet – Tina Tangblack wedge pumps – Cole Haan, scarf – 
Hermesgrey woven loafers – Bottega Veneta, tote – Sandra Cadavid

Someone pointed out that this color scheme is basically just a combination of a "Three Neutrals" color scheme with a light neutral added in.  The Three Neutrals document is still available (see the right hand column of this blog); it would be interesting to take one of those combinations and just add in a light color to get a four-color plan for a wardrobe.  If you develop such a plan, send me an email and I'll put together a wardrobe for The Vivienne Files based on your colors!

Many product links lead you to retails who pay The Vivienne Files a small commission.  This commission has never been, and will never be, a factor in what items I choose to include in these wardrobes!

Artisan Made Jewelry Designs


  1. Wow Janice you are fantastic. Thank you so much for this and I will be asking for the scarf for my next birthday. This has really given me a plan to work to

  2. Endless possibilities await the imaginative women with this delightful grouping!

  3. Gorgeous combination. This combo could take one anywhere, for any occasion. Thank you Janice and Margo.

  4. I would love to see medium gray, light gray, color combination e. Floral, abstracts, curvy geometrics, paisleys are the patterns I am experimenting with. I LOVE stripes and geometrics but they just aren't very flattering on my curvy body.

  5. I am now able to see how my existing camels/browns will still work in the fall with my new greys. I ordered the grey Jaeger cardigan and a pair of trousers from the House of Fraser and received them in Canada in less than a week. The quality is great and they were on sale. Our customs duty is a bit much but on the sale price, it is worth it. Thank you, Janice, for such great ideas. I really want that scarf!!!!

  6. Thank you for hosting and I'm looking forward to this party for sure!!!
    Interior Design

  7. Love to see navy, gray, camel, white, popped with some color I can't seem to identify yet :-)
    Love the blog - new but avid reader.

  8. HI Janice- this may be a dumb question - and how does the four by four wardrobe relate to the "starting from scratch"?

    And thank you, as always, for all your creative thinking and sheer hard work assembling these posts!

    1. There are no stupid questions! The Four by Four is just another approach; you can use the four garments at a time to work through the steps of the Starting From Scratch (for example, the first Core of Four are garments that all appear in the first 3 steps of Starting From Scratch). I've found that a lot of people get a real feeling of satisfaction from buying four garments at a time - they can immediately see four outfits that they've purchased, and it feels like enough clothes to be a real event.

      Also, once your wardrobe is assembled, Four by Four is a GREAT way to plan a travel wardrobe. Get these 16 garments on a rack together, pull out your travel wardrobe and pack the other 13, and you're in great shape for a trip of any length.

      None of these approaches is a definitive dictate of how to plan a wardrobe or how to shop; they're suggestions, ideas, thought starters, or imagination fuel injection pods.

      thanks for being brave enough to ask!
      warmest regards,
      and a big hug,

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    4. Thanks, Janice, for always being so positive and so helpful.

      I love both true red and eggplant as accent colors and not sure how they would work together in a wardrobe? Would it be possible to do a fall/winter of black/grey/ with true red and eggplant accents?

      Similar to page 23 "c" or "d" - except using eggplant and true red?

  9. This is so pretty! But how do you get to this if you are not starting from scratch? Usung myself as an example, I have settled on black and taupe/tan as my neutrals, but i also auditioned chocolate brown, gray, navy and white - and I have a few keepers of each. I also have some colors - teal, berry, blue, etc. I mainly wear pants, and with pants that are mostly black, tan or blue denim, all of these other neutrals and colors go with several things. But I felel like I should try to rein myself in to fewer colors as I replace things. So how to do that in an organized fashion? Would you use the starting from scratch list and add something from it when an outlier item wears out? Or is there some minimum number of items in the starting from scratch lineup that is necessary to make this work?

    1. As long as you're managing to get dressed every day without undue stress or inappropriateness, you really shouldn't worry too much. Just wear what you have, and as you want something new, or wear something out, think about what your idea wardrobe would look like in... say five years. And purchase according to that goal, using an ideal wardrobe as your guide.

      Another thing to consider - if you have three of the four items in a "Core of Four", and it's a color that you're going to wear for the next few years, think about buying the 4th item, so that you can use the existing three garments more often, and get more value from them. You don't have to be committing to the color for the rest of your life - just long enough to be able to get your money's worth from what you own and allow yourself to save for the next stage of your wardrobe life.

      Also, remember that those neutrals that you auditioned can mix in with your black and taupe. Black and grey, taupe and navy, taupe and brown, anything with white - those clothes can still be worn while you start to focus on your long-term neutrals.

      More than anything, enjoy what you wear. Buy only beautiful things that are well-made by people who live a good life and bring skill and craft to their work. Cherish what you own, without obsessing about being attached to it. Smile, stand up straight, exude confidence and joy, and you will be beautiful.

    2. Wow, Janice. There is a lot of wisdom in your reply, and it isn't only about clothes! Thanks for all you do!

    3. Thanks for asking the question. It is one that many of us can relate to. And the answer was so hopeful in knowing how to work with the clothes already in one's closet.

    4. Sorry..."the answer was so helpful...."

  10. I am inspired each and every time I come to this website! I'd like to throw out navy, light gray, teal, petrol and white as a possible combination.

  11. I have this scarf in this colorway, and it is so. flippin'. gorgeous.

  12. Love your blog. Would you be able to do a four by four wardrobe in black, tan, cream and hot pink? I would love to see the results. Thanks so much.