Tuesday, August 26, 2014

A Four by Four Capsule Wardrobe in Bright Blue, Ultra-Violet, Navy and Grey

This capsule wardrobe is a perfect case study in having to be really patient in the search for the accent colors!  While navy and grey are pretty readily available, these particular beautiful, vivid shades of blue and violet were quite difficult to find!  But that's okay - you've lived this far into your life with your current wardrobe, and even if you only have the navy and grey pieces of this wardrobe for quite a while, you've got plenty of options.  If you settle for something that's close, but not exactly right, then you won't love your new clothes any more than you love your existing wardrobe, and that accomplishes nothing for anybody except the retailers!

Here's our color scheme:

First, the Core of Four in navy (don't those jeans look like they should have a horse and a holster with them?).  Yes, this is one of those great Uniqlo shirts that's ALWAYS shown with a color swatch over the left sleeve - there's really not a white line on the cuff like that! 

You might wonder about a corduroy skirt, but I have to confess to an immoderate fondness for one that I had, and would like to replicate.  The picture of me up on the top right of the blog?  Taken on a train between Milan and Venice, and I'm almost certainly wearing a black corduroy skirt and black riding boots with that gorgeous grey sweater..
Navy henley – Uniqlo, jeans – Mango, navy shirt – Uniqlo, corduroy skirt – Peter Jensen
A Core of Four in grey:
Grey tee – Kin, grey jeans – Uniqlo, grey cashmere sweater – Uniqlo,  wool trousersReiss
The Expansion Four includes both a blazer and a cardigan, since there were no 2nd layers in the first eight garments: 
Degrade sweater – Vince, striped knit top – Mint Velvet, jacket – Uttam, cardigan – Acne Studios
These are amazing:
Silk blouse – Eileen Fisher,  angora cardigan – Schumacher, purple tee shirt – Eileen Fisher, blue wrap top – Wallis
And oh, the fun of finding scarves that belonged in this wardrobe!  The bag might be a bit "out there" for those of us who feel we need to carry a true briefcase, but as a weekend alternative it's a fun way to incorporate your accent colors without spending mega monies on a status bag.

Note here some things I did when choosing the jewelry:  Since the first scarf is all about accordion pleats, I looked for a small earring that wouldn't be a distraction, that which WOULD echo the parallel line details from the scarf (the little hoop earrings).  Similarly, the paisley scarf called out for me to find jewelry that has swirling, curved, and loopy lines - thus I chose the bracelet and the larger hoop earrings, which have a weird little twist to them to add interest.  The silver necklace medallions also add an overall sense of roundness to the chain-style... 
Pleated silk scarf – Cathayana, ridged earrings – David Yurman, swirled silver bracelet – Komang Wirawan, silver necklace – Sri Luce, paisley scarf – Liberty Londonhoop earrings – Simon Sebbag, bag – K’amolon K’I K’ojonel, suede short boots – Aquatalia, loafers – Paul Green
How fun is this?
Navy henley – Uniqlo, jeans – Mango, navy shirt – Uniqlo, corduroy skirt – Peter Jensengrey tee – Kin, grey jeans – Uniqlo, grey cashmere sweater – Uniqlo,  wool trousers – ReissDegrade sweater – Vince, striped knit top – Mint Velvetjacket – Uttam, cardigan – Acne Studiossilk blouse – Eileen Fisher,  angora cardigan – Schumacher, purple tee shirt – Eileen Fisher, blue wrap top – Wallis, pleated silk scarf – Cathayanaridged earrings – David Yurman, swirled silver bracelet – Komang Wirawan, silver necklace – Sri Luce, paisley scarf – Liberty London,  hoop earrings – Simon Sebbag, bag – K’amolon K’I K’ojonel, suede short boots – Aquatalia, loafers – Paul Green
Someone asked, just this morning, how these clothes could be worn across a range of "dressiness".  Here I show the simple navy shirt with relaxed work looks - from the relative structure/2nd layer of the cardigan, to the more relaxed but solid sweater, and then Friday-ing out with the striped sweater. 

Similarly, the skirt could go relatively serious with a silk blouse, blazer (roll down the sleeves), and somewhat tame scarf to tie it all together.  The 2nd outfit gives you a solid navy column of clothes with a major accent in the cardigan, and that amazing scarf...  But the skirt could easily run around on Saturdays with the ombre sweater and ankle boots.   I hope this helps! 



  1. Wonderful casual choices! Perfect for my retirement wardrobe.

  2. Absolutely beautiful!

  3. I really like how you carefully chose accessories to coordinate with each scarf. Lovely attention to detail.

    I have a fondness for corduroy myself, so the skirt was a nice addition for me.

  4. The accent colours are beautiful. This combination is one of my favourites.

  5. This one is amazingly gorgeous and one of my favorites. I'm not a skirt person so I would substitute the skirt with a pair of bootcut jeans and be extremely happy!

  6. Hi Janice - another brilliant combo! I have (another) silly question. I bought the Pantone colour planner - and I don't understand the swatches. Are the accent colours different? Or just two swatches of the same colour on each swatch? For example - black & Medium grey and radiant orchid - are those meant to be two different tones of the same accent colour? Like I said - silly - and maybe they are different and just can't see it on my computer?

    1. Nope, you're fine. I just used the Pantone color on both sides of the neutrals so that you could get a really visually saturated view of how the color looked with your neutrals.
      thanks for asking!
      warmest regards,

  7. This is fun indeed! I saw that "feathered" scarf during recent Internet travels, and paused to drool. The colors don't exactly work for me, but it's a thing of beauty.

  8. Janice--maybe you have an idea about why I feel this way, but it always seems to me that the cool colored wardrobes are the most elegant. I used to be a "winter" but now I am a "toned autumn". I really enjoy my new warm color palate, but it seems to me that the warmer colors don't often leave a sophisticated impression like this beautiful cool wardrobe does. Good work, by the way--gorgeous stuff!!

  9. Wonderfully dynamic combination. One question regarding Uniqlo... I hope I am not raising too controversial a topic but I would love to have this addressed by Janice - and others. I get a feeling this company, more than many others, is not one we necessarily ought to support. It is an Asian company that is mimicking to a scary degree a few of our North American solid companies at undercutting rates. I am thinking L.L. Bean, Land's End, Eddie Bauer for starters. There has in the past been a few discussions about ethical choices on this blog, and I fear this company is doing nothing good for North American retailers and probably not the most stellar employers in the manufacturing end, either. Would anyone be able to shed some light on this?

  10. May I make a suggestion? In trying to use some of your wardrobe principles, I've noticed that the tags usually don't cover the posts where you expose your ideas with a global view. This is true for the 4x4, the common wardrobe, the wear what's clean.. And I totally understand how this can come about: you talk about a new idea of yours, and then you develop it over weeks or months, firming up your idea as you go, almost in retrospect, and get to label the examples more and more. It's just that you don't go back and label the first posts, so they're kind of lost. Which is very sad :-).

    1. Now I get it! That is exactly what had happen. Janice please if you read this, include first posts into tabs-tags.

  11. First of all I want to thank you for this blog and all the hard work you put into it. I love reading it and try to learn from all of your good advice.

    I have been reading you “four by four” posts and followed the “starting from scratch” series with great interest but I still feel confused and can’t really find my way. I think that it might be because what you wrote in part three, about being comfortable wearing the same color head to toe. I am having a hard time with that, and have been using neutrals mainly for my bottom half and possibly cardigans.

    I would appreciate if you would write something on how to start from scratch when you can’t see yourself wearing those four core neutrals.

    Thank you from a reader from Sweden.

    1. May I reply to the reader from Sweden? Like you, I enjoy colour and my neutrals have been mainly worn for my bottom half. I have now introduced neutral tops, but usually wear them with a dark pink pair of trousers or a more colourful skirt. If I were to wear, for example, a grey top with navy bottoms, then I would add brightly coloured accessories like that gorgeous silk scarf, which sadly is outside my budget!

  12. Heard a radio interview about Uniqlo very recently. A very petite woman with Asian ancestry was thrilled to find a store that had clothing her size. Uniquo is a Japanese clothing store that opened in Japan in 1998 and soon began expanding internationally. Their parent store has operated in Japan for over 65 years. A company representative explained that they are slated to open more stores in the U.S. very soon. There is recognition that most of their clothing is sized very small and is too tiny for the majority of U.S. consumers, so they are considering expanding their clothing sizes. I believe Uniqlo clothing was originally made in China. I don't know about the present.