Tuesday, August 19, 2014

A Four by Four Capsule Wardrobe STRUGGLE in Brown, Navy, Leaf Green and Bright Pink

I know from my emails that some of you who are working on Four by Four capsule wardrobes are running into some challenges, and so today I'm sharing with you the hardest wardrobe (so far) that I've done.  As we get to each step of the process, I'll tell you what (hair pulling) issues I encountered, and what my adjustments and accommodations to the normal process were.

First up, let's console ourselves with the final product:
travel capsule wardrobe wardrobe planning minimal wardrobe
watch – Michele, tote bag – Marni, smoky quartz earrings – Allurez,avy tee – Lands’ End, jeans – Mango, silk shirt – Lands’ End, twill trousers – Lands’ Endsterling and brown linen bracelet – Vivien Frank Designs, square scarves – Hermes, ankle boots – Aerosolesriding boots – Enzo AngioliniCorduroy pants – Viyella, tee shirt – J. Crew, skirt – Jil Sandersweater – Dear CashmereSequined sweater – Brunello Cucinelli, asymmetric plaid blouse – Isabel Marant Etoile, cardigan – Uniqlo, turtleneck – Aniye ByGreen grey sweater – Paul by Paul Smith, green tee shirt – L.L.Bean, pink tee shirt – L.L.Bean, cardigan – L.L.Bean

The more I look at these four, the more I like them...


Corduroy pants – Viyella, tee shirt – J. Crew, skirt – Jil Sandersweater – Dear Cashmere

And these are quite nice too - although the blouse is silk, it's a quite casual style.  Thus far, eight really good, classic, timeless items.


Navy tee – Lands’ End, jeans – Mango, silk shirt – Lands’ End, twill trousers – Lands’ End

 But let's be serious - I had NO IDEA that finding four garments that combined brown and navy was going to be impossible.  Simply impossible.  After 4 hours of looking, I decided that it was time to take a more practical approach...

So I looked back at the eight items that were already here, and realized that there was no jacket, blazer, cardigan or 2nd layer of any sort.  For upcoming fall and winter weather, this kind of item is pretty much essential, so I included one.  And while I know that many of us don't wear turtlenecks, I acknowledged that both of the brown tops already included have quite open, scooped necklines, and so for a cold day, a turtleneck might be just the ticket.

At this point, your Four by Four Wardrobe has more solid garments that what we usually have, but we're still in a good versatile position.  You of course will want to always remain aware of any appropriate items that integrate your neutrals, since they are difficult to find!
Sequined sweater – Brunello Cucinelli, asymmetric plaid blouse – Isabel Marant Etoile, cardigan – Uniqlo, turtleneck – Aniye By


These pieces weren't all that easy, either!  Generally speaking, I like to mix these four pieces to include at least a sweater, a button-front shirt (if you wear them), and a tee shirt.  Button front was NOT going to happen...

Watch.  Next week, clothes in these two colors will be everywhere.  I just know it.

As with your Expansion Four, once you've decided to build upon a certain color scheme, you just always keep it in mind (and swatches in hand!) when you're around a clothing store or website, and purchase things that are PERFECT as they become available.
Green grey sweater – Paul by Paul Smith, green tee shirt – L.L.Bean, pink tee shirt – L.L.Bean, cardigan – L.L.Bean


I knew it was time to pull out the rest of my hair when I tried to find scarves...  I looked at thousands of scarves, and could easily and contentedly find navy and brown scarves, but to include the accent colors too????  Hermes had one...
watch – Michele, tote bag – Marni, smoky quartz earrings – Allurez, sterling and brown linen bracelet – Vivien Frank Designs, square scarves – Hermes, ankle boots – Aerosoles, riding boots – Enzo Angiolini


So what lessons can we draw from my frustration?  
  • A perfect wardrobe can be difficult to assemble, even if you're working full-time at it.
  • Sometimes you have to patiently stock up on your solid colored basics and wait for someone to offer up your perfect printed or patterned garments.  (or hire a seamstress to make them?)
  • Make sure that you've got good color swatches with you at any point in time at which you might run into an item that will be ideal.
  • Be patient.  Be incredibly, exhaustively patient.  You haven't had the perfect wardrobe in the past, and you won't be able to create it in an instant.  It's a long process.
If any of you have any ideas or suggestions about where I might look for items in these colors, let me know!

                   STYLEBOP.com    

35 comments:

  1. Thank You it is really beautiful. I will try to follow this colorway, but I think it would be very hard. I think it's excellent idea to take color swatches to shopping :-) Maybe i should exchange one of those color? In winter I wear darker wardrobe than in summer. If I exchange brown for a caramel would be better for summer wardrobe.
    What are the rules to balance warm and cold colours and bright and dark colours to make perfect wardrobe?

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    1. Dear Anonymous,

      There aren't any rules, which almost makes it more difficult! I never wear bright colors - I know quite a few people who don't. And I don't wear warm colors either, but that's just what works really well for me. I think it might make sense to include a light neutral into this mix, just for flexibility. Tomorrow I'm going to work with navy and brown, but the accents are going to be a more subdued green, and a dark ivory/light beige color. Maybe it will help your thinking a little?

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    2. Thank You Janice :-)
      Whether it is possible to combine the salmon-pink with warm green? Are there connections not to be used? I think light beige will help me :-)

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    3. Can you do something without the darks and blacks for people who don't wear dark colors? I never wear black. I like pink, mint, pale yellow and navy. Please. Thanks.

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  2. Maybe the moral of this story is that there's a good reason it's difficult to find garments combining brown and navy? I think caramel (or amber) and navy would be a lovely way to go.

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    1. You could certainly lighten up the brown a little bit, but I don't think I'd give up on this current color combination. Men have worn brown with navy for pretty much centuries, so it's not like it's an unheard-of combination. I should have looked for scarves in menswear - their scarves are nicer, and generally less expensive!

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  3. THANK YOU for sharing this! It's the experience of most of us who are trying to put together a well-thought-out, beautiful, useful wardrobe. I've been moving from black to navy and grey as my neutral colors and, especially when I look at the HUGE choices of black shoes/boots compared to styles in navy and grey, I wonder at the wisdom of the change sometimes. Add to the color search challenges the need to stay within budget and there's more complication to deal with. For example, that pretty brown/blue pullover sweater above is probably out of reach for most of us, and yet it's a key to tying this wardrobe's neutrals together. It makes me think that it is important to not only choose colors that flatter and that I like, but also to choose colors with availability in mind.

    One thing I wish you'd address is how important it is to consider neutral lightness or darkness. For example, with my navy/grey neutral base, I would like the grey to be light, nearly silver. I'm looking for boots, and I can only afford one pair. Which neutral should I get? Is it better to get navy because they are darker? That seems intuitively right somehow, but I don't know why.

    If you are still taking requests for basic wardrobe color combos, I would be super appreciative of a collection of navy/light grey neutral with teal (lighter) and red (darker -- burgundy?) accents in an LL Bean to Boden range of cost for a "retired" homeschooler homemaker in her late forties who goes to church three times a week (dresses/skirts), gardens, and visits the city for cultural events about once a month. Oh, and she lives in a definite four-season climate. And she's modest -- no above the knee or visible cleavage. She loves scarves Autumn-Spring. Is that unusual enough for you? ;)

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    1. First - your instincts with the shoes are right - darker is generally better, until you have a good core of footwear, and can afford to have a pair that gets destroyed relatively quickly. Pale grey suede shoes are beautiful, but require much Scotchguard-ing, and avoiding of wet days!

      I'm working right now on a navy, brown, beige and bright berry/burgundy that will be here on the blog late in September, while I'm in Paris. And I'll definitely put your colors onto the request list!

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    2. I'm trying to transition to navy and grey also. I find navy shoes to be a problem since there are so many shades. While reading your comment, Lori, I thought of what Janice said in reply to Gail about men combining navy and brown. Men don't wear navy shoes either! So why can't women wear black shoes with navy and grey? Having said that, I do own and wear several pairs of navy shoes in the summer since it's easier to pair with white on the bottom.

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    3. Oh, I'm definitely going to be wearing black shoes with navy and grey for awhile as I transition. I have ancient tall dress boots in black that will be with me for at least another winter. I also have a fantastically comfortable pair of black Rockport loafers that have taken me all over the world and left me smiling. They are classic and just ask to be polished regularly. :) New boots are high on my priority list to replace, and I'm thinking I may want to get a coat in the same color -- navy is what I've thought. There is something to be said, though, for getting a coat in a bright or light accent color -- livens up the winter! In a completely different color direction, I have seriously considered making cognac my signature leather color for boots, bag, belt, and a style or two of shoes. I'm just not sure how I feel about it with grey clothing. It seems like it gives a more casual feel. I dress pretty casually most days, but there are times I want to be more polished. These are big purchases for me, and I want to get them right. Thank you very much to both of you for the advice.

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  4. So sorry you had to work so hard to pull this one together. I'm loving the navy and brown, but the combination with the pink and green is kind of ghastly. To me, it falls under the category: Just because you can, doesn't mean you should. There is a reason why you had difficulty finding this combination. Even Hermes only did it once.
    Also, when viewing the final product, it does not have that cohesive look. It would be interesting to see how many outfits you could put together from this wardrobe...but on the other hand...why bother?

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  5. Hi, Janice,
    You mention a seamstress, but the first thing that pops to mind (as I sit here reading your site with knitting in my lap) is that many people could KNIT themselves a sweater or a whole pile of sweaters in their chosen colors. Yarns also follow the same trends as fashion, but at least there's unlimited combos you can make in any given garment, plus there are plenty of indie dyers who will make a custom color for you.

    Speaking of dye, you can also dye fabric fairly easily - my favorite pair of jeans ever started out khaki and went a lovely soft grey-blue with some dye.

    So maybe some old-fashioned DIY could bridge some of the gaps in the market.

    --Suzyn

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    1. Absolutely! I'd pay embarrassing amounts of money to both a seamstress and to someone who would knit a sweater for me - if you can do it yourself or learn how, it's unquestionably the best way to get something that you adore, and is one of a kind.

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    2. My mil and mother could/can knit ANYTHING. Sadly, my mil died a while back (she made stunning kaffee fassett style sweaters) and my mother has arthritis. My son is a beginning knitter, but I don't think he's ready for Primetime. I'll tell him to step up his practice.

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    3. If anyone does want to make their own sweaters, let me direct you to Amy Herzog's Custom Fit system: http://customfit.makewearlove.com. If you're going to put in the hours (and hours) of work, you should make something that fits you.

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  6. I actually own a short sleeved sweater (pullover) which combines brown and navy. I've owned it for about four years now and it is a go to garment for me. Since I live in Texas, a short sleeved pullover sweater is a very useful item.

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  7. I'm a long time admirer of your Files: I know that you select your Four Cores from the most easily available neutrals but what if I needed to make aubergine my Core? Harder work, yes, but does it violate the Vivienne rules?

    I'm trying to build a wardrobe on my Zyla palette which has aubergine, greens - emeralds through to stone bottle greens & dark moss, dark teal/petrol, rust: although there is no grey I don't think I can abandon this and feel it works as long as the greys are solid and not heathered. It is quite a challenge!

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    1. I don't think there are any hard and fast rules here! But you've already anticipated your biggest limitation - trying to find the color in enough garments to build a solid core.

      Maybe a seamstress? Or make them yourself? I really believe that if designers and manufacturers won't make what we want, we should do things ourselves. (thus, many designers are hesitant to work with me - I'm not obsequious enough!)

      Definitely hang onto grey until you've got a good handle on your other neutrals. While you love you Zyla palette, don't leave yourself without enough to wear - that's too much stress!

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    2. Janice, thank you for responding: I've now thought about using your Not So Crazy Eights as a way forward. There is also the possibility of dark grey for one four core and a silver grey for another distinct core.

      Your point about the stress of not enough to wear is real enough! I can use the 'new to me' dark teal, rust, green and aubergine as add ons but see the sense, especially when trying to have a minimal wardrobe, of selecting a base colour that works trans-seasonally and across decades. Grey it is!

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  8. I love all colors really, but brown and green never worked for me. Green top/brown bottom--too treelike in effect. The pink (to me) works well with both neutrals.

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  9. I was going to suggest menswear - it's pretty easy to find a blue and brown plaid men's shirt. Also, Etsy is my go-to for difficult colors/combinations. They have a ton of vintage as well as handmade stuff. For example, here's a green/pint print button-down that's pretty close to your colors https://www.etsy.com/listing/187412870/vintage-secret-garden-retro-mint-and?ref=sc_3&sref=sr_af154e6eadcb947ad552d0514aab7966ca8fb7f3d474defd47f5011ea2019b02_1408456366_14242922_button&sref2=MTg3NDEyODcw%3AYnV0dG9u%3AMTQyNDI5MjI.%3AcGluayBwcmludCBidXR0b24gZG93bg..%3Ady4y%3AMTQwODQ1NjM2NQ..%3AMzoxNDA4NDU2MzY2OkxJSWFaNFlIdC15STVuTHh4Y3NHeWdUVlFFQ3E6MmFhZGM5NjgxYjMwYzg3OTZhNjY0NGRjOWUzYWNmYTQwY2M1NTFiYjBlZWFjYTRmOGNhYjAwZWMzZDJjYTFhYQ..%3A12a59a98c03dc40be8d899c2992e2699c837d688&ga_search_query=pink+print+button+down&ga_ship_to=ZZ&ga_page=4&ga_search_type=all&ga_view_type=gallery

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  10. A popular combination in Europe is Tobacco brown (lighter than the very dark brown you have chosen) with French navy (a sort of "faded" navy). These combine easily together and also with a darker pink and green.

    An alternative is combining your chosen dark brown with a navy that tends towards a more purple shade. This combination makes it easier to combine with pink and green (also in different depths).

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  11. In the warmer months it is so easy to put together navy and tan/khaki type colors but it doesn't work so well for me in the cooler months so I have also been thinking of navy and brown for the fall. I was fortunate to come across some tweedy yarn that had blues and browns and knit myself a scarf last spring. I haven't used it yet but hope to soon. I don't have any garments with both blue and brown in them and now I see why. I agree that menswear may be a solution. I love the pink with everything! And I love your blog, but don't comment enough. I thank you every time I travel (family reunion last week). I arrive with a reasonable size bag and everyone wonders how I have enough clothing for the whole week. Thank you!

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  12. Regarding using a seamstress or DIY: both are certainly viable options. However, as regards the color problem...fabric and yarn manufacturers use much the same colors that appear in ready-to-wear. One might be luckier than most if a knitter because of the tendency to stash yarn and let it age like fine wine.

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  13. Sometimes, I use shoes as a way to tie a difficult color combination together. My jewelry and my shoes become the tie-in factor. I know that our everyday shoes and work footwear should be of very good quality, but if you have a little to splurge with, you might try a less expensive brand for a print or color block combo. I rely on Land's End for affordable flats. Right now they have a faux-reptile that I think will pair well with my brown/black/camel winter clothing (not a particularly difficult combination, but you get the idea.)

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  14. I'm becoming more and more convinced that finding a good seamstress/tailor is the way to go. If you don't care for black, and I don't, pickings can become very slim. And god help you if you're plus size, which I am.

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  15. I mix self-sewn items with RTW as I am a moderately skilled seamstress. Once you get away from black/grey I do find it hard to find different items which tone together properly and struggle a bit myself with navy. I've been thinking of a dark navy/eggplant/hot pink/ivory combination for winter mostly self sewn.

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  16. I love brown...just cannot get enough of it. I find myself wearing it with black, eggplant, green, and slate the most. It is one of my favorite colors to work with...thanks for all you do, Janice.

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  17. The "mileage" palette does not hang together for me; the pink is quite loud while the brown hue is, sorry, the brown known as s--t brown. (And so many other browns-the caramels and espresso, and the browner versions of taupe- avoid that unfortunate association. As much as the "mileage" colours do not beckon, the clothing is all very wearable. Thank you!

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  18. I'm so glad you chose navy and dark brown. This has been my focus (with orchid and emerald accents for winter/fall and cornflour blue and coral accents for spring/summer). I've been working on finding the expansion four for a loong time, with just no luck, and I just gave up on finding accessories with all four colours! Glad to see I'm not the only one having difficulty.

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  19. Thank you for this blog again, Janice;

    I have been working on my black, navy, gray and camel wardrobe for a while..Have more than enough solid core of fours in all these colours, but I am struggling blending them so I end up wearing the same combinations all the time.. (sad face) Had NO idea that "bridge" garments are so important but I just don't know where to start!!

    Love,
    Aideen

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  20. Wow what a challenge!
    I was ecstatic with your recent foray into grey territory...
    no one can accuse you of taking the easy way out.
    Kudo's to you Janice!

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  21. Love this color brown but I would have used (as I do) blue instead of the bright pink. I think the intensity of the color too strong for the rich brown. I use a light shade of blue mostly but has have paired with a medium blue, slightly softer than royal blue. Great color combinations. I think you have used this in the past.

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  22. Bwahaha! I could have told you how hard it is to find navy with brown ... because I was trying to do that. I gave up. I'm phasing the brown out in favor of navy with ivory, navy with stone, navy with camel ... navy with ANYTHING rather than brown.

    Thank you for the hard work.

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    1. Oh, I bet navy with camel would be lovely. If you are better off with warmth in your palette, the camel would be a great choice to offset the coolness of navy.

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