Friday, September 05, 2014

A 4 by 4 Capsule Wardrobe in Bright Gold, Tomato Red, Olive and Camel

The color combination of pain!

Looking for the right items in this color combination caused me to hit the wall - at some juncture, I was at a loss to find more camel garments that were suitable for this capsule wardrobe!

But then I thought about you all for a moment (as I think about you all constantly when I'm working on The Vivienne Files!), and I realized that if I was having trouble finding garments, then you must have the same experience, right?  I spend hours a day working on this - you certainly don't have the time to devote to shopping that I do to my full-time job of blog creation.  So rather than throw the towel in on this wardrobe, I figured out what a reasonable approach might be, and I'm sharing it with you all.

The first four camel garments came together reasonably well, but when I looked for another good blouse, tee shirt, or sweater, everything was either a really WEIRD color, structured... oddly... (as in it would reveal parts of your body perhaps better left concealed), or they cost $2,000.  Not good enough for us!

So I looked again at the warm tomato red that was included as an accent color here.  I just heard from a reliable source that she considers red to be a neutral, so I wondered what would happen if I just picked up a couple more tops in red, and we all waited until the market was more friendly to build a more "traditional" 4 by 4...

I think that this is successful - certainly every bit as versatile with red tops as it would have been with more camel and olive.  And from this we can learn that, in the absence of a lot of one of our neutral colors, we can rely more heavily on one of our accents in order to have enough clothes to provide us with choices and "coverage" for at least a week.

We might see this solution used again in the future...
Jeans – Dolce and Gabbana, sweater – Marc by Marc Jacobs
cropped pantsIsabel Marant, tee shirt – Majestic
Sweater – Weekend Max Mara, jeans – Viyella
shirt – Mauro Gasperi, trousers – Dorothy Perkins
Camel cardigan – Jaeger, red dotted shirt – Uniqlo
striped tee – Fatface, olive cardigan – Balmain
Tomato silk top – Hugo, gold sweater – Whistles,  
linen shirt – East,  tomato red sweater – Tulchan
Bobble scarf – Yuh Okano, brushed gold stud earrings - Marco Bicego
red suede earrings – Shanny Alon, bracelet – Khun Boom
tan booties – Aquatalia by Marvin K., loafers – Sperry Top-Sider,
 satchel handbag – Fossil, silk scarf - Hermes
I think this works out okay - not the same color balance that we've seen in other wardrobes, but still very coherent, with a clear statement of personal style and preference.
Camel cardigan – Jaeger, silk scarf - Hermes, stud earrings - Marco Bicego, striped tee – Fatface
camel sweater – Weekend Max Mara, gold linen shirt – East, red sweater – Tulchan, 
 Bobble scarf – Yuh Okano, olive crew sweater – Marc by Marc Jacobs, gold sweater – Whistles,  
 red suede earrings – Shanny Alon,tomato top – Hugo, olive tee  Majestic,
 camel shirt – Mauro Gasperi, olive jeans – Dolce & Gabbana, camel jeans – Viyella,
 bracelet – Khun Boom, dotted shirt – Uniqlo, handbag – Fossil,
 loafers – Sperry Top-Sider, olive cropped trousers – Isabel Marant,
camel trousers – Dorothy Perkins, olive cardigan – Balmainbooties – Aquatalia by Marvin K.



  1. This strategy is also good for those who prefer more accent color, rather than neutrals.

  2. I like red as a *neutral*, even though it has a certain amount of zing to it. That satchel comes in a lot of lovely colors. I have that on my Wish List now. (I don't *need* a new bag, but it is nice to daydream a bit)

  3. Yay! Yet again, you have given me the solution to a nagging issue in my closet. Thank you!!

  4. have always loved these colors, but they don't love me !

  5. I'm finding that the process of building a coherent wardrobe is giving me a strong lesson in patience. :) However, say it with me, "Elegance is Refusal". Thank you for suggesting ways to tweak our strategies while maintaining our overall goals.

  6. Great job adapting. I would like to add more olive to my closet!

  7. I love the idea of a scarf with these colours but a wardrobe would be very far off my comfort zone...they are great for a red headed woman though and I adore greens and mustard yellow, especially in the garden!

  8. Amazing!Firstly I thought this colour combination is not for me but when I saw the final result it is incredible how stylish and chick are these clothes!

  9. Thank you Thank you!!! I love this color combination which says fall to me. I especially love the scarves ....hmmm got to save up for that Hermes one!!! I am thinking of putting a wardrobe of these colors and it's true, nice camel tops are very hard to come by. Thank you for the great idea of using more red. Everyone needs some red in their wardrobe....LOL

  10. So cool! This is the very first 4x4 color selection I haven't had to substitute out a color for. Thanks!!

  11. This could work in Wisconsin - Packers green & gold and Badger red. ; )

  12. I just ADORE this post, as I'm sure you knew I would. Brava!! You couldn't have come up w/anything more perfect for these color combinations. Je t'en remercie beacoup, Janice. May I link to this post? And, yes, I do consider red to be a neutral.

    Have a wonderful trip to the City of Lights.

    ciao for now from a very happy redhead, M-T

  13. You almost lost me with this one, sorry. This is too much like the colors in the USMC service uniform. You did an inspired jobs taking 4 colors that I associate with living in Quantico and actually had me wanting a couple of the pieces!

  14. Your olution to the camel shortage is a great reminder of how a) a wardrobe is not static but constantly evolving, and b) when you have lemons, make lemonade, or in this case tomato juice. you are a veritable COLOUR GENIUS.

  15. Hi, I just discovered your blog and going through all wardrobe posts. I'm trying to clear my wardrobe of excess clothes and keep only the good looking quality ones (that still fit me after two pregnancies).
    You're doing a great job and I wanted to thank you :) for the new ideas your blog gave me.

    I would like to share an advice I picked somewhere on how to choose tops and scarves: put the fabric under your jawline and see if it lightens (good) or darkens (bad) your face and if it works with your warm/cool skin undertone. It's an advice I used many times to choose between two nuances of the same colour.

  16. I love the Hermes scarf shown here. It's called Le Laboratoire du Temps. The link to this Hermes scarf no longer works, but I found an old one if someone else wants to see it: