Monday, March 30, 2015

Building a Capsule Wardrobe by Starting with Art: Steamboat leaving Boulogne by Edouard Manet

To whomever requested this painting as the basis for a wardrobe - a big thank you!

Steamboat leaving Boulogne by Edouard Manet

From time to time, I hear from women who need only the smallest of work wardrobes, because they work as temps - employees who go into an office for a very brief period of time. A wardrobe for this kind of work needs to be very conservative and very neutral; you don't really want to make any kind of a "mark" on the organization except for the excellence of your work!  I temped at a few times in the past - sometimes only for a day, and sometimes for as long as 2 or 3 weeks. This is the kind of work that allows you to have an extremely small work wardrobe, and to thus dedicate your income to other things!

While temping doesn't always require interviews, I've included a couple of interview outfits, just in case they are needed.

Blazer and trousers – Marc by Marc Jacobs, pocket square – Hermes, blue stud earrings – Karolin,  
ivory silk top – Jigsaw, loafers – Stuart Weitzman, watch – Skagen, briefcase – Pratesi

Knitted blazer – Armani Collezioni, pearl earrings – Bukkehave, pearl broochBukkehave
dress – L’Agence, slingbacks – Jimmy Choo

Printed blouse – Ghost, blue topaz necklace – Lee Renee, blue short-sleeved blouse – Joseph
grey short-sleeved sweater – Jaeger, fringed scarf – Florenz, grey skirt – Jaeger, blue cardigan
 – Marc by Marc Jacobs, small scarf – Shinerock London, grey blazer – Jaeger, grey trousers – 
Jaeger, tote bag – Desti Saint Handbags, dress – Sam and Lavi

I hear, time and time again, that it's just too boring to buy three matching pieces of clothing at the same time! The suit separates that I show here are going to run afoul of this objection, because they're all from the same company, and they match precisely. But I'm sticking with my belief that owning these kinds of core pieces will more than pay off for you as you find a million different ways to wear them! All shopping is not going to be exciting and thrilling - it shouldn't be, if you're buying intelligently chosen staple items for your wardrobe. You should, instead, feel a tremendous feeling of satisfaction and of accomplishment when you are able to find these kinds of timeless work-horse items. 

Carefully chosen and deliberately constructed, you now have a perfect 13-piece wardrobe, with only 2 pair of shoes needed, a couple of bags, and a handful of other accessories. Nobody is going to be overwhelmed by the mad variety of your wardrobe, but my experiences as a temp suggested that you were best served by wearing things that were conservative, of impeccable quality, which fit you beautifully, and were flattering. Variety is for some other area of you life!

 This very compact wardrobe still gives you enough possibilities for three weeks of work! 

And I guess it's terribly obvious, but this would also make a wonderful travel capsule wardrobe if you have business travel. I can see someone making an auditing visit wearing all of these things...

Tomorrow, I think I'll do a casual summer wardrobe from the same color scheme...


Looking Back:

2013: Project 333 for Winter: the Winners, and the Losers

2012: Chic sighting, and a cautionary note on "payday shopping"



  1. I have been sparse here lately, being swamped at work. Glad you are back and well again. The Armani blazer is a beautiful piece that could lift up anything in my wardrobe just a notch.

  2. Also a good approach for the growing numbers of us who work at home or remotely the majority of time but have to dress for periodic office or client visits.


  3. Beautiful colors for Spring here. I struggle with warm weather wardrobes.
    Please add my request to your long list: a "Start from scratch" wardrobe to fill the closet of a summer home in navy, green and camel (much more flattering than tan/beige) with a nautical or beach theme. Would be so fun to see the accessories and lightweight scarves you would find to tie it all together.

  4. So beautiful! I am glad you are back. Please do continue this color scheme in a more casual wardrobe!

  5. The best part about buying the three piece is the color match, which with a lot of colors is a huge bonus. It's a bit pricey but worth it for quality garments that will last and last.

  6. Beautiful! Honestly, with pieces from the common wardrobe and a couple more scarves, this would set me up for an entire season - or two! And buying 3 matching pieces is a great idea. Just be sure to wear them all equally!

    In grade 9 I sewed myself 2 capsules in matching fabrics, light blue and light blue/dark blue/white plaid. So I had 2 tunics, 2 skirts and 2 pairs of pants, all mix and match. Maybe a bit too matchy (!!) but I was ready for every day. :) And I also wore the tunics as micro mini dresses but hey, it was the 70s and I was a leggy 14-15.

  7. Oh la la this wardrobe is going to appeal to Madame La-Bas! She loves and wears these colours...
    the capsule wardrobe is such a great idea for ease of dressing and of course for travel!
    Beautiful painting.

  8. Beautiful colors! Love the original inspiration!

  9. Love this. With the current emphasis on being casual (and often mismatched and sloppy) people can forget that a higher income requires a tailored appearance. This is flattering, dignified and sends a message of competence and sophistication.

  10. Eons ago (70's) I had a school teacher that wore white, pink and pale grey. The styles all matched - preppy, pleated v-necked jumper style . I was in awe and envious. That was her work wardrobe. Carol S

  11. If the Jaeger items were the gorgeous slightly taupeish grey colour they appear in your above colour scheme I would snap them up -- I LOVE your colour combination above -- but when I go to the Jaeger site they are merely grey grey, without any hint of brown in the grey, so for me they are much less beautiful than your gorgeous colour scheme. I keep thinking about your colour scheme and wanting to buy a whole new wardrobe in this scheme! Absolutely exquisite!