Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Building a Capsule Wardrobe by Starting with Art: Version 2 Steamboat leaving Boulogne by Edouard Manet

 I really love the combination of blue and grey! (I often consider including blue as an accent color in my wardrobe...) So I decided to look again at this painting, with an eye to warm weather. I brightened up the blue a little bit - Manet gives you a whole range of blue possibilities - and I equalized the proportions of the four colors:

I haven't built a Four by Four wardrobe for a while, so I thought this would be an interesting project. First up, the core dark neutral charcoal, in linen:

Shorts – North Face, long-sleeved teeVince, grey trousers – CreaConcept
tee shirt – Marc by Marc Jacobs

One of the reasons I wanted to do a summer leisure wardrobe - I found this gorgeous blue at L.L.Bean. A perfect secondary color!

Blue skirt, shirt, tunic and shortsL.L.Bean 

The Expansion Four is usually four tops of some sort, since tops tend to get more wear than bottoms. Since we have a perfect soft creamy white in this color scheme, this step was pretty easy.

Sleeveless – Armani, tunic – Uniqlo, tee shirt – Uniqlo, tank – East

And the last four pieces of clothing pick up the lighter, softer grey, while also giving us one more bottom. If you prefer shorts to trousers, those kinds of nuanced changes are certainly possible!

Long-sleeved top – Rag and Bone, light grey tunic – Poetry, tuck-hem tank – 2nd Day,
 light grey pants – Poetry

You certainly could pile accessories onto this wardrobe all day - imagine lots of silver, pearl and grey pearl jewelry. Plenty of silver leather goods? Every scarf you can find that is shades of grey, or a combination of grey and blue... And the truly patient among us could certainly scare up a pair of shoes in our beautiful shade of blue!

But I'm keeping it simple, so in harmony with our theme of fours, I give you just two pair of shoes, a pair of earrings that could be worn every day, all summer, and an indulgent scarf that could EVEN be worn as a belt with your shorts. Make sure you find some sunglasses, too!

Linen/silk scarf – Etro, hoop earrings – Komang Wijayana, sequined flip-flops – Vionic
ballet flats – Sperry

Here's your sixteen garments - this is, realistically, a Whatever's Clean Wardrobe, insofar as you could just reach in and grab things and wear. Some proportions might not be pleasing to you, but you would still be completely safe and acceptable in public.

Here are 30 combinations, to start. This is NOT an exhaustive sampling; you could easily layer a shirt under the long-sleeved tops, or the sleeveless tank under a tunic...

An easy summer leisure wardrobe leaves us all free to concentrate on the IMPORTANT aspects of summer, like cooking out, walking, listening to music, reading, catching fireflies...


Looking Back:

2012: Customizing the Classics: The Navy Blazer

Monsoon US


  1. I love the more intense blue. Could you pull in some of the yellow?

  2. Beautifully done as always. You have provided a range of different garments for different summer temperature conditions. You have short sleeves, no sleeves, jumpers, tunics, shirts, shorts, longs and skirt etc. A Wear Whatever's Clean wardrobe with huge variety. Thank you. Carol S

    1. Linked yet with diversity Carol S

  3. Your post is essentially what I am striving for this summer. I don't wear shorts but I do have a grey linen skirt to wear with my blue and grey tops. Linen is definitely a cool and comfortable summer fabric.

  4. Utter perfection!!!

  5. Beautiful!!! I would add a touch of coral......a bracelet or small bag. I do love that blue!

    1. That would provide a lovely color balance, although it is not in this painting.

  6. Janice, I will never ever get enough of these 4x4 posts !! Brilliant travel packing ideas, thank you, and pleeease keep up the great work. Thanks so much for the inspirations and clarity of concepts !! Hugs !!

  7. I love your new heading! Great photo! :)

  8. So nice to see a picture of you wearing your signature jewelry! This is a beautiful plan for an elegant woman with grey hair, blue eyes and a cool complexion, for sure.

    Deb from Vancouver

  9. Agreed, Janice, this is a lovely 4x4 wardrobe in soft colours that make practical and pretty combinations. And as always, inspirational for both the wardrobe and the suitcase! It still dazzles me that a favourite painting can be a source of inspiration in this way ...

  10. Also meant to say I too like the new photo!

  11. Those were good eclairs weren't they! Why didn't any of us think of opening up one of those boxes so show off those fabulous pastries? Guess we will just have to go back to Paris for a re-shoot.
    This looks simple enough that someone fashionably impaired as I am might be able to work with it, though I have to admit I would swap out blue for lilac. I think this has given me ideas on how to add a few pieces to my wardrobe this summer.
    Your photographer friend (who unfortunately did not take this photo ...)

  12. So pretty!! Thanks for doing a more casual, yet classy and feminine, wardrobe!

  13. Pinned it. So pretty!! Happy Easter.

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  15. I working my winter wardrobe, I realized I'm all set on clothes for next summer. All I need are fun scarves and jewelry!