Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Build a Capsule Wardrobe by Starting with Art: Rose Garden by Ute Laum

I am really glad that I asked you all to send me painting suggestions - otherwise, I would never have seen this gorgeous thing!


Rose Garden by Ute Laum 

This is an example of a painting in which the camel/cognac plays a very small, but absolutely essential, role. None of the other colors would have nearly the same impact if the golden touches were missing.



Today, I'm sorry there's no story, but I've received so many requests for travel wardrobes that I feel like I should address the overall logic or philosophy of putting together a capsule travel wardrobe. There's probably no way that I'm ever going to be able to answer all of the travel questions I receive, so I think an overview of how I think about travel wardrobes might help a little bit. It bothers me no end that I just can't put together hundreds of wardrobes, to fulfill every possible request and answer every potential question.

Starter - always pick a dark neutral color. Travel is inherently not the cleanest activity, and having a Core of Four in a dark neutral gives you a good base for the rest of your travel wardrobe. Two tops, two bottoms, but there's flexibility in that guideline. The tops can both be "next to the skin" pieces like sweaters, blouses or tee shirts, or you can include a cardigan, which will do a LOT of heavy-lifting when you're on the road. And the bottoms can include jeans, trousers, capris, skirts, and shorts in any combination that suits your destination and planned activities. I'm ALWAYS going to tell you to include a pair of long pants, just as I'm always going to tell you to have a pair of closed-toe shoes. You have NO idea when the weather can get cold; the 4th of July weekend here in Chicago saw temperatures below 20 Centigrade...


Linen cardigan – Jaeger, jeans – Lee;
Shimmer tee – Mint Velvet; skirt – True Religion

Second step for traveling is to pick a secondary color - maybe a neutral - to bring with you in some quantity. I was thinking of this trip as being one that spanned moderate to cold temperatures, so the camel "segment" of our wardrobe is more woolly. (and suede - y...)


Again, this is a good place to go with two tops and two bottoms - same guidelines as for the First Core of Four. (note that camel is a color for which it's not really necessary to precisely match colors - a nice "family blend" is sufficient.)


Cardigan – Closed; trousers – Max Mara;
Sweater – Dondup; suede skirt – Stouls

In planning your wardrobe, this next color choice might be most important - you need an accent color that will work equally happily with each of your first two colors. The painting made this easy - shades of pink! Note that tee shirts and blouses don't have to all match, since you almost certainly will never wear them together.


Light pink tee – L.L.Bean; striped oxfordL.L.Bean;
Dark pink tee – J. Crew; cardigan – J. Crew

At this point, you have 12 pieces of clothing, and you could certainly close your suitcase and be fine. But in the interest of providing more options, you might want to include 4 more pieces.

This is a great place for a second accent color; same constraint applies in that it must work beautifully with both neutrals you've chosen. This is also the time to introduce another "bottom", in either of your neutrals, or maybe a print. I always like to consider adding a white shirt to any wardrobe, because of the ease of integrating it with any other colors. I know that it's going to need to be laundered at some point, but a menswear-styled shirt might be one of the easiest pieces of clothing to have cleaned, because it so closely resembles a man's shirt. And if you want to pack a dress, it does NOT have to be neutral! You should at least consider making sure that it works with your neutrals, though, so that you can use your cardigans or jackets with it.

Blue tee – P.A.R.O.S.H.; navy trousers – J. Crew,
Tuxedo shirt – Thomas Mason; blue dress – Joilie Moi

Accessory packing is where the fun is! Scarves are, for me, essential; look for scarves that include some combination of one of your neutrals with one of your accent colors. There's really no reason not to pack as many scarves as you want - they're light and small, and they make a big difference in the appearance of an outfit.


I try to limit packing to 3 pairs of shoes. In theory, if you were going to wear an outfit from this capsule, you could have a 4th pair of shoes (the ones you wear in transit)  - maybe camel oxfords?

If you're struggling for shoes to wear with a "non-neutral" dress, don't forget the possibility of nude pumps or sling backs. (nude = YOUR skin color, not mine, and not what some department store calls nude)

And jewelry - nothing mad expensive - is another light and easy thing to pack that can change the look of what you're wearing. Even something as small as a ring can make more difference than you might think! (okay, there's a mad expensive bracelet in here...)



Blue earrings – ABS by Allen Schwartz; pearl bracelet -  Carolee; pink earrings
 – Ted Baker; hoop earrings – Alfani; blush and beige scarf – Cathayana; blue square
 scarf – wrq.e.d; rose square scarf – Collection Imperiales by Hermes; camel boots
 – rag & bone; gold necklace  - Anne Klein; pink ring – French Connection; sling 
backs – Trotters; tote bag – Meckela; blue bracelet – Ippolita; navy flats – Vaneli

I would be comfortable traveling for an unlimited amount of time with this assortment of clothing:



As always, a wide variety of possible combinations:





As with all Four by Four wardrobes here, these choices fit neatly into our template:


Assuming a reasonably narrow range of weather conditions, could you travel for a month or six weeks with just 16 pieces of clothing?

love,
Janice

Farfetch UK

27 comments:

  1. I tend to be very cautious- I've learned so much from your blog and my suitcase is much lighter than it used to be. I had been hoping to pack very compactly next week as I head away for a 10 day holiday. However, volcanic activity may mean that I am diverted from my tropical location to a much more wintry location so I will be taking more than I initially planned just in case............

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  2. Oh my goodness, how lovely!
    Your blog has transformed my wardrobe this summer. I am trying out 333 and I love it. The intentional focus on a color palette has narrowed my shopping choices and left me with a closet of things that play together nicely. I can just about get dressed with my eyes closed!

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  3. I just found personal stylist for every body shape shopping platform - www.newstorylook.com Very impressive!

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  4. Ah, just in time --I leave for Nova Scotia in two weeks ! This post is the "meat" of your travel posts that I have been craving --the thought process behind it all, although you have done many, many posts showing the examples of this thought process. Two neutrals, two colors --one warm, one cool, and a dash of white, plus accessories --got it ! Is there any particular rotational sequence you adhere to, or is it random, based on both the activity and weather for the day, and mood of choice ?
    Thank you, thank you for explaining the logic of the selections --I think I'll go pull my potential travel wardrobe right now. Oh, are any prints ill advised ?

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    1. Forgot to ask --do you preplan each days ensemble in advance, prior to packing ?

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    2. Generally, when I travel I plan an outfit the evening before, based on the next day's anticipated activities, and what the weather is expected to do. The last time I was in Paris, I wore my capris and linen shirts a TON the first 4 days we were there, because the weather was quite warm. And I think there might have been a heavier sweater that never left the hotel... But you pack as well as you can for what the conditions will probably be, and then adapt as best you can on the fly!
      And prints are never a bad idea, so long as they work with your neutral colors, and are something that you can cheerfully wear repeatedly. During that Paris visit, I wore my paisley pants (you can see the ankles of them in the big title photograph at the top of the blog) day after day, because they were cool, and looked great with my linen.

      Hope this helps!
      Janice

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    3. Thank you, Janice ! I have already narrowed down my number of items to travel with me, trying to select more day to evening possibilities with fewer pieces in total. 4 scarves and some accessory clusters ( I learned this from you, thank you ! ) make multiple outfits from two otherwise plain pieces. My struggle has always been how to take fewer pieces and yet feel as though I have "changed" for dinner. I really love all that you do in this blog --something we can all take away and adapt for our own coloring, body shapes, and wearing purposes! My very favorites are your travel post "how to's " . Merci beaucoup !!

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  5. While I love the colors and coordination, I don't think the proportions of the jackets with the dress work at all! This dress demands a short topper, imho. Proportion is what always gives me pause--same silhouettes work but get boring. Different silhouettes require taking more clothes. And your closet (my closet) has 5 black jackets/cardigans!

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    1. That combination gave me pause, too. As a short torso-ed person most cardigans that would fit normally on someone else fall to the point where my hip and thigh meet and I don't wear anything with a defined waist with them because I would feel all over the place, so I definitely see where you're coming from. I tend to get purchase items that produce similar silhouettes for simplicity's sake (and because not all cuts look good on my body type).

      I can't speak for Janice, but I do recall (though I can't for the life of me find...) a post in which she addresses the cuts of various items, possibly in reference to them being on the boxier side. She mentioned that she wanted to focus on color and not get too distracted by the styles/shapes of the garments themselves. Perhaps this combination would work beautifully on some, or perhaps the colors, rather the than cuts, are what's being showcased here.

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    2. I think was I was picturing was the quintessential woman in Paris with the cardigan thrown around her shoulders, and not necessarily pulled on and buttoned. You're right that a long cardigan over a full skirted dress isn't something that could be done easily, if at all!

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    3. Yes! the Proportions! I never get tired of Janice's posts but I often struggle with how the clothes look on a body.

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    4. Ditto. an that is why it is sooo challenging to put together a wardrobe. You also have to factor in that the colors you want are not always available.

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  6. Janice, thank you! Many have commented on your genius for travel wardrobe planning, Here's how you've helped me: I've always packed a bare minimum when I travel, a consequence of a summer spent long-distance hiking in my 20s and having to carry 35 pounds on my back for 15 hours a day. But thanks to you, I now see the wisdom in having more options - and clean clothes for when a day is unexpectedly sweaty or an event turns out to be less formal than expected. Adding a few T-shirts, scarves, and an extra pair of shoes adds almost no bulk or weight to the suitcase I'm already carrying. Keep up the great work!

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  7. So interesting AND helpful! I have found that a metallic is a great neutral for me - I do not like "nude" shoes, but love metallics - they're easy to slot into any color mix I might be packing, mean I don't worry about having to pack that one pair of shoes that only goes with that one outfit.....

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    1. Metallics are great neutrals - a pair of metallic shoes can be worn with about any color in the world, and it gives you great guidance for what to look for in your jewelry! Packing a pair of shoes just to wear with a dress can be a bit annoying, but if the dress is as adorable as this one is, I could make the space...
      hugs,
      Janice

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    2. So true - for a VERY SPECIAL outfit (Dress, power suit for an important presentation, whatever) then you pack the accessories that you need! And you don't begrudge them the packing space....

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  8. I just returned from a 7 week trip, and thanks to your blog and Une Femme's, I took only 16 garments plus shoes. Due to some lucky shopping early in the trip and better than expected laundry facilities, I could have managed with 12. But you are right - you need to plan for different weather and laundry situations, which means that some things will be used more than others.
    I love the pink in today's post!

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  9. I am curious what you think about seasonal colors. In my mind, I have been substituting dove grey or regular grey for the camel / cognac in this series because I am light and cool in coloring, but I agree that the golden tones in the painting are crucial to its beauty.

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    1. While I am not Janice, I am fascinated by using color effectively for my coloring. I find the 4-season color palettes do not accommodate people with coloring that crosses the boundaries, such as myself with neutral and soft coloring. While classified as a summer, blues are just not my thing. I find that I resonate more as a Soft Summer as presented in Color Me Beautiful's Looking Your Best by Mary Spillaine and I will narrow my color choices to those shared by Soft Summer and Soft Autumn. Look for descriptions of 12- or 16-pallette color classifications. Another book is Color Me Younger which classifies people as cool, deep, soft and so on. I find this last book to be easier to work with.

      Lesley

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    2. Dear Anonymous - thanks for chiming in. Everybody, remember that these conversations are open to all - I'm nobody's oracle of wardrobes, to the exclusion of any civil and warm opinion you want to share!

      And Bomm, I don't personally subscribe to the seasonal color theory - I think that the range of human coloring is too vast to be pigeonholed into 4, 12 or 16 categories. That said, I know that it's a tremendously useful tool for a lot of women to use in defining and limiting the color range of their purchases, and from that perspective I support it completely. (Yes, being named Janice is an accurate reflection of my ability to look for both sides of any issue...)

      Bear in mind that the color combinations that are critical in a painting aren't necessarily reflected in what's needed in an outfit or a wardrobe. When you wear clothes, you bring so much to the equation that a painting can never have - movement, energy, engagement and dynamism. Artists have to try to create all of those things in their use of shape and color...

      Bottom line, if you love shades of grey, substitute to your heart's content and wear them with joy! In the final analysis, it's all about create a happy wardrobe.

      big Friday hug,
      Janice

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  10. That shibori scarf is a gem and this post is a keeper in my personal Vivienne files notebook. I say yes to camel waterproof oxfords and a light weight hooded trench coat to complete this grouping.
    Deb from Vancouver

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    1. Lovely post! I was also thinking of wet and also very cold weather gear. But hey 16 pieces of clothing is great. Carol S

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  11. What a beautiful work of art and a lovely wardrobe ...totally my colors. We are going on a delayed honeymoon (cruise) and I already have the first 8 in the 4x4 with navy and golden tan (camel-like) and several mileage and expansion items.When completed, with just 2 or 3 additions, my new wardrobe will be enough for the 21 days along with two formal evening outfits. I also LOVE the scarves.. wish I could afford them. But they are great suggestions for something similar. Thank you sooo much, Janice.

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  12. I don't think I could ever get tired of looking at and reading this post. Thanks, Janice!

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  13. Dear Janice, thank you for creating of such wonderful works and your sincere advices ("I'm ALWAYS going to tell you to include a pair of long pants, just as I'm always going to tell you to have a pair of closed-toe shoes", "note that camel is a color for which it's not really necessary to precisely match colors - a nice "family blend" is sufficient"). I so enjoy your posts!

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  14. Very lovely painting! Very lovely wardrobe! Thanks Janice!

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