Tuesday, August 04, 2015

Build a Capsule Wardrobe by Starting with Nature: Northern Flicker

When your wardrobe plan gets difficult


When I received a note about building a wardrobe around the coloring of a Northern Flicker, I was really excited; taupe and black, with accents of orange? What's not to love?

But as most of us have found, it's one thing to choose and truly commit to a color scheme, and quite another to actually FIND the items that you envision. These beautiful shades of taupe are pretty straightforward to find in winter clothing, but to find them for summer was quite another story!



Northern Flicker - photo credit unknown

 I specifically chose this photograph because it gives us two really great, and complementary, accent colors to mix in with the taupe and black. At this point in this project, I was filled with enthusiasm, and thought that this was really lovely:



The first core is always pretty simple - black summer clothes are everywhere. I tried not to be overly influenced by the presence of Lollapalooza in my front yard; never have I see quite so many skimpy clothes...


Tank top – Cotton Citizen; shorts – L.L.Bean; 
tee shirt – Cotton Citizen; skortL.L.Bean

But here's where wardrobe building got a whole lot more difficult! This is a subtle color that's not easily found - most browns are yellower, or oranger, or just different. A soft, dusty taupe like this abounds in cashmere sweaters, but not in tee shirts or shorts!

So what to do if this happens to you?


  1. Be patient, and keep looking. There's more clothing in our world now than there has ever been before. More than you can imagine. More than we all need, times 10. Look at sites you've never before considered, and at store websites that you usually disregard. Definitely consider looking at sites from other countries - colors that are out of favor in one place might be popular elsewhere.
  2. Concentrate on more easily-accessible parts of your wardrobe. It wouldn't be wrong to buy 2 "Cores of 4" in black, while you were waiting for taupe to finally make it to the summer wardrobe world.
  3. Stash some spending money to have readily available when you see something that's perfect. There's nothing worse than seeing the ideal item and not having cash to pay for it!

Tee shirt – Rick Owens; taupe shorts – Tommy Hilfiger
cardigan – Vanessa Bruno; jeans – NYDJ

These colors weren't profoundly easier to find either! The green that I wanted was warm and sunny, not cool and ocean-like. And I never want vivid neon orange - this orange needed to be bright and strong, but still wearable. Happily, J. Crew has tee shirts in almost any color imaginable, and to endlessly wonderful Title 9 carries tops in some colors I don't see anywhere else.


Orange tee shirt – J. Crew; green top – Title 9
orange tank – LnA; shorts – Ted Baker

This part was a little bit easier - when I realized that I needed a top with some coverage, I was fine; taupe is a popular color for fall and winter. And the dress has the "speckled" texture that I wanted to include as an homage to the marking of the northern flicker.


White tank- J.Crew; green pants – Incotex
sweater – J. Crew; dress – Joseph

Accessories were easier, hallelujah! I was looking for mostly taupe pieces, in textures that were natural, and has some dotted, spotted, or speckled feeling if possible. And while you may not love Birkenstock sandals, rest assured that there are plenty of other taupe flat sandals available!




Teardrop earrings – Alexis Bittar; drusy pendant – Nordstrom; stone bracelet –
Bourbon and Boweties; round earrings – Lonna & Lilly; cross body bag – La Regale;
bucket bag – Marc by Marc Jacobs; black and beige sandals – Franco Sarto;
beige sandals – Birkenstock; D’Orsay pumps – Vince

Overall, I'm not unhappy with the way this turned out. Patience was the key quality I really needed to make this come together! And you can clearly see that if I had chosen to lean more toward the black neutrals, away from the taupe, I would have had plenty of opportunity to do so!




As always, I try to use the 4 by 4 Wardrobe template to keep myself honest - although I tossed in 1 extra pair of shorts into the Mileage 4 just because they appealed to me so much!  You don't have to be handcuffed to any template, but the overall principles built into the guidelines should always be kept in mine!




Does this work for you?

love,
Janice


Dorothy Perkins Women's Clothing from UK

31 comments:

  1. Gorgeous bird and equally gorgeous wardrobe. I also see this working well with a core of navy or olive. You amaze me every day. :)

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  2. It's very pretty. I like that green. Kind of a spring green.

    For what it's worth, I *do* like my Birkenstocks. I don't wear them everyday, as I did at one time in my life, but they are just the ticket when you have lots of walking or standing to do.

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  3. Perhaps this is a silly question, but would you wear shorts under those beautiful silky shorts from the mileage four? At the link, it says they're sheer. I really, really like them, but I don't know how that would work. You find such wonderful pieces, Janice!

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    1. I would probably wear black briefs (granny panties!) under them, so that you couldn't really see anything interesting. A bit of sheer over my upper thighs would be fun, without being inappropriate or indecent!

      Good catch - thanks for letting me clarify that!
      big hug,
      Janice

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    2. Jockey has something called a Skimmies slipshort, I've never tried them, but I've been tempted. Looks like it would also work to turn a summer skirt into a skort. Link is here: http://www.jockey.com/catalog?department=women&category=underwear&style=slipshort

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    3. Oooh Oooh Oooh! I wear these all the time - they can revolutionize your relationship with skirts and dresses in the summer time. And they're excellent to wear with running shorts that are too short, or if you want an extra layer on your upper thighs when you're lifting weights...

      Thanks Virginia!
      more big hugs,
      Janice

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    4. For hiking and other outdoor pursuits (wherein cotton is anathema) I have black lightweight merino boy shorts. They are so comfy I wear them even in warm weather, as merino is wonderful at regulating body temperature. I have a flippy little black polyester skirt that I often wear hiking and you are right, Virginia, that this creates a skort effect. I would think they would work great under the sheer shorts, as well. Mine are by Stoic.

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    5. Josephine, who makes your shorts? I'm trying to create a versatile capsule for our fall camping & hiking vacation, and would love to have a pair of knee-length merino shorts that could go from trail to town.

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  4. Beautiful. Love all the colors and combinations.

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  5. Love the photo of the bird and this wardrobe. I particularly like the accessories you have chosen. BUT, no scarves?

    Deb from Vancouver

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    1. Oh, Deb, you are right!

      Janice, how can we go without a scarf? Seriously, even the flicker wears a scarf!

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  6. Thanks for doing the flicker, Janice! So fun. And I love, as in adore, the green you included. My neutrals are black and olive, but I'm not very far into the process yet and I keep finding things in this lighter green, especially for my outdoor gear.

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  7. Shopping for an off-season color palette is frustrating. I spent all of yesterday trying to find the right shade of grey shirt with sleeves. Impossible! Our local Dillards was so disappointing. Embellished crazy-printed slinky jersey tops. My shopping list was simply not available. I must be out of step and I'm venting.
    Your 4x4s continually give me faith! Theresa

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    Replies
    1. I agree the patterns and embellishments are just too much! Why do they ruin a perfectly nice top with glitz?? Thanks Janice for your common sense!

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  8. I was looking at scarves, but every time I would put one with an outfit, it would look too dress or frou frou. This was an ensemble that I envisioned mostly for serious activity, with a dress thrown in for that ONE occasion that would require one. But I shall definitely take note that scarves are always considered necessary!
    hugs,
    Janice

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  9. What a charmer the northern flicker is, awhat an inspiration ... Janice you have laid out the colours for my next autumn-winter capsule. As always, your thoughts and advice are invaluable (especially for me, wait for the right thing and don't rush). I wonder if this will be a new thread, 'Start with a Bird'?

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    1. Oh, oh, oh, and speckles! Pretty little speckley patterns ...

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  10. I LOVE this one. I love that bird! To tell you the truth, I was getting weary of the navy and the pastels.

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    1. I get all kinds of frantic email if I don't do something navy every few days - the navy people feel really (and justifiably) left out in a sea of black. But I do start getting really antsy to get back to some earth tones every now and then...
      If I don't keep it mixed up enough for everyone, just let me know and I'll change the prevailing color climate. I am so fond of showing the range of possibilities inherent in a core of neutral clothes that I get into a groove and get carried away.
      yours,
      in color hysteria,
      Janice

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    2. This "navy person" appreciates you! Wishing for an autumn/winter wardrobe with navy and PALE grey as neutrals and tones of dark plum and teal as accents. Are you up for the challenge? Oh, and to add to the complexity, can you accommodate the reality of hot flashes? I've had to learn to work with life in a cold climate AND be able to whip off my sweater/jacket at a moment's notice -- no more cozy pull-over sweaters for me until this season passes!

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    3. I'm in the other camp--the only navy I own is blue jeans. But ya know what? On my iPad all the navy stuff looks black anyway, and most of the combos would work (except for orange and black!) the magic of neutrals!

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    4. Are you me, Lori? I adore navy, grey and teal, and though I haven't been able to commit to one or two other colors yet, I love jewel tones, including plum.

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    5. Oh, navy, pale grey, teal and either plums or fuchsia are the wardrobe I am want to build for winter. Janice, please help us!

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    6. Take a look at the October 31, 2014 post, Packing with Scarves: Missoni for navy, fuschia, teal and soft grey...

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  11. Is the Four by Four matrix available in a downloadable format?

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    1. You can print it from the June 10th post (http://www.theviviennefiles.com/2015/06/another-template-for-4-by-4-capsule.html), if you right click on the document. If you send me a note at theviviennefiles@gmail.com, I can PDF it for you and send it out.
      big hug,
      Janice

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  12. LOVE this wardrobe! That bird is beautiful! I'm too chubby for shorts but this is a great building block! Thanks Janice!
    ps, sometimes it is ok to go without a scarf! ;)

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  13. I have a question about the 4x4 concept. I can definitely see how it's great for putting together a travel or capsule wardrobe, but how would you extend that to deal with an entire wardrobe (for those who want more than 16 garments). I can see the idea of just stacking 4x4s, say 3 or 4 of them for a warm weather or cold weather wardrobe, or 5 or 6 for a year-round wardrobe. But if I try to actually think through it that way, it seems to me to be too heavy on the neutrals and not leave enough room for "fun" colors or for prints. Of course I know that just do what works for oneself is a valid answer, but I'd be really curious about how to look at it in a more systematic way. Any thoughts?
    - Kaci

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    1. How I've translated Janice's systems for myself: I've ended up with 4 neutrals: black, grey, stone, olive. I wear more of the stone neutrals in the summer and the olive in fall and winter. I'm still accumulating some core of four pieces (mostly bottoms) for some of the neutrals and have more than four in black because of different proportions. But the most important part of this that I've learned is that when you choose an accent color, buy or make 4 pieces--jewelry, scarf, shoes, cardigan set, whatever. That's what turns the color choice into wearable put together outfits rather than just one new thing that creates only one look. Second, choose colors that might be worn together and look good with at least two of your neutrals. Janice says and shows this all, better, but that's what I've sifted out.

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  14. Hi Janice - thank you for this. It happens that I have a beautiful flicker who appears to be living in the woods next door, and he calls out so often - rather a plaintive cry - is he lonely?

    In any case, he is beautiful, and so are your choices. I don't like green so would substitute??? Any suggestions from you or readers would be welcome. And thank you, as always, for the care and thought you put into your blog and pleasing your readers!

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  15. Maybe a soft yellow or a blush pink or a sky blue?

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