Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Mixing Black and Brights

One last look at how these 9 black garments can be used to serve as a base for your personal wardrobe passion - this time, BRIGHT colors!

You might be able to put together outfits with just these 9 pieces, but people would certainly see you from a long way away! If you're comfortable doing that, I think you should do whatever delights you - that's really the most important factor when getting dressed! But for those of us who love these colors in smaller doses, I have some ideas...

Cobalt cardigan – Hobbs; red cardigan – Viyella; purple cardigan – Lands’ End; 
Purple tee – Lands’ End; cobalt ¾ sleeve top – Viyella; red turtleneck – J. Crew
Red skirt – J. Crew; cobalt pants – Etro; purple cords – Lands’ End

As always, I'm going to build around a solid, well-chosen core of neutrals. I've used black for these examples the last 2 days, but any neutral can do the trick, with a little bit of thought and planning!

short cardigan – J. Crew; open cardigan – J. Crew; boucle jacket – IRO;   
black linen tank – Eileen Fisher; black tee shirt – Eileen Fisher; black turtleneck
 – Donna Karan; black slouch pants – Eileen Fisher;  black skirted leggings – 
Eileen Fisher; black waxed cotton jeans – Eileen Fisher

Just as I did before, I've substituted the top row of neutrals for a top row of bright cardigans. This gives you a "neutral column" upon which you can add accessories and your bright cardigan of choice.

Accessories can take a lot of different forms, and many of your accessories can work with more than one of your accent colors, if chosen with that versatility in mind. Many scarves will combine at least two of these three accent colors.

(and note that I've kept the same shoes from yesterday - a good classic shoe will go a long way in the world...)

Cobalt scarf – Etro; purple scarf – Nordstrom; red scarf – Emilio Pucci;
Flats – Seychelles; short boots – Michael Michael Kors; Chelsea boots – Dune London

Same idea, but keeping a black "suit" look, and changing out the blouses, tee shirts, or (lightweight) turtleneck.

Don't forget the power of a pretty piece of jewelry with some (or a lot!) of color. And multiples are always fun, if you're in the "more is better" school of accessorizing.

Agate earrings – Valerie Nahmani Designs; purple bead bracelet – Alex and Ani
blue scarf – Kathkath; red bracelets – Halcyon Days;
Ballet flats – Easy Spirit; scrunch boots – Bussola; Chelsea boots – Camper

And let's not forget the "black twinset-ish with bright pants or skirt" possibility!

Bead necklace – Style & Co., cobalt bracelets – Halcyon Days
branches scarf – Manuelle;
Sandals – Munro; tasseled flats – Louise et Cie;
loafers – BCBGeneration

I trust that this has exhaustively convinced you of the wisdom of making sure that your neutral wardrobe core is always complete, and in good condition.

Tomorrow, I'm going to address a really interesting question that came up recently - does color scheme dictate level of dressiness? I say no, and I'm going to try to show why... Join me, and see if I hoist myself on my own color scheme petard!




  1. This is me everyday! I have 2' long dark hair but will be having it shaved next year for Cancer Research UK and allowing the "silver" to shine through. Do you think this core will still be suitable? I'm 53 with dark brown eyes. Could you do a post on hair colour transition?

    1. You will look fantastic & I'm jealous of women with silver hair. You will positively glow!

    2. I've been naturally silver for the last 10 years, and this is exactly how I dress, and how I pack. Black base, with bright colors as a top, or a sweater/jacket. The black and the brights really set off the gray hair.

  2. Janice - yes we need brights; really lifts a grey winter's day! One day please could you fashion a core round dresses; have realized rather belatedly that it really is much easier with one less option to consider - and they are so easy to accessorize too!
    With thanks,

  3. Love, love, love your posts. You have given me such a great roadmap to follow. My biggest problem is that I wear 20% of my clothes 80% of the time. I never have the right (fill in the blank -- shoes, scarf, coat). But I'm getting better at disciplining myself to buy more of what fits into my wardrobe rather than "Oh, I love that (again fill in the blank)" Too bad I will have to create an entire wardrobe around that single piece! The other thing that I appreciate about your blog is that you live in a cold climate, not unlike we Canadians where winter boots, sweaters and heavy outerwear makes up a good part of our gear. Keep up the great work. These last few posts have been magnificent for me. Thank you!

  4. I feel like you wrote this just for me! My wardrobe is transitioning towards black and jewel tones. Love it!

  5. :-) Yup, that's it - I love it!
    I need to pack a suitcase and this looks like the answer to all my questions :-D
    THANK YOU! :-)

  6. Not that you haven't said it a million times, but I still am surprised by the simplicity and versatility of having a core wardrobe of garments that are all the same color. I love the blue and purple! Mary

  7. I love your wardrobe pictures, the 4x4's, etc. I'm writing a blog post as a guest on "capsule" wardrobe--is it ok to include one of your wardrobe blocks and credit you and provide the URL of course?

  8. Love this. Much more like what I have already and very wearable. Always good to see how to use basics to look "put together".
    I worked out a while ago that having colours which go well with black is a good idea although I find red and black a bit too stark without a third colour. Red and navy is fine and these days you can often mix your black basics with your navy basics. (Here in Australia we don't have much choice with what the stores stock. By the time you find a garment which is a good cut for you and the right price, you don't have much choice about the colour it comes in. (Buying pants online is almost impossible for me.)

    Keep up the wonderful inspiration!



  9. Black and Red and Cobalt Blue, what could be better!

  10. This is my favorite wardrobe so far! I love it! I have several blue and red pieces and never thought of adding purple! I love purple! Thanks so much for all your hard work Janice!!