Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Building a Capsule Wardrobe by Starting with Art: Arrival of the Normandy Train by Claude Monet Version 2

We're back to visit our friend who made the long train trip!

This was her inspiration - the soft colors, and the strong sense of the grid patterns in the ceiling of the train station. Very beautiful!

She DID have to do some shopping when she was on the road! It was bound to rain, but it wasn't bound to stop her...

Coat – Y.A.S.; boots – Hunter; umbrella – Hunter

And these were the clothes that she took with her on her trip. It was a wonderful trip - well planned, and thoroughly enjoyed. If only her return to "real life" had been so pleasant...

teal turtleneck – Ann Taylor; metallic tee – J. Crew; grey cardigan – L.L.Bean;

green scarf – Valentino; blue scarf – Chico’s; pearl earrings – Majorica; green

wrap cardigan – Uniqlo; watch – Seiko; blue chalcedony earrings – Effy; stone

necklace – Lagos; fleece cowlneck – L.L.Bean; silver grey scarf – Chan Luu;

sweatshirt dress – Topshop; foldover clutch – Bungalow 20; green shirt –

Lands’ End; grey pants - J. Crew Factory, corduroy pants – L.L.Bean; pleated

skirt – Uniqlo; chambray shirt – J. Crew; green buttoned cardigan – J. Crew;

bias plaid skirt – Eastex; grey loafers – J. Crew; blue flats – Sam Edelman;
driving mocs – Tod’s; tote bag – Charles Jourdan


Utter Chaos Reigns...

She returned to a madhouse. Drinking at lunch, crying in the bathrooms, shouting in the halls - it had all of the elements of a bad soap opera, without the romance...

So she decided that it was finally time to take over.  She'd considered it before, but wasn't really all that interested in management. But when she saw how absolutely miserable her co-workers were, she started to plan.

She knew exactly how she could start, gradually, imperceptibly (to the management) taking control of the functions of the office. The staff would notice immediately, and that's what mattered most.

Her self-presentation would need to be sharpened up, just a notch or two. Gradually, subtly, but unmistakably. In a couple of weeks, she needed to look like what she was going to be - the manager.

Step 1 - no more denim, and nothing "snuggly." She's not getting rid of these clothes; she's moving them out of the office rotation.  

And in their place, a similar "collared" shirt, and a sweater in the same blue. But a bit more tailored, and more serious, business-appropriate fabrics.

Petrol blouse – Poppy Lux; airforce blue sweater - Jaeger

This is where week 1 finds her - she's allowing no more liquid lunches for the staff, and this is her wardrobe. Nobody will ever notice a change...

Step2 - baggy trousers and too-casual loafers are leaving the fold...

When the Home Office people finally show up, wearing a skirt is going to be important. They are just shallow enough that this sort of thing impresses them.

Skirt – L.L.Bean; suede pumps – Taryn Rose

No more shouting, effective immediately. She used a combination of embarrassment and out-and-out threats to stop that nonsense. There's no place for that kind of airing of grievances in an office; frustrations are mostly with people who aren't even in this time zone.... don't yell at your allies!

Step 3- she loves her grey cashmere cardigan, but it lacks shape, and suffers from the dreaded "cuddliness"... and her grey trousers are a bit more casual than she thinks appropriate. At this stage, she expects superiors to show up any day, and she needs to be dressed for the meetings that will immediately occur.

It's still a cardigan, but the lapel and buttons change everything. And wool dress trousers can be worn in any business situation:

Knit blazer – Harris Wharf London; grey wool trousers – Austin Reed

The crying in the bathroom had stopped... A little bit of organization, and a sense of purpose, had given everybody a better frame of mind with which to approach the tasks at hand.

Step 4 - she rarely wore her dress, but it IS sweatshirt fabric, so maybe it needs to step aside for something a little bit more tailored. And driving moccasins are great shoes, but she now doesn't have any real need for them in her daily wardrobe - they go into the weekend stash.


There's nothing intimidating or hard-nosed about this dress, nor these shoes, but she looks just a bit more... important... when she wears them.

Dress – J. Crew; wedge shoes – Taryn Rose

She's worked like a demon for the last 4 weeks, and shopped every weekend. But the office is under control, and her wardrobe looks just a touch more authoritative than it did a month ago!

teal turtleneck – Ann Taylor; metallic tee – J. Crew; knit blazer – Harris
London; green scarf – Valentino; fringed blue scarf – Chico’s; pearl
earrings – Majorica; blue chalcedony earrings – Effy; watch – Seiko; airforce
blue sweater - Jaeger; stone necklace – Lagos; petrol blouse – Poppy Lux; green
shirt – Lands’ End; wrap cardigan – Uniqlo; silver grey scarf– Chan Luu;
buttoned cardigan – J. Crew; dress – J. Crew; blue flats –Sam Edelman; wedge
shoes – Taryn Rose; suede pumps – Taryn Rose; pleated skirt – Uniqlo; foldover
 clutch – Bungalow 20; grey wool trousers – Austin Reed; straight skirt –
 L.L.Bean; bias plaid skirt – Eastex;  tote bag – Charles Jourdan

And as always, lots of options for how to pull together outfits.

If the Home Office people have any brains, they'll just give her the promotion and raise, make a couple of quiet phone calls to remove a couple of staff members, and leave well enough alone. But Home Office people rarely have brains....


Artisan Jewelry Designs


  1. Ah, that raincoat certainly looks perfect for her wardrobe. Thanks for that addition. One of my recent bug bears has been fashion designers putting trechcoats onto shop hangers made of poplin and other totally non waterproof fabrics- as if one only needs a trench coat for looks and not for real rain. Wouldn't it be wonderful if a standardised measure was added to outerwear that showed exactly how waterproof the item actually was?

    1. and the lack of hoods on raincoats bugs me to no end!

    2. YES! (I know I shouldn't shout, but....) Deb in Kentucky

  2. That is a wonderful story and a beautiful wardrobe! Chris from Australia

  3. From Margie in Toronto - What a great story (but have a sneaking suspicion that she may be using those new additions to interview for a new job as the head office arrivals will probably overlook her entirely - their loss)! Love the lesson on how to make a wonderful wardrobe just a bit more formal.

  4. Beautiful wardrobe as always. The following is a tangent/rant that has nothing to do with Janice - she's working within our culture as it is. But it's a pet peeve of mine that certain fabrics and textures are considered less authoritative, particularly nice cuddly stuff. To me it makes perfect sense to want to wear something cuddly while dealing with a difficult situation. Both the old stuff and new stuff fall into my broadly defined "normal clothes" category, and the idea of having to split hairs over which are appropriate makes my blood boil. Luckily, I'm in a field where I don't have to, so I can just focus on comfort/personal expression/mini-art projects for my wardrobe. More power to the people who have to and can deal with that stuff!
    - Kaci

  5. This is just lovely, both the wardrobe and the story. Thank you for giving me something I can look forward to every day!

  6. "When the Home Office people finally show up, wearing a skirt is going to be important. They are just shallow enough that this sort of thing impresses them."

    Truer words were never written. (And, as always, a gorgeous collection!)

    1. Oh my gosh I was thinking that exact same thing, that and "but Home office people rarely have brains". I've found that to be so true as well. The staff always knows what works and what doesn't, but dont' tell the home office that, then their usefulness (or lack thereof) may be questioned. Sigh, I am glad that I am no longer in that environment. Beautiful wardrobe.

  7. Great story and it is amazing how the gradual transition of the wardrobe creates a more authoritative presence.

  8. Wonderful post. It's fascinating to see the transformation of your heroine to manager-in-waiting--and instructive, as always, Janice, to watch your mind at work!

  9. Love these transitions. But, I would have kept the snuggly clothes and stayed on the train. ;)

  10. Hi Janice, smart as always! Can you check your link on the jcrew dress - it links to the shoes. I looked all over the jcrew website and didn't see it there, thanks

    1. Thanks for letting me know - if I check the links myself, I get chastised for clicking on my own links (and making myself rich beyond my wildest dreams, in their silly minds!). I appreciate all the help I can get!

  11. Thanks for such a helpful post. Peacebang from 'Beauty Tips for Ministers' makes similar points about cuddliness and rounded edges (to the point of not liking round toe shoes, which I just can't get on board with), it is nice to see how it plays out in an actual wardrobe.

  12. Thank you for giving her the perfect raincoat, umbrella and boots. I really like the way you illustrated the necessary transitions in her wardrobe. No matter what happens for her in this current employment she has prepared herself for her future. I agree with the commenter above, it is highly likely she would be overlooked for the manager position becuase she is a local. Been there, done that.

    Deb from Vancouver

  13. I really enjoyed that, a fun story and a great way to show how to change a wardrobe in a systematic way.

  14. Wonderful presentation - you deserve a big promotion! Just wait until the Home Office sees what improvements you've made to the workplace. These are all my colors and I'm really enjoying all of your selections and contemplating a few purchases. It's almost enough to make me regret my early retirement.
    One thought......I wonder what the Home Office supervisors wear......

  15. How I admire our heroine! In times of increasing office stress, I would always turn toward more soft, comfortable clothes, whether I had to take charge or not.

    These are my best colors and I have some similar separates. I've saved/bookmarked/pinned both posts for outfit inspiration. Beautiful!

  16. Janice, if you're looking for more color schemes to work with, I would love to see olive, petrol, leaf green, and white.

    1. Or charcoal, olive, emerald green, and leaf green.

  17. Janice, I'm really enjoying our heroine's story! The wardrobe is lovely and appropriate.

  18. I love a transformation story. This one is fun and satisfying and instructive and real. Nicely done.

  19. Loved the story and the evolution of her wardrobe; very fun approach!

  20. This is one of my favorite wardrobes! The color and the style are spot on :-)

  21. Interesting fabrication and the prints are all on the bottom half. Theresa

  22. I love your blog! I read it daily. I spotted a quilted hip length jacket on someone's blog (maybe yours?) in a soft orange color. It was in a grouping of jackets and coats I think and was positioned on the right. I looked through the archives and didn't spot it. Did you post something like this during the last couple weeks? Thanks. Mary

  23. Perfection! Timely, too; I start a new job due to promotion later this week. But am also, um, family planning, so waiting to see if new purchases need to be maternity-friendly (a first!). I'll be a 40+ expectant mom in a very creative field - the possibilities are dizzying. Any suggestions would be most welcome.

    1. You might want to check out Corporette moms:http://corporettemoms.com.

  24. What a fantastic story. Well done. Lovely wardrobe as well.

  25. Great transition from casual to business ready! Love the story too!

  26. I didnt know how much I needed this post until you wrote it. Time to up date my decent looking college pieces that were hanging on with better tailored options.