Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Start with a Tote Bag - Navy Floral

It started with a request from a long-time reader... but the bag she loved is no longer available. So I started working with this one. It's not EXACTLY what she had in mind, but she's such a lovely woman, I'm sure she'll forgive me!

ToteKate Spade

I'm assuming that this is navy, although it could easily pass for black. The lining is blue, and that's where I took my cue.

ToteKate Spade

Imagine that you've been searching for a "defining" style image for a long time. You'll know it when you see it - that painting, or sculpture, or other objet d'art that really captures your favorite colors, your favorites lines, just that certain something that really resonates in your "style soul."

And it's a tote bag!

No worries - there are no style police running around forcing you to have some specific kind of personal style theme or emblem...

Now, let's further imagine that, for one year, you decided you were going to either buy or assemble, each month, an outfit inspired by said tote bag. Not necessarily something that you'd wear while carrying the bag, but that might be possible...

Pink rubber earrings – Marc by Marc Jacobs; navy silk blouse – J. Crew; cardigan
 – Lands’ End; pants – J. Crew; loafers – Sole Society; socks – Ralph Lauren;
 chandelier earrings – Marchesa; lace dress – J. Crew; floral clutch wallet –  

Navy tee – J. Crew; scarf – Jaipur Atelier Los Angeles; floral cuff – Anchara
sweat skirt – Uniqlo; canvas shoes – Superga; striped tee – T by Alexander Wang;
 scarf – Lands’ End; cropped pants – MSGM; ballet flats – Sofft

Pink dress – Issa; gold pendant – Arena CPH; gold shoulder bag – Urban Expressions;
 gold sandals – Born; gold disc earrings – Anna Beck; navy dress – Lands’ End
navy & gold bracelet – Aurelie Bidermann; navy sandals - Everlane

grey cardigan – IDLF Uniqlo; flower earrings – Wadarat Supasirisuk; navy tank
 – J. Crew;  shorts – J. Crew; floral cuff – Anchara; navy sandals – Everlane
Henley tee – Uniqlo; moonstone & pearl earrings – Alok Jain; grey ankle pants –
 Uniqlo; pearl & silver bracelet – AlokJain; cardigan – Etro; grey sandals – Born

JacketJ.Crew; vintage brooch – Tiffany & Co.; boots – Sam Edelman;  
silk blouse – Lanvin; jeans -  J. Crew; cashmere sweater – J. Crew; infinity
 earrings – Kate Spade; silk scarf – Hermes Millefleurs du Mexique; navy wool
 skirt – J. Crew; pumps – Bella Vita

Cardigan – Libertine; scarf – Lands’ End; boots – Sam Edelmangrey tee
 – Majestic Filatures; pants – J. Crew; turtleneck – Cacharel; necklace – Kenari;
  long grey skirt – James Lakeland; riding boots – Olivia Miller

At the end of the year, when all of these items are collected into one place, you can see a clearly-defined personal style, as well as a functional and versatile wardrobe. There could be worse projects to have for a year...

My friend has submitted another bag for my efforts; you'll be seeing it soon.




  1. Nice approach to start with the bag. And all goes well! I'll try to convince my husband !
    So often bags are an afterthought with me. Thanks again Janice ..Chris.

  2. I love this method!! I rather felt like I should find the core of four items first, in two colors, before looking for the other items. I was getting hung up on that for some reason. I think it will be easier to build an outfit this way, and keep my "vision" in mind. Like the Starting from Scratch series, which we all loved, this is completely achievable. Please do more!! Thanks!

  3. I'm intrigued by this method as well. It might be possible to shop in one's closet each month for part of an outfit and fill in to match the template. At the end of the year, the result would be fewer closet orphans and a more coherent wardrobe. I love the colors in this one.

  4. Lots of lovely things in this set! It's interesting the range of blues that are called navy. It ranges from almost a dark cobalt blue to near-black. I don't tend to wear navy because the confusion with black frustrates me and I like brighter blues, but some things that are sold as navy are close enough to the cobalt or denim blues that I love.
    - Kaci

  5. What an interesting way to create a wardrobe. Perhaps that explains why so many of my outfits are based on black - almost all of my handbags are black. My daughter noticed I had a new black handbag and she suggested it was time for a moratorium on black bags.

    So what did I buy at the Manhattan Vintage show? a wonderful vintage Chanel -black of course. I think I need an intervention.

    At the very least this is a great exercise in creating a comprehensive look. I'm still trying to put together a few outfits so that I can wear the Hermes scarf I bought from you last year - L'Instruction du Roy - blue and pink on a cream background. So far I have one really nice, dressy outfit. My problem is trying to do it with things I already own when I should focus on finding one or two new pieces that the scarf would complement.

  6. As always, beautiful job, Janice! Thanks for taking the plunge with me on this one.

  7. Love the colours and the approach to a versatile year round wardrobe. Thinking of pink and purple nail polish and lippy! Black nail polish would work as well... Carol S

    1. Or maybe navy nail polish instead of black?

    2. Or maybe navy nail polish instead of black?

    3. Whoops! Navy nail polish... Carol S

  8. That tote is so cute...I love it with the navy and gray combos!

  9. This wardrobe is fantastic! After studying each piece it became very clear there was appropriate clothing for any occasion in life (just throw in a pink swim suit). Janice, you worked so very hard on this project, thank you for sharing your efforts with your loyal fans. Wish I could wear black or navy, always so chic; olive is my color.

    Your the best,
    A faithful fan,

  10. I ended up using a beautiful pashmina my parents got for me in Turkey as my color palette -- it has a range of blues, teals, plums, and hints of grey. Navy and grey are my neutrals, and I find I can buy across the range of cool-toned teals and plums and have a wardrobe that works together beautifully. I don't actually wear the pashmina all that often, but I can wear it with many combinations when I want to -- it's true value is how it stands in my mind as the benchmark when I'm shopping.

  11. What a great exercise! One great outfit per month!

  12. Oh my! These are absolutely my colors!!!! But I don't know if I can wait for a year to get all these wonderful items!!!!!!

  13. Another wonderful concept for building a beautiful and functional wardrobe. I love the colors.

  14. I will just echo everyone else's comments. This is a great method to build a coordinated wardrobe, in colour, style and tone. I am not so good with having the patience to build one outfit each month but that does seem like a prudent approach. of course, there always needs to be leniency for that rare find in the moment.

    Deb from Vancouver

  15. Just discovered this site a day or so ago. This pharse "Imagine that you've been searching for a "defining" style image for a long time." This is what I am trying to do.

    ...You'll know it when you see it - that painting, or sculpture, or other objet d'art that really captures your favorite colors, your favorites lines, just that certain something that really resonates in your "style soul." This bag, with all it's color is it!

    Such a lovely style and a wonderful idea of starting a new style!

    Lori from Michigan

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  16. I love this idea especially of just doing one outfit a month, that seems so achievable rather than doing everything at once which seems daunting both financially and finding all the items. The colours are really similar to my wardrobe too. I have been looking for a nice pencil skirt and October's looks perfect.
    Caz, UK

  17. This is fantastic! These colors are so "me"!

  18. Very cool ! I am putting together a packing list for Florida based on a Vera Bradley bag. I get too hot with scarves and wanted something to focus my color palette (which is something I learned here). I really like the challenge of creating one outfit each month also !

  19. This month-by-month accrual method for developing a core wardrobe is the best idea ever. Would you consider blogging on this topic for the next 12 months? You could select two neutral palettes (one warm and one cool) yet this month, and then add a few pieces every month to lead us through the process over the 12-month span. I, for one, would REALLY like to see this!

  20. What an interesting approach! An outfit a month seems so doable. Why didn't I think if that! :) Can't wait to see how you play with this theme!

  21. I'm so happy I found this! I was just about to email you to ask about a wardrobe based on the scarf in this print!

  22. Very informative post for me as I am always looking for new content that can help me and my knowledge grow better. Keep it up.

  23. What an Awesome post. Just wanted to drop a comment and say, I am new to your blog and really like what I am reading. Thanks for sharing it.