Thursday, March 17, 2016

How to Build a Capsule Wardrobe of Accessories: Lime, Coral, Beige and Cream, 1 Piece at a Time

This wardrobe cried out for a bright floral tote bag... I managed to avoid the temptation and look for things a little bit more restrained.

The original wardrobe step by step can be seen here; this was where we started:

Shirt – L.L.Bean; skirt – H&M
cardigan – J. Crew; top shoes – Sudini
second shoes – Munro; bottom shoes – Corso Como

Take care of the essentials first thing - shoes and a bag!

Tee – LnA; skirt – H&M
cardigan – J. Crew; top bag – Hobo; 
middle bag – Matt & Nat; third bag – Madewell

The coral color put me in the mood for some rose gold...

Shirt – L.L.Bean; cardigan – L.L.Bean;  
 skirt – H&M; hoops – Gorjana
diamond studs – Monica Vinader; half balls - Tiara

Some of these shoes you've seen before, but I like them, and I think they're terribly versatile!

Shirt – L.L.Bean; cardigan – L.L.Bean
pants – Isabel Marant Etoile; top flats – Franco Sarto;  
flats – Blowfish; captoes - Aerosoles

The overall warm feeling of this wardrobe suggested GOLD to me.

Tee – Ralph Lauren; cardigan – L.L.Bean
pants – Isabel Marant Etoile; top watch – Skagen
second watch – Skagen; bottom watch – Nine West

Three choices here: (1) ornate, (2) small and simple, or (3) statement, but still streamlined. Choices are a good way to isolate what feels right to you - which of these immediately appealed most to you?

Tee – Ralph Lauren; cardigan – J. Crew
pants – Isabel Marant Etoile; top bracelet – Gilt;   
second bracelet – Tory Burch; third bracelet – Taylor and Tessier

What if you decided that you were going into ONE store, and you weren't leaving until you found shoes? Well, in this case, you would have been alright... if you can wear flats!

shirt – IDLF Uniqlo; cardigan – Lands’ End
 skirt – Athleta; suede d’Orsay flats – J. Crew
loafers – J. Crew; ballet flats – J. Crew

There are a range of scarves available in all sorts of neutral shades, at all sorts of prices:

tee – L.L.Bean; skort – Athleta
first scarf – Old Navy; second scarf – Faliero Sarti;
 third scarf – Lilly Pulitzer

We of course aren't interested in real coral, but coral COLORED is a beautiful choice for something that you're going to wear right beside your face. Sort of like blush...

Cardigan – J. Crew; tee – L.L.Bean; skort – Athleta
wire drop earrings – Chaming Charlie; diamond and coral studs – Del Gatto
kite earrings – Kendra Scott

Honestly, I was just curious to see if I could find Keds in the 3 main colors of this wardrobe.... and I could! If you're timid about making a foray into canvas shoes with skirts, Keds are a good place to start because they have a low profile on your foot, and very little detailing. 

Cardigan – J. Crew; tee – L.L.Bean
pants – Etro; green shoes – Keds
middle shoes – Keds; beige shoes - Keds

Oh, I could have gone all Lilly Pulitzer on your for a tote bag, but I didn't...

Sweater – J. Crew; pants – Isabel Marant Etoile
top bag – MICHAEL Michael Kors; middle bag – Monsoon
bottom bag – Rebecca Minkoff

You could certainly add a green scarf to this wardrobe, and have a ton of fun with it, but I love the variety of really flattering coral and blush shades available.

shirt – IDLF Uniqlo; cardigan – Christinaeffe Collection
pants – Isabel Marant Etoile; top scarf – Echo;  
middle scarf – Traits; bottom scarf - Altea

When I started on necklaces, I didn't really have a vision, which is unusual for me. But I stumbled on some really amazing, and attractive, choices. Sometimes, you have to be open to what designers have done - it is, after all, their profession, and their craft!

Tee shirt – J. Crew; skirt – H&M
cardigan – J. Crew; top necklace – Panacea
middle necklace – Charming Charlie; last necklace - Panacea

In the same vein as the earrings, a nice blush-y warm-toned pair of sunglasses can bring a nice highlight to your face. You're not going to get a tan, (right?) so you can look to other options for a bit of color. 

Tee – Ralph Lauren; pants – Simply Be
top sunglasses – Steven Alan; middle sunglasses – Kate Spade New York
bottom sunglasses – Elizabeth and James

Warm days, cool evenings, bright colors....

While I wouldn't choose these colors, I'd wear all of these pieces in a heartbeat. Now if the weather would just settle into a range of 20 or 30 degrees!


Butterfly Twists Ltd


  1. I love floral tote bags!! I have some. Ok. Many I have many :-)

  2. From Margie in Toronto - it amazes me that when you show everything how clear it becomes that you only need a very few pops of colour to make such big changes to the overall look. Not my colours but so interesting to see the process and try to understand the reasoning behind the choices.

  3. Haha - I would have run to the floral tote first thing! And also some peridot earrings...

  4. The shoes in this post look wonderful! I especially like the Franco Sarto pointed toe flat. Lovely!

  5. Love this collection. Beautiful, light, and bright colors that can take you into summer.

  6. I love this post - because I almost always choose statement or complex accessories like scarves and totes, I often end up with things I love but which do not work together which severely limits my options. Instead of making it boring, a base of these simpler accessory choices would mean I could choose any one piece from my many totes and/or scarves if I wanted to zhuzh it up. It was wonderful to see how one could make calmer choices for an accessories grouping and actually have more options in the long run. Like a 4x4 of clothes does for wardrobes! Duh!

    Make a foundation wardrobe of accessories that will mix, match, and coordinate with relative simplicity. Why did I not think of this years ago? (too busy falling in love with wild card pieces here and there and never looking at the big picture.) Janice explains it all. AGAIN.

    I would love to see how you would go all out with your natural choices for accessories, Janice, as there is nothing more beautiful than the totes, scarves, shoes, and jewelry sets you come up with. Bright floral tote sounds amazing with this group! These learning posts are so valuable to me, but we all love your eye candy posts, too. : )

    Grateful for ALL of your posts
    Sue G

  7. There is no way I could have resisted a floral tote. This is an amazing grouping! I don't think that I could wear the colors, but I is pretty to look at. I just love how much I learn from you, Janice!

  8. I really like your choices, as always. I am frustrated, though with heels on shoes. I like Aerosoles, but sometimes the soles/heels look too old-lady (the ones you show seem OK, but in general....). Same with wedges. It's such a delicate line. I have a friend who wants to be chic but who manages to always choose some detail that ruins the look, like shoes that look like they came out of the orthopedic line (she doesn't have foot problems, but I have had bunion surgery so I do desire an orthopedic shoe that doesn't look like it belongs in a nursing home). A style just a tiny bit different will be completely chic. It requires a good eye and good luck.
    I look longingly at the sunglasses, but as mine are prescription, I have one pair that I keep for a few years. In fact, it's time to change them. Don't you want to take a trip to the south of France to help me pick out glasses?

  9. I would easily pass on a floral tote but could fall for a wildly striped one! Shoes, shoes, love them so much but finding comfortable chic ones for a more dressy look is a challenge.
    Deb from Vancouver

  10. Yesterday (Pantone colours for autumn) and today's posts have me wondering about access to lovely colours for clothes. I live in a small regional city where choices are limited. Most 'basics' clothes in the shops are black, grey, white, or mixtures. Some seasons if we're lucky, there's some navy. Accent colours seem to be mostly bright red or harsh versions of purple, light blue or beige. I look at the lovely options in Janice's posts and wish.

    The internet is of course a great resource but I'm wary of shopping for colours based on screen depictions of colours. Should I be? What is other people's experience of shopping this way? I'm also interested in buying fabric this way - any thoughts, Deb and other sewers? Those beautiful blues ...

    Robyn in Tasmania

    1. Perhaps you need to first determine what colors you want... Springy pastels, vivid saturated colors, earthy hues, etc.

      Then I'd find a brand that seems to consistently offer up what you want, and try them. A couple examples: Lands End has vivid saturated colors for so many of their options. LL Bean always has a great selection of heathered/marled items, etc.

    2. From Margie in Toronto - I can also vouch for LL Bean and also Talbots - colours and sizes seem to be bang on.

    3. I order from J Jill a lot too.

    4. Thank you for these suggestions. Colour and texture seem difficult when you can't actually see and feel the fabrics, so I'm grateful for advice.

      Robyn in Tasmania

  11. These posts are so informative! Thank you Janice! I agree that comfortable dressy shoes are the most difficult to find.

  12. I thought I had responded to this post, but apparently did not. I feel like this post was made especially for me. These are exactly the right colors for me. I would change very little. Thanks so much.

    I shop at Talbots and LandsEnd for bright and warm colors.

    Deb in KY

  13. Janice, I don't know if you monitor comments to old posts but I had to tell you -- your ideas about this set are genius, and I finally have many ways to wear my favorite stone stick necklace, Tory Burch d'Orsay flats, vintage Ferragamo handbag, and inherited gold, diamond, and coral jewelry that were always too 'fancyschmancy' pretentious or twee grande dame any way I styled them...the way you have incorporated traditional, ladylike staples into a modern, casual wardrobe speaks to my heart.

    Can I just tell you again that you are just brilliant? Your attention to detail makes even frivolous pieces like this bright Tee feel intentional and adult without losing the cheerful.

    Thank you, thank you. Sue G