Monday, March 14, 2016

How to Build a Capsule Wardrobe of Accessories: Navy, Beige, Turquoise and Yellow, 1 at a Time

Maybe it's the unseasonably warm weather here in Chicago, but this wardrobe felt very summery to me...

Tee – Lands’ End; cardigan – L.L.Bean; pants – Jil Sander Navy
penny loafers – Lauren by Ralph Lauren; ballet flats – Vaneli
woven loafers - Trotters

We always have to start out with a couple of basic, essential accessories...

Tee shirt – IDLF Uniqlo; cardigan – L.L.Bean; pants – Jil Sander Navy
top bag – Furla; middle bag – Hobo; tooled bag – Patricia Nash

I thought that I'd introduce some pearls here - to pick up on the pearl/off-white color of the cardigan. I like to tie outfits together through these small, but powerful, little color "echoes."

Tee – Lands’ End; cardigan – L.L.Bean; pants – Jil Sander Navy
top earrings – Cole Haan; middle earrings – Majorica
bottom earrings – Pamela Love

Theoretically, this particular outfit would be better balanced with dark shoes, but I'm assuming that you're going to carry a dark bag, which will serve the same purpose. Let's not go completely nuts trying to do everything perfectly!

Tee shirt – IDLF Uniqlo; cardigan – L.L.Bean; pants – Michael Kors
sandals – Franco Sarto; flats – Blowfish; captoes - Aerosoles

If you're an avowed "watch avoider," you can always just buy a gorgeous bracelet!

Tee – Austin Reed; pants – Michael Kors
top watch – Nixon; middle watch – Michael Kors;  
bottom watch – Michael Kors

Speaking of bracelets, I particularly like the idea of a bracelet with a seashell on it if your wardrobe is going to be worn near the shore. Or to be worn while dreaming of being near the shore?

Tee shirt – IDLF Uniqlo; cardigan – Lands’ End; pants – Michael Kors;  
knot bracelet – Kate Spade; seashell bracelet – Alex and Ani
link bracelet – Marc by Marc Jacobs

Strong colors that are more difficult to wear near your face could always be a possibility for a fun pair of summer shoes; you don't have to invest a fortune, and you can wear them frequently to accent your more neutral basic clothes.

Tee shirt – IDLF Uniqlo; cardigan – Lands’ End;  skirt – J. Crew
sandals – Tuscany; ballet flats – Frances Valentine; espadrilles – Via Spiga

Accent scarves needn't be blindingly expensive either. If you like to change your accent colors every year or two, it's good to remember that some scarves are very reasonably priced.

Shirt – Uniqlo; skirt – J. Crew
top scarf – Echo; second scarf – Jardin des Orangers
bottom scarf – Denis Colomb

Turquoise is interesting as an accent color - the shades of it are all over the map! But so long as you blend things well, accessories don't have to be a "dye-lot perfect" match.

sweater – DKNY; skirt – J. Crew
 top earrings – Kendra Scott; middle earrings – Alexis Bittar
bottom earrings – House of Harlow

For a comfortable walking shoe, I looked at a wide variety of things - deck shoes, comfort-built loafers, and of course my favorite classic tennies.

Tee shirt – IDLF Uniqlo; skirt – Neiman Marcus
turquoise shoes – Sketchers; yellow loafers – Cole Haan
navy shoes – Converse

Summer tote bags come in SO many different options; even if you're not carrying yours to the beach every day, you can still channel a feeling of leisure in your bag.

Tee shirt – Isabel Marant; skirt – Neiman Marcus
yellow tote – Urban Expressions; turquoise trimmed tote –  

Neutral and solid-colored doesn't have to mean boring:

Tee shirt – Isabel Marant; cardigan – L.L.Bean; skirt – Neiman Marcus
top scarf – Pistil; middle scarf – Cecchi Cecchi; lace scarf - Miyao

More pearls, and mother of pearl. Both of these materials feel summery to me, and certain have a strong sense of water and the ocean.

Rayon shirt – Uniqlo; skirt – Neiman Marcus; caged pearl pendant 
Mercedes Shaffer; abstract pendant – Kendra Scott
bar pendant – Kendra Scott

Time for today's lecture about the importance of sunglasses!

Rayon shirt – Uniqlo; shorts – L.L.Bean
top sunglasses – Prada; second sunglasses – Loewe
bottom sunglassesSmith Optics

This wardrobe could take you places, all summer long. I know that I'm going to Vermont, and Florida.... where are you going this spring and summer?



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  1. That yellow bag is so happy! You really come up with excellent options. All the shoes, for example, are actually wearable (though whether they would work on my weird feet is always the fly in the ointment).

  2. Regarding outfit #9... My wardrobe tends heavily towards navy and white, with hits of warm reds & pinks. But my husband has a tendency to buy me turquoise stuff - including some lovely aquamarine earrings. So I often find myself in just this arrangement - navy and white clothes, and turquoise-y earrings. I quite like it! I feel like it's the tiniest "off" note that makes an outfit interesting.

    1. Suzyn,
      I think we've probably talked about this on polyvore, but I love the close color intervals that show up in your sets (navy & turquoise, pink & red, and sometimes red & cognac). They add depth and dimension to the fun, bright colors without altering the energy of the outfit.

    2. Yes! About 15 years ago, Ann Taylor Loft did a shopping bag that was very thin hot pink and orange stripes, and I swear that bag *vibrated.* I love how close, intense colors vibrate against each other (and I think red and cobalt do, too - think Prince William's dress uniform).

  3. It's always an added joy to see a post about clothing I already have in the closet, combined with new accessories and shoes that take the outfits in a new direction. As always, I enjoy your blog!

  4. Navy & turquoise is one of my favorite combos. I enjoyed seeing your version of it. Thank you! Mary

  5. I think it looks summery too Janice. Some great options! I think navy and turquoise is very pretty together. We have two work/fun trips this spring. Association conventions. One this week in our state in Hot Springs, which is a lovely little resort town with a horse racing track. We get to go to an exclusive part of the track as part of the convention. I am not a gambler but it is great people watching! Then in 3 weeks we are going to a beach resort for the National level convention in San Diego! Your recent posts on travel with dressy events has been so helpful to me!! Thank you!

  6. Ok, that lace scarf from Miyao is perfection and I can make one!
    Deb from Vancouver

  7. Janice,
    I think it was last year that you did a series on emphasizing different parts of the body using various values of light and dark, and then added accessories. I'd like to revisit those posts, but I don't recall the name of the series. Help, please ? Thank you.

    1. Color and Proportion was a series of posts that started April 2, 2015, and showed how to use accessories to balance outfits of different colors. I'm pretty certain that's the one you mean.

  8. Janice,
    Yep, that's the one, thanks so much !!

  9. Hi Janice,
    This certainly is summery!

    I have a challenge for you (at least, it's a challenge for me!): I have to wear pants and closed-top shoes at all times at work, usually with a lab coat and sometimes with a hard hat and steel-toed shoes. (I'm a chemist at a wastewater treatment plant.) Scarves are not a smart a accessory because they pose a safety concern around the pumps, and bracelets and rings get stuck on the blue latex-free gloves. Necklaces and earrings are fine. Can you please design a business-casual wardrobe for those of us in industrial settings?