Wednesday, May 11, 2016

How to Build a Capsule Wardrobe of Accessories 1 at a Time: Black, Ivory and Russet Business Wardrobe

This wardrobe look so much more interesting with just a few simple additions!

Remember, we started with this gorgeous jacket, and I put a simple black column of clothing under it. So shoes will be an essential first step:

Tee – Lands’ End; pants – L.L.Bean; jacket – Babette
top shoes – Robert Clergerie; middle shoes – Frye
bottom shoes – Kate Spade

Since the jacket pattern is so striking, I thought that a simple, solid scarf would be a good choice:

Shell – J. Crew; pants – L.L.Bean; jacket – Babette
top scarf – Jimmy Choo; middle scarf – Gucci
bottom scarf – Nordstrom

And I can never go too long without earrings; to me, they give a touch of shine and a feeling of polish to any outfit:

Shell – J. Crew; pants – L.L.Bean; cardigan – J. Crew
top earrings – Nadri; middle earrings – Alexis Bittar
 bottom earrings - Marshelly

In a lot of wardrobes I wouldn't introduce a 2nd pair of shoes this early, but since this is specifically designed to be a travel wardrobe, making sure the right shoes are chosen is key. If we wait too late to pick shoes, there's a danger of panicking and packing too many pair; that's both heavy and bulky!

Shell – J. Crew; skirt – Lands’ End; jacket – Babette
top shoes – Sofft; middle shoes – Trotters
bottom shoes – David Tate

Unless you hang out with the "fancy watch" crowd, it might make sense to consider an inexpensive watch for travel; losing it wouldn't be quite so heartbreaking...

SweaterJ.Crew; pants – L.L.Bean
 top watch – BP.; middle watch – Anne Klein
bottom watch – Larsson and Jennings

A hands-free bag is very important when traveling; it leaves your hands free for wrestling with a suitcase, leafing through old books, or sharply elbowing pickpockets!

Tee – Lands’ End; pants – L.L.Bean; cardigan – J. Crew
 top bag – Furla; middle bag – Co-Lab; 
bottom bag – Foley + Corinna

Inexpensive but attractive bracelets add a LOT to an outfit; bracelets that are stretchy are often much less noisy and jangly, too. For business, that could matter!

ShellJ. Crew; pants – Piazza Sempione; cardigan – L.L.Bean
 top bracelet – Boho Chic; middle bracelets – Thalia Sodi
bottom bracelets – RJ Graziano

Hoop earrings show up well and draw attention to your face, which is a bonus if you're doing a lot of speaking or presenting while on your travels.

Tee – Lands’ End; skirt – Lands’ End; jacket Babette;
 top earrings – Argento Vivo; middle earrings – Ippolita
bottom earrings - Nadri

There WILL be down-time, and comfortable, sporty shoes will be welcome if you want to spend a long day sight-seeing!

ShellJ. Crew; pants – Piazza Sempione; cardigan – Lands’ End;
 top shoes – Steve Madden; middle shoes – Nike
bottom shoes – Munro

A nice necklace that doesn't break the bank is another one of those items that can draw attention to your face and give you some variety in a very limited wardrobe. And I love the idea of a "compass rose" necklace for someone traveling!

Tee – Lands’ End; jeans – L.L.Bean; cardigan – J. Crew;
 top necklace – Madewell; middle necklace – Ettika
bottom necklace – Stella & Ruby

These scarves won't go AT ALL with the amazing Babette jacket, but they will be a great addition to any outfit that includes your beige and black pieces:

Top – Eleventy; pants – Piazza Sempione
 top scarf – Roberto Cavalli; middle scarf  - Chan Luu
bottom scarf – Nordstrom

Another necklace, in a timeless chain style; very affordable but pretty and flattering.

Sweater – J.Crew; pants – L.L.Bean; jacketJ. Crew;
 top necklace – Monet; middle necklace – Monet
bottom necklace - Guess

Just for the sheer heck of it, I thought a brooch would be a fun thing to pack. It weighs nothing, and might be handy if you feel self-conscious about the wrap top on your dress!

Dress – Lands’ End; cardigan – Lands’ End;
 feather pin – Nadri; middle pin – Dsquared2
bottom pin – Roksanda

Four pair of shoes might feel like a lot, but only 3 need to be packed, of course. And I thought that comfortable flats that were still dressy enough to be work-appropriate would be a welcome addition. If you're certain that you can manage with only 3 pair of shoes total, this space could be left empty, or could accommodate another scarf, or even another tee shirt.

Top - Nude; jeansL.L.Bean
 top shoes – Munro; middle shoes – Frye
bottom shoes - Frye

This is everything - I can see dozens of different ways to put these pieces together into lovely, comfortable outfits! This would all fit into a small checked bag - a 2 month trip might not be the time to force yourself into carrying everything on.

This makes me want to start packing! But some days, breathing makes me want to start packing...


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  1. Oh, my gosh! This is so wonderful! The blacks and creams are wonderful. I'd been focusing on the aubergine, teal and the russet. Black and cream is easier and more elegant. Thank you! Susan

  2. I could see the TSA flipping out over a couple of those brooches. I really like your Phase 5 shoe selection!

  3. Love the blouse! and those Kate Spade cool! Thanks Janice

  4. The shoe selections are fabulous, I especially like the Frye loafers. For a 2 month business trip I think I would skip the flat shoes since I don't usually wear them and substitute in a tote, which I would probably use everyday. And a beige and black scarf is perfect for adding variety without adding bulk to the suitcase or investing a lot of money. Great job, as usual.

  5. I have a jacket with a design,..never worn much, but I'm going to reevaluate its potential using your inspiration,Thanks Janice!!

  6. I would love to submit my Missonni cardigan for styling by you, if you're taking submissions! Is there a direct way of contacting you?

    1. Sure! is the email address. I'm eager to see your cardigan!

  7. Dreamy.... (tharu)

  8. Brilliant accessory choices! Amazing how they can pull an outfit together!

  9. Janice, I have a question not particularly related to this post - just about your clothing and accessory choices in general. I've started reading your posts from the beginning, and you had a fabulous one in 2011 about making ethical choices when deciding from which companies we should make our purchases. I wholeheartedly agree! For now, most of my purchases are from thrift stores, consignment, etc., but for future purchases - are the products you list in recommendations from companies that we can be proud to support? Obviously, I don't expect you to know each company's backstory - but are we avoiding sweat shops, etc. when we choose these brands? Thanks!

    1. Dear Courtney,
      I TRY to avoid companies that I know are particularly bad; companies that were implicated in the building collapse in Bangladesh (and who have remained unrepentant regarding their responsibility!) are routinely ignored in my searches. Ditto for a couple of organizations that I know have abusive labor practices in the United States. But thoroughly vetting each company would mean that I could do a post maybe once a week? And the companies that are good or bad seem to shift back and forth all of the time...

      Suffice to say that it's ever-present in my mind, and I do my best to avoid steering anyone toward a place that's bad for the environment, women, or labor in general.

      Thanks for asking! That's the majority of what needs to done - keep asking questions and make producers prove to us that they deserve our money.


    2. Thanks, Janice! And thanks for all the effort you do put into what you do here - you've completely changed the way I dress and think about clothes!

  10. You have rounded this wardrobe so nicely. Your influence is huge on me and yesterday I surprised myself by buying 2 pairs of BLACK linen pants and tried on a pair of black shoes. I know for most people this is not extraordinary but it is for me.

    Deb from Vancouver

  11. If you travel for work, you probably have a laptop bag (this is mine, only in blue, and I highly, highly recommend it -- My issues was having a laptop bag and a purse (especially when I do carry-on only). I finally bought a small wallet type purse with removable strap. When I'm working, I put it inside my laptop bag and when I'm out and about, I attach the strap and it becomes my purse.

    1. OOOooo, the illusive 'wallet-type purse with removable strap'...I have had very poor luck finding one (that either 1) isn't ugly and 2) doesn't fall apart) you have a source?

    2. I was on a deadline and went cheap, picking one up at my local Fred Meyer for like $15. It's holding up really well (surprisingly well, but then again I only use it for travel), but is not, as you say, particularly lovely. It is however extremely boring black leather with no detail whatsoever, so at least it's not, you know, eye-catchingly hideous. I think that wallet purses are kind of un-stylish right now (or maybe always) so I just never see good designers put them out. Mine has a magnetic flap that covers two slim pockets (big enough for money or a cell phone), a row of card slots with a snap-over strap to keep them in, and a mirror. On the reverse is a zipper pocket that is the exact size to hold my passport. Practical but very boring. I just hope it blends into whatever else I'm wearing.

  12. Nice! I love the way your accessories round out a wardrobe and also make it personal.
    Robyn in Tasmania