Friday, May 06, 2016

Build a Capsule Wardrobe by Starting with a Scarf: Hermes Geologie, for 12 Months

This was difficult.... It's hard enough to find wintery clothes this time of year, even though the weather is still decidedly cool. But when you try to find clothing in warm colors, with decent photographs, that don't cost the absolute EARTH to buy... well, it explains a lot of the weirdness that I exhibit from time to time...

But I persisted, and I'm pleased with these results. And I realized a couple of very important things, for those who wish to wear these VERY difficult to find colors:
  • Work with the idea of colors that blend rather than those that match identically. Cousins, rather than identical twins, of the clothing family. This will save you a lot of headaches, while at the same time giving you the opportunity to explore quite a bit of the richness inherent in these shades.
  • Keep your eyes open CONSTANTLY; these pieces can come from the most unexpected places, and at times that you aren't even really looking. Cultivate your eye to be always aware of possibilities.
  • Carry with you at all times some sort of reference item - a photograph, collection of embroidery thread, piece of fabric - that will help you ensure that your choices are within the family of colors that you desire. What looks good at first glance might not really work, when place in the vicinity of your reference piece.
  • Only purchase things that can be returned. Getting things home to find that they're not going to work is an inconvenience; if you can't return them, it's wasted money!
  • Consider mail ordering pieces that have potential. That way they're right in your home for a test-run! Returning to many stores now is free - the only real cost is a bit of packing tape, and a few minutes of your time. That's still a LOT less investment than going to a mall.
All those things said, let's see what I found!

First up, this scarf was submitted to me for a wardrobe MONTHS ago, and the difficulty in finding items caused me to keep pushing it back down the list. These wardrobes have to be built pretty much over a 2-day period, or items that I find will sell out; this means that I can't peck away at a project over a period of weeks or months...

But what a scarf it is!

Build a Capsule Wardrobe by Starting with a Scarf: Hermes Geologie
Scarf – Hermès Geologie - no longer available

In keeping with my suggestion about blending colors rather than trying to match them, I'm offering up gradients of color in our scheme:

Capsule Wardrobe color palette in warm colors based on a Hermes scarf

This was one of the few times that I actually found a matching tee shirt and trousers!

2 outfits in a warn color palette inspired by a Hermes scarf
Scarf – Hermes;  tee – J. Crew; loafers – Cole Haan; earrings – 
A.B.S. by Allen Schwartz; cardigan – J. Crew; pants – J. Crew;  
dress – Haider Ackermann; shell earrings – Heidi Daus
clutch bag – Henri Bendel; shoes – Trotters

2 outfits in a warn color palette inspired by a Hermes scarf
Scarf – Textiles One; tote – Sole Society; sweater – Alberta Ferretti
skirt – En Route; sneakers – Woolrich; top – Loft; pants – Sofie D’hoore
earrings – Judith Jack; bracelet – Lenny and Eva; flats Naturalizer

WHAT a pretty colored dress...

2 outfits in a warn color palette inspired by a Hermes scarf
Sunglasses – Ray-Ban; bracelet – Tiara; dress – L.L.Bean
sandals – Birkenstock; tee – H and M; shorts – H and M; 
earrings – Ted Muehling; sandals – L.L.Bean

Don't forget about the inherent utility of a hooded sweatshirt; even in the dead of summer, there can be cool days and evenings...

2 outfits in a warn color palette inspired by a Hermes scarf
Sweatshirt – H and M; sleeveless top – Uniqlo
shorts – L.L.Bean; sneakers – Aeropostale; tee – L.L.Bean
pants – L.L.Bean; charm bracelet – Bling Jewelry; espadrilles - Gabor

2 outfits in a warn color palette inspired by a Hermes scarf
Necklace – Kendra Scott; suede jacket – Vanessa Seward; boots – 
Steve Madden; tee shirt – Lands’ End; cords – L.L.Bean; turtleneck –  
Lands’ End; pants – J. Crew; earrings – Kenneth Jay Lane
scarf – Nordstrom; loafers – Cole Haan

Yes, this wardrobe only includes 2 skirts, but this skirt is a pretty major statement garment! I'd be wearing this to the grocery store, if it were mine...

2 outfits in a warn color palette inspired by a Hermes scarf
bag – Coach 1941; cardigan Roberto Collina; tee – Sarah Pacini
 pants – Stephan Schneider;  loafers – Topshop; shirt – Lands’ End;
 skirt – Baum und Pferdgarten; earrings – Susan Hanover
necklace – BCBGMaxAzria;  pumps – Trotters

While it felt like the individual outfits were all over the map, once all the clothes are assembled together, you can see that there are all kinds of combinations possible:

A capsule wardobe in a warm color palette inspired by a Hermes scarf

And the accessories deliver a clear color message:

Accessories in A capsule wardobe in a warm color palette inspired by a Hermes scarf

Do you among us who love warm colors struggle to find things that really suit your desires?

How to build a capsule wardrobe in a warm color palette inspired by a Hermes scarf


  1. The problem with warm colors is getting the shades to work together. If they aren't in the same range of warm/cool, something looks off. I have a warm brown coat and wanted some brown boots. I have difficult feet, so I have to go with what fits, but I found some in a medium brown that I thought matched the coat's trim. But when I got them together, the boots looked downright orange. It isn't always possible to have the coat with you when you shop--the coat is shearling and was far too hot to wear when I found the boots.

  2. OMG you are so right! Finding warm neutrals etc. can be so hard. My colouring is light, warm and muted (smoky) so I love what you have done here. The collection reminds me of cliff faces with lots of colours running through it. The coral scarf... I actually don't like wearing same-same colours on top and bottom so I particularly like the mottled look of garments. Thank you for your Mega effort. Carol S

    1. In honour of this post I tea-dyed a cheap light grey marled t-shirt. I had been meaning to do this a while ago but never got to do it. It has holes in it (never knew if I bought it that way) so I bought another one that is good. I can now compare before and after. Well after was not much different but looks a little bit warm and softer. Thanks Carol S

  3. As a former knitwear designer used to working with multiple different fibres, I would like to add a tip for your many readers about colour matching.

    If you are trying to match colours, please pay attention to the fabric the garment is made of because natural and man-made fibres respond differently to dye. You may think that a cotton shirt, for example, is a perfect colour match for a polyester skirt but in natural daylight, these will never look the same together. On the other hand, a cotton tee shirt will always look right with linen pants - the colours may not match forever, but they will always blend and look right together.

    Whilst, under store lights, colours may seem a match, they will look different together outside in natural daylight. So if you are unsure whether to buy one item or another, you won't go wrong by looking within the same fabric families - natural with natural, man made with man made!

    1. That's so obvious, now that you've brought it to our attention! Thank you so much for taking the time to share your knowledge and insights - I know a LOT of us are going to find this useful to remember.
      big hug,

    2. I am a redhead and am very impressed with what you have put together. I add another element to my challenge as I really only want to wear natural fibres!! see comments above.
      Deb from Vancouver

  4. BTW - pleased to see your Vivienne sign back but the one I really loved was the Paris/River Seine picture.

  5. On the recent podcast interview, you said that one can admire something beautiful but realize you can't take it home and that's ok. So it is with this beautiful Hermes scarf for me. Of all of the Hermes you have shown us, this is the one I love most. The clothing and accessories to go with it are so gorgeous, too. Thank you!

  6. I too had an 'oh dear' moment when I first looked at the scarf, breathing a sigh of relief that it is no longer available. :) You put some beautiful colors together here, all of which would look right at home in my closet. I always warm up my gray, navy, and black with warm colors, mainly because I am not a very dedicated shopper, but like to keep my wardrobe to a manageable size.

  7. Janice,
    Oh my, oh my, this is so me -- soft, medium value , warm colors ! Yes, I keep my eyes open wherever I happen to be shopping for close color matches. I love your idea of carrying some matching embroidery floss with you to match colors. In the past, I have sometimes purchased something in the salmon/ coral family, gotten it home, and then found it to be too pink, and not a match ! When I was a girl, my mother advised to contrast a color if you couldn't do an exact match. I prefer your more flexible approach, as these colors can be so darned hard to find to begin with !
    The advice above to match fabric type because of the way the dyes are taken up is a great idea, I never would have considered that !

  8. Thank you for a warm-hued wardrobe on this unusually chilly morning here in the south! I love the colors in the Hermes scarf (another favorite of mine is the Hermes tiger scarf from your "12 Months, 12 Outfits" series). While tops are not usually too much of a problem, I have almost given up trying to find good quality pants at a reasonable price in the warmer colors that I would like to own. Many years ago I was able to find jeans in chocolate brown, sage green, and warm tan, and I loved them so much I literally wore them until they fell apart. It has been a long time since I have seen these colors in the right shade. Even tan has become more grey-tinged since taupe and "greige" (I really dislike that word!) became popular. I look terrible in navy, and grey does nothing for me, so I would like to see clothes with more warm color options. Today's collection here gives me hope!

  9. Oh, Janice, you worked so hard finding these beautiful items!! I wish I could move every single piece into my wardrobe. Selecting warm tone clothing is much more difficult than one would ever imagine. Colour first, style appropriateness, seasonal usefulness, on and on and on!!! How often I have wished to be a brunette, stunning in life would be so much easier.

    Your stunning wardrobe has has given me renewed perseverance. Thanks to you, I won't give up.
    A faithful fan,

  10. These outfits are beyond stunning ! If I were a redhead, I wouldn't be able to control myself.

  11. Thank you for this beautiful wardrobe. I haven't been wearing warm colors long but I certainly find it harder. My old grey and navy neutrals were much easier to find and match than the dark brown and carmel I've been collecting now. I love the January outfit in warm sepia. It's just lovely.

  12. Not my colors at all, but this is absolutely brilliant!


  13. That skirt is so stunning - the entire set is gorgeous. I love how much variety there is, all within the same mood. Aspirational!

  14. I am a bit puzzled by the link made by Unknown at 9:26 and Gail at 9:42 between hair colour and what colours are flattering. "Unknown" said "How often I have wished to be a brunette, stunning in black..." and Gail said "These outfits are beyond stunning ! If I were a redhead, I wouldn't be able to control myself." But the colours that flatter are much more to do with skin colour than hair colour. I am a brunette and, although I can "get away" with black, and sometimes like to do so, I have to be very careful about how I use it and my make-up and jewellery if I am not to look rather ill. These colours, on the other hand would be right up my street (Thank you, Janice - yet again!), even though I am not a redhead - I was classified by colour analysis as strong Autumn, and those are among my best colours.

    That I don't wear my best colours exclusively is due largely to the extreme difficulty of finding them. Brown trousers - especially brown linen for summer? Dream on. Likewise the olive/sage/rosemary greens .... I am reluctantly coming to the conclusion that I may need to actually get the sewing machine out and make myself some trousers for summer in the colours I need.

  15. I love this wardrobe! So pretty!!! This would look so nice on my sister in law. These are really her colors. I could wear some of these too. Just lovely!! I prefer these blending colors over everything matching exactly too. Love the tip about color matching natural and man made fabrics! One of those "why didn't I think of that" moments! LOL!

  16. A monochromatic ensemble of cream or camel would also work, as an easy spring-summer easy base for this scarf; in winter the taupe (the border on which Hermès is printed) is an option- but your choices feature many more colours!

    I order many of my clothes online, but because I rarely order from the country where I live, return shipping is not free and arranging a refund of the tax and duty charged can add another step. Still, I prefer it to beating around department stores that all seem to carry the same things.

  17. When I was browsing around today, I came across this beautiful scarf and immediately thought of you, Janice. It would be a great base for a wardrobe, all creams and blues.

  18. Yes oh yes it is hard to find warm colours, especially enough to build a wardrobe ... I second others' comments here. The examples you show today are lovely Janice, thank you. And thanks to the VF community for encouragement too. I will keep looking, and do more hunting for fabrics to sew. Good tips about colour and complexion ladies, and the advice on colour and fabric type is excellent!
    Robyn in Tasmania

  19. Another redhead here, loving this post! I could live in all these. And you're right, SO hard to find.

  20. I find it a little bit of a challenge to shop and dress in all neutrals and maintain that "chic" look that all black so easily portrays. White and Khaki always come off looking for casual. For me, a gold cardigan with white tee and khakis does the trick on days when it's not too warm in the South.

  21. Hi Vivienne!
    I'm working hard on my new wardrobe with you for almost a year. With you and with Zyla's ideas.
    This one could be mine.
    In Zyla's typology I'm a spicy autumn. Actually Gauguin colours.
    I could wear those cloths, but only in non formal situations. This saffron yellow is my tranquil color, best to wear with friends, shades of pink- I would call it cedar wood, are romantic colours, good for date, or were I need be noticed and alive. Olive and herbal greens are my energy colours, good were I need things to be done.
    Chocolate brown is the second base, and camel is the third. The first and most formal is navy, but a greenish ink one. Essence colour, my white, is vanilla/ cream.
    I need medium contrast, asymmetry, collars, mandarin collars, military, safari, animal accents and lots of texture ie velvet, rough silk, corduroy, fur, leather, wool etc.

    So for me, this colour scheme means informal occasions, perfect for friends, family, home, holidays.

    I wouldn't go for so much romantic blush especially trousers. Maybe because I'm not in love? But even if this colour suits me a lot, I would prefer and wear green, brown,or camel short or pants.
    But I would love to have in blush all accessories to put them on, when needed. Especially pumps, dress, jewellery, shirt, dressy top and skirt.
    I can easily imagine myself looking gorgeous in that colour long dress with green military jacket, brown cowboy shoes and big golden earrings. Yes, it's not chic. But mine type is not about chic and long, red nails.
    It's about vitality and nature. I will never look good in cardigans and symmetrical, graphic prints except marine stripes. And always great in leather.

    My favourite brands are Ralph Lauren and Barbour. Mango has this summer a big choice of this colour cloths.

    Thank you Vivienne for all the knowledge I got here, even if bought two cardigans. ;-)
    But I didn't bought too much of anything else.