Friday, June 24, 2016

A Capsule Wardrobe Dilemma, and What I'm Packing for Paris, France

So I realized a couple of weeks ago that I wasn't wearing these 2 cardigans NEARLY as often as I felt that I should...

2 cardigans in a capsule wardrobe
dots - Lands' End; flowers - Uniqlo(this isn't my exactly cardigan - this one is navy, but for illustrative purposes...)
Every time I would pull out one of these sweaters, I just couldn't get an outfit together that really felt right.

In a bit of a funk, I went back to my own best advice, and realized that a lot of my basic summer clothes in black were either too big, or too...faded/droopy/saggy/limp/icky for public consumption.

So I picked up these - the Original Core of Four:

A black common capsule wardrobe core of four
shorts - Equipment; tee shirt - L.L.Bean;
pants - L.L. Bean; tank - L.L.Bean

After those arrived and were well-integrated into my wardrobe, I got wild and bought these 4 tops:

Four black and white tops for a capsule wardrobe
gingham - Lands' End; dots - Lands' End;
white - Lands' End; black "big shirt" - French Connection

It turned out that I was wise to stock up on summer basics, because... well... the weather has turned hot here, AND I'm going to Florida for a week. (yes, going to Florida in the dead of summer will NOT win me membership in Mensa. Family wins out over humidity, every time!)

My current "regular" travel outfit, with a cardigan that's a blend of silk and cotton - perfect for warm weather:

A travel capsule wardrobe for Paris, France
tee - Agnes B.; jeans - L.L.Bean; cardigan - Eileen Fisher;
earrings - similar here; bracelet - similar here; shoes - Thierry Rabotin;
tote - L.L.Bean; suitcase - Tumi

And then 10 pieces of clothing, plus 2 pair of shoes. (pajamas, swimsuit, and swim tee will ALSO be here) 

A travel capsule wardrobe for Paris, France

I know that for almost everyone, this would be FAR too monochrome, but after I've looked at clothes all day working on The Vivienne Files, I find a black and white wardrobe is a good way to cleanse my color palate for another day of work. 

A travel capsule wardrobe for Paris, France
black shirtdress - Eileen Fisher;
light blue-grey dress - Eileen Fisher (similar here);
ballet flats - Thierry Rabotin; sandals - Thierry Rabotin

I'm well-covered, both literally and figuratively, for a week-long trip:

A travel capsule wardrobe for Paris, France

I will almost certainly throw in some earrings and bracelets, but not likely any necklaces, and certainly no scarves for this trip. But just seeing this page makes me feel really comfortable that I'm going to have enough with me for celebrating both my birthday, and the 4th of July.

Please note that you WILL see the "12 Months, 12 Outfits" instalment for July on the 1st...

And then I'll be back on a somewhat more regular schedule by the 6th or 7th of July!

A travel capsule wardrobe for Paris, France in a black and white French minimal color palette


  1. I personally love a black and white wardrobe. Very easy on the eyes and easy to travel with. It is so hot here too! I wish I could wear shorts and sleeveless tops! I hope you have a blast celebrating your birthday and the 4th! :) Looking forward to your return. Enjoy your vacation!

  2. Florida might be chillier than you expect. It has 2 distinct climates - Outdoors and Indoors. The hotter it gets outside, the more they crank up the A/C inside. Don't go to a restaurant without that cozy-looking cardigan. (And grab a scarf with some color in it! You are headed to Florida, after all - not Paris.)
    Florida/Chicago Snowbird

  3. Have a wonderful visit with your family, Janice. Happy Birthday & Happy 4th! Safe travels.
    Diane - Michigan

  4. Very timely! I'm leaving for a warm week away myself today, so checked my packing list against yours, to convince myself I was packing enough. Your black is my light teal, otherwise they are remarkably similar. Happy travels!

  5. Janice,
    You have been missed, but I am so glad that you are having fun ! Have a safe , enjoyable trip to Florida -- wave as you pass over PA, and have a marvelous birthday ! Catch you next month !

  6. I find this combination so calming - and very chic!
    It has been an odd few weeks as far as my summer wardrobe is concerned. Along with my usual black, white, navy and red - I added a few other bright colours and some prints. I've gotten a lot of comments on how lovely and bright I am (some days) but I'm not sure I'm completely comfortable with all this colour and prints (I feel more comfortable in some more than others). I am going to have to do a re-evaluation at the end of the summer as to how I feel about all this - and make a firm decision on what stays and what goes.
    Have a lovely time in Florida - stay cool - and I look forward to more posts in July.

  7. I really like your wardrobe and would like to know how it works. I went to Southwest FL for years, in August, Mom's birthday. The locals looked askance at black in summer, it's visually heavy-looking. I swapped black for white, thank you Gap. It is not just the sticky heat, it's the intense light. Black looked fine at night but heavy by day.

  8. Janice, Safe and enjoyable travels. I enjoyed your post, as always. I purchased the black EF dress last week that you show in this post. It is so not what I normally purchase but decided to try it on due to its simplicity thinking it would be great for travel. It is all that I want to wear! It is comfortable, easy to wear and can be dressed up or down easily. Plus I get compliments each time I wear it. Using the black and white for a family wedding trip to Colorado over the 4th. Thank you for showing many EF pieces as that is was my incentive to give them a try. DBQMary

  9. Hi Janice- ditto on the comments from Anonymous and Duchesse. You will not wear the pants, jeans, cardigan or closed toe shoes except inside and at nite. It is simply too hot and humid. Plus, the intensity of the light truly does make a difference in how your clothes 'look'. We spend every winter in Florida and I have to adjust for the light difference from the northeast to the southeast. I wish it weren't the case, as I love black and it is a mainstay in my wardrobe....but it does look weird there-
    Oh well, the trip is about spending time with family! Have a great time!

  10. Have a lovely trip.

    I would suggest rethinking taking a few scarves along. As a fellow curly haired girl, I can say a scarf can save the day in really humid weather!

  11. So nice to see a post from you!
    Your wardrobe looks very practical. When traveling, you don't want to think about laundry. If you're at home and your white pants get dirty, you have other things to wear. But if you're traveling, you're stuck having to wash them right away or you're stuck having your wardrobe choices cut. Black is more forgiving.
    I think cropped pants and capris offer the coverage and often also the formality of pants but that flash of ankle makes them look much cooler.
    It depends on the cut and the textures, but I would be tempted to wear the white-dot cardigan with that new black-dot top.
    Lastly, I've ruined too many white clothes with sunblock. I'm religious about putting it on, but it turns some fabrics yellow and you can't get it out. Black is more forgiving.
    On sun protection, I have a great sisal sun hat, with a dramatic big brim, that crushes/folds well. It's BLACK! Because sometimes I smash it into my bag, just in case.

  12. Its so nice when a new post pops up!! Have a wonderful time with your family celebrating your birthday.
    Deb from Vancouver

  13. I just returned from a week in Florida. I wore separates while traveling but packed 5 dresses and two pair of sandals. I usually changed twice a day and just rotated everything. For me, it was just too hot for anything else (and I live in the southeast). Have fun!

  14. Why no necklaces? Learning so much here!

  15. You are not only cleansing your color palate but your color palette also! This is such a cute travel wardrobe. Although I am very drawn to black, I do find that it is so hot in the summer sun (black absorbs/white reflects).

  16. Turquoise jewelry and long cotton scarves with turquoise accents are my favorite way to make black work in tropical climates.

  17. After standing in the parking lot during dismissal my last few years of teaching, I know I can not stand wearing black during hot weather. No matter how cute something black may be, I can't stand the thought. And this is in the upper South! However, I love the combinations you make from your wardrobe. Perhaps I could figure out a way to substitute a lighter blue or something else for the black.

    Interesting that even you find that ever so often several things seem to need to be replaced at the same time. I feel that way right now about several of my summer items. Having gained a little hasn't helped. But this does create an opportunity to get several cohesive items.

  18. Happy birthday Janice. And July 4 , with your family. It's so nice to see a post! I've gone through the older ones several times and you are correct. They're timeless! X Chris from Australia 🇦🇺

  19. Have a wonderful time! And Happy Birthday!!

  20. Happy Birthday! Have an enjoyable and safe trip! I think a lot of fashion designers wear black and white for exactly the same reasons. Also, it's fascinating to hear the two sides of the black-in-summer question. I wonder if it has to do with intensity of sun, as someone noted, or if it's an indoors/outdoors thing (since dark colors absorb heat). I'd be interested to hear your experience in Florida vs Chicago.

  21. Hi Janice,
    I just discovered your blog recently. Thank you for such helpful information on keep in sanity in one's wardrobe. Have you seen the website "Design Seeds "?

  22. Hello, I've discovered your blog quite recently and I fell in love, like most your readers. I am in my early 30s and I've been trying to navigate the weird transition into adulthood on many levels, including fashion. I love a quote I read on Pinterest. It said something along the lines of - dress the way you want to be dealt with. So, I have made the decision to stick with your wonderful, thoughtful and elegant advice. Thank you for coming into my life and putting things in a very refined perspective.

    I also come to you with a question. It isn't about clothes, but I feel you are the person to go to for this little piece of information. If I want to look chic and put together, how should I address the problem on nail polish? Do you generally use the same shade on both hands and feet, or is it ok to use a certain shade for feet and a completely different one for hands? I am really sorry if the question is on the silly side.

    Thank you for the patience and time you took to read this.


    Amanda (from a rather distant fairyland called Romania)

    1. You can wear whatever polish you want, wherever you want it. Your don't have to match your hands and your feet. That said, it's probably going to be more harmonious if you stay in the same general color family. But the rules around nail color seem to have all gone out the window!

  23. I too wondered about the preponderance of black in this travel wardrobe. If you don't feel hotter wearing black in a hot, muggy environment, then you'll be fine. I have a good friend who retired to SW FL and wears black pretty much exclusively and has for years. I think she and you, Janice, are kindred spirits. I am curious about the $160 silk shorts that are dry clean only. That is way beyond my budget, plus they are pretty short, plus what if they get dirty on the trip? Maybe they are just so wonderful that you don't care and you'll hand wash them if you get them dirty. If I were you, I'd take several pairs of shorts and/or capris for the daytime. As another commenter said, you'll be adjusting when you go inside. We've spent winters in Sarasota for the last 15 years and I always take a sweater or wrap when we are going to be indoors regardless of how beastly hot and humid it is outside. It's great to be able to adjust. I don't like to be hot and I don't like to be cold. I like to be just right! Have a lovely vacation. I'm looking forward to more blogs in the near future.

    Deb from Vancouver

  25. Wishing you a fab birthday, Janice, and a fab Floridian times ahead.