Friday, July 22, 2016

How to Build a Capsule Wardrobe 1 Piece at a Time: Brown, Khaki and Pink

No More "Dress For Success"

Every day, every year, the same....

Navy suit, white shirt. Grey suit, white shirt. Navy grey white navy grey white....

It served her well - she was very successful. She worked 7 days a week; she really didn't have a leisure life - her idea of being dressed down was to wear an old work shirt with old pants from a pantsuit. Jeans? Not in her vocabulary. A cardigan? Would get you a visit from the chairman of the firm...

But now that she was leaving the office world, her heart cried out for brown. The color of dirt. The color of chocolate. And khaki - sand, and stones, and natural things....

And PINK. Because she would never have dared to wear pink in her old, very conservative, work environment.

So her first day of retirement, she went shopping! And started here:

beige and brown 3-piece outfit, with brown floral scarf
Shirt – Lands’ End; pants – Lands’ End
 sweaterUniqlo; scarf – Givenchy

The scarf with flowers was SUCH a revelation! And being allowed to wear a shirt that wasn't white (or light blue), and that matched her pants - well, it was a whole new world of loving clothes!

beige and brown 3-piece outfit, with brown floral scarf, and a brown, beige and pink color scheme
Shirt – Lands’ End; pants – Lands’ End
 sweaterUniqlo; scarf – Givenchy

She put on her new outfit, and went shopping again. First thing HAS to be more pink, because she loves it, and because it will be so perfect with her scarf:

add a pink tee shirt to a brown and beige outfit
Tee – L.L.Bean

After decades of wearing a blazer EVERY DAY, she longed for something soft, and knitty, and casual...

add a khaki cardigan to a brown, khaki and pink wardrobe
Cardigan – L.L.Bean

Wearing pants wasn't QUITE unheard of in her life - she had 2 pantsuits, strictly for Fridays, of course. When she realized that she could wear corduroy, and nobody would care, she was all in:

add brown corduroy pants to a brown, khaki and pink wardrobe
Pants – L.L.Bean

After a few days with her new things, she began to realize that there was a world of clothing that she could wear EVERY DAY now; shirts without collars? Heck yes!

add a paisley blouse to a brown, khaki and pink wardrobe
Top – Dorothy Perkins

The warmth, and relaxed comfort, of cardigans made her so happy - it was a level of unstructured dressing that she barely remembered from college.

add an ecru cardigan to a brown, beige and pink wardrobe
Cardigan – Uniqlo

After a few days, she took the plunge. But not BLUE jeans - she'd had quite enough blue, thank you! Lovely sand...

add ecru jeans to a brown, khaki and pink wardrobe
Jeans – J. Crew

Pink AND striped? Be still, her beating heart!

add a striped sailor top to a brown, khaki and pink wardrobe
Top – L.L.Bean

She began to feel joy in small, feminine details - pleats called her name...

add an ivory pleated blouse to a brown, khaki and pink wardrobe
Blouse – Lands’ End

In the midst of all of this sensory delight, she was trying to be a bit practical. She realized that another pair of pants would be helpful, so she indulged her brown longings:

add brown pants to a khaki, brown and pink wardrobe
Pants – L.L.Bean

When one spends their spare time reading contract law updates, the finer nuances of available clothing can be lost. When she started seeing the options of detail and cut, with feminine and pretty details, she just pulled out her wallet and treated herself; it had been decades since she enjoyed shopping this much!
add a pink top to a pink, brown and khaki wardrobe
Top – European Culture

After a while, she realized that she reached for her brown cashmere sweater ALL THE TIME, and decided that it was time to bring a brown cardigan into the mix. If you find yourself wearing something all the time, think about the possibility of a similar piece with just a bit of difference...
add a brown cardigan to a pink, khaki and brown wardrobe
Cardigan – Fabiana Filippi

THIS decision took a long time... skirts weren't something that she ever thought she would wear AGAIN in her life! But she realized that now, she could wear a skirt on her own terms, in her chosen colors, styles, and ensembles. Much different than wearing a skirted suit most of the time!
add a stone skirt to a brown, khaki and pink wardrobe
Skirt – L.L.Bean

The world of printed clothes gave her tons of pleasure; a relaxed top in a warm pink floral print can call to her from a LONG way away in a department store...
add a pink and brown floral blouse to a brown, khaki and pink wardrobe
blouse - Twin-Set

When she looked in her closet now, it was pretty sparse, but beautifully coordinated. She saw only things that she loved, and that she enjoyed wearing. Now, to find accessories...

a 16-piece wardrobe in brown, khaki, off-white and pink

How to build a capsule wardrobe in a brown beige and pink color palette


  1. Love it - it looks so cozy and comfortable and very feminine without being fussy. Can't wait for the accessories! I'm hoping she gets at least 1 pair of pink shoes....

    1. I bet she gets pink SNEAKERS! :)

    2. Yes, pink Keds would be fun and practical!

    3. I vote for pink and beige flowered converse!!
      Deb from Vancouver

  2. Call me an anarchist, but I think the corporate navy-gray-white nothing-but-suits requirement is a horrible, horrible thing. There are so many ways one can be nicely dressed that don't require everyone to look like clones. (Though of course navy-gray-white is a perfectly fine color scheme for those who like it, and suits are fine for those who enjoy wearing them).
    - Kaci

  3. I have the wanties for Every. Single. Thing. in this wardrobe. This is *my* color scheme. My favorite combination ever.

    Much <3 for this.

  4. hit it out of the ballpark Janice!

  5. For the record, I love your little vignettes as much as the wardrobes. They bring context to the clothing and are so much fun to read.

  6. I LOVE your stories! I, too, retired from the corporate world (black, grey, maroon, navy, you know...). And since that time am loving neutrals in taupe, cream, tan, khaki with flowers and paisleys and NO collars! Sandals that show my toes. Clothes that are fun! Thanks for your blog. -- PaulaB

  7. Nicely done Janice! Makes me want to retire early! LOL! This would be a great casual wardrobe! My company is owned by an International corporation but we are very casual in the dressing department! I could wear any of this to work! Can't wait to see what accessories she gets!

  8. LOVE! I just love these soft colors. I really didn't think I'd be able to wear brown or taupe again when I let my hair go silver. I'm so surprised it works. So happy, as I love the softness of these looks. I'm about to purchase that pink top from European Culture. Thanks Janice. xo Deborah

  9. I had no idea about brown and pink until Janice mentioned the combination recently and don't they look fabbo here! If dusty blue, why not dusty pink?
    Robyn in Tasmania

  10. I fell in love with the dusky pink and chocolate combo when I was a child- lovely to see you using it here

  11. This is my SIL all over. Shades of chocolate to cappuccino, with pink or turquoise. She's blonde, and it is so flattering with her pale coloring. Not retired yet (she sells Swiss cheese, a big wheeler dealer--how's that for a job?) but it works well professionally or casually.

  12. Hi Janice and everyone!
    Thanks so much for your blog! :-)
    I have a question: in the 4x4 you write "expansion 4", "...where you feel insecure". What do you mean by that? Is this the "place" for experiments, where I go out of my comfortzone?.
    Thanks and greetings from switzerland

    1. I wanted people to use the Expansion 4 as a place to fill in with clothes that they still felt like they needed. For example, if you're the kind of person who can't be comfortable without a full week's worth of top, you want to make sure that you have seven different shirts, sweaters or blouses at this stage. Conversely, if you really look at this wardrobe and feel like it needs to include a dress, the dress could be included in this stage. It's basically the step where you make sure that the wardrobe is perfect for you, by including the things that you really feel that you most need.
      thanks for asking!

  13. Love this color combination. --photographer friend

  14. With a bit of burgundy, these colours are perfect for me. -Tharu

  15. Oh Janice, you've done it again! I love the brown and pink mix.
    Now get this - I first fell in love with the combo when I was 12-13yrs old. And that's a lot of years ago! I think it was the very first time I noticed colour combos. I fell for a sweater I saw Hayley Mills wearing (uk child actress, you won't have heard of her). So I ordered some pink wool and some brown for the contrast on the cowl neck, bought a skein with my pocket money each week and knitted myself that sweater. Without a pattern. I loved. So thank you so much for this special pink and brown memory lane treat!!!

  16. Oh we know Hayley Mills! The Parent Trap!