Thursday, July 14, 2016

Build a Capsule Wardrobe by Starting with Art: Marguerites by Conrad Kiesel

I'm in a real navy and olive mode these days; I started this a couple of days ago, before yesterday's navy and green outfits. One of my all-time favorite posts on The Vivienne Files is still this one - navy and gorgeous accent colors.

How's this for a glorious painting?

Marguerites by Conrad Kiesel

There are of course a variety of ways that colors could be extracted from this, but these are what I've chosen for today:

In honor of all of you who are traveling to colder climes this autumn, I'm thinking about packing that includes a warm coat and waterproof boots. Especially for those of you going to Ireland in the fall, you'll want both sunglasses AND gloves!

Sunglasses – Tory Burch; scarf – Brooks Brothers; boots – Hunter
fleece – L.L.Bean;  jeansL.L.Bean; coat – L.L.Bean
gloves – Lord & Taylor; bag – Tumi

My assumption is that our packer is starting with her 3 favorite outfits, and will then build around them. She's committed to the olive and navy core:

Sweater – Uniqlo; clover earrings – Aurelie Bidermann; necklace – 
ABS by Allen Schwartz; pants – L.L.Bean; blouse – Uniqlo
boots – Me Too

This is her third outfit choice:

tee – Uniqlo; scarf – Missoni; bracelet – Coach
shoes – Ugg; pants – L.L.Bean; cardigan – Uniqlo

At this point, this is what she would have with her for her trip. This is NOT a bad wardrobe - much the contrary. Depending on how long one was going to be away, this might be more than sufficient...

In addition to the 3 original outfits, there are plenty of way to recombine these pieces to create new ensembles:

But let's imagine that our friend wants to include a few more pieces in her luggage. Let's lay everything out in a "color-sorted" way, and see what we might still want to include:

To my eye, the biggest thing that might appeal, and offer some variety, is a couple of pieces in accent colors, as well as a few more accessories. Earrings are tiny, but can pack a big punch in terms of how much they change the way an outfit looks (and feels!).

sweater – Therapy; lapis earrings – Barse; blouse – Uniqlo
blush earrings – Michael Kors; scarf – Halogen

Now, with the addition of our accents, the entirety of her travel wardrobe looks like this. Yes, the pants and jeans are going to be worn a lot, but if you're in a cool climate, and moving around from town to town, that's not a bad thing. Unless you are literally mucking about in dirt, trousers won't be so badly soiled that they need to be laundered EVERY time you wear them. 

This still isn't a mountain of clothes for a week or 10 days. Bulky shoes are the worst, in terms of packing. If this were me, I'd probably fly in my Hunter boots. Seriously. I'd take them off when I was sitting, and wear them otherwise. They're not particularly uncomfortable (albeit maybe a bit hot, indoors), and being able to avoid packing them might make it worthwhile. What's the worst that could happen?

The wardrobe additions can be worn in a lot of different combinations:

Just thinking about travel puts a smile on my face...


p.s. I'd be a really delinquent blogger if I didn't remind you that early access to the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale starts today (i.e. if you have their credit card, you get first dibs). If you're looking for something specific for the upcoming autumn/winter season, this is a chance to maybe find a good price on something you need. And yes, I get a commission if you buy something. That's what keeps the air conditioning turned on at The Vivienne Files during the hot weather!


  1. Great selection! I'd personally drop the gold and the rust and add a few more items in the pink and olive green in tops and I'd be set. This is very much how I like to dress when I travel, casual and comfortable but dressy enough to feel appropriate in most circumstances.
    I am eagerly anticipating Nordstrom's opening here in Toronto this Sept. - on my birthday! I'm taking this as a sign and I've already booked the day off from the office! :-)

  2. I wish I was traveling to wherever this wardrobe is going (I am so tired of Georgia heat and humidity)! I love the first three colors together (navy, olive, and dark orange). I would love to see more of the dark orange in particular, as it is one of my favorites. I would even wear pants in that color, or a comfortable dress. The "analyze everything" board is a brilliant idea for deciding what apparel items would round out the wardrobe.

    Your comment about the boots reminded me of the time my sister-in-law and I celebrated a landmark birthday by flying to Portugal for riding lessons. I had to take riding boots (actually riding sneakers, but still bulky) and a riding helmet, which is large, hard, and even more bulky. I actually called the airline to ask if I could possibly wear the helmet rather than packing it, as it takes up a lot of luggage space and I had to put it in my carry-on bag. We came to the conclusion that the sight of someone wearing a protective helmet might cause panic among the other passengers, especially as this was right after the London bomb scare about 10 years ago, so into the luggage went the helmet and I ended up wearing the riding sneakers.

    Unfortunately the shoes, while comfortable for riding or even walking dirt trails, were not meant for walking on hard surfaces. We changed flights in London, where we had to be rushed through security and make a run for the shuttle bus to catch our connecting flight in time. My feet were in agony! However, the pain was short-lived, we had a wonderful time on our trip, and at least I did not have to pack or wear tall riding boots!

    1. I'm here in Atlanta and agree about the heat and humidity. This has been a very long run of hot days, even for us. Love the story about the riding helmet!

  3. What a lovely scheme. I especially like the gold, as it adds such an unexpected dimension. Its also interesting to see how navy can be used as the basis for a 'warm' palette - usually navy is outlawed for people with warmer colouring, but if you are a redhead with blue eyes, it's a viable 'neutral'.

    If I was truly 'starting from scratch' (well I can daydream!) this would be great scheme - perhaps with a little light grey added,especially for spring/summer (I love yellow/grey and olive/grey combinations). In fact it would be fun to see this expanded to a project 333, or a four seasons version!

    1. Hi Alice. I'm enjoying being opened up to wearing navy with warm colours too. Warm cream, cinnamon, gold, the right orangey colours, and these interesting olives ... I'm a dark denim type, and thanks to Janice, I'm realising there's a whole world beyond the jeans + white shirt starting point.
      Robyn in Tasmania

  4. With the whole month of September in Ireland, Shetland and London, I am planning for chilly or wet weather. The pants and jeans really are the best option for 14 days in Ireland and a week in Shetland. Hosiery and shoes can be kept basic (boots and walking shoes). There is a lot of choice with the accent colours and gold jewelry. I am tempted by the duffle coat but
    since I already own a wool rust/orange coat and an olive coloured trench that is roomy enough for layering....Would a navy dress
    and a pair of Thierry Rabotin ballerinas (already owned) be a good addition for London week. Although dressier navy pants with low boots can probably go anywhere. You really inspire me to look at what I already own rather rushing out to buy more. Wiser purchases mean more money for travel or a nice meal in an Irish pub!

    1. It sounds like you're coats will be perfect, and yes, a navy dress and flats would be the ideal addition to this wardrobe if you want to have a "nicer" option for big cities. Buying nicer things, and using them to pieces, gives us more money for fine dining, which is ALWAYS a good idea!

  5. Love these outfits! Olive isn't my color, but I could easily substitute gray or taupe. And pink for the yellow. Traveling in the fall to the British Isles sounds wonderful! xo Deborah

  6. My blue and olive combination didn't work out so well. I guess a pair of olive shoes would help it look pulled together more. But I do like the pairing of the deep yellow with either olive or navy.


  7. Your travel posts are always helpful, especially now that I am traveling soon for about ten days.

  8. Looks like a great travel wardrobe! Not my colors(yellow or pink)but great combinations! Shoes are tough for a wet climate. I don't think I would take rubber boots and rubber shoes, one or the other. Wish I was going to Ireland in September! Will still be very hot here for a long time. Sigh.......

  9. Charming painting and lovely colours. I too like the 'analyse this' illustration. I do a version of this by putting a white sheet over the bed and putting my three core outfits on it. The plain background helps me to check what goes with what and where/which accent pieces to add.
    The detail of the clover-leaf earrings for Ireland is pure Janice! Altogether, an excellent guide and practical, enjoyable packing set.
    Robyn in Tasmania

  10. Ireland in the fall will also need a sturdy umbrella. I live in Scotland where the climate is very much the same as Ireland and I don't leave home without one.

  11. Love this Janice...going to put it on my Facebook right now!

  12. I did a similar wardrobe for a warm weather diving trip to Honduras. That meant shorts, light weight skirt, t shirts, sandals, as well as jeans, rain jacket, long sleeved tops and cardigans. The navy and olive worked just great and I had loads of options. I also discovered on the trip the magic of bring 2 scarves in different weights/sizes (both olive/navy). One smaller scarf in silk for when you just need a little something around your neck for a draft or some added color. One larger scarf/shawl to use as a real wrap. This combo worked great for me. Love your olive/navy wardrobe layout Janice!

  13. What a great post! I found it via Pam's (over50looking40) Facebook page.

  14. good advice about wearing the rain boots. I just returned from Norway,Iceland,and Scotland...even in July it rained part of every day. It was not too cold (55-65) so a rain jacket was enough without layering. We all took rain boots and I wore my ankle high rain boots almost every day they were so comfortable. We weren't hiking in the wilds so didn't need the calf high rubber boots, although my daughter wore her red ones frequently with her jeans. This was my hardest packing decision before I left, so I thought it might be helpful to others to share what I learned from experience