Friday, August 05, 2016

A Capsule Wardrobe in Navy, Hot Pink and Ivory: from Travel Wardrobe to Four by Four Wardrobe

Yesterday's capsule wardrobe really felt like it would be interesting to expand, didn't it? So let's plunge in and see what we can learn from the process!

This is the entire travel capsule wardrobe - the travel outfit and the Six-Pack:

travel capsule wardrobe in navy, hot pink and cream
cardigan – Yumi; tees – Lands’ End; watch – Bulova; bracelet – Panacea
 earrings – Marc Jacobs; ring – Maiko Nagayama; earrings – Kate Spade;  
necklace – Alexis Bittar; Nail polish – JINsoon; lip stain – Yves Saint Laurent
in Explicit Pink;  wrap – Nordstrom; linen shirt – Uniqlo; square scarf – Irene Paris
 small scarf – T.M.Lewin; cardigan – Vince; jeans – Armani Jeans
 cords – Marni; skirt – Uniqlo; tote – London Fog
 flats – Anne Klein; loafers – Vionic; pumps – SoftWalk

The easiest way for me to really look at a group of clothing and find the "gaps" is to plug them into a template - either the "Whatever's Clean" template, or the 4 by 4 Wardrobe. I don't honestly feel like this color scheme is going to be a "Whatever's Clean" possibility; there are 2 accent colors here that might not work together in all cases. (which is fine...)

So I'm going to go from the clothes that we have up to 16 pieces, by filling in the blanks shown here:

partially completely 4 by 4 wardrobe in navy, hot pink and cream

It would be entirely possible, and completely acceptable, to fill in the entire 2nd Core of 4 with navy pieces, but I thought that might be overdoing it. IF, however, you wanted a 2nd navy skirt, in a flaired or pleated cut, this would be the perfect place to do it!

But I've been trying to keep this wardrobe pretty casual, and that meant MORE JEANS!!! to me. And I personally love cream-color jeans, and I firmly believe that they can be worn all year. So I'm starting here:

adding a pair of cream jeans to a travel capsule wardrobe
jeans - Citizens of Humanity

It's important to have a clear idea of how you're going to wear your new purchase before you buy it; that's why I try to show new purchases can be worn with items that are already in the wardrobe...

Yes, we already have a luscious, cuddly and soft navy cardigan, but since navy is our key neutral, I thought that a 2nd cardigan in a very different silhouette wouldn't be overdoing it. I particularly like this very long version:

adding a navy cardigan to a travel capsule wardrobe
cardigan - Uniqlo

So those 2 simple purchases fill the first two rows of our template, and give us a good solid base of neutral pieces upon which we can build with more accent or stand-alone pieces.

One BIG hole in this wardrobe is the absence of the 2nd accent color! So a classic shirt, with nice straight lines (remember the woman from yesterday who loved tidiness and order...) is a good choice.

If you have something like this and you feel like the white parts of the stripes are just TOO white, consider "tea dying" it. Tea dying is exactly what it sounds like - you make very strong tea, put it into a container, and soak a garment in the tea until it yellows (a little or a lot, depending on your preference), then rise and launder. For those among us who want to prefer to avoid blinding white, it's an interesting, easy option.

buying a light blue shirt to add to a travel capsule wardrobe
linen shirt - Uniqlo
For those of you who steer clear of linen, I must share with you that after I laundered my linen capris the 2nd time, they no longer really needed to be ironed! They're never going to be "crispy perfectly creased" pants, but they're more than acceptable now if I just hang them to dry. Woo hoo!!!

Okay, this wardrobe has a "wild card" spot in the Expansion Four, in which another "bottom" can be chosen. For a dressier wardrobe, I'd be turning over rocks trying to find a navy plaid skirt that included hints of my accent colors. Maybe a dark tweed? Or maybe a navy paisley? That's not as square and grid-like as our current theme, but might work, too...

But because we're trying to be casual here, I thought that this would be a chance to include a pair of soft, faded, comfortable jeans. I thought about ivory corduroy pants, or ivory velvet jeans, but couldn't find either... Designers should listen to me more!

buying traditional jeans to add to a travel capsule wardrobe
Jeans - L.L.Bean
So we have all of our bottoms, and we've got the opportunity to choose 3 more tops. This is the time to really start looking for accent colors, in patterns that work well with the overall aesthetic "theme" that you prefer. Because squares were such a big part of our original protagonist's life, I thought more plaid would never be wrong. Plus, going into cooler weather in the Northern Hemisphere, these are SO appropriate...

adding a pink plaid shirt to a travel capsule wardrobe
shirt - Lands' End

Rather than trying to visualize all of this yourself, it might be easier to just draw a 4 by 4 grid and sketch your garments into the grid - when you see the entirety of the wardrobe in front of you, it's easy to see that (right now) this wardrobe could use another big dose of pink!

I chose this sweater for 3 reasons:

  • the pink is the exactly color of our tee shirt
  • it's got a collar that can be worn with the plaid shirts underneath it, or on it's own,
  • and I felt like someone who loves pattern and structure might appreciate beautiful cables on a sweater!

add a hot pink cabled sweater to a travel capsule wardrobe
sweater - Lands' End

One garment left - let's find the other accent color! This is what I think of as a "stand-alone" garment; you can't really layer it easily, so the range of ways in which it can worn is relatively limited. That said, pretty much any wardrobe is going to include a couple of these pieces. This sweater appealed to me because of the contrast between the heavy, warm structure of it and the softly feminine color. And more cables!

add a blue turtleneck to a travel capsule wardrobe
Sweater – Lands’ End

With those 7 additions, this wardrobe is now complete, and much more versatile. They keys to building on outfits that you like is to figure out where your gaps are and to fill them in. Continue to refer back to your original outfit or other chosen core, and keep asking yourself WHY you like them and want to use them as your leitmotif.

Then shop, making sure that you're consistently faithful to your color scheme, your preferred cuts/structures, and your signature style elements. Don't buy too much, or go too fast, and make sure that all new pieces get a full and warm introduction into your existing wardrobe!

a 4 by 4 Capsule Wardrobe in Navy, Hot Pink, Light Blue and Cream

Should I get some more accessories, too?

A travel capsule wardrobe with accessories expanded in a navy blue, ivory, and hot pink color palette
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  1. Tea dying! I would be terrified to try it on something I love, but I'm intrigued.

  2. Up at 4:30 am with a cold, and I stop by to check out my favorite fashion blog... And voila! An update! What a lovely thing to see!

    I'd love to see more accessories with this wardrobe. I personally am a bit shy with boldly colored accessories— although perhaps it seems that way because I tend to wear small accessories... I hope you had a great week and that you have an awesome weekend coming up!

  3. We've talked about this before, but I think it would be so helpful to try to develop a template for accessories. I know these vary so much woman to woman, but perhaps if we think *outside* the box for category titles, it would help us fill *in* some boxes! So, and I'm just brainstorming as I type, I might have categories like:
    "Accessories that don't get in my way" -- stud earrings; scarf knotted into a short "necklace"; light, short necklace; socks
    "For when I want the accessory to be the star" -- Hermes scarf; statement necklace; dramatic pashmina; big/dangling earrings
    "Working Accessories" -- watch; bag; wrap/scarf for warmth; gloves; hat; belt

    I think a template like this could be customized to go along with your great little stories about different women and their wardrobe needs. In yesterday's/today's example, our lady might have a "Square Accessories" category or two. I'd love to see what you could do with this germ of an idea!

  4. Just wanted to second your tip about washing linen pants (or other items). I hang them to dry, then pop them into the dryer on the "Cool Down" setting for about 10 minutes. That softens them up just a bit, and they're ready to wear! SO cool in the Texas heat!

  5. Yes please to an accessories post for this combination! Love all these colours. I think Lori's idea of an accessories template is an excellent one and could be so helpful. Shops are showing Fall clothes already so within the next couple of weeks I'm going to go through my clothes and set out this 4 x 4 template just to see where the gaps are - it just makes things so clear when you think of it this way.

  6. A thought on the one piece at a time additions to our wardrobes - the way many of us shop, I think. I find that with any new piece, be it a garment, an accessory, or a pair of shoes, it takes a month or two for it to really "settle in" with the rest of my wardrobe. It's as if I need to wear it a few times in different outfits or with different accessories before I feel like I really know it. Since I tend to anthropomorphize, I like to picture the "new guy/girl" showing in up in my closet and having to find their place among everyone that's already there. The "shiny new thing" stage is exciting, but I know a piece really works after it's reached the stage of "old friend." Anyone else experience anything like this?
    - Kaci

  7. Following Janice's advice, I did a quick sketch of my planned wardrobe in black, grey, wine (and its pale version, a cool pink) and blue (with the pale shade as well). As I worked, I caught a pattern I hadn't realized, of flowing bottoms. This led me to balance them out with more fitted tops, so I removed the tunic and another loose blouse I had previously included. In the future, a few more nice tshirts in the colour scheme will be added, as well as (hopefully) a light grey/blue/pink print.

    I will work on the accessories next, but they include a grey/blue scarf, a blue belt, a japanese print scarf in wine, plenty of silvery blue pearls and forged silver.

    Pardon the very quick sketched but I hope this may inspire someone. No need for perfection, it is just an aid to your thoughts!

    1. Wow, how awesome! I love hearing about other people's process with their wardrobes. Janice, you might consider a regular feature where your readers share their thinking, show off plans, and ask questions.

  8. Beatriz, your sketches are wonderful! I always wish that I could do that....

  9. Note to everyone - I was NOT the culprit who removed the "Reply" option for comments - that's something that Google did, in their infinite lack of wisdom. I'm going to get my tech guy on it to see if there's any possible repair.
    I'm so sorry - I just don't have the tech knowledge to abandon the Google system!
    hugs all around,

  10. Dear Janice: I wanted to report on the trip to Switzerland. Your template was VERY helpful. I had a lot of fun working with it. I did over estimate the dressy options, but at no real expense. I forget how casual the Swiss are (I guess especially in the high mountains). But, I am going next year, and now, while I am fresh, I am making notes in my travel packer document. Some new things worked very well, and although never used it, I was glad I included a swimsuit. I keep reading, I keep learning. Thanks, your fan and grateful student, Judith

  11. Dear Judith,
    I'm so glad you had a great trip - I've only ever been to the train station in Switzerland! Something I must rectify some day...

  12. Love the addition of more light blue and the light jeans. Yes, please, to more accessories. And maybe some outerwear? I can already see how useful a hot pink vest would be! Funny how I tend to think of winter outerwear as an accessory. Probably because once it gets cold and snowy no one sees my outfit, just the outerwear as I run errands all day. And I like color, so my coats and jackets are mostly in accent colors rather than neutrals.

  13. Yes, I noticed the disappearance of the reply button and hope you can retrieve it.
    I second your comment about ivory velvet jeans. I know I would wear them a lot for dressier casual evenings, if you know what I mean. I know I could make them but for some reason sewing ivory velvet gives me pause!
    More accessories is always a good idea.
    I do a lot of tea dying.....some does not work well or at all on synthetics or fabrics with a synthetic component; test your tea colour first, different teas give different tones, rinse in salt water to help set and it will wear off with washing. It is great to cover up spills.

    Deb from Vancouver

  14. Yes please to more accessories. Luv the new additions. Thank you for showing your thought process again, I think I will eventually get it and visualising it seems to be key. This was so helpful to me. But I can also see that the plan needs to be there from the beginning. I do get frustrated that when I go shopping with my list I can't find any of what I need.

    Yes to an accessories grid: could have a practical accessories list eg shoes, bag, hat, sunglasses, scarf & gloves. Then a decorative list eg necklace, earings, bracelet, ring etc.... Just sharing my "2 bits worth".

    From Angela, Perth, Australia

  15. Hi Janice, I found this transition from a travel pack to this 4x4 template really helpful and Beatrice- thanks for sharing your example of applying this template in your own wardrobe.

  16. I too have found this transition from travel to 4x4 template very helpful, and Beatriz's illustration for her wardrobe - what a neat idea!
    A tension between this template and my own planning approach comes from wanting to start with garment types (pants, skirts, tops, cardies) and build up from there, instead of starting with colours ... Living in a cool temperate climate makes cardies/tunics/jumpers as vital as pants/skirts. So I usually start with those and then fill in the tops part.
    But I think today's post will be useful in keeping me focused on the 4x4 principle. Thank you Janice!
    Robyn in Tasmania

  17. I use your 4x4 worksheet for trip and wardrobe planning. It's a special tool, so simple and effective. It helps to visibly match necklines for different layers.
    One question, I've been trying to locate the post you did on your Irish photo that used to be your header. You used the colors from the header and I can't seem to find that post. Any ideas? Theresa

  18. Thank you!๐Ÿ’ I love this and it is perfect for my lifestyle! I'm going to use this as a model for my fall wardrobe. Yes to more accessories ๐Ÿ’๐Ÿ’

  19. I feel like I am finally getting it! I get the four by four template, and am starting to understand how to integrate shoes and accessories. Yes, an accessory template and perhaps a quick revisit to shoe choice would be fun. The nicest part of my morning is coffee and The Vivienne Files.

  20. Love how your blog is both fun and so very helpful, Janice! Would you consider doing similar back-to-back posts like this, only going from a travel wardrobe to a Whatever's Clean template? Your step by step explanations on the 4x4 are so helpful, so as a Whatever's Clean kind of girl I would find that so useful. Any colors are fine, because it's easy to adapt, but my colors are denim, cream/white, olive and brown/khaki ( depending on the season), and casual. Thanks for considering. Rock on! Lisa

  21. Hi Janice...A request...I bought this beauty today at Talbots, and I love it! However, I have never owned a yellow dress before, and wondered if you would be willing to style it in a blog post? I am a winter, and this dress is a cool (enough) tone to look great on me. My wardrobe really is built around black, white, grey, hot pink, cobalt blue and red...but I just didn't want to resist this gem! Thanks so much!

  22. Another way to do a pattern, if you like patterned bottoms, would be some a pair of the straight-legged pants that are so popular right now in small, geometric patterns. They are often in black and emerald, fuschia, or white -- or sometimes navy in those colors.

  23. What a great step-by-step -- I found this post very helpful for pre-plan a useful fall/winter wardrobe.

    PLEASE do return to this group and walk us through your thinking process for accessories...while I won't be working in these colors or style, the process is the important part, and I think well worth exploring for us. Thanks for all you do!

  24. I've been reading through your archives and getting lots of great information on where to begin, but I think that for me, THIS post has helped me visualize what I need to do first: Take what I have already, insert it into appropriate spots in the grid, and WHAM those things that are left are the first holes I need to concentrate on filling first. Thank you!