Friday, October 14, 2016

How to Build a Capsule Wardrobe: Starting From Scratch - Finishing Up

Frankly, at this point in proceedings, you could easily stop building your capsule wardrobe, and be just fine!

Starting From Scratch capsule wardrobe in navy, beige, pink and blue

But it's always reasonable to stop and evaluate where you are with your wardrobe - are there things that you still need? Items that might make OTHER items more versatile, or get them used more frequently? Are you sure you're ready for whatever events might come up in the future?

The answers to these questions will be different for each of us, but they are worth asking...

The biggest lack of balance that I can see is that I'm "navy-heavy" here. This often happens - it's normal that either you simply like one of your neutrals more than the other, or that it's much more readily available, or that you want to have a solid core of items that all go together. It's not a disaster - it's just something to be aware of, in the future...

Those fun transition pieces that include both of your neutrals are always worth watching for, although they still have to be something that you'll love - not just something that will bridge the two colors. That's NOT enough...

And of course, you can always add in more tops in any of the 5 colors. This wardrobe could certainly use a simple khaki shirt (this one from Lands' End would be perfect). More white tee shirts? More pink and blue? Yes and Yes. If you see a pink and blue plaid flannel shirt, grab it!

How to evaluate a Starting From Scratch capsule wardrobe

To get us up to 24 garments (not counting the coats), I found 2 more "tops" that will be perfect here:

how to choose tops to add to a Starting From Scratch capsule wardrobe

The "finished" wardrobe. In reality, we all know that no wardrobe is every finished, because our lives change, our bodies change, and our clothes (eventually) wear out!

A finished Starting From Scratch capsule wardrobe

So how does this wardrobe compare to other wardrobe planning ideas that I've posited in the past? Well, I was able to pull together a "Whatever's Clean 13" wardrobe out of the navy pieces pretty easily. This is the kind of wardrobe that you want when you are traveling and you don't know what's going to greet you at your destination; you don't have to be obsessive about your clothes when you know that they'll all go together!

a Whatever's Clean 13 capsule wardrobe in inavy with pink and blue accents

And this is also very compatible with with the ideas of the 4 by 4 Wardrobe. I made sure early on to have the Cores of 4 in each neutral, so from there it was pretty simple.

a "4 by 4 Wardrobe" in navy, khaki, blue and pink

So which wardrobe planning tool to use? Whatever feels most comfortable for you; if you want to start small, start with Whatever's Clean 13, and then build on that when you're ready. If you like the structure and template of the 4 by 4 Wardrobe, you can begin there by building one "Four" at a time.

There are no right answers. Just have a plan, and be patient with yourself. It's only clothing, after all...


For more in this Starting from Scratch series, check out the following articles:

p.s. I'm leaving for Italy TODAY! But have no fear, for the next 2 weeks, I have blog posts prepared and schedule to arrive at the normal time. All are based on 2 scarves, and all are "Tote-Bag Travel" i.e. one night doing something WONDERFUL...

I hope you enjoy them! Please note that I won't be able to fix broken links, and that because these were prepared in advance, some items might be sold out. I apologize in advance for anything that's gone awry in the next 2 weeks.

p.p.s. - Follow me on Instagram - viviennefiles is my "handle" there... photos of Italy.... mmm....

p.p.p.s. - for more inspiration, check out the Starting from Scratch or Common Capsule Wardrobe pages.

A finished capsule wardrobe built from scratch in navy, beige, pink, and blue.
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  1. Enjoy your stay in Italy Janice. I went to Rome in May and "shopped" a WC13 in my closet. I actually had free space in my carry on. Couldn't believe it ! This is my favorite formula of yours, because I can have several of them, using the same neutral staples. However, I decided to freshen up my winter wardrobe based on a 4X4. This should be fun as I plan to sew and knit the missing pieces. I love your blog.

  2. Hope you have a wonderful vacation! When I travel I use your Whatever's Clean 13 template. It forces me to think through my wardrobe needs and consider what is most important when selecting what to pack. Sometimes the focus is warm vs cool climate, other times my needs will dictate casual vs dressier or business vs leisure activities. When planning seasonal capsule wardrobes I prefer the 4x4 method. I'm planning to carry over one of my neutrals into each new season to make transitioning easier and to keep the overall clothing count down. It's an ongoing process that seems to be working. I've noticed that since I've started reading TVF that I'm investing in higher quality basics and incorporating seasonal trends thoughtfully while at the same time spending less money! Plus it's so much faster getting dressed every day. Wow! Following your blog has been instrumental in making this happen. Can't thank you enough.

    1. Lena, I have been thinking about your comment about carrying over one neutral into the next season. Conceptually I love it! I tried to plan my own designated neutrals and didn't quite think it through this time. I do have a bit of system with some of my neutrals (mainly very casual skirts). White/Grey (light)/Black neutrals. White over summer - equinox to equinox. Black over winter - also equinox to equinox. Grey all year round as I have light muted colouring. Food for thought. Hugs Carol S

  3. Have a great trip! If you're in Florence, consider checking out the leather coats/jackets. Wonderful quality, reasonable prices, and a souvenir that will remind you of your trip for years to come. Don't forget to haggle!

  4. Safe and happy travels! I always look forward to your 'Start with a Scarf' postings. They are my favorites.

  5. Have a wonderful trip and thank you for leaving us with posts to follow during your time away. Can' wait to hear about Italy and what people are wearing!

  6. Enjoy your well-earned vacation! Travel safely!

  7. Janice,
    You have put me into format heaven ! I love how you have broken this down to be easily seen and understood ! Have a marvelous, safe, and well deserved trip ! Like others , I look forward to seeing what outfits you have spyed on the streets of Italy ! Have fun !

  8. Have a trip filled with happiness, great wine, wonderful food, and inspiring adventures. Hope you will be able to post to Instagram.

  9. Have a lovely trip! I have enjoyed this series all week long, especially the cabled sweaters. My grandmother knit everyone she knew at least one cabled sweater! I also love your 4x4 plan. At the start of every season I'm drawing up a couple of these plans for myself in a notebook. Enjoy your trip!

  10. I like the WC13 for travel and the 4x4 for seasonal wardrobe planning. I still need to pare down more but it's getting better. Thanks for spoiling us with posts while you are on vacation! Can't wait to see what is happening in Italy! Enjoy every second!

    1. I agree. Thank you for putting in all that extra effort so we can enjoy new blogs while you travel. Have a wonderful trip.

  11. Dear Janice,
    I realize you may never read this as you are traveling, but here goes: the biggest ahh haa I got her was that even if you hunt and hunt for an item that has both of your core colors, you still need to love it before you buy it. I've been following your blog for several years and think about my colors when adding clothes to my wardrobe (I shop in spirts every season or so). As I look in my closet, I have tops and scarves and maybe even some cardigans that go with my other colors but I don't wear them with everything else because there is something a little bit not quite right with them. I will be much more careful when I shop in the future!
    Thank you,

  12. Have a wonderful trip Janice! Sounds lovely.

  13. How do find out the brand/source for an item in your pictures? I see a cardigan I like I would like to find out where to buy it. Thank you!

  14. Minya, Warrior SeamstressOctober 17, 2016 at 12:26 AM

    Bon voyage! I have been given a year's notice of a three week cruise to/from Hawaii in my future. This gives me a year to assemble a suitable travel wardrobe. I am an overweight pear shape, Colour Me Beautiful's Summer palette, and middle-aged. Please, what do you recommend?