Monday, November 07, 2016

How to Build a Capsule Wardrobe: Starting From Scratch, First Steps

Another step by step, starting from scratch Capsule Wardrobe exercise! This week, I'm tackling olive and beige as the neutrals, with teal, rust and ivory as the accent colors. Our primary emphasis is going to be on the "very casual, lots of jeans and corduroy" sort of style. Many of you have told me that you have very little need for dressy clothes in your wardrobe, so let's see what can be done with that in mind.

And fear not, when I do this in December, it's going to be conservative-office dressy!

First up, let's visualize the colors:

capsule wardrobe color palette in khaki, olive, rust, ivory and teal

Since these colors are definitely pretty warm, with the exception of the teal, my current plan is to use warm deep brown leather goods, and gold jewelry. Our heroine's style is going to be one of traditionally styled sweater, small jewelry, and classic leather pieces. There will be NO dresses, nor skirts. (this should be great fun!)

First up: a pair of wrinkle-free cotton trousers, in the dark neutral olive. And a timeless pair of penny-loafers... you could wear both of these 50 years ago, you can wear them now, and you'll be able to wear them 50 years from now (unless they finally get us all those matching space-aged jumpsuits that we were all supposed to wear in the 21st century...)

capsule wardrobe essentials - classic pants and shoes

Since we started the wardrobe in October by building a solid navy outfit, I thought that this month I would break up the colors a bit. Yes, I'm very smitten with this cardigan - it's been available for years, and I suspect will be for years into the future. To me, that's a good recommendation!

capsule wardrobe essentials - neutral cardigan and tee shirt

For a second pair of pants, it's usually jeans, but since we're moving into the real teeth of autumn (in the Northern Hemisphere, of course!), I thought that I lush pair of corduroy pants in olive would be casual but bring a bit of texture to our ensemble. I'm sure jeans will eventually show up!

Our shirt is a simple button-front, but in a softer off-white, rather than stark white (and in silk, rather then predictable oxford cotton!). These kinds of little adjustments can make you feel more "yourself" in your clothes...

capsule wardrobe essentials - casual pants and a simple shirt

At the end of the first few steps of starting a capsule wardrobe from scratch, you've got these 5 pieces assembled (and those really nice loafers!):


first six pieces of a capsule wardrobe
shirt – James Lakeland, tee - J.Crew;
cardigan – L.L.Bean;pants – L.L.Bean;
loafers - Cole Haan
;
corduroy pants – L.L.Bean


If you decide not to move forward for quite a long time with re-doing your wardrobe, these pieces won't be orphaned - they work together to give you 8 new outfits, and they almost certainly work with at least some of the clothing that you already own. 

The object of rebuilding your wardrobe is not to get trapped in a transition that you don't like, nor is it to be forced to buy a whole big PILE of clothes before you feel like some progress is being made. Buying in an orderly, progressive fashion means that you've always got some new choices available, and that you're never forced to move forward when you're not yet ready.


eight outfits from the first 5 pieces of a capsule wardrobe

Tomorrow, we get some accessories, a touch of rust, and some pieces in our khaki neutral!

love,
Janice
How to start a capsule wardrobe from scratch in a khaki, beige, teal, and rust, color palette - First Steps
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28 comments:

  1. I love these colors as well as the more casual look! This is the sort of capsule wardrobe I would build (with the addition of some dark brown apparel). I am really looking forward to seeing this one come together, as it is pretty much what I am doing right now -- mostly warm colors, no dresses or skirts, and only low-heeled shoes. Thank you, Janice!

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    1. These are my fall/winter accent colors, too, but usually worn with warm brown. Olive near my face doesn't seem to work for me, but I might "need" some olive pants. . . . Looking forward to the accessories!

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    2. Cee Pluse,
      A great big ditto ! My thoughts, exactly !

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    3. Mine too!! Love that you are doing a warm palette for those of us that wear warm based colors.

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  2. This is great timing. I am about to get out my winter clothes, and I'll just go through your step by step process to match what I have and see what I could use (I don't say "need" because I have plenty of clothes, let's face it).

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  3. Perfect!! Thank you! Really looking forward to this week and how the wardrobe grows!

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  4. Not my colors but i definitely love the casual no skirts or dresses because that is me all the way. I do love olive and teal too.

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  5. Oh Janice !
    You have just taken off more than 50 years of my life with a return to the days when I first learned the mix and match concept of wardrobe planning. And --- it started with an olive and tan combo way back then. I am so incredibly excited about this series-- you have just provided a cyber "fountain of youth" for me , thank you, thank you ! This series is going to feel like Christmas morning to me each day -- can't wait for tomorrow's post !

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  6. Oh, Janice, you are the best? Your chosen colors make my heart sing ( ha, my skin coloring too)! I will be most attentive discovering how you create ensembles maintaining your signature "column of color". Beige is such a tricky color to wear as skin and eye color change through the years (don't even get me started with the waist line)..

    You are spot on as casual and smart casual seem to be the everyday norm.
    Another warm autumn fan can't thank you enough.
    Pat

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  7. I LOVE this build a capsule wardrobe series. Keep 'em coming!

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  8. Oh, how I love and long for these colors--and they used to be mine, but no more. They are however still my auburn-haired daughter's, so I'm forwarding this post to her--I've already given her most of my olive and khaki clothes! (my hair is now grey, and I've moved to navy and grey; olive/khaki no longer suits) Thanks, Mary

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    1. Anonymous, thanks for posting. I have been wondering how my wardrobe colors would change once I can no longer hang onto my strawberry blond hair. I will mentally gear up for navy and grey. Love those too.

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  9. Penny loafers! I had a pair of penny loafers in the 80's that I wore for years until they fell apart. They were so versatile, I loved them. Maybe it's time for another pair. I also like the casual vibe of this wardrobe and the warm colors, I'm looking forward to tomorrow's post!

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  10. Went to buy the cardigan and the link is wrong. Theresa

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    1. Dear Theresa,
      Thanks for letting me know - I fixed it.
      I've loved this cardigan for YEARS; someday I'm going to get one in black...
      hugs,
      Janice

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  11. Olive and Tan! OMG you love me! So happy to see this as I work on perfecting and filling out my own olive and tan wardrobe. Thank you!

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  12. Love these colors! Also I like the casual feel, as I do not work. I am going to try an experiment as we go along...substituting navy for some of the teal pieces, as I have the navy basics and it goes well with rust, olive, and ivory. It may give me some new outfit ideas...I do look forward to seeing how teal works with everything as well. I have a teal sweater and a long sleeve tee to try out with it.So I will get lots of mileage out of this grouping! Love your inspiration! I also love the dark brown, almost cinnamon leather color you have chosen.

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  13. I am so thrilled to see this color combination! It has all my loves of choice - the olive, the rust, the teal. Please do the dressier version too - I'm even more excited about that.

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  14. I plan to use this series to build a workable wardrobe out of what I already have in my closet. I am losing weight and want to try and put off buying things until absolutely necessary! I think I have enough size variation to pull it off! Fingers crossed! LOL

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  15. I love this already... it feels totally do-able and I can't wait to see where you take this.

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  16. These are my colours, if you include darker browns too. Thank you!

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  17. A lovely colour combination Janice, thank you! I've been musing on others' comments about moving from warm colours to navy and grey as their hair greys. I'm hoping to avoid that as my hair grows out. (I'm near the end of a 12-month 'transition' with the help of a colorist.)

    I'm keeping my warm tortoiseshell glasses and gold jewellery because I love them, and hoping that with my pale warm complexion, and white/cream/pastel colours near my face, I can stay in the warm zone. I don't really want to replace clothes if I can help it, and just dont feel comfortable in the cooler colours. Time will tell! I should be all grey by the end of the year.

    Robyn in Tasmania

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  18. Thank you for doing the conservative office dressy next month. I am in a hospital library and really, really need to trade in my wardrobe. Still dressing as a grad student. I want to add another thanks for your work in creating color combinations. Honestly, I must confess that I actually wish that there were Garanimals for adults. Remember garanimals https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rXceQWHxcpo

    Yes, yes I do realize that we use fashion to express creativity and style. And I should take joy and pleasure in preparing myself with a wardrobe that suits me. But it's a little rough if you aren't naturally stylish and fashion challenged. Your capsules provide the inspiration, suggestions and combinations that I need. Thanks again.

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    1. I always loved the concept of Garanimals! I never owned any - I lived in my sister's hand-me-downs (a sister who could NOT have looked more different from me if we'd tried!)...

      And I want to encourage you NOT to buy into the idea that we're all supposed to enjoy preparing wardrobes - that's just as sexist as saying that all women should cook, or should like decorating. Some of us all all about coordinating wardrobes, and others aren't - it's the way we're meant to be. Variety among women is important, and we shouldn't force ourselves to "love" things because we're told to.

      Off soapbox...
      with hugs,
      Janice

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    2. Thank you thank you - I really do dislike shopping in general, trying things on is even worse! I read your posts almost daily and love the idea of a capsule wardrobe with only 2 or 3 colors but never know where to start. I'd be happy to buy the whole kitten caboodle at LLBean ( I shopped there almost exclusively before they changed their pant cut about 10 years back and am willing to try again) but Uniqlo, who you often recommend, makes me nervous (not familiar with their sizing, out of country etc) My other dilemma is that I live in SW Florida and only need a sweater or second layer of any sort a handful of days out of the year so many of the lovely outfits just scream "too hot" to my eye. (all those hot flashes don't help a bit). All this to say I love what you do and wish you could just pick everything out for me and send it my way!!!

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    3. My experience with Uniqlo has been that they run a tiny bit small, but nothing dramatic. I like to order Mediums from them (I'm 5/4" and weight 145) and find that they fit really well. When in doubt, it's always easy to just order a couple of sizes and return the ones that don't fit; it's really no more complicated than trying to find parking in a mall, and then trying clothes on in a dinky little badly-lit, slightly grubby room...
      hugs,
      Janice

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  19. I have a lot of navy and black basics. Are they too close to each other to become the neutrals in a capsule wardrobe?

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    1. imho you can have 2 dark neutrals and one light neutral. when i used to wear both, they hung on separate sides of my closet; now i prefer having navy for warm part of the year and black for cold part (fading out to be replaced with burgundy, though)

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