Wednesday, March 22, 2017

How to Build an "All-Neutral" Capsule Wardrobe in Ivory and Black

Someone asked me what this wardrobe would look like with ONLY ivory and black pieces, incorporating prints and patterns as the accents. And someone else asked what I would do if I were choosing how to build on the original 9 Neutral Building Blocks. So I thought I'd incorporate both ideas into one post - a last look at those 9 ivory and black pieces!

First off - these are the pieces that I would add, if I were going to build on the neutrals. It would be really easy to just get seven striped garments! But I always love a good marled sweater, the mitered skirt is a fun way to slim one's hips, and then there's that Keith Haring tee shirt that I like so much...

seven wardrobe accent pieces in black and ivory
cardigan – Lanvin; sweater - L.L.Bean; shirt - Uniqlo; 2-color top - Mint Velvet; tee shirt - Uniqlo; pants – Theory; skirt – Dorothy Perkins

And just for reference, the original nine wardrobe Neutral Building Blocks:

9 black and ivory wardrobe Neutral Building Blocks
v-neck sweater – L.L.Bean; cardigan - L.L.Bean; sleeveless top – L.L.Bean; short-sleeve tee - L.L.Bean; long-sleeve tee – L.L.Bean; sweater - L.L.Bean; jeans – Brock Collection; shorts - L.L.Bean; pants - L.L.Bean

Imagine a trip - something around 2 weeks or so - and this 4x4 Wardrobe is what I'm packing:

a Four by Four Wardrobe in black and ivory

Of course, let's not forget that I have the 12 outfits (at least) that can be pulled together just using the original 9 solid-color garments:

12 outfits composed from 12 solid-colored neutral pieces of clothing

This first outfit looks like something I might wear to travel (maybe black pants instead of recklessly dangerous ivory?), and then the 2nd outfit might be what I'd switch into for hanging out in the hotel, or dashing off somewhere, if the weather's nice enough:

2 ways to wear a Keith Haring tee shirt
tee shirt - Uniqlo; loafers – Patricia Green; jeans – Brock Collection; cardigan - L.L.Bean; earrings – Astley Clarke; tote – Ted Baker London; wristlet– Vera Bradley; tee shirt - Uniqlo; shorts - L.L.Bean; bracelet – Tai; sandals – Cole Haan

I'd be certain to have one top that was soft, somewhat lightweight, and a little bit draped, just to be relaxed and a bit feminine.

2 ways to wear a black and ivory print pieced top
2-color top - Mint Velvet; ballet flats – Sam Edelman; pants - L.L.Bean; earrings – Poppy Finch; satchel – Sole Society; 2-color top - Mint Velvet; sandals – Cole Haan; shorts - L.L.Bean; sunglasses – DIFF; bracelet - Oro Pearls

While the marled sweater isn't exactly a solid color, it's such a subtle mix of colors that it's really easy to wear with more overtly "printed" garments.

2 ways to wear a black and ivory marled cotton sweater
sweater - L.L.Bean; bracelet - Oro Pearls; pumps – Rockport; skirt – Dorothy Perkins; scarf – Unpaired; sweater - L.L.Bean; wristlet– Vera Bradley; ballet flats – Sam Edelman; pants – Theory; necklace - Plumeria Exclusive London

Wearing the striped shirt with the striped skirt might be really risky, but having the solid v-neck sweater over the shirt keeps the actual "contact point" of the 2 fabrics from being visible, and limits the amount of shirt showing to just the collar and maybe a bit of the cuffs. I wouldn't be at all self-conscious about the mix of stripes, when limited in this way!

And I own the Hershel backpack - I'm loving it. It's surprisingly roomy, but doesn't feel bulky at all when I carry it. Sort of a Harry Potter-ish kind of a bag...

The silk scarf is small, and would tuck into the collar of the shirt easily. While it's a print, I think it will work well with the shirt, since the shirt stripe is subtle. I'd have to have them in hand to be absolutely positive...

2 ways to wear an ivory striped linen shirt
shirt - Uniqlo; pumps – Rockport; v-neck sweater – L.L.Bean; skirt – Dorothy Perkins; brooch – Banana Republic; satchel – Sole Society; shirt - Uniqlo; backpack – Hershel; small silk scarf – Halogen; pants - L.L.Bean; cardigan - L.L.Bean; loafers – Munro

It would be fascinating to try on this skirt and see just HOW those mitered stripes flatter... Normally, I would travel with a solid black skirt, but having something like this might be fun - it's not as if you're under contract to wear madly different outfits every day that you're traveling!

two ways to wear a black and ivory miter striped skirt
tote – Ted Baker London; sweater - L.L.Bean; rings - Freida Rothman; skirt – Dorothy Perkins; pumps – Rockport; earrings - Freida Rothman; short-sleeve tee - L.L.Bean; flats – Josef Seibel; cardigan - L.L.Bean; skirt – Dorothy Perkins; bag - Reiss

The pattern on these pants is so small that you needn't worry about them being unflattering - unlike some huge hibiscus pattern sprawled across your... body...

two ways to wear black geometric print pants
earrings – Poppy Finch; v-neck sweater – L.L.Bean; wristlet– Vera Bradley; pants – Theory; small silk scarf – Halogen; ballet flats – Sam Edelman; earrings – Astley Clarke; short-sleeve tee - L.L.Bean; flats – Josef Seibel; cardigan - L.L.Bean; pants – Theory; bag - Reiss

And yes, at this point you've seen all of the accessories before; having a theme for everything that you're packing means that a lot of things can work multiple shifts! And while I love this cardigan, the week that I buy a Lanvin sweater will be that week that has 7 Wednesdays in it...

2 ways to wear an ivory and black striped cardigan
cardigan – Lanvin; bracelet - Oro Pearls; sleeveless top – L.L.Bean; loafers – Munro; pants - L.L.Bean; scarf – Unpaired; sunglasses – DIFF; cardigan – Lanvin; sandals – Cole Haan; short-sleeve tee - L.L.Bean; shorts - L.L.Bean; backpack – Hershel

This is how everything looks, all pulled together for packing. I have to admit that I'd prune out at least 1 or 2 bags, and probably a pair of shoes. But I think that with some judicious folding and organizing, I could easily pack all of the clothes, jewelry and scarves with no trouble!

4 by 4 Wardrobe in Ivory and Black with accessories

I'm going to take another look at 4 paintings, with the same neutral colors at the core, next week or the week after. I might miss a post tomorrow, because I've got something large-ish that I'm working on, and I might not have the stamina to finish it in 1 day. If I'm missing tomorrow, I apologize in advance!


For more on Personalizing a Neutral Capsule Wardrobe, please read:

How to Build an "All-Neutral" Capsule Wardrobe in Ivory and Black
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  1. I absolutely love this.
    The marled sweater with the striped skirt is perfect.
    That particular striped shirt might not work with that particular striped skirt (though both are gorgeous), but sometimes two different stripes are OK. I routinely wear an Oxford-type shirt with very tiny vertical stripes with a navy sweater with a four white Breton-type horizontal stripes across the top. Same colors, different stripes. It works.

  2. Yes, I recently noticed the bum slimming effect of a chevron skirt on my daughter, but somehow I didn't think of looking out for one for myself. Thanks for reminding me, I'll keep my eyes open! I see the DP one is a mini, so not for me, sadly.
    I love the combination of black and cream, have given up black but now want to try it again, or maybe charcoal would be better...that Lanvin cardigan is a real beauty, and so is the two colour top, so unusual. Linda M

  3. I'd much rather have this little wardrobe (with just a little pop of color...) than a walk in closet full of miscellaneous clothes. I'm sure many would agree.

    -Sara K-

  4. It's a very nice, serviceable wardrobe (if monotonous to my taste). Everything looks great together. What I had fun doing was imagining it with various colors, one a time -- with red accents (scarves, shoes, whatever), or green, or cobalt, or denim... I could see starting out like this (you could do no wrong with any combination of garments!) and then adding color as you like. I think too often people are tempted to buy colors and then they have no neutrals to wear them with. A really nice wardrobe.

  5. Oh, I love this! See, this is why I don't get bored with neutrals... ;-)

  6. I might have to try an all neutral capsule for travel sometime. I can't wear ivory, but I have plenty of black! - nancyo

  7. I could easily do all neutrals. I find that I wear all neutral a lot these days.