Monday, April 17, 2017

How to Choose Navy and Grey Neutral Building Blocks for a Capsule Wardrobe

This all comes together so well - navy and grey is a really seasonless, timeless color combination! I love a good classic capsule wardrobe...

Let's start with a reminder of where we're headed, more or less. Last week we covered choosing neutral building blocks using this template:

Neutral Building Blocks template

First up is building from the "bottoms" up! This might feel counter-intuitive, but I still think that it's the most logical approach; these are the pieces that for many are hardest to find/fit, and they're the pieces that get worn most often. These really need to be great!

Three different way to choose the bottoms for Neutral Building Blocks
shorts – L.L.Bean; skirt – L.L.Bean; pants – L.L.Bean; pants – L.L.Bean; grey pants – L.L.Bean; canvas pants – L.L.Bean; shorts – L.L.Bean; skort – Lands’ End; pants – L.L.Bean

And I'm going to put it on record again - if you find something (pants, tee shirts, whatever) that you really love and know that you will wear a lot, buy multiples! Buy three, four - heck, buy seven! There would be worse ways to get dressed than to pull out "your" pants every day and work around them. If it was good enough for Steve Jobs, it's good enough for me!

Choosing second layers for Neutral Building Blocks in navy and grey
navy cardigan – L.L.Bean; zip cardigan – L.L.Bean; ribbed cardigan – L.L.Bean; sweatshirt – L.L.Bean; navy hoodie – Lands’ End; shawl-collar sweatshirt – L.L.Bean; rain jacket – Lands’ End; grey jacket – L.L.Bean; sweater jacket – Lands’ End

As the days begin to get really warm (it's plain old hot here in Chicago today...) it starts to feel a little bit weird to be making sure that you've got 2nd layers. But air conditioning makes some environments positively frigid, cool days happen even in the middle of July or August, and the right 2nd layer makes a warm-weather wardrobe into a 9-months of the year wardrobe...

Two notes of recommendation - the jacket in the middle on the bottom is REALLY NICE. La Photographe owns it, and she wears it constantly... And she's really picky about comfort!

And I have a couple of pieces of the "Ultrasoft" sweats (the first item in the 2nd row), and I can vouch that they are indeed that! The sweatpants are like pyjamas...

Neutral Building Blocks using a solid column of color with a constrasting 2nd layer, in navy and grey
sleeveless tunic – Marks & Spencer; striped top – Orcival; short-sleeved top – Uniqlo; dotted polo - Uniqlo

It might feel sort of dull to think of wearing mostly dark shirts and blouses, but there's such a variety of styles, textures, and detailings available that it could be a sort of fun challenge. And of course a dark top doesn't have to be solid - the striped top "feels" dark, but breaks up the "wearing solid colors every day" routine.

dressing in suit-like ensembles with a constrast top in Neutral Building Blocks of navy and grey
tee shirt – L.L.Bean; striped tunic - L.L.Bean; oxford – Lands’ End; draped tee - Uniqlo

Here's an example of a striped top that gives more of a feeling of grey than navy - it's fun to have these kinds of options available.

And that knit jacket - I'd have to have that in my hands to be sure that I was comfortable with the color. I have a hunch that the photograph has been brightened a little bit to show the details of the jacket, but I'm not certain...

Building a set of Neutral Building Blocks in navy and grey with all the same style of shirt
linen shirts - Uniqlo

There are those among us who always wear long sleeves - I did for a couple of years when I was "growing out" a really large scar on my elbow. These shirts are linen so they would be quite comfortable in hot weather, they would be pretty good coverage in the sun, and of course, the sleeves can always be rolled up a bit to show off a pretty bracelet or two!

(and these shirts just got marked down - a third off...)

Building a set of Neutral Building Blocks in navy and grey
¾ sleeve tee – Uniqlo; lace yoke top – Dorothy Perkins; tank – Gap; striped shirt – J. Crew

This grouping shows a variety of possibilities in shirts and tops - lace trim, marled fabrics, or stripes. Once you have a color scheme in mind, you'll be in a better position mentally to notice these kinds of options when you see them.

Just in case you didn't want to be limited to 9 Neutral Building Blocks, this is what the wardrobe looks like if you assemble ALL of the pieces shown today:

a 34-piece navy and grey wardrobe of Neutral Building Blocks

This is 34 pieces of clothing - if you wanted to adhere strictly to Project 333, you would want to eliminate 1 piece (probably a jacket, I'd guess). This wardrobe isn't scintillating and amazing, but it has a good variety of styles, enough pieces for very warm or relatively cool weather, and you could literally get dressed in the dark without worry of making a faux pas. That, to me, is a pretty good wardrobe!

I'm going to try to tackle brown in the next few days if my schedule permits. I may be called out of town for a bit, at the last minute, but I'll do my best to keep things rolling here at The Vivienne Files.

love,
Janice

How to Choose Navy and Grey Neutral Building Blocks for a Capsule Wardrobe
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20 comments:

  1. Thank you for this, it had helped me look at a wider variety of shades of grey so that I can progress my wardrobe rebuild more easily. Kate

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  2. Hi Janice,
    'Your Blog List' only exists as a title for the last couple of days. Seems that advertising has taken its place!
    Love reading your blog here in Australia even though the seasons are back to front, and following your blog list after I have read your post is one of my favourite morning rituals. Linda Whitehead

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  3. Along with black & white, I rely heavily on grey and navy as my neutrals so this post is really helpful.

    Also wanted to mention the issue with your blog list disappearing. I usually go through it each morning after I read your post so hope you are able to retrieve it. Thank you.

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  4. I've also missed the blog list on the right. I'm a huge fan of Passage de Pearles and usually hit a few of the others when I have extra time in the morning.
    But I'm super excited for your BROWN neutral capsule post in the coming days!!!

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  5. Janice,
    The "permission "you just gave to repeat a style makes my heart sing , if a heart can do that ! Always, always, on other blogs I have read to vary each garment, no two the same ! In all fairness, some have acknowledged a personal " uniform" , however. Well, I can do that by varying color or value, but when it comes to pants, I am much too bottom heavy to vary them with skinny jeans, jeggings, or what have you , so I pretty much stick to straight leg pants of different values or colors in the Winter. Summer brings culottes and an occasional full length pant.
    Where I had been finding boredom was in my unvaried necklines, which I have since changed. Although I do prefer a collar on either the top or topper, a sort of signature style for me.
    I wish that sweater jacket would have been offered in something in the brown family !
    Looking forward to the brown posts, thank you so much for the consideration !

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  6. These are my neutrals with a smattering of black. I'd just add some color and patterns, then I'm good to go.

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  7. I bought that LL Bean shawl-collared sweatshirt in navy after you featured it several months ago, and I really like it. The neckline is high enough that you can't actually see much of what is worn under it, unless it's a turtleneck. Thanks for this one - navy, gray, black, and white are my neutrals. - nancyo

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  8. Thanks for this Janice. This wardrobe is right up my alley; however, I'd love to see some accessories with it just to punch it up a bit.

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  9. If you can remember some of the blogs that I've left off of the list, please leave a comment reminding me who I've omitted. I feel terrible not being able to remember everyone...
    love,
    Janice

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    Replies
    1. Style Crone, Not Dressed as Lamb, and A Well Styled Life are three others that I remember.

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    2. Thanks - I'm so appalled at how empty my head was when I tried to recreate this list!
      hugs,
      Janice

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  10. I'm with you on the uniform pant idea, Janice. I recently discovered my new best-fitting, most comfortable, most flattering pair of pants--bought 2 in navy, 2 in gray, 2 in black, and 2 in white (all seasons covered)--then boxed up or gave away nearly every other competitor in my closet. I've also collected tunic-length (they hide a multitude of sins) solid-color cardigans in navy, gray, and black in winter and warm-weather weights. Now, the accent blouse, jewelry, or scarf is my only morning dressing decision.

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    Replies
    1. Gail, What brand and style did you find?

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  11. I SO agree with you on stocking up on the things that fit and feel good! Too many times I have found the perfect tee shirt or jeans (or, worst of all, bra) and then worn them to death, but could not replace them because the company stopped making that particular style. Now I buy a lifetime supply, and ignore the minimalists and declutterers who say I only need one.

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  12. I love the gray and navy. These are my spring/summer neutrals.
    The only blog I've noticed is missing is http://thriftshopchic.com/.

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    Replies
    1. OH MY YES!!! How could I forget her - she's brilliant!
      hugs,
      Janice

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  13. I'm another who stocks up when I find something I like. I recently bought 6 identical pairs of jeans which fit me almost perfectly. Unfortunately they only come in blue. I plan to dye some of them for a bit of variety - has anyone tried to dye jeans? Linda M

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    Replies
    1. I have been away and just catching up on the wonderful "Vivienne Files". I have been a dyeing fan since my Aunt taught me when I was about 14 - too many years ago to mention! I use it to change colour and also refresh faded colours such as navy.

      The problem with dyeing shop bought clothing these days is that even in relatively high end brands, a lot of stitching is in polyester thread, which does not take dye at all. I found this out the hard way by ruining a couple of linen shirts so I only dye fabric now.

      However, maybe dyeing jeans would work - you may end up with some unusual colour stitching but perhaps worth a try with one of your pairs! (I think it is so sensible to stock up when you find something perfect) You don't say what shade of blue the jeans are, but you could try black if you wear that colour. Or navy if your jeans are light blue...

      I am in Europe and our dyes are different so can't recommend a brand, but I am sure the American ones would be fine and would recommend the 'dye in the washing machine' type - you may have to use two packs to get dense enough colour.

      Good luck!

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  14. Hi Janice... I want to join the chorus on the idea of a "uniform" I am hard to fit and very particular on fabric, so i sew my own dress pants from one simple pattern and purchase my casual pants - jeans - from one maker. Similar situation with shoes. If I find something I really like I may buy two of the same color and style and put away one to have when the other wears out. My body type makes being a minimalist just par for the course ;) Thanks for this posting with all the options. Love that sweater jacket and especially the cream version; and that draped tee is so feminine and also comes in navy!! So many great ideas to fill out my basics. Saves so much time. Just to shop here! Thank you so much! Janice Collins, Washington, DC

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  15. Thank you for posting navy and grey!

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