June 29, 2014
As we take a pause in our capsule wardrobe building, it’s a good time to begin to isolate some of our personal style preferences, and to focus on what kinds of color combinations make us most comfortable.
These aren’t choices that MUST be made – you can have as much variety in your wardrobe as suits you, but for some of us, making the choice to (for example) eliminate button-front shirts can be liberating and clarifying.
I thought of these choices that could be made – what other decisions can be made at this point in wardrobe building?
white cotton shirt – Diane von Furstenberg, white silk blouse – Nic + Zoe, blue blouse – Uniqlo, lilac tee shirt – Nougat London, aqua tee – Reiss, brown cotton tee – Uniqlo
grey cashmere – Jaeger, beige – Marella, black – Michael Michael Kors, navy wool – Miu Miu, caramel wool & cashmere – Customer Lovers, navy – Dorothy Perkins
caramel – Toast, beige – Morgan, brown – Viyella, brown twill – Lands’ End, tan – Hallhuber, copper twill – Lands’ End
black tee – Hallhuber, black cotton and cashmere cardigan – 10 Crosby Derek Lam, red blouse – Cutie, black linen trousers – Viyella
brown cotton tee – Uniqlo, tan marled cardigan – Junarose, brown twill trousers – Lands’ End, khaki tee – Target, tan cashmere cardigan – La Garconne, tan trousers – Hallhuber
brown cotton tee – Uniqlo, brown twill trousers – Lands’ End, caramel jeans – Toast, caramel tee – Hallhuber, ivory silk top – Jaeger, white silk blouse – Nic + Zoe
For reference purposes, here are our example wardrobes, to date:
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What a helpful post. I can say that I prefer the unbroken column.
Having an idea of one's Kibbe category helps, I think. Now that I have a better idea of mine, I'd say some basic choices would also include:
relaxed or structured garments (for me, peasant styles are bad so I like a structured collar but not a button-down type collar)
Patterns: yes/no but also if yes, do small, medium or large suit you? Florals/geometrics/angles?
Neckline: straight? V (deep or shallow?), scoop?
Once you have some basic "rules" (or preferences), you can concentrate on those and then branch out. Or not!
Know your body shape/proportions so you know: waistline (I'm an H so can't wear belts unless they create empire waists, so that narrows my choices). So empire, defined waist, undefined waist, dropped, etc.
I have been following your blog for a few months. I have gone all the way back to the beginning and read every post. I have learned a lot, but had a sort of epiphany with today's post. I have started putting together a new wardrobe based on your principles. Some of the items I hesitated on and did not know why. Today that question was answered. I apparently have a more relaxed style. When you asked whether I prefer buttons or no buttons, I immediately knew "no buttons", loose or fitted cardigans–loose, jeans or trousers–jeans, monochromatic or contrast–contrast, mixed neutrals–no, column or light neutral top–light neutral top. THANK YOU!! I have not had such a clear vision of how I want to look in years. I'm retired and in my mid 50's. I haven't been my ideal weight since 1994. My children are now out on their own. I feel like I am recreating myself and my style for this stage of my life. I can be 50 something and stylish without looking frumpy or look like I'm trying to look 20 something!
Great questions. Strategic decisions like this are really liberating. I'm a no buttons/columns/fitted tops/ person. I'd add:
heels or flats (I'm flats)
mostly trousers/mostly skirts (I'm entirely trousers and jeans – no need to eliminate one as I need the variety)
jewellery/scarves (as everything else is quite plain, scarves add a bit of flow and colour, also money saved on jewellery means I can buy good ones)
plain or pattern (mostly plain, some smaller patterns like tweeds or checks)
I'm sure there are more…
Have a lovely birthday Janice
I find myself asking, "Do I want a lot of variety in my looks or more of a uniform?"
For years I've been building a wardrobe that I thought would give me maximum flexibility. Underpinning that, I now realize, was the assumption that different occasions needed very different types of clothes — work needed suits, evenings out needed dresses and heels, soccer games needed jeans and sneakers. There's some truth to that — but probably not as much as I assumed.
Now I see I want maximum ease. I recently ran across my high school yearbook (I know — ouch), and I saw that I wore the same dang thing every day. Trousers (my mom forbade jeans — more ouch), button-front, sweater when it was cold. I had a dress for church. I survived.
So now I think I want a uniform, not unlike the Common Wardrobe, with very small tweaks for different occasions.
Thanks, Janice, for spurring that thinking.
How about heel height and pant length? If a goal is to expand wardrobe choices while keeping the wardrobe small, having one heel height could make it easier to wear all pants with all shoes (excepting things like sandals, of course.)
As for myself, I have a personality of a cameleont, I like any of the options, so narrow down preference can be really hard for me to do. Personally, I tends let occasion and surrounding decide what type of outfit I want to wear and that include cuts, fit, color scheme, literally anything. I dress very different around my family, around friends and around co-workers, because thats what Im comfortable with.
For example, when I want to look professional I tends to prefer to wear more structured/tailored garments, dressier ensembles, more monochromate color schemes and unbroken colums when it comes to bottoms and toppers/completer pieces/3rd pieces (what you call jackets and sweaters), but if Im going to meet some friends and eat lunch with them, I prefer less monochromatic and broken outfits – dressier around older people, more casual around very close friends, more flirty around girls and more ladylike around guys… lmfao. kinda complex, eh? XD
Its not that Im dressing to "fit myself into the surrounding", it just because I feel more comfortable dressing like this. Also, I often notice that older people take more seriously when I dress more mature and dressier while females around my age seems to appreciate more quirky or daring outfits and when dressing more ladylike (conservative yet feminine), they take you more seriously as well. I never forgot the situation where a guy friend wanted me to "hide my boobs" because I wore a body hugging knee lenght turtleneck dress or when older people treated me like a child when I wore my less mature and more casual oufits.
Dressing after the occasion and surrounding just make me comfortable, probably a bit strange to some people on here (especially those with the motto "i dress however I want", well I do too, I just adapt my wardrobe for different scenarious because saving that sexy dress to a night out with the girls instead of wearing it to work or around guys, how does that prevent you for wearing whatever you want? ;-) ).
err…. sorry for the off-topic ramble. :P Honnestly, other than buying basics, sometimes I dont dare to build my wardrobe from scratch, my personal preferences are too complicated. ;)
These posts are however helpful if someone is looking for some cohesive structure in their closet! I found this blog from the "four by four"post another blogger reccomended and It gives good ideas regarding the structure of ones closet! :D
Bettsi McComb says
Janice, this is why I built my own versions of the wardrobes on polyvore. I knew that those preferences were really important to me. Like Argie above, knowing my classification as a Soft Natural and wanting to work with that was important. At the same time, my closet is full of black and gray work standards that I feel are rather important to keep. What I was looking for was some way of marrying all that together. Your process for building a wardrobe provided me the framework to state my preferences in a way that feels very do-able!
Bettsi McComb says
Okay, I did it again! I made another grouping following your formula. This time I used the same colors that I did yesterday (neutral gray and navy, coral, lime), but the shapes and preferences are very different. This is a very modern looking group, but the principles on building the look that you've taught us are exactly the same. So interesting to me to play with the concepts you are talking about! Here's the url for today's set: http://www.polyvore.com/modern_wardrobe_capsule/set?id=126615992
Isn't it fun to see how others apply Janice's formulas? I love your take on it! My take on this was from a very outdoorsy/active perspective. Here's mine: http://www.polyvore.com/cgi/set?id=126632220 I kept the exact colors of the gray/navy set, but selected items that would be appropriate for a person who spent most of her time outside.
Beautiful colours and I like the modern style – Alice
Virginia – love your capsule with the outdoorsy perspective, especially the sweater. I must be more outdoorsy than I think. . . –Carol
Happy birthday to you, Janice, and thank you for all you do! With your help, I finally may be able to have a real wardrobe instead of a lot of clothes!
(I´m not sure about the time difference between Germany and Chicago, but I hope it is your birthday right now!)
J'ai découvert votre blog il y a quelques jours et j'aime beaucoup votre façon de travailler et les nombreux conseils que vous donnez qui nous permettent de nous habiller "dans la vraie vie "
J'ai (encore) tendance à acheter des vêtements trop habillés ainsi que des chaussures à talons, alors que je suis une maman qui vit et travaille à la campagne dans le sud de la France ! Rien à voir avec les soirées à la table du capitaine sur le "Pacific Princess" ;-))
Somehow I seemed to have missed the reference to your birthday, Janice, so hope it's not too late to wish you a very happy birthday!
I particularly like the first two sets as my neutrals are black, grey and navy with a teeny bit of white (mainly stripes and dots with navy and blue). My accent colours to go with the neutrals are blue and red, plus a brighter pink, purple and green. I think I'll start my own Polyvore following all your tips!
Hope your birthday, Janice, was full of joys. Thanks for another year of your fabulous blog!
Katie Kerr says
Love this blog. Always great inspiration for our store, Katie Kerr.
Charlie M says
Well you've finally done it! I've been lurking around this blog for about a year – never commenting but always interested and impressed with all your posts. You have finally drawn me out! You have a real knack of cutting through all the usual 'fashionese' which surrounds clothing and getting to the heart of why most of us are here, 'how do we do this at home'. This latest aid, your 'Start From Scratch' series, has been a bit of a revelation for me! I am a notorious for my aversion to colour but even I have to admit that looking at myself over the last few years in swathes of black, cream, beige, navy and every neutral shade in between gets a little old so I made the decision that I need to brighten up my life. Your posts have really helped me focus, I've been able to work out what type of colours suit my skin tone (black apparently is not one of them but I absolutely REFUSE to give it up), I've finally worked out in my own mind what sort of silhouette I prefer myself in AND I've even managed to put to rest the ghost of do I wear boot cut or slim fit and your advice has been central to all of this. The 'Start From Scratch' posts have been so useful, previously I have always found myself becoming so overwhelmed with what I am supposed to be creating that I have always given up long before I finish my capsule wardrobe! The way you have broken it all down has been fantastic. For me it has meant that on one particular evening I only had to concentrate on finding a pair of black trousers, the next night a pair of black shoes, the next night a jacket/cardigan and a top – narrowing the focus this way has meant the things I have found, my samplers if you will, are exactly what I want without any of the usual, 'oh god I have 8 more pieces to find tonight and it's nearly 1am those will do!' The result is I have been able to put together a group of clothes which I love. I know you are moving into pattern this week and this will be much more of a challenge for me but I am sincerely looking forward to the opportunity to surprise myself with what I might like if I open my mind a little. Anyway I just wanted to say a heartfelt thank you for all your hard work. I have put a link in below to my group of clothes inspired by your blog. You will see that I have slightly bent your rules to suit me, I had to put a pair of blue jeans in despite the fact that my base colour was black, I had to add in one more accessory than you suggested, a belt, I don't feel dressed without one, for my own personal reference I have included a picture of my engagement and wedding rings because they never leave my fingers and I feel my other costume jewelry should work with them, oh and I swapped out the watch suggestion for another pair of earrings – I can't wear watches they drive me nuts! I have to say I am amazed I have been so well behaved, I usually can't keep to any sort of plan when it comes to clothes, particularly shoes and bags – I usually look round and find I've managed to work in at least six 'essential' pairs! I hope you find it interesting seeing your work interpreted through one readers eyes.
Charlotte, do you have a blog? I absolutely love your polymorphism sets.
This is such a great series. The questions today really make me focus in on the details that add personality to a wardrobe. Thank you for all your hard work in putting this together.
Diane Jacobs says
Oh,my gosh! This is exactly what I should have been considering all along. I have so many button downs, but hardly EVER wear any. I truly have a preference for tops without buttons. You are right, this is so liberating. I am so glad that I discovered your blog.
I know I'm 3 years late but I love how you've helped me understand me and why I favor certain outfits and why others are just meh… :-). Thank you ever so much
Paula Hrankowski says
I have just discovered this blog. I’m binge reading. I’ve known for years that black/grey was my preference with a flash of colour on occasion. If you asked me to choose two colours, I would pick, you guessed it, red and blue. I’ve tried over the years to “branch out” and try a dark brown (it can be ok) or navy (also ok) but never ever pastels or beige. Now I have an understanding of my natural focus. I feel like I can purge the stuff I never wear and understand why. I lived all summer in the same pair of white capris and black walking shorts. I felt that there was something wrong with me that I limited myself. thanks for all your help.