Many of you have been following the concepts of A Common Wardrobe, or a Whatever’s Clean wardrobe, and you’ve expressed great curiosity about how those ideas work with this much larger capsule wardrobe-building concept. So let’s see if we need to make any last tweaks to our wardrobe to be as inclusive and versatile as possible…First off, remember this bad boy? This was the original Common Wardrobe – garments that I saw day after day on my co-workers from international advertising agencies. These garments and accent items were combined in all sorts of different ways, and accessorized like mad:
I threw my analytic brain at this, and defined each of these garments functionally, i.e., the first is a “dark neutral sweater”, the second is a “light neutral tee” etc.
Yes, A core wardrobe with a focus,. What a nice time to regroup, right before fall.
Hope your feaeling better! Wishing you a speedy recovery!
I sat down last night and slotted in all my existing clothes into your categories and was happy to see that I have a good solid core of useful, quality, versatile garments. What shocked me, was that my 'gaps' are items that I have seen, and still mourn that I didn't buy – because they felt too extravagant. Your 'system' has enabled me to validate my instinctive desires. So…this now gives me the confidence to go for those items in the future.
Only by analysing and organising my existing clothes have I realised that I do have a good eye, a good sense of what suits me and a good grasp of the parameters of my regular sartorial needs, and I should now go for 'whappage' (great Janice term! :-) ) in future, bold in the knowledge that these exquisite items will add huge 'value' in many ways to my existing wardrobe.
I calculated last night that I bought a certain purple/gold/red pashmina, an utterly beautiful, very well made one, 15 years ago from Liberty's. It still looks pristine in spite of numerous hand washes, adds a 1000 megawatts to an outfit and is so versatile I have done everything from wrap my sleepy children in it at the end of a long day, worn it on an evening stroll on the beach and worn it to formal dinners and balls. Really, I shouldn't be scared of occasionally shelling out on a major piece. It really does repay in so many ways for many years.
Hope you feel better soon Janice.
Yay, the common wardrobe is back!!! I have gone back to the archives many a time, because it addresses exactly my way of dressing. Thanks for the updates.
Janice Riggs says
Ah Cornelia, it was your note that reminded me to revisit this essential core of garments to make sure we hadn't missed anything. You were a ton of help!
I just can't even say how helpful this is being to me. I just downloaded your excel version of the new worksheet, and I'm about to use it in my closet to see where I'm set and where I have gaps. I hate extraneous stuff — this speaks to my essence. Thank you so very much!
Love the new worksheet, thanks!
I have a question about how you choose accent colors, for your consideration. All your starting from scratch wardrobes have accent colors that are distinctly different, but the accent colors in my closet are more of a range, from dark green to turquoise to dark marine blue that I am naturally drawn to. Would you consider the range to be 1 accent and choose something like coral to provide a pop of color? Choose 2 accent colors from the range? Any suggestions appreciated, thanks.
Great question! I'm eager to hear replies to this!
Janice Riggs says
It's really up to you – I think that you could have a great wardrobe using (for example) navy and grey as your neutrals, and every possible shade of purple as your accent – anything from the sheerest lilac to the most rich and saturated grape. If you wanted to toss in something like turquoise to this wardrobe, it would certainly look great, but it wouldn't be necessary.
When I choose accent colors for The Vivienne Files, I often choose colors that I don't see women wear that often – especially buttery yellow, mint green, and other pastels. There's really no science to how I choose the colors, and there are no rules for how to make them work in your wardrobe. The only key is to have a plan, to LOVE your plan, and to stick to it ruthlessly.
hostess of the humble bungalow says
I have a grey shirt from Anthropologie that fits into this category and wear it as a second layer over a white tank top. If is a basic piece that although you refer to as common is a workhorse in my wardrobe.
Your wardrobe series is like having a personal shopper….merci.
A million million thanks for this. I feel so relaxed and peaceful having our common wardrobe in our "closet" with all the other carefully chosen pieces and sets.
Your work on this series has been a mighty service to all if us. How to thank you?
Is it helpful? Yes!!! Thanks so much for all you do.
This has been an outstanding series. Notes have been taken on each step of the wardrobe building. Photos have been taken of clothing items. And the work of wardrobe building is underway (using mostly items from my existing wardrobe). Thank you, Janice, for all the time and effort you put into this project, as well as each and every blog post.
This is pure genius, thank you for breaking it down so clearly!
Hi Janice! This is my first comment. I found you a month ago, and I have been devouring every post in the archives…and I'm finally caught up! I started innocently enough by browsing them using your *extremely helpful* subject heading links, but I soon realized that I wanted to read ALL of them. So I did! What a WEALTH of helpful and inspiring information! I want to encourage everyone to at least browse through them on favorite subjects.
The amount of information you freely give to all of us is simply UNPARALLELED. You are such a generous and gifted person. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
I love this current series. It is especially helpful to see how you analyze the holes in each wardrobe, as well as how you combine this plan with the other wardrobe-building patterns you have used before. It is all very helpful and instructive. I love it when you explain how you analyze the clothes. It makes it easier to lift out the concepts and apply them to our own closets. I think the combination of explaining your analysis AND showing examples is perfect!
I know people have been saying this since you started your blog, but with this series you have outdone yourself (which is *really* saying something), and so I add my voice to the chorus: it's time for a book!
Grateful for everything you do,
Ah basics… how useful they are and how much I hate to buy them… I really must try harder.
Janice Riggs says
MUST TRY HARDER!!! Just think of it as a splendid excuse to buy some cashmere, or silk…
Ah, this is helpful! And I realize that I misread the Common Wardrobe before: I saw it as three sweaters (of different types, all in the same core color), three button front shirts, three tees, three pants (in varying degrees of formality). I didn't realize that the sweater in the bottom left corner was supposed to be a long-sleeved tee ….
Squirrels Girl says
This whole series has been so, so helpful. Thank you for all your hard work!!
I was wondering: if I don’t have a light neutral (I don’t like wearing light colors on my lower half, especially with trousers), should I substitute the light neutral tops with “white” ones?
Substitute with whatever colors work best for you; I put colors out that I think will appeal to most people, with the understanding that they’re not perfect for everyone. What works for you is best…