December 17, 2014
I know I seem to talk about this same idea a lot, but I can’t sufficiently emphasize the benefits of building your wardrobe around a unifying theme of some sort.
Your theme could be a particular color scheme, a painting, a photograph, or a scarf – there are really no limits to what you might choose. This theme doesn’t have to last throughout your entire life, nor does it have to define absolutely EVERY purchase that you make.
However, it should be an overarching guideline that helps you make the hard decisions when you see something appealing – does it fit? does it clash? does it harmonize? does it make NO SENSE WHATSOEVER in the context of your chosen style theme?
So, when someone asked me to show some more navy and green, this was how I chose to do it. While you aren’t going to be whipping out the scarf in the dead of July, it can still be the image and motif which informs your choices…
- January and February
A warm sweater dress and tall boots are business or day-dressy, while a warm tunic sweater and narrow pants worn with ankle boots are an all-purpose outfit to snuggle under your heaviest parka.
- March and April
A tee shirt, soft pants and rubber boots are going to be handy when snow turns to rain, and most of us have a spring holiday that requires a dress. Even if you don’t have a holiday, putting on this dress might persuade someone to take us out for a posh dinner!
- May and June
A bright green blouse means that spring is definitely here! I know that these shades of green aren’t all identical – in a perfect world, we would be able to dye-lot match the scarf with each purchase. But we’re going to have to settle for blending our colors nicely… And speaking of nice, a striped top, white trousers, and espadrilles just feel like summer for me.
- July and August
For the hottest weather, simple tee shirts or tank tops, and shorts or skirts are all that’s really needed. A couple of pairs of sandals, and you’re set for outrageous temperatures! Note that here, there would be no way that you would wear your scarf, but you might still carry it in a tote bag so that, when you’re indoors in brutally cold air-conditioning, you can wrap it around your neck or shoulders to stave off the chill.
- September and October
I always like to show a suit, even if many of us don’t wear them “together” as suits. A navy blazer is a handy addition to any wardrobe that includes navy as a neutral. And the September top just might match the October skirt – they’re the same (blindingly expensive) brand. This shows that you can move your outfits around and use the pieces throughout much of the year, saving money, helping both your closet and the environment, and creating a unified personal style for yourself. I think that’s called a “win, win, win, win”?
- November and December
After a suit, one must have jeans! and a classic sweater. If you don’t wear turtlenecks, a crew or v-neck would be just as useful here. And December’s dress is lovely for holiday activities, but since it’s sleeveless, it could easily be worn through most of the year, with a cardigan (or your navy blazer!) over it.
- And here’s your 12-month capsule wardrobe. Yes, there are some wildly varying shades of green here, but the message that you love, and look beautiful in, green comes through loud and clear. Your other accessories could include some emerald earrings, a jazzy green handbag… once you’ve isolated the style theme of your heart, you can go wild with it, and never worry that you’re being wasteful or extravagant.
- Just to show the versatility of this kind of ensemble, here are a few more outfits:
I'm more an olive green as a neutral person however I am learning so much from you Janice. Thank you for sharing your insight and mastery.
Thank you so much for your years of dedication, wisdom, and the ability to translate all of that into such beautiful posts. I have learned so much! Most helpful to me was an honest look at my lifestyle — what do I DO, what do I WANT to do, and what clothes support those decisions? I realized that a lot of my wardrobe was made up of items that I thought I SHOULD wear. Then I had a whole other set of items that I LIKED to wear. Needless to say, I spent too much time and too much money caught in this divide. So, I've spent the last year with TVF as a guide, finding my unifying theme. And the real beauty of your work? The fact that I can take a post like this and translate it into my personal style. It doesn't matter if the clothes pictured suit my personal taste. I take the IDEA and find my version of it. So, thank you thank you thank you. May you have a blessed holiday.
I have to echo Virginia. TVF has done so much to help me cull the deadwood from my wardrobe and limit my purchases to things that are true to me and all coordinate. The examples you provide are lovely and I can never get enough of the outfit representations. Thank you!
Julie Bower says
Oh, I do love these shades of green!
Doré Way says
Don't like green and can imagine doing this with a number of other colours! Thanks as always for your ingenuity and darn hard work!
I have just begun to purge my closet down to the items I love to wear because they fit, they are comfortable and flattering and what do you know I almost have a wardrobe that follows your principles! Love these posts!
Love, love, love! Of course, navy and this shade of green are two of my wardrobe staples.
I wish I would have "found" you earlier, Janice! I had a scarf I loved – navy/aqua/periwinkle – and I asked some women on a fashion forum about using that as my signature piece. They hooted and hollered and carried on; I felt quite ridiculous. I should have trusted my own instincts, though.
I still have the scarf, but it really doesn't go with much in my current navy/green/coral summer wardrobe or my navy/wine/teal winter one. (My second problem is love of color!!! I have a good foundation of navy pieces, but my accent colors are all over the place.)
Janice Riggs says
Never, EVER take advice from anybody that laughs at your instincts and impulses. Those are the most important messages that your heart and your brain are sending you, and they're always worth heeding. You might not DO everything your instincts tell you to do, but you should at least respect them!
The Jill Sander skirt is fantastic and I would like it in a warm colour of course. Gradually, I am working through my wardrobe refining it as you suggest with colour coordination. I love how I can rework outfits so easily now and seem to have endless combinations. Dressing is for ourselves first, so I am trying to up my ante to encourage me to wear what I love rather than worrying about what others will think. Some days are better than others!
Deb from Vancouver
Whilst I don't love these greens, I definitely am devolving to a limited set of accent colours having been off experimenting all over the place and having two differing colour analysis sessions (years apart). One set revolves around a warm coral pink, which can be pushed more into coral, or burnt orange or red (not too bright) or even a little more into the pink (as long as not too cool) these make me look fresh and well as they enhance my skintone and the other is a medium shade of sea green/blue where the green or blue versions are OK as long as they are not too strong or deep. My neutrals vary. My absolute love is a deep chocolate brown, but I do enjoy navy and find black and grey useful though not particularly interesting on me. I also sometimes try dark burgundy (actually very good but has been hard to find, but seems to be more common), dark olive and tan (a bit too light really).
I have a wonderful pashmina style scarf which includes red orange pink and burgundy for depth.
I love these wardrobes created around a signature scarf–and this is one of the most flexible and attractive ever. Thanks so much!
I've loved navy and green together since my teens, regardless of the saying "blue and green should never be seen."
My favourite shade is the February green tunic and July tee.
Years ago, I arrived at Gatwick airport from Europe, was being treated extremely politely by staff as I strolled to passport control, was very puzzled until I passed a cleaner who asked me which AIitalia run I had just worked……eh????? I was wearing a navy skirt and bright green wool blazer, apparently this was the female Italian crew uniform / colour back then (don't know if it still is). We had a good laugh about it. Perhaps I'll try the British Airways look one day! ;-)
Love those greens! I've actually got a few of the pieces you feature (well, similar from different shops) so great minds think alike! I yearn for that gorgeous green shift dress…
Love this wardrobe! Not my colors but enjoy the process. Thanks Janice!
Barcy Cordrey says
Love, love, love! Green is my favorite color, so everything in this post appeals to me. I have been trying to transition away from black, so maybe I'll try incorporating some navy. Thanks for the inspiration!