I thought about this while I was out of town… And I really wanted to stick with something versatile, like the “Whatever’s Clean 13.” But it needed a new look, or way of approaching, so I finally came up with this:
My thinking here was starting with a really “dressy-neutral” outfit, like a cardigan and pants. How could that be made more formal? One step up would be to swap the cardigan for a blazer. If I wanted to really get “gussied up,” a sparkly cardigan would do it. And if I wanted to take things down a notch, swap the cardigan for a pull-over sweater.
I then did the same thing with the bottom half of the ensemble, and ended up with silk trousers, a skirt, the original trousers, and a pair of jeans. These eight pieces could all be worn together in every possible combination, so that gives you 16 possibilities. These range from the very dressiest sparkly cardigan and silk trousers (or maybe the skirt), down to the very relaxed sweater and jeans.
So THEN, you toss five different “tops” into the mix, also ranging from a really special red silk beauty, down to a simple striped tee shirt. Unless you’re super-gifted in choosing things, some of these tops aren’t going to go with every possible 2nd layer and bottom; I don’t see the fabulous silk top with a cardigan over it!
I then added spaces where one could insert notes for anything that would go with outfits at various levels of formality, so if this is used as a shopping guideline, or for packing, nothing will be omitted.
This is what it looks like when it’s empty:
I immediately realized that the above wardrobe is a little bit… aspirational, in that a few of the pieces are expensive, and not necessarily something that many of us would wear at our absolutely MOST dressed up. So I tried the overall idea again, but this time using only pants, cardigans, and a sweatshirt. You could still go to a meeting with a lawyer or accountant based on this wardrobe, and certainly you’d be appropriate at almost any restaurant. But you’ve got a lot more “day to day” options here:
Here’s the blank of the template – I think you can right-click on this and print it… If not, shoot me a note at [email protected] and I’ll send you a PDF.
Are there any requests for other “all occasion” packing wardrobes (or capsule wardrobe) that you’d like to see?
This is a great idea. I am office manager/legal assistant at a small country lawfirm and sometimes accompany the boss to depositions and court. While I always dress professionally, I want to look even more so on these occasions without having to spend on a separate wardrobe. Great ideas here.
I like the template heaps! It is so good to think about the accessories too – scarf and jewellery in the toppers and bags and shoes with the pants. Wonderful thoughts. I am in full Summer here and sometimes go on a short vacation to the beach. I'm thinking how this could work from dining out to beach or pool. A tweak here and there! Dress up or dress down. Thank you so much Carol S
I think this is my favorite of all of your templates so far. The second wardrobe you show is right up my alley. I usually don't get too dressy when I travel, but it's nice to see all of your options side by side to make sure you are covered for all of your activities, whether it be a museum, out to dinner, window shopping, or hiking. I will definitely be using this template on my next trip.
Just brilliant! I may print out a copy and put it in my suitcase. :)
Thank you so much for your continuous giving spirit. It is much appreciated. –Deb in KY
Love this template. Please make a PDF available for me as I cannot print as is. I like both the blank and the nearly blank one. It will be a huge help in planning. Thank you.
What do I need to do ti get a PDF of this framework? Thanks.
Janice Riggs says
Send me a note – [email protected], and I'll send it to you!
I like this very much. Is there any chance you could add 3 lozenges either side of the core for a few extra tops or whatever (even swimsuits!)? I appreciate the concept of the 13, but I am about to set off on 3.5 weeks' trip to New Zealand and Australia, and as we will be moving on regularly and it will be very hot at least in some places,I know I am giong to need to freshen up more often and so need a few more tops.
Actually, this trip will be a challenge, as half my suitcase is going to be taken up with sporting equipment – it's very difficult trying to plan for a trip where one will need two distinct types of activity and some extremes of temperature!
Madame Là-bas says
Thank you. The "day to day" version works well for me. I'm planning another volunteer holiday to Mexico and the four bottoms, five tops and fewer "outerwear items" will work well for me. Since I need fewer outer pieces, I can add in a dress in one of the accent colours. I'm using Safari on Mac and can't print although I have been able to print other templates (the ones that you charge a small fee for). I find the templates really helpful.
I love the storms in your brain ! The first template , with the addition of a few more tops, and perhaps some shorts or capris, would be great for a cruise in a warm locale, and the second for a casual trip most anywhere ! Gotta' warm up my printer !
I love how you organize your thoughts and create this practical guides for us. I hope you are trademarking them in some way. Perhaps not for financial gain but at least for the credit. As Shrebee states above, this would be very helpful for cruise or guided tour. As a sewist, I would love to go with the Tilton sisters to Paris and this guide would ensure I had all the best made by me clothes.
Deb from Vanouver
Thank you for this, it is perfect.
Madame La-bas, if you are on an iPad just press and hold you will get a list of options. One of these will be "save image" select that. It will then be in your "photos" and you can print from there. Hope that helps.
I agree with everyone else. This is so very helpful. Janice, thank you so much. I'm going on a long weekend trip (5 days) and must be prepared for anything and any weather. I will print this off now! Janice Collibs, Washington, DC
This is so helpful. I struggle with packing; covering the possibilities while not bringing everything I own is always a challenge. I would love to see these groups with shoes and other accessories added in. Thank you for sharing so much of your time and knowledge. Mary
I have been reading your posts for about a month now and have my basic wardrobe working well. I love your blog. It has simplified my life. I feel better, and more stylishly put together. Thank you.?.
I like the whatever's clean concept as well as the common wardrobe. I am starting to work with my teenage daughter on a basic wardrobe for starting a few college classes next semester. I'd love to see a capsule with this in mind.
hostess of the humble bungalow says
Happy New Year!
My closet has a few brighter colours these days adding to my basic black and grey pieces…
your posts have helped me branch out and take a few risks dabbling in the colour minefield without breaking my budget.
Packing and using a carry on is always a challenge…we are going to be heading off on a road trip soon and I ned to plan a 3 or 4 day wardrobe…what would you pack for days of driving, shopping, and dining out?
becky johns says
The day to day capsule worked for me (I travel for pleasure not for work) but I liked the dressy top and one skirt…perfect for a cruise or trip where you may need to dress up for dinner or event, but the top doesn't take up much room. I often use a jacket to dress up the black slacks and plain colored tee for dinner on a cruise. Add a scarf or necklace and it dresses up you day outfit. I find people travel in dressy casual outfits, and seldom change much for dinner on a river cruise.
I love this template; and it has come at the perfect time. If you're willing to tackle another "needs to be versatile with varied looks from few pieces" packing wardrobe, here is my challenge. I will be taking a 4-week course in the south of France from the end of Feb. through the end of March. I will bring only carry-on, hoping I can make do with a total of 13-15 garments (excluding coat and nightwear). Will need mostly casual-but a little classy!-with perhaps one dressy top. No skirts, as that complicates footwear. Colors I favor are black, cobalt, wine. Thanks for all of your posts and ideas — so helpful and so much fun, too.
This is one of my favorite templates you've given us, too. It's perfect for my at-home life, not just for casual travel. By swapping out the jeans for a casual skirt, adding a simple blazer instead of the hoodie, I can use this as a professional wardrobe for home visits with clients, where unexpected messes and adventures outdoors with children often happen and one must be neat, but simply dressed. By choosing pieces that are all machine or hand washable, no iron, and quick drying, this group would be all I would need year 'round for days with the nieces and nephews, too. Love it!
Not sure if i have mis-interpreted, but most other comments seem to view this template as one purely for travel. i saw something else! I am in my first season of 333 and find this number of items as adequate. But…..because i have worked on a colour scheme i sometimes what a bit more variety. i am a 'soft' so can wear warm and cool subtle colours. My first thought was……great…..3 x 13…..a work collection…..a casual collection……going out collection. Would this work? What do others think?
I totally agree with Coco. I don't do lots of going out so I think the honeycomb might be squished into just 7 (2 toppers, 3 tops and 2 bottoms) or really squished into 4 (1 topper, 2 tops and 1 bottom) for fancy wear. From a Whatever's Clean perspective there seems to be a slide in the levels of refinement from Going Out to Casual Living thereby increasing the usefulness of the individual garments. Maybe…? Carol S
Thank you ladies…….I too don't have a hectic dressy evening social life. So a fairly static smaller dressy wardrobe would suffice. This too is the only place I might have black trousers. I would then have 2 capsules. Pink/grey for work and beige/navy for casule. Some items would crossover. I am also building some accessory groups to add some colour pops. Hopefully this should work.
Just love this blog and community.
Coco Colmani says
Oh yes, I think the idea is very versatile! We can adapt it just as you say, for work, for casual living, for dressing up and down within the day or week, and so on. Some garments will appear in several honeycombs, others in only one, depending on their versatility. But what a useful template both for planning with what's already in the wardrobe and for shopping where necessary to round out a 'collection'.
Robyn in Tasmania
Beth Sharp says
This is great! I worked for over 37 years in higher ed with many student employees who were also first generation college students. They did not have the background or income to create a wardrobe suitable (sometimes appropriate) for the office, an internship and eventual employment. This simple template would have been very helpful to share with them. I am unable to print it from this post. I will email my request for the file. Thank you for sharing it with us.
I have played with this scheme by neutral colors: one page per basic. I love charts. I admit that I have entered more than one item per honeycomb, but it works for my closet. This will be a huuuuuge help to streamline my closet and give each piece I love a home. I will not add honeycombs as my plan is to work the multiple entries down to one per space.
I like the graduated areas from dressy to professional to relaxed to very casual. It is also easy to rebalance those categories according to the neutral as some colors are more dressy or casual depending on our lifestyles. Thank you for doing this.
I'm going to play with this template for warmer to cooler weather. For the person going to Australia and New Zealand, If you are going to be in hot to cold and dry to wet areas, consider a fleece hoodie and a good raincoat or jacket. These can be layered together over other layers if you need something warm. Don't waste space on a heavy coat. A couple of the easily washed and drip dry travel shirts and pants are good for hot areas. One woman wore a pair of knit black pants and a knit black and white jacket over and over and over with some varied colored tops. She always looked nice. The people with whom you travel will expect to see the same clothes over and over and that is OK. The people you meet will not know how often you have worn the same clothes. Get a fly net hat for Uluru and don't worry about the style of that hat.
Thank you! Sadly, won't make Uluru this time; but I remember the flies from the last time I went there!
This is great but here in Australia where I am we have long, long summers. Even holidaying at the beach we don't do the "LL Bean casual" type summer wardrobe – more fitted pants, tailored shorts, pencil skirts, tunic tops, summer dresses…Of course actual beachwear is loose and floaty but getting around/ going to parties, shopping etc is more dressy casual than the LL Bean sporty casual.
Could you possibly do a template for summer "Dressy casual"? The wardrobes you show are brilliant but often just too heavy for warm climates and the summer one I've seen is too casual.
Thank you so much and even though the actual items aren't right for me the inspiration is terrific.
Could you do a summer template for
I am dreading a trip from Sunny Texas to Freezing Chicago in a week. This was perfect timing so I don't panic. Thank you! and my suitcase thanks you.
Arts Doc says
I wonder if you could help me with a travel wardrobe for three weeks in the high Alps in summertime? I am teaching, with very sporty casual off times, but faculty meetings and a graduation ceremony – more dressy. I like to look business/casual on the days I actually teach. The weather is thing: it can be sunny and warm, or it can even snow! I'm from San Diego, I like the colors of the seaside – blues, grays, aqua. (without nautical themes) since I have blue eyes dark reddish blonde. I don't usually wear dresses or skirts because I am only 5' 2" and a little chubby. I travel alone and need to be able to wrangle my stuff! I have been doing this 20 years, but it is always a tremendous challenge. what say you?
I used the "Whatever's Clean Cool<—>Warm" model to plan my travel wardrobe for 2 weeks in the mountains, camping in our RV. Temperatures often fluctuate wildly in the early fall, bringing 80 degree sunny days followed by wind, sleet and snow. My wardrobe was comprised solely of travel and hiking clothes and performance fabrics. Yet by judiciously choosing pieces that were more simple and tailored, and by following the template, I was prepared to hike the back country or go out for a nice dinner. I did add my own short list of necessaties one needs for this type of excursion – hiking boots, gaiters, rain gear, caps/gloves, and a base layer.
It's hard to think of a capsule that would have more demanded of it, so judging by a few of the prior comments, like Arts Doc, I'd love to see what you would be able to curate from travel/performance fabrics and brands to create a capsule that looks "all business", but has "hidden super powers"!
Love this template! I am going to San Diego in April for a convention. I will need casual days and dressier nights. Not sure what the weather will be like? Any suggestions from you California girls are welcome! Thank you Janice for all your great ideas!
Patricia A O'Neil says
Yes you put this together in 2016 and still works for 2021.
I ran across this specific wardrobe and realized how the template could be used for something I’ve always struggled with– a Texas winter wardrobe.
I’m going to use this template to build a core of a wardrobe that works for December-February in Texas, which is about a 10- to 14-day cycle of temps that get into the upper 60s only to crash back into highs in the upper 20s for a day or two before it starts creeping back up into the 50s and 60s. I’ve always struggled with how to make a winter wardrobe work for these cycles. We just don’t have enough truly cold days to justify a really robust cold-weather wardrobe, but several of those days do come every year and hibernating through them isn’t always an option. There’s also always at least one or two longer-duration cold snaps that mean I can’t get away with two cozy sweaters to pull out once every couple of weeks. I need to have a core that is versatile enough to wear for a good week at a time of legitimately cold weather, but won’t just sit in my closet and give me dirty looks for the rest of the year.
Solution: rely on navy and burgundy for layerable tops that get progressively warmer, combined with a blazer and an assortment of cardigans in different weights to go with pants ranging from leggings to jeans.
For pants I’m thinking navy/denim for maximum versatility: 1) knit leggings; 2) jeggings; 3) ponte pants; and 4) jeans. Then for toppers: 1) 3/4 sleeve light-weight cardigan in navy; 2) long-sleeve knit cardigan in burgundy; 3) heavier cardigan in burgundy; 4) blazer in navy. For tops, 1) 3/4 sleeve tee in burgundy; 2) long-sleeve tee in navy; 3) burgundy plaid flannel shirt; 4) sweatshirt in navy; 5) sweater in navy, burgundy and rose.
To make this work, all I really need to buy are the knit leggings, the blazer, and the sweatshirt, all in navy.
If I put together that coordinated group in navy and burgundy, that should be sufficient for whatever passes for cold weather from December through February, whether I’m working from home, going to the office, out to dinner, whatever.
This seems like such a simple solution but I’ve literally been paralyzed with uncertainty about what to add to my wardrobe during the winter (and even more importantly, what to replace in it), with the end result being that my winter wardrobe is really sad and disjointed. I don’t want to wear all navy and burgundy all the time, but I’ve forced myself to be relentlessly practical. This 13-piece wardrobe helps me realize that if I nail down a few cold weather essentials, I can really lean into the greens and pinks that make me feel like spring is coming without worrying about that occasional snowmageddon, and I can blithely ignore my color plan and buy a sunny yellow top if I want it, knowing that it doesn’t have to do cold-weather duty.