I’d be happy to do more of these – suggest colors, and I’ll give it a try! Today, we’re going into warm colors, starting with a favorite outfit of a woman who wears and loves warm, soft colors:
I can see the appeal of a comfy tee, broken-in chinos, and a cuddly cashmere cardigan!Although her “seed” outfit doesn’t include green, she makes the deliberate choice to include it in her wardrobe plan:
I may have beaten this poor horse to pieces by now, but a great place to start to expand a wardrobe is to find pieces that are different colored versions of your current favorites. In this shopper’s (now nicknamed TS) plan, a green tee shirt, just like her blush one, is a simple and foolproof place to start.
As much as TS loves her cashmere cardigan, she understands full well that it’s not suitable for everything she does. So another beige cardigan, in a completely different style, weave, and fiber, makes good sense for her.
TS understands the power of the unbroken column of clothing in one color, so green trousers will be both useful and flattering for her, too.
Yes, buying things from the same manufacturer helps (but doesn’t guarantee!) match colors. When mail ordering, always assume that a fair amount of returning is required. The most important tool you can have in house when you’re ordering clothes over the internet is a big roll of packing tape! It’s much cheaper (and less stressful) than mall parking…
Eventually, you’re going to probably want to introduce both colors and textures into your wardrobe. TS would be wise to keep her eyes peeled for any garment that includes 2 or all 3 of her colors. Sometimes it’s worth breaking out of your plan if you stumble across something unexpectedly practical and useful. You can’t plan for what clothing companies will make, so you have to incorporate a certain amount of flexibility into your system.
As always, if you aren’t a skirt wearer, you are free to change this out into another pair of pants, or shorts, or whatever best suits you and your wardrobe needs.This is why it’s VERY important that you have a long gut-check conversation with yourself from time to time, to really define and focus your needs. You need to be able to say, literally at a glance, that something won’t work in your system. If you don’t have that kind of clarity, you make yourself prey to anybody who wants to sell you something. Don’t be that kind of easily-victimized shopper!
This top is the perfect example of something that might make you break out of your scheduled shopping – it’s got the colors, it’s great for summer, pretty without being “frou frou”, and very affordable.
Who knew that sweat clothes could look so nice?
From here, the shopping pattern repeats…
An important less here is that your accent color tops don’t have to match perfectly! I used to try to get everything to match perfectly, but then I realized that you’re not going to wear both tee shirts at the same time, so they don’t NEED to be identical! It was a very liberating moment, shopping-wise…
It’s not the most exciting purchase you can make, but don’t neglect to have enough neutral, simple pieces in your wardrobe – they are the necessary foundations upon which your more “statement” clothes have to rest. You can’t really build a versatile wardrobe with only exciting garments!
I just stumbled on this skirt – what a perfect find, eh?
If you’ve been reluctant to order from House of Fraser, in the UK, I encourage you to reconsider. Make sure you check the measurements for size, as their sizes DO run a bit different from the US (and other countries, I’m sure). But I’ve found that their packaging is excellent, and I receive things from them as fast (or faster) than I do from some places in the US. I’m not sure how they do that…Yes, I receive a tiny commission. I’m getting wildly rich doing this, I’m sure you realize! ;)
Again, everything fits neatly into the 4 by 4 Wardrobe concept…
I could do this for a while – any requests?love,
I love this colourway. I used to wear a lot of green but somehow moved away from it. As I am currently getting pretty bored with my navy and greys I think I might try this for the summer. I wear a lot of burgandy and purples (light to deep) in the winter I would love to see a more interesting way to wear them.
Not my colours but I always love the way the patterned tops pull together the whole wardrobe.They seem to be well worth the effort that it might take to find them.
I'd love to see these in casual items – cobalt blue with charcoal gray and soft purples/wine…..or Wedgwood blue with soft med/dark green and white…..or any blue with soft rose pink and stone gray. Your blush wardrobe is so pretty, even though khaki is not my thing. Thanks!! You make my mornings so happy!!
I would also love to see navy/denim blue and stone gray with accents of soft rose pink and chambray or pale blue. Thank you!
These would be my colours, too!
Rebecca Pruett says
Yes! And in cool tones! I need to do something with my navy and gray colors. …I am needing some bright accents!
Rebecca Pruett says
Yes! And in cool tones! I need to do something with my navy and gray colors. …I am needing some bright accents!
I'd also love to see a wardrobe like this with blues and greens! Especially with a summery orange accent.
Black, navy and accents in turquoise or royal blue and green, maybe???
Love the pink and green! That tank top is so beautiful – too bad I don't have a space for it right now! It's interesting – even though I agree that shades don't need to match perfectly, I find that only the original solid color top is in "my" pink. The other two have a bit more orange in them, where I lean toward the purple side of pink.
I love this series; the options are so inspiring! I'd love to see some creamsicle orange, geranium pink and cobalt blue thrown into the mix. Have a great weekend.
Ah Janice, this is so pretty. I have a question. I've developed a wardrobe I love but the colors are limited.. Navy & tan neutrals and turquoise, Aqua, light blue and green accents. But now I want to incorporate more color. I'm venturing into yellow with two tops that ca be a twin set and navy-tan yellow scarf.. Im thinking of getting one of the print blouses you featured yesterday. I would love to add coral and/or peach/pink. But how? How do I do this in a way that avoids having to purchase too many items. Do I just get scarves to cordinate the new color? It would be great to have a post on this subject. thank you so much for your inspiration. Janice Collins, Washington DC
I totally get this and I think this works on a seasonal basis too. If it were me, I'd think of it as using the existing top two sections of the 4×4 wardrobe (navy and tan) in your case and then branching into the mileage four line with the new color. Try that for a bit and if you love the new color grouping, add the expansion four. I thought that way when trying to make my wardrobe more cohesive and it made me realize that only four additional pieces was enough to start to see the transition.
In addition to the excellent advice from Margie, may I suggest you trying out your new color or colors along with your neutrals using some inexpensive costume jewelry or scarves, as you mentioned. Janice had some great posts on this a bit ago about trying colors that you might not like, but not in clothing. If it's clothing pieces that you wish to introduce, perhaps you could introduce the new color as the accent in a print top initially, along with one or both of your neutral colors in the print. For a more solid color piece, I have found that the outermost layer color is what is the most memorable, if you like layering. You could buy a cardigan or pullover sweater or a vest in the new color. If you prefer to not layer, then a simple colored top that you could accessorize with a neutral necklace and earrings might fit the bill. Perhaps you could start in a thrift shop, or with an inexpensive purchase from eBay.
I also use a colored shirt in the summer over a tank for a layered look. There's another idea — introduce the new color in a tank under a neutral top, using it as an accent color and add some earrings or pendant in the new color or in a neutral metal.
And– one last thought (I promise !) — you could start an entirely new 4×4 for a season, carrying over one of your neutrals, say tan, then do a Core 4 of another neutral, perhaps ivory, or stone, or white, and then introduce your coral or peach and perhaps the aqua or turquoise, all great summery colors ! That way you have a total of 32 pieces of clothing for a season, doing two 4×4's , a reasonable amount, IMHO ! There could be a lot of crossover of colors used in both 4×4's, making for financial efficiency and providing lots of outfit options !
Thank you so much, Shrebee and Margie. I really like yellow and coral as well as the teal/Aqua/turquoise. All go very well with tan. Perhaps with jewelry and scarves they can all be incorporated in a simple minimalist wardrobe. The addition of cream/white neutrals is a great idea. I'm now needing to put together a spring summer wardrobe as I lost over 50 pounds last year. The limited navy/ tan wardrobe with turquoise shades worked well for winter but now I want to have lighter brighter colors for the warmer seasons. Thank you again!
Oh, Janice, each lovely grouping, purchased one piece at a time, helps imprint in our brain exactly how to do this. Having a 4×4 plan, sticking with it, insures a small, very versatile wardrobe. Get tired of one neutral color, introduce another 4×4. Bored with one of the accent colors, same plan.
You are the best!! I can't wait to get started.
A faithful fan,
This is such a great system, Janice. I think I'm going to use it to build a spring capsule wardrobe from what is already in my closet.
Although your wardrobes have ended up with really tight color schemes I suspect this system might be a really useful one for those of us who like to play a bit more fast and loose with color. Your wardrobe building schemes have always appealed to me so much but I have struggled to apply them to my actual wardrobe, as I kept finding that color "outlier" pieces that I know work really well for me in practice didn't 'fit."
This is also the first scheme I have seen, anywhere, that accommodates my penchant for layering (I nearly always wear a top + cardi, even in summer — I live in a place with mild/cool summers). Brava!
Thank you for the thoughtfulness and hard work that you bring to your blog!
Navy, white and gray with hot pink or orange for an accent color. I love orange accessories, and that steers me firmly away from black.
This series is a good distraction until March 1st. I'm loving the "outfit a month for a year" series.
Claire C says
I'd love to see something with navy and khaki. Apparently the military look will be big this year.
Yes, navy and khaki for an Alaskan adventure this summer. Probably too limited for your groupies but could be adapted for for summer travel in other venues as well.
I just found your blog, it's such a gem. I am totally loving this series you are doing, it's so helpful and just nice to read and look at pictures. I also am particularly keen on the topic because I have a daily routine of looking at my closet, find nothing to wear despite it being filled to the ceiling with stuff. I end up throwing on jeans and a t as Inhave always done. Such a rut and I'm tired of it. Your posts are inspiring me to scrap everything and start over. Thank you.
I love these posts. I wear cool colours and love in bright, saturated and jewel tones- but I get tired of relying on black as a neutral. In the summer I tend to make turquoise and fuscia neautrals (with white and grey/silver) but in the winter I struggle to avoid black and navy, and end up wearing much more of those colours than I would like. I don't know why I keep falling back to darker colours in the winter, it's something about the vague retained memory of a school uniform, perhaps?! I'd love to learn more about cool-colour neutrals as a basis for a wardrobe like this. But I'm going to love ANYTHING you post! :)
Would you consider grey as a neutral?
Yes, definitely. I haven't found MY grey yet (heathered or too pale makes me look tired, anything with a sheen/metallic always looks good but isn't my style, exactly)- but a lovely slate or pewter – yes, I think so. Now it's a question of moving OUT of all the black things. But I tend not to – because I already have the black things! I love the way this blog makes me consider my defaults. I'm not happy with the amount of black I wear in the winter, but am I really willing to ditch and repurchase in grey? . . . I think so! possibly one or two garments at a time.
Lori estes says
Love how this works! How would this work with 3 colors and 2 neutrals? my favorite neutrals are navy and khaki or sand, and favorite colors are purple, blue, raspberry, and a green. Your methods are so inspirational!
While this post is lovely, I, too, would love to see how you would incorporate three accent colors , as Lori suggests. I can adapt it to my own color choices. I'm in 4×4 heaven !
Ditto with three accent colors!
I would love to see you do this wardrobe with soft summer colours like slate blue, lavender and berry tones. Molly
Dr. Molly Barrow says
Love the VF
Ruby – grey – blush, silky but professional please�� Emphasizing the waist, hourglass shapes.
Coco Colmani says
I agree about House of Fraser – they have a big range (I particularly like the White Stuff brand) and their website is fun to browse in. I live at the opposite end of the world but parcels arrive promptly and returns, if necessary, are easy. I think of them as a kind of UK Nordstrom.
Robyn in Tasmania
Very pretty colours – I love the soft green! The colours I would like to see would be denim blue, olive green ,ivory and coral/watermelon :)
I am a fairly new visitor to your blog, but I love it and have learnt a lot. I have tried to make up a capsule wardrobe from my own closet. I have lots of items in dark neutrals – black, navy and charcoal, but am really short of light neutral items, especially for the upper half of the body. I don't own a white shirt or T shirt. The closest I can get, is a white background, with a black, navy or coloured pattern.I am still working on the 4 light unit. My best light colour is aqua. Could I use this as a light neutral?
Janice Riggs says
You don't EVER have to have light neutral tops, if they don't suit you. You don't ever have to wear light clothes PERIOD if you don't want to. Aqua might be usable as a neutral, if you can find the pieces – it blends nicely with all sorts of colors. The only problem you might run into is find enough aqua pieces to really put together a usable "foursome."
But there are no rules – if you find the clothes, give it a try. This is about making you happy, and well-dressed, without too much hair pulling and frustration.
Ardyth Eisenberg says
Janice and fellow Vivienne-ettes — I discovered House of Fraser through this blog and they've been great to work with. Shipping is fast and clothing is of good quality. (I don't know about returns — haven't had to yet.)
Very nice!! I would be interested in three neutrals please. Black, tan, and gray for instance. With cream, coral and turquoise for spring and summer. Some accessories too!
Yes, this! I've been drawn to black and white prints and am trying to work these into a spring/summer wardrobe that also uses my good core of four camel neutrals.
So black, white/cream, camel, and I've been craving some blush pink along with the turquoise and coral accents… I am struggling to make the shoes work with this, as it seems I need twice as many shoes with the black and camel tones.
I just LOVE this concept with the 4×4 wardrobe template! It is so accessible. These colors are too pale on me as a set but it is so inspiring and I can see how to work in my own color versions instead. Thank you!!! For other colors I always see tons of navy and olive/khaki green as summer neutrals in the stores, but I've never been able to successfully build a summer wardrobe using them both as the base. I keep trying with coral pink accents. Would love to see your take on that!
Deborah Montgomery says
Janice, I haven't visited for a while, and have been scrolling through and getting inspiration and ideas again. You do such a good job of helping us all here. I love the 4 x 4 idea. Thanks for all the work you do!
Back to the rewear idea – having discussions with friends- how often to you rewear a bra before washing – once, twice, three time?
Coco Colmani says
I've been thinking about this too KPD. I wear a bra for anything up to four days unless I've been very energetic. But I should add that I'm small-chested and wearing a bra is more so I'll feel dressed and have a bit of shape than because I need support. Chat with friends reveals that most wear shirts and tops at least twice if not three times, again assuming fairly gentle days. Jeans/pants/skirts are washed only if they get dirty so could go for weeks without laundering. My only daily changes are knickers, and in cooler weather socks or tights.
We wash ourselves once a day at least, we wear anti-perspirants or deodorants, why all this laundry?
Coco Colmani says
I'm sorry for that prim last line. It's easy for me, working at home and living in a cool climate. My laundry load would be different if I had to commute on public transport in a humid city.
Robyn in Tasmania
Hi, Janice – I'm having trouble finding an email address for you, so I'm just posting here. I adore your approach to wardrobe building and am inspired by many of your color combinations!
I have a problem for which I'd like help or at least your perspective. A friend is retiring and having a celebration/party with a "prom" theme. (We are teachers and someone thought this was cute. I'm cringing.) Female guests are asked to wear a prom dress, bonus points for something from the era of your original high school prom! I'm not an off-the-rack size, so finding something vintage would be nearly impossible. I make most of my own clothes these days, and the thought of making something that will likely be worn once seems foolish. How would Vivienne approach this situation? Any help would be appreciated!
I have several of those drape t-shirts from Uniqlo and love them. They wear beautifully and run a little on the large side. I was hoping they'd come out with a true white this year, but I see they still only carry the off-white (which is a lovely ivory).
Kepp it up you work very good May you also some ideas abour casual dressess.
Your colorway choices are lovely and versatile. I don't consider gray a spring and summer color and would probably wear navy with other colors or white. I love the 4×4. Thanks.
Jimmy Kerin says
Hi I really appreciate all the great content you have here. I am glad I cam across it!
There are certainly a lot of details like that to take into consideration.
Wow!dude well done you all information are very amazing and very interesting and i really like it.
Charli Smith says
Nice blog and very interesting blog very good.
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This is so perfect for me! I have had a color analysis done, and "Soft Autumn" colours are the best ones for me. But I am also a school administrator, and I struggled with how to look professional using those colors. With dressier pants and skirts, this would be a perfect Spring wardrobe for me. I have been trying to figure out the Capsule Wardrobe thing for ages and I am so happy that you've given a "mathematical" formula that works! I needed something more specific than just "9 tops, 5 bottoms, 2 dresses and 5 pairs of shoes" or "any 33 items that go together". The 1st core four and the 2nd core four are key! Thank you so much!
Janice, this is so awesome it is beyond the words. It was 1 at a time when my lightbulb went on. I never before or after stumbled on something that explains the art of clothes in a way that even I could understand. I am transformed!!
Now I'm revisiting this series and duplicating this color scheme for the winter 2018 with my existing clothes, some of them almost never worn! I didn't know how to wear my blush items that I collected over the years. Only deviation is, in patterned items it is close to impossible to avoid black as one of the colors.
Thank you so much xoxo hugs
Sania from Zagreb