It’s been quite a while since I’ve done any capsule wardrobes using the “1 Piece at a Time” scheme, and it seems to me that this is a great time of year to get back to this. If my experiences are any indication, some of you might still be stuck wearing warm-ish clothing, but thinking daily about how you’re going to gradually evolve your closet when (if?) the weather gets warmer…So let’s start with this – a cheery tee shirt, neutral pants in an already summer-weight fabric, and a linen cardigan. Although this outfit would be reasonably comfortable on a cool day (with a pair of socks – maybe bright yellow ones?), it’s also composed of good building blocks for moving into warmer weather. And while beige or brown shoes would certainly work well here, I couldn’t resist the red!
Any shade of green can be tough to find in stores, but it always makes a lovely and distinctive neutral; I had some luck searching for this color under Sage and Laurel, as well as Olive. And I love a good dab of mustard…
It might be dull as dishwater, all on its own, but a simple white top is a lifesaver a dozen times when the weather is warm and you don’t know what to wear. Don’t be distracted by the flashy, glittery or sequined to the point that you neglect these simple basics!
This is an important concept if you want to build a really versatile wardrobe – look at something you really love, like a nice pair of pants, and find a couple of pieces that go with it WELL. This is the most deconstructed possible version of a suit, and it will be well worth the effort to search out.
A similar idea here – if you love your green pants, maybe a skirt or shorts in the same color? Now that you have the matching cardigan in hand, this opens up all kinds of possibilities…
You’ve been very disciplined with your first purchases, so it’s time to pick up a snazzy accent color! If the bright yellow in your print tee shirt is part of what drew you to it in the first place, maybe a solid top in the same color will hold some appeal? You could consider other accent colors too, so long as they are wearable with the green, and ideally the red too.This is the step at which you want to think long and hard about sticking with the red cardigan as a major building block. You could keep it just to wear with the 2 tops that are already in your wardrobe, and veer off in another direction. But if your choose a top that won’t look good with red, make certain that this is what you intend. You have to keep your eye on the overall picture…
Since we’re moving into warmer weather with these clothes, a lighter neutral is a natural choice. I considered another cardigan here, but I like the chance of pace provided by a white jacket.
Nobody’s going to believe you if you buy white linen pants and say that you need them for your “suit,” but that’s kind of what you’re doing here. And beware – some of us are comfortable with the thinness of white linen, while others might prefer something a bit more on the lines of canvas or cotton twill. If you aren’t comfortable wearing something, it has no business in your closet!
It’s time to bust out for something unabashedly summery! This has nice wide straps, high armholes, and a higher back – no plunging necklines necessary.
This cardigan HAD to be part of this wardrobe – between the vivid yellow color and the perfect red neckline trim – it was made for this grouping!
As always, if you’re not a fan of shorts, you can always include a skirt, or a pair of shorter pants (pedal pushers!) here. But these shorts aren’t super-short, so they’re worth considering.
The majority of this wardrobe is very casual, but a classic shirt might be exactly what you need to elevate almost any of the “bottoms” to a level appropriate for a nice dinner. Dressy sandals, some pretty earrings, roll up your sleeves…
Once you’ve isolated a color scheme, you’re free to really indulge if the perfect top catches your eye…
Okay, this might be a tough reach for some of us, in which case I’d say look for another piece in green – maybe capris. But it’s summer, and these pants with that red Missoni top would be amazing…
Yes, you need plenty of tops in hot weather, but they don’t all have to be completely boring – the sleeves on this little top change everything…
By starting with a clear color scheme, and sticking to the plan, we now have a 16-piece travel wardrobe, or just plain old stay at home wardrobe, that’s practically foolproof. I think this is pretty close to “Whatever’s Clean, ” just so that summer can be a little bit more relaxing!
A few years ago I bought a pair of red jeans and they have been amazing- a real work horse in my wardrobe. I wear quite a lot of darker colours which really come to life with the red. It is nice when your purchase exceeds yur expectations in its value add.
Janice Riggs says
That's so cool; when I bought red jeans, I thought that I would wear them constantly, and I found that I NEVER reached for them! The variety of human experience is so endlessly fascinating, isn't it?
While I have these colors in my wardrobe, except for the red pants, and my version of gold is more toned down, I also have beige items as a mid-tone neutral to wear with the all of these colors. The red and green are complementary colors on the color wheel, and I can wear them together, as long as I break up the combination by wearing a solid white or a pattern with a white background as you have shown here in several pieces. I am also coming to the conclusion that not every single piece has to work with every single other piece, as I keep coming back to favorite combinations. However, the colors shown here are bright and joyous and would be perfect for someone with strong coloring, perhaps someone with vibrant dark hair !
For hot days, I also have chosen short sleeve tops with some construction detail for interest, or print, as scarves or even necklaces on a hot day are out ! It's still cardigan, scarf, and jacket weather here in the rainy eastern US, so I'm still having fun reviewing my Summer wardrobe before the need to start actually wearing the pieces.
Janice Riggs says
The woman with the wardrobe HAS to be a strong personality, with a lot of joy and a contagious laugh, don't you think?
I like your use of print as an accessory – do you mind if I borrow that and expand upon it in the future?
Lori @ inmykitcheninmylife.com says
This is what I'm doing for my hot-weather wardrobe, Shrebee, except I'm using print fabrics in skirts/dresses and solid tops. I haven't so far had the courage/found the right thing to add print pants, but I'm keeping an open mind… :)
The Whatever's Clean 13 template is what made me have the realization that for everything to work with everything, prints generally need to be kept to one category of garments — tops or bottoms.
Do I mind? Are you kidding ? I'm honored and delighted ! Yes, I use the print of a scarf to pull otherwise solid, although perhaps different colored items into a cohesive look for 9 months of the year. A print top in the summer is the same concept for me, pulling together the other pieces in an ensemble, so yes, I guess it is an accessory, for me. Often, it's just some trim on a top, or some small embellishment around the neckline. In the summer, it's just enough.
Yes, Janice taught us all the advantage of keeping the prints and patterns on just one level of the Whatever's Clean 13 template. That has simplified my packing issues when in the past I've struggled to mix and match tops and toppers with pattern or print on two levels of the template. Such a simple concept ! I am also trying to use two accent colors that are analogous, so that I can mix and match everything with ease, when it comes to wearing solid colors together. Patterned pants on me — unh-uh !
Patterned tops and toppers for me – solid scarves, vests and bottoms. So simple an approach but oh so useful. Even when I wear patterned bottoms, like skirts I can apply the same principles. Carol S
Thank you for revisiting the 1-piece-at-a-time template. I find it very inspiring. These colors are not what I would choose, but they are lovely. One could not wear these clothes and be sad.
Janice Riggs says
I'm going to do a few more of these in the upcoming weeks; I find them endlessly fascinating and challenging. Plus, I think it's the way many of us shop, so it's a useful template to have available!
This is definitely the most common way I shop since I started following your blog, Janice. My major problem with the one-piece-at-a-time plan is that colors change so much that the tones of this year rarely works with the tones I find the next year, and that makes finding something like a 2nd bottom, top, or sweater in the right color for the pieces I already have can be a daunting task.
Based on the title, I did not think I was going to like this wardrobe. It turned out to be one of my favorites. Thanks for providing a yummy sartorial picnic. :)
Janice Riggs says
I have to admit that I wasn't at ALL sure that it was a good thing to do, but sometimes I like to veer off the beaten track…. (okay, I veer so far I can't even SEE the track sometimes…)
thanks for letting me know!
Oh, Janice, one more pairing idea for my favorite neutral, green. I am determined to make this color my trans-seasonal wardrobe base. With your help, and tips from your beautiful followers, I know this goal will eventually be accomplished.
Thank you sooo much for your hard work and for sharing your wonderful, creative, mind, so generously.
Please keep the green coming!
A faithful fan,
Lori @ inmykitcheninmylife.com says
Could we have a mostly-casual one of these with pale grey, cobalt, and magenta?
The Missoni top is gorgeous (and $400). Has anyone tried the Uniqlo pants? I am curious about their quality and fit. I did get the sweatshirt-material skirt you have, Janice, and love it.
My comment posted twice, so I tried to remove one;hence, "comment removed by author" above. Still learning this comment process.
Love the red striped tank – just what a tank should be. I have no patience for spaghetti straps or racerbacks that show my bra straps (I'm 31 for reference…even millenials want coverage sometimes). And you were spot on with the olive top with eyelet detail – just the right amount to keep things interesting. Love perusing these! And love that it's okay to "start" with a tee with that much print. I echo Pat – thanks for all your hard work and time put into giving us such interesting visual inspiration!
Leah from http://www.thriftshopchic.com
You always make it seem so easy!! I tend to shop and sew in bursts, so am not as disciplined. This is a very well planned wardrobe, with so many options for all types of events.
Deb from Vancouver
LOVE the olive green! I tend to go with khaki-tan rather than white, but these colors would work just as well with olive and tan cores.
WOULD YOU PLEASE ACCESSORIZE THIS CAPSULE WARDROBE? Thanks!
Oh, that would be fun. There are many ways one could go on this, I'd love to see what Janice would choose, too.
Janice Riggs says
I just bought a Missoni zig zag print cardigan in black/grey/white colorway and it was a BIG investment for me. But I thought of you when I plunked down my credit card and realized that it will go with EVERYTHING in my closet and I will be able to wear it for years to come. My only worry is that it is a "print" and I don't usually do prints. I sometimes worry that it will become too memorable and will likely lead me (and others who see me a lot) to think, "Oh, there's that cardigan again…"
they will probably think, "Oh, there's that gorgeous cardigan again!" – nancyo
Janice Riggs says
Exactly! Anybody that pays that much attention to what you're wearing DESERVES to see something beautiful… (and they really should get a hobby, too)
Thanks for the positive reinforcement. I needed that after the major $$$$ I spent on this one item. I guess I'm just around too many people who always seem to have different outfits on for so many different events and I wonder how they do it. I just have to remind myself of my goal of higher quality and fewer quantity as my style evolves.
Gail Finke says
I've found that with fewer garments that all look good together, I end up with "different outfits for different events" vs. when I had more clothes but fewer "outfits" !!! Maybe that is the key to other outfits you see. When the clothes are varied but well chosen, the outfits assembled from them look quite different from each other. The same cardigan looks different with a classic dress than it does with a casual skirt, with jeans, or with dress pants. I'll bet your gorgeous cardigan will give you many different overall looks.
Thanks, Gail! You're right, I never thought of it that way. I will definitely be able to dress it up or down very easily.
Cee Pluse says
This wardrobe made me laugh — catsup red, mustard yellow, pickle relish green, all served with a white (bread) neutral — you must have had summer hot dogs in mind (but thank you for not including the color of hot dogs)! I would have no problem wearing the red cardigan, yellow t-shirt, and olive pants together, because I love bold color combinations. And I would wear the red shoes with every single outfit, even those with no other red, just because I could, and red is my favorite color. Thank you for yet another great wardrobe idea!
Janice Riggs says
Seriously, hot dogs are SUCH an ugly color…
The exhibit Manus x Machina: Fashion in the Age of Technology opened at the Metropolitan yesterday. I loved it, and can't wait to go again this weekend. Thought you and other textile/fashion mavens would enjoy seeing details from it, Janice.
Deborah Montgomery says
I always have so much fun over here, and come away with all kinds of ideas. I have been recently hankering for some red, so I bought red shoes and red eyeglasses that don't "go" with any of my colors. But I wear them as a neutral, and they seem to go with everything. I'm loving just the touch of red with periwinkle right now.
becky johns says
I enjoyed studying you fresh approach to olive, a color I like and matches my eyes. I had always thought of it as an Autumn color, but this opened new possibilities. I shopped my closet and found all the olive things, and discovered they worked very well the the CORAL summer things I had. Coral is a little lighter than the orange-red but they looked great! I could put together the whole grouping, and decided to buy the orange-red shoes to make it all work together with a coral bag I have. I also found a tapestry bag from India with those colors (as well as many others). Thank you for helping me see a new way to use my coral and cobalt blue summer wardrobe…without going shopping!
"But if your choose a top that won't look good with red, make certain that this is what you intend."
You mean you wouldn't wear the yellow top with the red cardigan and the green pants? Oh, um… Yeah, I really like colors.
Gail Finke says
I love this post because I don't like any of those colors. They look awful on me. And I don't like most of the clothes either. I like the colors and the clothes for other people, just not for me. And that makes it SO easy to see how the system works, and how you can use it for different lifestyles (casual or formal, youth or mature) and different color schemes. I really enjoyed going garment to garment and seeing how perfectly they work together. I have enjoyed all the posts in this series and I look forward to seeing more!!!!
This reminded me of hot dogs too! All that ketchup and mustard! : ) I really like olive green and used to always have some of it in my wardrobe. I wonder why I stopped?? I agree with Gail Finke. These posts that have colors I don't normally use really help me to substitute garments and colors I do have in their stead. This is really a great capsule for summer. I struggle with any of it being dressy enough for a special occasion or even a nice dinner out. It's a perfect casual wardrobe though!
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I am revisiting this post, it is brilliant! I make my own power point along and that is such an eye opener it is incredible! Thank you so much!