While I continue to wrestle with a brown Neutral Building Blocks capsule wardrobe, I’m still playing around with the navy and grey wardrobe from earlier this week. I realized that (a) we should take a look at some accessories, and (b) these neutral pieces translate into a WONDERFUL travel wardrobe!Imagine this outfit for almost any kind of travel – in a car, on a train, or flying. Sleeves that can be rolled, a cardigan than can be cuddled, a watch for punctuality, sunglasses for the coolness factor, and a small touch of jewelry to bring focus to your face. Some comfortable shoes and a good tote bag, and you’re all set!
The first outfits that I was going to address for accessories were those that used the Neutral Building Blocks as a suit of sorts… With a navy cardigan and skirt, the striped top doesn’t need a lot more accessorizing. I thought that earrings would bring a nice bit of “finish” to the overall look. I really wanted to include a pair of simple low-heeled ballet flats and a small navy bag to carry the essentials. While this outfit is a bit dressy, thanks to the skirt, it’s still easy to move around because the shoes are great for walking, and the bag doesn’t weigh you down!The more casual outfit with pants, tee shirt and jacket seemed more like a tote bag kind of ensemble. I chose one in grey just for variety – it would, of course, be fine to have a navy tote, but when you’re working with 2 neutrals you might want to be careful not to go overboard in favor of either color. This scarf is a very inexpensive cotton one, so it’s pretty ideal for warmer weather – if it’s too hot to wear the scarf, you can always tie it to the handle of the bag!
And these shoes will be really useful in this wardrobe. They can be worn with or without socks, so that means that they’re good to wear for most of the year. Since I turned this into a packing wardrobe, the shoes are going to reappear!
Next, we have outfits that use a column of the darker neutral navy, with a lighter grey 2nd layer worn over.The first outfit is very casual – a walk on the beach, sitting on the deck kind of look, so I thought that really casual sandals and a pair of sunglasses would be essential. (You’ve GOT to have sunglasses, right?) But just to keep things pretty, I tossed in an easy-to-wear bangle bracelet…
The 2nd outfit is a bit dressier – that draped tunic makes things look more feminine. Say you need to go into town to meet with the contractor who’s going to re-do the kitchen… You’ve got a cardigan because you know that the air conditioning might be in overdrive, a really fun braided bracelet to draw attention to your hands, and a somewhat whimsical pair of heart earrings just to prove that you’re not stodgy! You wear your ballet flats and carry all of your notes and photographs in your tote bag. Good to go!
I then wanted to look at a couple of outfits that used the same long-sleeved shirt style. For the first outfit, you all decide to go into town for dinner on a chilly evening. You’ve got your cuddly cardigan, and a touch of jewelry to bring attention to your face and to your conversation. Your loafers are perfect here…It gets sunny the next day, but very breezy, so you pull out your other long-sleeved linen shirt, with shorts and a sweatshirt. While everybody’s frolicking around on the canoes, you’re going to sit in a lawn chair and polish your nails navy blue! (you’re not the boring one in THIS family…) Your ball cap gives you enough shade to be able to watch the family silliness and protects your scalp and face.
These last 2 outfits mix up the pieces with no real pattern…The first outfit is for wandering around in one of the nearby small towns – maybe some grocery shopping. (Keds pack down small!); If you want to sit outdoors, you can get a bit of sun on your arms, but if the afternoon turns chilly, (or if you’re lingering in the frozen foods section of the market) you’ve got a jacket and scarf…
And the last outfit gets you back to work on Tuesday morning, looking like an adult, but still comfortable.
This shows everything that is packed for this mythic long weekend away. It would certainly be easy to do a little bit of judicious editing to make this wardrobe even smaller, but I felt like throwing all caution to the wind for once and packing a wide assortment of things. (maybe some pieces would be left at the cabin until the end of summer?)
Right in the middle of writing this up, I got a call from someone inviting Belovedest and I to visit their farm in Wisconsin for a weekend; can you tell I had “getaway weekend” on the brain?
p.s. I’ve put a new page on The Vivienne Files – “Shopping The Vivienne Files.” It’s a direct connection to some of my favorite stores, that I search through every day when I’m building our wardrobes. I’m also going to put links to some of my core garments in my personal wardrobe. If you click through these links and make a purchase, it will indeed generate a commission for me – I’m very grateful! If there’s anything you’d like to be able to easily access from this page, let me know and I’ll put a link…
Taste of France says
This looks like a great wardrobe for a weekend away or any day. Your tactic of long sleeves that can roll up is brilliant.
Have fun on your getaway!
Margie from Toronto says
The shopping link will be very handy – I need to get an order into LL Bean within the next couple of weeks so I will do my best to start with your link.
PS – your blog list seems to have disappeared again this morning.
LInda Orr says
Years ago I gave up on navy because the shades vary so wildly…mentally, I just substitute black and it's perfect! Love your work! (Enjoy Wisconsin…that's where I am!)
I am using your triple top secret this morning. Maybe even quadruple ! I am out of state, helping my husband prepare his beach house for his Summer renters. And — it's cold in New Jersey this morning ! I underpacked ( yes, me ! ), and now I'm wishing I had brought along a fleece jacket , so it's gonna' be a camisole, a turtleneck that I did pack, a long sleeved knit top, and maybe a sweater on top of that , plus a rain jacket that I also brought along. I am always cold anyway, so I'll be looking like the Michelin man this morning, but I refuse to be cold !
This is so me! My goddaughter and I are going to do a massive cleanout this weekend, and I am getting rid of all my black-based prints. I will keep a few black bottoms, since black works better with many of my "summer reading" tees than navy does, but the prints will go.
I also discovered, thanks to meticulous tracking, that the three navy print skirts I bought in April 2016 were wore one time each in 2016, and one time each in 2017. So, as much as it pains me to say, I believe those pieces are going, too. I will still have a couple of navy print skirts, but they are ones that I wear somewhat more frequently.
I would love to see green and periwinkle accent pieces to round out this wardrobe. :)
Christine Moon says
Thoughtful and beautiful and practical – as usual! Thank you, Janice.
A thought about your struggles with brown: maybe rather than focus on brown per se, maybe an eye to a warmer colored base neutral wardrobe might be the ticket. Navy, gray, black, white all read "cool", so the change to colors that have that warm undertone might be an easier search. And goodness knows, if YOU can't find it, how can us mear mortals expect to succeed?? Best wishes, Chris
While yes, this seems like a lot of clothing for a weekend, but for a longer trip, it's just a couple of pieces more than a 4×4. And to be honest, I often throw an extra t-shirt or two into my 4×4 packing(!) Grey and navy are two of my neutrals, but I rarely wear them together without a coordinating scarf or accent. They look so cool and crisp here with that lovely silver jewelry. – nancyo
Katrina Blanchalle says
Yes, your ongoing struggles with the brown wardrobe are familiar, even for those of us who sew our clothing. Just like navy and gray, there are warmer, cooler, yellow, green, red, and other variations of brown.
The only way for me to get matching browns is to use the same dye lot of the same fabric, so I have to buy enough to make everything I want, e.g., jacket, skirt, and pants. If I want coordinating separates, I get a print that has some brown in it, rather than trying to find a solid.
And forget matching accessories – just go for the darkest browns and light taupe or tan for shoes.
I'm shocked that you don't already make a commission off of all your wonderful recs! I'm so glad you'll be putting the shopping links in your blog. I generally make an effort to support blogs I love and find useful by shopping this way.
Janice Riggs says
I do already get some commissions, but I'm frankly going to try to make it easier for you to help support me! I'm not greedy, but I do like to contribute my share of the household operations. Belovedest is VERY generous, and works very hard – I have to do my part!
Love this! Great follow up for the Navy and Grey wardrobe – thank you.
I don't know if it's just me but none of the LL Bean links are working – thought you would want to know.
Janice Riggs says
I just refreshed them – I hope they work now!
Hi Janice, I just tried them again and I'm still getting the same message -"Invalid URL. Please continue by going to our Home Page…"
Can anyone wear the same pair of shoes with and without socks? For me that is two different sizes…
Many thanks for a great blog!!
Janice Riggs says
My feet are slightly larger in warm weather – that's how it seems to work for me!
Gail Finke says
Weirdly, I like all the individual combinations but not the whole… I think it's just too monochromatic and value-neutral to satisfy me perfectly. But again, each ensemble looks great! So as the point isn't to be the Perfect Wardrobe for All Time, but to be a practical wardrobe for a trip, I love it. I would add some color to make the Perfect Wardrobe for All time — but each person would probably add different colors, I suppose.
Love this! I always get very excited when there's a suitcase in the picture. One of the best travel wardrobes ever.
Jan Windmiller says
Is it my computer or is the Blog List down? Nothing appears under the heading.
this travel-wardrobe reminds me of something I've wanted to tell you in a comment for some time: I remember that you've occasionally mentioned a carry-on suitcase which is black (or grey?) with details like the zipper handle in a contrasting colour, and that you own this suitcase yourself and would have liked to have more options with the contrast colour. I think I have found a solution for this. I have recently discovered Sugru, which is a moldebable glue that can take any form and becomes a kind of rubber when it hardens. It comes in many colours and could probably be used to enwrap the zipper handle etc.I'm not affiliated to Sugru in any way, I just love this product and think anybody should know it. :-)
Greetings and thanks for all the constant inspiration!
What a wonderful series this all-neutral capsule wardrobe is! Trying to move away from black, I've chosen navy as my new dark neutral, but it's been harder than I thought, and you've helped me to understand why: it's not enough just to buy a new navy suit and figure you'll replace the rest as it wears out. Just as you say, you need a core of neutrals that work together in order to get dressed in the morning without stressing. As ever, I am in awe of your brilliant analytical posts!
I do love the process and the colours here Janice. I am so ready to move away from black as I get older. But how do you deal with the variations in navy and grey when yoh want everything to 'work' together. It must be able to be done!
Janice Riggs says
3 things – be prepared to blend – especially with navy, and carry swatches (I strongly recommend finding embroidery floss that exactly matches your key pieces) so that when you're shopping you have a reference point. If you mail order, just assume that a certain number of pieces will have to be returned because they're not the right shades. Blending greys can be very elegant… And try to buy at least a few core pieces from the same place, at the same time. It's particularly helpful if they have the same "color name," as designers are wont to do. Realistically, I'd set aside time and money enough to buy an initial "Core of Four" (a sweater or other topper, blouse or tee shirt, skirt and pants) in the same color to give a "kick-start" to the transition.
This is a great travel wardrobe! Lots of options. I am liking the navy as a dark neutral too. I have so much black though!!! My Mom has transitioned over to navy as her main neutral. Maybe I will be ready to leave black behind in a few more years.
Deborah Montgomery says
Oh, this is so me, as I gave up black some years ago. I will check out your links tab — thank you. xo