I’ve heard you – many of you are concerned that 16 pieces of clothing won’t be enough for a Project 333 Wardrobe for the upcoming autumn… (even if you’re not participating in Project 333, the exercise of editing and focusing your wardrobe can never be a bad idea, eh?)
How about we bump up the number of garments to 20, chosen in “clusters” of 5 garments each? For me, I think this might be just about right! This is what I’m thinking:
For reference purposes, I pulled together a wardrobe following these guidelines, using “new” Eileen Fisher colors of Midnight and Nutmeg. (the other colors that she included are Dark Red Lory (huh?), Raisonette (a lovely wine), and Monterey (a dusty dark rose). These all look wonderful together, much to my surprise…But if Eileen Fisher can’t put together colors, NOBODY can…
This sounds completely silly, but this wardrobe feels quite a bit more ample than 16 pieces…
One thing that I realized almost immediately when I started building this template is that this wardrobe could be assembled in all sorts of different ways:
Start with 3rd Layers
Start with A Neutral
Start with Your Accent Color
This feels risky to me, but I’m not going to discount the possibility that it’s a way to approach this project:
I’m sure there are other ways to go about starting 1 of these wardrobe – any suggestions?
As always, I’m going to look carefully at the results to make certain that there are lots of outfit possibilities. I have to admit that this was really easy – this is almost a “Whatever’s Clean” wardrobe with which you can get dressed in the dark…
The only thing about adding more garments to Project 333 is that you’ll only have 13 accessories. Hmmm… 3 pairs of shoes, 2 bags, 2 scarves, 6 pieces of jewelry…
Should I add accessories to this wardrobe? And does this make sense/seem useful?
Mary The Pouting Pensioner says
Yes, please add the accessories, Janice! This is a stylish 20-piece (lots of good stuff from EF is season eh) with some striking combos to be had. Three pairs of shoes for 3 months is quite a challenge !
The only approach that springs to mind is to start out with 3-4 pieces you know you can’t be without for the next three months, things that you just KNOW will be in repeat wear .. and even if they’re dirty! So not so much whatever’s clean, but more “even if it’s dirty”?!! Hugs, x.
The woman who has never held onto a garment that should have gone into the laundry is a rare bird indeed!
every once in a while, you leave me completely speechless. This is PERFECT!!! When looking at this new template, I realized immediately that to me it actually does make the most sence to start with my accent color. Find enough solids, then lay out the patterned garments – then choose enough matching neutrals to make it work. BRILLIANT!!! (As always, of course, but sometimes the insight hits me even harder…) ;o)))))))
Thanks! I hope it’s wonderful for you to use…
Sara K says
These are fun to look at, but the truth is that I’m probably never going to have a tiny wardrobe. My goal is to simply to have a wardrobe with integrity and a good dose of general sensibility. Like not owning unnecessary duplicates, not clinging onto items that are in fact unwearable for one reason or another and shopping according to a plan and with the intent of wearing my acquisitions for years.
Compared to HC-P333 people this doesn’t sound like much, but then, I prefer to compare my shopping habits with those of my girl friends.
I’m sooo with you, Sara. As much as I can see how life would be so much easier with a Project 333 wardrobe, it’s never going to happen in my closet… But with all my much-longed-for variety available I also get confused quickly and tend to wear the same combinations all the time, which makes it boring again. So I find these templates help me get more use out of my clothes by putting them together in different color capsules. I’m still fascinated by the idea of simplicity, though…
The 33 number was completely arbitrary – I’m sure Courtney, who developed Project 333, would be the first to tell you that! I think her goal, and certainly mine, on The Vivienne Files, is to have clothing that you’ve thought about, and that works for you. We’re trying to avoid wasted money, wasted resources, and feelings of regret… If you’re happy and satisfied with your wardrobe, I’m delighted, no matter HOW many garments you have!
I personally prefer the 4 x 4 concept of clothing with the 17 accessory items which for me is more straightforward as I tend to have more accessories than clothes. I have one P333 for work only and then another P333 for activities such as partying/socialising, exercise (gym/outdoors) and loungewear. Some items stay in circulation all year such as jeans and t-shirts and gym wear, but most items change throughout the seasons.
Would love to see the 13 accessories for this post though, thanks.
That’s an intelligent approach…
Rebecca | Seven2Seven8 says
I agree with this type of approach! When I put together my April-June capsule (which faltered in May due to unseasonably-warm weather and weight gain as my body figures itself out after babies), I started with a 4×4 casual and 4×4 for work with the same color stories. That got me to 32. Unfortunately, I just kept adding and adding and adding and then it wasn’t a capsule any longer. Ha! I’m trying again for fall, but instead of following months (so much neater, but not as helpful), I’m following the actual season and won’t start fall wardrobing until 9/21 (though I’m starting to pull the most summery things from my closet, like seersucker, already).
Janice, I _love_ the 4×4 for ensuring that even a tiny capsule is adequately balanced between tops and bottoms, and love the idea of having a 4×4 for accessories and another for lounge, and another for workout, etc. I am going to chew on those options as building blocks for my fall closet. I really enjoy your blog! And nutmet is having such a moment (sienna, dark mustard, etc). I’m seeing it everywhere!
JANice Collins Coyle says
Yes let’s do accessories. The number of accessory pieces you suggest is about what I use if you exclude exercise/hiking clothes. And I would take out one garmet and add an all-purpose all weather parka. Or maybe outerwear is not included in the 20. I really like the navy pieces here and happy Eileen Fisher is adding navy. Janice Collins Coyle, Washington DC
Oh, if I included my exercise clothes, it would take at least half of this template! I think that they’re in their own stinky category…
Accessories are going to be interesting, eh?
Gail Finke says
As one of the people who asked for more, I find this much more “doable” than the 4 x 4, but still not enough… I tend to find myself with about 24 regular items for the three month span, with a few extra special wear pieces that bump it up to closer to 30. Everyone is different. But I can imagine myself content with 20 really great pieces. I am starting a new job that is more casual than the one I have now, and trying to integrate my business wardrobe with more casual pieces so I don’t have to go out and buy all new. A 20-piece basic wardrobe is a good starting point, I think – so thanks! Now, if the heat index would go below 95-100 so I can actually start wearing many of the things…
Your templates of how to put clothes together help me so much!
And yes please – show the accessories!!
Chris from Indy says
So very beautiful (as I pet the Eileen Fisher dress through my monitor.)
Would love to see the accessories – and wondering in what world 3 pairs of shoes would ever be enough! ;)
LOL at petting the dress…
Margie from Toronto says
I do find this wardrobe more doable and could happily live with a basic wardrobe of 20 pieces very similar to this one – except for my neutral white. I tend to have few tops in colours – I get that from my second layer sweaters or accessories. Since most of my tops are white t-shirts, shirts, blouses & tunics, if I find one that fits well at a good price I tend to buy at least 2 if not 3 of the same thing. White can really only be worn once so that’s why I have the duplicates. I make this the exception to the 4 x 5 but that’s OK – the 333 wardrobe idea is supposed to make our lives easier not drive us crazy so we are encouraged to modify it as required. Some people build their 333 clothes around their office needs and keep a separate block for dress up or casual – depending upon their lifestyle. Now that I’m not working (or will be doing PT work in a more casual setting) my 333 will be built around a much more casual grouping with a few more dress up pieces kept aside and not a part of my main set up.
I would love to see accessories added – this is an area I am struggling with a bit at the moment. I have lots of earrings and necklaces from office days that really don’t work with my more casual life so more and more I find myself sticking to the basics – pearls, gold hoops, that sort of thing and I’m wondering what others did with all their “good” costume jewelry when they retired.
I had a ‘career break’ so not really retired yet, but like you, felt my good jewellery didn’t work with my ever increasing casual attire. However, at any opportunity whether shopping, cinema, restaurant dining and long-weekend breaks I get to wear my lovely pieces – although less frequently when travelling abroad now as they tend to get damaged or stolen.
I’m starting to sell some of my jewelry. I know that other women will think this heresy, but I’m not wearing much of it, and someone else might love it. I’m keeping my favorite for when I get dressed up, but much of it will be sold or given to younger relatives who still wear such things….
Gail Finke says
I have a few doubles and one triple (straight black pants, which I wear all the time for work but that sometimes have to be washed right away if they get muddy or something) — I count them as one. They are strictly for laundry purposes.As the amount of laundry each person has varies, depending on how many people live in her household and what the overall colors of all the laundry are, I think that’s a smart way to do it!
This is great. Can’t wait to see the accessories. Although I am in the more shoes, less jewelry camp. I find that having a very few good signature pieces of jewelry that you wear over and over is great for a lazy person like myself. Two earrings, 2 necklaces is really all I need, except once in a while when I pile on an armful of silver bracelets that could never be accommodated in 33 pieces.
Oh, to have 20 pieces would be wonderful! I currently have three dresses and five cardigans that I wear to work, with coordinating scarves and jewelry. I’m thinking about using your Wardrobe from Scratch series to sew up a nice coordinated wardrobe in red, black/charcoal gray, and light gray, even if it takes me the next six months to get it done. With some skirts and pants and tops and jackets.
Yes, please, do an accessories post for this wardrobe. Your posts always teach me something and provide inspiration even when they’re not in my colors.
I’ve been thinking about this post all afternoon. I think starting with the accent color is my favorite approach of the three. In my red, black/charcoal gray light gray color scheme, it would ensure that red is really the star of the wardrobe, with black and gray pieces playing support. For me, in wardrobes that start with the neutrals, the accent colors can feel like an afterthought, or even fall victim to a “do I really need to add anything?” kind of thinking. Thank you, Janice, for thinking up the Start with Accent approach! I’m going to try it.
I like what you shared here…the variety of pieces, the colors, everything!! Thanks Janice! Please include the accessories, as I dlime to see what you’d select with more limited numbers to work with!
Thank you, Janice. I am printing this template… A while back when you had the Math Page I came up with the same formula, as I remember from counting my clothing: clusters of 1 topper, 2 tees/blouses, 2 bottoms. If I had 6 clusters, I could add 3 dresses for my 33 items. In the past my 33 items have not included outwear, jewelry, shoes, accessories. Maybe with this 20 grouping, I could have my 33 items include the accessories. I will play with this.
Deb from Vancouver says
I really admire and appreciate your ability to analyze these processes for us. I am such a magpie and rarely have a basic set of essentials for a solid head to toe look. Yet, I know how smart that is for so many reasons. I think I am so attracted to colour, pattern and fibre plus a variety of cuts and designs that I end up all over the place. I make most of my clothes and I find it very boring to stick to the basic. However, I have pinky sworn to myself that this is the year for basics!!!
Yes, please to the accessories.
One more question/thought…I tend to vary the tones of my contrats…so I love nutmeg and all its variations and that is what I look for not just 5 or more items all in the exact same colour.
Oh goodie, a new template! I’m looking forward to seeing what all you do with this one and also to playing with it myself.
I rather like the idea of starting with the accent color. I think starting with a great print blouse and picking the accent and also the neutral/s from the print is a good idea. I think for me instead of having so much of one neutral, I would rather have a cluster in each of two neutrals and a cluster in the accent. Then since I like print mixing, the last cluster could be prints that mix the colors or include two of them.
Since I have the long cardigan with trim and wore it today, I thought I’d show you the shoes I wore with it –
Saw this on @Zappos! https://www.zappos.com/p/product/9108762/color/1137?stockId=44914626
*with RUST trim. Top of Cluster 4
rb, I love those shoes – great choice!
This is great but all of your posts are great. Like Carole above, I wouldn’t count my accessories and I would have 33 pieces of clothing.
I think I would take the concept but change it to 6 piece coordinated clusters that include: one pair of pants or your bottom of choice, two tops that go with those bottoms (for me probably one solid and one print because I love color and prints), a topper that goes with one or both tops, a pair of shoes or boots and a bag/purse/tote that coordinates. Since there are only 4 pieces of clothing in each cluster I would probably want 8 clusters in various neutrals and colors that may or may not mix and match with other clusters. :) Unfortunately I just can’t get scarves to work for me and I just wouldn’t count jewelry in my 33 or in this case 32 items of clothing, accessories not included.
Love your blog, thanks for everything you do. Cheryl :)
This is great, my current favourite accent colour in a workable wardrobe!
I agree with Mona, I’ve come to the conclusion that to make a small number work, starting with the accent colours makes sense, and then ensuring you have basic pieces to support them – if you like particular colours, you will always reach for these first, and then think … ‘now what?’
I’ve go so much stuff the idea of a capsule only really applies for packing. However it does help to have some kind of colour strategy when investing in new pieces, so I will map out a plan for autumn based on your new template.
Love the concept of 4×4 or 4×5 but for me, I want about twice as many tops as bottoms, as tops are washed more often. Given that I wash clothes once a week, then do the ironing about 3-4 days later, once I’ve worn a top, it could be 10 days or so before it is re-available to wear. So I go with about 12 tops, 6 bottoms and about 4-5 cardigans – I love my cardigans ;-)! So I’m trying to work with a 24-piece capsule of clothes for everyday, and I also have a smaller capsule for smart/going out which isn’t that often.
I LOVE this! The 4×4 did seem a bit sparse to me for a whole season, but 20 looks just right! And yes please, accessories, though I would add the full template of accessories and ignore the number 33. As long as every piece is loved, and is being used.
Virginia Gehrig says
This is much more workable! Here in New England (especially THIS year), September through November can take you from heat wave to snow storm. So, I’ve adopted an “alternate” plan. For tops and shoes, I have both warm and cool options, but in the same color. For example, a short sleeve navy tee for the warm weeks is swapped out for a long sleeve navy tee when the temperatures drop. Navy espadrilles are replaced with navy duck boots. So, my total garment number is over 20, but I never have more than 20 in rotation at the same time. Since the alternate items are the same color, all of the outfits still work. It’s a bit rule bendy, but it works for me. :)
I’m just not going to start my Project 333 Wardrobe until the weather is cool for good, more or less. It probably will be late September or early October before I really settle into the 20 pieces…
This is such a beautiful atumnal wardrobe. I would love to see the accesories, and maybe a series that shows how some minor adjustments takes this wardrobe into the next season.
I love the new template since it allows for more tops and 2nd layer options. Something I find the need for as the weather changes within a season.
My personal preference is to have at least four or five dresses per season and I find this template will fit them quite nicely.
I’m another fan of this template. Living in a cool temperate climate, I like to have variety in the top/outer layers, which I wear for seven months of the year. And I too would swap an item (probably a dress) to include a warm, weatherproof coat. But this template offers so much variety in practical ways that you wouldn’t get bored easily. I’m also a fan of starting with an accent colour or print. The neutrals fall in so easily behind one of those choices, and the accent/prints are more fun to start with, when choosing items for the day. It’s a fab approach altogether, thank you, and the selected clothes shown here are scrumptious!
I like the new orientation of this template, jackets over tops over pants and skirts, with each column representing the addition of intrigue to the wardrobe. It made it easier for me to envision the potential outfits.
I really liked this new template.
When shopping or packing for travel I think in terms of 1 jacket/cardi (2cd layer) to 2 bottoms, and 4 tops. I like to add a wool V or Scoop neck pullover in a light washable merino in the neutral core as well as a dress no matter what the season is. Then another alternate second layer–so if I start with a jacket, I want a cardigan and vice versa. And that makes my basic 10. If I add another 10, it’s similar but I can play with the numbers, replacing the dress with another top etc.
I like keeping my core down to 2 dark neutrals and 2 or 3 light ones. In winter it’s black and grey with ivory and white. In summer it’s navy and grey with ivory and white. I use an icy taupe shade or very cool toned beige as part of the Ivory and whites. I wear gold or silver interchangeably.
Every time I think about adding colour and pattern it feels like I’m getting tied down somehow. I like the freedom of the totally neutral base.
I prefer to think about colour outside that template as I pop in the French 5 piece wardrobe mini capsules in colour groups that add spice, anytime but go with either of my neutral core. I’m very fond of my blush pink purse, scarves and tops. Ditto my cranberry almost rust stuff. And I love a Teal suede jacket, with aqua and lime tops and some scarves with those colours. Then I picked up some cherry red stuff on some sales which ALWAYS come out to play at Christmas. I love to add animal prints, amber tones and brown every fall. I prefer them with black, but they are nice with navy too.
My very favourite posts by Janice are the Stress Dressed Grey capsule and the Inuko Hoffman Navy and White capsule. I can stare at them for hours, they are so soothing and relaxing to contemplate.
I’ve actually used both to help me think thru my navy and grey core neutrals. They translate easily to black and grey too.
I copied that grey stress dressing capsule this last December and January, and was it ever soothing. I did it without knowing, before the actual big stress of my dad’s death in April, and my sister’s serious ill health landed, and it really was terrific to have on hand.
For me, having the core all in neutrals and mostly solids allows me to add the colour and pattern in later as a French Five piece addiition, then swap out instantly for another one as my mood changes.
By sticking to all neutrals, and mostly solids or insignificant pattern, texture and cut to add interest, it’s a neutral base that allows the colour additions of jackets, tops, scarves, purses, cardigans etc to really take the spotlight.
Would you mind if I used your “Core 10” pieces as a blog post (or 2 or 15?)? It’s brilliant, simple, clear, and I think that a lot of us could benefit from looking at it in more detail…
Let me know,
I would be honoured!
Annag Chandler says
I enjoy all of your posts, especially the ones that start with art. I do like this post a lot, with the emphasis on Eileen Fisher. She’s been my go-to clothing line for years — so comfortable, so packable. I was just in the Upper East Side store two days ago and loved all of the autumn clothes [I was just “retyped” as a Warm Autumn after years struggling to be a Bright Winter]. The colors are so good — I kept trying on different styles and when I found a good style/size, I would get it in midnight and russet and pine. There’s my 2018 Autumn/Winter capsule right there!