May 13, 2020
It was a sort of urgent email – I get those sometimes! In the middle of quarantining and lots of disruption, SHE GOT A PROMOTION!!!! A big one…
After much back and forth, we settled on the 4 colors in our palette, and she has already isolated these 8 things to launch her work wardrobe:
These are her chosen colors:
She’s going to need to travel some, and be on screens for teleconferences a lot, so I’m targeting – eventually – a 20-piece wardrobe for her for these “visible” work activities. I thought maybe this template would help me be organized in making recommendations:
So the first thing we need to do is show her 8 existing garments in this template, so we can see where we have gaps:
Even though these next 3 garments are added 1 at a time, they actually are an outfit, which of course could all be purchased at the same time. Showing each thing coming into the wardrobe on its own gives us a chance to appreciate how useful each piece is with existing garments, so I’m going to stick with that plan.
First up, an accent color!
Our heroine might find that she can get by in her new position without wearing skirts, but at first, I feel like a skirt is a quick way to show that you’ve moved up from the jeans-wearing crowd into management. Workplaces will vary, but this still seems to be true among the women I see downtown…
Even though this next top might never be worn with the cardigan that’s the same color, it’s nice to have that choice:
Our heroine likes to wear jeans, so she definitely should get a good pair of dark wash jeans that she can wear when she’s on the road, or wear when she’s on teleconferences. Working does not necessarily require physical discomfort, does it?
My general preference is for a wardrobe to be about 40% accent colors and 60% neutrals… This wardrobe has a good navy tank top, but another solid navy top makes a lot of sense.
This isn’t a tee shirt – it’s described as a blouse. It looks very similar, but the fabric, and the finishing construction, make it a more businesslike alternative.
Let’s go foraging for that last accent color! Teal wasn’t easy to find right now, but I found that it’s still possible to get teal cashmere. Wearing a cashmere sweater into a meeting will either make you look serious and important, or it will have no effect at all because you work with people who don’t recognize cashmere!
No matter; YOU know that you’re wearing something gorgeous…
Of course you want the matching shell; if you never wear them together that’s fine. But if you find a scarf or other accessory that looks great with your cardigan, you know that it will ALSO look great with the short-sleeve sweater…
Whew! Maybe it’s time to take a break and see what the overall wardrobe looks like after these additions:
I frankly hadn’t planned to find this entire wardrobe (almost) at Lands’ End, but that’s what has happened so far. Don’t force yourself to shop all in 1 place, but don’t freak out if you happen to have really good luck at 1 particular store. Sometimes their sensibility meshes with your own, and you can really clean up!
As I look at this wardrobe, I really feel like she needs 2 things – another skirt or pair of pants, and a really serious blazer or blazer-style sweater. A warm sweater or 2 might be smart, and a dress. This heroine’s NOT a big fan of dresses, so I found her the most relaxed, casual dress possible!
If you don’t have a lightweight pleated skirt, I strongly recommend one! I wear mine with an over-sized sweatshirt and ballet flats…
A teal sweater? Heck yes…
And this blazer sweater. These are lovely, and much easier to wear than a true blazer. The fit on these is much more forgiving…
This dress is a little bit incongruous (from the point of view of seasons) with the cardigans, but when she’s on her computer being seen through a screen, the difference won’t be a bit deal. And then as soon as her video meeting is over, she can hang up her sweater and relax…
For the last item, I looked back at all of the pieces and see that our heroine only has 2 pieces in plum… Depending on where you life, it’s never wrong to have at least a few sweaters – especially THIS spring:
I think this gets us to 20! (I could have lost count, I admit…)
When I get to travel again, this is the template that I’m going to use for a very LOOOOONG trip to Ireland…
p.s. Four years ago, our heroine the auditor was catching people off-guard, in the most product ways… Should I revisit this work of art?
Oh yes, please revisit Portraits Theatraux! That wardrobe is gorgeous, I love the colors and the balance of femininity and masculinity.
I’d also like to submit an artwork idea for the future: the “Sleeping Venus” by Giorgione. I saw the painting in Germany ages ago, and for some reason it was the first artwork to really move me. Seeing a wardrobe inspired by it would be pretty wonderful!
That chart is so useful for seeing exactly what you have and need. And these colors would be good for any season.
Congrats to the heroine!
Linda in Bluffton says
Love the approach to this … would be great as a teaching tool for young heroines entering the work force.
Yes, please revisit that art piece. I would love to get some true carmel into my wardrobe and am not seeing much out there. (I can’t wear the lighter tans/beiges.) Always enjoy seeing your magic.
I’m actually already working on it, for tomorrow! That caramel color is going to be elusive, I’m afraid… I will do my best!
I’m not the heroine of your story, but this is my palette too. I love how you’ve displayed it in clusters. Seems a great tool. Now off to check out that Plum at LE.
Sally in St Paul says
Congratulations to the heroine! I love this wardrobe–the colors and the items. That plum marl sweater is a really great example of a fun, versatile basic. (By happenstance, I’m wearing a white floral A-line skirt today that is mostly magenta/plum and green/teal, so I’m enjoying the idea of throwing this skirt into the mix.)
One thing that’s been kind of great about working from home is that unlike the drafty school building I usually work in that is hot when it’s warm and freezing when it’s cool, my apartment is a very pleasant stable temperature. I’ve turned on the AC at 70 F to keep sunny days from making it too warm, but even in recent nights with lows below 40 F, it doesn’t get cool. So while I admire all these sweaters in this wardrobe, I am definitely past any sweaters warmer than a lightweight cotton cardigan right now (I am NOT complaining either!).
Could we get accessories, too? I’m kind of drooling in anticipation of the scarf possibilities here, especially.
Also, a word about that Serious Sweats cardigan from Lands End (the lavender one here): I ordered it in white a couple weeks ago after it appeared on TVF, and on my plus size shape, it looked like the unholy offspring of a lab coat and a bathrobe. (It was very comfortable and snuggly, though, so I can see the appeal.)
Catherine Peck says
Love the chart approach to filling out the wardrobe and seeing it broken down in piece by piece additions. The color palette is beautiful and practical. Love it!
Beth T says
This is my wardrobe but I have incorporated a few variations. Along with navy, I have included dark purple skirt and trousers to add variation as a second neutral. Teal and plum look great with purple. Lavender and purple give a monochrome look. I have a teal and purple floral blouse and I would like to find a navy and plum blouse to pick up the accents. I have teal cotton jeans that make a column with the teal jumper and are an alternative to dark denim. I also have teal and plum dresses. I’m still looking for a patterned dress which includes all these colours.
How would you accessorise this wardrobe?
Would it be okay if I did a post about that? I’ve been thinking about her needs a lot, so it might be both useful and fun…
Beth T says
Absolutely. I’ll be interested to see how you do it. That’s the thing I love about your posts is that you show us a colour scheme or accessories and it opens up new possibilities with things we already own.
I collect jewellery like a magpie.and I wear it every day, mixing things up. I like my jewellery to tone with my outfit but sometimes add a pop of another accent colour which might be in blouse or scarf.
I usually buy from charity shops, craft fairs, collectors fairs and vintage shops and markets. I like supporting crafts people and charities.
Costume jewellery is often under £10 unless it’s a named make or it’s got precious stones in it. I have bought a few things for a bit more. I’ve also inherited pieces and my relatives all know that jewellery is a good present for me. I don’t have a plan but buy what appeals from vintage to modern.
Often it’s the shape or the colour. Sometimes, I’ve found something so perfect with what I’m wearing that I wear my new purchase out of the shop. I have my grandmother’s eye for a bargain but I do check clips and fastenings and check for missing stones or cracked beads. Strings and elastic can be worn out too. Even if it’s cheap it’s not worth a brass farthing if it’s not right.
Beth T says
By the way – this chart is perfect for all of us who are ‘sorting out’ our wardrobes during lockdown. It is a great tool for planning a capsule on our own favourite scarves. Thank you!
Sandra Thorne says
I’m a winter – LOVE all these colours – thanks!
This is gorgeous! I love all these colors, along with a true deep purple. This may be my direction for summer this year.
I would love to see how you accessorize, as for the comment above.
I absolutely love the ‘what you have/what you can add’ series, and request a link up above for that series as well as the ‘whatever’s clean’ wardrobe ideas. Both of those have proved really helpful for inspiration as well as packing. For trips one will take someday in the future. ;-)
I too would love to see a revisit of Portraits Theatraux!
Gail F says
I really loves these posts. I did use exactly this template when my daughter started her first professional job. We had a budget and a plan a got her a great wardrobe — as well as helping her learn to shop for herself in the future.
I wore a sweater blazer much like the one here today! It’s such a great garment. I usually wear it with more formal clothes, but today I gave myself a casual day (I work in a very small office and no one cares what I wear, but I generally wear a more casual version of the clothes I wore in my last job) so I wore straight, dark wash jeans and a t-shirt with a black sweater blazer to give it that “work” look. I have a black one and a dark gray one, and I am hunting for a navy one in my price range (LOW, because I don’t really need a third, but if I see one at a good price…)
Great post Janice! This takes me back to 5 years ago when I first came across TVF, going to my first congress as a speaker, struggling to find a balance between clothes to feel professional without the ‘costumy’ feeling and being comfortable!! Then, I found it as a great tool for packing and then to pick a capsule maternity wardrobe and for the journey after that (I mean the journey, better said odyssey, of trying to get into your pre-maternity clothes!). Thank you so much and to everyone posting comments, it’s fun to start my day with you gals!
Wondering which kind of promotion this could be, if you add sweaters and jeans to create a business wardrobe. Even if it is the most casual business dress code, please at least go for fine 2ply cashmere. Why are you not showing shirts and blouses? They are way dressier having a collar. And a Tshirt dress not being knee length is a no go as – in my opinion – every tshirt is in business, unless you wear it under a blazer.
Sorry for being this frank and apologizing, I think your sense for colours is perfect…
I wear teal and plum a lot, especially in the winter, and usually with black. I’d love to see this wardrobe with a few more prints, especially a skirt. – nancyo
Have you ever put together a wardrobe for a senior citizen to take to a nursing home. That is probably going to be my next wardrobe challenge and the 20 piece would be ideal. Each piece must be able to take an industrial washer and dryer and hot water and bleach. What would you recommend? I know that those who are sometimes having bathroom accidents want dark bottoms that show less but they fade so badly in those washing procedures. Shrinkage can also be a big problem. I wear a diabetic glucose meter on my stomach which does not work with jean waistlines that may push on it and even cause it to come off. Elastic which can be adjusted to sit below the meter box seems to work best. Long tops that are also wide enough to cover the meter and that waistline are best. Your help as to where to shop would also be helpful. We Baby Boomers are getting older and many will need this advice soon.