July 30, 2020
If you’re tasked with finding a winter wardrobe right now, I wish you all KINDS of luck. This is not a year during which all of the retailers have rushed to thrill us with cashmere, velvet, tweed, and lots of boots…
Nevertheless, we persist…
Remember this wardrobe from week 26 of The Weekly Timeless Wardrobe? I love this one…
So what IS a cluster, anyway? To me, a cluster is a group of clothes – 4, 5 or 6 at the most – that all go together, that give you a range of ensembles, and that are built around 1 or 2 “bottoms.”
My logic is that if you have a couple of spare tops to wear with a pair of pants,
- you aren’t stuck when you’re traveling and someone spills coffee on your shirt;
- if the weather changes, you have options;
- if you find that you’re doing something more dressy or casual than you expected, you have options;
- if you travel for a while, you can re-wear your pants or skirt, but change up the clothes that more likely need to be laundered;
- and your will look and feel like you’re wearing something different when you can change the clothing nearest your face.
If I take the descriptions of each garment and arrange them in Clusters, it looks kind of like this:
By this logic, my wardrobe from 6 months ago divided up like this:
Okay! Let’s see if, in our current retail… slowdown… I can find clothes to compose 3 similar clusters in our palette of navy, beige, green and white.
First, I’ve included a navy suit! Depending on what you do with your time, this could be either insanely useful, or completely nuts…
This wardrobe already has a ton of navy pants, so our heroine is long overdue for some beige pants. And she also already has a green cotton turtleneck, so a print one makes sense to me. And the plaid shirt combines navy, green and beige, which makes it a winner!
I’ve taken some liberties here, which is what one does with all good wardrobe guidelines! (these aren’t laws, these are suggestions…)
I don’t think our heroine needs another navy skirt, and a beige skirt in cold weather felt… odd to me. If I could find one in corduroy, or velvet, or something warmer it might work. But I thought that a denim skirt might be useful here….
This heroine has had a flannel shirt since early days, so I’m giving her an always-useful classic white shirt. And her textured neutral top is NOT neutral – it’s green! And it’s a turtleneck that’s hard to resist:
Here’s her winter wardrobe; imagine this combined with the Autumn wardrobe, with all of the long-sleeved tee shirts, the beige cardigan, the plaid flannel shirt…
Of course, you wouldn’t need more than these 13 garments…
Monday I’m going to put ALL four of the seasonal Weekly Timeless Wardrobes together, to see what kind of synergies and fun we can find. Remember, these are the 2 seasons we’ve finished so far:
I always find it fascinating that when I see these wardrobes with 39 or 52 garments, they seem HUGE. But then I look into my own closet and see so much more…
Ah, there is no perfect wardrobe. The pursuit of a better wardrobe is a life-long project!
p.s. Just last year, our heroine traveled with a 2 Cluster Travel Capsule Wardrobe; she was inspired by one of my favorite paintings!
I need a tutorial in how to use Power Point ! A smaller visual like that instead of laying out clusters all over my bed and getting confused with what goes with what, and what have I forgotten to include, and how do the individual mix and match outfits work , would be most helpful !
I mentally play around with your clusters of either the 4 items ones or the 5 items ones, and how many tops , toppers and bottoms go within each grouping , thinking in packing terms.
4 clusters of 4 items gives me a 4×4 , obviously, and allows for 2 neutrals and at least 2 accent colors. It could also be made into a 3 neutrals format with accent colors. Broken down, that would be 4 bottoms, 4 toppers, and 8 tops for 16 total pieces, more than enough for a week’s trip or longer ! I don’t wear skirts or dresses, so that simplifies the choices . If I use 3 clusters of 5 items each, I could have either 1 topper 1 bottom , and 3 tops in each cluster, or 1 topper , 2 bottoms and 2 tops . That could allow for at least a different accent color within each of the 3×5 clusters and still only be 15 total pieces . So that’s 3 or 6 bottoms, 3 toppers, and 6 or 9 tops , depending upon how the 5 piece clusters are broken down. I crave color to add to my neutrals, but I also want to minimize the total number of pieces that I pack , as well as providing the most versatility without feeling that I am wearing the same colors over and over again ! Your “ Whatever’s Clean 13” also allows versatility of breakdown . For me that’s 3 bottoms, 4 toppers and 6 tops, or 3 bottoms, 3 toppers and 7 tops , or 4 bottoms, 3 toppers and 6 tops , or 4 bottoms, 2 toppers, and 7 tops , though I might always throw in a 7 th top as there are 7 days in a week , and also rewear some items. Depending upon the level of formality needs of a trip, more garments might be needed . For instance, changing for dinner on a cruise would require more total garments ( if that ever gets to happen again ) !
I so appreciate your templates, which simplify the thinking it through ! I am a visual learner , so I do so much appreciate you including showing the individual outfits in addition to the total concept . The “ Weekly Timeless Wardrobes” have been so helpful in selecting the individual garments ! Thank you for taking closet and suitcase contents out of chaotic thinking !
Reading other viewers ideas has also been insightful !
Big cyber hugs !
Beth T says
I’ve been there with the bed full of clothes! I did that last week to see how many purple clothes I now have.
Perhaps you could take photos of individual items or outfits against a white background in daylight, store the images on your computer and then group them together using Publisher which is a bit more flexible than PowerPoint as you can move images around the page more easily.
A great idea, thanks ! I am not familiar with Publisher, but my Computer Scientist son can help me with it !
Beth T says
We are about to have a heatwave in the UK this weekend (33C or higher) and all I can think of is how lovely it will be to wear warm and cosy clothes again! Bring out my velvet, faux fur and chunky knits.
I love this wardrobe though my beige would be grey and white would be ivory/cream. I have almost everything already. I hope I can find a top in forest green just to see if the colour suits me. Otherwise, I shall settle for teal. For years, I have put my teal items at the back of my wardrobe, only wearing them occasionally. Perhaps, this year, I can review them to wear more often with navy and grey.
I like long cardigans but wish they fastened, like the one you featured yesterday. The two tone marled jumper is just the sort of thing that i could wear on an autumn walk. I have a tweed jacket with darker velvet collar that might do for now.
I’ve never been a ‘suit person’ but if the occasion arose, I would wear a navy tweed or textured jacket or long cardigan over wide leg navy trousers with an ivory blouse or tee-shirt underneath and a scarf round my neck. It’s such a classic colour combination. The long cardigan over trousers lengthens my silhouette and distracts from my short waist.
I do have two long velvet jacket and trouser suits in navy and wine that I wear at Christmas. Perhaps, I should wear them on other occasions too. I also wear velvet skirts and jeans throughout the winter. I find that cords make me look dumpy and baggy but ‘moleskin’ or soft suede might be a good alternative.
The dress is classic as the white piping lifts it. However, all navy is too overpowering for me now. Instead, I would wear my teal dress or my navy and teal patterned teal jersey wrap dress with a top underneath.
Would you consider adding accessories to these wardrobes?
Oh, I could be persuaded to add accessories… I can ALWAYS be persuaded to look at accessories – they’re always beautiful, unique and creative!
Beth T says
…and probably more plentiful
Probably. But it’s a constant source of amazement to me how MUCH clothing there is in the world. With all of this stuff, one might think that everybody would be better dressed. But the ability of some people to find the most appalling garment in existence is not to be defeated!
Linda P says
Hi Janice! I love navy, and I love forest green, but for me I don’t love them together unless they are in a pattern (with more green than navy). I like the suggestion of teal in place of forest green for this capsule. I could also switch in grey for navy.
That suit would look great at a holiday party. With that green turtleneck and a tree pin on the lapel.
Sally in St Paul says
Ah, yes, I like this balance of colors with the additional forest green and lighter neutral items. I would happily wear navy and forest green color-blocked together without a bridge piece, though realistically I would ALWAYS add a scarf in the cold season. Navy and pretty much any shade of green is one of my favorite combinations.
I don’t love beige pants as a winter garment, but with the bridge plaid and marled pieces, I’m kind of feeling it in this wardrobe…as long as I assume our heroine lives somewhere without much snow where such a garment could be at all practical. In Minnesota, I could not possibly imagine wearing full length, non-skinny beige pants from about Nov 1 to May 1, and even the dark straight leg pants/jeans would not be as practical as the skirts and skinny pants I rely on heavily for the snow season. (If there is a secret method for wearing straight leg trousers with boots that doesn’t make you look like a Russian dancer or result in wet pant legs, I would love to know about it.) But replace those beige pants with a corduroy skirt and it would be perfect…I’m just wondering what color of corduroy skirt would be best. There’s already so much navy…would forest green work?
And yes, yes, we must have accessories! Of course accessory posts are always a joy, but I’m very excited about the accessories for this particular wardrobe and color palette.
The navy sweater dress is wonderful. It’s the kind of dress you could pair with different accessories to get a casual, a business or a dressier look. But, the white line knit into the neckline gives me pause. How would you accessorize this dress to get 3 moods?
I don’t know if that trim would be that difficult to work with – you could still easily wear a scarf or necklace… It isn’t quite as simple as a solid navy dress, but the trim is so small that I think it might still work. It would be worth imagining one’s way through 2 or 3 possibilities, just to be certain!
This exercise in clusters is excellent. I’m looking forward to Monday and seeing all four seasons of the Weekly Timeless Wardrobes (all 52 pieces!) together. Definitely a huge undertaking on your part. I agree that when you look at clothes this way it seems huge. Surely I have too many items in my closet now. I’m starting to believe the upcoming post will be the tipping point for me and I will finally gain control over the chaos. BTW, love the navy, green and beige wardrobes you have created. Substitute olive for forest green and I’m good to go!
Thanks for explaining the clusters as items that you might wear together, and that relate to the other clusters. What was giving me pause the other day was a cluster of black shorts, black top, and black sweater, and the thought of wearing them together in the summer. Or even in this post, I truly cannot see myself ever wearing a navy suit with a navy turtleneck. Obviously I would have to construct clusters with combinations that suit me! But personally, the 4×4, 4×5, or French 5 piece all click better in my brain. That’s why you have so many systems; one is bound to be perfect for each reader! – nancyo
Exactly! I could, if pressed, think of dozens of different ways to assemble wardrobes. Everybody has to find their own way to do this well, and it takes time, patience, and a certain amount of trial and error. But it’s a process that continues throughout our lives; we just keep trying to improve!