July 28, 2020
Yes, the series ended yesterday, but my ideas about it could go on for a long time…
The world’s easiest flashback – remember these 13 garments from yesterday’s post?
It’s been pretty evident to me for a while that these 13 garments arranged themselves into 3 clusters pretty neatly. Actually, you could arrange these pieces in at least a few different ways, but for now I’m looking at this:
If you’re not inclined to want to analyze your wardrobe on a weekly basis, maybe shift to a monthly basis, and look at clusters rather than individual garments!
Plus, this is a really easy way to pack – if you pack clusters, you know for a fact that you have garments that go together! (you do of course have to be sure of having shoes, sunglasses etc…)
For example, let’s look at the 13 black, white and pink garments that are in the Weekly Timeless Wardrobe at the top:
Easy peasy, right?
Starting today, I’m going to assemble a Weekly Timeless Wardrobe in navy, beige, forest green and white for all 4 seasons. Today we’re going to look at summer clothes, then tomorrow I’ll see what I can find for Autumn, then Winter and Spring to end the week!
Since nobody has a ton of clothes in stock, this should be… interesting…
A dark-neutral based Cluster, for summer, in navy, is truly a wardrobe classic:
Here’s an example of the kinds of liberties that you can take with this wardrobe – our heroine loves beige as her 2nd, light, neutral, but won’t wear beige near her face. So she uses white for some of her tops. Everything still goes together, looks great, and our heroine feels that she looks better!
More rule-breaking here – her tee shirt should almost certainly be solid navy, if you’re going to be really strict… But it’s clothing – there’s no need to go nuts following rules! Just be certain that you’re not buying things that don’t work for you…
Here’s all 13 of our heroine’s Weekly Timeless Wardrobe garments for summer. If someone handed me this suitcase right now, I’d be gone! (and I don’t wear navy, so that’s saying something…)
Our heroine’s reckless addition of just 1 printed tee shirt makes this entire wardrobe seem less staid, while not really interfering with her outfit options at all. Some day I’m going to figure out just exactly how many possibilities she might have, but for today I think that having a dozen ideas is a good start:
Especially for those among us who wear uniforms a lot, or who spend a big chunk of their time in gym clothes, a summer wardrobe like this might be almost all you need. Add in a French 5-Piece Wardrobe of accent and supplemental garments, and many heroines would have everything that they need!
Friday, I cleaned out my closet. I mean EVERYTHING OUT, piled on the bed and sorted. I didn’t get rid of all that much, but I feel sort of… relieved, and like I’ve accomplished something. A little bit of tidiness and clarity in a confused world is important!
What I realized, in the middle of piles of stuff, is that I can easily live with a small wardrobe. And I am gradually getting there! It will probably still take years, but if I’m on the right path, I’m happy…
p.s. FIVE years ago, we met the couple that were inspired by the painting Edith and the Kingpin, by Jack Vettriano. Memories…
Aline from Brazil says
Hi Janice, It’s Aline from Brazil. I happen to check your blog everyday since at least six years ago. I too have sweet memories when I see your old posts. I remember where I was when I first saw It and with whom I was. I was traveling. Thats good to remember. After all these years I’m still struggling whith colors. I recently found out that I’m winter type and that I can do good with both navy and black. Ow my, I like both of them and that’s tough. I’m trying to organize my closet in order to keep my black clothes for Winter time and navy ones for all the other seasons. My wardrobe is a challenge for me. I havent been buying much stuff recently and I hope I can find what I like before I’m ready to go shopping for clothes again. Thank you for everything, encouraging us to find our own Style.
Take advantage of being stuck indoors so much, and work on your closet a little bit at a time. One day, for example, sort out all of your tee shirts, a few days later look at all of your jeans etc. It’s a process that never really ends; my wardrobe isn’t as ideal as I would like it to be, and I’ve been doing this for AGES!
Stay safe, and stay in contact with us all!
Lisa P says
I appreciate your advice to Aline too! I have followed you for several years and you’ve helped me create a coherent smallish wardrobe that I love. Makes it so easy to get dressed in outfits I know I like.
BUT I have still continued to avoid sorting out the many other clothes I own but rarely wear. It just feels overwhelming and time-consuming to have to go through, try on, decide what to do with, and get rid of so many things. I do understand it will be freeing to have more space in my closet but still I delay….
Maybe before the end of this summer I will feel the confidence to choose one category of clothing and just start!
There’s another idea that I’ve used – when you take something out of your closet that you absolutely refuse to put on, try to figure out why you’re putting it BACK into your closet! Is it the wrong level of dressiness, or not suited for the current weather? Or is it a more enduring long-term “thing” that you just don’t like? If it’s the latter, put it into a donate bag. We always have a donate bag in the bottom of our (shared) closet, for these items…
Beth T says
Small steps, Lisa. I found it more useful and less daunting to do the sorting exercise with another person who’s opinion I trusted and they can also see how something looks at the rear!
My daughter helped me. I trust her judgement and she wears totally different colours to me, except teal, so she couldn’t persuade me to keep something because SHE liked the colour.
I tackled a drawer or a bag at a time. Try and make it fun. Choose a time when you will be relaxed.
The first sort simply decided whether something fitted me properly, the style suited me or the material was in good condition. If it wasnt then it was rejected or put on a pile for reasonable repair or alteration. The items you are keeping for sentimental reasons should be kept. I went through all my clothes in this first sort. I didnt need to try everything on.
The next sort of the remaining clothes was by colour, pattern and shape. I used the Weekly Timeless Wardobe to help me and it doesn’t matter how many items you have on a particular category, though every category must be filled.
I didn’t consider whether these items ‘went’ with the rest of my wardrobe.
It was at that point I considered special items or those I kept for sentimental reasons. You should definitely keep those things that you treasure.
Only when this is complete, can you klook to integrating the remaining items into your wardrobe by creating clusters of two colours.
Good luck sorting.
I am hoping we will see charts with this exercise.
You can get templates for all 4 seasons here:
I liked the focus on navy here! I enjoy both black and navy, like Aline. It does seem I prefer them in different seasons, as she mentioned! Glad you are expanding on this series, Janice!!
Janice I think we would all love a peek inside your wardrobe.?
For all those struggling to cull, maybe it helps to say someone else needs this and it’s just wasteful sitting in my closet unworn. Even if you just pick one a day to get rid of, it will go down gradually with out stress and once you get started it can be quite freeing. Still working on it myself ?
For those of you who are bored with wardrobes that don’t have a lot of accent color, you will HATE my wardrobe. It’s literally 90%, at least, black and white. After looking at things all day for The Vivienne Files, I want my wardrobe to be completely foolproof!
But I do have some beautiful pink accents now!
I do spend a lot of time selecting fabric and patterns and sewing clothes, but day to day I prefer to ‘grab an outfit and go’ so to speak. My year round basic is navy, with some browns and greens. Navy pants and different season tops figure largely, with blue, brown and green dresses and a few lightweight separates in the summer. I also don’t do prints unless they are very special and only have two printed garments at the moment. I am sure most people would think this is very boring indeed! However, I have collected a lot of accessories over the years, particularly scarves, and use them to pep things up.
Sally in St Paul says
I tried some quick math on the outfits in this mega-cluster of 13 items (in which I thought every piece could go with every other piece), and my eyes about popped out of my head.
1 layer outfits: 25
2 layer outfits: 47 (oatmeal shirt treated a top with the cardigan but as a “jacket” with the Ts/tanks)
Total = 72! Can that be right?! That’s over 10 weeks of different outfits.
If you wanted to add in 3 layer outfits (both the oatmeal shirt and navy cardigan over a T/tank…that would be a lot of layers for summer), you get another 22.
And that’s *before* you add in accessories to further change it up.
Now I would find this awfully monotonous, and many of the outfits would be more monochromatic than I would prefer. But there are a lot of combinations to try, particularly if you are test driving your color palette.
Of course the genius of this is that if you want a small, hard-working, very mix-and-match cluster, but like a lot of colors, you don’t absolutely *have to* limit your color palette as much as this example. Does there even exist a color of tank/T (other than probably black) that you couldn’t wear with the navy and beige bottoms and layering pieces? I quickly tested it with 7 different colors of tops and it still completely worked. Even if you didn’t have a full set of accessories spanning all these colors, a top in a different color would just be a nice pop to the outfit. (For example, I would totally wear a navy bottom, oatmeal topper, and forest green necklace with say a coral T.) And if that kind of pop isn’t your thing, multi-colored accessories are pretty common in summer to add more coherence to these colorful outfits.
Definitely food for thought!
I really love the direction you are going with organizing the WTW into clusters! In the past, I have done some wardrobe planning using a 5 piece cluster (topper, 2 tops, and 2 bottoms) and played around with all the outfits I could make. I always gave myself bonus points if one of the tops I chose could also be used as a topper (button-down shirt, for example). I think it provides such a helpful visual aid to seeing the outfits that can be formed. Lots of other good ideas here, such as using a preferred Light instead of the light neutral for tops, which is absolutely what I would do, as I don’t like beige against my face. And subbing in a print for the solid tee… brilliant, really. The fact that it is a small print and uses both neutrals is really key. It still acts like a neutral but it gives some variety to the outfit for those of us that don’t really like to dress too monochromatic. Thank you for reminding us that we can and should break the rules to make the concept work for us!
Be still my little cluster packing heart ! ! I just adore seeing clusters of clothes with mix and match options , accompanied by the visuals of the various possible outfits ! I echo everything Lyneisa said ! Kudos !
Beth T says
I’m looking forward to seeing how your ideas develop the WTW theme. My colour scheme will be dark blues, grey, teal and ivory or cream.
Beth T says
I’ve just realised that looking ahead to autumn, I have a jersey dress that has a pattern of ivory, beige and teal spots on a navy background which will fit perfectly with this colour scheme. Now I just need to lose the ‘lockdown weight’ to get back into it!
With your 5 piece clusters, are your bottoms both the same neutral and value or do you make one dark and one light ?
Usually when I play with the cluster concept, I pull up PowerPoint (thanks for this tip, Janice!) and start copying images onto a slide. I do one cluster per slide and usually do a couple of slides. I don’t think I ever consciously choose to make both bottoms the same color on a slide, although I might have another bottom in that same neutral on the 2nd slide, if that makes sense, just because I like to see more variety in each grouping. So, let’s say this is cluster 1: navy puffer vest, navy/olive/pink/ivory plaid flannel shirt, ivory long sleeve henley, dark blue (navy) jeans, olive green corduroys. In this case, the blue denim and olive are probably close to the same value but aren’t the same color.
Then cluster 2 might be olive cardigan, pink t-shirt, floral print blouse, navy skirt, and ivory jeans. I would probably have navy trousers and stone chinos in cluster 3. My goal is always to think about how the pieces in a single cluster work together first, and then to think about how the pieces in one cluster will work with another, i.e. can the topper from the first group work with all the pieces of the second group? I think by doing this, you’ll get to the same place as if you go the route of the core of 4, but it keeps me more engaged and interested if I see more variety and actual outfits that I would wear at the beginning. Maybe it could be called “Start with an Outfit”! lol
I’m not sure I’ve ever understood the clusters, but everything looks great! – nancyo
Fascinating! Will try!
Me neither nancyo. And how do you hang them when some garments go into more than one cluster. If you don’t hang them together how do you remember what goes in what cluster.
You don’t have to keep your clothes in the clusters in your closet – you can store things in whatever configuration works best for you. I tend to keep my things sorted by category – i.e. all button-front shirts together, all pants together etc. You’re probably going to be wearing clothes from more than 1 cluster at a time, so this makes it somewhat easier…
I’m going to ponder the use of multiple clusters in a closet at the same time next week. It might be more clear then?
I am soooo looking forward to that !
Thank you for your comprehensive response ! I am seeing that in your examples, a navy bottom of some nature follows through in all 3 clusters as a common thread and basis ! That flannel multicolored shirt was a great inspiration for both neutrals and an accent color ! Within each cluster, even though they might not work well with some of the garments in the other clusters, do you include a print item ? Also, do you include a given accent color in each cluster, or at least have an accent color within a print, as in the example of the multicolored flannel shirt with pink within the print in cluster #1 , and then the pink tee in the 2nd cluster ? Would you repeat that same pink in another pattern in cluster #3, or choose a different accent color ? I know that I have asked a lot of questions, but I love to analyze clusters and how they can potentially interplay with one another ! Thanks again for your response ! When Janice first showed the cluster concept some years ago, she started with an outfit, and then added the second top, so you are right on with “ Start with an Outfit “ ! Love this !
You’ve asked a lot of great questions! And, of course, there’s no right or wrong way to do this and everyone has personal preferences, but I personally do like to include more prints than some women might, and I like having both print tops and skirts, so obviously not every single piece will go together. The challenge is always finding the right kind of prints. In my example, I mentioned adding a floral print blouse in cluster #2, and it would be great if you could find a floral print containing all the colors: navy, ivory, olive, and pink. But, maybe you can’t, so I would at least ensure that two of the main colors are there and possibly a 2nd accent color. Notice that you could choose either ivory or olive as your second neutral in my example since I included the ivory jeans. And, instead of always including a print in the cluster, maybe you choose to do all solid garments and add a coordinating print scarf or multicolored necklace to the side. No one said you couldn’t start working on your accessories as you are planning! If you keep planning out in clusters to expand the wardrobe, eventually you will end up with some that are all solids, because you’ll be thinking about other solid pieces to wear that you need. I know I would want to include an olive green bottom and some solid tanks to wear under the flannel shirt when the weather is milder. And, of course, the point of the WTW is to help you get all those key pieces you need to actually put outfits together, so that’s why Janice didn’t include a lot of prints. As far as accent colors go, I think you could include more pink in cluster #3, such as a warm snuggly sweater that could be worn on its own, under the puffer vest, over the plaid flannel, and maybe even over the floral blouse depending on whether it had a collar. Or, you could go an entirely different route: stone jacket or marled cardigan, navy trousers, stone chinos, top in 2nd accent color from floral blouse, and olive top, as an example.