July 3, 2020
Okay, she’s no longer living; for our purposes, our heroine is a fictional character who looks a lot like her…
When we left our heroine, stocking her pantry in Paris with the essentials, she was traveling with this wardrobe:
She has just learned that she’s going to have to stay in Paris for at LEAST 2 weeks longer than she expected! (let’s not get into the details of why – it’s fiction, and a fantasy!)
She certainly could stay with just the 8 garments she has – a little bit of well-timed laundry would be really all she would need to manage. But since she’s going to be staying there regularly in the future, she decides that she will very carefully buy more clothes…
Even though she can’t leave Paris, she can still be out and about there every day – she needs to go to the street market every day, at a minimum…
So she’s methodical – she looks at her current wardrobe within the context of a larger plan:
She realizes that she could start anywhere on the template and start adding things, but she decides to be organized and start by filling in the top 2 rows – the essential neutrals!
Yes, I know that she’s in Paris, and that she’s richer than you or me, but I kind of want at least some of the core neutral garments to be broadly accessible to many of us…
Sometimes, just having that 1 extra tee shirt can make all the difference!
Now, she’s thinking about that 2nd row of her plan – the 2nd Core of 4 in neutral… She doesn’t need another cardigan, but maybe a linen shirt? She sees a lot of linen on other women, and likes the look!
Normally she’s not big on sleeveless tops, but she understands that having something light to wear under her new shirt, or her cardigans, might be sensible. Plus, once she is home, she can wear this around and be more comfortable…
She still doesn’t have a pair of pants! Well, she has cropped pants, but nothing to the ankle. She’s not sure what she wants to get, until she sees these wonderful swishy things! It’s like wearing a skirt, only not…
Now she’s moving into the somewhat more fun part of building this wardrobe! She knows that she needs a simple, light-colored top, but she ALSO knows that if she starts buying white things, they won’t look right with her floral and dotted tops. So she starts looking for ivory, cream, bone, or off-white…
And she’s had quite enough with the really versatile neutral pieces that are logical to own – now she’s getting something kind of amazing:
The pressure is really off for shopping – she can take her time now. Wander the streets, look at window displays, browse websites, and dream…
When she saw this, she knew that being patient and somewhat relaxed about this project was the right approach!
It might sound odd, but she feels like she’s missing something without a striped top! She IS in Paris, where (supposedly) the striped top is a wardrobe essential. She’s not really the right woman for the traditional striped top, but again, she just waits, and looks…
For at least a week, she doesn’t even really think about the fact that she’s got 15 garments, when she planned to have 16…
But then a cool day arrives, and she only has linen pants. Not that there’s a problem with that, but she realizes that she wishes she had some jeans, or something similar. But something in a softer color, and an overall look that can be dressed up just a bit more than jeans.
A few hours of people-watch from the terrasse of her favorite cafe convinces her that a simple pair of chinos might be ideal!
NOW, her plan looks perfect!
After she does her laundry and irons, she pulls on her silk pajamas and starts planning her outfits for the next week or 2…
I actually had to do this once – I was traveling for business and I ended up staying longer than the original plan.
It was kind of fun…
Should we shop for accessories for her? THAT could be outrageous fun…
p.s. Seven years ago, our heroine traveled for a special event, with a capsule of lavender and grey. It’s a short post – you can tell I used to have a full-time job that WASN’T blogging!
Fiction is nice, but strategy is way better! Having a concrete strategy makes it easier to know when to stop.
I think the off white in the tops goes better with black than stark white. Maybe just my monitor.
I also think the off white is perfect in this wardrobe. Bright white and black has its place, but for our heroine, this softer off white was a great choice.
Sometimes I think about cutting up the template like a deck of cards and dealing them out; take photos on your phone and voila ! Looks for the week!!
Enjoyed the thinking through of this project.
Deb from Vancouver says
That is a great idea…also for shopping lists.
I would have loved to see what was possible using Charcoal, French gray and silver with the odd touch of dark red. That said, I do like that shade of blue even though I can’t see it in the picture. However, the overall look is far too dark for me. Yes please to having some accessories.
Beth T says
I too would have liked to have seen softer shades of grey as a second neutral. All that black looks a bit funereal or maybe our heroine has been invited to play in a series of orchestral concerts…
However the look back lavender and grey wardrobe is perfect! So thank you for that.
I love black and do wear it, but it’s not as flattering as grey and navy. The other reason I’m veering away from black is that I just can’t feel it in summer. Grey and navy work well year round! So when Janice pulls together these beautiful capsules using black, I mentally substitute grey or navy and my own favorite accents. Another trick I’ve learned: when Janice features a piece I like, but the color isn’t one I wear, I check the link to see if it comes in a color that fits my preferences. Lots of times it does!
I am with you. Once I took a whack of black linen to Paris… in July. It looked horrible and felt worse, too dark. Ended up shopping for colour and off-white linen skirt (cooler than trousers.) Paris has, still, many places with no AC and high humidity is typical. Even our charming hotel had no ac in the bedrooms, only the lobby. Even when I went to the sea coast, that black linen only worked at night.
This is a great wardrobe, and when I visually edited out the black (for this time of year and that location), it looked much more summery.
Hmmm, grey as a second neutral or in place of the black would be lovely and also a greater challenge! Putting together a black core seems the easiest thing in the world (I mean, even I can do it without difficulty!), but getting a harmonious set of 8 core grey pieces is next-level stuff.
I also wonder whether adding grey and silver to the accessories would soften this wardrobe up a bit. I feel like this heroine is continuing to work her beloved black neutral that probably was 100% on point back when her hair was more the color of the eyebrows, but that a shift to charcoal grey wouldn’t be a bad idea at all as she is embracing her natural grey hair. Maybe it depends on whether her hair is going to look darker once she gets her hair done again :) But with those dark eyes, eyebrows, eye makeup, etc., she can probably carry this much black better than many people.
Ah, you’re right about how difficult it is to find grey things for summer! It’s getting more and more difficult to find BLACK garments for warm weather – every time I find something lovely that I think I’ll show you, I see that it’s only available in 3 sizes, 00, 0 and 18. Not exactly helpful for many of us…
Sheila Harden says
I have a lot of these pieces, and would love to make every single one of the others mine! What a great wardrobe.
I would love to see some amazing accessories!
Do you remember, by chance, what your first heroine post was? It would be nice to see where the magic began :)
Also, nobody probably cares, but I kind of feel like one of your heroines today: I need to pack for a 2-weeks stay at my aunt’s house, where my main duty will be to keep an extremely cute kitty fed and clean while she goes on a trip.
The rest of the time will be spent taking strolls around the nearby lake, reading, cooking for one, and, well, getting some work done from my laptop.
I’m very excited, as I didn’t expect I would get to pack a bag this year :)
Wow! Lucky you. Sounds like paradise. Will you use a template to pack?
The idea would be to use the “Whatever’s clean 13” format, but I am not the greatest planner (I always pack too little or too much), so I’m going to mull it over some more… thankfully I have a couple of weeks to plan and get my laundry in order!
Hi Janice, I haven’t commented before, but I’m totally addicted to your posts. I have fallen in love with the Mucha Amethyst painting and wonder if you could revisit it. I live in Ireland so cold, wet weather is inevitable. X
Of COURSE we care; this blog and the comment section is officially a kind friend zone – in which we are always polite, considerate, concerned and loving. And your trip sounds so perfect – I’d give my left arm to be in your place right now!
Thank you! I wanted to share my excitement, but a little voice was telling me “who asked?”. I really should relax more, I know this is a welcoming and positive space :)
Beth T says
Hope you have fun choosing and wearing your holiday wardrobe. Oh to be able to get away. It sounds like you’ll benefit from a truly relaxing break. Hope you have a great time.
Oooooh, wonderful! I have done that kind of trip a couple of times and it’s a very nice low-key kind of travel. I don’t have any pets right now, so going to visit someone’s kitty sounds especially lovely!
I would absolutely love to hear more about what you packed and how it worked out for you. I learn so much from the commenters here, and an opportunity to experience some vicarious travel is always welcome. Also, I am a big blabber mouth in the comments routinely and definitely take a more the merrier approach :)
Thank you! I had to leave my cat at my parents’ when I moved out, so I definitely look forward to having one all by myself if only for a couple of weeks :) I’ve met said kitty a couple of days ago and she’s one of the cutest cats I’ve ever seen (she looks just like a blue Maine Coon kitten, but she’s actually not any breed) while being an extremely energetic rascal. She’s tiny but fierce!
My trip is still a week away, but I’d love sharing more about packing! I’ve been planning and doing laundry and I think my travel wardrobe will be mostly black and off-white, with some yellow. I still have no idea which accessories I’ll pack, though.
I also enjoy the comments immensely, I kind of wish there was a Facebook group or something where we could share our wardrobe experiments! :)
I look forward to seeing the shoes and other accessories. Thank you for your posts.
Really appreciate the way you wrote this, Janice. Adding the reasoning is like a prompt for us to carry forward as we make better choices going forward. I’m swooning over that sleeveless floral top, btw. That can be used so many ways. And there’s nothing better than a very simply cut neutral dress, is there? You can throw a fancy cardigan over it, linen shirt & sandals, a denim jacket and on it goes. I can’t wait to see how you accessorize this capsule.
Does anyone else think the Countess looks like Zoe Wanamaker?
Beth T says
Yes I can see that. I also thought of Celia Imrie.
Linda P says
Hi Janice and all!
Thank you again for your 4×4 group. Perhaps I might substitute navy blue for black, esp w/ the recent round of 90°F/90 % humidity in these parts.
Great to hear from everyone about fashion strategies and color groups, and for lucky people taking trips!
btw…when I first saw the painting, I thought it was the actress Bea Arthur!
I love all your posts and greatly appreciate them…your site has been invaluable for me both while I was a stay at home mom desiring to look and feel my best, and then when I navigated my way back into the workforce. This post especially helped me when you wrote the “why” portion, as it helped me to think outside the box a bit and see new possibilities on my own. I really love your use of pattern in all your posts. I was always afraid of pattern (I’m more of a texture lover), but thanks to your thought-provoking posts, I’m able to see and understand how patterns really help tie things together and also make a wardrobe more versatile (I always thought patterns restricted a wardrobe because I never knew how to utilize them), all while needing less clothes for a varied look…who would’ve thought? I myself and really liking the “column of color” these days — quick and easy, but it looks put together. Thank you so much for all the time and work you invest in your posts…I appreciate it greatly! Have a great holiday, and a belated happy birthday!
This is one of the best capsule analyses and shopping trips you’ve taken us on — and you set a high standard!
I’d love to se you do accessories for this wardrobe. Always read your posts
Couldn’t get my reply to nest, but yes, 100% on Bea Arthur!
I also think that blue floral blouse is a great example of something that doesn’t “match” per see but that goes beautifully with a wardrobe. I think there’s a good chance that it would look quite nice with the periwinkle blue cardigan. To my eye, there is a lot of room for patterned pieces to blend well with accent solids, even when the accent color isn’t exactly represented in the print.
In this case, the flowers appear to create a spectrum ranging from blue to purple that periwinkle blue would fit inside. So even if the periwinkle isn’t specifically included in the print, it appears congruent with the range of colors defined by the print because it is “within the span” implied by those colors. Not sure this idea makes any sense to anyone but me, and I’m making this up as I go along, but I am curious whether there is a more general rule of thumb here that if your print has two colors that are close enough together on the color wheel (a conceptual color wheel with all gradations of colors on it) that any accent color between those two end points will appear harmonious with the print. Something for me to investigate in my own closet, I think.
I just love your stories and heroines and how you take us through your thought process so we can learn from you how to plan.
Paris is so hot in the summer that all that black simply doesn’t work, though. Maybe for fall. Right now it just looks oppressive. Five minutes on a park bench and that black would absorb all the heat and cook you. I was overcooked last summer in blue and white and never once needed long pants.
I think it’s clear that I don’t go to Paris in the summer, eh? This wardrobe might be better suited to summer in Chicago, where you can always wear black, and there’s abundant air-conditioning to make any color suitable to wear!
10 years ago we visited Paris in a heat wave – 95 degrees every day. Luckily our hotel had air conditioning; I hadn’t even thought to ask when booking it. I couldn’t stand wearing anything I had packed. Very quickly my priority became new cool clothing. I bought two airy skirts that I still wear in the summer and sometimes travel with. – nancyo