December 28, 2020
She’s quite smitten with this painting:
So when they decided, at their family meeting, that they MUST turn down the thermostat and try to cut back their energy consumption, she wondered if the warmth of her flower painting could be translated into real warmth…
Her normal wardrobe is very strictly black and white, and has been that way for quite a while. She really doesn’t need a lot of clothing these days, so she’s been managing pretty well with just this:
She went back to her current favorite painting, and studied it carefully. Black and white are certainly here, but what makes the painting feel warm to her is the more cream and beige tones. And the luscious pink helps too!
So she created a color palette for the winter – yes, having both white and beige in her wardrobe won’t always be the most efficient choice, but she’s prepared for that!
First, she addressed the beige – a cardigan seems an obvious choice when you’re trying to stay warm! A simple “column” of pants and a top are versatile choices.
And THEN, she realized that this was the time to fulfill her longing for a ruana! They’re warm, they’re easy to wear, and something in a tweed that includes her core colors will pull together lots of outfits…
The pink proved to be more elusive. She found a top that resembled an elegant sweatshirt – that’s a perfect start! And then she realized that her most versatile choice for pink might be a classic shirt and tee shirt – she already has lots of sweaters that will be perfect over these touches of pink.
She kept looking around for a while – pink pants seemed to be too much pink! She wasn’t interested in sweatpants, particularly…
And so, finally, she indulged. A second ruana! Why not? We have to stay warm, and wrapping something around oneself is inherent a warming gesture…
She packed the rest of her clothes into bins, or canvas garment bags, and just hung these in her closet. A clear wardrobe focus will make getting dressed through the deep mid-winter much easier!
Before she zipped away the last of her other things into storage, she paused for a good long while and assembled a range of outfits, just to make certain that she wasn’t going nuts with her limited wardrobe:
Pretty and practical!
Have you minimized your “visible” wardrobe (i.e. the things that you can easily see in your closet) in the last while? Mine is down to about 25 garments, mostly turtlenecks and tee shirts stacked on the shelf above my jeans and sweaters.
With everything else we have to think about, being able to get dressed without a lot of drama is a blessing…
p.s. Back in the first year of The Vivienne Files, I pondered if we ever really wear clothes to the point of them being unwearable. I remember doing it as a child…
Gorgeous colors! I’d love to see the creamy-to buttery glow of soft white-to golden Mother of Pearl accessories.
Lisa H. says
Ooh, yes to mother of pearl accessories!
Beth T says
What a lovely soft, gentle painting? I have a lot of pink in my wardrobe but very few pink accessories so yes to pink and pearl accessories.
The look back made me smile, though I can’t remember clothes falling to pieces, although most of my clothes were hand-me-downs. As the smallest girl in my family, most of my clothes came from my taller cousin and sister and wereoften not my choice. Trying to find fashionable clothes when I was older was a challenge because they just didn’t make them small enough. My Mum always had to hem things up. Once I’d grown out of them, they were passed on again or sent to a jumble sale.
This might explain why I became a magpie with a huge wardrobe when I could finally buy things that were my choice. I still buy things from charity shops or vintage fairs and also pass things onto charity as well.
However, I well remember my Mum having a bag of ‘dusters’ that had once been soft cotton vests and t-shirts. They were great for buffing wood and polishing glass. My grandmothers also unravelled woollen garments, washed it and reused wool to knit into something new. I would sit in front of them with my arms outstretched while old wool was wound round them into skeins. Do you remember the ‘rag and bone’ man who came round with his horse and cart wanting old clothes and rags, metal, and animal bones?
I have packed away most of my work clothes with the exception of one outfit a month as I’m in the office one day a week. Our house was built in 1920 and the closets are, um, challenging. The master closet is 1.5 times as wide as a standard single door closet from the era and has two bars, one directly behind the other. My standard practice is to hang only what I plan to wear in the coming week on the front bar and everything else (current season only) on the back bar. Especially these days, I don’t want to look at clothes I’m not wearing.
I don’t even know where to begin. What a lovely wardrobe. I don’t know that I would be satisfied with the lack of color and variety in reality, but it’s nice to think so. Regarding the look back, I frequently wear out socks – holes in the toes – and sometimes will wear pants until the seat end is threadbare. I just had to throw out a pair of favorites a couple of weeks ago as I finally decided they were too thin. When I was 12 my mother and I spent a summer making a quilt out of worn out jeans. I still have it, it doesn’t look worn at all, and I used it when my boys were little for our picnics. It’s backed with a heavy canvas material. My mother was very clever. As an adult with various weight gains and losses, I typically don’t wear out my clothes – other than the aforementioned pants when my weight was stabilized for awhile. Love this painting and the wardrobe.
Linda P says
Hi Janice and Everyone! I really like the color options in this painting. As someone mentioned, I can see adding some extra color options as a buttercream yellow or yes, even a little apricot that are hiding within the petals. My tablet is interpreting ‘beige’ as cream or ivory, which I have a little more in my closet.
As mentioned in a previous post, I am HARD on clothes. As such, I have doubles of essentials as black, grey and brown pants and cream and white and black turtlenecks. When I was younger I had a common rotation of clothes that I wore all year – no luxury of seasonal wardrobes here. Like Beth, I think that I have so much color and variety in my closet of clothes that fit the shape I am now.
When I decide on a color capsule, I choose the clothes and hang/ place them in one section of my closet. (or truthfully fold them up in a separate laundry basket). I guess I am lucky that I have an appropriate my sized closet to do that.
Beth T says
I rotate clothes seasonally and the unseasonal clothes go into the loft either hung in dress bags on a hanging rail or in black sacks. It is an effort moving clothes in and out.
However, now our offspring have moved out, we’re going to fit out the now ‘spare’ room with wardrobes and drawers which will house my non-seasonal clothes. It will make it all a bit more accessible for swapping over and accessing non-seasonal clothes, particularly if we have unseasonal cold or hot weather or I just wish to wear a particular garment that has been put away.
This might reasonably be classed as cheating to have all my clothes ‘available’ in two rooms. However, for the first time, I have created a ‘winter wardrobe’ of purple, berry colours and teal with ivory and grey. It has been good having fewer clothes to choose from. On the whole, it’s been OK but, on several occasions, I have wanted to wear navy, blue or lighter pinks and lilac which were packed away till Spring…. ?
So I have a question – something I’m struggling with – if you have good clothes, hardly worn, but haven’t worn them this year (again), do I save or store? “Just in case”. One part of me – the part that gets rid of things, says purge. The other part – the one that says “you paid good money for this and it goes with this and this and this and you might wear it again” says keep. Thanks!
I think this year is an anomaly. And the criteria of having worn it in a year or not might not hold. You might feel differently once we can all get out and about. On the other hand, if you donate the clothes, I’m sure there are people who would certainly get good use from them. Personally I have started a box in an unused closet for such as these. I don’t have to look at them and I can revisit the issue next summer. Hopefully.
Sara K says
I agree with Sandy. This past year has been anything but normal. Most of my clothes have not been worn at all, because I have stayed almost all the time at home, wearing loungewear or sportswear. I don’t think that next year will be normal either, and that things start to get better only gradually.
So, my advice is, that if there is nothing obviously wrong with your unworn clothes, save them for now. Once our life starts to return to normal, so will our sartorial needs.
I also think that even in normal times this rule has plenty of exceptions. I own many items that I wear rarely but still see worth saving. For instance, IMO everyone should have something funeral-appropriate in her wardrobe even though nobody wishes or plans to attend a funeral every year.
Even in normal environmental conditions, I don’t follow the “ get rid of it if you haven’t worn it in a year “ rule. I live in a temperate climate and some Winters are too mild for my warmest clothes but that can change the following year, so I hang onto those items for an extra year or two. My purging consists of getting rid of too many items in a given accent color , especially those that are a bit “ off” and can’t be worn together, or stained or uncomfortable clothes or items that don’t fit with my forever fluctuating weight !
My travel, church and special occasion clothes, which are normally hung in a second bedroom closet , have all been packed away in Rubbermaid bins and placed in the back of our extended garage, all awaiting the days that they can see sunshine outside of the house once again ! Some blazers and jackets remain in that closet because of wrinkling and ease of storage .
I don’t think that this is a good year to make any big decisions about what to keep and what to donate! If I were to donate things that I’m not wearing right now, because about 2/3 of my wardrobe would disappear…
There are rumors that we are going to have another “Roaring ’20s” after we are able to be out and about. I can see that happening, and then I would want all of my nice sweaters, swishy skirts and statement jewelry!
I live in the cold Midwest, there are 4 to 8 inches of snow predicted tomorrow and I wear Cuddleduds or other brands under everything top and bottom. They are thin, silky and clothes slip over them well. Great for a cool house or outside shoveling, it makes many items that might not be warm enough feel comfortable and usable for a longer time period.
At the risk of sounding “out of it”…I can’t see how a ruana makes much sense in a basic wardrobe…in the Midwest the time frame for wearing it would be short, probably only in the fall…how would you put it under a coat or jacket this time of year? I actually have the same problem with “hoodies”…too much bulk under a coat or jacket. If you wear it over your coat…bulky and fattening.
You can’t really wear one under a coat or jacket. I put mine in my tote, wear my coat to work, and then get out the ruana. Better than wearing my outwear coat all day….
They are turning down the thermostat, so perhaps the ruanas are to feel cosy in the house – not necessarily for out and about.
Sally in St Paul says
Susan, like Geraldine, I too assumed that this was a supplement for her stay-at-home wear with the lowered home thermostat, so layering a coat over wouldn’t be an issue. But you are correct that they wouldn’t work if she wanted to go out; she’d need to remove the ruana before adding a coat.
I have not tried layering a coat over a hoodie, but in the winter I do routinely layer a coat over a quilted vest with no difficulty. I know that I wear layers in the winter and make sure to purchase coats that will fit over a shirt, pullover sweater, and quilted vest combo. So I think that a hoodie would work pretty easily for me, but if you tend to purchase your coats to only fit over a single layer, that would be a problem.
Lovely wardrobe. I cannot believe how few items you have pared it down to and yet it still seems like “more than enough”.
Regarding the long term use of the clothing : I tend to wear my clothes till they don’t fit, are too worn to wear or can’t be altered to look a bit more modern. ( Hello low waisted jeans….UGH ). I’m really not a trend follower and if I do buy something a bit trendier, I like to make sure it it is something that I will like to wear for years. I actually have a wonderful pair of leather waterproof boots that I bought in 1987 yet look like they could be from this year ( recent, not calamity ). They need resoling. If it can’t be done again, their long life will be over.
Happy Holidays !
Beth T says
Replying to Susan, ruanas are traditionally worn over or instead of a coat and were big enough to also act as a blanket. They are made of heavyweight woollen cloth. Ruanas like the one by Echo are decorative and more useful as a top layer indoors.
I also generally don’t wear hoodies, sweatshirts or fleeces under a coat. I regard them as a top layer garment for the gym or outdoors activities. However I would probably buy a coat/hoodie/fleece in the next size up so that I can layer up underneath and not look bulky.
Sara K says
Thanks for inspiration! I love this painting, and also your idea to use a bold black and white color scheme as the core of this wardrobe though it is not necessarily the most obvious choice here.
For my version of this wardrobe, I would have chosen a slightly darker beige that has more contrast with white, as I feel that it would add versatility. I would also play with yellow as an accent color a little -just because it is there, and quite different from romantic shades of pink. Or, looking at the bottom petal, even a true lilac could be used.
In fact, I think that I might be able to create a capsule based on this painting from what I already own… *off to plan my January garde-robe de mois*
I once fell in love with a v- neck heather brown long sleeved pullover sweater and I must have had it 30 years, I kid you not ! I was crushed when I finally had to admit that it was beyond wearing even one more time around the house !
My mother kept a duffle bag of worn garments in the basement and that was our “ ragbag” to be used before the introduction of paper towels .
Beth T says
The ‘save or store’ question raised by Sheila is an interesting one. I still have clothes in an extra small size that I know I will never be slim enough to get back into no matter how hard I try. So why do I still keep them? Yet, I gladly gave away the largest sizes when I reduced a couple of sizes.
As for this year well it has been a strange one. There are clothes that I haven’t worn because of the ‘wrong weather’ during the season or no occasion to wear them, so those I will keep till next year.
However, I have paid close attention to the clothes I have worn most frequently and those that haven’t had an airing. Some items, I might put into a different season like a thin sparkly silver cardigan which has a low v-neck and is probably more appropriate for a summer party. Others I might put into next season because the top or bottoms that go with them are in my Spring wardrobe. Then there are those, I haven’t worn at all which need to be assessed to keep or pass on. I shall put those in a separate place to review at the end of next year.
Beth T says
I already know that navy and light blues should have been kept in my Winter wardrobe. There were days when I just wanted to wear blue….
The painting is a lovely start- how I miss days spent in art museums. But your blog lets me dream a bit about getting out again, outfit just so.
You had asked if we ever wear clothes out as we did when young- I finally had to say goodbye to two knit dresses from LL Bean that I used as the foundation for so many travel outfits. One solid black, one solid blue, topped with sweaters and/or scarves, boots or sandals, in and out of the dryer and back in the suitcase again. I finally let them go after seven years, the last one in semi-retirement for walking about the neighborhood but they were pilled and thin and showing their age. Finding comfortable, well fitting substitutes has been quite a search- I’m not fond of the chilly, slinky “travel wear”.
You always have the best links for the basics so your blog is a great help.
Regarding “using up” clothing, I have just purchased a book called Joyful Mending which is about visible or “artistic” mending, which sounds more fun and interesting to me than plain darning. It is about celebrating how well-loved and well-used a garment is, and would result in a garment looking more and more interesting the older it gets. I think this could help me cut down on clothing waste.
Late to the party but love love love to read all the comments. I mostly pass along things when I just can’t quite them to work. Usually this is a result of a poor purchase on my part. I hand them off to my daughter and her friends. They call them Amand-me-downs. But my oldest pair of cowboy boots are 40 years and I have dresses and sweaters that are more than 20 years old. I don’t deny that I have a huge closet and tons of clothes but ….. I do make mini weekly capsules and thanks to Janice I’m a whiz at packing! I have 3 trips that have been gifts from my sweet hubby.Two were given to me before Covid but then were cancelled/postponed. I received another for Christmas this year. He laughs and says if we can ever travel again it will cost him! Happy New Year to all.
Sally in St Paul says
Isa, your comment that your boots from 1987 look like they could be from this year “recent not calamity” cracked me up. It’ll be interesting to see how long the year 2020 has this air of disaster about it. Will people in the future say things like, “Well, I was born in the fall of 2020 so…” and other people will nod their heads knowingly? I still remember reading years ago about strategic plans for this and that with achievement goals for the year 2020. “Vision 2020” is one title I recall vividly. Um, I don’t think 2020 turned out like anyone had hoped it would!
Sally in St Paul says
I recently did a closet clean-out in which I put aside garments with fit or comfort that falls short. There are a lot of things that can be done with the fabric. I have started small, making 5 strand braided headbands from t-shirts…I have gone from never wearing headbands to wearing them almost daily, so it’s been fun to make ones to coordinate with my outfits. I also have some sweaters set aside for repurposing into warmer, wider hair-and-ear bands for wearing outdoors. I am very interested in the possibilities of crocheting with both t-shirt knit and woven fabrics. I crocheted quite a bit as a child (my sister’s Barbie dolls were always well decked out) but haven’t done so in too many years to count…I think that putting a crocheted rag rug together from ripped fabric strips would an interesting project, and I have a disintegrating rug that needs to be replaced!
Susan G says
I like this wardrobe and color choices including the iced lilac. Regarding wearing out our clothes. I have a black ruana that I kept at my office so I could layer up when cold. Now that I work at home, and am the master of the thermostat, I don’t need to layer up as frequently (I live in the Deep South). So this year my black ruana has been repurposed as my Christmas tree skirt. It will return to my closet in a week or so. In general, weight gain, and less frequently loss, determined the turnover in my wardrobe.