January 13, 2021
She was looking for a foolproof color palette; one day, she ran into this gentleman:
She is thrilled – she can see black, white, shades of grey, camel, khaki, brown, and denim blue. These colors ALL go together…
She starts small, with packing for a long weekend. She knows that her denim shirt is perfect under a black sweater and cords…
Now, how can this be foolproof?
- v-neck sweaters are perfect over button-front shirts, OR on their own;
- button front shirts are easy 1st layers or they can be worn without something over them. Now that she has found Petite sizes that have short enough sleeves, and ample enough torsos, she’s all set! and
- black bottoms and shoes…
So this is what she packs:
She knows that she can pack both gold and silver jewelry, because of camel and grey…a few scarves to tie things in together, and she’s set!
The she doubts herself. This is smart – one should definitely review a travel capsule wardrobe BEFORE leaving, and not the first morning away from home!
Can she wear all of these pieces together, in any combination?
(no, we’re not going to look at ALL of the possibilities…)
I think she’s got it!
This kind of wardrobe, in these six colors, can be expanded in a lot of different ways – a denim skirt? Khaki pants? Grey skirt? Grey silk blouse?
I could do this for hours…
p.s. Today seems like a good day to look back at a post about choosing navy and grey wardrobe Building Blocks…
I love these colors! Thanx
Linda J says
I was so excited when I saw that painting and color palette. This is very close to my wardrobe. However, I don’t wear silver jewelry. I like the look of my gold jewelry with grey. I would really appreciate seeing this wardrobe expanded. Maybe show a warm weather wardrobe also. I love your work, thank you!
I love this! My preference is more accents, BUT the thought process is invaluable!!! I’m a big fan of v-neck sweaters, and sometimes I feel like I should have more variety. This is such a great way of explaining/justifying why my style works and doesn’t necessarily NEED more variety. I’m also throwing my hat in to see this one expanded, with a similar explanation for the chosen expansion pieces. Thanks! You are such an amazing teacher :)
With reference back to this past Monday’s post and the order in which you select a 6 pack , after first having chosen a 3 piece travel outfit, is that also the order in which you would change and wear the clothes as you travel, or is the order simply a “ how to pack “ ? Besides variable weather and activities requiring certain daily changes, do you have any particular plan as to what you select to wear each day when both the activities and the weather are the same ? For instance, if traveling by car every day ?
Let’s say that you have on the travel outfit, and the next day you change the top, so then the pants and topper get worn twice. The next day you change the topper, so the pants are then being worn three times. The next day, you change the pants . Is my understanding correct ?
Honestly, I’ve never thought too much about the order in which things would be worn. I could see the logic of wearing the same pants on the 2nd day, with a clean top, and then an entirely new outfit on the 3rd day, with a change of top on the 4th day etc. But this is a whole new subject area for me… hmm…
Yes, wearing the pants a third time without laundering is too much of a stretch for me . I would love to see you develop this a bit further ! Thanks for the response !
Hi. For me, a travel day means I always wear the (comfy) travel pants. Whether I’m on an airplane, train or in a car all day. That would be the same pair of pants for any travel day. I sort of assign one “suit” of 2nd layer and bottoms just for the travel days. That makes packing and dressing easier. I bring Travel bottoms, every day/sightseeing bottoms, and dressier bottoms. Thanks to Vivienne Files for all this.
For today’s post, in my chilly world, I would add a solid coat and a patterned coat, in the same color scheme. One could be a super thin travel raincoat.
As well, I’m just a cardigan woman so I’d switch out the v necks, which look so nice, for cardigans which I can more easily regulate my body temperature.
Thanks for another great post, Janice.
I also have “travel” clothes, and after I arrive I save the slacks I wore to wear again on the return trip. Usually the top as well. So I rarely count on them to be items that I’ll wear at the destination. Also, this is pretty much the bulk of my wardrobe. The camel is more caramel to saddle, and the red is… dark red. I have a couple of other accents, and plenty of prints and patterns to tie it all up. – nancyo
I don’t usually like to wear pants 2x in a row (definitely not 3x), but i find alternating days to work well for me.
A generic scenario (assumes a whatever’s clean wardrobe):
Day 0: pant A, top A, 2nd layer A (travel outfit)
Day 1: pant B, top B, 2nd layer A.
Day 2: pant A, top C, 2nd layer B.
Day 3: pant C, top A
Day 4: pant A, top B
Day 5: pant B, top C, 2nd layer A
Day 6: pant C, top B, 2nd layer B
Day 7: pant A, top C, 2nd layer A (travel back)
I have no clue if this helps… but i enjoyed it. Thanks for the inspiration!!
Love the neutral colors!
Thank you for all your beautiful work.
I love the different textures and silhouettes in this wardrobe. Some of these are things I haven’t tried putting together, but I can see that they would work. Now I’m trying to reimagine it with warmer neutrals (I wear some greys, but black and white just do not work on me – warm/true spring).
Beth T says
Usually when I go anywhere, I unpack my bag and hang everything up or put it in drawers depending on the allocated space. Even if we are just going for a long weekend. It is then easy to remind myself of my outfits as per activities.
A full length hanging rail and a chest of drawers would be a minimum requirement. I do hate it when you don’t have a full length rail and my husband dislikes those hangers that you have to unhook and are really fiddly to get back into the slot. There might be room for ten empty hangers on a rail but once you have clothes on them, the space is significantly reduced.
Suitable spaces for clothes is a deal breaker as to whether the establishment is put on the list for a return visit, even if everything else was perfect. We’ve stayed in hotels where there was no storage for clothes at all! When questioned the staff said that most of their guests were business people on overnight stays despite them advertising long weekends and hosting weddings!
…and don’t get me on the subject of why hotels need to keep the rooms stiflingly hot, provide you with an ultra thin duvet (even in winter) and no extra blankets for when you turn the heating down in order to get a good nights sleep. I think nothing of bringing my special pillow and an extra blanket….
Amanda Hudson says
Beth T you sound like my sister! She gets unpacked immediately and always has her own pillow!!!
Love this post and the picture. I would do a burgundy or red instead of the camel or brown. Now that I’ve let my hair go completely gray some colors don’t suit as they once did. Yes, please expand on this. It always makes me think about my wardrobe and how to use/style items. As for travel clothes it depends how long I am in them. If it’s been several hours, they get put aside and only worn for the trip back home! If I’m visiting relatives they can go right in the wash.
Linda T says
I love the “why” you always give us, makes it easier to translate into my own closet. And the look back?! Wow, I think it was around that time that I was deciding to switch from black to navy and that one helped immensely. I’ve recently moved from the warm South of the continent to my native colder, central BC and I’ve been using your posts to wrap my head around a heavier wardrobe but keeping it feeling light and bright. Thank you for the lessons and the inspiration.
So I’ve seen your posts on neutrals lately – black, camel, denim, etc… and yesterday found myself pondering the prospect of going to a more neutral based wardrobe instead of all my color. Then remembered when I lived and worked in New Jersey, and wore almost exclusively black, and how depressing that was for me. I guess I am my mother’s daughter and I just love color and pattern. However, whenever I see one of these posts I think “what if…..” My core neutrals are only two – black and navy – although I found myself with two pair of olive pants over the summer and in the fall, I think they look good with my red. And even bought a pair of gray and a pair of camel cords I wear occasionally with certain things. Just to say, I always enjoy your posts, no matter what they offer because they do cause me to think and look at things from a different perspective. Thank you!
Sally in St Paul says
I would not choose to wear all neutrals because it washes me out, but I like the look of it and can appreciate the simplicity of it for a travel wardrobe especially. And it would be easy to replace the neutral print scarves for ones that include more color, while keeping the garments neutral; that might be enough color for even me for a few days. You know I love me a bridge piece, but with these easy-pairing neutrals, I could see bringing a flattering accent colored solid scarf to wear as a pop against the neutral clothing. To my eye, the camel and black combination really benefits from a bridging scarf with both colors, but any combination of black/grey/white has an inherently monochromatic feel where bridging seems nice but unnecessary. For example, the grey sweater + black pants outfit could easily be punched up with the addition of a solid accent scarf…I’m immediately seeing teal, peacock, pink, magenta, purple, red, burgundy…and adding a pair of socks in the same accent color would be very fun (and bookend your look).
The loafers and the beaded velvet necklace are gorgeous (and they have equally or even more lovely grey and pink colorways, respectively). I find that double printed scarf confusing, though…it says it is reversible to different colors, but they don’t show the different colors…what? Now I’m curious!
Sally in St Paul says
Also, HUZZAH to including both gold and silver metals! The examples shown follow the classic camel + gold and grey + silver pattern, but I would take it a step further and include some jewelry that mixes the metals. I know some people really prefer/look best in one or the other, but I really like to mix them up and wear both at the same time…either in jewelry that contains multiple metal colors or by stacking/layering gold and silver (and sometimes rose gold). But I also have a baffling combination of cool and warm in my own coloring, so perhaps a cool + warm metal combination just feels right/normal to me because I see a cool + warm blend in the mirror every day.
Sally, I wondered about that scarf too! These people need to talk to us more…
Linda P says
Hello Janice and Everyone! Thank you for the color combination. Now, to my retinas I am interpreting ‘brown’ as a deep rust or maybe a caramel (but that could just be me). I can also see the denim translate to a chambray or even a periwinkle.
I remember a post way back I believe called Monday Morning Wardrobe, which is essentially choosing pieces all of a same color ( I even printed the picture). I had one of those days when I just could not process color mixing so I wore a navy blue blouse, t shirt over that sweater, pants, and sox. It was effortless and looked pretty good! Some days I just feel monochromatic.
I know back in the day one dressed up to go on an airplane. Perhaps now because seats are close together and the process takes so long (e.g. 12 total hours from leaving our house in Rochester NY to arriving at a hotel in San Francisco), that people are all for stretchy comfy clothes for traveling. And layers! and a roomy tote bag to stuff them all in.
Linda P says
‘..over that, sweater…’
This reminds me of that series you did several years ago with black/navy, camel and white in sets of three. Sweater, blouses, pants, shoes, accessories. So versatile with seemingly infinite variety.
Hi Carla. Do you have a link back to the series that you mention? I’d be interested in looking at that too. Thank you
Sara K says
This is very close to my style. I love harmonious, yet interesting outfits that result from mixing neutrals. I also like the fact that with a wardrobe looking something like this, one can literally get dressed in dark and look good. My next addition to this wardrobe would be a pair of basic blue jeans. They would give another color option for bottom half, and are immensely versatile besides. Grey jeans would also work. Since I love cardigans, I would also add a cardigan, in any color of the palette.
The painting of a gentleman makes me think of tweed and brogue shoes… Polished, of course, since the gentleman is all dressed up and wearing a top hat while enjoying a cocktail…And something slightly quirky and unexpected, like the ornamental shape in the lower right corner of the painting- not something I’d expect to see in a painting of this style, yet absolutely charming.
Beth T says
The paisley scarf is gorgeous but I’m also intrigued as to what the other side might look like… I have a similar scarf with deep pink/red border and turquoise, beige and ivory paisley on a navy background. I wear it with navy as the border is neither deep pink nor red. I could wear it with turquoise but that is a summer colour for me and I don’t wear neck scarves in summer.
I would also choose pearl and crystal jewellery, though I would wear them with a fancier blouse. I thought at first that the necklace was a headband! I wonder if it’s long enough to double up? My hair is too fine for headbands but I do think that they are elegant.
This beading on the headband is similar to the pearl and crystal beading around the neckline of a purple jumper I have for winter. That was one of those purchases that ‘called to me’ from across the shop. I tried to ignore it but bought it because it is a classic style in my favourite colour. The embellished neckline lifts it from the ordinary and I can wear it over another top for extra warmth.
Sara K could be describing my husband: tweed and brogues… polished… looks great in black tie – though I’ve only known him to wear a top hat to weddings!
Love this! Please expand. When I saw this I was just a bit disheartened to see the camel because I just can’t wear it. However I do have a taupe V-neck sweater that will work. Taupe is my camel. I tend to substitute taupe and stone for camel or beige. What’s great is that I can almost perfectly duplicate the wardrobe with what I have except for some of the scarves. I plan to get the butterfly one from Echo. I tend to wear T-shirts and turtlenecks in place of blouses. I’m one of those always cold people. Even during the summer I wear sweaters. Thanks for all your hard work.
Linda in Bluffton says
Great neutral packing choices! I’m a fan of leaning that way for the clothing and then including colorful scarves, jewelry, and bags to punch things up so I’m not washed out (like Sally mentioned). Accessories don’t take up much room!
Unfortunately, I don’t look good in button-down tops or cardigans – broad shoulders and bust – but interpret your ideas with V-necks, scoop tops, etc.
I’m with Beth T on expectations for clothes hanging at a hotel. Invariably, I discover additional outfit ideas at my destination when I’m able to easily see what I brought. Somehow, the act of unpacking upon arrival “settles me” into my temporary location after a long travel day.
Sure. It was a four part series. This was the first: https://www.theviviennefiles.com/2015/04/color-and-proportion-how-color-affects.html/
Thank you for the link! I think I missed the series the first time around, but I certainly enjoyed reading through it today. It gave me lots to think about with regard to how I assemble outfits and what combinations I think look good vs. those that I don’t care for so much. It also showcased that some pieces in certain colors just seem to be more difficult to build outfits around, such as the white cardigan and white shoes. For someone looking to be intentional and smart with their clothing budget, recognizing that wearability and versatility might be reduced for those items is important. For me, the outfits really didn’t start to look like combinations I would actually wear until some type of print component was introduced, whether it was the two-tone shoes, a scarf, or a print blouse. I think I really learned something about myself and my preferences today! Thank you!
Thank you! I don’t think I was a reader in 2015.. This was an informative read!
Beth T says
This week’s look back on navy and grey Building Blocks was very instructional. Now that I have time, I evaluated this against my own navy and grey wardrobe and it was very illuminating. I did one navy and grey set for Autumn/Winter and one for Spring/Summer as I wear different fabrics and weight of material.
There were several things that I noticed:
Navy is predominantly my choice for trousers and skirts preferably in materials that have interesting textures, self-patterns or nice finishes. I wear navy to compliment accent colours or patterns on tops and second layers. Most of my navy tops are patterned – floral or polka dots – or embellished. I only wear plain navy tops as a navy column with grey, accent or patterned second layers. I have very few navy second layers.
Grey is predominantly my choice for second layers. To get enough grey bottoms I included black/white houndstooth and snake print. The fabric of my few grey tops is marled, patterned, sparkly or animal print. I prefer to wear grey with accent colours. I prefer light to mid greys.
I only have one navy and grey garment – my 30 year old Scottish cardigan which I wear in Autumn/Winter. It surprised me that I don’t have any other navy and grey bridge piece garments in spring/summer ?? Perhaps I dont need them.. Though I do sometimes find navy and grey patterned tops but just think ?
Thanks Carla for finding the link to another instructional look back. Though Black and Beige I don’t wear and Ivory/Cream is a top only colour. However, the theory was fascinating and I’m sure that I could it out for my colours.
However, it would be more fun and helpful for Janice to please revisit the Colour and Proportion series with other colour combinations. Particularly one combining Navy and Grey or Purple and Grey or Burgundy and Grey. My main challenge is that I never wear ivory/white bottoms. The palest I wear are very light grey trousers. Likewise dark tops.
Sally in St Paul says
Beth T, I loved reading your analysis. I also have been somewhat slow to pick up print garments (and scarves) that are only a mix of 2+ neutrals…though it is very clear that these items would be extremely useful! I heartily second the recommendation for a revisit of the proportion series with various sets of neutrals.
Today I’m wearing a (pre-planned) outfit that fits right in with this discussion:
Olive full-length straight leg cotton pants
Olive/ivory striped lightweight pullover sweater
Olive marl…hoodie sweater vest? (It has the hood, front zipper, and front pockets of a hoodie but is sleeveless and made from a ramie/wool sweater knit)
It would look pretty blah with a solid olive pullover sweater under the vest, but the striped arms really jazz it up IMO. I wear SO MANY vests in the winter, and I enjoy how different it looks wearing a color/print/pattern functionally only on the arms vs. the entire garment.