July 21, 2021
Oh, I’ve been thinking… What if the 10 garments you chose – just for thinking purposes – are the 10 things you have that you would keep if you had to start from scratch?
For me, this changes everything – I wouldn’t need to keep jeans, nor tee shirts, nor basic neutral sweaters that are always available. No white oxford shirts…
Let’s experiment with a heroine who wears an unusual color palette:
She’s sorting through her wardrobe, looking for the really HARD to replace pieces that she loves the most…
For me, that would have to start with cardigans!
why yes, she may have skipped paying rent one month to buy that grey cardigan…
And some other sweaters – they may not be amazingly unusual styles, but sometimes finding the perfect color can be as big of a victory!
Any other tops lurking around? I would have to take a long, hard look at a couple of my more distinctive tee shirts, if I were doing this for warm weather…
Many of us are going to find our keynote garments are all “above the waist,” but this particular heroine has a fun skirt, and a beautiful dress…
All of this is interesting as heck, but our heroine MUST have some kind of core wardrobe that she can use as the base for outfits accented with these pieces:
Now, when we look at her 19-garment wardrobe (a long trip, back to work at an office that has a wide range of appropriateness?), it all feels more flexible…
Some possible outfits, you ask?
Does the idea of “keynote” make sense? I debated about “signature,” “focal,” or “defining” as possible ways to describe the role of these garments. Any suggestions?
p.s. Three years ago, our art-inspired heroine was traveling to Paris to think about getting an apartment there…
I love this heroine and her priorities. I also love grey as the neutral for all this… I have similar accents in my closet and struggle with a good basic neutral. Perhaps a grey cashmere v neck is a good next step!
Chris from indy says
Ok so this is interesting……what an fun thought experiment! I actually love the unusual colors (and the citron!) and the gray core is me!
The hardest things for me to replace are pants, both jeans and dress pants. I’m a tall-ish cusp size. When I started back to the office this month, that was what I pulled out to “seed” my core wardrobe.
I know that’s not exactly what you’re getting at in this exercise but that’s where my thoughts immediately went.
Beth T says
I have the opposite problem finding trousers and jeans the right length as I’m only five foot tall. I just have short legs but sometimes find that regular length cropped trousers are just the right length on me! Sadly one of the brands that fit me have decided that petite length should be 28 inches.
Interesting thought experiment! For me, many of the rescue-from-the-burning-building clothes would be dresses. I rarely wear them, but they would be very hard to replace and when i do need them, they are standbys. And some older cashmere (which is still in much better shape than the newer stuff!). Ooh, and a whole box of accessories, which would mess up the count, but definitely fits the “signature” concept. Hmm…
I like your priorities. Mine might be similar.
WOW, much to my surprise, the first things to hit my mind are my yellow things. Cardigan, pullover, and corduroy jacket, and then the floral print velvet pants I bought last year (which also have yellow). I wear a preponderance of red and purple, but I think those might be easier to replace than the yellow for some reason. Honestly, I’m not even sure if I would replace the red at this point. Anyway, that’s what first comes to mind. I do love my scarves, so perhaps some of those, if I could make up my mind which ones!
I love this concept…and yes, almost all my “can’t leave behind” pieces are above the waist.
This wardrobe is screaming for scarves…I remember one Hermes Voitures Exquises scarf that would work perfectly.
Xyyy Yxx says
Keynote made me think of the mac presentation software but love ‘signature’.
I wish that art was a scarf!
I’m sure I missed it but what was the solve for the chain link purse and silk top reader dilemma?
I never heard what she chose to do – I’m just assuming that it went well…
Definitely a black trouser suit that has white lapels. I think this exercise is honing my style to classic with a dramatic twist which should not be such a great surprise. Can’t replace the classic but boring clothes I own so this has made me think how I can wear/accessorise them better. Hmmm.
I am looking at the color wheel to add tops as accents. What colors of green are included?Looks to me to be shades of Teal , and black to go with gray. Is this correct?
On another note, I am packing for a beach week with my son and his family in another state. It’ll be the first major trip for me since 2019, before Covid began. Thanks to you, as I ponder which pieces to bring to mix and match, more keep going back INTO the closet ! You have made my load and my process so much lighter, thank you for that ! Big , big hugs !
I think I prefer ‘signature’ pieces rather than ‘keynote.’
Like Chris, my thoughts immediately went to pants in both this and the previous exercise. Then again, I am very brand loyal once I find bottoms that fit and sit on my long waist nicely, so they shouldn’t be too difficult to replace.
Nice job again, Janice, on really making me think! I keep learning.
Jeans that actually fit. Ditto walking shoes.
I did an experiment like this a few months ago. I went through my closet with the scenario in mind: I am starting completely from scratch, my funds are unlimited, and “market forces” are not an issue (i.e., I can find *anything* I want – hahaha!). As I assessed each item, I thought – would I replace this? or would I upgrade this? It was really interesting, because I found myself focusing not just on how something looked, but how it fit, how it felt on my body… There emerged a core of items that I would definitely replace – as in, they were the right color, the right fabric, the right fit, the right style… (And I did include my jeans! Because they fit, they feel good – if I had to start over, I’d look for that style again!)
So I took all those items and laid them out on my bed. What a revelation! It was actually emotional – in that these are the things I wear when I want to feel powerful, or when I want to celebrate. These are things that make me feel like dancing! It felt like a self-portrait – of my best self! And since then, I’ve noticed that when I contemplate shopping, I go back to the image of all my favorite things spread out – and if the new thing doesn’t make me feel as good as that spread – I just don’t buy it! (I haven’t done a lot of shopping, because that’s an awfully high bar!)
Sally in St Paul says
Oooh, Suzyn, this is a great exercise. I like the idea of turning away from “Is this good enough?” to “Is this as good as my best?” when considering a purchase.
What a wonderful concept. I so agree what we truly love and reach for is as you aptly put it, a self portrait. An expression of our joys and comforts.
Beth T says
What a great idea which leads on from Janice’s question about the ten items that define your style. Pethsps I shall do the same exercise. There are some things in my wardrobe that I might not wear very often but knowing that they are there is reassuring.
I hope you took a photo.
Sara K says
What a lovely color palette! Also love that cardigan, though not the fact that it comes in a small size range. Good thing I can knit pretty well…
Interesting thought experiment as well. Most of my clothes are rather basic, but I think I could find ten hard-to-replace items.
I love this exercise! Will have to take a look in my closet tonight to see what my signature pieces would be. To me, signature pieces are what gives each of us our own sense of style. I am reminded of one of your story lines where several ladies are at lunch. They all have on the same basic black top and pants, but due to their signature style, no one notices that the tops and bottoms are the same.
Elena Rose says
You aren’t joking… that’s a $2300 sweater! It’s truly fabulous. I love this quirky color palette too! It looks charming with grey.
I love this idea and the whole wardrobe — although for me, green and yellow are almost impossible to wear. Just not flattering to my skin tone.
Joanne Long says
You had me thinking! What would I keep? I can only think of two items of clothing that are irreplaceable. My favourite wine coloured Eileen Fisher pleated skirt and my vintage Irish Avoca cape. I bought it for a ridiculous amount of money during my first year of teaching and I’m still wearing it after 35 years. Your links sent me back to Wolf and Badger where there are a number of signature pieces that I covet. I’m planning/dreaming of 2 months in France (Fall 22) so I might be constructing a 19 item wardrobe (fingers crossed).
Avoca rocks; I love their store in Dublin. It doesn’t suit my personal style, but it’s SO clearly defined and has such a distinctive feel when you walk in the door… Sigh…
Love the idea of signature garments. I also played with the idea of favorite and combined it with signature: what if these are the garments, some replaceable, some not easily replaced, that you *always* have a version of. This could include colors that you *always* have felt good in.
This was sparked by yesterday opening a box of clearly favorite clothes I’d packed away and forgotten a couple of years after I’d married and had my first child. There was the blue gauze dress my husband loved when courting me (have a version today); the pink and white batik shirt that might be a cousin to the pink-with-hibiscus-flowers shirt I got this summer; the moth-eaten dark sea-green heather shetland turtleneck I’m still looking to replace; the faded jeans; the petrol blue/teal tops that rhyme with the ones hanging now in my closet…
Beth T says
This has got me thinking about the Laura Ashley dresses with drop waists and puff sleeves that I let go but are now popular. Not that I would be able to get into them now….
I’m not so precious about clothes and have very few that would be totally irreplaceable. The things I would save would a selection of trousers to cover all eventualities. The rest would be those items that were handmade to fit me or vintage items. Plus everything purple/lilac and teal. And my costume jewellery.
Sally in St Paul says
This keynote/signature concept seems to overlap with (though seems not identical to) Imogen Lamport’s idea of “hero” pieces, I think.
I did a version of this exercise tonight in my wardrobe and will post my version (My Print 12) on my blog tomorrow (Thursday). Thanks for this inspiring post and lively comments!
I love this capsule!
I spent this year doing all 4 seasons of project 333, and my closet is nearly free of things I used to like or even love. What emerged is a core of stuff I really love and wear all the time. The 33 item limit for each 3 month season forced me to really notice how I react to my clothes as I go to put them on. I get a visceral gut reaction and I’m learning to listen more to what that’s telling me.
This year I gradually let go of my past self and her favourites. I replaced structured jackets with soft cashmere cardigans, and focused on cotton knits for tops, while letting go the shirts, silky tops and all polyester. I’m focused on comfort. And neutrals especially black, white, grey and navy.
This final summer capsule I decided to follow the 21 items of clothing and 12 accessories strictly instead of mostly clothing for the 33 items. Just to see what would happen. It helped me zero in on a few more things that didn’t quite make the cut.
I haven’t had any regrets of anything I donated. Instead I am having more fun getting dressed and I am enjoying my clothes more.
Per your 10 special items to rescue I’d grab my cashmere cardigans in soft blue grey, navy, grey & a black merino, my winter white cotton fisherman knit pullover, a grey marl cotton cable pullover, soft blue grey cashmere pullovers. That’s 7. My scarf collection. Can I count it as 1 item? ? But my grey cashmere shawl scarf is my top favourite of all. And a grey print silk scarf that I adore. Finally a navy, white & grey nautical print silk. So those 3 round out the 10.
Lizzie T says
Oh my! I am today’s heroine! I have the exact dress in Australia. So amazed to see it here! The palette is pretty spot on. I do wear the dress with a white linen blazer and have a little more green. Well done.
This series of 10 Favorite things has me thinking of my clothes in really different ways. The “burning building” scenario had me think of what was most useful, but truly would have been pretty boring to wear without some serious accessorizing. Today, I selected based on what I would replace on eBay if I lost that particular piece of clothing. They are the “finds” that I would really miss if they were gone. The first 4 pieces I chose were outerwear: my navy down vest, my lightweight gray down jacket (which I recently did replace through eBay), my gray and black ruana, and a plaid cape/ruana that was an impulse purchase at Anthro several years ago and just feels like me. There is my favorite dress of all times which is looking a bit worn so maybe it is time to search eBay. The coral cardigan that is an outlier color wise, but definitely on the to be replaced list. The perfect chambray shirt and a 3/4 sleeve white denim jacket. My Athleta navy skort which I do have two of just in case. And a pair of black chiffon slit leg evening pants. Sort of all over the map – not sure what that says about my signature style.
Linda Toffolo says
You had me at cashmere, a well thought out, timeless wardrobe is an investment. You have inspired me to shop wisely and buy the best I can afford. I love everything you have chosen❤️.
I prefer the term “signature” as keynote makes me think of Mac presentation software. My palette is denim, navy, purples and greens. I find it hard to find jeans that fit and that I love so those would be the first thing I’d keep if I had to start from scratch. Next 3 different green dresses and 1 purple dress because the styles and colors would be very hard to replace exactly. Then my 3 waterproof jackets in various weights (these because they were expensive and are my perfect colors). Lastly I’d choose my Blundstone boots and comfy sneakers. This was quite thought-provoking and I’m glad to know now what quickly grab in case I need to evacuate my home quickly!
Quickly changing out the comfy sneakers for the equally comfy but no longer available teal patent leather sandals…