August 4, 2021
Yes, I am going to do the “6 Scarves, 12 Months” post on Friday! I’ve sort of lost track of what month it is; maybe the delay will make it a little bit easier to find things for that “back to school” feeling I always have in August!
But first, let’s think about this interesting question that I received…
The gist? Our heroine knows what she likes to wear, but she feels like she should “mix it up” a bit when she travels.
To which my reply is HECK NO – stick with what makes you feel best, and what feels most like you when you get dressed. We all, collectively, need to move away from this idea that we must have a widely varied wardrobe!
She dresses like this in cooler weather:
I’m hypothesizing that our heroine has clearly defined a bunch of variables for getting dressed:
If our heroine is traveling for 5 or 6 days, maybe she thinks that packing 9 garments will be sufficient; how might that look?
First she needs her 2nd neutral, and another accent color:
Although she really loves white shirts, they’re not the ONLY ones that she wears – with a strictly neutral sweater and pants, a glorious floral shirt is only right!
And nothing in her guidelines ever mentioned that she wanted to wear ONLY pants…
When all of these pieces are assembled, there’s a clear aesthetic at work! This is almost infinitely versatile – could you put a truly bad outfit together from these clothes?
If our heroine wanted to pack a couple more shirts, this wardrobe could go for a long time!
But are there truly a lot of possibilities here? (you already know this one…)
Imagine the possibilities when this heroine includes some v-neck cardigan sweaters, or some silk blouses…
I’m seriously thinking that my wardrobe is moving in this direction – not through any conscious choice that I’ve made as much as just the migration toward wearing only clothes that I really like.
My summer wardrobe right now is dresses built like sacks, that touch my shoulders and then pretty much nowhere else!
Is anyone else – either deliberately or through natural evolution – starting to see a “uniform” trend in their wardrobe?
p.s. Seven years ago, I had learned a few things on a trip to Florida which included a seemingly endless return trip…
You nailed it. My uniform, my colors. I’ll be expanding on this for a 5 week trip to France in November. (Includes river cruise, time in Paris and Normandy, then a repositioning cruise across the Atlantic from Rome to New York.) Lots of planning to do. Probably will switch black for the navy. Dinner uniform is usually black pants and jeweled tone silk top. Wish that teal paisley scarf was a little less expensive. Had my colors “done” years ago. Not seasonal, but highly customized. The mood I try to convey is “cool, jeweled, elegant, serene”. Whenever I wear teal, someone usually comments: “OMG, your blouse/sweater matches your eyes.” I try to smile sweetly and say “thank you”, when I’m really thinking “I know”! up in the middle of the night with a cold. Not COVID. Caught from my husband and we got him tested with symptoms. Liable to happen as we start traveling again.
These clothes are classic. I wish this was my style. I wonder what the outerwear will be? Navy pea coat? A trench?
I particularly like the ratio of garment. I am working on Fall and might structure my efforts along these lines. Except much more casual.
Wouldn’t a berry wool coat be fab with this?
Beth T says
Absolutely – that’s on my wish list….
I’m planning a trip wardrobe using red, white and black that looks very much like this. Using long sleeve Ts and one cardigan vs all pullovers but this is definitely my uniform. Evenings? One black dress and one white silk top.
Diane Smith says
Janice, I especially loved this post as it hit not only on some of my favorite colors for cooler weather, but also on my uniform.
I don’t wear dresses/skirts, so my chinos, jeans and dress pants are super important to me.
The layers above the belt are easy then, using accessories to dress up where necessary.
My personal coloring is summer with soft winter tendencies. (No stark white or black under my face!!)
Cooler weather neutrals: navy, black, dark gray. Accents: burgundy, deep cherry red, medium blues, ecru, 1 or 2 pieces of pink and dark teal.
Warmer weather neutrals: navy, shades of denim blue, light gray. Accents: bright pink and blue, light teal, blue-red, 1 or 2 pieces of orchid and ecru.
I know there are a lot of accent colors here, but they all work together and give me an infinite number of outfits.
Footwear is black, gray and navy with a few pairs in red.
Obviously, the neutrals (as well as a few of the accent colors) are pants and jackets, mostly.
I am using your Weekly Timeless Wardrobe posts and chart to get my wardrobe down to 52 pieces, not including jackets and footwear. It takes some work, but it’s getting there!
I appreciate your posts and look forward to them always! Tres classique!
This is lovely. I would switch out the skirt for another pair of pants though, with maybe one dress for dinners? I am so envious of folks going on trips right now. I took a summer job and will only have a few days off between the end of that one, and the start of my “real” job end of August. Maybe next year. Because of my job (middle school library) my uniform has evolved into pants, top, and topper, usually a scarf when the weather is cooler. Occasionally a summer dress, or in the winter a dress with a sweater and booties. Pants are just eminently more practical for what I do, and it does tend to be cool in the library so layers work well. Looking forward to Friday!!!! For multiple reasons!
I really, really appreciate this post. I have discovered/learned that I have pretty much have a “uniform” that I wear all the time. Solid color bottom (short, skirt, capri or pants), white top and then usually a cardigan in one of my favorite colors (shell pink, gray, aqua or plum). Add necklaces in warm weather, scarves in cold weather. I have often felt that “should” change things up a bit. But this works for me and I feel like I’ve hit the right note of classic, casual and graceful. I do keep a couple of simple dresses (one black and one print) and plan to buy 1 silk blouses for more formal occasions and then expand my jewelry collection to show my interest in celtic design and reflect the colors of my cardigans. Thanks so much and wishing everyone a beautiful day!
I am smiling in agreement with your formula as it is mine too!
Because my days are spent on a rural property in my work uniform of overalls or Carhartts, I enjoy the chance to be away and wear my favorites. My off farm wardrobe is pretty small, thanks to years of inspiration from this website, so travel packing is easy too. Today I liked thinking about and listing my own set of “rules”. I know I subconsciously apply them when interpreting what I learn here. Turns out a defined color palette (navy, denim blue, grey, white and a bold pinky-peach accent), button down blouses, pearls and silver, dresses not skirts and vee-neck sweaters are on my list of rules. Have a personal set of rules simplifies one part of my day, so I can focus on the more complicated parts. Thank you for your continued efforts, it makes a difference.
It’s funny how we develop a uniform without even realizing it. The knit pencil skirts from a few years ago showed me how flattering it is to have a narrow silhouette at the base. That lesson shifted me to slim’ish (NOT sausage-casing-tight!) skirts as my base. The fabric of the skirt indicates the degree of dressiness.
I wear either tunic-style tops or button-up blouses. The blouses often get tied at the waist in the summer for a casual vibe. A duster sweater or vest or a blazer is added for fall and winter, often with a pashmina at the neck.
The old saying “don’t fix what isn’t broken” comes to mind today.
My colors, my uniform right here! I lurched from color to color and varied my style (what was “in”) when I was in my 20s. It’s a good way to end up with a closet packed with clothing that doesn’t work together and, for some reason, you don’t wear! I mean, when ruffled, romantic dresses ended up in my closet, they pretty much stayed there because I didn’t feel like me. Yet, I had a friend in my civic club who bought one beautiful outfit in fall and one in spring: she owned a few silk pleated skirts, silk shirts/tops, nice trousers. All in pastels and a vaguely frothy style. She ALWAYS looked amazing and wore the same pieces repeatedly. Her style, not mine.
Best words of advice you’ve given us: wear what you love.
I definitely resonate with your heroine. I also am a fan of v-neck sweaters and pants (no skirts for work). And I also agree with the “feeling” that the look is too ‘uniform’ – how to vary it up!?!? Thanks for assuring us it is NOT necessary. Over the years, what I’ve done is vary the piece under the sweater or the accessories. So, its a 3-sublook look. Look #1 – v-neck sweater, pants, no layer, necklace. Look #2 – v-neck sweater, pants, simple layer or no layer, scarf. Look #3 – v-neck sweater, cowl neck shell. For me, varying the neckline (necklace, scarf, cowl, plain) gives me that feeling of variety without changing the base. (simple layer means no collar – a cami, a tank, something that doesnt add face-framing. I’d love to do a button down, but they dont work over my bust and I dont really want to use them if I can’t wear them alone as well. )
Wow! Perfect post! I love the color palette and simplicity of paring down a wardrobe to only the things I love; a “uniform” Also, I need those beautiful scarfs!
As a soft classic, winter color woman, this color scheme and uniform rules is on the money, except too masculine looking for me. I would soften it with one or two sfter tops and maybe an aline skirt, as well as some low heels In slingback style, but I can work with this! Thanks!
Love the jewel colors with the classic navy and gray! Such a solid, beautiful wardrobe. Thanks for the tips and ideas. And the confirmation that “personal uniforms” can still be an elegant look.
Lori Biesecker says
This is very much my cool-weather wardrobe, although I wear my pull-over sweaters sparingly and usually choose cardigans because apparently I will have hot flashes until I die. Oddly, I am being drawn in a totally different direction in warm weather. I don’t even know if there is a name for it, although I think of it as loosely asian. I want — and can’t really find — pull-on pants in solid-woven cotton or cotton-linen blend w/ roomy pockets. I want them to taper at the ankle like lantern pants, but maybe a bit more than lantern pants do? I want slightly boxy pullover tops in the same fabric — color could be the same or different — not too long but just enough to cover the elastic of the pants. For dresses, I’d like jumpers to wear over the tops or short or half-sleeve dresses to stand alone — same cotton or cotton-linen blend. Does this ring any bells with anyone? What would you call it? I would LOVE help finding this kind of wardrobe in decent quality fabrics and with decent quality construction.
Lori, do you sew? This sounds like a wardrobe with simple shapes that could sewn with entry level sewing skills. I bet you could find simple patterns and beautiful fabric on Fabric.com. Wouldn’t it be fun to have a completely custom wardrobe in your colors and fabric choices that you made yourself or had someone make?
There is a whole world of patterns available – many of them made to your measurements! Find someone who sews, or look on Instagram for women who make their own clothes. I have friends who make all of their clothes, from patterns that have been adapted strictly for their measurements. Not all of the garments are madly complicated – simple pants and skirts are a handful of seams, some casing and some elastic, a nice hem and FINISHED.
Some day I will sew again; when I was a freshman in college, I remember making a blazer and matching fly-front pants. Once you understand the underlying logic of the structure, it’s not TOO difficult!
This sounds like a cross between menocore and Eileen fisher. I think.
And totally intriguing. Comfortable and cool.
Lori Biesecker says
Menocore is a new term for me, but WOW — I fit that demographic/description: 54 yrs. old, I think comfort is king, etc. Thanks for educating me today.
Check out the blog style bee. She has beautiful thoughtful wardrobe. Many items are Canadian.
Lori Biesecker says
Oh, what a nice blog, and, yes(!), her style is VERY CLOSE to what I’m trying to articulate! Following her, and thank you.
You might find similar items at poetryfashion.com. I’ve been very tempted to order some of their clothes.
Lori S. Biesecker says
Kim, WOW!!! This is so close to what I want! The pants are what I imagine and it sounds like great quality. I can’t say how much I appreciate you taking time to share this resource. Thanks ever so much.
Lori S. Biesecker says
Oh, and all the pants I looked at have POCKETS!!!
Yes, look at 100 acts of seeing patterns. Sounds just like the shapes you’re describing!
Lori S. Biesecker says
Thanks, Diana. I heard about this company earlier this year and am considering it.
Amanda Hudson says
Poetry makes lovely clothing. I have a couple of things and found them to be true to size. They are UK based I think so pay attention to size and shipping/card payment was a bit more because of.
Beth T says
This is perfect for stress-free dressing though I would swap the jumpers for button-up cardigans for greater flexibility and mood.
The grey shirt is a bit too ‘boys school uniform” for me. I would swap it for silver or pewter satin. Also one of the white shirts swapped for a plum patterned shirt or turtleneck. White would be ivory for me though I would be more tempted to add in a teal satin or teal floral blouse. Ivory and white feature less and less in my wardrobe and have become a rare accent or with a pattern on them. My skirt is more likely to be A-line or very wide leg culottes. This could easily be made into a 4×4 to include velvet trousers, a party top, a patterned skirt or dress even to introduce my other favourite winter accent – purple.
My wish list this autumn is to find dark grey wide leg trousers in heavy jersey or wool, to replace a navy cardigan that has an unmendable hole and to find a plum coat.
The scarves are perfect and the pearl and silver brooch is an amazing statement piece. The shoes are a style known as Monks Shoes. Don’t ask me why but I had a navy pair years ago which were very comfortable. I wish I could find some more navy shoes like them.
Great post! I, like some of your other readers, cannot wear pullovers, they’re too warm. I live in Southern California where the winters are mild (except for a couple of weeks when it gets down to the fifties). I run wam so I usually wear cardigans everyday over a sleeveless top. When I go out or get cold I wear a scarf and light puffer vest. Needless to say I have quite a collection of scarves and cardigans in different colors and weights. I lean toward cool colors like burgundy, navy, cobalt blue, red, forest green and black. My hair is silver now so I make sure to have some contrast near my face. I wear skinny jeans or slim ponte black pants. It’s a uniform and I love the versatility of different scarves/cardigans. I have a few long sleeve patterned blouses just to change things up and add a different look. I have booties in back, pewter, plum and red. My sneakers are red, cobalt blue, black and silver. I love fall/winter dressing.
Cindylou – a kindred spirit! My boys were giving me a hard time about my many sneakers the other day (I wear them to work) I have red, purple, yellow gold (mustard?), black, silver, and a denim blue pair with navy palm trees on them. So happy to know I’m not alone!!!!
Beth T says
They’re only jealous! You’re probably cooler than they are! Tell them to buy their own. My student son (nearly 23) has several pairs of of Vans, Keds and trainers – burgundy, mustard, blue…. I bought my first pair of purple DM-style boots a couple of years ago when I was 56.
I wear a uniform! I would love to see you take a gander at mine sometime. I wear maxi skirts and dresses only, with t shirts and cardigans. I’ve just changed my main neutral to navy from black (less severe), and in the summer my accompanying neutral is white, and my fall neutral is chocolate brown. I like to wear rich jewel tones- bright pink in spring/summer, and garnet and forest green in winter.
Anonymous at 12:32, I’m a maxi-dress with cardigan wearer also, but only in the summer. My winter wardrobe is close to today’s post except I’m more often in cardigans than in pullovers. I find dresses to be cooler than pants in the summer.
I’ve done that – brought something “special” that I don’t normally wear on a trip. Turns out if it’s not something I gravitate to at home, it’s rarely something I’d gravitate to while traveling!
I love slim pants and a v-neck sweater – such a classy, effortless look! https://suzyn.tumblr.com/post/108862078876
Beth T says
You’re so right Suzy. I can’t understand people who go shopping for a completely new holiday wardrobe. I have taken things on holiday and not worn them but that is mainly because of uncertainty about the weather or firm plans for activities.
Sally in St Paul says
This is a lovely mix-and-match capsule, and the colors are very rich and pleasing. I would chafe against such a classic, tailored, masculine uniform, but I’m really not a uniform dresser *at all*! However, I 100% agree that if a heroine is drawn to a uniform, she should just go for it. I mean, if YOU feel bored dressing in a uniform, then no, that’s not great. But if you’re concerned about what other people will think of it…I think to the extent that other people even notice that you dress in a uniform, if it is authentic to you, it will be your “trademark” look and mark you as a heroine who knows herself and her style.
Also, you needn’t draw the line at a single uniform. Perhaps you’d be happier with a couple of silhouettes you switch between or a default day-to-day uniform plus a secondary uniform for certain moods/occasions or to break things up. This can mean having a slightly larger capsule than if you commit to a single uniform, but we have to adjust things to work for us. And if your second silhouette can be covered with dresses, that’s an especially easy one to fulfill.
I think I’m going to find that I have 2 clearly different uniforms – big dresses for hot weather, and something like this shirt/sweater/pants or skirt for cooler weather.
We get to make our own rules; so long as we’re considerate of ourselves and of the planet, there’s no right or wrong!
Alison M Gunn says
From experience, the *last* place you want to be ‘mixing it up’ in ways you’re not used to at home, is when you’re travelling. One simple reason for this is that you will find it difficult to make your silhouettes/outfits work together if you’re all over the place in terms of shapes, colors, and any other outré choice you’ve thrown in to challenge yourself with. If you must experiment, do it at home, where if the fabrics are ‘off’ or the colors clash, you see it before you’re stuck carrying this stuff with you. As for packing a uniform, do it, because ‘uniform’ also applies to lengths and style of pants—if you’re wearing a ‘uniform,’ that means you won’t need to pack too many shoes, since you won’t need that one pair of shoes that goes with that one pair of experimental pants’ length. Pack all the same length, you’ll only need one type of shoe height. I do personally have a uniform, although since a v-neck sweater was part of my actual uniform in school, I “mix it up” now by wearing scoop necks or something akin. I did “mix it up” almost exclusively in my 40s and 50s and would stand in front of the closet trying very hard to make these weird combos work. Ultimately I came back to the uniform idea, and tossed the vagrants that were interesting to look at but made getting dressed way too hard.
Beth T says
One of the big challenges that I have when travelling is wearing activity appropriate clothing from day time sightseeing to dinner in the evening. My husband wears a shirt and chinos for all activities. To change for dinner in a restaurant or pub when we are out, he simply changes his shoes and puts on a jumper or jacket from the car boot. I always feel distinctly under dressed beside him. My daytime trousers and comfy shoes with top and jumper just don’t feel dressy enough for a meal out. I just don’t have the opportunity to change, even just my top, as we often eat out where we have been visiting rather than near our accommodation. If we’ve been doing a lot of walking, the thought of squeezing sore feet into heels is not an option either. Any suggestions please?
Chris in Indy says
Of course you shouldn’t squeeze into heels, but a fresh pair of comfy flats, a little extra jewelry or a scarf, a fresh topper and a swipe across the back of the neck (and maybe under the armpits) with a disposable wash cloth will have you feeling better and more appropriate. And the best accessory of all is a smile and a happy heart!
I too prefer to dress up a little for dinner but I’ve noticed lately we go from activities like wine tasting or sightseeing straight to dinner. I don’t hike so I don’t wear those kinds of clothes. I wear simple but nice clothes during the day and carry a tote bag in the car with a scarf or wrap. My shoes and sandals are always flat (foot issues) but comfortable and cute. I wear Ecco sandals and sneakers, some by Cole Haan and cute booties in the winter. I can walk at least 5 miles in these shoes and I can wear them to most restaurants. I strive for a classic, elevated casual look. A nice cardigan or jacket takes everything up a notch.
Book Goddess says
You could have some lovely cardigans in that boot. Something with a bit of pearls or sequins, or a fabulous accent color. How about some silver or gold toned flat shoes? And definitely jewelry. I think you’re going to look lovely!
I do think this is a very common challenge faced by women while traveling. Janice, I would love it if you addressed this in some blog posts.
Beth T says
Thank you ladies. Perhaps, I just need to be better prepared for myself. I could have a day to evening bag prepared with a fresh top (change in the Ladies), wipes, make-up, a fancy cardigan or jacket, scarf/wrap and some silver, sparkly or interesting shoes to wear with my day trousers. Might even change the trousers if necessary.
Beth t you would be surprised where/how you can change if you have to. I have pulled a floaty maxi skirt over pants and just whipped the pants down and off, in a car park behind the car door if need be. Same with tops, car windows are often tinted so if you are quick you can change tops, nobody is usually looking, or as you said there is always the ladies. Tops are usually quite light so not hard to carry. More glamorous jewellery and fresh lipstick is always a lift too.
Beth T says
A few years ago I had a winter uniform like this, but I only had two jumpers, and two pairs of pants. I think I had four shirts, and wore woollen singlets underneath them. It made getting dressed extremely easy. It was amazing to see how few items I actually needed.
At that point I hadn’t really thought about which colours I enjoy, and the pants didn’t fit particularly well, so I know I can do better.
I love this capsule! I’m gearing up to plan my fall capsule for project 333. I’m SO drawn to the teal into aqua shades. I’m going to use my cranberry v neck pullover with my blush pink & cranberry silk scarf for my berry tones. Black and navy neutrals with crisp whites and creamy tones. Looking for teal tones in another pullover sweater or top.
Wow, that sounds like a wardrobe I would like to wear!
Bonsoir Janice, j’aime moi aussi beaucoup ce post
J’aimerais savoir à tout hasard si vous auriez la possibilité de me conseiller des marques françaises où je pourrais trouver ce style de vêtements……