March 11, 2022
The travel wardrobe worked well…
When she got home, she decided that it would make good sense to assemble a small but versatile summer capsule wardrobe in the same colors!
Here’s what she has when she went away for the weekend…
Being a fond reader of The Vivienne Files, our heroine decided to be somewhat organized as she planned her warm weather wardrobe, so she assembled all of her garments (so far!) into a 20-piece grid. There’s no labels here; she’s using it for visibility and to keep from being distracted by her accessories!
The first thing she sees is that she does NOT have any navy; can a woman live through the entire summer without a dark neutral in her wardrobe?
So she starts with this neat little cluster…
Already, her wardrobe looks more balanced! The darker garments help a lot…
She doesn’t have a white cardigan, which she feels strongly about! And when she sees this skirt, she knows that it was meant to be here:
NOW, when she looks at her 20-piece target layout, she loves what she sees, but realizes that (a) she only has room for FOUR more garments, and that (b) she still could use a wee bit more navy…
The pants were sort of a whim, but they’re quite reasonably priced (for linen) and will go with so much of her wardrobe!
And the green tee shirt? It looks nice with navy, great with white, and her scarf includes just a wee bit of this shade of green…
This is where she finds herself:
And when she includes her accessories, it’s really quite lovely!
Is anybody north of the Equator ready for summer? Or even ready for SPRING???
It’s supposed to snow here tonight…
p.s. Not exactly six years ago, we worked on adding accessories to a navy, beige, turquoise and yellow wardrobe, assembling it one piece at a time…
Morning, Happy Friday. I’m not sure I like the lone green tshirt in the mix. I think I would throw in a white tank, or SS blue tshirt instead. Other than that this wardrobe is just so light and cheery. We are supposed to have rain starting this weekend and all next week. Longing for spring, though this is a La Nina winter for us, so it may be awhile. I find my yellow clothing really perks me up during dark rainy days. Thank you Janice for all your hard work to post for us Mon, Wed, Fri. My favorite days of the week!
The green t-shirt is throwing me off too. It doesn’t coordinate with enough of the bottoms or second layers for me, especially for such a small wardrobe. I would only wear it with the white and navy pants and the white cardigan.
Sally in St Paul says
The light seafoam green T is very interesting in this capsule! I agree it doesn’t have the highest mix and match potential, and it sticks out in the image, but I don’t know…if our heroine loves this color, this may be the first step to test it out in the capsule with the idea of building on it later. Or perhaps it’s just a respite from the overwhelming sameness of a limited color palette. If there’s ever a time to have a semi-random color of top in your wardrobe, summer is it. (I say “semi-random” because it does work with the scarf and shares the light/soft aspect of the blues in the capsule.) I also think it’s easy to evaluate from the perspective of “does this capsule look totally cohesive” and not evaluate from “does this capsule generate cohesive outfits.” I’m sure people differ on this, but I am more interested in cohesion at the outfit level than the capsule level, if that makes sense.
So I don’t have a strong feeling either way…to include it or not. But I do think it’s interesting to consider whether there is a place for a disparate piece like the seafoam T in a color-based capsule.
Lovely. And interesting that you mentioned needing a dark neutral for summer. I was contemplating this idea for myself last night. Except my thought was “does a dark neutral make sense during the summer?” It gets very hot where I live. I just wonder if navy will feel too heavy -Speaking for myself not the heroine of the above story.
VF friends, what’s your experience with dark colors in hot weather? (I’m trying to decide which way to go with my upcoming purchases.).
Personally, I like a dark neutral in summer (Navy or brown work better for me, although i love black too). I feel like it hides sweat stains a little better, and provides me with a little more contrast (adjustable based on how much of a tan I have). I usually wear it on the bottom, so that also helps me participate a little more fully in summer things – like sitting on warm rocks or in the grass – and not worrying about stains on my butt. It also helps when the weather is still screaming “summer” and my brain is screaming “fall” – think September when it feels like July. I use the opposite trick in the spring (like now) when the weather says “winter” and I’m saying ” I WANT SPRING” – use lighter colors in heavier weight fabrics. The eye is happily tricked into feeling springy, and I’m not frozen. It’s a great thing to think about though, and I think it really depends on YOU. Do you like to “play outside” or participate in messy activities? Are you comfortable with lighter neutrals on bottom? What does your personal coloring/contrast look like in the summer? How much laundry do you like to do?
Thank you, Ezzy, for this well thought out response. I do spend time outdoors and in nature regularly. I’m going to spend some time looking through past VF summer files. My coloring is very medium and I prefer the soft summer color palette.
Linda P says
Yes I agree about the use of black even in the summer. Some of my best summer outfits are black & white with an accent color thrown in.
I also use black and navy as summer neutrals – I work in the garden and have dogs, so sometimes it’s messy. This year for the FIRST TIME I am actually considering a white pair of light weight pants, but haven’t quite decided to pull the “complete my purchase” button!
Thank you, Sheila! My activities are similar to yours. And I also have a pair of ivory colored jeans in my cart!! They look so fabulous in outfits, but I wonder if they will be hard to keep clean. And will they be see through? Garments aren’t as well made as they used to be.
I’ve found that the colour of a garment doesn’t affect my comfort as much as the garment’s fibre content does. I would far rather wear a navy cotton or linen garment in the summer than a white polyester one. Also, the fit is a major element for coping with high temperatures. Tight clothes trap heat, regardless of the fibre content.
This reminds me of a day last summer when it was super hot and muggy. I’m Canadian and am just not good at coping with heat. I went to a favourite store of mine and, in a hurry, asked the young clerk if there were any blouses there made from natural fibres. She kept bringing me polyester, rayon….etc. the poor thing didn’t have a clue! I tried to give her a friendly mini-moment on the natural fibres. Happily, I found three cotton blouses to work with my colour scheme and I also bought a fourth blouse, very loose-fitting, in a thin mad made textile. I often turned to it on really hot days. So, maybe I just dashed my natural fibre theory. Lol! 🤪
All the best for your summer clothing shopping! It would be fun to hear what colours you choose.
Thank you, Wendy! Yes, tight clothing is not cool when the temperature is 100F. But that’s when I would probably be inside anyways!😉. Color actually affects my comfort as well. I thought this was universal, but I notice that not everyone’s energy level is affected by how bright or dark their clothing is.
I have struggled with this question too. My experience is that the darker colors work well as accents for me, like black only in a tank but not as a whole neutral. I am also top-heavy and short-waisted and my darker blue neutral (not navy but just a darker blue) works very well in tops with lighter bottoms. I find the problem with the dark neutral when it’s hot is that it feels too heavy and formal on the bottom. I also have grey tops that are a bit darker that go with lighter grey shorts and skirts. The other commenter has a good point that darker colors are easier to sit in outside, but I wear a lot of denim which, even though lighter in summer, still washes up well. I also change my colors by season as well—adding tan and faded red later in the summer, even though it’s just still hot.
Thank you, Lauramareen. Denim is usually my go to bottom as well. Im wanting to add some skirts or dresses this summer. I think I hope to do that every summer but then don’t because I want to be practical. And I have this idea stuck in my head that I’ll look too dressed up. My life is very casual. I think I’ll just bite the bullet and try one and see how it goes. Thanks!
I just read from your other comment that you’re a soft summer coloring, which I am too! If you haven’t already, consider lightening all your dark neutrals—my wardrobe life changed when I realized I could make a range of denim/indigo and medium warm grey my neutrals rather than navy and charcoal and black. So freeing and pretty! That change has made all my seasons easier to plan for and enjoy.
I think it depends on the fabric. Black linen and cotton gauze work great for me. I think a long time before putting light colors on my butt!
Thank you, Danielle!
Danielle, your comment is what Nancy Erickson, who ran the Fashion Sewing Group, always said. A jacket made of a dark but lightweight linen looked fine in the summer, but a heavy quilted cotton would have looked all wrong – to take an extreme example. I also think it depends where you live. I saw far fewer dark colors when I lived in Southern California than I did in the Midwest. And I see fewer here in the Mid South, also. But freezing air conditioning has also had an impact. It’s easier to justify a dark color when one is freezing in the office!
Beth T says
Jennifer, I wear a Soft Summer palette like you. I wear mid to dark blues on my bottom half in thin jersey, cotton or linen for summer. I wear dark blue trousers with accent or patterned tops. Navy is a base colour for patterns on skirts such as a cotton skirt with a pink floral. However, for some reason, completely navy or dark blue skirts don’t suit me but trousers do – not sure why. I also have a couple of light knit or lacy navy cardigans with 3/4 or rolled sleeves, though I wear them particular items such as a white dress with aqua and navy leaves. I would say that navy doesn’t feature large in my wardrobe in any season but it is useful. Accessories would be light and metal silver.
Beth T, thank you for all these outfit ideas. I really appreciate you sharing!
Sally in St Paul says
So many good comments in this thread about navy and dark neutrals for summer! Although Janice tends to show the classic dark navy (which is popular, common, and relatively easy to find/match), I definitely agree that we aren’t limited to dark navy, and your “dark” neutral may not be very dark objectively, based on your coloring/preferences. Colors like denim, chambray, soft indigo, grey navy, light navy, muted navy…as well as some versions of petrol blue and marine blue…can work better than a deep navy if your coloring is soft and medium. I would also look for navy marls, navy ombres, a soft navy tie-dye…anything where there is a range of coordinating blues with a soft wash accompanying the navy that softens the overall look to a lighter, more muted blue. That makes a big difference for my own muted coloring.
I am probably a “summer” and I break the rules and absolutely wear true navy + white all summer long because I love it and it just feels so summery to me (I think it’s the nautical association). But adding a medium blue to those outfits definitely helps stair-step through the light to medium to dark value, and if I were in a shopping mode right now, I’d be looking at adding more of the lighter/softer/more muted navy colors to my wardrobe.
Despite my moniker, I lived most of my life in the humid South (e.g., Austin TX for a long time) so I hear you on the heat thing. But I found that as long as the fabrication is right, a darker colored garment wasn’t hotter than a lighter colored one. Cotton and linen, of course, and for something like a lightweight vest or cardigan for layering, an open weave is your friend. But there’s clearly a psychological aspect to this too, if darker colors just make you feel hot. With head to toe dark colors, I might feel that too, but I didn’t experience it with just some of the outfit being dark. And you might find the lighter navy colors mentioned above don’t have the same psychological effect as dark navy.
Great ideas, Sally. Thank you! That mid color does help bridge the gap. I will be on the look out for softened navy. Recently I’ve been playing more with grays. Just a little. Seeing how I like them. How I feel by the end of the day. Sometimes an outfit can look lovely in concept , but wearing it all day can wear me out! That’s kind of where I am with navy right now. It feels right in the winter, but as my surroundings become sunnier, I find it sort of drags me down. So yes, I suppose it’s psychological!🤪
Sally in St.Paul,
Yes I agree that my version of a dark color in the warm months is really only a medium dark , such as a medium denim blue or olive green , so that my light warm personal coloring does not become overwhelmed , nor feel too hot because of it being too dark . I have navy in my Winter wardrobe, but I have found myself avoiding wearing it, and not only because of Covid , as it is in my dressier collection.
One year I did wear brown culottes with a print top that included lots of teal with a bit of brown, but even that felt too dark to me .
I love including a dark neutral in a spring/summer wardrobe since it camouflages dirt and extra weight. This year, I am updating my navy wardrobe basics to include shorts, capris, long pants, sleeveless tank, short sleeve tee shirt, and long sleeve tee shirt. These are the workhorses in my wardrobe all year.
Amy M says
Green is my usual choice for a pop of color, but I’m loving this wardrobe. It’s beautiful and the colors just lift my spirits. Liking the nod to Ukraine, too.
This wardrobe sings “spring and summer” and the navy only improves it. I would get reasonable mileage from the green top – I’d happily pair it with the pale blue skirt (seersucker for the hot weather win!) as well as navy orange white bottoms. I might even give it a whirl with the wonderful butter yellow skirt. Navy is my dark neutral and, if I could wear yellow near my face, I would be truly tempted to try this colour scheme.
Beth T says
The navy makes this very versatile. I have to agree that the plain green tee looks odd. I might have found a floral/pattern with blue/yellow flowers and green leaves. I don’t suit patterned trousers so I would look for a patterned dress or another skirt. Skirts used to be so popular but choices are often limited these days compared to dresses. I like maxi or long midi skirts in the summer as the swish of material is quite cooling.
I’ve also observed the scarcity of skirts and I don’t understand it. Not all of us can find a dress that suits both halves of our bodies so skirts are the go-to for that. Granted, the simplicity of a dress being a ready made outfit is wonderful I just miss the days when skirts were more numerous in store racks.
Yes to the fact that not all of us can find dresses to suit both halves of our bodies! Wouldn’t it be nice to have matching skirts and blouses to create a dress look easily?
Sally in St Paul says
It’s interesting…I haven’t been to a thrift store since the pandemic started, but prior to that at least, skirts were VERY common there, especially print skirts. That suggests to me that many women who buy these skirts end up not really knowing how to wear them. I wonder if the market has adjusted to make fewer of them available to begin with. Hmm.
In summer I love white trousers with a black top. I also have black floaty patterned trousers which I also wear with a black top. Black, white and blue are my year round colours and summer doesn’t really change that except I have lighter weight fabrics. I too love long floaty skirts. I am trying to move away from so much black and I have now assembled a navy/red capsule which also mixes with the white and blue. I think I am now at the magpie stage so serious organisation must soon take place. All tips gratefully received.
Sally in St Paul says
Haha, fellow magpie here, Cherry! My first thought about your situation is to really look for those bridge pieces to bring your new capsule in with the old. If you can find clothing or accessories that share several of these colors, it will do wonders to create a sense of cohesion. Even though I’m not in a shopping mode right now, if I found a white/navy/black print item that I loved, I would have to seriously consider buying it because I think it would do wonders for integrating navy + black in my wardrobe.
My first thought for organizing a wardrobe is to review it following posts Janice has made on the subject. I don’t know the title she uses for them but she breaks them down by bottoms, tops and 2nd layers (to see balance of numbers), then she groups things by colour. She also looks for gaps.
I think that might be a great starting point for you.
In December back in 2016 or so, I used to review the “6 Scarves, 12 outfits” wardrobes this way…
Some day I’m going to index this entire website, I swear!
I love these colors and how the wardrobe turned out. I think the green tee is OK. I have a lone royal blue tee in my wardrobe that I happened upon and love but it isn’t really one of my main colors. It works with all my neutral bottoms though, so I keep it and enjoy the change of color every once in a while. I have a hard time with light colors in the summer because I’m messy (let’s just say it!) and live on five acres with four teenagers and a huge dog and three cats… that combined is a messy combination. But I love the loose flowy feel of chambray pants in the heat and they aren’t too dark or too light either. And they work with almost every color just like denim.
Jackie Katz says
Someone in a previous post asked about items with traditional sunflower colors. I just noticed on Lands End that they have a cotton tank with yellow sunflowers on an aqua background. The color is called Aqua Breeze Sunflower. I just ordered one but hope the war is over before it ships.
Amen to that!
Linda P says
Hi Janice and Everyone! Great discussion!
For me…I would look for more of the minty green pieces over the yellow ones, as minty green looks better on me.
Which brings up the question: anyone brave enough to wear a solid navy top with the yellow printed skirt-? Or a yellow sweater with the patterned light blue skirt-? I have tried to wear a solid colored top with a printed bottom (or vice versa) that does not have the solid color in it and I feel/look like I got dressed in the dark. But some of you can probably pull this off quite well.
I do like navy too as a neutral for summer. It usually gets paired with many a printed top.
My eyes see the dominant colour of a two-tones patterned skirt (like the ones in this post) and Picking a coordinating colour to the skirt’s main colour is something I often do. It’s basically colour-blocking. Wearing a navy too with the butter yellow skirt would be terrific and I would probably wear navy shoes to pull it all together.
I think the key to wearing a top that doesn’t echo colours in the bottom garment is using the second layer and/or accessories as a colour bridge. This works for a two-toned pattern but I would probably not go this route for a multi-coloured pattern.
Sally yes it’s the navy and black items which are the puzzle. Black goes with everything I have except the navy. Navy goes with everything except the black. I will look out for something that links the 2 colours together. Thank you. Wendy I have been pouring over those posts but I love everything I have so difficult to cull anything. Janice I am off to find that post. Thank you.
I know the colour combinations of this wardrobe are a homage to the current crisis in Ukraine and completely respect the point of the exercise. At 67 I find that it’s a little too ‘pretty’ and ‘older ingenue’ for me. I vastly prefer the colours from the ‘not exactly six years ago’ wardrobe. The deeper golden yellow and navy blues with the dash of turquoise are more my taste and style and I am building one similar to it for this summer based on a navy blue, golden yellow and white gauze scarf. A wardrobe almost completely in pastels would get tiresome fast. Please do not take this the wrong way but viewing the wardrobe in its entirety reminds me of the ladies at my parent’s retirement home heading out to their strawberry social. They do love their pastels! I do love those navy sandals though and fully agree with a dark neutral for summer even if only one dress or outfit, in case one is called upon to attend a solemn occasion where one needs to look like an adult.
I agree with you about the colors, Anonymous. I was going to call them “unsophisticated” in a comment on Wednesday’s post but waited until I could see the much-needed addition of navy promised for today.
Easter-egg pastels (or should I use your very apt term “strawberry social pastels”?) seem better suited for a rural or coastal location than the big city where this heroine’s story is set. Also – strappy shoes and cloth shoes to wear on urban sidewalks? None of the four styles shown offers much, if any, protection against passersby stepping on one’s toes by accident; or ending the day with said toes covered in soot.
To add something positive, I do love both pairs of Swarovski earrings, the marled cardigan, the navy bag and sandals, and – my favorite – the Tommy Hilfiger skirt. How nice that it’s adaptive!
Susan McL says
Great discussion and clothes–I will be reading through this post obsessively. I have soft summer coloring and look best in medium colors. I would buy blue-grey (slate?) and taupe as warm weather neutrals, but they are not always easy to find. LL Bean does have some great pants in slate and taupe–just wish they offered their tees in similar colors. Not all of us can wear brights or very pale colors. I’m having to rethink some of my colors now that I’ve let my hair go gray/white.
Beth T says
Same here – soft summer going grey. The softness of these cool colours is perfect. I recently bought a cardigan in soft pale blue. Fast becoming a favourite. I know what you mean about the difficulties of finding slate grey and taupe. For me it’s also leg length as I’m short. This capsule is perfect though yellow is not a colour I wear near my face.
Wow…what a wonderful mix of opinions. I’m a green fan…favorite color…so I love the mint. If this were mostly green with an even mix of the other shades…that would be what I’d love forever. Navy is nice for those who can’t wear black. The soft blue and yellow are easy on the senses if you want color that doesn’t shout. This was beautiful.
Sandy b says
The addition of navy to this is great. I live in a warm, humid climate and am retired as well, so dark neutrals in summer just don’t work for me. I would put on a pair of navy shorts, for example, and change before lunchtime. This capsule, however is, to me, spring. Which can be cool and I think the navy is great for transitional weather. The green T looks odd in the context of the chart, but it works with the navy, white and blue bottoms. Not sure about the print skirt, but I don’t wear prints or skirts anyway. And I could imagine, after a couple of weeks of this capsule, when the trees are leafed out and it’s a sunny day, I would happily wear the green T shirt.