April 25, 2022
When I started working on this post, it was pouring rain in Chicago. I mean pouring buckets and barrels and VATS of rain…
The next day, the temperature is over 20C, and quite lovely. If the wind doesn’t (literally) blow you over…
Which made me realize yet again that there are really more than 4 season in the year; they’ve apparently always know that in Japan!
So I’m very intrigued by the idea of 24 Seasons – which are divided into 72 wee mini-seasons! I’ll stick with this 24 for now, but I never rule out doing something fun with 72 seasons!
My thinking, at this early stage: an outfit for each mini-season, 3 garments. That would be a 72-garment wardrobe – considerably smaller than what I currently have.
Oh heck – first, let’s look at the seasons!
This brings us to the current – very appropriate – season of Grain Rain. The furrows of seed need to be watered!
Here’s what I’m thinking of – an ensemble that would be appropriate for this 15 days or so…
A fun raincoat, a warm sweater or fleece, pants that can be rolled up if necessary, and waterproof footwear:
Yes, I would wear white jeans in the rain – I would just roll them up out of harm’s way! And a pair of snazzy black and white sox wouldn’t hurt…
Some of us prefer subtle…
On to the rest of the seasons!
So what do you think? Is this an intriguing way to look at the year, and at our lives within it?
p.s. Three years ago, we revisited our opera singer heroine, who always wears skirts and dresses!
I’ve always loved the idea of more than four seasons, as many of us experience four seasons in one day sometimes! There’s even a twitter account called Small Seasons, which sends out reminders of when a new one begins. As always Janice, you’ve chosen beautiful clothes to inspire me when choosing what to wear or curating my closet. And the photos you selected are stunning! Thanks for this peaceful (dare I say, zen) start to my day. I’m looking forward to the rest of the seasons!
Lisa Petrison says
I have been thinking for a few years now that at least here in the Midwest, thinking about the year as six seasons rather than four makes a lot more sense to me.
January/February – Icy Season
March/April – Greening Season
May/June – Blossoming Season
July/August – Sunshine Season
September/October – Golden Season
November/December – Starlight Season
That is interesting to read about all the Japan mini-seasons, but I feel like weather can be so changable that that does not offer much of a specific prediction about what conditions are going to be like at any particular time.
Segmenting the year into two-month increments does seem to offer a lot of predictive value in terms of what to expect, I think.
Thanks for your blog – it is really inspiring and thought-provoking to read.
Beth T says
I love your seasonal descriptions, Lisa. There is a poem by John Keats called Autumn in which he calls it the season of ‘mists and mellow fruitfulness’. That is a good way to describe October and November in the UK. It always puts me in mind of soft autumn colours.
Love – thanks for sharing; I love Keats…
Six seasons for clothing does make much more sense and I love the names that you have given to your 6 seasons, Lisa. I’m going to borrow this idea, so thank you for inspiring me!
Beth T says
Well you’ve taught me something again. I never knew that the Japanese had 24 seasons based on the weather. These seasons seem to change once every two weeks. If they also have 72 micro-seasons, that is one season every week plus 20 left over. That’s a lot of clothes changes!
I have a challenge with 12 months and four seasons, though in the UK, the seasonal boundaries are becoming more blurred as we just seem to have unpredictable and changeable weather for better or worse.
So I find a series on weather related posts very useful, particularly on outer wear. Almost like a Common Weather Wardrobe so that we are prepared for all eventualities.
My style clash is wearing something nice but not having a stylish weather or at least shower proof coat to wear on top. In the UK, we seem to be limited to trench coats or casual rain jackets. We do have stylish wool/tweed coats and jackets in autumn/winter and blazers and fancy jackets for summer but they can only be worn in dry weather.
Just sometimes, I would like to wear a a stylish and elegant full length light summer coat or an evening coat that would complete an outfit. Not as dressy as a formal dress coat that you might wear to a wedding but something fitted, without a belt in a lighter material which keeps you warm, possibly keeps you dry but looks as if it’s part of your outfit and not an afterthought or something you take off immediately as you arrive, then leaving you cold because you wouldn’t want to wear a cardigan either.
Does such a thing exist? Perhaps I’m thinking back to the 50’s and 60’s when matching or coordinating coats were a thing. Thinking further, I have a friend who finds such coats in vintage shops.
NATALIE K says
Beth t. Such a light summer coat does exist. Most of the time you will find them in linen. I bought one two summers ago but don’t remember from where. I had a friend that found one last year at H&M that was also made of linen. I hope you find yours for this summer!!!!
Mary Saphin says
As a long time Japanese resident, back in Australia now for 5 years, this is a fantastic post.
Your post educates us, your readers, that there are far more than 4 seasons, especially now. I have long followed your posts, and changed these to suit living back in the Southern Hemisphere. To read this post has been not only emotional (I really miss Japan) but it educates to the subtle changes of seasons, and the possibilities.
Thank you. Mary
I like the idea of mini seasons…and I agree with Beth that our seasonal divisiions seem to be blurring. Selecting a few items for each one of these 24 “changes in the weather” would round out to be a very practical closet, it seems.
Excited to see how this plays out, Janice! Will be watching…..
A very sensible idea indeed. I certainly liked the idea put forward for today’s wardrobes, but you may have missed a trick with the pallet choices – you have selected (or been given) a picture for each season. At least one of the three choices should be inspired by it. Especially the Jan5 one, that is a gorgeous pallet.
Sandy b says
This idea is fascinating. I would love to see more. There are definitely more than four seasons. Sometimes all in a day. And the accessories are worked into the post.
It seems the weather in Ireland goes from cool to cold and always wet. So it seems that strappy sandals, ballet pumps, floaty summer dresses and floral skirts are a thing of the past. I’m struggling to adapt my closet to the weather, coming from sunny South Africa. I only wore dresses,but already realised that I need to switch to pants. A whole change at my age. Thanks for all the inspiration, Janice.
There are 2 days – usually in July, maybe August, when Ireland has a true summer. Be careful that you don’t miss them! But seriously, there will be a handful of lovely warm days – just enough of them to treasure all year…
Well, this is timely – it’s raining buckets here after a simply gorgeous weekend. So happy you included a selection in my current obsession – yellow and navy. One can never have too much rainwear here in Seattle! Thanks Janice!
Just north of Seattle here and feeling the same rain! This weekend was beautiful and I had pulled out the flip flops… back to cold weather gear today. Thanks for the fun raincoats Janice. Strangely enough with all the rain we get I don’t own a raincoat. Maybe I am too used to it! :)
Dame Eleanor Hull says
Liza Dalby wrote a book about her garden in Berkeley, CA, based on the Japanese seasons. They correspond very well to northern California seasons, or did at the time of writing—climate change may have shifted things around.
Fascinating concept! Love the idea of a 24 mini seasons wardrobe resulting in 72 garments. Seems like the right number of items for a year round wardrobe. But for me, possibly too many bottoms. I’d probably want quite a few repeats on the bottom so that I’d have more tops snd second layers. Can’t wait to see how your ideas play out on the mini seasons.
And the nature photos are stunning! Please use images like those to coordinate the wardrobes.
I am excited about this seasonal wardrobe series! The photos you chose are beautiful. I can’t wait to see how this progresses.
Beth T says
During the Covid lockdowns, my husband and I went on a daily walk and photographed the emerging seasons. I’m shall look back over those and choose a picture for each of my 24 seasons that best captured the colours and themes.
It’s a cool Spring day – cloudy but dry with a breeze today. I’ll just be wearing a cardigan or fleece when I go out for my walk.
Will you be sharing those photos with us? It should be very helpful!
ruth m says
What beautiful raincoats! And not a khaki trench to be seen – a garment which does not flatter me, but I always thought I had to own.. Thanks again, Janice.
Pam Di says
What a beautiful post. The reference pictures are lovely and evocative of the season. It translates well into a practical approach, what should I wear TODAY! You are a treasure, thank you.
Carolyn Watson says
I am looking forward to the wardrobes you create for each season. The photographs are beautiful. Thank you.
What a great concept. I’ve always thought of the seasons as Early-Cool Spring, Full Spring, Late-Warm Spring, Cool-Not-quite-Summer, Summer, Hot Summer, Muggy-Hot Summer, Hot Fall, Warm Fall, Cooling Fall, Brown Fall, Cold & Snowy Fall, Holiday Time/Early Snowy Winter, Dead of Winter, Frigid Winter and Late, Warming Winter. My other ‘Seasons’ would be based on health and would be Allergy which begins in March and goes to late November and the other is Cold and Flu which hits in December and goes to March. All joking aside, I love thinking about seasons more in tune with their qualities. Much more practical. I will be paying a lot of attention to this series.
Oh your summer and fall seasons are perfect for the lower Great Plains – I think of late July to mid-September as burnt-to-a-crisp season!
Linda P says
Your seasonal descriptions are much like mine where I live !
NATALIE K says
I just adore the idea of 24 seasons and 72 garments!!! Where I live , in the West in the desert, we have several seasons. Spring is mildly hot then we have summer which is hot to hot hot to extremely hot (!!5 degrees or more to be exacting) to monsoons (when we receive most of our rainfall for the year!!) back to hot then late fall (after thanksgiving) we begin to develop not so hot to gorgeous days to winter where we have two months of wear a jacket to a coat weather then back to mildly hot!!
What a wonderful post! Chicago weather can be so, um, inspirational!
It made me think about the ancient Celts, who divided the year into eight sections marked by the solstices, equinoxes and “cross quarter days” in between. They held celebrations and observances. Some of these were incorporated into Christianity; for example the cross-quarter day, Imbolc, celebrated February 1-2, became St. Brigid’s day/Candlemass (and Groundhog’s day :)). The other cross-quarter days would be May 1, August 1, and November 1 (Halloween/Day of the Dead/ Samhain). Modern neopagans have appropriated this, but to my mind these dates still offer real signposts for the northern hemisphere, in terms of day length/light and temperature conditions/plant growth stages and so on, all sun-dependent. Eight seasons, if you will. Reversed, I suppose, down under.
Beth T says
May Day (1May) is still widely celebrated in England. This year will be very special as it is the first May Day to be publicly celebrated since 2019. We get up at dawn to see sunrise and listen to the dawn chorus at our lake. In Oxford madrigals are sung from the top of Magdalen College tower including one of the oldest songs ‘Sumer is a’comin in’. Students in ball gowns and black tie throng the streets after their May Ball the night before and Morris dancers perform. I have been there in my younger days and it’s quite an atmosphere. Where I live Morris Dancers perform around the district with fresh flowers in their hats. In the afternoon we go to a local May Fair where the school children crown the May King and Queen, then dance round a may pole. The church holds a flower festival. Cream teas are served or beer in the pub garden. I shall wear florals. At the end of May, we have Spring Bank Holiday weekend where many fairs and fetes take place. No wonder its referred to as the Merry Month of May!
I love the seasonal art and photos Janice
Such a fun and informative post! And love the comments too.
This was sooo intriguing, thanks for teaching us all something new, yet again! The pictures are delightful, the clothes so beautiful and so are you, Janice. Many thanks!
Sally in St Paul says
I plan outfits around 8 seasons in Minnesota, but I have not created fun names for them:
Spring – April 1 to May 15
Spring/Summer – May 16 to June 30
Summer – July 1 to Aug 30
Summer/Fall – Sep 1 to Oct 15
Fall – Oct 16 to Nov 30
Fall/Winter – Dec 1 to Jan 15
Winter – Jan 16 to Feb 28
Winter/Spring – Mar 1 to Mar 30
I also agree that Minnesota has four seasons; it’s just that they are:
Yet More Winter
*Crying through my tears that Feb 4 is “Beginning of Spring” in the Japanese tradition*
As others have noted, seasons are slipping and weather has grown more volatile with climate change. I recently read an article in Audubon magazine about the effect of ever earlier springs on birds that had me wondering about the various ways the disruption of the seasons affect us without us even knowing. There is definitely an intersection with “Awakening of Hibernating Insects” (March 5-19) as one of the strongest reasons for bird migration is chicks’ hunger for bugs.
I am fascinated by these two-week seasons! It feels exciting to imagine a new season happening so frequently…and the idea that the change of seasons provides a regular reorientation to a new theme.
I agree that their dates don’t really correspond to what we experience for weather! But they ARE a few weeks ahead of schedule, which is perfect if we’re planning to be appropriately dressed…
Linda P says
When I tell transplants to Rochester NY that winter lasts from Nov 1 to May 1 they just about fall out of their shoes. The countdown is on!
In the Syracuse area, which some call the snow capital of NY, we claim October-April as possible winter. But always add the disclaimer that snow has been seen in June. :)
And I’m with you on the countdown! Should be safe to say goodbye to winter any day now!
Beth T says
I love the precision of your dates for seasonal changes. I’m not one for recording things but making a daily record of the weather, even if it’s just on my kitchen calendar would be an interesting exercise.
Linda P says
Hi Janice and Everyone! Thank you for today’s post, if for nothing else than to think about 2 week capsules of clothes and to look at stunning photographs. Really appreciate the (rain)coat ideas that are so stylish. Looking forward to your ideas for subsequent seasons.
I love the idea of the 24 seasons and am looking forward to what you put together for us. Thanks!
Where I am in Canada snow can make an appearance the first of May or children can be running in shorts during a warm spell in March! I never put my winter wardrobe to rest until early May and usually keep a few lighter cashmere sweaters (in bright colours) available along with some warmer bottoms. When the heat arrives it is ferocious and I live in linen…this time of year it is so difficult to know what to pack even if just travelling a couple hundred kilometres!! Your suggestions above would be appropriate right now though I am sick to death of boots and would take waterproof shoes or my current fave’s, waterproof lace up walking ankle boots which look more refined and offer a bit of warmth. (Reiker or Remonte) Though when refinement is thrown to the wind my preference is always my BOGS just too clunky for travel.
Amy M says
I love this idea! Weather here is so changeable that this fits reality for my part of the country more than the usual spring/summer/fall/winter.
I love everything about the mini- seasons. Wonderful descriptive names and lovely photographs. Very inspiring.
I love this idea – thank you Janice! What I find fun is that it is the same amount of clothing as in the Weekly Timeless Wardrobe which I truly enjoyed. It will be fun to see how the two mesh!!
Julie Aaron says
We Michiganders know all about mini-seasons. We sometimes have a minimum of four “seasons” in one day. Which is why I have twelve coats, once for each month of the calendar. ;) I’ve endeavored to assemble a capsule wardrobe of multi-seasonal layering items of clothing with inspiration found on your blog. These are basics like pants, tee shirts, etc. that I can wear under more jazzy items based on what the weather is doing. Keep up the lovely work.
I HAVE AN EXCUSE FOR OWNING 12 COATS!!!!
YESSSSS! (Fellow Chicagoan)
I am so intrigued by the idea of 24 seasons. I have never thought that four was enough, but hadn’t know there was an alternative. This “calendar” seems much more tied to the earth than the four seasons approach. It seems it would be easier to spend more time outdoors if one dressed this way and I am all for spending more time in nature! Thank you Janice for your research. I learned something new and have much to consider.
I live in the Deep South where I have labeled the seasons almost summer, summer, still summer, and Christmas :-).
Sally in St Paul says
Haha, that’s how I felt when I lived in Austin TX.
A bit off topic, but wanted to report back on my 1st wearing of the khaki House of Foxy Whirlaway A-line skirt with pocket for Sarah & anyone else that was hunting a nice A-line skirt. This goes back to the March 28 post. Definitely worth buying…had lots of comments about how nice it looked from male coworkers…and they wouldn’t know the difference btwn a burlap bag and Chanel. It was comfortable and didn’t hold wrinkles from sitting. Finally a skirt that I’m happy to own & enjoy wearing. Now if I can just get a good pair of shoes that aren’t dance shoes to fit comfortably… Speaking of which…can anyone suggest a brand for round toe, brown leather, lace-up, 2 inch heeled ladies oxfords? Thanks to all…
Book Goddess says
This is lovely! I happen to have read several books translated from the Japanese recently, so this fits in perfectly.
I really love the subtle appreciation of the changes in nature expressed in these seasons. I’m guessing that they serve as markers for people’s memories, e.g., Keiko and I met in the season of Cold Dew.
Thank you for enriching our appreciation of nature and culture as well as improving our wardrobes!
I’m loving the 24 season idea (We definitely have more than 4 in East Tennessee) and am looking forward to these posts. I think I’ll try to see how well the Japanese seasons line up with East Tennessee weather.
I second the idea of using these beautiful pictures as a color palette when possible.
If I use this idea for my own wardrobe I’m thinking a 4 piece cluster for each season. I would need more tops than bottoms or second layers and since I am not a minimalist a 96 piece wardrobe sounds reasonable. My wardrobe is currently not that small but I am working towards a smaller more versatile wardrobe.
Isha and Janice, the answer to living in Ireland is layers. In early April I left home to have lunch with a friend wearing a cotton skirt and top as it was lovely and warm at home but I took leggings and sweater came with me. I needed the sweater but not the leggings. I am not sure of I have gone bare legged since so it really is a case of grab the moment but be prepared for change.
Amanda Hudson says
Such a fun post and comments. Living in a mostly warm to hot climate I do understand the almost summer, closer to summer, really hot summer, praying for relief summer, etc. I have a floral raincoat that I adore and can wear half the year. (When it’s really hot and rainy an umbrella is best!) I also have finally found and purchased a long black duster. It fits over layers, is waterproof, and suits my style far more than a trench coat. Over Easter weekend we celebrated my mother’s 95th birthday in IN. Easter dresses and puffer coats were de riguer. My niece~in~law who looked adorable taught me a new saying. “There is no such thing as bad weather, only poor outfit choices.” She credited the Swiss with that saying. Loved it! Thanks to TVF we can all make great choices.
Cheryl Roche says
Oh Janice! I just love this idea/concept and am so excited to watch what you do with this!
Thanks for all your inspiration.
Love it, love it love it. It would be fabulous to see your take on related wardrobes.