July 20, 2022
I think this might qualify as a “Sometimes Extravagant Wednesday”…
I know that dressing in a solid column is somewhat controversial, but it’s also so popular that I wanted to see what possibilities could be found for both navy and olive…
Getting dressed is easier when you wear a solid column every day, but if you’re looking for things like matching loafers, you might find that shopping can be challenging!
For a heroine committed to wearing her column, she might have tiny wardrobe of pants and shirts, and then TONS of sweater and jackets, scarves, and nifty shoes…
There are so many color possibilities – I can’t think of any color that she couldn’t wear with navy!
Everything from relaxed and romantic to whimsical to seriously business-like… It could be a lot of fun to experiment with many options!
If you really like olive green, this might be one of the easier ways to wear it consistently!
The right shoes (or scarf) might suggest to you your 2nd layer color…
We can always look to menswear for good ideas (and some of the best scarves!).
Orange is an obvious choice…
Or your might find a perfect coat or jacket in a shade of olive!
Frankly, dressing like this is a difficult or as easy as you want to make it; if you’re looking for fabulous 2nd layers and perfect accessories, you can spend a lot of time, attention, and money getting things just right!
p.s. Eight years ago, I shared a business travel “Slot Machine” – sort of a tiny 9-garment Whatever’s Clean wardrobe!
I can see myself adapting this to a Whatever’s Clean 13 by going with a navy AND an olive column as the basis for two 5 piece groupings and then adding in a pair of light wash jeans or khakis, a white tee and a white button down to complete it. Thanks for the inspiration!
Lesley C says
Why is a column of colour controversial? It’s so practical. I think it can also look quite elegant if you choose the right pieces. Of course, I wouldn’t restrict myself to it but there is something very comforting about slipping into a navy column for the day and choosing an accompanying accessories or accompanying colour for the day.
Linda Toffolo says
Lovely accessories, Janice. I think that in order to look your best you need to know yourself well. I am short, curvy and feel calm and relaxed when things are neat, clean and organized. Knowing this, column dressing is perfect for me. I wear columns of white, black and navy. I accessorize these columns with beautiful scarves, long cardigans, pretty jackets and lovely jewelry that I mix and match. Easy, elegant, polished – works for me💗
I’m short and curvy (overly large bust too) and I think this might be the style that can help balance it all.
Dresses never fit. If the top fits the bottom is like a tent. If the bottom fits, well, I’d never know because I can’t get it over my bust. 😂
I’m very casual and only rarely need to dress up.
Consider me converted. I am now team column. So much more fun to build silhouettes than to worry about coordinating colors. I also realized that many of my favorite styles come in white, so RIT dye is going to be my new best friend.
Just a tip, I did some dying with RIT dye this summer and was disappointed, but I heard really good things about dharma dyes. Just my 2 cents. :)
Great tip Kristi! Thank you.
At 5′ (probably even less than that now in my 70’s) I have dressed this way since a ‘friend’ posted a photo on FB (without asking me…) of me wearing a solid top but plaid skirt. I looked as wide as I am tall! I rely on navy, brown and olive ‘columns’ and have a very, very small wardrobe, but a big collection of scarves and costume jewellery collected over the years, and a few timeless handbags. I am always drawn to the posts featuring accessories and oh my goodness so many beautiful items. Perhaps as well I am in Europe and postage and custom charges make purchases impossible on my budget! However, so much inspiration…
Wolf & Badger has a lot of nice accessories and jackets ánd also an EU-website, so no customs.
Wow, you had me at the first outfit. Adore that jacket. I don’t typically dress in columns, but I have the option in black, navy, or gray if I choose to. I was thinking about the dusters from Monday. I love the look of dusters, and i have a coworker who wears them frequently and looks just divine (though i do love her style in general, even if i feel i couldn’t carry it off) . That being said, I’ve bought two of them over the years and all they do is languish in the closet. Not sure where I was going with that, other than a day later I was still thinking about how lovely they are. Cheers!
Jackie Katz says
Thank you for this post! Navy and olive are my core dark colors. In fact, I own many Lands End Forest Moss pieces. Dressing in a column is so slimming!
I love outfits. linda tofolo described both me and my wardrobe brilliantly. Not only do I wear columns I also mix so trousers and jackets match and the top is contrast. As I have both trousers, tops and jackets in black, white, navy, blue, peach and beige I have lots of choices and they all blend together well.
Over analyse moi?
Sally in St Paul says
In my view, for a capsule wardrobe, it’s hard to beat having these “trios” in colors that can be mixed and matched with a few print items that can be used to pull the multiple pieces together!
This is a great way to make you wardrobe go farther. The layering pieces from the navy column also go well with the olive column and vice versa. If you have two neutral columns, the layering pieces from both are doubling your options. Pre retirement, when I had to dress nicely, I did something similar with suits.
Those scarves from Wolf and Badger are always so fabulous! I keep telling myself that one day I’ll treat myself to one. How to choose only one, though????????? That being said, I had no idea column dressing was controversial. As a shortie (about 4′ 11″), I’ve been a column dresser for years. I also favor dresses and wear them pretty much from April to November since I live in a hot climate.
donna b says
Column dressing in several colorways creates the canvas upon which I exercise my creativity. A collection of classic blazers to funky jackets, wool to silk and cotton in lots of colors make up my second layers. Scarves collected over a lifetime bring life and memories to my confidence. And a vast treasure trove of earrings, bracelets, necklaces in metal, semi-precious stone, glass, wood and crystal mix and match my need and mood of the moment. Shoes, boots and purses all set to match and compliment. These are the elements in which I express me.
Beautiful! This sounds lovely, and it sounds like you enjoy it, too!
Love this post! ( I love all of them) but I found this one really timely and inspiring for me. I’m experimenting with Navy as my dark neutral. I think column dressing will be fun as the weather turns cooler/cold and layers with scarves becomes more comfortable.
Also – thank you for all of the links to items in your posts. I use at least one of them from every post and often end up buying!!
Trying to find a Vivienne Files post to share with friends…. I recall a teacher chaperoning a class trip for a week or so to Washington DC and so needed to be comfortable and dressy. If I recall correctly she had pajamas with a top that was able to be worn in public if needed! Can anyone help me find this one?
I think this is what you are looking for… This is one of the final ones in that series, but if you click on the link words at the beginning you can get to the earlier stories about her. She’s one of my favorites!
You’re faster than I am finding things on The Vivienne Files! Thanks for chiming in to help our friend…
Thank you so much!
It was a series of four posts, all based on the same painting… Shallow Deep by Wassily Kandinsky.
This is the link to all 4 posts!
Sally in St Paul says
Every single outfit here is a winner! I wear a lot of navy and olive, so plenty of exciting column inspiration here. Love seeing the colorful shoes in the mix. The teal velvet smoking flats are gorgeous (and inexpensive) – if I hadn’t just bought teal smoking flats last year, I would be all over them. I’m always glad to see a print scarf with a significant amount of olive in it. Those seem rarer than the black, grey, or navy counterparts.
When I transitioned from work wardrobe to retirement, I kept quite a few jackets. I love to team them with jeans and casual pants. And yes, I have an amoire full of pullover sweaters! Navy is my favorite column, but I go white in the summer.
As a woman of size I love the idea of dressing in columns. As someone who can only wear a second layer about 2 months out of the year, well, columns seem pretty much a non starter. Except for maxi dresses which only need jewelry. Mostly I wear neutral pants and tunics or dusters in colors and/or prints.
Chris Schwab says
Love the column concept! I have been towards the concept for a few years after reading a sewing blog WhT Katie Sews… she refers to her trend of this as Dressing Like a Crayon. Makes me happy when I notice that I’ve done it again, often without thinking about it.
I just wanted to say that essentially this is what I did today for my easy to put on outfit. I had dark jeans and navy tank for my column. With brown leather flip flops, baseball hat in navy with a sunset picture on the front and a short sleeve lacy cardigan over it all that was navy and white strips. It was perfect! :)
PS. I wish there was a like feature to like the comments Janice or others leave… that would be cool!
I agree. I read the article, then the comments and I want to applaud so much of what is said that adds to the discussion at hand.
This post is absolutely beautiful! Inspirational. I have columns of navy, grey and black. I think I should explore olive green again- I always liked it, but some years it’s hard to find. And some of those other colours. I love navy and cranberry together- another fall toned possible column plus accent.
Beth T says
Patterned and accent jackets and knitwear are wonderful. This is my style. Though I rarely wear a column (unless it’s a dress!) because an outfit has to work when you remove the jacket or cardigan. I would wear a patterned top under a plain jacket or cardigan. So I tend to chose a co-ordinated colour for a top underneath a patterned jacket or cardigan. I then wear neutral bottoms usually navy or grey.
I tend to buy jackets in charity and vintage shops because I so rarely go proper shopping, since the lockdowns. I like the thrill of finding something that is eye-catching but doesn’t cost a lot!
These accessories are lovely but I’d be looking for cheaper alternatives!
Marlene Sullivan says
I really loved this post. I’m hoping Eileen Fisher will come out with some nice midnight pieces this fall.
I did get a charcoal long cardigan that is a good match for the stretch crepe pants.
Right now I am using a black column. All my blacks seem to match well regardless of brand.
Warning, dissenter in the ranks!!
Just ran into this over at High Heels in the Wilderness where the author was revisiting her closet and looking for ways to change up some of her older, lovely and rather $$ pieces. While a couple of examples did not qualify for the CoC moniker she did hit on an interesting combination which to my mind is the only way of doing the CoC and not looking dowdy or boring. She topped a pair of black faux leather trousers with a flowy sleeveless black top and a pair of stunning black sandals. By all accounts a stand alone outfit. Snappy, modern and classic. A silk tunic or delicate cashmere cardigan would give the same effect. So yes do your CoC but consider what materials and styles you are using: flowy and soft on top and harder edged, tailored on the bottom? Try matching the shoes with the style worn on top therefore bracketing what’s happening on the bottom ie feminine + minimalist+ feminine or hard edge+ Feminine + hard edge. Or mix up the leather and velvet, suede or silk, cashmere, . Keep it all one colour if you must but as an earlier posting mention what’s underneath should stand alone…and if you do it well the CoC won’t require a bunch of fancy accessories, it won’t be the back drop anymore but the main event.
Dressing like a crayon….LOL!!