If you’re sick and tired of a closet full of "nothing to wear” the next few lessons are perfect for you. You’ll see how just 12 carefully-chosen garments can make up to 96 – really, 96! – outfits.
Now, to get the full 96 combinations, every item in your group of 12 has to work with every other item. But you don’t have to hold yourself to such a strict standard. If nearly every piece goes with nearly every other piece, your grouping may yield only 88 combinations … or 74 … or only 62. Oh, darn.
In any case, it will be far more than you get from any 12 pieces in your current closet, right? I remember one seminar participant telling me she didn’t think she could take 96 garments from her closet and make 12 outfits. I can guarantee we’ll help you do a LOT better than that.
This magical wardrobe grouping starts with what I call a Core Four. That’s two bottoms and two tops, all in your Key Neutral. Check back to Lesson # 8 if you’re not sure about your Key Neutral.
Typically the bottoms are a pant and a skirt. But if you’re just not a skirt person – in spite of all the great tips in Lesson #17 – you might select a dress pant and a casual pant. If you don’t wear pants, you could pick a short slim skirt and a longer, flowing one. In Florida you might choose shorts and capris. But two different bottoms.
The tops are an under-layer and an over-layer. Maybe a T-shirt and hoodie … maybe a shell and cardigan, a tank and a linen shirt, or a silk blouse and tailored jacket… the choice is yours. For our example I chose a classic pant, slim pleated skirt, sleeveless knit shell and matching short-sleeved cardigan, all in a matching coffee brown.
Be a little flexible about exact color match, since the fabric’s fiber content and surface texture can cause slight variations even when using the same dye. We’re looking for compatibility, not total matchey-matchey. (And my usual disclaimer: they photograph far less well-matched than they are in real life.)
Those four pieces give you two outfits. In our example:
Skirt, shell, jacket
Pant, shell, jacket
You’ll want to accessorize these combinations with a killer scarf or necklace, great shoes and a handsome handbag to avoid having all that neutral color feel a little dull. We also added a coordinating belt – reversible, by the way, to double its versatility.
NOTE: Is that bag to die for? It's the new Dooney look -- maybe we finally have a replacement for the gorgeous leather Coach bags from years ago. A splurge, perhaps, but should last and last and look great with everything!
But the real magic in those Core pieces is the ability to create four different Color Columns on which to build new outfits. As you add contrast pieces to the mix, that continuous column of color top-to-bottom will keep you looking sleek, slim and very put-together.
You have two Inside columns – the skirt+shell and the pant+shell – that you can “dress to the outside” by adding an over-layer top in a compatible color. (Of course you can wear those inside columns alone too - fully accessorized.)
You also have two Outside Columns – skirt+jacket and pant+jacket – that you can “dress to the inside” by adding a new blouse or shell underneath.
Next week the real fun begins - adding contrast pieces to our columns. For now, check your closet to see what basic pieces you might use to start your Core Four… then shop for the rest. It's often easier to purchase all four core pieces at once to iinsure color compatability. Jones NY Collection is one excellent source. Talbots is another ... and many of their items are available in Misses, Tall, Petite, Women's and Women's Petite size ranges.
If you want to purchase your entire Core at once – which it certainly the easiest way to insure a color match – consider Jones New York. They offer these Core pieces in virtually every collection, and they regularly feature neutrals other than Basic Black. You’ll find a good selection of their clothes at Macy’s. . Don’t see your Key Neutral in the store? Keep checking back, because they introduce new color groupings every few weeks. Macy's also carries a season-spanning navy Core group in Anne Klein - an Everry Day Value selection - very nice if a tailored jacket fits your lifestyle ...