Hold on to your hats! This week we're adding just two pieces and racking up an impressive (if I do say so myself) 24 new combinations.
Those two key pieces are a shell and color-matched (or closely blended) over-layer top. The most obvious pair would be a classic twin set, but in this example I chose a wide-strap cami and unlined shirt-jacket (Jones NY) in a rich turquoise. (I promise it really is turquoise, even though these photos appear more royal blue - on my monitor anyway.)
Sticking with our Color Columns, we can layer the cardigan over the brown skirt (inside) column or brown pants column, or over the camel skirt column (not shown) or camel pants column -- Add 4 to our outfit total.
Or we can layer the shell under the brown pant outside column or the brown skirt column, or under the camel column with skirt or pant. - Add 4 more. The close-up gives you a better look at the links ... and the actual turquoise color.
The two-top set worn with each of the bottoms gives us 4 more outfits (skirt options not pictured).
Obviously wearing the two tops with a contrast bottom (and who wants turquoise pants?) violates our Color Column concept. Make it work by being sure the hem of the shell or camisole hits your body higher than the hem of the over-layer piece. That way the attention moves up the skirt or pant and hiccups briefly at the jacket hem, but is coaxed upward by the bit of bottom color still visible between the front edges of the jacket.
Attention hiccups again when it hits the hem of the under-piece, but by now it has adapted to the jacket's color and keeps following that upward to the neckline, where we strategically place an attention-grabbing scarf or necklace.(I'd like a bolder link with the turquoise and camel look, wouldn't you?) The buttons and buttonholes, front band detail or center zipper of your over-layer form a virtual roadway for the attention to follow upward too - provded the garment fits properly so the two open edges fall parallel on your body.
Oops - and I just realized that the camisole alone could work with each of the bottoms -- that's 4 more than I promised you this week. If you want a more covered-up look, use a large square scarf as a shawl. Or tie its adjacent corners together in tiny square knots and wear it as a cocoon jacket.
I pictured the combo here with a pashmina shawl. I carry one in my bag even in hot weather so I have an option when the room is overly air conditioned. We'll talk about ways to wear a pashmina in another lesson.
Then we can start to mix the colors in 3-way combinations:
* Brown pants, camel top, turquoise jacket
* Brown pants, turquoise shell, camel jacket (shown)
* Brown skirt, camel top, turquoise jacket (shown)
* Brown skirt, turquoise shell, camel jacket
* Camel pant, brown shell, turquoise jacket
* Camel pant, turquoise shell, brown cardigan
* Camel skirt, brown shell, turquoise jacket
* Camel skirt, turquoise shell, brown cardigan ... that's 8 more for our total of 24 new options.
When the bottom color is lighter - the camel pants with the brown cardigan, for example - your linking accessory should echo the lighter color to balance the top portion of the outfit to the bottom.
Now you've probably figured out that ANY pair of matching tops you add will give you 24 MORE possibilities. What an easy, goof-proof way to add color and spice to our previously all-neutral grouping. Divide the cost of a $150 twin set by 24 additional looks -- that's just $6.25 per added outfit. Just don't forget the linking accesories to pull the color combos together.
See the examples below with a brick red shell and mesh-knit cardigan and a dusty coral (less pink than it looks here) shell and crocheted sweater. And notice how many of our previous Links we can re-use with these added pieces. I suspect you didn't believe me when I said that, in your wardrobe, Less is More ... provided it's the right "Less".
By the way - we're not including these additional options in our "12 = 96" count.
We still have one more trick up our stylish sleeves. The last two pieces in our grouping will appear next week. HINT: You might want to re-read lesson # 10 in preparation.