12 Garments Can Yield Nearly 100 Outfits – Here’s How …

I know it sounds crazy, but it’s TRUE.  If every piece mixes with every other piece, just these 12 garments can give you enough options to dress for an entire season without duplicating an outfit. Of course I’m not expecting you to live with only 12 garments in your closet. But if you start with this wardrobe foundation, each future item you add will give you an amazing pay-off in added versatility.  Pretty soon you’ll be complaining that you don’t go enough cool places to show off all those great outfits.

You may not be able plan a grouping where each of your 12 pieces goes with everything else.  Don’t let that stop you!  If the best you can do is “most pieces work with most other pieces” and your 12 garments only yield 84 outfits … or 72 or 58 or whatever … isn’t that way better than you’re doing now?

So here’s the road map for this amazing wardrobe plan.  You’ll also find it in the LOOKING GOOD book and as a downloadable handout in my class at MyBluprint.com.

The garments pictured are NOT specific style recommendations.  They just represent bottom garments, under-layer tops and over-layer tops.  Feel free to substitute other styles that fit your body, your lifestyle and your preferences.

Here are some examples of charts customized for various lifestyles:  

For additional style options, check these posts on choosing bottoms, under-layer tops and over-layer tops.  The specific recommendations you’ll find there are sewing patterns for my DIY readers.  But even if you don’t sew a stitch, the array of styles shown will expand your thought process before you head to the mall to shop.


About Nancy Nix Rice

I help other women feel confident about how they look every day - regardless of their age, budget, lifestyle or the size tag in their pants - so they put wardrobe concerns on the back burner and go share their gifts with the world.


  1. Amanda Abrell on October 12, 2017 at 7:42 am

    I have trouble finding matching two piece patterned items. Anyone have any ideas where these can be found? I am plus sized.

    • Nancy Nix Rice on October 12, 2017 at 7:50 am

      I assume you are talking about shopping ready-to-wear, where plus-size selection is mostly very limited. You might find a dresmaker in yur area (check http://www.paccprofessionals.org for a recommendation if you need one) who could sew matching bottom and top garments for you.

  2. Chelly on October 12, 2017 at 8:23 am

    Nancy- can you provide an example of the 12-piece capsule where the print options don’t match each other? I know the matching print top & bottom is a great way to extend but I don’t typically buy those.

    • Nancy Nix Rice on October 13, 2017 at 3:26 am

      Doing the capsule wardrobe with one print for a top and a different print for a bottom works exactly the same with just one tiny exception. You just wouldn’t (probably) wear the 2 print pieces together so you get slightly fewer combinations. The challenge is finding multiple prints that work in your capsule color scheme.
      When I was doing the photos of the navy/taupe/cream grouping we feature in the LOOKING GOOD book, I had all the solid pieces in my existing wardrobe but it took me nearly 2 years to find just one print that tied them all together. If I was trying to find two suitable prints we may never have finished the book! Hopefully you’re having better luck than I did.

      • Sherry on October 14, 2017 at 6:29 am

        Finding prints with the scale I feel looks best on me, and in the colors for my personal warm soft coloring , often proves daunting ! Sometimes my chosen colors don’t show up on the market for years ! That is why I shall never have a minimalist closet – having fewer clothes means more frequent laundering, and sooner wear out factors.
        I am a bit of a scarfaholic for cooler weather use, as that is often where I can find a suitable print or pattern when it isn’t available in a top . Having some construction or trim detail on a top or topper can often be used in lieu of a print too.

        • Nancy Nix Rice on October 14, 2017 at 9:51 am

          Warm colors and good prints in general are both tough to find in the marketplace — so unfortunate. Do note that minimalist wardrobing means different things for different women; you can still do it – just not as stringently as someone else. And of course I never mean to suggest that anyone live with just 12 pieces in the closet. That chart is just a good way to communicate the concepts involved and how effective they can be for minimizing wardrobe waste.

  3. Sherry on October 12, 2017 at 8:48 am

    I love, love, love this format ! For my own purposes, however ,I might add one more topper over the tank top on each of the first two illustrations — the first one on the left and the one in the middle. I pretty much wear a topper over every outfit, year round, and mix and match with the other tops and bottoms.

    • Nancy Nix Rice on October 13, 2017 at 3:17 am

      You can almost never go wrong with more additional toppers, that’s for sure. I agree, for me it’s like my AmEx card – I hardly ever leave home without one.

  4. Karen M Brown on October 12, 2017 at 4:49 pm

    Thanks for the reference to our professional organization! We have changed our name to Association of Sewing and Design Professionals, and the website is now http://www.sewingprofessionals.org. (I can’t seem to make that a link; copy and past into your browser will work). This is a group of true professionals, who can make clothing for you that both fits and flatters.

    • Nancy Nix Rice on October 13, 2017 at 3:04 am

      Thanks for the updated link. When I Googled the full new name of the group, it still sent me to the PACC URL. And when I searched ASDP it sent me to some medical group site. Ah… acronyms. Whatever you call it, I love this group of highly skilled professionals. the worse the retail selection becomes, the more they are a lifeline for women who want to dress well and don’t sew themselves.

  5. Gayle on October 14, 2017 at 6:51 am

    I love this concept Nancy and used it a LOT when I was working, except that I never wore pants! Now that I’m retired and wearing pants more, though, I’m finding myself stuck on lengths of tops that work well with both pants and knee length skirts. It seems that each needs a slightly different length top for each? This seems to be particularly true when wearing just two pieces: top and pants or top and skirt. Is there a rule of thumb or a rule of proportions that could be applied here to make length decision making easier?

    • Nancy Nix Rice on October 14, 2017 at 9:58 am

      The easy rule of thumb for proportion is that if there is a color break at the lower edge of the top, it should divide the look into approximately 1/3:2/3. A few ways to make the same tops achieve that proportion with both skirts and pants (1) Diagonal hems on tops, so you don’t get a single defined stopping point at all, (2) tucking either the center front edge or side seam edge of the top into your waistband to create a similar diagonal effect, (3) wearing color-toned tights with your skirt to give a visual proportion just like pants (4) tucking the top into a skirt, but wearing it un-tucked with pants. Of course the less value contrast between top and bottom garments, the less attenion goes to the length anyway.

  6. Melissa on October 24, 2017 at 9:13 am

    Just read all of your October posts and WOW!! I love all the ideas and the pattern recommendations. I SO wish I could be at your class this weekend. I will be looking out for more in the future.

    • Nancy Nix Rice on October 24, 2017 at 4:17 pm

      Thanbks for the kudos – I honestly couldn’t believe how much work those posts were. We’ll miss you this weekend, but another Ohio Style School seems to be coming together – somewhere near the center of the state this time. Watch the newsletter for details as they develop – probably for early 2018.

  7. Jean Hehl on November 18, 2017 at 9:40 am

    I took the Craftsy class & yesterday received the book!! There is sooo much information in there I can’t wait to get started! I’ve been losing weight the last couple of years, 30 down & 40 to go, but almost ready to clean out the closet of current size. I’ve kept a lot of clothes from years ago so it might get interesting! I did do the seasons thing in the 80’s (a spring) & I do have a few things that are pretty much classic designs that will work to start with. But what an inspiration to keep losing weight knowing I’ll finally look good! I am 75 tho!! 🙂

    • Nancy Nix Rice on November 19, 2017 at 1:33 pm

      BRAVO for you! We deserve to feel great about how we look at every age/size/lifestyle. Enjoy the journey and by all means send me some photos to share with the group.

  8. Patricia J Clements on December 16, 2017 at 9:33 am

    Try visiting Spoonflower.com. The fabric designs you choose are printed on a wide assortment of fabric choices. You can order 8″ samples on your choice of fabric to check the colors and fabric choice. Part of the search engine allows you to key in your color choices.

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