Maximizing Mix & Match for Any Lifestyle – Part 1

Have you repeatedly been seduced by a “great bargain” or “it looks darling on the mannequin”  or “honey, it’s YOU” … and ended up with a closetful of “nothing to wear”?

Let me show you exactly how easy it can be to develop a real wardrobe – the kind that lets you reach into your closet blindfolded, pull out any item and readily build at least 3 great-looking outfits around it.

I nearly always start clients’ wardrobes with a Core Four in one of her most flattering neutrals – two different bottoms + one underlayer top + one overlayer.  We choose the specific styles and fabrics that fit her personality and lifestyle.   Here’s an example in universally-flattering navy blue:

core four

Those 4 garments can create 4 Color Columns.  Being a dress-up dork personally, I chose more tailored garments for my example.  But your bottom garments could be dark jeans,  navy shorts, or yoga pants.  Your under-layer top might be a navy T-shirt, tank or cami and your topper possibly a zip-front sweatshirt, a cardigan sweater or a button-front shirt worn open. Regardless of the specific styles, the concept will still work the same way.

Either bottom + under-layer top makes an “inside column” that you can wear alone or finish with a contrast over-layer.  Either bottom + over-layer top makes an “outside column” that you can vary with an array of contrast under-layers.

color columns

Check back next week to see how we work in those contrast pieces to make more looks than you’d ever imagine.

What neutral pieces will you use for your Core Four?  Maybe you have some pieces in closely-related neutral in your current closet – that’s a great place to start. Challenge yourself to use a starting point other than black.  I’d love to see pics of your choices.


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. Sonja Brandt on June 24, 2016 at 7:50 pm

    Can you direct me to the capsule you speak of in your email. The last email I got was back in November. None in spam.

    • Nancy Nix Rice on June 24, 2016 at 8:08 pm

      The original one I referenced was several years ago on a previous site and no longer available. But people still tell me how much they enjoyed it, hence the new updated one here. You can find even more details about capsule wardrobeing in the book LOOKING GOOD … Every Day. It is available through out web store.

  2. Elaine Earnshaw on June 27, 2016 at 8:05 pm

    You have a navy rayon spandex on your website that is suitable for blonds. Is that fabric also suitable for jackets, dresses, tops and pants to make up the 4-core capsule. I like a fairly tailored look. I will probably need about about 7 yards. I was pleased you included four patterns in your Craftsy class.

  3. Elaine Earnshaw on July 2, 2016 at 6:51 pm

    Nancy, I think I know the answer to my question on the 4-core capsule. I would make up a pencil skirt, jacket and pants in the navy rayon spandex ponte knit and then get a lighter weight knit for a matching top. I could then add to this from your suggestions in Step 2 and 3. The patterns I use would suggest the types of fabrics. Wish I could erase my question as it wasn’t too smart.

    • Nancy Nix Rice on July 2, 2016 at 10:25 pm

      Actually not a dumb question at all. I personally like to do both. i use the ponte for a sleeveless or cap sleeve shell – either the
      Pamela’s Pattern one I showed in the video or the top portion of the princess dress pattern cut off to shell length. I can pair that with the pencil skirt for a sheath dress look and layer any of the toppers over it. I also do a long-sleeve soft top out of the matching jersey that i can use all kinds of ways. Although it isn’t on the web site, I do have a rayon/spandex jersey in the dyed-to-match navy. You might also consider doing both a narrow leg and a straight leg pant in the same navy — knowing how hard navy can be to match later on. After all, you wouldn’t think twice about having two – or many more – pairs or black pants would you?

  4. Katharine in Brussels on August 1, 2016 at 1:14 pm

    Hi Nancy, I’m a fan from the days of your first Looking Good book! I love your Core Four idea and am (somewhat quickly) putting together an office wardrobe of maternity wear as I’m trying to keep pace with my waistline 🙂 the other awesome part of a second trimester wardrobe is that it will be useful the same season a year later as one’s figure adjusts back from having baby, and as a sewist I can take in seams or chop off tunic hems to a more flattering height. So whatever effort you put in, you can reap the benefits now and later (some maternity pants and skirts, of course, really are best to just keep with maternity panels and give to someone else when you’re done). Nancy, at some point though the only thing that feels good are dresses to avoid an itchy belly. So I have modified your Core Four idea to incorporate some one-piece dresses, which does lower the interchangeability factor, but hey, maternity wardrobes are a little limited by nature. The big take-away from your article here is that I can focus on accessories so that my clothes don’t look so repetitive. Thank you. Your advice is so useful in so many situations!

    • Nancy Nix Rice on August 1, 2016 at 5:12 pm

      Love hearing how you are adapting the Core Four concept for your specific needs. You are so right that it is the principles – much more than the specific formula – that make a versatile wardrobe. Would love to see baby pics when he or she arrives.

  5. Katharine in Brussels on August 3, 2016 at 1:37 pm

    Thanks so much! I’ll keep you posted ?

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