Suddenly those festive/casual occasions are filling up everyone’s calendar — office parties, neighborhood get-togethers, the church music festival — when we want to look in tune with the season but stay comfortable and understated. A pants + dressy top is an easy formula for many occasions, and much fresher if you swap out the standard black pant for an elegant winter white or ivory one.
As the mom of identical twin daughters, I’ve been partial to multiples for nearly 3 decades. But today I’m talking about a different kind of multiples — adding more than one of the same item to your wardrobe. It can be an easy, efficient and effective way to build your basic wardrobe with sure-fire favorites and a minimal amount of time spent shopping. Here are examples I like well enough to double-up on them in my own wardrobe …
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.
FIRST – an over-layer top doesn’t have to be a tailored jacket. You can get an overview of the more casual options HERE. We’re just going to call it a jacket for now because that’s easier than saying “over-layer top” again and again.
Over-layer tops (aka “jackets”) provide the greatest opportunity to customize the 12-piece wardrobe plan to your own lifestyle, taste and body type. And sewing your own lets you tap into the exact mix of color, style and fit that’s right for you. From tailored blazers to jean jackets, draped cardigans, vests and even zippered hoodies, these over-layers literally double your mix/match options while they let you create a sleeker, slimmer look and camouflage figure challenges. What’s not to like?
Let’s start with the most casual iterations and move to more dressed up options.
If you’re sewing your 12-piece wardrobe, your under-layer tops can take many shapes and styles — from tanks to turtlenecks, pullovers, button-ups and many more. Since I’m a big fan of layering top garments, I usually prefer sleeveless or short-sleeved “unders” so I’m not struggling to fit a long sleeve under another long sleeve. (However you can side-step that issue by choosing vests for your over-layers.) Unders that fit realtively close to the body make layering easier, too. And classic styling will give you more versatility than unders with too much bulky, frou-frou detailing.
It is amazing – but true – that just twelve well-chosen pieces can give you a wardrobe of nearly 100 different outfits. And if you sew, it is far easier to create just the right pieces. But with all the vast possibilities … where do you start? Let’s begin with some pattern recommendations that will help you adapt our basic Capsule Wardrobe chart to your own lifestyle and preferences. The drawings on the chart are just place-holders. Think of them as Bottoms, Under-Layer Tops and Over-Layer Tops … not necessarily the specific items sketched on the diagram.
The very easiest way to build an outfit — or indeed a fully-coordinated wardrobe — the the Column of Color — a matching top (the over or the under layer) and bottom garment you can finish with contrast accent pieces and accessories to look effortlessly polished. To often, though, those matching (or blending) pieces are nearly impossible to find in anything other than black … and you know my recommendation about black.
Kathleen is a “graduate” of my Craftsy.com video class about wardrobe development. She immediately started out to develop her perfect Capsule Wardrobe and I thought you’d like to peek in on her progress, especially since she was kind enough to share some terrific collages of her selections. Kathleen is an avid sewing enthusiast, but her process should be just as instructive and inspiring to readers who buy their clothing ready-made. Here is her styling story …
Cecile emailed from the Netherlands with some concerns about the early steps of updating her wardrobe. She had taken my wardrobing class on Craftsy.com and was starting to apply the information to her own closet.
Cecile: After sorting my wardrobe I found that all colors that are even a little bit cool or lighter than my skin are unflattering. I love the remaining colors : dark brown, aubergine, dark red, dark, fiery orange and moss green, but after removing all the blues, light greens, greys and pinks I worry that the remaining color scheme might become boring … how do I keep things interesting?