Breakthrough! (Shout out to Steph - Mrs. Eccentric)

Shout out to ALL of you, actually.

Subtitle: All I Really Need to Know Was Sitting in My Lap

Una said that her angst filled moments usually preceded a breakthrough. I'm like that in my creative work. Looks like I'm like that with wardrobe planning, too.

Because just as she predicted, I've had my breakthrough.

It arose out of a PM from Steph (Mrs. Eccentric) and a subsequent conversation. Now, I tend to listen to Steph. As you know, she was the catalyst for my first big style breakthrough, about a year ago.

Like many of you, in our most recent conversation, she had lots of good insights and experience to share regarding my sense that my wardrobe lacks a core.

And the crux of my problem, she suggested, was that I need to pick one dark and one light neutral and start building the wardrobe around those.

How many times have I seen and read that advice?

And how many times have I said, "Yes, yes...that makes sense." And then gone out and bought whatever fit and whatever I could get my hands on, as long as it was in a semi-flattering colour that "went" with the rest of my wardrobe somehow.

Or said by myself, "Yes, yes, but "my" neutrals are never available, and in the meantime, I need something to wear!!!" Or, "Yes, yes, that's all very well, but I happen to LOVE colour and it makes me happy." Or, "I know, I know. But black is so USEFUL and DRAMATIC." Or, "Yes, yes, it sounds really good in theory, but I don't look good in a light neutral. SSB? No thank you! And even light grey is "iffy" on me....those light colours just wash me out completely!"

And so on.

All of my objections, by the way, are true. And - let's face it. A year ago my closet was essentially empty. I wasn't crazy to think I needed to populate it with SOMETHING ASAP. A girl can't go round naked in my climate.

So I populated it. With sale rack finds. With consignments finds. With the occasional "real" purchase. And then felt disappointed at the mish-mash that resulted.

Sure, it was better fitting and much more fashionable than my previous wardrobe. Sure, it was somewhat more expressive of who I am. And it certainly worked better for most of the occasions I'm called on to attend.


Don't get me wrong. For some people, it would be perfect. This is temperamental. Some people crave variety, don't mind lots of different colours in their wardrobes, and have no problem with what, to me, was visual noise.

Those of you who were mystified about why I felt I needed a core may well belong to the group that LIKES mishmash. Or the group that loves a large wardrobe. Nothing wrong with that. It's just a different preference!

But I am who I am, and I need coherence. Not just because I have an OCD streak, LOL. But because without it, I'm not fully expressing my ideal fashion personality.

I will be EVERLASTINGLY grateful to Angie and her guidelines to dress for our dominant climate and lifestyle - these are two ideas that I feel have really had an impact and made it possible for me in the past year to get dressed most mornings and feel reasonably good in an outfit. .

But despite that, my wardrobe was still lacking in what I longed for - that indefinable sense of "chic" and coherence.

Unifying neutrals. Unifying neutrals. But what?

Black? Well, I still have a closetful of it (especially bottoms) but it's not the kindest to my face.

Beige? Totally, completely soul-sucking on me, in all its permutations. ANYTHING with a yellow undertone spells death to my complexion.

Tan? Even worse than beige. (Though I adore tan accessories like bags, etc.)

Light grey? Well...maybe. But while charcoal and medium greys look quite nice on me, lighter greys can really wash me out unless it is summer and I have had some sun. Plus, I associate light grey with my mom in the 80s. I DO like a soft dove grey now and again....but as my basic wardrobe? Not so much.

White? I can "get away" with it as an accent, but winter white is much better for me - and naturally, 10 times as hard to find.


Then Steph innocently said, "It doesn't have to be a dark and a light neutral. It could be two darks if you are comfortable wearing darks."

I pondered. I thought. And I realized...I'm a fairly low contrast person. While I really enjoy high contrast outfits on others, and occasionally wear high contrast items/outfits myself with some success, typically I look better in MEDIUM tones with some dark or light for accent.

Steph also said, in passing, about her own neutrals, that she wore them on a continuum. It's not just ivory. It's ivory, cream, tan.

AHA! Bingo!!!!! Lights flashing up in the tired ancient brain.

So...what if my neutrals were:

Blue - everything from ink blue to navy to a soft smoky grey blue or blue-grey - INCLUDING, of course, that complete staple of my work-at-home wardrobe, and with what good fortune, some of my most flattering colours of all, DENIM blues. Oh - and bonus - navy/ ink blue/ and other blues work with black.

TAUPE - yes, taupe - that indefinable greyish/brown mousy tone (like my own mousy colouring) that never washes me out (unlike beige). Taupe, that colour beloved of avant-garde designers ALMOST as much as black. Taupe, that soft, unassuming neutral that works so brilliantly not just with blue, but with several other of my favourite accent colours....not to mention with all the BLACK that I still have in my wardrobe and can't easily purge. And with white/off-white.


I then took another leaf from Steph and checked out the wardrobe planning sheets on Sewing Plum. These are brilliant - more flexible than many I've seen, and a great set of basic guidelines.

I have already started formulating some concrete wardrobe plans. The MINUTE I hit on this neutral palette, I could see gaping, horrible holes, not-quite- emergency-needs, and desires (and I could distinguish between these). I will write a post about that this weekend.

But in the meantime, taupe, in general is a big hole in my wardrobe right now. I do have some items, not all of which mix and match perfectly (due to the tone of taupe, mainly) but some of which do, and all of which mix well with my blues.

One thing I do NOT have is a taupe jacket of any description, apart from my consigned glen plaid jacket, which is sort of bordering on brown/tan. And since jackets are my signature item, I think it would be a good investment.

Instead of a blazer, I was wondering, what do we think of this jacket from Danier? Anyone seen it in person?

Oh. And why do I say the answer was sitting in my lap?'s tough to see Max's eyes. But believe me, they are beautiful blue. And doesn't he look great on that dark blue couch?

Thank you, all, again, and more to come!

This post is also published in the youlookfab forum. You can read and reply to it in either place. All replies will appear in both places.


  • MsMary replied 8 years ago

    Hooray! I love it when a plan comes together!

    Well done, Grasshopper!

  • Ingunn replied 8 years ago

    It's so interesting to read about your struggles, because I so relate to them! Good luck with the plan, it sounds like a marvelous solution. The color choices are truly versatile, and can be found in any value from very light to very dark. Excellent! I might steal that idea.

    BTW, have you seen my leather jacket in today's post about winter white? Would you call it taupe or beige? I'm not sure.

  • MNsara replied 8 years ago

    This IS exciting! How encouraging that you can narrow the field (so to speak) and concentrate on the blues and taupes. I'm a taupe lover from waaay back and most of my house has taupe walls -- so calming without being SSB.

    I can hardly wait for your write-up this weekend, but for now I'm heading to read the sewingplum link.

    You know, I've been letting you sort this all out while I'm taking notes. . . ;-)

    ETA: I love the jacket you posted. It definitely has some edge, but still a fairly traditional moto style. I think it'll result in a more sophisticated style than something OTT avant garde would :-)

  • Astrid replied 8 years ago

    That's fantastic, Suz! This actually resonates so much with me, I was nodding along all the time while reading it. I don't know if you remember, but I once did a post about neutral colors and accent colors and so on I wanted to build my wardrobe with. And somehow this got lost completely on the way! Like you I bought stuff that looked okay and somehow went with the rest, but with a smaller wardrobe that's probably not the smartest strategy. I actually think about going back to the idea now too. I'm planning so many new and important purchases that now would be the right time for it. I'm feeling like I know much better by now what I want my style to look like and maybe now would be a sensible time to take up the planning again. I'm still wanting that minimal wardrobe after all.

    As for the colors you chose, I can see them perfectly as your neutrals! I think that was the right choice, your core wardrobe will be wonderful. I'm actually not one for high contrast either, I wear it a lot less than I did even last year and feel better about it.

    The only thing that makes me hesitate is the fact that I will have to replace some things again and all that with a student budget.

  • Sara L. replied 8 years ago

    Interesting post! I enjoy reading about your though processes in coming up with your neutral palette. I wish you luck in filling those wardrobe holes that have now become obvious.

  • Nadya replied 8 years ago

    What a breakthrough! I love how one epiphany led to a cascade of analysis and knowledge on how to move forward. And goodness, yes, on the jacket. I can see it as an essential in that it make a lot of outfits work, but it also has an edge that keeps it from being boring.

    So happy for you! I don't have your exact unease about a core, but once I realized a few months ago that having clothes I don't wear frequently goves me agida, my wardrobe planning is a lot easier and I am working towards more repeats of great clothes rather than too much variety. (Too much being defined only by my personal, arbitrary, intuitive recognition of it.)

  • Claudia replied 8 years ago

    Makes perfect sense to me. Thanks for sharing the insights and how you got there.

  • Transcona Shannon replied 8 years ago

    Positively BRILLIANT Suz!

    First of all, you're so right: everyone has a preference as to how to build their wardrobe and what kind of wardrobe they're after. You need to do this YOUR way and I applaud your thought process in the whole matter. And bless Steph for helping you reach your breakthrough :)

    I'm excited for you and look forward to seeing you build your neat and tidy blue and taupe wardrobe. Navy and taupe, in all their variations, are gorgeous together.

    I've seen the Danier jacket you've linked top and it is lovely. Very soft leather, beautiful subtle drape to it. It's got enough structure to it to satisfy your love of structure but it also has a slight boho-moto (can those go together?) feel. This could really work for you.

    Keep us posted!

  • Mo replied 8 years ago

    So happy to read of your breakthrough! I guess I decided on my colors long ago and sort of forgot about that as a step towards a cohesive closet. Or maybe I'd assumed you'd already chosen yours way back.
    Can't wait to see your taupe additions - it's a newer color to me that I just love.

  • MsMary replied 8 years ago

    And I have to come back to say I think that jacket would be just too, too fab on you!

  • replied 8 years ago


    So let it be written. So let it be done.

  • MsMary replied 8 years ago

    Alicat, that's awesome!

  • Zapotee replied 8 years ago

    Sounds like a plan. I'm a taupe lover especially for footwear and bags.

    Color is a great unificator. My wardrobe has a very well defined color palette, centered around black, cream, tweed, denim and white as my neutrals. I use a lot of black and white prints as neutrals as well. Accent colors are primarily blues and reds. I also pay attention to outerwear. I am hesitant to buy bags in the same colors as my coats, with few exceptions. I don't want them to clash. I designed it this way for ease of packing. It does work!

  • Suz replied 8 years ago

    Thank you, everyone. I'll be super-glad if this is helpful to anyone else.

    And yes, Malina - it IS a basic strategy. And I KNEW it all along. But the thing is, I wasn't ready to hear it or practice it. The reality was, my closet really WAS empty when I began. I didn't have time to wait for the perfect piece. I had to get something to wear.

    Now I'm in a much different position. I have a fairly small and well-edited but still not coherent closet. But at least I can think about moving things out as I move things in. And I can move in the direction I want without doing it all at once.

    My first additions will be all about filling holes first in my neutrals.

    My edits will be about slowly letting go of those neutrals that aren't truly mine, although I do intend always to keep SOME black in the wardrobe - as an accent colour.

    My second edits will involve purging those clothes that are in my colours but not my style. Anyone who saw Una's K/R dress post will know what I mean. I think I have had an intuitive grasp of my colours for a while and have indeed made purchases in those colours. BUT. In many cases the items don't reflect my style.

    No wonder I felt confused - I had SOME items that were in my style (but not my colours). And other items that were in my colours (but not my style). Now I see more how to move forward.

    By the way, I am not getting rid of colour. My main "accent" colours will be:

    cranberry & raspberry reds

    I hope that's not too many extra colours. I'll also be working some greys in there, I'm sure.

  • MsMary replied 8 years ago

    Squee! This is so exciting!

  • sarah replied 8 years ago

    Suz, I just love your musings. These neutrals seem wonderful for you, and that jacket is TDF.

  • Suz replied 8 years ago

    Alas! Jacket is not available in my size in that colour.
    Oh well.....will keep searching.....

  • anne replied 8 years ago

    Suz, as usual a most interesting post. I am glad you are feeling like you have a handle on the next stage of your wardrobe journey! I am looking forward to that weekend post from you!

  • Lisa replied 8 years ago

    Yay, great insight here. My own wardrobe has a similar issue with my cold weather clothes. I wear lots of blue and grey in the winter months, but don't have light colors to balance out all the dark outfits. On my list for this year is lighter layering tops and sweaters to add to my wardrobe to lighten the blues and greys. I also adore purple with a heavy blue based wardrobe.

  • texstyle replied 8 years ago

    Suz, I'm so glad to read about your breakthrough. It reminds me so much of any type of big design project where the color palette is so KEY to success. If you've ever tried to design something like a restaurant space or even a living room/dining room area and agonized over color choices, you've gone through a similar exercise. And sometimes it takes weeks or months to choose. Color is probably the most important decision we all have to make right next to fit and function. But it's hard to do and esp. I think hard when it comes to fashion as we're drawn in by so many distractions. My own closet has shrunk a bit over the last year but I still feel like I'm holding on to things I will not really wear. Why? Often because I still love the color of the item, even though it doesn't fit in with the rest of my "core."

    I love the jacket you posted - I'm not sure if I've seen you in that color so I guess I'd need to see it on you to know for sure.

  • Glory replied 8 years ago

    Love the jacket. Try calling Danier and see if they have one. I was there last week and they phoned the other stores for me. Definately worth a try. Do you have a Danier there?

  • replied 8 years ago

    Wow! That has to be one of the longest posts I've ever read -- and one of the most insightful. Your struggle with neutrals mirrors my own. I still haven't found the perfect shade of taupe for pants. I'm still looking. And navy has to be a certain shade that's grayed, not inky or extremely dark. But aren't we lucky that winter white is in? It's so much better on me than white. I share your experience with that. As for light gray, I agree. I finally decided that medium gray would be my "light" shade and charcoal would be my dark shade. I'm happy with those 2 grays, thank you very much. I'm not a gifted writer. I'm more of a visual learner, and I'm musical. I love your musings. You put to words all the things I've struggled with. Let me know how your wardrobe shapes up. I'm sure you'll be happy with a cohesive core.

  • Vix replied 8 years ago

    Hi Suz --

    So glad you realized what you were missing (and why you were missing it and/or resisting the strategy).

    Taupe will be beautiful on you and will help you echo your hair year-round when so many of us cooler-toned brunettes gravitate to black or charcoal.

    And the right pieces may help you salvage the items you like that aren't quite right for you color-wise...taupe over/under black, for instance, or as a counterpoint to warmer tones.

    Hope you can track down that leather jacket in your size!

    ps Go Max! There's a high-drama look for you to emulate. [We have a grey-blue eyed cat whose fur mixes cool greys, black, white, taupe, and warmer greys. Nature gives us many a beautiful inspiration....]

  • mrseccentric replied 8 years ago

    Suz, this is so exciting and i cannot get over your gorgeous kitty and how perfectly he wears your colors! That is a helluva surprise ending for your piece!!

    i think your neutral color palette will be truly elegant and yummy on you. And like in Angie's recent post it's reflecting the colors in your hair, eyes, and complexion. Can i just say man i love taupe So. Much. truly, i wear neutrals because they are so damn yummy!!

    and thank you so much for the credit (red face). Shannon, you're a sweetie :) Isn't is amazing how (for some of us at least!) the right concept at the right time just opens our eyes to so many things we'd struggle with - suddenly we can see the holes, we can see what we love and what was bugging us about our clothes, we can see the overall structure we desire......

    sewing plum's wardrobe tools are incredibly helpful. i so appreciate how she focuses on casual capsules and wardrobes much more than the 'office appropriate' clothing which tends to be the focus of so much wardrobe planning. Office people need clothing but so do retired people, stay at home spouses, moms on the go, volunteers, etc. It's nice to find advice about that too!

    IMHO the way you started off filling your closet was just right. When you're starting from ground zero and you are unfamiliar with your bod, style, climate, new job, whatever it is so sensible to start off small and cheap (not to be vulgar, but......). That way you can learn about your preferences without making expensive mistakes that you feel you have to 'stand by' because they were so costly.

    This reminds me of my dad's fave quote, by Mark Twain: "Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society". True dat! take care and give Max a nice rub from me, steph

  • replied 8 years ago

    Max has been wearing your colors all along! I love that!

    I was reading this post on the very edge of my seat because I have so many of the same struggles with neutrals as you do. I was nodding and amen-ing about the SSB and the fact that black, while practical, dramatic, and readily available is not always the best dark neutral for some of us.

    My own closet contains a lot of blue by default. Everything from navy to the shades of denim to oxford cloth light blue. I've always considered denim blue to be a neutral (and it certainly works that way in my wardrobe). Soft white is stellar on me too. And TAUPE! My pleather jacket from Express is taupe (clay) and when I saw the color on me, that's what made me bite the bullet and buy it on the spot. I think for the amount of wear your jacket would get you will want real leather, but here's a link to mine just in case:
    The extra-small would be perfect for you (I got the small).

    Also may I recommend a natural snakeskin for a handbag or boots? It combines taupe and grey together very nicely!

    This is all SO exciting Suz. I'm so glad you wrote this post. After reading your comments on Angie's blog I wasn't sure how long we'd be in suspense about your neutrals! You are such a brilliant writer and are able to articulate so well the problems that many of us struggle with. I could really relate to all of your "Yes, but"s!

  • rae replied 8 years ago

    Fabulous read! Hm, Max kind of wears all your colors, doesn't he? Blue, a continuum of taupe, cream... I always knew cats were the answer to everything. ;)

    I am thinking of that blue sort of shimmery dress you bought on sale recently. Even though it didn't feel like you to YOU, we were all falling over ourselves seeing you in that color. Blue as your neutral feels so right.

    And. I love the jacket you posted, too. Maybe a bit snugger than the model is wearing hers, so the structure comes through. It looks like you can do the zipper up for a high neck, too, so that has me excited! Picturing that jacket over blue jeans and any number of your tops, and the picture is FAB.

  • Suz replied 8 years ago

    Ah...thank you, everyone. Alas, the jacket is no longer available in my size, so I will have to keep looking. But the quest is on!

    Claire - I was thinking of you all the time yesterday as I came to my realization. And I may well order a jacket like yours if I can't find a leather one soon....

    And I DID just order a snake bag. It is more black/white without taupe in it, but it will harmonize, I think.

    Even that inexpensive leopard print scarf we got last year. I wore it CONSTANTLY. Well, guess what? It is technically probably more tan than taupe, but because of all the black, grey, and teal blue in it, it sort of "reads" taupe (don't you think, Claire?) Anyway, it suit us both down to the ground.

    The shiny dress everybody loved is actually a sort of teal. But that's going to be one of my accent colours, so it's okay. ;-)

    I DO wear a ton of blue, too - always have - but I think now I will be a bit more focused in which blues I pick, as well. Different tones for different seasons, perhaps.

  • rachylou replied 8 years ago

    As soon as I started reading, I started thinking "blue! blue! what about blue?!" Then magically, you said blue! LOL.

    I still don't think I understand what a core is, but I surely would like to know because I think it would help me understand my own wardrobe. Because I totally understand what you were saying about shopping. I am a messy shopper.

  • nancylee replied 8 years ago

    So happy for you, Suz! Breakthroughs are a wonderful feeling. And it's so true that a feeling of being lost often precedes a big breakthrough (you've probably experienced this in your writing process, right?).

    Taupe and blue are perfect partners. Can't wait to see what you come up with going forward. :)

  • merwoman replied 8 years ago

    Woo hoo! So glad to hear of your break-through! There are 3 daniers (ajax, Pickering, Oshawa) by me - let me know if you would like me to check out the jacket for quality or size availabilty.

  • Suz replied 8 years ago

    Jacket's not available, but thanks, Merwoman! I'll keep looking elsewhere.

  • Sylvie replied 8 years ago

    Brilliant wardrobe breakthrough! I frankly wasn't quite sure what you meant by not having a core (because I thought you did) but seeing that your issue was "colour" puts it all together now. Pick two neutrals, even if they're dark. It makes perfect sense!

  • Angie replied 8 years ago

    Glad that things are clearer for you, Suz! Steph is your style muse :)

  • Ginkgo replied 8 years ago

    Excellent, Suz! I spent part of yesterday evening googling brown/cream/gray scarves to tie my wardrobe together and came up with good ones.

    A little off topic here, but I was remembering how you said you would be in Vancouver next month and might squeeze in some shopping, and Elisabeth has mentioned before a favorite boutique where she buys her favorite pieces. You might want to check it out! I bookmarked the shop's website on my home computer (ready for the next Vancouver trip) but I'm not at home now and can't quickly find the name of it in Elisabeth's postings. With you find this particular shop or not, please fit in some shopping time for yourself in Vancouver! Send you husband and daughter off on another activity and take some time for yourself.

  • Beth Ann replied 8 years ago

    Suz -- my ds was up all night long with the flu (sorry) and I literally found myself thinking about your closet issues as I struggled to be a good mama and stay awake. You and I are physical opposites, but both creative types, and I often learn a lot from your posts. I understand the desire to present your arty side without looking drab or whackadoodle, and I so wanted to be of help, but I had no insight to offer. sigh.

    Imagine how happy I was to hear of your breakthrough! As a musician who often "writes" programs, I so get the agony before the breakthrough! Your plan sounds perfect.

    Can't wait to see the results. (Now, off to check on ds!)

  • cciele replied 8 years ago

    So happy for you Suz! Your excitement totally comes through in your post. Those colors are going to work so well as your foundation. And I love that you'll have a matching kitty :)

  • shiny replied 8 years ago

    Yeah! Nice break through! You are lucky that it is perfectly timed with trends, seeing as how navy is in right now. You can replace and build your wardrobe a lot faster now. What about cobalt? Is that in your palette too, as accent or otherwise? And what color eyes do you have?

    Taupe: I am never all that clear on what is taupe and what is not. I guess it's one of those "you know it when you see it" colors. But if that leather jacket is taupe, then yes, that is a great color for you and goes well with your hair.

    I had similar breakthrough myself, years ago, early YLF, when I realized that my closet had two personalities, one was based on browns and warm autumn colors, and the other based on black and cool blue-based tones. I'd go back and forth between the two wardobes... depending on what shades of highlights my hairdresser added. I have a lot of red in my hair, my sister and mom in fact are both redheads.. but on flip side I cannot do ash-toned highlights at all; completely wash me out... according to my hairdresser, I am a "neutral" blonde. Neither cool nor warm. Which may explain why I had such a schizophrenic closet.

    Anyway, I decided that I was going to stick with cool tones and slowly gravitate away from the browns/warm tones. So in effect I was dong similar to what you are doing here. I suppose I picked black and white as my two neutrals. I do wear a lot of gray as well -- in any shade from dark charcoal to medium charcoal to light gray (that Theory shift is one of my favorite shades of gray to wear). As for white I like anything from optic white to cream all the way to something like this (*drool*):

    I do think navy looks better on me, too but I have a love/hate affair with navy.... I do not really like flat navy's. Or the kind of navy that reads "nautical," if you know what I mean.

    I love your list of accent colors. I'd suggest not ruling out the rare high contrast, surprise color. I think I look good in high contrast, but like you, I gravitate more towards medium contrast. But every now and then I want BOLD. Like that hot pink skirt. And my cobalt wool coat. Neither one of those colors are colors that I'd collect and consider a "core" accent color for me. One or two items here and there is enough to add a jolt when you want a jolt.

    On topic of accent colors, it intrigues me you picked cranberry for your red. Everyone has their red, no? We could do a whole post on that topic! When you say cranberry, you mean more of a blue-based red rather than a tomato or "true" (aka lipstick) red, right?

    Oh! And what about jewelry? I also tend to think it's good to settle on a metal: silver, gold, or bronze. You can still wear any, but for hardware on bags and investment pieces, and if you want a minimal wardrobe, it really helps to pick one or the other. Mine is silver, for sure. I do wear the others but I'm 80/20.

  • tarzy replied 8 years ago

    Yay! And yay for Steph for breaking it down in such a helpful way!

  • replied 8 years ago

    Suz, great conclusion, or maybe start? I loved having my colours done, I think it was more than 50% of my battle with my closet

    Anyhoo, Cleo's has faux leather jackets, they are rather nice (sleeves too long on me) if you don't absolutely have to have leather

  • Ruby Tuesday replied 8 years ago

    That is a great breakthrough Suz, it feels like you have refined your colour palette in a way which is not restrictive to you. Good luck plugging those holes.

  • Debbie replied 8 years ago

    I have been watching your journey closely. Seems like you are really getting a handle on what works for you!

  • catgirl replied 8 years ago

    Woot! You are the Usain Bolt of fashion breakthroughs, because that was fast! Can't wait to see this play out - now you're through the hard part and back into the fun part. :)

  • Gaylene replied 8 years ago

    Great post, Suz. I kept nodding my head as I was reading your post; you've exactly expressed the dilemma that so many of us have when we are trying to figure out our core colors for our wardrobes. And Steph's statement about variations is one of those concepts that seems so straight-forward when someone says it, but is also an AHA moment for me.

    Black for winter, navy for spring, white for summer, and cognac for fall. There it is--my core. Thanks so much Steph and Suz!!

  • Suz replied 8 years ago

    Wow, Gaylene - that is so clever. A SEASONAL neutrals palette!

    One thing that used to hang me up was the idea that my neutrals for for my accessories. Where can one find navy shoes? (Well, I know they exist, but usually in old-lady styles, until recently, that is...)

    Now I realize, no - it's my CLOTHES that start in the neutrals and my accessories can be whatever darn colour I like! (And I like LOTS of colours for those!) Of course i can have neutral accessories, too.

    Jennifer, lots of great questions and observations. We have much in common. I'm a "cool" summer but there is enough gold in my hair (coloured of course, but I was born a strawberrry blonde) to fool some people and the person who did my colours thought I was a neutral or even an autumn at first! But I'm cools work best on me. However, I do love deep chocolate brown (and can wear it well) and so a few years ago when brown was "in" I wore a lot of it.

    I'll definitely wear pops of cobalt, fuchsia, etc. I don't rule ANY colour out. I just realized that I need to settle on what my "fundamentals" will be before adding too many more additions. Once the core is in place I'm happy to continue to mix it up. (And of course to replace core pieces as they wear or date.) It will take me a LONG time to build up the core, however. I'm missing lots of stuff.

    We could definitely have a topic on "what's your red." Mine is definitely a blue-red. Anything from raspberry to cranberry to burgundy.

    Oh, and for jewelry - I wear it all, but I look best in silver or rose gold.

    Gingko - thank you - I will check in with Elisabeth! I suspect I might actually know which boutique she's referring to!

    Thanks again - one and all!

  • catgirl replied 8 years ago

    My pinterest board REALLY helps me realize how much I gravitate toward very specific colors. And I like the way it all looks, actually.

  • Gaylene replied 8 years ago

    This isn't such a hard thing once the light bulb goes off, is it, Suz. I mean, once I looked in my closet, I could see the beginnings of each seasonal capsule quite clearly; my biggest problem was that each seasonal capsule was only partially completed, making it harder to pull things together.

    And I had the dawning realization that the colors in each of my seasonal capsules could quite nicely overlap to create a variety of transitional capsules. And that my pops of color in purples, blues, and greens worked with all my seasons, especially if I varied the tones and shades. And that grey and cognac accessories could work just as well as black-- and be quite a bit more interesting. And that a light-grey sweater could work for all my seasons....

    All of a sudden, I can start to see something really interesting happening. WOW!!! I owe you and Steph a major THANK YOU!

  • Ariadne replied 8 years ago

    Suz, this is so interesting and timely! I have all my fall clothes laid out on my bed and am noticing a lot of color overlap (ink blue, other blues, off white, black, grey) with a few outliers (raspberry, mustard, neon pink...). Bitter chocolate brown and cognac show up too (mostly in accessories).

    I love your color choices and will be following to see where this revelation takes you.

  • Elly replied 8 years ago

    So glad your not driving yourself batty anymore (although it probably led to this gem busting through)!

    It is a lovely lovely set of observations that I think will serve you well. The points about being able to pick 2 neutrals of any type and also using other neutrals as accents or secondary colors are very good. I need to remember those!

    Me, I recently realized I shouldn't have written grey off. There is a shade for me, it is just that the blue greys were so popular so long that nothing I tried on in grey looked good on me. Despite being one that should be able to wear brown, browns are tricky, just like tans/beige/taupe and cream/white--- super dark neutrals are no brainers. Black and the super dark colors bring out my constrast and intensity, as do bright, rich colors.

  • Scarlet replied 8 years ago

    Congratulations! And *fist bump* to another low-contrast mushroom lover.

  • Mona replied 8 years ago

    Oh Man, my family is planning a trip to Kew Gardens today and here I am reading your post and getting all excited about your breakthrough. This is brilliant. I did not know about the concept of picking one dark and one light neutral to start building my wardrobe. I have to build my wardrobe from ground zero and this concept will help me tremendously as a starting point.

  • Nova replied 8 years ago

    Suz, thanks so much for posting this. I had gone through the same thing in my style journey, but didn't know how to describe it. This has helped me to realize why I am so drawn to higher contrast clothes. With my pale skin, dark blue eyes, and hair I look much more alive in clothes with a higher contrast. Thanks for the epiphany.

  • Preppy Pear replied 8 years ago

    Love the colors, love hearing about your style journey! To me, everything I've seen you wear in the brief time I've been on YLF really suggests that you've already got this fashion thing figured out :) - I think you already look great, but I love how you are always rethinking and refining. I like your architectural approach to the wardrobe. Do you find it's a balance between sensing what will work and planning carefully, but also letting the pieces just sort of fall together after you've selected them?

    I'm also thinking that as I try putting together my own capusles, navy is also a no-brainer for me - it's already my dark neutral. I've been very inspired to try to incorporate more light colors - taupe, light gray, cream, etc. (I'm not so great with beige, either). Basically, you might be my muse, Suz!

  • Lisanne replied 8 years ago

    It is exciting when you realise what is your 'easy to remember' formula for your own style !
    The direct link to my wardrobe planning sheets is here :
    Some people don't get a big revelation - I'm an 'every little step helps' person !
    Best Wishes to all.

  • Suz replied 8 years ago

    Lisanne, THANK you! I should have linked directly to those. I got so excited at your site that I just burrowed in and forgot others might need the direct link.

    I think I'm an "every little bit helps" person, too...that is why the learning process takes so long. And I am sure I will continue to make mistakes along the way. But at least I feel much more focused now. I know I want to build a "taupe dominated" capsule. I know FOR SURE what my key accent colours will be. I know that it is going to be a process to buy what I need.

    What was most eye-opening in your approach was simply to give a number to the items we wear every day, several times a week, once a month, etc.

    BINGO! That explained to me immediately where my gaps are. Why some things that are traditionally thought of as "frills" or extras (in my case, scarves and boots) are really wardrobe staples. And so it is okay to have more than two of those. Etc.

    Thank you again for being SO SO helpful.

  • Carole replied 8 years ago

    Wow, what a fabulous thread, Suz! I need to spend more time studying it because I feel I can learn so much from your analytical thought process here. I relate so closely to your frustrations and ponderings! Thank you for taking the time to share our thoughts!

  • Jonesy replied 8 years ago

    Yay, Suz! Taupe and blues sound lovely, and perfect for you.

  • fern replied 8 years ago

    Suz, you're a beautiful Siamese cat! I love it.
    I made a palette to remind myself to limit my colors and not be distracted by all the other pretty things. I don't know if this helps anyone else, but all of my little tricks to help me focus my wardrobe seem to be working for me.
    I wear more color than neutrals. The palette represents winter colors on the left column, neutrals, accents and then summer colors. I think the idea of "lightening up" for spring really worked for me this year and I will add those softer colors in linen & cotton, but for Fall I am looking for the deeper colors.

  • Suz replied 8 years ago

    What a great idea, Fern! How did you do this? I would like to do something similar as a sort of guideline for myself.

  • fern replied 8 years ago

    I made it in my wardrobe spreadsheet by filling the cells with background color, but I keep everything on there.
    It would be just as possible in a paint program, or with colored pencils on an index card for your wallet - hmmm... I might need a wallet version :)

  • JR replied 8 years ago

    :o) I so like your way of thinking. I'm headed in a very similar direction, with a slightly wider spread of neutrals though: white, black (although perhaps less on top), grey, and a bit of navy. These aren't yet cemented into place, and I am still working out my relationship with browns and tans. And you are so right: when your core wardrobe is in neutrals, you can throw the occasional colour at it, and it will work.

    I am also working on basic silhouettes: button-downs, straight tunics, straight and boot-cut pants, pencil skirts, blazers... None of this is meant to be exclusive, but the core. Add-ons are acceptable, but they have to get along nicely with the core.

    I'm going at this a little more incrementally than you, because I've never been good at major turn-arounds. I start heading in a certain direction and gradually get there, if that makes sense.

    And I do love that jacket. As a matter of fact, I was drooling over it earlier today myself, in a rather nice coincidence.

  • krishnidoux replied 8 years ago

    That is fantastic Suz! Your insight is inspiring.

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