Kitchen Counter Economics Rotating Header Image

Building a wardrobe from the ground up

So, the last time I looked at this, wardrobe thingy I was analyzing how one ready-to-wear designer put together a wardrobe of separates. What they did was they had two prints and a number of single color items which matched some of the colors in the prints. Now, what they did in particular might not meet your needs (I mean now really – print pants are not my thing, but they might be yours).

Having flogged my black-white-red wardrobe into the ground over the past 5 years, I had to decide whether to stick with those colors and replace items as they bagged, sagged, and got long in the tooth. I’ve gotten a lot of wear out of all of them but a couple of items just don’t stand up and say ‘hey there’ much any longer, which is one of the problems with prints. It’s easy to get tired of them. The other thing is that your dear Aunty is getting to any age when black is not, shall we say, kind to me anymore in terms of my complexion, so I wanted to weed things out, spruce things up, and get a bit of color in my wardrobe. What I need on a daily basis is also changing – I no longer have to go into an office on a daily basis and I have a lot more casual and different activities to do. I also like to wear skirts and tops rather than dresses. So I need to think about that.

In terms of colors, I’ve got a couple of really hard and fast rules about color:

— If you don’t already love a color, adding it to the wardrobe because Pantone(tm) or someone else in the clothing industry says it’s ‘in’ is not going to be a good investment. People wear colors that they actually LIKE. Pantone(tm) says that emerald green is this year’s color (I think last year’s color was tangerine orange), but I think that’s not a color that will be kind to me, either. I like all sorts of greens, but the ones I like the best and which look best on ME are colors that have a bit of blue in them (just like the reds that look the best … are those that have a bit of blue in them). So, I’m basing my wardrobe work on teal and raspberry, two very jazzy colors but both of which have some blue.

— Over a certain age, black is draining. If you want to go in that direction, try midnight blue, which is my favorite for formalwear which usually would be black. It’s classy, unusual and it’s not black.

— Yellows are hard to wear for anyone over the age about about 15, especially yellow-greens.

My first ‘put together’ for the wardrobe is a two-piece dress made out of ponte knit, and a blouse and skirt made out of a coordinating print. With that, I get four outfits:
— Teal top and teal skirt
— Print top and print skirt together, making a dress-like look
— Teal top and print skirt
— Print top and teal skirt

This is the pattern I used for the teal top and skirt – it’s an early 60s pattern. I made the top with a plain neckline, but as you can see from the photo above, I made a scarf out of the print fabric too. I sewed on snaps on the scarf and inside the corresponding spots around the neckline of the teal top. That way, when I wear the teal top and the print skirt, I have something that ties both halves together.

Now, my next step ordinarily would be to go to the pants end of the spectrum, but I am still mulling that: teal pants or one of the coordinating colors in the print? That print has the following colors in it:
Royal Blue
Lime Green
Baby Blue

Now, I’m definitely not going to go with a print pair of pants – I don’t have any more of the fabric in any case and print pants are really not ‘me’ (well, at least I don’t think they are). My ‘matchy-matchy’ side wants me to go to teal pants, but the pragmatist in me wants to go with brown.

How do you vote?

Blog Widget by LinkWithin


  1. Kathleen says:

    I’d pick olive,because it is a neutral and looks great with blues,oranges,corals,reds and whatever color family you might like to add

  2. Pam Erny says:

    Nice print…and love the teal too/also 🙂

    I’d go with brown pants but not mud brown. It would give you another jump-off point with which to mix olives, lime greens, and blues. Making a pant/top set in brown, adding a teal linen jacket w/narrow lapel…and long print scarf (worn under the jacket lapels & knotted at both ends) would give a sleek “columnar” silhouette. <—-planning this for myself, we like the same colors!

  3. htwollin says:

    Kathleen – hmmmmm…olive. You know, I don’t know why this is not jumping up at me and saying, “Oh, yeah, baybee!” but it isn’t. Do I have fear of olive? I have to admit that it is not a color that I have used a lot in my wardrobe. I’ll have to think about that.
    Pam – I think you win – I can see all sorts of use for brown pants and a brown top. On the other hand, I also have, believe it or not, a brown, cream and teal houndstooth light weight wool that I want to make a coat out of (who needs a light weight wool coat? I haven’t had one since I was about 12, but I’m tired to having to wear my raincoat in the spring and fall whenever we go out. I want something pretty).

  4. Gnome de Plume says:

    I miss needing a spring coat. For some reason I always loved them. Because I live in a climate that doesn’t require a coat, even in winter, I miss all those seasonal wardrobe changes. Be that as it may, I would go with a brown or olive pair of slacks. At our age, more neutral pants do better at hiding our defects, although if you happen to be invited to a cookout at the Hamptons I think white slacks would look terrific with both the print and the teal.

  5. htwollin says:

    Gnome — ayyyyyyy — white pants? Plain white anything lasts about 30 seconds with me – anything white is a blueberry, red wine and strawberry magnet when I wear it.

  6. Lea says:

    I vote for brown, but a nice milk chocolate brown. I love teal and brown together.

  7. Shiphrah says:

    Royal blue. My first thought was for teal, since you’re “vertically challenged,” and that would avoid chopping you in half. But that can get awfully matchy-matchy. Royal looks fabulous with raspberry, too. Actually it looks pretty good with most everything.

Bad Behavior has blocked 1178 access attempts in the last 7 days.