The Vivienne Files wardrobe plan : ’Starting from Scratch’

Janice of The Vivienne Files has been running a wardrobe building series which is simple, clear and step-by-step.

I brought the links together for my own use, and am posting them here in case anyone finds it helpful.
There has been an active discussion at Stitchers’ Guild.

The main sections here :
– list of links to the Scratch wardrobe plan.
– other wardrobe building plans from Janice.
– grouping the steps into capsules.
– some suggestions on personalising the plan.
– a few tips on co-ordinates,
– some designers and styles.

So many situations where building a wardrobe can be an inspiring idea :
– choosing a travel capsule,
– revising your wardrobe when you have a change in job/ lifestyle/ size/ climate or want to explore a different personal style,
– ‘shopping your wardrobe’ to check if you have any big wardrobe gaps.
– when you feel you have “nothing to wear”, your closet is full of clothes that don’t go together.
– when you feel your clothes are just tired out, or you’re tired of them.

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Build up a wardrobe

It’s good to take at least a day on each step, as Janice did with her posts. Every time you add a step, explore the outfits you can make by combining these with your previously chosen items.
I think this is especially important early on, when you’re establishing your own best colours, styles and clothing needs.
Choose colours that flatter you and that you love, not just colours that go together.
Pick styles which make you feel and look your best.
Don’t try to mimic Janice’s choices exactly unless this is what makes you happy.
Think about what clothes you need for your climate and how you spend your time.
(A little more about these decisions in later sections.)

Step 0. choose 5 colours – 2 neutrals, ‘white’/ best light neutral, 2 accents
click here

Janice has a colour planner available for purchase, showing a huge range of possible combinations, see here.

Step 1. pants – main neutral
click here

Step 2. shoes – same neutral
click here

Step 3. cardigan; tee – same neutral
click here

Step 4. jeans – same neutral; shirt – ‘white’
click here

Step 5. accessories I – bag, watch, bracelet, earrings, scarf – same neutral
click here
(other suggestions – belt, necklace, hat, vest)

Step 6. 2 tops – 1 in each accent colour; mixed colour scarf
click here

Step 7. layer; pants; shoes – 2nd neutral
click here

Pause for review
click here

Clarifying preferences
click here

Step 8. 2 tops – any of colours, may be print; necklace – accent
click here

Step 9. dressy [winter] outfit : skirt; top; shoes – all in main neutral
click here

Step 10. casuals : jacket – neutral; top – mixed colour print; casual shoes – neutral or accent
click here

Step 11. personal style outfit : layer; top; bottom, to fill in your needs – both neutrals
click here

Step 12. winter outerwear : coat; boots; scarf – mainly neutrals but your choice
click here

Step 13. accessories 2 : bag, watch, earrings, necklace, brooch/ pin – mainly neutrals
click here

Step 14. leisure wear : 2 tops – any of the 5 colours or prints; 2 bottoms – mainly neutral
click here

Step 15. dressy summer outfit : dress – neutral; layer – may be accent; sandals – neutral or ‘flesh’
click here

Step 16. evaluating and balancing neutrals (complete core groups of both neutrals)
click here
Sort your wardrobe by colour, plus ‘bridging’ garments which combine colours. Too many or too few of one of your colours ?

Step 17. finishing touches
click here
Many examples of things you might feel are missing.

Step 18. simple neutral tops as background for accessories
click here

Final summary, no new items
click here

Worksheets available
click here

Supplement : Summer wardrobe, all the steps in one post
click here

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Alternates

Janice has previously posted several wardrobe building schemes with different perspectives.
Some of them add some other considerations, which can be confusing. On the other hand, if they‘re more like your style, they may make things simpler !
Just pick one to start from, as a way of building up a basic group of clothes. You can branch out from it later.

Alternate 1 : a 15-piece wardrobe for Agnes
– 5 layers, 5 tops, 5 bottoms.
click here
Buy all 15 items from the same department at the beginning of the season, and no need to think about clothes again. . .

Alternate 2 : Four by Four casual wardrobe
– four groups of four
click here
Janice has many versions of this – click on Four by Four in the labels section of her menu.

I wrote a couple of posts about this at the time :
Wardrobe of relaxed basics
Variations of the relaxed wardrobe

Alternate 3 : the common wardrobe
– 12 neutral casuals
click here
This is rather different from the Scratch wardrobe. Here a small group of neutral casuals is used as the background for interesting accent colour accessories.
In the Scratch wardrobe most of the accessories are neutral in colour.

Again I wrote some posts about this at the time :
Common wardrobe
Accessory styles
Where do you like your outfit variety ?
I gave up on listing all the colours Janice explored, but you can find them if you click on ‘A Common Wardrobe’ in the Labels in her menu. An amazing example of Janice’s wardrobe gifts in action !

Alternate 4 : building a working wardrobe after college
click here
Another simple group of classics built up a few items at a time.

Alternate 5 : a two-suit wardrobe
– 24 items
click here
More basics using 2 key colours.

For someone else’s recent suggestions on wardrobe planning, there’s the Wardrobe Architect series from Colette Patterns.

- – -

Sewing this wardrobe a capsule at a time

Elizabeth (ejvc) has grouped the Scratch Wardrobe items into 6PACs for ease of sewing. Each 6PAC has its own reduced colour focus.
In a ideal world you sew a 6PAC each season. 6PACs are groups of items which make a capsule, so you have plenty of wearable outfits even if you only make these 6 items. There are active discussions each season at Stitchers’ Guild.
Elizabeth calls the main colours ‘base’ colours rather than neutrals, as some people aren’t happy in neutrals. She counts a colour as a base/neutral if you’d enjoy wearing a pair of pants in it. So if you love shocking pink pants, shocking pink is a ‘neutral’ for you :D
click here for ejvc’s post

Some people are happy to follow Janice’s Steps. Others feel they have a clearer overview of the process if they group the Steps in Capsules and then the Capsules into a Wardrobe.
I’m a ‘one step at a time’ person, so long as I know there is a flexible overall plan which works out in the end. But some people instantly relax when they see Elizabeth’s scheme.
So do whichever works best for you.

- – -

Personalising the plan

Love dresses and skirts ? lace and frills ? studs and skulls ? Need many layers for warmth ? Have greyed warm colouring ? Many reasons why the items Janice picks may not be ideal for you, so try not to get stuck on specifics. If you’re not a city-dwelling working classic with clear cool colouring, it may take a bit of thought and experimenting to adapt this wardrobe to your own needs, but the basic ideas are very simple to deal with.

My e-book has some suggestions on identifying your own wardrobe needs.
click here

And there’s this post with some questions to get you thinking about your personal style.
click here

It’s also important to dress for your colouring.
Which describes you ?
light – dark
cool (blue based) – warm (yellow based),
clear – muted
low contrast – high contrast

The approach to colouring which works best for me is ‘signature colours’ – colours from your hair, skin, eyes, blush, veins.
I enjoy Imogen Lamport’s posts on this ’signature colours’ approach.
click here (search for signature colour)

For choosing clothes which enhance the details of your body shape, there’s the excellent and fascinating workbook ‘Flatter your Figure’ by Jan Larkey.
click here.

- – -

Co-ordinates

And then there’s the art and skill of choosing clothes that co-ordinate.
Several of my posts with suggestions on co-ordination linked to from this page.

Basically – you’ve simplified co-ordination by using only a few colours and a few prints.
Also just use a few silhouettes and a few style elements.
It’s easiest to have collars on tops and not on jackets, or collars on jackets and not on tops.
Make sure your layers are big enough, especially at the armholes and sleeves. Many fitted jacket patterns have sleeves that only work over a sleeveless top or camisole. Raglan and dolman sleeves fit over most other sleeve styles, but not vice versa.

- – -

Designers and styles

One way of making it more likely your clothes co-ordinate is to use patterns from only one designer.
Of course I can’t resist having fun with patterns and styles, so here are some of the possibilities.
(Instructions hugely varied in quality.)

simple classics with advice on easy pattern alterations :
Angela Wolf : patterns plus Threads videos on how to alter them : One Pattern Many Ways One, and Two.
Nancy Ericson : patterns with newsletters, booklets about variations.
Silhouette Patterns : patterns for several cup sizes, with DVD on pattern making,
Sure-Fit Designs : basic fitted slopers with booklets and videos about style alterations.
See also my posts on wardrobe pattern books linked to from this page.

modern classics :
Burda Style,
StyleArc

chic couture :
Claire Shaeffer
Marfy
Ralph Rucci

dramatic, high fashion :
Bootstrap Fashion
Lekala

softer :
Hot Patterns,
Loes Hinse

dresses/ ‘vintage’ :
Colette
Eliza M

loose and frilly :
Folkwear
Tina Givens

knits and active :
Christine Jonson
Jalie

crafter/ artisan :
Indygo Junction
Merchant & Mills

arty :
Cutting Line (under shop tab),
Marcy Tilton
Sewing Workshop

- – -

After all the thinking involved in writing Sewingplums, I have a fairly clear idea of my wardrobe needs and my personal style, my colouring and body shape, but I still learn something new from most wardrobe plans. I much enjoyed exploring this one. And am looking forward to using it as a guide for what to sew.

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Explore posts in the same categories: wardrobe planning

9 Comments on “The Vivienne Files wardrobe plan : ’Starting from Scratch’”

  1. Janice Riggs Says:

    You are my internet goddess…
    thanks so much! I work so hard on The Vivienne Files -8 hours a day – and it’s all worthwhile when I realize that someone has benefited from my efforts!
    thanks again,
    Janice

    • sewingplums Says:

      Thank you Janice for the lovely compliment.
      And Many Thanks for all the work you do in preparing such inspiring and helpful posts for us.
      I hope you enjoyed all the enthusiasm at Stitchers’ Guild :D

  2. Kbenco Says:

    Everything in one place! Thanks for your excellent compilation of all these resources.

  3. Jacqui Says:

    Just brilliant to have all these posts in one place. I love your blog posts and have benefited from your research skills many times over. I love Janice’s posts and it will be very helpful to have these in one place. Many thanks Jacqui

  4. shewhosews Says:

    Great to hear from you again: I, too, follow Janice’s & Imogen’s blogs (best in the business) but your ability to compile and clearly bring all their information together is briliant!

  5. robin Says:

    Please keep blogging. Your information is invaluable.

  6. Sharon Says:

    Thank you so much for getting all this wonderful information in one place, huge hugs.

  7. Mary Says:

    Thank you so much!! I really value all that you do here, and to add in this information is lovely.

  8. Philippa Says:

    How lovely to see a post from you popping up in my inbox. I followed all the links and thought it a very sensible way to build a wardrobe. I am sewing my own basic wardrobe based on navy at the moment, so it was extra helpful for me!


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