Nancy Nix-Rice : 12 carefully chosen garments : colour and print

Were you bowed down by all the neutrals that Nancy Nix-Rice started her optimum wardrobe plan with ? (previous post on the neutral core). I wear mainly neutrals so was happy with it all. But here at last, something for people who love colour and print. Nancy adds 4 more items, and shows how to integrate them with your basic Cores.

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Fourth step : a pair of tops in an accent colour
(Lesson 24)

Nancy next adds two tops in colour, both in the same or a closely similar accent colour.

Her example uses 2 garments in woven fabrics :
Under-layer – wide strap camisole.
Over-layer – long sleeved unlined blazer jacket.

Surprisingly difficult to find a wide strapped camisole pattern. Here’s Kwik Sew 2498.


Would you like a change of style for your over-layer ? Nancy Nix-Rice’s scheme uses over-layers with a closable front opening. Buttons or zip. So the garment can be worn alone for another look. The popular cardigan jacket styles with a continuous neckband or a cascade collar can only be closed with a belt, so won’t give you the number of alternative looks Nancy is going for.

You could use the long sleeved version of the Butterick blazer pattern I mentioned before. If you’re not a blazer person, Nancy (not Nancy Nix-Rice !) in a comment suggested Burda 8503. A good possibility with several necklines, sleeves, pockets – could be made in both blouse and jacket fabrics.


What accent colour are you going for ? Choose a colour that makes you feel good. A colour from your eyes will make them sparkle.

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Fifth step : a 2-piece dress in print
(Lesson 25)

Finally, Nancy Nix-Rice adds a two-piece dress. Two pieces so they can be worn separately to give other combinations. In a print that combines your three colours : darker and lighter neutrals and accent.

Nancy’s choice for top is a sleeveless shell with bow neckline. A couple of bow collar blouse patterns in the new patterns for this autumn. Here’s Simplicity 2151.


And Simplicity 2154 is just the thing ! Provides you with two over-layer designs too 😀


Make sure the bow works with the necklines of your over-layers.

Nancy uses a ‘slim’ skirt, though not tight.

I have a post planned on two-piece dress patterns. Though the challenge is not finding the pattern but finding a print in the right 3 colours and your favourite print style!

Nancy has good previous lessons on colour neutrals, contrast and prints. She has added excellent advice on choosing prints and accessories according to your facial proportions and facial structure (angles or curves).

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So that completes your basic 12 wardrobe items. Which Nancy makes into 95 different outfits.

– 4 under-layers, in each of the 3 solid colours and the print.
– 3 over-layers, in each of the 3 solid colours.
– 2 pants, in each of the solid neutrals.
– 3 skirts, in each of the neutrals and the print.

Nancy Nix-Rice has chosen very basic classics, essentially only 6 styles with slight variations :
– knit sweater set.
– woven sleeveless shell.
– woven jacket with short or long sleeves.
– woven skirt and pants.

So these key patterns, in your own choice of fabrics and sleeve lengths, plus a little knowledge about adapting them to different versions, are all you need to build your wardrobe 😀

On the other hand, Judith Rasband in ‘Wardrobe strategies for Women’ thinks you get most variety from a few clothes if each piece is clearly different in style as well as colour : “of two tops, one might have short sleeves and the other long sleeves; one might be made of woven fabric and the other knit; one might be a blouse and the other a shirt. . . Of two skirts, make one shorter and one longer, one pleated and one gathered, one a solid color and one patterned; of two sweaters or vests, make one a pullover and one a cardigan; of two jackets, make one a blazer and the other a wrap style.” (p.247)

Do you like variety ? Would you prefer similar or different ?

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I have some comments on possible co-ordinated pattern sources and personal style, but these posts are getting so long I’ve separated that section off for later. Meanwhile, Nancy does give us a lot to think about. . .

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Patterns and links available October 2011

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Other posts in this group :
Neutral Cores, colours, personalising
Adding extras
More thoughts
And related post :
Two-piece dresses

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Explore posts in the same categories: co-ordinates, Nancy Nix-Rice, wardrobe planning

2 Comments on “Nancy Nix-Rice : 12 carefully chosen garments : colour and print”

  1. Sara Says:

    Hi! I don’t think I ever commented but I’ve been reading your articles for a long time. I was especially interested in your articles about the Eileen Fisher system, which I find very inspiring. To me Nancy Nix Rice’s aesthetic lacks flavor. The way she blends your hair color with your skin color and makes a series of outfits out of it would just make you disappear. Do you read Tom & Lorenzo’s website? They say a woman should never wear a dress the color of her hair. So, to answer your question, I prefer some variety in my wardrobe.
    I think wardrobe planning is important, because if I’m going to put in the time and effort to sew my own clothes, I want to be sure I’ll get a lot of wear out of them. However, If I see a fabric or a pattern I like, I’ll go ahead and sew something, then I’ll work out an outfit or several outfits around it.
    One feature I find very inspiring on Eileen Fisher’s website is the “construct /deconstruct an outfit” section.
    Here’s how I think it can apply to home sewers : start with a base layer (in my case, a cami dress, or a top and pants) then add 1 or 2 mid-layers ( a loose top, a cardigan, a tunic, a skirt) and finally, in winter, an outer layer (coat). Of course, alI the items I sew will eventually work their way into different outfits I construct, so hopefully I will get as much of use out of them as possible. You can see Eileen Fisher uses several items twice in this feature.

    • sewingplums Says:

      Thanks for the interesting comments Sara.

      Yes many people agree with you on colour, but neutrals work well for me. I now have very quiet low contrast colouring. I look good in neutrals, it’s when I wear strong colours that I disappear ! So I don’t think there’s one rule that’s right for everyone. I think Inside-Out Style comments on colour are helpful for many.

      As for style : Tom & Lorenzo’s site is for people who are much more interested in ‘being fashionable’ and celebrity than I am 😀

      Sadly Eileen Fisher are making it impossible for people in the UK to access their US site – we just get defaulted to a few dull photos advertising their new London store. So I’m not commenting on their style this season. It\s interesting that people in France can still get to see what Eileen Fisher are saying.

      I’m sorry I’m missing what you talk about, as I’m definitely a layering person.

      There’s more from me on personalising the choices in a later post.
      Best Wishes

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