Nancy Nix-Rice : carefully chosen garments : extras

Nancy’s ‘core’ wardrobe consists of 12 mix-and-match items (4 under-layers, 3 over-layers, 5 bottoms). Of course she does’t expect us to live in just 12 garments ! Even though she shows so many variations we could wear a different outfit every day for a whole season.

Nancy also shows how to add items so they expand the wardrobe options. Instead of becoming orphans. She relaxes the rules : extras don’t have to co-ordinate with absolutely everything you already have ! Basics are clothes that mix-and-match without much thought, and can be worn on most occasions you find yourself in. Extras still need to make part of several outfits, but they can be more individual.

Nancy’s examples continue with the same classic shapes, and add some classic relaxed styles : jeans, shirt, and a drape front knit cardigan. Three new colours and another print !

– – –

First four extras : two more pairs of tops in accent colours
(end of Lesson 24)

Here’s something for people who long to have more colour 😀
Under- and over-layer in accent colour 2.
Under- and over-layer in accent colour 3.

The key point Nancy makes is you get better use from these added items if they’re :
– pairs of related under and over layers.
– colours which combine with the colours you already have.

Nancy chooses two more sweater sets. Sleeveless shell and over-layer that closes to the neck. Such as Silhouette Patterns 195 Sweater Set.


Nancy chooses knits with texture, frills, and sleeve length variations for added interest.

You haven’t got to continue with the same styles as your original core. This could be the place where you add tops for different occasions – tee and hoodie for exercise, knit top and shirt-jacket for relaxed casual. Keep your blouse and jacket for looking competent or formal.

– – –

Fifth extra : print shirt
(Lesson 26)

Add a shirt which can be worn either as an under- or an over-layer. Gives a huge number of options. For this, the shirt needs to have unfitted waist – made from a casual-dartless block.

There are many many shirt patterns, from beginner’s camp shirt casual such as Kwik Sew 3475


to sublime elegance such as Chado Ralph Rucci Vogue 1215 (below) or Vogue 1054.


Male Pattern Boldness has had a shirt sew-along with many tips.

For fabric, Nancy uses another print that combines your first colours (darker and lighter neutrals and accent), for maximum co-ordination and interest.

– – –

Sixth extra : casual pants in your first darker or lighter neutral
(first paragraph of Lesson 27)

Nancy chooses corduroy jeans.

Jalie 2908 jeans was the top Pattern Review pattern for 2009.


Pattern Review have 85 pages of tips in a jeans sew along for this pattern. Male Pattern Boldness has also had a jeans sew-along. There are tutorials on making the front pockets here. And Jennifer Sterns’ jeans pattern gets many good reviews for the instructions.

Judith Rasband in ‘Wardrobe Strategies for Women’ says jeans aren’t basic, because you can’t wear them at any time in any place without wondering if you’re appropriately dressed.

Your preference for casual pants might be chinos, such as Palmer-Pletsch McCall’s 6361. Or yoga pants, perhaps Palmer-Pletsch McCall’s 6082.

– – –

Seventh to tenth extras : a complete Core 4 in a second darker neutral
(Lesson 27).

Your second darker neutral does need to ‘go with’ the first, if you want maximum co-ordination possibilities. But it gives you the option to add a new frequently-worn colour.

For styles, Nancy repeats the basic classics. Her ‘Core 4” consists of under-layer, over-layer, skirt and pants, see first post in this group.

You might choose any wardrobe pattern which includes all your core items.

But you could use this opportunity to add a different style. All in denim ? all in a pretty print ? all in sweatshirt fleece ? Just :
– make all four items in a closely related colour group.
– link the colour and textures to what you already have.
– choose styles that make the look more casual or more professional, prettier or more edgy, but not so different that they look incongruous combined with the other clothes in your main ‘core’ wardrobe.

And take care with co-ordination. It may be dull to repeat shapes, but it does make everything interchangeable easily ! (Here are some thoughts on reducing the number of shapes.)

– – –

Eleventh extra : drape front cardigan
(Lesson 27, after the new Core 4)

Nancy’s final piece is a drape front knit cardigan. In a lighter colour related to your second dark neutral. This is a modern casual classic, with many patterns.

Jalie 2919 was one of Pattern Review’s top patterns for 2010.


Simplicity 2603 was one of Pattern Review’s top patterns for 2009.


These patterns both have a long front drape. A short cascade front looks better on me, see my post on cascade jackets.

– – –

Nancy ends Lesson 27 with a summary of the complete wardrobe. In Lesson 28 she makes some suggestions about choosing your group of clothes from your own closet or shopping.

– – –

Nancy has added 11 garments to her core 12. Making 23 garments total. All fit onto a short hanging rail ! And she stopped counting how many hundreds of different outfits she could make.

Nancy’s choices for these additions continue the same basic styles as the core wardrobe, but with added colour :
– two sweater sets in accent colours.
– another ‘Core 4’ in a second darker neutral or ‘basic’ colour.
That adds 8 items.

She also adds :
– casual pants (jeans) in your first darker neutral.
– ‘casual/ dartless block’ shirt, in a 3-colour print.
– drape front knit cardigan, in a lighter colour related to your new ‘Core 4’.
Well, don’t leave these ’til last if you need casual clothes !

As usual, all Nancy’s ideas for combinations and styling with accessories are thought provoking and inspiring.

If you follow Nancy exactly, you’ll have 7 shells, 8 over-layers, 4 skirts, 4 pants. In 3 neutral/ basic colours and 3 accents.

Want to go in another direction ?
There are several interesting suggestions for small groups of garments, ‘capsules’, in the Wardrobe Builder section of the Petite Plus patterns site. These ideas can be used by anyone, not just people who’re that shape.

Nancy hasn’t included ‘statement’ pieces. These are of course very individual. Instantly recognisable, not co-ordinates. But they still need to relate to your basics in colour and shape, so you can wear them !

23 Garments in Nancy’s scheme ? Why not make it two dozen ? What do you dearly miss ? What would you like for your special free-choice Bonus Item 😀

– – –

Patterns and links available October 2011

– – –

Other posts in this group :
Neutral Cores, colours, personalising
Accent colour and print
More thoughts
And related post :
Two-piece dresses

= = =

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

8 Comments on “Nancy Nix-Rice : carefully chosen garments : extras”

  1. Faye Lewis Says:

    Your posts are very interesting, detailed and appreciated.

  2. Vildy Says:

    I always love Judith Rasband’s common sense: jeans aren’t basic because you’d sometimes worry about them.

    Great point about how you have to keep the shapes about the same or things might not coordinate. In the book Conservative Chic the author uses this point to explain why you might not get complete interchange with garments that otherwise would appear to go together by fabric and color. I always have to try things together vs. judging just from holding them against each other.

    I have to say that just about my whole wardrobe is Statement Pieces in one way or another. Good thing I like to mix patterns. 🙂

    • sewingplums Says:

      Thanks for the comment Vildy.

      I think statement pieces are exciting, and a source of great pleasure. Not so good for easy co-ordinated outfits. Not for quick dressing without thinking. Unless you take time beforehand to explore the possibilities and keep a record of what works. Top wardrobe consultants give people photos of good combinations ! But if you can take time dressing, statement pieces are good for expressing the mood of the day. Depends on your personal style and priorities 😀

  3. I am new to sewing and have recently discovered your site which is absolutely packed with helpful information – thank you!

  4. ejvc Says:

    I want to throw out everything I own and have only 23 perfectly co-ordinated garments. Is that wrong?

    • sewingplums Says:

      I think that’s a lovely idea 😀

      Though my personal number wouldn’t be 23, as my core items are different from Nancy’s. Her basic wardrobe is 7 under-layers, 8 over-layers, 8 bottoms. Applying this idea to my core 5 items of shirt-tunic-vest-jacket-pants, would make a basic wardrobe of 5 x 8 = 40 items. Hmm, perhaps that could be reduced to 35, 30. . .

      My current ‘wardrobe’ is very unbalanced. At the moment I’m working towards having 6 shirts, 3 of each of the others,18 in all. That in any form would be an improvement. Then it will be on to getting ideal versions. . .

      Very related to your 6-PAC plan. An inspiration to work towards.

      I’m also attracted by the thought of using a few basic well fitting patterns for all the styles.

      People who like variety will be horrified by this. . .

      Sadly, though I love making plans, trying to follow them doesn’t work well for me 😀 but this is a good background aspiration !

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