And, shoes.

by Erin on October 22, 2006


Jeffrey Campbell Park

I know I managed to talk about this (at great length) before–the problem I've had with the Duro-dress shape is that it somehow demands new shoes for the new proportion. I had found summer shoes, but, if you hadn't noticed, summer has slipped away. It has already *snowed* here in Chicago!

The new shoes I found are the ones at left, which satisfy my stringent shoe requirements (not too high a heel, ankle strap, round toe) and have the added benefit of making a lovely resonant clomping sound if you really stomp. (I swear, I'm perpetually six years old.) Plus the platform wedge makes you a lot taller without the concomitant foot pain of "real" heels.

I also managed to track them down in brown. I was tempted by the red ones — who isn't tempted by red ones? — but I haven't managed to successfully wear red shoes since eighth grade. Buy them, yes. Manage to leave the house in them? No.

I have these perpetual dreams of becoming (at this late stage) one of those elegant minimalists; somebody who buys two of everything, one black and one brown (or red, or cream) and eases through life effortlessly coordinated, slippery as an eel. This, as you might imagine, remains only a dream. Every time I work towards this ideal (which in my head is occasionally called the "live like a stereotypical architect project"), perhaps by making five identical skirts in dull colors, I am distracted by something shiny and whoops, I'm off again in some wild print, leaving the poor dark-brown skirt moping in the closet.

The closest I ever get to that blissful minimalist state is by managing to sew a series of wild prints in a similar color family, so at least I can get by with a few pairs of monochrome tights and a couple of cardigans. And two pairs of shoes, one black, and one brown. If I'm lucky, and I don't get distracted by patterned tights and sweaters, this mostly works.

Does anyone here have the expert-recommended two- or three-color closet? How do you do it?

{ 59 comments… read them below or add one }

Jilli October 22, 2006 at 2:03 am

Does anyone here have the expert-recommended two- or three-color closet? How do you do it?My wardrobe is almost entirely black, with touches of white, cotton-candy pink, and blood red. Of course, this is easy for me, because I’m a Goth. ;-)I’ve learned to not buy clothing in any other colors the hard way; no matter how gorgeous something might be, I won’t wear it unless it’s one of “my” colors. Even if it’s something made from silk velvet.

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Jilli October 22, 2006 at 2:04 am

Does anyone here have the expert-recommended two- or three-color closet? How do you do it?My wardrobe is almost entirely black, with touches of white, cotton-candy pink, and blood red. Of course, this is easy for me, because I’m a Goth. ;-)I’ve learned to not buy clothing in any other colors the hard way; no matter how gorgeous something might be, I won’t wear it unless it’s one of “my” colors. Even if it’s something made from silk velvet.

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Kate October 22, 2006 at 2:24 am

I too suffer from the seduction of fabulous print fabrics which is problematic when packing for a trip. As I grow older I have managed to channel this (mostly) into black and whites (since black alone is not flattering to me). I can still indulge in wacky prints, lucious tweeds etc. combined with a few basics. Voila! Packing is a breeze and I can throw in a little color too. K Q:-)

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Nadine October 22, 2006 at 3:15 am

I have red, blue, brown, ‘winter white’ and rose pink. It’s dead easy – these colours make me look a million dollars, and I find that very motivating. (I love to be pretty.) [*ducks and runs*]

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Ruth Singer October 22, 2006 at 3:59 am

my wardrobe is predominately red / pink/ purple which does make getting dressed quite easy. I have lots of basics in black, but if in doubt, I just wear red. I am *quite* happy to be wearing really bright red, but get hugely self conscious the odd time I wear strong greens. Quite the opposite to most people!I have plenty (too many) red shoes. and pink shoes. hmm. Blue scares me, generally. I have some, but not much. It’s too safe, I can’t do it!

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andrea October 22, 2006 at 7:21 am

Sunshine yellow, grass green and strong reds dominate my closet. Black (many sweaters, skirts and some pants) and chocolate brown (1 pair of wool pants, one skirt and one turtleneck sweater)form the neutrals of my wardrobe.My costumes (I’m an entertainer) are an entirely different story. But the above is what I wear day-to-day.I just realized I dress like a traffic light! :)

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andrea October 22, 2006 at 7:38 am

btw–one of Dansko’s maryjane styles would be good with the Duro dress.

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Anonymous October 22, 2006 at 8:17 am

No to the two or three color closet. I wear the colors that look good on me; pink, turquoise, orange, black, brown, fuschia, green, purple…not all at once of course. Those shoes, though, look like the shoes of a strange girl, not of a woman. Who wants to CLOMP around? I prefer the CLICK CLICK of heels.

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Sarah October 22, 2006 at 8:57 am

I have a lot of black cardigans that I put over all my crazy printed top/tweed skirt combos. I try to do mostly green, purple, and black, but there are definately some red and dark teal pieces that creep in there.Platform Maryjanes are the best. I like being that strange girl. (and they are a bit dressier than the old boots and tights combo…)

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Linda October 22, 2006 at 8:58 am

I, too, try for that state. But can’t, won’t do it. What would be the fun in that????

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Alison Cummins October 22, 2006 at 9:05 am

Oooh, strange girl! Can I be one when I grow up?I work in a corporate office and find wearing suits to be the easiest way to go. Once or twice a year I make or have made a four-piece outfit (jacket, skirt, pants, two t-shirts), assign it a day of the week, and wear it fifty times a year for four years. It doesn’t have to coordinate with anything else in my wardrobe: it’s its own self-contained universe. No thinking required beyond the fun part of creating it to begin with.Unfortunately I have had less time to sew in recent years and have resorted to buying things in stores. Black and grey are easy. Not hugely flattering, but I can always get them and they always match one another. One of my favourite outfits is a mismatched suit I bought with a small grey-and-off-white plaid for the jacket and a large swirly grey-and-off-white embroidery for the boucl skirt. Worn with an off-white turtleneck and black diamond-patterened tights I am both soberly corporate and satisfyingly me. When shopping for non-work clothes I look for things that suit my complexion (cinnamon-red and prussian blue) or that I or my beloved simply enjoy (orange and yellow-green). Over the years I find that things become very easy to mix and match without ever making a particular minimalist-architectural effort. The effect isn’t minimalist-architectural either: a deep purple long-sleeved cotton-rayon t-shirt from Target with a three-quarter sleeve tweedy chunky pink wool cardigan from Value Village, an embroidered red-purple-white-pink-salmon satin skirt from a local (Montreal) designer, deep purply-red tights and bright red patent-leather mary janes from Paris. Comfortable, easily assembled, fun and coordinated. And far from minimalist. Note that I hate shopping: I will go into a store a couple of times a year and just grab a bunch of stuff in colours I like and run out again. Over time, it starts to work. I spent a year not long ago collecting indigo and off-white drapey fabrics in different patterns and textures intending to start some sort of vaguely Japanese-influenced layered ensemble, but realised that long loose layers were not the best way to flatter a large-busted figure. I need a waist. So I sort of stopped there. I can imagine that if I were sewing all my own clothes it would be different. I would want each individual piece to be fun and interesting and worth the effort and I might not end up with a mix-and-match effect. So I sew suits and dresses where I don’t have to worry about coordinating.

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kmkat October 22, 2006 at 9:44 am

Dansko and Naot maryjanes would both work with your dress. They also have the advantage of costing about twice what your did ;-)

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JuliaR October 22, 2006 at 9:48 am

Nothing I have is coordinated. Lately I have been trying to buy solid colour fabric so that at least something will go with all the print blouses I made years ago. But then I got sidetracked and bought some houndstooth which isn’t solid colour and here I am again. I have tried to get away from buying fabric in colour that is muddy. I noticed that some of the fabric I have bought in the past doesn’t go with anything because the colours aren’t true and clear so I think I have stopped that. I also made a bunch of white shirts a while ago so at least I would have something to wear with the oddly printed skirts and jackets I would make. Then I discovered your blog and have made a few more dresses so I don’t have to coordinate the tops and bottoms. But I am still hopelessly devoted to buying fabric just because I like it (or it is on sale).

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Absinthe October 22, 2006 at 9:58 am

NO to the basic color-coordinated wardrobe! In theory it would make things simple, but how utterly boring can you possibly get???

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Laura October 22, 2006 at 10:13 am

Hm. I have a wardrobe where almost any top can be worn with almost any bottom. Very little black (one pair of pants, one LBD, one skirt), but a lot of gray and brown basics. I look much better in gray than I do in black. I recently managed to go most of a year with no black shoes, but did pick some up last week.I mostly did this by restricting my purchasing to colors that look good on me, and keeping any bottoms in the gray-brown-beige range. So my tops are ivory, gray, brown, and teal, with the occasional hit of a bluer-blue or greener-green than teal. (I also look great in pastel banana-y yellow, but it’s a hard color to find!)That’s my daily wardrobe — I have a casual workplace and so even my dressy-for-my-workplace work clothes are casual enough that I don’t feel like a doof going to the hardware store in them. :)

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Lauren October 22, 2006 at 10:40 am

Darn it Erin, WHY did you have to post about shoes and make me go zooming over to Nordstrom’s website to now shop for boots. Bummer, I see some that for once suit me… they just cost more than my monthly car payment. However, I do applaud your taste in shoes, at least with your selection of the ones for this post. However, I WOULD buy them in red, because red shoes is something I’m more likely to wear (the hard part for me is finding BLACK shoes (or boots) that suit me and that I would actually wear, go figure).

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Bellaleigh October 22, 2006 at 10:50 am

I cannot imagine wearing only 2-3 colors. I would be so bored. I NEED a lot of other colors, some even out of my comfort zone, to shake things (me) up. I do know that red and black are good colors for me, but then so are chocolate browns, teals, and mossy greens. I’d hate to give up some of them!I DO think I need more solids and less prints, tho, and am trying hard to buy more solid fabrics. I tend to make/buy “outfits” instead of singular pieces because then I know what goes together and I don’t have to think! The less time standing in my closet deciding what to put on, the better! Ha.

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ambika October 22, 2006 at 12:22 pm

I have the same problem, not necessarily with prints but with colors. I never have enough neutrals–they never draw my eye or my hand to my wallet when I”m shopping. & I currently own no black shoes. Sigh.

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Kate October 22, 2006 at 12:28 pm

I have a closet that is filled with reds and blues of various shades, with analogous orange, vermillion, burgundy, etc. Makes it easy to pack for trips and to dress every day. They are the colors that flatter/suit me, plain and simple. I have red shoes for every occasion. Watch the film Amelie… she was in versions of red in every scene… gorgeous!Love those shoes, Erin! I would have bought them in red, of course. The minute I realized that high heels started making me less fun and wanting to go home home early, I switched to primarily round toes and platforms myself.

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La Rveuse October 22, 2006 at 12:29 pm

Kind of, yeah. Mainly black, white, grey, some red and smoky blue. Occasional brown tones.How?I’m a super pale-skinned blonde. I look dead in orangey/yellowy colors (literally corpse-like. I can’t even carry an orange bag!), wild prints really wash me out, and crazy colors take over. I’m just too vain to do anything else. ;)

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Anonymous October 22, 2006 at 1:17 pm

i tried a few years ago to actually pare down the colors in my wardrobe to a few shades–this was my ideal at the time, based mostly on a palette that was more popular in the ’40s:chartreusetealredgreens (any)blackgrayunfortunately, i love all colors! and being into vintage, it’s harder to ‘pick’ what colors you’ll get if there’s some design you love. that and i found my tastes evolving, and after i weaned myself off of all browns/tans/light blues/navy, i find myself drawn back to them, and now have a brown skirt and khaki shirtdress i wear all the time. no brown shoes–yet. I’d rather wear bright-colored shoes anyway, if possible (and much harder to find!).

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India October 22, 2006 at 1:17 pm

My wardrobe has a very simple color scheme: anything but black, white, blue, or gray . . . with a few exceptions.So, I guess the answer would be “no.”I have learned to focus the palette when I travel, however. I have an adorable reversible (pink-green-white)/(green-white) wrap skirt, so for spring and summer trips, I pack around that, with everything else being pink or green–or brown, which goes with both. Then I cram in the pink sandals, the green sandals, and some brown closed shoes. (Oh, but I also have a reversible pink-orange top, so orange works its way in.)In colder months, I shift into brown/green/red travel mode, planning around some dark green boots and whichever coat I’m bringing. Last winter I overcame a lifelong revulsion for gray to acquire a gunmetal parka with pink! lining, so that’s shaken things up slightly. More pink in winter TK.Not surprisingly, when in doubt, I get get any new style of shoe in brown or green, with occasional reds (mostly clompers–clicky shoes are for when I’m trying to fool people into thinking I’m mature). I have enough black shoes already; if I never get another pair of them in my life, I’ll probably be okay.

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erma October 22, 2006 at 1:38 pm

I had no idea that limiting the palette was recommended. (On WNTW they are always trying to break some poor woman from her “rut” of black and get excited when she starts wearing colors. Of course that show has already been discussed in this forum.) Since I was always buying the same colors and then getting home and realizing that I just bought yet another blue pullover, brown cardigan, or pink top, I started trying to do a mental inventories of everything I own when shopping in order to check for duplicates. It seems now that if I just buy whatever it is, I’ll have an expert-recommended, coordinated (or is it redundant?) wardrobe in the colors that draw me.Are wedges really more comfortable than heels? I have a couple pairs of 3-inch wedges, and when I wear them, I allow myself to break my rule of taking the stairs to my office (I work on the fourth floor). I can take the stairs easily in 3-inch heels (well, it’s not easy, but the heels are not the problem) but I find it impossible in the wedges.

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Anonymous October 22, 2006 at 1:49 pm

This reply contains no smugness, but rather meekness, lol.My wardrobe is mostly black, brown, blue/turquoise and cream, with the occasional orange. This has all happened in the last couple of years as I go through mid-life crisis.After spending most of my thirties dressed in basic ‘Mummy’ costume (leggings and husband’s sweats – anything that happened to be clean), I finally came out of the cocoon, and with the help of a stylish friend, I now have a coordinated wardrobe. It’s really easy to find something nice to wear (yes, even for the school run).It’s taken over forty years, but I’m finally enjoying clothes and feeling good about what I wear (I have Emma Thompson as my role model). I recommend coordinating the wardrobe to anyone frantically scrabbling away from the next BIG birthday!Lol,Esther A.

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oracle October 22, 2006 at 2:56 pm

I’m a freelance writer and editor and work from home, so I can wear whatever I want. Over the years, I’ve given over to listening to my own heart about what I want to wear, and finding the courage to do it. This has come to mean lots of colours. I like them clear and bright, and usually warm. I find that I like primary colours, for example I now refer to these as “kids’” colours, because they’re usually featured in clothing for kids but not for adults, as a rule. (And that fact drives me nuts.) I do get attracted to certain neutrals from time to time, partricularly pewter- or mocha- or latte- or chocolate-browns, but find that I don’t actually want to wear them once I have them, or at least haven’t done so, for years. So I avoid buying them now.I have gradually evolved into wanting, most days, to wear every colour of the rainbow at once if possible. (To me, this represents the entire spectrum of light and love in the universe, but that’s just me.) Depending how I feel, I do it some days by wearing one, two or three colours predominantly (jacket, top and pants or skirt, for example, or a solid-coloured dress) with small but intense accent pieces such as a favourite brilliant beaded necklace created by an artist in Montreal bringing in the rest of the spectrum. The necklace, and so the rest of the spectrum of the rainbow that day, glows outward from there. The other way I do it is by wearing all the colours at once in many different prints that have varying balances of colour, tone, brightness, and distribution of hue. I therefore wear many prints at once, and if I get the relationship between them (the balance) right, I find that it works.I’ve found that the more I wear what I really want to, even though my costume (oh, whoever said that, I LOVE that it’s all costume!) is very far out now from what appears to be the limits of convention for a mature, comptetent, serious woman the more I wear what I REALLY love, the more people (including women of all description) go out of their way to tell me that they love it. I’d say the most often-used phrase that I hear is, “I *love* your colours!”I like to say that I know I’ve got it “right” when I’m walking along the sidewalk in town and very little kids approaching in strollers stare at me and lean/fall over to the side to keep looking as we pass each other. They’re not looking at my face or at my “style” they’re looking at the *colours*!I also learned, years ago, that my skin has warm undertones and I like to work with them. I have a delicate peach complexion. So although I wear every colour of the rainbow, I choose versions of any of them (especially near my face) that resonate more with the way I want to look than with the way I don’t. For example, in my case, a beautiful coral-red enhances my overall natural glow, emphasizing good health and vibrance; whereas a sharp tomato-red can overwhelm me, and any blue-red from fire-engine to rose-red to burgundy tends to emphasize all the tiny little capillaries that rosacea has brought to the surface of my translucent skin, which isn’t really the look I want to walk around with. So I choose very carefully the versions of the colours I use, and I find it’s a lot of fun. I don’t wear any make-up because I just feel it isn’t me.I find now that all my colours relate to each other very well, so it’s easy to put almost anything together with anything else to have an outfit that “works” in terms of its own inherent logic and looks good in the ways that I want it to. I also find that wearing so many prints and colours together eliminates the question of needing to co-ordinate everything by restricting the palette to two or three colours; I guess it kind of solves itself in the opposite way, by opening up to all kinds of possibilities and looking to see whatever harmonious presentation suggests itself out of the mix.Sometimes someone tells me wistfully how they think that the playful colours I’m wearing look so much better than the one or two they usually wear, and I tell them first that they ought to always wear what *they* want to wear for whatever reason, and then I compliment them on something I like about their choices, for example that I just love the rich beauty of the earthy neutrals they have on, and say how wonderful it is that we’re dressed differently, and how much better we look together because our choices show each other to advantage, so it would be boring if everyone dressed only the way I do or only the way they do. And it would. Better together.

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Kate in England October 22, 2006 at 2:58 pm

I often buy the same item in two different colours but I am in no way coordinated, effortlessly or otherwise. I have finally learned to accept that I look rubbish in prints, though, which does narrow it down marginally. Love the shoes, can’t afford them, glad Nordstrom doesn’t do international shipping.

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nancy bea October 22, 2006 at 3:47 pm

I have the every-color-and-all-its-variations closet, NOT recommended by anyone. Oh well!Red shoes: that made me laugh. I have the same issue. I recently broke throught the “red shoe barrier” by getting a pair of red crocs. I had to take lots of deep breaths the first time out, but it worked. They are so obviously just for fun. Next I am going to try for something in red patent leather, a feat not attempted since third grade. Wish me luck!

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Thoughts on Life and Millinery. October 22, 2006 at 3:48 pm

As the old saying/joke goes, (with expansion):If the shoe (blouse/pants/skirt/bra/bathing suit-especially bras!) fits, buy it in every color (that you like).If the basics fit, then the wardrobe will always be pleasurable. I love having black, brown, tan, stone and white skirts(LL Bean)/shoes (SAS).The blouses are the same manufactures (Jones NY signature, fit and look perfect always!)Dresses are where the fun go wild happens! Accessories (jewelry and hats) set the tone of the day. Romantic/classic/modern/bold/natural/silly/ me comes out in the jewelry.Jewelry and hats never have “fat day” issues.I envy those who can do red shoes.I can only manage red high heels on special occasions.

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Anonymous October 22, 2006 at 3:48 pm

I LOOOVE those shoes. They express the very heart of what I love in shoes. Oh, they are so just-the-thing!!

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Anonymous October 22, 2006 at 5:03 pm

erma,It’s not that wedges are more comfortable; it’s the platform that does it. The height of the platform may be effectively subtracted from the height of the heel, because the rise from ball of foot to heel begins at the platform. 3″ heels with 1″ platforms feel like 2″ heels.I don’t like these shoes. They’re a little too “Minnie Mouse.” I think a playful Duro dress in clashing prints calls for more sophisticated accessories to tone down the whimsy.

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Ms Baroque October 22, 2006 at 5:04 pm

My main wardrobe is made up of staples in black, grey, white. I DO buy duplicates. I wear a lot of green – lime or acid – and sometimes pink, or red. I branched out into brown and caused a stir, but it’s good because brown goes with black (and white) and I do wear jeans, of course! I’ve never worn red shoes since the story terrified me as a child, but with black and grey clothes you can pretty much wear whatever shoes you want. I love platforms, and indulge my weakness for heels by wearing my Chinese-dragon-print Nike Rifts in to the office (or wherever) and changing. And there are great metallic leathers around at the moment.Essentially, I use the clothes as a setting for the accessories… and the lipstick (I wear red) and nail polish (dark; though I have a new metallic red). It IS a formula, but I’ve earned it, and it works!

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Georgiana October 22, 2006 at 6:20 pm

I am so jealous of those of you with colour in your wardrobes. My closet contains grey, black, white, tan, and blue. I might as well be wearing uniforms.So depressing.And all my shoes are black.

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Robinson October 22, 2006 at 6:30 pm

I envy all of you who have a sense of what you “look good” in. I really haven’t had any sense of that since I went from the size/shape I was in my 20′s to the size/shape I am now. I really don’t even know what colors are truly flattering to me. I also haven’t built a real wardrobe since I changed size/shape. It’s my new goal since discovering this blog. How does one decide what colors they look good in?Oh, and I think that the shoes are adorable but am not comfortable in platforms (red or otherwise) because I have such a large shoe size. It makes me feel like I’ve got big old clodhoppers for feet.

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Gen October 22, 2006 at 7:52 pm

To Robinson: Back in the 80s it was a fad to “have your colors done.” A color expert holds swatches of cloth up to your face and sees which version of the color (warm vs. cool) looks best with your complexion. You can do it yourself with warm & cool variations of different colors, a mirror, and good light. Your colors are frequently described as being a season type, like autumn (green, brown, gold, etc.) or winter (white, rose, navy). Being a redhead, I’m an autumn. I look good in browns, greens, aquas, and coral. However, I’m just a jeans & t-shirts kind of gal. I would wear more skirts and dresses but I hate shaving my legs (and it’s too warm for tights/hose).

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J October 22, 2006 at 8:05 pm

I had a perfectly coordinated wardrobe in black, white, and gray for years.Then I realized that I was losing out on one of the most expressive and creative activities I get to participate in all day — dressing myself.Now, my wardrobe is sorted by type of garment and color — a veritable rainbow whenever I open the closet door or slide open a drawer. What joy in the morning!Of course, there is the odd morning where this becomes paralyzing. The trick is to decide what color I’m in the mood for, then find the coordinating pieces to go with it. (Having a list of rules — what colors I will or won’t wear with others — helps here.)And voila! I’ve achieved the dual goals enjoying more color variety in my life, while remaining reasonably well-coordinated when I step out the door.

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oracle October 22, 2006 at 8:57 pm

georgiana: why don’t you treat yourself to a little glimmer of intense colour … a pendant, perhaps? If you like.And to build on what gen said to robinson: If you or anyone is interested in learning more about what gen was talking about, understanding whether you have cool or warm undertones as well as whether your features are flattered more by clear or muted colours, I’d recommend trying to find a copy of the 80′s book “Color Me Beautiful” by Carol Jackson. I’ve got the original edition, but there has been at least one newer edition since. I doubt they’re in print look for them used. While Color Me Beautiful provided my favourite of several systems of colour analysis that were used when people paid to “have their colours done” (CMB still has offices in various cities, and trained colour analysts who will do yours for a fee), I couldn’t afford to have mine “done” at the time. So the book itself was how I learned to see undertones. I realized that I was a “Spring” with warm (yellow) undertones, but needing clear colours, mostly, rather than muted. Autumns like gen have warm undertones, too, but can wear richer and earthier and more saturated hues than Springs can. Gen’s coral will be more bold and a smidgen more orange than mine …While the book does tend to fall into the conventional habit of declaring certain rules for style and shape and so on more than I like to see, I find it invaluable for the colour understanding it offers. I believe that its message is not that we “should” wear certain colours or look a certain way, but rather that once we come to recognize our own undertones and learn how to work with them, then, while wearing the colours we love best, *everyone’s* own natural beauty will just shine in this kind of way. I find “colour analysis” not to be about competition or promoting arbitrary fashion rules, as one might fear and as we’ve had so much of elsewhere, but rather to be subsversive of those concepts since it promotes the idea that everyone has beautiful colouring that can’t be compared to or compete with anyone else’s. It’s a celebratory sort of a thing. I love it, and have done, for over 25 years.But of course, I only recommend such an approach if it appeals! I’m sure there are other ways to learn about the effects of colour on ourselves, and then we must decide what kinds of effects we like! Which means trusting ourselves and our preferences. And only we can know what we like.

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Anonymous October 22, 2006 at 9:47 pm

The concept of buying multiple pieces in different colors is a shopping-haters dream. On the rare occasion I do go shopping *and* find something that is comfortable and flattering, I buy it in several colors/prints/weaves, so that I don’t have to try to find another shirt/skirt/whatever that I like.

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vespabelle October 22, 2006 at 10:32 pm

I have at least three pairs of red (oxblood red not red-red.) shoes. I treat them as a neutral.my closet is primarily: black, brown, burgundy/red, and blue.

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Breeze October 23, 2006 at 2:17 am

Lots of cream, but overall my perennial Summer wardrobe theme (it’s nearly Summer again here in Oz!) is simply a million fabulous vintage dresses, lots of cute belts and a white and a black cardie to throw on as appropriate. One pair slides, one pair ballet flats, one pair bright havianas, one pair heels. And a vintage Oroton handbag for every day of the week!

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Marie-Christine October 23, 2006 at 7:19 am

I would feel utterly dead if I didn’t have every color in my closet… But I do have a good set of basic black so I can travel with a carry-on, especially as I like Paris and NY etc. And I bought a pair of red shoes a few years back and never wore it, so all my shoes and bags are black, which works for me. The one thing I’ve been trying to work with that’s been helpful is the following rule: only make something if it’ll go with 2 existing items in your closet. Then you don’t have orphaned pieces, and you can get dressed even if the laundry isn’t entirely done. That’s helped me a lot, much more than the monochrome boring thing.

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Anonymous October 23, 2006 at 9:46 am

What fabrics did you use for your winter Duros?

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Anonymous October 23, 2006 at 10:21 am

Two-or-three-color closet? Heresy. Efficient, yes, but come on. I have the closet space and I prefer to use it. Color, color, color!!!And I am DYING for those shoes.–Lydia

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Miss Dottie October 23, 2006 at 11:51 am

Thanks for the shoe cuteness. I’m going to buy them during lunch. Perfect!and hurrah for color. Although I do own a lot of black which highlights the colors even better. And I’m mad for prints. They always make me smile.

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Anonymous October 23, 2006 at 12:10 pm

LOVE the shoes. Almost bought them at Macy’s a few weeks ago but they didn’t have my size. Thanks for the L&T link, it seems they have my size (YAAY). Now, what color to get?? I can rule out red as, unlike Erin, I have several pair of red shoes (and a pair of red ankle boots) which I manage to hit the streets wearing (I guess there’s a little bit of harlot – or is it scarlett? – in me).On a side note: I happened to mention the other day in a group of women how many pair of shoes I have and most of them were flabbergasted. Before I reveal my secret, how about an impromptu poll? How many pair do you have? How many pair do you actually wear? I know this is a dress blog, but everyone knows you need great shoes to help set off a great dress.

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SDMC October 23, 2006 at 12:49 pm

I love chocolate brown and red, but I’ve been slowly adding some grays and blacks into my wardrobe. I always find myself with too many prints — they just draw my eye. This year I made a promise to buy coordinates and then a few “special” print pieces.

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rainkatt October 23, 2006 at 12:52 pm

I love the shoes! Love them!I don’t have that perfectly color-coordinated wardrobe, but I do wear a lot of separates, and most of the pieces go with at least 50% of the others. And since I don’t dress fashionably at all, I will frequently skip an entire season of new stuff, simply because I don’t like the colors. The “autumn” colors work best on me, but I’m not parting with my black things, and I sometimes wear other colors that aren’t as flattering, just because they make me feel good. My basics tend to be black or brown, which helps with the coordinating… Most of my separates are also solid colors, which helps when I find a print something that I love.I collect kimono, and wear them, especially the haori, but I also belt up the longer ones (especially the men’s), for work and going out. There are some where this isn’t practical–furisode with the really long sleeves, for example–and those get worn as wraps for evening. Which happens twice a year, tops. I frequently fall in love with a kimono, and then will find things to go with it. And sometimes I wear them with leggings. *g*Anonymous: I haven’t counted lately, but I have about 45 pairs of shoes, if you count sandals. I’m about to do another purge, which will only encourage me to buy more. :-)

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MinaW October 23, 2006 at 1:20 pm

I used to have only a few colors bluegreens especially in my closet. I also used to be so pale, like someone mentioned, that black, grey, or the brights like orange made me look like a dead fish-belly, so my choices were somewhat limited.Then I started dyeing fabric and clothes, and my choices expanded to new favorites I hadn’t even known were possible. And I took color theory, and learned how to combine any colors, even previous unfavorites, in ways I liked.A couple of things I learned:If your closet only has shades of one or a few colors they don’t all go together! Too close shades of the same color can often fight, not enhance each other. This is true of black or grey or white too.Neutrals like gray have color in them too, it’s just hard to see what it is. But put two greys next to each other; one might go green, the other red, and you can see what the underlying shade is. (I discovered this working in a carpet store, where a whole houseful of something that turned out to be an unexpected green-gray or pink-grey could be a disaster.)For those who have lots of shades of one or a few colors in your wardrobe, where it might be hard to find a cardigan or jacket that goes with them, go to a complimentary color. When I had mostly blue-greens, and started branching out, a muted purple or red-violet went with everything in the closet.Don’t stress about not knowing the color wheel and what’s a complimentary color. The color wheels are all wrong anyway. Use your eyes; choose a contrast you like the look of.If like me, you tend to prefer somewhat muted colors, and worry that you fade into the wallpaper… you may be very pleased with the muted-contrast combination. Choose your favorite muted color. Now go to an approximately opposite color, and choose a muted version you like. The two, being sort-of opposites, will make each other brighter to the eye, and yet not be so bright they scare you.A trick from quilting: choose prints which contain colors you like to wear together. Then it suggests a whole bunch of combinations, and goes with lots of your clothes. Just don’t make the corollary quilter’s error and get too boring by being monochrome (all shades of one color) with no contrast.The stategy of having neutrals in skirts, and colors in tops, like someone mentioned, can make bringing in colors easy. As a roommate & I discovered long ago, a flattering neutral can be a duller version of your hair color.The idea of a key piece of jewelry or garment like a patterned skirt or decorated jacket, with a collection of colors you like is a great way to tie an outfit, a wardrobe, or a suitcase-full of clothes together. (like several people mentioned.)

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lisa October 23, 2006 at 2:40 pm

I can’t say that the “expert-recommended two- or three-color closet” appeals to me. I love color so much. It’s part of my daily joy to be around color, dress myself in color, find different ways that color can be combined and the ways that colors change in combination with each other. Yum. It’s true that I’ve learned certain colors flatter me more than others, and my closet has more of those, but I try to find ways of including the other colors as well — again, in combinations.As for shoes, I was interested to read all the issues about red shoes. I love them so much that I wear them just about every day. I did a quick count and found I have 14 pairs of shoes: 8 in various reds and 6 in other colors (black, brown, flowered multi, green, etc, all worn much less frequently).

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nadine October 23, 2006 at 2:54 pm

An updated colour-diagnosis book is: Colour me confident: change your look – change your life / Veronique Henderson and Pat Henshaw. About 18 months ago I actually booked and paid for a consultant to ‘do my colours’. Horribly naff, tragic and 80s, I know, but SO worth it.

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La BellaDonna October 23, 2006 at 2:57 pm

Heh. The answer is both yes, and … no. I’m a classic Winter, with black hair and white skin (no, not “brunette” hair and “pale” skin – I buy my foundation this time of year, and stock up for the entire year), and black, white, grey and red make me glow. If I were to pretend I had a capsule wardrobe, my colours would be black, red, purple, and olive (which is not my best colour, but I love it). Of course, I love virtually all colours, and love combining them, so I wind up expaaanding my wardrobe, and will buy garments because they want to be put together, even if I can’t wear them. (Yes, I realize this is a sickness). My reds wind up expanding into burgundies, and my olives bring the rest of their friends, the greens, along, and can’t have reds without pinks, who have brought their friends, the peachy-corals (and the occasional orange). A sneaky chocolate velvet jacket with jet-beaded black frogs slithered into my wardrobe, with a chocolate widebrimmed felt hat, so brown has slithered in unexpectedly. The colour group I buy least, oddly, is blue. I look fine in blue; it’s one of the (many) colours in my eyes, and I wear lapis beads a lot, but I just … don’t buy it much.I have described a veritable rainbow, and that’s barely the tip of the rainbowberg. And what do I wind up wearing most? Heh. Black. Black is just easier on the (too many) mornings when I’m getting dressed at 4:00 in the morning. But it’s not drab black, or boring black, or anonymous black. I’m prone to a lot of black silk, and black lace; black cashmere, black brocade, black gauze, black beading, black embroidery … and if I can find it punched up with metallics, even better! Give me those shiny sparkling beads, and gold or silver or copper embroidery! I have a couple of black stretch velvet tanks (inch-straps, not spaghetti), and there’s hardly a week goes by, winter or summer, when I don’t wear one of them (at least once). I have a dreadful weakness for fitted jackets, and I must have ten in black wool crepe alone, all different. (It’s not entirely my fault; I can bring an armload of clothes into a dressing room, and what actually fits me? The black clothes, that’s what.) Part of the problem is lack of storage; I had a house, and my clothes hung on a rod in colour groups. I now am in an apartment with no closet space, and everything is living in boxes. :P I am trying to get a grip on my boxes, at least.As far as the Shoe and Boot question is concerned, I am at a point in my life where I can’t wear anything over an inch because I have broken too many toes, too many times. I have a Crayola box of ballet flats, and a collection of flat-heeled boots, which I expand at every opportunity (including red boots!). Of course, there’s usually a favorite pair that get worn to death; one year it was a pair of reproduction ladies’ Civil War boots; these days, it’s a pair of sturdy Italian Butteros (the next best thing to engineer’s boots). I have a small but growing collection of handbags, which I seldom change as often as I should, and certainly don’t empty out as often as I should, and a huuuuuuuge collection of hats (chapeaux and not baseball caps!).

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Anonymous October 23, 2006 at 3:33 pm

Hi – new reader here.Some years ago I lost a bunch of weight and had to re-wardrobe, so I decided to go the few-colors route and go with the following colors: black, navy blue, and red. Everything went together. Everything had a purpose. I didn’t need as many items, so each could be of higher quality.I was bored out of my skull.I’m much more colorful now, and got some of that weight back too. :)

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Karen October 23, 2006 at 4:55 pm

I agree that getting your colors done is the way to go. I wear jeans almost every day, but I have pants, skirts, and jackets in brown, gray, and blue (no black for me!) that go with any shirt in my closet, which is where all my favorite colors come in. I can be in a mood for pink, purple, green, brown, blue, red, and just wear it without worry! I can wear any dress, (they coordinate with my jackets, b/c of the color thing again) as long as I have the right style of shoe to match. Shoes – I have every favorite style in black and brown, a few white sandals thrown in for summer and some red boots for winter.So I think I get the colors, but I am not a put together person. I can’t master the handbag. I can’t wear nylons. I scuff my shoes on the first wearing. Last night, after spending an hour getting dressed up and made up, I get in the car and notice part of my hem had come down, and since I had switched purses (attempting the impossible!) I didn’t have my sewing kit. D’oh! Well, I tried.

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oracle October 23, 2006 at 7:00 pm

Anonymous new reader (3:33 PM): I love your entry.

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MinaW October 23, 2006 at 11:57 pm

alison said I spent a year not long ago collecting indigo and off-white drapey fabrics in different patterns and textures intending to start some sort of vaguely Japanese-influenced layered ensemble, but realised that long loose layers were not the best way to flatter a large-busted figure. I need a waist. So I sort of stopped there.Those fabrics sound like they would make delicious outfits. Too bad to see them abandoned.Have you worn dresses with a fitted empire waist and long flared skirt? I have seen them look gorgeous on ladies with an ample figure the secret is the flare in the skirt. And I think that that cut could work well for a layered ensemble; a long open vest is one of my favorite pieces. The jacket needs to be flared too, or even that short form they’re calling a shrug this time around.This is the year to try on dresses like this, since they’re around (although usually not flared enough), and to look for patterns.

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Christina October 24, 2006 at 12:10 am

I don’t have just a few colors, but they are the same tone. Lots of gray- gray-purple, gray-green, gray-blue, you get the idea. The neutrality of all my clothing and the simple style and cut that I favour make it so much easier to dress myself. Well okay neutrals and bright orange. But really, what doesn’t go with bright orange?

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MinaW October 24, 2006 at 2:08 am

Christina Nice to hear from someone else besides me who likes the greyed tones. Not being dramatically colored myself means that the more muted colors work better for me. I just expanded on my comments above about combining colors at Color CompostionsLong ago, when I met the first other person who had my name, she turned out to be the most eccentric old lady one could ever wish to live up to. And she believed that as one got older, our colors should get brighter. Very much brighter.

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Aless October 24, 2006 at 4:21 am

I’m drawn to every colour under the sun bar the metallics -even PEACH, which looks just hidjus on me[I keep trying to buy it, but have nearly got it out of my system ;-))) ]Re the red shoes….with much prompting from others on PR, I finally bought what I thought was my first ever pair of red shoes about 6 weeks ago(have yet to actually WEAR them!), only to realise,after another comment here, that I had bought my first pair of Crocs last February…in red!!! When I wear them to the post office/local shop, I feel VERY conspicuous……but I don’t care! I lovvvvve red!

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robertajune October 24, 2006 at 10:26 am

I’m so happy I’m a winter because I absolutely love jewel tones! I have lots of black separates (Jones New York, mostly) which I bring to life with colors like fuschia, turquoise, and purple.The colors really come out when I wear dresses. I sew most of them because usually the “in” colors don’t flatter me. The dress I made for my second wedding ceremony was fuschia lace, and I can’t tell you how many compliments I got on it because the color was so *me*! During a recent closet purge, I cut down the shoe inventory to 54 pairs of shoes, nine of them black (but all different heels), and 8 pairs of boots included. I had to finally throw out my red Mary Janes because they were so worn out. I may replace them with red ballet flats because they are easier to find this season. I’m older now (just turned 60), so I’ve started to factor comfort in, along with age-appropriateness. So, out went the platforms. But I will never outgrow my love for putting just the perfect shoe with an outfit.

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