Summer school this year is a bunch of Craftsy classes. I started with Nancy Nix-Rice‘s wardrobe planning class. She is the author of Looking Good… Every Day, which I own but haven’t yet worked through.

One thing I realized during the class is how much the SewingWithAPlan process is for me a project — something fun rather than a practical way to create a wardrobe. I like to follow the system and to use the Pantone seasonal colors, I have a lot of fun planning the SWAP, I love to play around with beautiful fabrics, and I usually do end up with wearable clothing… but also with pieces I don’t wear.

My quest to become well-dressed is a fairly serious one. I’ve been trying for years to build a proper wardrobe and working for months on the habit of dressing like a grownup every day. I think I look respectable most of the time nowadays, but I also think I might have been doing it wrong.

The first section of the class is about colors. Once I watched through the class, I went back to the book and read the chapter on colors, and I definitely learned things.

Our basic neutral should be based on the colors in our hair. Our second neutral should be based on our skin tone. Our fashion colors should come from our eye color and the shade of red we see in our lips or the inside of the lip. I used to be a high-contrast person, but now I’m low contrast and should not wear bright colors or high-contrast outfits. The Pantone list is not mentioned.

So I should be wearing gray (and should follow through on that gray suit I’ve been planning for ages) and dark brown or taupe, along with blue/green/gray shades and apricot pinks. I ran my face through a color themer to see what colors it came up with for me, and it gave me wine and terra cotta shades, too.

I should choose soft tones and low contrast prints. I shouldn’t pick fabrics on the basis of their beauty, or go with colors like celadon green or cyclamen pink just because I like those colors.

I’m planning to do at least a little sewing this fall, and I’ve chosen the gray and the print below. Okay, they are compatible with the Pantone Fall 2016 colors shown below them. I like the challenge of using those colors. I like a bit of randomness brought about by using someone else’s choices sometimes. But this basic set of fabrics is a low-contrast, cool temperature, low-intensity one, with a medium-sized print that contains some of my “body essence” colors.




The next lessons in the class look at fabric and pattern choices. I might get into my sewing room and sort out my fabrics and patterns as the class instructed. Nancy says not to look and see what you want to get rid of, but rather to go shopping in your stash and pick out the things that will be great choices for you.

Once you’ve done this, you’re ready to plan your wardrobe. Nancy’s system is like the SWAP or the Capsule Concept or any other organized wardrobe planning system.

Not all wardrobe planning systems are organized. For example, my summer wardrobe is composed of all the capri pants Vine sent me, one pair of jeans which I actually bought, and a collection of bright colored camp shirts I found on clearance at my favorite online clothing store.

Randomness, again.

Anyway, Nancy’s system involves 12 pieces (the SWAP has 11). It begins with a “core four“: jacket, pants, skirt, and top in the basic neutral. The three piece suit seems like an obvious starting point for a professional wardrobe, but I was surprised by the idea of adding a top in the same color. This gives you a slimming “column of color,” says Nancy.

You want a second “column of color” in the secondary neutral, and another in the main fashion color, so you choose a skirt+top or pants+top for each. A two-piece dress in the print and a matching top and jacket or cardigan (like a twinset) finishes the grouping. 2 jackets, 5 bottoms, and 5 tops, basically. If each piece works with all the others, you’ll have somewhere near 100 outfits. The book has worksheets to get all this planning done with precision.

The last lesson was on accessories. I generally don’t do accessories. Now that I’ve (mostly) gotten into the habit of putting on proper clothing and painting my face every day, accessories are clearly the next frontier. Fortunately, I already own some. I just have to put them on.

Good class. Good book, too, and I intend to work through it properly.