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Gray is my key neutral. The color matches the lightest color in my hair, so it’s a “connection color” for me. The “core four” is a jacket, skirt, pants, and top, all in roughly the same color — your primary neutral, which you should choose from the shades in your hair.

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I’m planning to make the suit from Butterick 5995, a suit I have been planning to make for a couple of years now. I bought the silver gray tropical-weight wool in the picture above in order to make this suit.

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The fabrics above also include the ponte knit for a pair of StyleArc Elle pants and a Spoonflower jersey in sharkskin gray, a Pantone Fall 2016 color. The jersey is for the top. It could be the top in the pattern above, to use one wardrobe pattern for the entire Core 4 and feel all orderly and correct.

Yeah, it’s gray. Hard to get excited. But this color brings out the silver in my hair and the blue in my eyes, and suits my skin tone better than black. So as I create my new wardrobe, I will build in plenty of gray.

Every working woman needs a three-piece suit in a flattering neutral. But the Nix-Rice system includes also the idea of the column of color. A suit is an outer column — skirt or pants and jacket in the same color, drawing the eye up to the face. Then the skirt or pants with a matching top is an inner column. So the Core 4 produces four columns of color (skirt+jacket, pants+ jacket, skirt+top, pants+top), and the option to have matching inner and outer columns. Sounds downright mystical, doesn’t it?

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