When I was at FIT getting my fashion design degree, it was drilled into students regularly that we “know our customers.” Most designers don’t start their own companies and even those who do, still need to fully understand who they are designing for. When I transitioned from my ten-year career as a fashion designer and became a personal stylist 19 years ago, it was all those years of needing to understand who my customer was that made it easy for me to style different clients with different perspectives and style preferences. What separates a good stylist from a bad one is a good stylist can dress a client in something that is objectively attractive that they themselves would never wear. I don’t wear black, but I style clients in black all the time. I don’t wear many prints but work with many clients who do.
I bring this up because I think the point gets lost that the client capsules I share in these blog posts aren’t hypothetical and are actually quite real. I will read comments asking where the color in the capsule is, or why isn’t any flair? A capsule that is based in reality is going to look entirely different than one that isn’t because in these cases it’s the preferences of the individual and these preferences may not everyone’s style, they may not even be my style. The coolest part of my job is that I do get to live vicariously through my clients and shop for things I either can’t, wouldn’t, or have no business wearing. The most important thing when looking at a wardrobe capsule when it is built for another person is to not impose your own preferences onto it. It wasn’t built for you, it was built for someone else.
Creating a Prints and Patterns Capsule for a Client
The reason I asked my client, I’m naming her Ms. Botanic, which you will understand in just a few seconds, is because her personal style will show anyone who loves prints and patterns and lots of colors how to build a wardrobe capsule. In an effort to show women how to build a capsule in the most formulaic way possible, these formulas have become so rigid and distilled down which women have tied themselves so strongly to— rigid rules that really are just a bunch of made-up baloney — that when a person’s style doesn’t fit within that set parameter of rigid rules, it gets super confusing. These rules often say, only one print, or only two colors, one neutral, and so on. Well, what if a person loves prints but wants to keep a tight wardrobe? What if someone wants to wear lots of colors but wants an easy mix and match capsule? What is the person with the novelty-driven wardrobe supposed to do?
This is all very much the case with Ms. Botanic, one of the sweetest and loveliest women I have ever met. Just like flowers bring people joy and happiness, so does Ms. Botanic. She lives in Texas, has a gentle presence, the most open heart, and is someone who not only loves floral prints, she grows orchids. I’ve made my dislike of floral prints more than clear before and have said that a floral print has to be drop-dead for me to like it. But when you meet Ms. Botanic, you know immediately that she and the florals are a predetermined pair. Her wardrobe is colorful, needs to stand up to Texas heat, and what she was looking for from me when she reached out was a fresh casual wardrobe for her new start with looks for spending time with friends, dating, and being out and about post-pandemic.
Physically, Ms. Botanic has sparkling blue eyes, blonde hair, and feet that require narrow shoes. Up until that point, she had been wearing shoes she didn’t love but accepted because they were narrow (we fixed that right quick), and her clothes were aging her (we also fixed that right quick.) Much of why her clothing was aging her had to do with fit, not her wardrobe selections. To show you how I have taken her love of print and color and turned it into an easy-to-mix capsule, I am showing the pieces I pulled in my initial pass pulls and the mix and match combinations that came out of it.
Ms. Botanic’s Prints and Patterns Based Wardrobe Capsule
Shop Ms. Botanic’s Capsule
1 Parke Blazer 2 Classic Denim Jacket 3 Patch Pocket Chino Skirt 5 Printed A-line Midi Skirt 6 Tropical Print Modal Scarf 7 Rain Printed Modal Scarf 8 Marine Printed Cotton Scarf 9 Scoop Neck T-Shirt 10 Essential Tank 11 Scoop Back T-Shirt 12 Cara V-Neck 13 Aimee Double Front Knit Top 14 Cotton Crew Top 15 Relaxed Cotton Popover 16 Ruffle Placket Tunic 17 Leaf Embroidered Relaxed Shirt 18 Linen Shirt 19 Grey Spot Silk Shirt 20 Botanical Terrace Cotton Shirt 21 Breezy Cotton Shirt 22 Tie-Dye Wide Neck Top 23 Echo Stripe Button Down 24 Painter Stripe Shirt 25 Rib Stitch Sweater 26 Knitted Top 27 Textured Knitted Top 28 Shaker Stitch Cotton Blend Cardigan 29 V-Neck Linen Cardigan 30 The Cerchio 31Soley Sandal 32 The Sneaker 33 The Flat Sandal 34 The Gia 35 The Pointe 36 The Corsica Sandal 37 The Serena 38 V-neck Sweater 39 Linen Cardigan 40 Fine Linen Sweater 41 Silk & Linen Collared Sweater 42 Cotton Raffia Bracelet 43 Semiprecious Stone Ring 44 Semiprecious Stone Hoop Earrings 45 Paper Clip Necklace 46 Stone Drop Earrings 47 Acetate Hoop Earrings 48 Mixed Media Metal Bracelet 49 Square Hoop Earrings 50 Sculptural Orb Pendant 51 City Sandal 52 The Danza 53 The Ballet Mule 54 The Felize 55 Anya Jacquard Dress 56 Eliana Dress 57 Ashlyn Linen Dress 58 Notch Neck Cotton Dress 59 Florrie Jersey Dress 60 Lavinia Wrap Dress 61 Notch Neck Linen Mini Dress 62 Ex-Boyfriend Relaxed Slim Jeans 63 Slouchy Boyfriend Jeans 64 Paradise Bay Chino Pants 65 Iceberg Green Chino Pants 66 Linen Blend Culottes 67 Turn Up Linen Pants 68 Dusty Ivory Slim Belt 69 Perforated Italian Belt 70 Metallic Gold Skinny Belt
A Few Notes About Ms. Botanic’s Capsule:
- All the pieces will not end up in Ms. Botanic’s final capsule. As with all the capsules I create, this final assortment always starts out larger than necessary. Pieces will always fall away due to fit or preference. Since starting this capsule, Ms. Botanic has started to receive her pieces and some have already been returned. This is why we start large. In some cases, we won’t look for substitutions and in others we will. What this capsule is is a framework which we use to build the final result.
- Ms. Botanic has had great success with M.Gemi’s shoes for her narrow feet even though they don’t specifically make narrow shoes. Quite interestingly, so have my clients with wide feet. I’m not sure how M.Gemi works this magic, but if your feet run narrow or wide, M.Gemi is definitely a brand to consider. Margaux is another brand that is great for narrow and wide widths as they offer sizing in both. Lastly, Adelante, not only sells shoes in narrow and wide, you can custom size and actually order shoes in two different sizes if your feet aren’t the same width or length.
- Originally, I worked some pieces that existed in Ms. Botanic’s wardrobe into this capsule, which included a white blazer, a few botanical t-shirts, some mint green tops, and a tan blazer. To protect Ms. Botanic’s privacy, those capsule pieces and outfits have been pulled from this layout, but I am sure you can envision how they all worked right in.
- Poetry pieces. If you have interest in any of the pieces from Poetry, the consensus from clients has been that they run very roomy. If you have questions before buying, I’d check with customer service as they are ver responsive.
- The jeans looks. Ms. Botanic does not have to wear the lighter washed jeans only casually and the darker washed jeans for dressier things. I laid them out that way so Ms. Botanic could see denim styled both casually and more dressed up.
The Key to Building a Capsule with a Lot of Novelty and/or Prints
When a capsule is built with a lot of novelty and/or prints or patterns, the key is to make sure you have enough solid basics to pair with the colors in your novelties. Basics may not be as exciting as your novelty items but consider them, along with your neutral pieces, like the glue of your capsule what will anchor and link everything together. Additionally, while you won’t wear your novelty pieces together, having some cohesion in color between them, for example, one color in a print that is found in another color of a print, enables you to have less solid pieces that work more versatilely vs. having prints from all different color families. In Ms. Botanic’s case, her novelty prints and patterns consistently picked up shades like shades of blues, pinks, and greens.
Shoes and Toppers
Shoes are what can dress a look up or down. A quick shoe change enables an outfit to go from a casual day to a night out or something requiring a nicer outfit without having to change the entirety of a look, which is why I often offer multiple shoe options in a capsule for each outfit. I also offer multiple topper options to show different ways a client can change up a base outfit with less in the closet. Look at the variety of finishing pieces that you have in your wardrobe and see if this might be the reason you can’t do more with less.
Outfits Created From Ms. Botanic’s Print and Pattern Capsule
As Ms. Botanic and I Continue On
Ms. Botanic’s capsule was remarkably easy to put together and much of that was due to Ms. Botanic already having a very clear direction of her own sense of style. Where she needed help was establishing a look that matched it. Your style is what drives the car and your wardrobe is the gasoline that makes it go. Helping Ms. Botanic find the right pieces to match her style preferences has been a pure joy and as we continue to refine the pieces in her wardrobe and flesh out her wardrobe, I look forward to working with her and seeing how it all shapes up. My special thanks to Ms. Botanic for allowing me to share her capsule with all of you.