My Wardrobe, Myself

The intersection of clothing, emotions, and life

Over the years, several commenters have mentioned the “Four-by-Four Capsule Wardrobe” concept from The Vivienne Files as something that’s helped them to better manage their closets and get dressed more easily. I’ve read a few posts on this methodology over the years and found it intriguing, but that was about it. However, after the last time the four-by-four was mentioned here (thank you to whoever brought it up), I decided to delve a bit more deeply and dedicate a post to it.

What is the Four-by-Four Wardrobe?

The Four-by-Four Wardrobe is a sixteen-piece group of clothing chosen four items at a time. The first two groups are referred to as “cores of four,” while the third group is called “the mileage four” because it helps with combining the initial pieces (usually neutrals) and giving them more versatility. The fourth group is called “the expansion four,” as it expands the combination options further. It’s recommended to also integrate a number of accessories into the mix (jewelry, shoes, handbags, scarves, etc.) to up your style quotient and keep things more interesting. I’ll go into more detail about how to select each group below.

capsule wardrobe challenge

Have you ever tried a capsule wardrobe challenge like the four-by-four wardrobe?

This type of wardrobe capsule can be helpful in a variety of ways. One could create separate four-by-four capsules for each season to either serve as a full wardrobe (for true minimalists) or as the foundation for a larger, more cohesive collection. Another great way to use the four-by-four wardrobe is for travel, as most of us could dress quite well with sixteen garments for even a lengthy excursion. Even if you don’t have a trip planned in the near future, taking the time to compile a couple of four-by-four capsules (i.e., for potential summer and winter vacations) could make it easier to pack for your next getaway.

There are lots of examples of the “four-by-four wardrobe” on The Vivienne Files website, and the concept has seen several evolutions over the years. The blogger has even used this capsule creation method to pull together multiple Project 333 wardrobes (selecting 33 items instead of just 16), which I may also opt to try and post about in the future (you can check out my previous adventures with the Project 333 minimalist fashion challenge HERE).

Now that I’ve told you a little bit about what the four-by-four wardrobe is, let’s move on to my first capsule compilation of this nature. Since the weather is still pretty cool where I am and likely will be for another month or so (hello, “May Gray” and “June Gloom”), I’m going to start off with a “not summer” capsule. However, I plan to revisit this concept in a month or so for my summer wardrobe (and it’s likely that I’ll take some sort of trip during that season so I can better test out the capsule that I pull together).

The First Core of Four

The instructions for selecting the first “core of four” are to choose two tops and two bottoms in a core neutral color. One of the tops should preferably be some sort of topper, such as a cardigan or jacket. If you’re familiar with me at all, you’ll know that the neutral I selected was black, as that’s the primary neutral that I wear all year round.

I selected a black duster cardigan, a long-sleeved ruched V-neck top, and two pairs of full-length black pants, as shown below. Both of the pants are made of a similar Ponte knit material, but one is a slim-leg style and the other is a bit fuller in cut. I wish I could have included a pair of black jeans in the mix instead of one of the pants that I chose, but I’ve had trouble finding ones that are long enough for me and in my desired silhouette (midrise straight-leg).

first core of four

The Second Core of Four

The Vivienne Files recommends that the second core of four consist of two tops/toppers and two bottoms in a second neutral, or alternatively more items in the first neutral color. I decided to split the difference here and selected two more black pieces, as well as two pairs of jeans (with denim/blue being my second neutral). I chose a black knit blazer and a heathered black crewneck long-sleeved tee in addition to the jeans.

While one pair of jeans is pictured rolled up, I always wear them full-length, as that’s more in line with my style aesthetic (and I usually wear them with boots instead of sneakers). The jeans vary a bit in color and silhouette, but both pairs are midrise and either straight or boot-cut.

second core of four

The Mileage Four

This third grouping should consist of four tops that coordinate well with the first eight garments in the capsule. Here is where prints, patterns, and accent colors can be introduced to add more visual interest and excitement to the collection. Since my primary pattern is stripes, I chose four tops in this print, but the thickness, placement, and color of the stripes varies. Two of the tops are black-and-white-striped, while the other two include a shade of blue. All of these tops can be paired with the four pairs of pants/jeans above, as well as with the two black toppers.

the mileage four

The Expansion Four

The instructions for the final group of four pieces are less specific. This module is all about rounding out the capsule and making it more versatile and exciting. It’s recommended to include at least two more tops or toppers here, but you can also add a dress or additional bottoms if desired. Any area where you feel insecure should be addressed here.

This is where things got trickier for me. I wanted to accomplish two goals with this final group: to add more toppers and incorporate more color. I hemmed and hawed quite a bit about what to choose (I’ll show some of my “alternates” later), but I ultimately chose three cardigans in some of my favorite colors, as well as another black-and-white-striped top that “reads” more white than black. I wanted to add a bit of brightness and lightness to the mix with these pieces while still making sure that most items in the capsule mix and match well together.the expansion four

The bright cardigans cannot be worn with every single top in the capsule, as some of the colors clash. However, each cardigan can be paired with at least five of the seven tops, which still gives me a lot of outfit pairing options. Wearing mostly neutrals with one color is an outfit formula that I’ve used a lot over the years, and it will come into play frequently in this four-by-four wardrobe.

The “Integration Four or More”

Of course, the best way to add some pizazz to our ensembles is through the use of accessories. This is what the “integration four or more” is all about. The Vivienne Files didn’t recommend a specific number here, but in most of the examples presented on the blog, the number tends to be around eight. This includes shoes, jewelry, scarves, and handbags.

Since I love jewelry and it doesn’t take up much space, I’ve opted to select eight jewelry pieces and eight other types of accessories for my four-by-four collection. Below are the jewelry pieces that I chose for my capsule. As you can see, they are all either silver or silver-and-black pieces. I did that to ensure that they will pair well with all sixteen of the clothing items. I enjoy wearing other colors in my jewelry, too, but since I was compiling a more minimal collection, I aimed for a high degree of mix-and-match potential. Although it’s not obvious from the pictures, the two necklaces that look similar vary quite a bit in size, with one being much longer than the other. I wear both of them often, which is why they are represented among my eight jewelry pieces.

integration items - jewelry

In addition to the jewelry items, I also chose four pairs of shoes, three scarves, and a handbag for my “integration four or more” group. Most of these pieces are also either black or contain black, but I selected a pair of metallic shoes and a red scarf as well. The two printed scarves can add some visual interest to monochromatic black outfits, or I can pair the floral scarf with my striped garments for some fun pattern mixing. The metallic shoes bookend my graying hair nicely. I considered including two pairs of metallic shoes in this group instead of just one, but I ultimately chose another pair of black shoes because that’s what I wear most often.

integration items - shoes and other

Rounding it All Up…

Here’s a look at the clothing items that I chose broken down into categories. My sixteen-item collection features four pairs of pants, seven tops, and five toppers, as shown below.

by category - pants

These are the four pairs of pants in my “four-by-four.”

by category - tops

I included seven tops in my “four-by-four” wardrobe.

by category - toppers

There are five toppers in my cool weather collection.

And these two pictures show all of the clothing pieces in the capsule, followed by all of the four-by-four items, including accessories:

my sixteen-piece four-by-four collection

These are the sixteen clothing items in my four-by-four collection.

complete four-by-four collection

This is my complete four-by-four collection, including accessories. 

Almost a Project 333 Capsule…

After adding the sixteen accessories to the sixteen garments in my core collection, my item count stands at thirty-two, which is almost a Project 333 capsule. If I were going to do that challenge, however, I might opt to select fewer accessories in favor of some more garments. I’ve done Project 333 a handful of times, but I didn’t always count accessories among my thirty-three items. The first time I did the challenge, I only counted clothing, but I graduated to including shoes in my second iteration. Later on, I embraced the full challenge instructions by counting my jewelry pieces as part of my thirty-three items, which was definitely harder to do.

As I mentioned above, I will likely do a later post using the “four-by-four wardrobe” to pull together a cohesive Project 333 collection (probably for summer). If you’re up for a challenge and would like to give this a try in the meantime, check out the eight examples on The Vivienne Files (scroll down), which illustrate the process using varying color palettes and featuring outfit examples.

Some Items I Almost Chose

As you might imagine, I struggled a bit when pulling my “four-by-four” capsule together. There were quite a few items that I considered choosing but ultimately did not. I thought you might like to see some of those pieces and read my reasons for not selecting them.

Alternate Pants

Let’s start with pants, as those can be my most challenging pieces. Here are five pairs of pants (three black, two denim) that I left out of the collection after consideration:

alternate items - pants

I opted to go with medium-wash jeans instead of the darker-wash options shown above. Because there was already so much black in my capsule, I thought it would be nice to lighten things up a bit with the less-saturated denim. I decided not to include the three pairs of black pants for silhouette-related reasons. I tend to wear different shoes with the black ankle pants and the black pants with metallic trim, and I usually pair shorter and/or more fitted tops and toppers with the wider-legged black pants. I wanted to stick to a small number of silhouettes within my sixteen-piece collection to make sure that they all paired well with each other.

Alternate Tops

I considered six other top options for my four-by-four before going with the ones that I ultimately selected:

alternate items - tops

I originally thought it might be nice to have a few short-sleeved tops in the capsule. But since I tend to run colder than a lot of other people, I decided it would be better to stick with long-sleeved options. If I were using my collection for more of a “shoulder season” (such as October/November) or for a trip to a warmer place, I would definitely incorporate at least one or two short-sleeved tops. I would also do so if I were choosing more than sixteen garments for a Project 333 collection.

I love the black and olive color-block sweater, but it had limited mix-and-match options within my four-by-four capsule, so I left it out. As for the two long-sleeved black-and-white tops, I simply decided that I liked other similar shirts more. The marble print top is also quite lightweight, which makes it less versatile during the cooler months (I’d likely have to keep my topper on all of the time).

Alternate Toppers

Below are eight toppers that I thought about choosing for my capsule but didn’t. As you can see, I own a number of black toppers, but it makes sense since I wear so much black. They also vary in terms of fabric and silhouette, so they’re all worn fairly regularly.

alternate items - toppers

I considered including at least one vest in the collection, but like my short-sleeved tops, those tend to be worn more when it’s less cold outside. My long black vest (in the center of the picture) is quite dramatic, but because it’s so long, another topper cannot be worn over it. I can wear a topper over the other two black vests (one of which is short and the other mid-length), but they look best when paired just with a long-sleeved top.

In terms of the three non-black cardigans, they all would have worked well with the pants and tops in the collection. I could have easily selected any or all of them and been served well, but other pieces won out in the end. Burgundy has long been one of my favorite colors, but I’ve been leaning more toward red in recent years, as it looks good with my (salt-and-pepper) natural hair color. I like the red J. Jill cardigan in my four-by-four capsule more than the more rust-toned Old Navy cardigan shown above, as it suits my coloring better and also looks more polished. I thought of including the teal version of that same J. Jill cardigan, but I went instead for the longer and more dramatic Athleta Canopy wrap, which is also a more saturated green tone.


Overall, I’m happy with the pieces that I chose for my four-by-four wardrobe capsule, and I could see myself happily dressing in them for a trip or a minimalist wardrobe experiment. If I were traveling to a location that’s much colder than where I live, I would swap out the open-toed shoes for more boots (I actually don’t own many closed-toe shoes, though, because I live in such a temperate place). I would also have a warm coat or jacket on hand to wear over my mid-weight cardigans.

I didn’t take the time to figure out exactly how many outfits I could create using the collection I compiled for this post, but I think there are at least forty options. Switching out toppers and accessories provides a lot of versatility, especially because my color palette is pretty tight. Some of the ensembles will look fairly similar to each other, but that’s okay because I likely wouldn’t be seeing the same people every day, whether I’m on a trip or at home.

Doing this exercise provided a lot of food for thought related to what I own, how versatile it is, and how I might improve my wardrobe in the future. That’s something I might delve into in a future post, but the main purpose of this one was to introduce you to the four-by-four concept and illustrate it using my own wardrobe. I’m always looking to learn more about how to shop smarter and work better with the pieces that I own, so closet challenges like the four-by-four appeal to me.

Your Thoughts?

I hope you found this post interesting and helpful, whether or not you had ever heard of the four-by-four wardrobe previously. If you’ve actually taken on the four-by-four exercise and would like to share your experience, I welcome your input. If you haven’t done it but would like to weigh in on what you might select from your own closet for such a collection, I’d love to read about that, too.

I wish my blogging platform (WordPress) allowed for images to be included in comments, but can always to images elsewhere (i.e., on Pinterest or via Imgur or another similar image tool) if you want to share examples. It would be fun to see what others might choose, as I know we all have different preferences and varied lifestyles.

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34 thoughts on “Trying Out the Four-by-Four Wardrobe from “The Vivienne Files”

  1. Krissie says:

    Hi Debbie
    I’ve never heard of a 4×4 collection so glad to have heard about it on your blog. Hey, thats why blogs and some other platforms add so much value to our lives with the info they provide. Its supposed to be winter here but its at least 22c so too warm for real winter clothes and too cold for lighter wear. Its at this time of the year that i have a real problem with wardrobe wise. What i find a bit annoying is when i wear a longer (knee length) cardigan/topper and then need a jacket if it turns chilly. Most of the jackets i have are shorter and look silly with the long topper sticking out. I have managed to buy one longer coat/ jacket but its not great on those slightly warmer days. Sigh…please can someone design the perfect wardrobe for me?

    1. Sue says:

      I hear the long-topper problem, Krissie. I have a similar problem with coats over long toppers in winter. I have sometimes carried long toppers to work in a bag but more often, I tie the bottom ends of my long topper together to stop it peeking out. I guess I could buy longer coats but unless it’s really cold (with ice and snow lying about), I feel more comfortable in something a bit shorter.

      1. Krissie says:

        Thanks Sue… I have done the same with the long toppers… I have tucked them up and in under the shorter jackets, but if I’m walking after a while they pop out! But yes a good short term solution!

      2. Debbie Roes says:

        That’s a good idea to tie the bottom ends of a long topper together when wearing a coat over it, Sue! It’s usually not cold enough to need two toppers where I live, but there are those days from time to time.

    2. Debbie Roes says:

      I understand about those in-between weather times, Krissie. Those can be the trickiest times to dress for… I guess that’s when layering is the best thing to do, but I’m definitely not a master of layering yet. The right length of topper can be challenging for sure! I find that I have to wear different toppers for dresses/skirts vs. pants, so I mostly just wear dresses and skirts in the summer. With pants, I usually wear toppers that are a bit longer, but sometimes it’s cold enough to need to wear a coat over a cardigan, for example, and that can be very tricky! Maybe having a lighter weight longer topper would be a good investment for you for the warmer days. I wish someone could design the perfect wardrobe for me, too! Look at how long I’ve been blogging about this topic and I still have my struggles!

  2. NATALIE K says:

    Debbie, I have followed the 4 by 4 wardrobe for traveling. I also gave myself several accessories. I’m a accessories girl!! It worked beautifully!!!

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      Glad to her that the four-by-four wardrobe has worked well for you when traveling, Natalie. That’s when I think it would work the best for me, too, and I think it will come in handy to refer back to this blog post (and the one I’m going to do for my summer wardrobe) when a trip comes along. I’m very much into accessories, too, especially jewelry. I used to wear scarves a lot, but I’ve gotten away from it, maybe because I moved all of my scarves to a drawer. Out of sight, out of mind sometimes…

      1. NATALIE K says:

        Debbie, I found when my scarves are in my drewers that I also have the same issue. I have now moved them to the center of my closet and they are hanginf on a special scarf hanger. This has helped me wear them a great deal more!! I was surprised by how many clothes I felt I had using the 4 by 4 when traveling. I thought I would feel lack but I felt enough!!

        1. Debbie Roes says:

          I think I need to move my scarves back into the closet, too, Natalie, as I almost never remember them! I used to have them folded on a shelf, but then I put clothes there instead. I’ll have to rethink that… Good to hear that the 4 by 4 worked well for you when traveling. I’m definitely going to use it when I next travel (I’ll probably have to use the summer version for that, which I will post about within the next month or so). When things coordinate well together, we don’t need as many pieces.

  3. sewtypical says:

    Thanks for reminding me!
    I have a trip coming up and this will be a great way to organize what I pack.

    I think the items you chose make so much sense.
    Are you going to try it out for a week or two?
    🙂 Chris

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      I’m glad this post was timely for you, Chris. If you use the four-by-four wardrobe for your trip, I hope you’ll report back on how it went for you. Yes, I plan to try out this capsule for the remaining cooler days to see how it works for me (and to see if I might want/need to tweak it for travel). I learned a lot from making the selections, but we always learn a lot more when we actually spend some time using a capsule wardrobe.

  4. Terra Trevor says:

    Good post Debbie! Thank you. Although I’ve not commented in a long while, I’ve been reading and following along. Love all of your past posts and I’m enjoying seeing how it is all coming together for you.

    Now that I have the bulk of work done for my new memoir, free time has returned to me, and I’m beginning to edit my closet (again) and bring my warm weather clothes to the front and move winter things toward the back. I”m also looking forward to sharing more about my downsizing journey, now that it has been a full year and I have finally found my rhythm!

    Since I’m way behind in commenting, I will add that the biggest change I’ve made to my wardrobe is toppers. I’ve kept two favorites that do need to be worn with certain tops that I would never want to wear alone, and all of the other toppers in my closet are sweaters, scarves and jackets that I wear when I’m cold. It’s often very cool and breezy at my new home near the ocean, so most of the time I need a third layer for warmth. Plus all of my sweaters and jackets go with everything I own and I no longer need certain sweaters or jackets for certain outfits. This also means that the entire bulk of tops in my closet are now stand-alone tops that do not need a third piece unless I want to add one. This has made a great difference in terms of easy to plan outfits and get dressed or pack for a trip.

    This post about trying out the “Four-by-Four Wardrobe is fun” and I look forward to hearing more about your process and ideas.

    1. I know it’s a little off topic but WOOOO exciting that you’ve made such progress with your memoir. Congrats!

    2. Debbie Roes says:

      I’m thrilled for you about your memoir, Terra! Big congrats to you! I know it’s been a major project for you for quite some time. I’m glad you have some time to comment her again, as I always appreciate your input. I look forward to reading more about your downsizing journey on your blog. Yay that you’re finding your rhythm. You made a big move, so it was bound to take some time to adjust.

      It sounds like your wardrobe is in very good shape now. How wonderful that all of your sweaters and jackets now go with everything you own. That’s an important step, especially for someone who wants to have a smaller wardrobe. I’m moving in the same direction, but as usual, I’m at least a few steps behind you 😉 I would love for all of my tops to eventually be standalone ones, and I’m getting there… I’ve traditionally had a lot of complexity to my wardrobe (i.e., certain tops only go with certain pants and toppers, etc.), but now I want more simplicity. You’re always a great role model in that department.

      1. Terra Trevor says:

        You have a beautiful wardrobe Debbie.

        1. Debbie Roes says:

          Thank you so much, Terra! 🙂

  5. I have experimented with the 4×4 capsule but (1) it’s not really enough pieces for me and (2) building it out the way Janice does with the very tight color palette led to a kind of boring capsule.

    However, I did have success with two very similar capsule ideas, and I wrote about them somewhat extensively on my blog. Though the seasonal picks don’t line up to today’s weather, the thought process is seasonless. I hope these variants on the 4×4 / Common Wardrobe / Project 333 / 21 For 21 capsule building process will spur some ideas! (Sorry for so many links; like Debbie, I am a long-form essay type blogger and I thought it easier to link the posts than try to summarize in this comments section!)

    (1) I created a Common Wardrobe (another Vivienne Files thing) and built around it to create a Project 333

    (2) I tweaked the 4×4 color palette driven capsule into a 21 For 21 capsule using my own method of color-based rows

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      Thanks so much for sharing all of these links, Sally! No worries about including a lot of them, as I’m sure many readers will enjoy checking them out as they have time. I look forward to digging in to reading them to see your great examples. I can see how 16 garments wouldn’t be enough for a whole season (except for those true minimalists – my hat is off to them!), but for travel, it seems like it might be a “sweet spot.” I always tend to pack too much, but after doing this exercise, I could see how I could get away with less, especially since it’s well thought out.

      I took a peak at a few of your posts (don’t want to delve in until I get to responding to all of the comments!) and I’m very intrigued. I love what you did with the color-based rows. I also like the way you posted your garments (clean with no background and laid out next to each other), and I wonder how you did it. My way of doing it is pretty basic (putting the photos into folders and taking screenshots) and could probably be improved… Maybe I will try out the Common Wardrobe and a 21 for 21 capsule, too. I love that you did a capsule with 21 garments and 21 accessories. Maybe I could add to my 16 x 16 in this post to do my own 21 x 21… Thanks for all of the ideas!

      1. Thanks, Debbie. I hope my experiments provide food for thought.

        Getting all my clothes and accessories into clean photos was a time-consuming project. I actually just photographed my individual items laid out flat, then used the website to remove the backgrounds. You might try out the site with any downloaded photos that show the item on a person etc. It does a very good job in my experience. (It’s free to use the website to remove the backgrounds one by one; they also sell a version that allows you do to it en masse, which I’ve never tried.) Then I just use PowerPoint (on a 900×900 size since that works well on my blog)…I add the images I want and arrange them to an empty slide, then save as a JPEG.

        1. Debbie Roes says:

          Thanks for sharing your methodology and the tools you use, Sally. I will give a try. I haven’t used PowerPoint in years, but I think we still have it. Sometimes I use Photoshop for my images, but that’s more time-consuming to do. I used to take photos of all of my clothes, but I’ve been relying on stock images more lately (because of laziness mostly). The images on your blog look great – very clean! I can imagine that it took a while to get everything photographed. All the more reason not to buy a lot of new pieces! As for your experiments, I may end up trying some of them myself…

  6. Katrina B says:

    Nice collection! Your clothes always coordinate so well. I love The Vivienne Files and occasionally I like to reorganize my existing wardrobe into a 4 x 4 or a French 5-Piece or a Common Wardrobe. It’s a fun way of viewing old things in new combinations. But it occurred to me the other day, reading one of her Adding Accessories posts, that I don’t wear accessories anymore. Wow, I used to have so many scarves, and necklaces, and don’t get me started on the purses! I guess a combination of climate, a casual city, and having hardly any reason to leave the house, has finally eliminated my interest in those things.Today I had to go to the office and my accessories were my badge lanyard and a computer bag. My 30-year-old self dressed in formal, tailored, perfectly accessorized office wear would be shaking her head if she could see me now. 🤣

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      I think you’re not alone in wearing fewer accessories, Katrina. It seems like many women have gone that route with the pandemic, along with wearing less makeup and simpler clothes. I didn’t change much in that regard, but lots of women I know (or know of) did. If you’re happy dressing the way you are, that’s all that really matters. It’s definitely simpler when you aren’t worrying about mixing and matching accessories as well as clothing. I agree with you that reorganizing our wardrobes according to new frameworks (like all of the great ideas on The Vivienne Files) can help us to envision new possibilities. I’ll have to try out a Common Wardrobe one of these days, and I will probably blog about it 🙂

  7. Sue says:

    These kinds of posts are very helpful for me for travel. I just returned from a four-day conference and was overjoyed by how little I needed to pack. That’s largely thanks to your blog so thanks, Debbie! In my carry-on backpack, I easily fitted everything I needed. I took two fancy toppers and one extra pair of shoes. I wore dress jeans with leather blue flats on Days 1 and 4, and red flats with a skirt on Day 2 and with a dress on Day 3. I wore topper A with jewellery bundle A on Days 1 and 3, and topper B with jewellery bundle B on Days 2 and 4. I carried the same handbag each day but wore different tops with the jeans and skirt. Everything went with everything (as my clothes now all go now I’ve found my Sue colours and Sue style) and no-one noticed I was repeating wears. It’s so freeing to travel so light and not have to take very much. I wore some casual jeans on the plane and took a couple of extra casual tops and one casual topper to wear in the evenings and at the weekends either side of the conference. I have never felt so well prepared.

    1. Sue says:

      P.S. It did take me much longer than usual to pack so carefully. I tried on all the outfits to make sure they worked, particularly those for the conference. But the effort was really worth it. Even so, I could have kicked myself when I got on the plane and realised I had forgotten to pack any pretty scarves to take things up a notch and really differentiate looks. Next time maybe … 😄

    2. Debbie Roes says:

      I’m very impressed with your travel wardrobe, Sue! Thanks for sharing it here. I have never traveled that lightly, but it seems as if you had everything you needed and still dressed well. I’m curious about the “jewelry bundles.” What pieces constitute a bundle? I can see how packing the way you did took longer than usual, but you didn’t have to check a bag or lug around too much stuff with you. Scarves can definitely take things up a notch. As I wrote about in my “Tale of Two Suitcases” post last year (, my minimalist sister-in-law relies on scarves to make her all neutrals travel wardrobe look different. Next time you can pack a few scarves, but it seems that you did quite well without them this last time. How wonderful that all of your clothes go well together after discovering your best colors and your preferred style aesthetic!

      1. Sue says:

        By jewellery bundle [Brenda Kinsel’s term], I mean a necklace, earrings (usually studs if the necklace is fancy) and ring. Sometimes a bracelet or watch too, but like scarves, I forgot to take wrist wear to the conference. I guess like others here, I got out of the habit of wearing many accessories when working from home during long lockdowns. I definitely want to get back into the habit. I love my accessories..

        1. Sue, thanks for sharing about your packing experience and how well it worked for you at your conference. I like the accessory set / jewelry set / beauty bundle idea with the pieces matched to a specific topper! That makes the capsule quite modular, which feels like it would be easy to then create the specific outfits. I think trying on the outfits ahead of time makes so much sense, esp. given you were at a conference and wanted to be on top of your game for that. If a little extra time prepping makes the travel and the experience at the destination low-stress, that would be a worthwhile trade-off in my book!

        2. Debbie Roes says:

          Thanks for sharing about what a jewelry bundle consists of, Sue. I knew I had heard the term somewhere before. Brenda Kinsel had a lot of great information (RIP). I’m going to try jewelry bundles for my next trip (not sure when that will be…) instead of just throwing a bunch of jewelry into my travel jewelry pouch. Maybe I will be better accessorized as a result.

          When I’m at home, I never wear accessories, other than my Fitbit. I don’t even wear my wedding ring unless I’m going somewhere. My husband doesn’t wear his, either. I have a lot of wonderful accessories, too, but I save them for wearing with my out-and-about clothes. I’m okay with that, and I’m excited to pull them out a few times a week when I go places (other than for walks – I do the walks at least once a day).

  8. Krissie says:

    sorry… but with the language differences I have only ever come across the word topper here on this blog. I am assuming that a topper is a cardigan? sweater or both?

    1. Hi Krissie, in US English, a “topper” refers to a cardigan, jacket, open vest, kimono, poncho…a garment that you layer on top of your blouse/shirt (i.e., top). So a standard three-piece outfit would have a top, bottom, and topper. Or you might wear a dress and topper. Hope that makes sense!

      1. Krissie says:

        Thanks to both you and Debbie for answering my Q! Now I know!!! yay!

    2. Debbie Roes says:

      Sally, thanks for answering Krissie’s question. Sometimes I forget that there are different terms for things in various parts of the world. Another term for a topper might be a “third piece.” Sally described it very well, probably better than I would 🙂 I often forget about kimonos, ponchos, and the like, but they can be very versatile toppers/third pieces.

      1. Sue says:

        I’ve noticed since I’ve been back out in the world that thinking in terms of toppers has really helped me develop my style. Like Krissie, I learned the term topper from this blog and it has opened my eyes. I used to think in terms of cardigans or jumpers [sweaters] for home, blazers for work, and jackets or coats for outside. But the word topper helped me become more open to other options. I surprised myself at the conference. One of the toppers I took was a kind blouse/shirt/blazer, another a kind of blazer/cardigan and the casual one a kind of cardigan/jacket. With the dress, I also wore a very thin linen/viscose[rayon] bolero/cardigan under the topper so that I could remove the topper if I got too hot indoors at the conference or in restaurants and still have my arms covered. This one word has given me much more flexibility in dressing than I once had, which makes me very happy! I really feel much more put together these days.

        1. Debbie Roes says:

          I’m glad that the “topper” concept has been helpful for you, Sue. I’m trying to diversify my topper options because I often rely too much on cardigans. I love jackets, but they can be difficult to fit, and cardigans are much easier (for me). I love the idea of wearing a button-up shirt as a topper, and I plan to try that this summer. It sounds like you’ve got a very versatile topper wardrobe these days – good for you! Toppers definitely help us to feel more put-together. It can be challenging in the summer due to the heat, but that’s something I’m working on (and I blogged about it last fall).

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