When I opened up the suggestion box a few months ago, many of you asked for capsule-wardrobe guidance. How do you keep your looks fun and interesting if you’re working with a small group of well-loved and well-edited pieces? I feel a bit ill-equipped to answer this one myself, as someone who relishes a large and varied wardrobe, so I asked the amazing Nubby Twiglet if I could get her input instead.
A talented graphic designer and artist, Nubby has fabulous taste in clothing, yet generally confines her purchases to items that are black, white, and red. She definitely throws in some other bold hues, multicolored pieces, and accents on occasion, but if you’ve been reading her blog for long, you’ll see that her core wardrobe is simple, elegant pieces in those three iconic shades.
I asked Nubby how she felt about her commitment to this relatively confining style aesthetic, and she gave me some truly fascinating answers. Read on for the interview:
Your personal style centers on a color palette of black, white, and red. How did you settle upon that group of shades?
I think that everyone has a signature color, whether they consciously realize it or not. I’ve always enjoyed the clean and sophisticated look that monochromatic ensembles lend but I still like the occasional pop of color to bring it all to life. My passion is graphic design and I’ve always been inspired by Swiss design in particular — the use of clean lines and a palette of red, black and white. For me, my design work, house decor and personal style are all singular. It’s all connected to form a bigger picture.
Do you ever feel confined or stifled by your desire to stay true to your personal aesthetic?
Not at all. I like having a defined, recognizable look. Some people are comfortable changing their outward appearance constantly. Personally, I thrive on consistency. Being pulled together and recognizable (not looking like a different person every day!) are my two goals. Like many others, I keep a very busy schedule and knowing what works and having a well-stocked closet of basics makes life so much easier!
How do you keep your ensembles from looking stale and repetitive?
Accessories are key. While I may rotate through a pile of little black dresses, skinny black zipper jeans and t-shirts covered in graphic type, I can still transform my look with a pair of kick-ass shoes, a great scarf, an awesome handbag and unique jewelry.
Do you find that having a signature set of colors leads you to purchase an abundance of new items in an attempt to keep things fresh?
Not necessarily. I love the classics. The most basic items in my closet are the ones I wear the most. I’m fairly practical and I have a lot less clothes than some may think. Because of my limited color palette, I tend to really get my use out of what I have in my closet. If anything, I spend way more on accessories. I won’t buy yellow jeans but I’ll buy yellow shoes. Because, instinctively, I know that I can get a lot more wear out of those yellow shoes.
What advice would you give women hoping to simplify their wardrobes by culling down to a small group of pieces that work interchangeably?
Ask yourself what you wear the most. Is there a favorite cardigan that you constantly gravitate toward when you don’t know what to wear? Do you own that one pair of jeans that fit perfectly? Is there a pair of shoes that seem to go with everything, whether you’re dressed up or down? These are your key go-to items. If you have many other items taking up space in your closet that you just don’t wear, ask yourself why. Are they ill-fitting? Were they gifts that you just can’t part with? Is there an emotional attachment? Either get rid of them or move them to a separate space where they won’t interfere with your basic, everyday wardrobe. I actually have a spare closet in my home office that I call my “costume closet” and I store all of my whimsical, costume-y, special occasion and vintage oddities in it. This frees up space for me to access my everyday pieces.
Because they’ve been tested over and over, I think that it’s okay to buy duplicates of your “everyday basics” that are the highest quality you can afford. They are the key anchors to the rest of your wardrobe because they work. One of my biggest pet peeves is having to re-buy an item because it was poorly made and wore out quickly. Even though I’m spending significantly more upfront on a handful of items – whether that be a great coat, shoes, or a handbag – chances are that I’ll still have it in rotation in 5, 10 or even 20 years. For instance, my favorite black jacket began to wear out after 10 years of regular wear so I saved up and found a great deal on my dream Rick Owens jacket on eBay. Sure it was still really expensive but I feel great wearing it, the quality is unparalleled and it’s something I instinctively know I will always have.
What do you feel are the advantages of creating strict parameters for personal style?
Consistency. Some of the most iconic people in history had somewhat of a uniform that made them instantly recognizable. Part of the appeal of having a strong sense of personal style is knowing what works visually before you even open up closet. Getting dressed shouldn’t be a battle; the outcome should be uplifting and make you feel good!
Who among you is working within the parameters of a small wardrobe? Do you agree with Nubby’s perspective on capsule dressing? Anything to add? Any questions for her?