Using Color to Add Excitement to Classic Work Looks: A Look at What Happens After a Client’s Capsule Has Been Built
There is so much to get to in today’s post. We’re going to take a look at what happens after a client’s capsule has been created. I’m going to give some resources for when I shop for clients who are exceptionally tall and I am also going to give some show how color can be used to make very basic and classic work looks appear more interesting. Trying to capture all that in one title was truly challenging.
Let’s get started with the basics, some background on my client who I have named Mrs. Vivid. I met Mrs. Vivid at the end of 2021 when she hired me at a critical time in her life. She had just taken a new job where she would be required to be in-office daily. Her career has been a very successful one and she’s at an age where she’s started to age out of the brands she had come to rely on while also knowing it was time to elevate her look to match her professional position. In addition, she recently had a baby which has come with getting to know her body all over again. Adding to this, Mrs. Vivid is tall, at 5’11”, and while this is obviously not a new struggle for her, she was hoping for some outside expertise that could help her navigate shopping for this incredibly underserved portion of the population.
To understand Mrs. Vivid and why I gave her this alias, everything about her hits you hard. Not in a bad way, more like that moment in the Wizard of Oz, where Dorothy exits her house after the tornado is over and the world goes from muted black and white to Technicolor. At that moment in the movie, you don’t know what you were missing until you experience the juxtaposition from black and white to all the colors of Oz. After that, you never want to be without it again. This is Mrs. Vivid. Everything about her, from her personality, to her energy, her warmth, her humor, her openness, is bright.
You don’t want to mute this. You don’t want to take Mrs. Vivid and dampen her in ranges of neutrals and somber colors. Mrs. Vivid also has that perfect high contrast winter coloring that looks perfect in vibrant jewel-tone shades. My goal, seconds after meeting her on Zoom session was to figure out how to create colorful professional looks that captured everything about who she is while also creating appropriate looks for her work environment.
Mrs. Vivid Needs Tall Brands
The chances that there won’t be some sort of fly in the ointment when working with clients is about .000001%. There will always, be a glitch that will pose a challenge and is likely what turns most aspiring stylists away from doing this work in earnest. Look, if this job was playing dress-up with “perfect” paper doll-like women then, sure, it seems like this would be a fun, easy job. But when it gets real, because real-life-perfect isn’t what most aspiring stylists sign up for, sh*t gets hard. So when I say “fly in the ointment,” none of this is to imply complaint or criticism of women or my clientele. It truly is part of the job and a problem-solving part I enjoy. Nine times out of ten, clients will have foot problems, be in a size fashion doesn’t cater to, have fabric allergies, will tell me they can’t or won’t wear certain things, have real lives that limit what they can wear, I can go on. My point is, if you want to be a stylist, this is part of the job.
For Mrs. Vivid, it was height, which seriously hamstrung the brands I could access. I’m not talking about needing a few inches of pants length, I’m talking about needing tall everything. Fashion brands have gotten better about offering taller pants, but few think of taller tops, and for some reason, many tall brands just assume that tall women wear casual clothes and don’t want to spend a lot. No disrespect to tall brands like Long Tall Sally, but we’re not exactly talking about professional investment clothing when you shop there. So while I know what I wanted Mrs. Vivid to look like, it was the sourcing that was a challenge. I had to find who was doing clothing tall enough and could get me close enough to the quality I felt she deserved or regular which brands cut long enough to eke by. I referenced brands I recalled where I knew every client needed to hem the lengths or did custom work at a fair price.
Starting with Mrs. Vivid’s Capsule
Mrs. Vivid was my last client project before I went on my much-needed holiday hiatus, and once I sent this off to her, I fell into a pile of exhaustion and signed off. When I create a capsule for a client, it varies tremendously. Sometimes, I capsule the whole thing, like I did for Ms. Intentional. Other times, I give a client just enough of a reference so they can get a feel for how it all works. It all depends on the client and their needs. Given Mrs. Vivid’s base of black and grey, her capsule didn’t need as much clear direction.
Shop Mrs. Vivid’s Capsule
1 Chamberlain Tweed Blazer 2 Porter Jacket 3 Tie Waist Lady Jacket 4 Tall Regent Blazer 5 High-rise Cameron Pant 6 Shondrah Rae Pumps 7 Rowan Flat 8 The Point- Cloud Grey Birdseye 9 The Point- Ecru 10 The Point- Sugared Berry 11 Grand Ambition Slip-On Loafer 12 The Heel 13 The Penny 14 The Boot 15 Faeylynn Boot 16 Albemarle Pull-On Pants 17 High-Rise Straight Italian Wool Pant 18 High-Rise Tapered Italian Wool-Blend Pant 19 Albemarle Wide Leg Pants 20 High-Rise Wide-Leg Italian Wool Pant 21 High-Rise Wide-Leg Italian Wool-Blend Pant 22 Wing Lapel Ponte Knit Jacket 23 Warm Wool Blend Plaid Coat 24 Notch Collar Melton Look Car Coat 25 Pebbled Leather Belt 26 Square Buckle Belt 27 Beebe Belt 28 Seamed Faux Leather Tie Waist Midi Skirt 29 Belted Seamed Pencil Skirt 30 Band Collar Silk Blouse 31Bashina Blouse 32 Starry Spotted Bow Blouse 33 Essential Popover Top 34 Pleated Tie-Neck Top 35 Cashmere Blend Sweater 36 Cotton Knit Open Front Cardigan 37 Cotton Jersey Open Front Cardigan 38 Australian Merino Wool Open Cardigan Sweater 40 Rib Stripe Surplice Sweater Dress 41 Ottoman Rib-Knit Two-Tone Stripe Sweater Dress 42 Accordion Fit-And-Flare Sweater Knit Dress 42 (whoops, miscount) Cashmere Blend Surplice Sweater 43 Turtleneck Cotton Cashmere Sweater 44 High Boat Neck Cotton Jersey Tee- Vibrant Garnet 45 High Boat Neck Cotton Jersey Tee- Plum Perfect 46 Concise Stand Collar Silk Shirt 47 Mongolian Cashmere Tee 48 Washable Stretch Silk Tee 49 Dupon Dress 50 Cotton Knit Belted Palazzo Jumpsuit 51 Paisley Print Crepe Sash-Tie Shirtdress 52 Colorblock Cotton Jersey Sash-Tie Jumpsuit
This is everything I presented to Mrs. Vivid to consider. Again, as I always say, with no intention of her buying it all. Particularly in her case, we were dealing with clothing that needed to be tall enough, so a wide net needed to be cast. This capsule was created in December, so by now, some of the pieces are long gone, but surprisingly, many are still available.
The Looks Created for From Mrs. Vivid’s Capsule
As you can see, there is color in this capsule, but it’s still appropriate with plenty of neutral options for the times when a more conservative look is required in the environment where Mrs. Vivid works. The black and grey ground the poppier shades.
What Mrs. Vivid Bought and Kept
Up until now, you have seen the capsules I create for a client. What you haven’t seen is what happens next. While I have explained that clients never buy the entire capsule created, it’s still hard to imagine where things land. Continuing the story, after I sent Mrs. Vivid her capsule, we had a brief phone meeting to discuss the selections together. The holidays came and went, I got COVID, January passed, and finally after not hearing from Mrs. Vivid at all, I got a text from her asking to book a follow-up. In our meeting, I found out that not only did she also get COVID in January, but it was also a very busy month for her. During our meeting, we used the time to review which purchases she kept and strategized based on these keeps what holes needed to be filled.
Mrs. Vivid’s Capsule Keeps
How a client lands where they do is never linear. Some choices are made simply by preference. Some are hopeful purchases that don’t wind up working out because they don’t fit. Those are disappointing. Others are sold out before a client can even get to them, and sometimes that can be within minutes of me finding them in their size. These are devastatingly disappointing. Lastly, for some purchases, a client will come back and buy later. Not all purchases can be made on the first pass simply from a budget standpoint. Pieces Mrs. Vivid is currently considering are the M.M. Lafleur Tweed Jacket, Banana Republic’s wide-leg grey pants, and the black merino cardigan from Quince. These can all be viewed in the original capsule above.
If you are tall, to help you, I want to give you some guidance on some shopping resources that worked for Mrs. Vivid.
J.Crew suits, jackets, and pants: If I had my way, I’d bump up the quality of Mrs. Vivid’s suit. I have no problem with J.Crew’s suits, but with her budget and career level, she’s ready for a better investment style. However, because she is tall, J.Crew came through. It’s great, fits well, and given how often she needs to wear a suit, it will get the job done.
Banana Republic for Tops and Pants: I had a very disappointing experience with a client and Banana Republic this season. I’ve been off them for years due to their middle-of-the-road styling but this year, their styling appealed to me. Unfortunately, their fit was really inconsistent. Yet, with Mrs. Vivid, they came through and I’m a bit less “dead to me” about them than I was. They are one of the few brands that actually make tall work tops and not just tall bottoms.
eShakti: Well, thank God for eShakti. First, they’ve come a long way with their silhouettes along with a robust selection. For the tall woman, this site can be a blessing. Mrs. Vivid tried more than she wound up keeping mainly due to fabric issues, but she still walked away with two gorgeous coats, a cardigan, and a jumpsuit.
Boden for Pants: Boden can be a fantastic pants resource for tall women. They have an offering beyond your basic shades, which is all the tall gal usually gets from most retailers. Mrs. Vivid picked up two pairs, the pink and the burgundy.
Vince, L’Agence & Boss: These three brands do not offer tall sizes, but my history with them made it seem worth trying with Mrs. Vivid. Many clients need the hems of L’Agence’s blazers hemmed, I knew that the BOSS Bashina shirt has pretty long sleeves and I thought the Vince blouse was worth the risk at least trying. These three non-tall pieces worked out. This is not to say that all styles from these brands will work across the board, but it’s worth trying.
Of Mercer: This is a bit of an outlier brand that has a small range of tall pieces. Mrs. Vivid picked up the cobalt dress from there. It skirted the line of still being a hair short and she is considering returning it for one size larger and then tailoring it with hopes it will give her a bit more length.
Quince Silk Tees and Merino Cardigans: Like the above, Quince doesn’t offer tall and sadly, the merino and cashmere pullovers from were too short, but Mrs. Vivid did have success with their basic merino cardigan and their silk t-shirts which she picked up in several colors.
Outfits Mrs. Vivid Created to Review for Our Session
So you have to imagine the setting. It’s been a month. I haven’t heard from Mrs. Vivid at all until she booked her appointment. We have a session booked for the next day and I happen to mosey over to our shared secret Pinterest board and notice that she posted a few photos of outfits she had put together on her own. I’m floored. And to really get it, you have to understand our starting point. While her wardrobe wasn’t a disaster, most of her clothes were pre-baby, she had been working from home like most of us, her wardrobe was not at the level it needed to be, and we were essentially starting from scratch. I open our Pinterest board and I see this.
These photos are what inspired me to ask, “Hey Mrs. Vivid, can I do a whole post about you?” The whole topic of this post was originally just going to be about how color can be used to make very basic outfits look interesting and you can see why. Let’s take the outfit on the left, for example. If this was a black blazer with a pair of grey pants, a basic ivory top, and black shoes, it would be fine and acceptable. It would also be what anybody could do. It’s the use of the bold L’Agence blazer paired with the emerald green top, the green belt, deep green suede loafers, and the green belt that makes this very basic look interesting. On the right, Mrs. Vivid took the same blazer and created a very different look using the black jumpsuit; a jumpsuit she could also dress up and wear more formally.
Next, Mrs. Vivid took the same base as the first look and put the green cardigan over it. As I told her, at first I was a bit, “hmmm, I don’t know if these greens work together.” But the more I looked at it, the more I started to find the tones of greens interesting with the belt and the shoes added.
Then Mrs. Vivid posted this photo and I fell in love. She added this black and white tattersall coat to the look she styled with the pink Boden pants and black silk tee. She added her own leopard flats. The leopard shoes with that coat and pink pants! Are you kidding? This is next-level amazing. Again, let’s pull the color out. Let’s put the pieces in more basic and expected colors, and consider how much flatter and just okay it would look. The last outfit proves you don’t even have to go overboard to make a big impact. In this outfit, Mrs. Vivid paired her new favorite grey Banana Republic pants with her BOSS shirt, the Quince merino cardigan in grey, and then popped the look with her new purple, green, and cobalt Rothys.
What’s Next for Mrs. Vivid
I explain to clients that shopping is often a two steps forward, one step back process. We forge ahead, stop, review, and then move forward again. In reviewing the final purchase list, we identified the holes that were left and needed to balance out her wardrobe. This included more tops (no surprise considering how hard it is to find tops for tall women), jeans (something we haven’t tackled yet), a pair of burgundy booties because while the pair I chose didn’t work, she still wants a pair, a burgundy sweater, and a white blazer as we move into spring. Of course, spring is right around the corner too, so at some point, we’ll be discussing what from this capsule will carry over and what we’ll be adding for the new season.
Lastly, it’s important to note that the looks created by Mrs. Vivid weren’t from the capsule I made for her. She did it by herself. It was through the tight direction given in the capsule that allowed her to do it solo with such ease and with so few pieces. This is the benefit of a focused wardrobe. It practically comes together by itself because it is thought out, concise, directed, and clear.
My sincere thanks to Mrs. Vivid for not only allowing me to not only share her capsule but the follow-up work and outfits created. It’s a pure joy working with you and I look forward to continued time shared.