Saturday, November 22, 2014

How to Dress Up a Starting From Scratch Wardrobe: A Dressy Top

Another way to dress up your Starting from Scratch Wardrobe is to find a blouse, tee shirt, sweater, or even a sweatshirt that has something dressy going on. There's a world of options around this time of year: lace, sequins, beads, jewels and embroidery are all possibilities. 

Grey lace top – Dolce and Gabbana, yellow sweatshirt- Noshua, houndstooth sequined tee – Michael Michael Kors, striped top – Mother of Pearl, sequined sweater – Kaos, bone sequined sweater- Max Mara

If you want to see all of the garments and accessories from the original Starting From Scratch Wardrobe, check here.
  • The Navy and Grey Starting From Scratch Wardrobe
The lace top is beautiful with everything in your wardrobe; you could even wear it under your cardigan during the day, and then pop off the sweater at night in order to be more dressy. A pair of silvery grey dress shoes would amp up the look another bit, but you really wouldn't want to hang a necklace over the lovely lace - a bracelet would be sufficient.

  • The Navy and Beige Starting From Scratch Wardrobe
For this, I chose an accent color from the wardrobe, and got really casual by using a sweatshirt. While some of us might not find wearing a sweatshirt with a skirt comfortable, others might; this is something to consider if you find a dressy sweatshirt you like...

  •  The Black and Grey Starting From Scratch Wardrobe
I love this top - it includes both of the core colors of the wardrobe, and has a great menswear pattern too! 

  • The Caramel and Black Starting From Scratch Wardrobe

This was a fun top to stumble upon - an accent color from the wardrobe, decorated with one of the core wardrobe colors. Here's a case where you might want to find a nice bracelet or pair of earrings in solid black, because the Match Makers in caramel and black that are part of the Starting From Scratch Wardrobe won't really work here. Happily, this time of year, it's easy to find a pair of dressy earrings for a pittance..

  • The Brown and Beige Starting From Scratch Wardrobe
This is low-key dressiness - a bit of shimmer with tone-on-tone sequins. I have a similar sweater in black, and it's a work-horse in my wardrobe. Shimmer is dressy without being over the top.

  •  The Khaki and Olive Starting From Scratch Wardrobe
Another sweater in one of your accent colors, but in a very neutral accent. (if that makes any sense?) The short-sleeves gives you the option to wear almost 12 months - on a moderately warm evening, this would be lovely with beige linen trousers. 

I'm also going to look into the possibility of using accessories and/or shoes to dress up these wardrobes; is that something you'd like to see?



Friday, November 21, 2014

How to Choose a Winter Coat to Wear with Navy

Many of you were interested in a coat to wear with navy clothes, and I had great fun obliging! Some of these coats cost MANY months of rent, but they are amazingly beautiful, and they give us a look and a level of quality to which we can aspire in our more normal coat shopping.

  • The Patterned Coat
Paisley! Subtle, and almost iridescent, This coat doesn't need much. The hat is divine, the infinity scarf is a subtle melange of the colors in the coat, and the cashmere gloves pick up one of the brighter highlight colors. Feather earrings echo the swirling feeling of the pattern of the coat. 

Note: These cashmere gloves are going to show up a few times - they are available in a range of colors, and are a very reasonable price (for cashmere!).

Navy print coat – Stella McCartney, hat - Jacques Vert, teal and navy dip dyed ombre scarf – Vince, teal cashmere gloves – Halogen, navy sweater – Closed, feather earrings – LeiVanKash, navy corduroy jeans – Uniqlo, boots – Seychelles

  • The Bright Coat
They don't come much brighter! I didn't want to get TOO carried away with this bright color, so a navy beret with a bit of sparkle, and navy gloves, help tone down the exuberance just a bit. The soft scarf will be well tucked into the neckline of the coat, but will show if you've left open the top button. And the floral motif of the earrings is an homage to the flowered scarf.

Coat – Fenn Wright Manson, beaded beret – Accessorize, scarf – Yuh Okano, gloves – Isotoner, navy sweater – Closed, gold flower earrings – Neha, navy corduroy jeans – Uniqlo, boots – Seychelles

  • The Shade or Tone of my Neutral Coat
I took this to mean that I could find a coat in any shade of blue. Paler blues looked kind of odd with the navy outfit, so I chose cobalt. (Turquoise is also an EXCELLENT option...) This is a much more "over the top" outfit - especially the hat with the "cat's ears". Trust me, when you start looking for cat ear hats, they're EVERYWHERE.  I was shocked...  The marbled fabric scarf includes a bunch of shades of blue - it would be a useful addition to any navy wardrobe. And small blue earrings give you a bit of sparkle.

Blue coat - Stella McCartney, cat ears hat – Bernhard Willhelm, scarf – Edition de Luxe, navy suede gloves – Dents, navy sweater – Closed, earrings – Judith Jack, navy corduroy jeans – Uniqlo, boots – Seychelles

  • The Textured Coat
If your wardrobe is centered on navy and beige, this is the PERFECT coat for you!  The simple knit cap is also available in a bunch of lovely colors... A traditional plaid scarf, and beige gloves finish off your clothes. The earrings? They have the texture of the coat, and the angularity of the pattern of the scarf! No detail is too small, sometimes...

Tweed coat – Sessun, knit cap – Dear Cashmere, plaid scarf – Y’s, beige cashmere gloves – Halogen, navy sweater – Closed, earrings – St. John Collection, navy corduroy jeans – Uniqlo, boots – Seychelles

  • The Pastel Coat
You will NOT see a lot of other people sporting about in a coat in this color, trust me! It was pretty amazing to find a hat in the same color! Missoni scarves are always worth checking out if you're in search of a "Match Maker" item to pull 2 colors together - they are masters of the interesting and unusual color combination. Suede gloves keep things calm and low key.  And THESE earrings? Notice the zigzag pattern in them, which is also the signature knit of your Missoni scarf? 

Green coat -  Giorgio Armani, hat – Jo Gordon, scarf – Missoni, navy cashmere gloves – Halogen, navy sweater – Closed, earrings – Annabelle Lucilla Jewellery, navy corduroy jeans – Uniqlo, boots – Seychelles

  • The Complementary Neutral Coat
Mixing of warm and cool colors at it's finest! This caramel (or tobacco, or auburn) coat, hat and gloves look great with navy, and the amazing pleated scarf makes it all look intentional! For these earrings, I found the best priced amber earrings at a shop that raises money for animal rescue! Amazing....

Caramel coat – Diane Von Furstenberg, hat – Lisa Battaglia, scarf – Cathayana, gloves – 8, navy sweater – Closed, amber stud earrings – The Animal Rescue Site, navy corduroy jeans – Uniqlo, boots – Seychelles

As always, I'm working with a base of great simplicity. Or great elegance, as I prefer to describe it. A beautiful sweater, corduroy jeans, and navy boots - your options to build upon these simple basics are impossible to count. And that whole "solid dark vertical column" thing is no joke. 

Navy sweater – Closed, navy corduroy jeans – Uniqlo, bootsSeychelles

                        Kohls Department Stores Inc

Thursday, November 20, 2014

How to Dress Up a Starting From Scratch Wardrobe: An Embellished Cardigan

A frequent concern for many of us this time of year is how to take our normal, everyday clothes, and make them "party-worthy". I don't like to buy a whole new outfit for a party - I'd much rather figure out a way to elevate the things I already own through the purchase of one strategic item.

There are a couple of different ways to do this; today I'm going to explore the possibilities inherent in a cardigan with some sort of beaded, embroidered or metallic detailing. If you don't want to buy a new sweater, this is a great opportunity to do something crafty - I've seen some amazing sweaters dressed up with ribbon embroidery, or hand beading, done by the sweater owner. In one case, the initial embroidery was done to conceal a tiny hole, and eventually transformed the sweater into a one-of-a-kind gem. 

  • The Embellished Cardigans:
grey cardigan – Viyella, metallic argyle cardigan – Blugirl, Red beaded cardigan – Valentino, cream cardigan with chain trim – Moschino, sequined cardigan – Nougat, metallic cardigan – Havren

  • The Caramel and Black Starting From Scratch Wardrobe 
black tee – Warehouse, blue tee – Majestic Filaturescaramel tee – Hallhuber, coral tee shirt – Warehouse, floral tee – Jason Wu, black jacket – Minimalblack cardigan – Michael Michael Korsblue cardigan – Lorena Antoniazzicaramel wool and cashmere cardigan – Customer Lovers, striped tee – Kainleather jacket – Jaegeroff-white tee shirt – Josephblack mandarin collar blouse - Closet, coral silk tunic – Equipment, black long-sleeved tee – Mint Velvet, off-white cotton sweater – MIH Jeans, denim shirt – Nili Lotan, blue linen shirt – Jaeger, white shorts - Uniqloblack turtleneck – Uniqlo ivory silk top – Jaegerblack shorts – Hallhuberwhite shirt – Whyredshort-sleeved sweatshirt – MET, tank top – Dorothy Perkinscoat – Jil Sander, dress – Charlotte, copper twill trousers – Lands’ Endblack trousers – Mint Velvetblack dress – Y.A.S.caramel jeans – Toastblack jeans – R13, black skirt - French Connection

  • The Caramel and Black Starting From Scratch Wardrobe Accessories

tan bag – Dorothy Perkinstigereye oval earrings – Max and Chloeenamel bracelet – Fendi, gold hoop earrings – Lauren Ralph Lauren, watch – Fossil, light grounded scarf – Play Manterobeaded bracelet – Tiraphan Hasub, coral print scarf – B.A. Printed Artworksbrown stud earrings – Michael Michael Kors black d'Orsay pumps - Sole Societyblack cord necklace – John and Pearlbrooch – Lanvin, carnelian, quartz, amethystlapis necklace– Ritubrown scarf – Erfurt black bag – Diane von Furstenberg, boots – BP, black canvas shoes – A2 by Aerosolesbrown ballet flats – Fryesandals – Munroblack ballet flats – Armani

From this wardrobe, I chose a few of the simplest garments and slid the cardigan over them. There wasn't a simple gold bracelet in this wardrobe, but the addition of that, or a gold necklace, would be idea.

  • The Black and Grey Starting From Scratch Wardrobe 
black tee – Hallhuberblue tee – Hallhuberabstract tee – Balenciaga, red tee – Oasisred cardigan – Bottega Venetagrey cardigan - Mango black cotton and cashmere cardigan – 10 Crosby Derek Lam, white tee – French Connectionsweatshirt tunic – IROblack v-neck sweater – Vincevertical striped top– Malene Birger, grey sweater – Wal-Gwhite cotton shirt – Diane von Furstenbergblue shirt - Uniqlo, denim shirt – Nili Lotan, black elbow sleeve sweater - Hobbs London, grey tee– T by Alexander Wang, red blouse – Cutieblack cashmere turtleneck – Jil Sander, black denim jacket – J. Brand, shorts – T by Alexander Wangstriped tee shirt – 10 Crosby Derek Lamgrey skirt – Diane von Furstenbergred print skirt – Desigualblack jeans – Current/Elliottgrey pleated trousers – Alberto Biani, black skirt - Joseph, black linen trousers – Viyella, dress – Maison Martin Margiela, coat – Sportmax, black leggings – Liu Jo

  • The Black and Grey Starting From Scratch Wardrobe Accessories

grey pearl earrings - Lee Renee, onyx bead bracelet - Simon Sebbagonyx dots necklace - toosis, coral patterned earrings - anzu jewelry (sold out), cord necklace– Lamprinibracelet – Alexis Bittar teardrop earrings - Toosis, black white and red scarf - Vince Camuto,  brooch – Alexis Bittar red scarf – Isabel Marant Etoile,  watch - DKNY,  red tote bag - chissenesandals – Cole Haanstar print scarf – Jimmy Chooblack bag - Gregory Sylvia, nautical scarf – Brooks Brothers, boots – Aquatalia by Marvin K.grey ballet flats – Café Noirblack pumps - Trottersred loafers – Robert Zurpointed toe loafers – Kelsi Dagger Brooklyn

This might be the easiest wardrobe to dress up, given the general dressiness associated with black. Red earrings, or a bracelet, might go well here too..

  •  The Brown and Beige Starting From Scratch Wardrobe 
tan tee shirt - Uniqlo, blue blouse – Uniqloyellow top – Uniqlobrown Henley tee - Uniqlo, tan jacket - Lands’ End, light blue cardigan – Sonia by Sonia Rykiel tan marled cardigan – Junarosechocolate brown fleece cardigan – L.L.Beanbrown cotton tee – Uniqlo, off-white tee – Chloe, denim shirt – Nili Lotan,  light blue tee - Velvetbrown tank – Uniqlo, lace tank – Uniqlobrown back-buttoned blouse - Alberto Bianibrown patchwork tee – Szen,khaki skirt – Merona ivory silk blouse – Jaeger, light blue floral shirt – Equipment brown sweater – Gestuzyellow floral blouse - Topshop, light blue sweater – Dear Cashmere, yellow sweater - Topshop, camel sweater – Warehouseblue dress – Dorothy Perkinsdenim skirt – CCbrown twill trousers - Lands’ End, beige pants – The Row, tweed skirt - Precis, Coat – Tomasobrown jeans – Viyellapaisley lounge pants - Uniqlo
  • The Brown and Beige Starting From Scratch Wardrobe Accessories

square scarf – Radical Chic, blue necklace – Oliver Bonas, pearl and chain bracelet – Givenchy, solid blue scarf – Nordstrom, hoop earrings – Alexis Bittar, beaded bracelet – Chan Luu, necklace– Givenchybrooch – Luisa Viaromablue and brown scarf – Paola Pecora brown round earrings – Kasturjewels, watch – Timex, smoky quartz earrings - toosisbag – Ferragamo, tote – Coettassel loafers – The Flexx, boots – Frye suede oxfords – G.H. Bass and Co.brown pumps - Vanelitan ballet flats – Michael Michael Korssandals – Jimmy Choo

These are colors that aren't usually associated with the winter holidays, but they're YOUR colors, so you wear them because they're right for you - who wants to blend it? A few sequins are all it takes to make this wardrobe perfectly suitable for all sorts of festive activities. Stuck in the kitchen until the last minute? Hang your cardigan in a corner somewhere, and when you whip off your apron, you slip on your cardigan, and it's instant party time!

You DO have, and wear, an apron, I assume... They can be the smartest purchase you ever make, if they save you from ruining just ONE garment...

  •  The Khaki and Olive Starting From Scratch Wardrobe 
Turquoise tee – Kin by John Lewiskhaki tee - Target, maroon tee – Linea Weekend, Off-white tee – Chloe, turquoise cardigan – Fedeliolive cardigan – Meronamaroon cardigan – Distantekhaki cashmere cardigan – La Garconne, beige blouse - French Connectionolive tee – Shu Moriyamaturquoise angora sweater– Roberto Collina, floral sleeveless top – Dorothy Perkins, beige hoodie – Uniqlo, turquoise silk blouse – Ralph Lauren Black Label, green cashmere sweater – Jason Wu, denim shirt – Nili Lotan,  ivory shorts – Erika Cavallini, turquoise sweatshirt – Blumarine, sleeveless top – La Fee Marabouteebeige skirt - Vicky Tiel, ivory silk blouse – Jaegerfloral shirt - Uniqlomaroon floral shirt – Zanetti 1965green tee shirt -  James Perse, coat – Mary Portas, sweatpants – American Vintageolive trousers – Isabel Marant Etoile, ivory dress – Roberta Guercini, maroon velvet jeans – J. Brand, skirt – Derek Lam, tan trousers – Hallhuberbeige jeans – Morgan

  • The Khaki and Olive Starting From Scratch Wardrobe Accessories
Turquoise earrings - Ippolitamaroon bag –  Longchamp, jasper and pyrite necklace– Nangara by Julia Fusinato, turquoise bag – Sondra Roberts, pearl necklace – Maria Calderarawooden earrings – Hring eftir hring, tiny beads bracelet – Chan Luu, garnet earrings – Khun Boomwatch – Armani Exchange, leather brooch – Hoss Intropiazigzag infinity scarf - Brazenturquoise bracelet – Argento Vivo, tile print scarf – Mosaiquesheer scarf – Missoni, suede wedges - French Sole, boots – Cobb Hill,  olive canvas booties – Matisse, sandals – Cole Haan, penny loafers – Cole Haanolive ballet flats – Chloe

At first glance, this wardrobe doesn't look very "holiday" either, but these colors shine when paired with deep red. The cardigan can go from quite dressy, over your best beige dress, or can be relaxed enough to go to a pub for an after-work part, with trousers and a blouse.

  • The Navy and Beige Starting from Scratch Wardrobe 
Denim shirt – Nili Lotan, green shirt– Silvian Heach, navy blouse - Vince, white cardigan – Labo Art, navy and tan jacket – Madewellnavy wool cardigan – Miu Miubeige cardigan – Marellalong tee shirt – Uniqlo green floral tee – MSGM, beige tank top - Uniqlo, navy silk tee – Theory, white tank top – Oasis, mint green tee - Reiss, tunic – East Gracie, white silk blouse – Nic +Zoe, tan shorts – A.P.C., navy tee – Lands’ Endyellow tee – Warehouse, navy floral blouse – Sugarhill Boutiquenavy cashmere turtleneck – Jil Sanderyellow sweater– Woolrich, bone cardigan – kaliko, tan cashmere sweater – Masterstan pants – Uniqloyellow dress – Miss Selfridge, flaired skirt - Hobbs London, navy leggings – Wallis, coat – Marella, navy print dress – Sea, navy trousers – Viyellanavy jeans – Uniqlo

  • The Navy and Beige Starting From Scratch Wardrobe Accessories
navy earrings – Dorothy Perkinssilk necklace– Saako Designwatch – Anne Klein, brooch – Brooks Brothersgold hoop earrings – Argento Vivo, enamel bracelet – Hermes, navy floral scarf – Dickins and Jones, rope bracelet – Brooks Brotherssilver and amazonite earrings – Alexis Bittar, beige and navy checked scarf – Aquascutum, boots – Attilio Giusti Leombruninavy bag – Halogenyellow diamond necklace – Allurez, pastel checked scarf – Collection Weekend, beige bag – Marc by Marc Jacobs, pumps - Jimmy Choo, canvas shoes – Wanted, sandals – Via Spigaballet flats – Me Too, black penny loafers – Cole Haan

If you're mostly a sporty sort of person, don't forget the power of a little bit of metallic thrown into an otherwise quite casual pattern! And don't forget that a dress you already own is almost certainly more than appropriate for a winter holiday party - even though the weather is cold, the parties are usually over-heated. Your mid-weight dress from warmer weather can get another airing in these environments and be both appropriate and comfortable.

  • The Grey and Navy Starting From Scratch Wardrobe 
lilac tee – Nougat London, white tee – Majestic,  silver grey tee – Hallhuber, navy silk blouse – Theory, pink merino cardigan - Uniqlonavy cardigan – Dorothy Perkins,  navy seed stitch cardigan – Joseph, grey cashmere cardigan – Jaeger, pink wrap blouse– Velvet, navy cotton sweater – Closedwhite cotton shirt – Diane von Furstenberg, grey hoodie – Uniqlo, denim shirt – Nili Lotan, navy tee – Lands’ End, floral blouse – Parkerpink short-sleeved shirt – FennWright Manson, navy skirt – Nina Ricci, grey shorts – Dorothy Perkins, cloud print tee – Second Day  grey tweed skirt - Marc Jacobs, sweatshirt – Topshoplavender blouse– Marni Editionnavy cashmere turtleneck – Jil Sandergrey crew sweater - Dear Cashmerenavy trousers – Jacques Vert silver grey trousers – Viyella, dress – Jaeger lounge pants – Sonoma, coat – T by Alexander Wang, navy jeans – Valentino, grey dress – Diane von Furstenberggrey jeans – Rebecca Taylor

  • The Grey and Navy Starting From Scratch Wardrobe Accessories

Silver earrings – Anne Klein, pink amethyst brooch – Alok Jain, grey pearl bracelet – Majorica, knotted scarf – Nina Ricci, fabric necklace– Saako Design, pastel bracelet – Anne Klein, amethyst pendant - Lee Renee, navy and grey scarf – Hinge, grey pearl earrings – Majorica, floral scarf – Twisted Muse, pink earrings – Lagos, watch – Fossil, grey bag – CK Calvin Kleinboots – Roberto del Carlonavy bag – Brooks Brothers, grey wedge pumps - Trotters, canvas shoes - Reebok, sandals – Munro,  tasseled flats – Trotters

A little more metallic - which jazzes up monochromatic grey very well! A tweed skirt becomes much more festive when paired with something that shimmers in the light...  Again, your best dress, with beautiful jewelry, might be all that's required. As much as we are pressured to buy new things - better things - DIFFERENT things - for this time of year, don't forget to take a step back and consider the possibility that you have everything you need already, and that you just have to be confident enough to wear something that someone might recognize. After all, that says more about them than it say about you.

 Please remember that these Step by Step Wardrobe were completed a few months ago, and MANY of these links might be invalid now.

I have a few other ideas of how we can dress up these wardrobes for the holidays - do you want to see these suggestions?  Let me know!

                        Alexis Bittar