Friday, November 27, 2015

Choosing an Accent Color for Brown

As I mentioned yesterday, I want to look at the possibility of different accent colors for a few neutrals - today let's think about dark chocolate brown!

First up, the core four garments upon which we will build these outfits. Having these 4 pieces can make your life so much easier....

Ryder pants J.Crew; cashmere turtleneck – J. Crew; 
 jeans – Austin Reed; ribbed crewneck - Michael Kors Collection

I took the same approach, starting with two neutral colors that could serve as accents in a mainly brown wardrobe. If you were building a wardrobe with more than 1 neutral, you would have lots of options like this:
Olive vestL.L.Bean; green earrings – GFG Jewellery; scarf – L.L.Bean; olive 
mittens – J. Crew; olive boots – Vince Camuto; navy earrings – Kendra
 Scott; navy vest – J. Crew; navy scarf – Tory Burch; navy
 gloves – Halogen; navy boots – Lucky Brand

I loves these bright colors - you would certainly stand out in a sea of black winter coats if you wore one of these vests!  And for many people, these are much more flattering colors...

Orange vestHunky Jackets; carnelian earrings – Ippolita; tie dyed scarf –  
La Fiorentina; orange gloves – MRZ; orange loafers – Tod’s; green onyx earrings
 – Latelita London; green vest – MICHAEL Michael Kors; green Bolduc au Carre
 scarf – Hermes; green gloves – Barnum; green loafers – Patricia Green

I was so happy to see that the maroon items that I showed with black ALSO look great with brown. What a flattering color! And the blush - it's an extravagance, but it makes a beautiful outfit - much dressier and more elegant than is expected when you say "a sweater and a down vest."
Gold blush vest – Moncler; earrings – Kendra Scott; pearl-trimmed scarf – Perla;
 gloves – Lauren Ralph Lauren; penny loafers – Tod’s; cluster stone earrings – 
The Limited; dark berry vest – Eddie Bauer; square floral scarf – Faliero Sarti;
 maroon mittens – Me to We; maroon boots – Toms

I certainly could have included the blush color as a pastel, don't you think? But I really wanted to look at this off-white/sand/whatever they call it color. (although this could also be a neutral, I think...)

Both pair of earrings are amazing, by the way. They were made to go with the scarves, I swear. Sometimes, I wonder if I'm ever going to find what I have in my mind, but my persistence is always rewarded. Patience is essential when one is shopping, even if it's only vicariously!

Sand vest – J. Crew; abalone earrings – Kate Spade; cream scarf – Diesel
ivory gloves – Portolano; chalk loafers – Coach; green earrings – Kate Spade
 green vest – L.L.Bean; green scarf – BP; green gloves – Hermes; spruce 
loafers – Cole Haan

You can easily see how owning a couple of these little accessory families could give you a TON of mileage with a small, core wardrobe in brown. 

Which makes me think I might be able to get some use out of a red vest, eh?


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Thursday, November 26, 2015

Choosing an Accent Color for Black

Something that I struggle with a lot, personally, is my accent color, or colors. I'm always thinking that something other than red should be my "color", but who am I kidding? I keep coming back, over and over, to red...

So I was playing around with a variety of accent colors, using simple black garments as a core, and building around quilted vests, just for the heck of it...

When you're looking for these vests, make sure you look for "quilted," rather than "down," unless you specifically want down. Some of the vests with synthetic insulation are just as warm, and quite lovely; you'll miss them if you don't include everything quilted...

Yes, these would make nifty little templates for buying gifts, too. But if you go shopping on Thanksgiving Day, don't tell me, because it will make me feel really bad for the staff that has to work. I spent enough years in retail to believe that everybody deserves at least a couple of FULL days off...

And for the multitudes among you who don't wear black, I'm also going to visit this idea with a few more neutrals, both warm and cool. Brown, grey, olive, and navy are on my list...

First, the 4 garments:

pants – J. Crew; cashmere turtleneck – J. Crew;   
jeans – L.L.Bean; cabled crewneck – J. Crew

My first experiment was to use a 2nd neutral as the accent color. This is kind of fun, because you might also have a complete outfit in the accent color, and use black as the accent for that, etc etc...

Brown vestLands’ End; brown earrings – Kendra Scott; leopard print scarf – 
Roberto Cavalli; brown leather gloves – Agnelle; brown boots – Munro; metallic 
gray vest – Lands’ End; gray earrings – Kendra Scott; grey scarf – Missoni
grey cashmere gloves – Uniqlo; grey boots – Steve Madden

 For what it's worth, I'm NOT suggesting that these ensembles be worn with ALL of the accent pieces - that might be a bit overwhelming. I'm sure that these images will get separated from this text almost immediately, and someone is going to think that I've gone completely daft...

Second up, I had to look at bright colors - they seem so natural with black. Many of us are going to gravitate to these immediately!

Hot pink vest – Lands’ End; pink earrings – John Hardy; pink fingerless gloves
 – Betsey Johnson; pink infinity scarf – Missoni; pink loafers – Gucci; lapis earrings
 – Latelita London; blue vest – Lands’ End; blue infinity scarf – Chelsey; blue 
 fingerless gloves – Scoop; clogs – Dansko

These are colors that you don't immediately think of when you think of an accent for black, but I really like the way both of them look. I think, for someone transitioning from black to warmer colors, these might be excellent ways to get started. Test-driving a color in a small "sample" like this would never be a bad idea.
Olive vestL.L.Bean; green earrings – GFG Jewellery; olive mittens – J. Crew
olive plaid scarf – Banana Republic; olive boots – Vince Camuto; cluster stone 
earrings – The Limited; dark berry vest – Eddie Bauer; square floral scarf – 
 Faliero Sarti; maroon mittens – Me to We; maroon boots – Toms

Similarly, for those among us who are developing lighter hair as we age, the juxtaposition of pastel colors with black is unusual, but could be very flattering. I would consider adding light blue to my wardrobe just to own those amazing blue loafers...
Pink vest – Lands’ End; crystal earrings – Kendra Scott; cashmere gloves – Ann 
Taylor;  infinity scarf – Missoni; pink sneakers – Maison Margiela 22; blue earrings
 – Alexis Bittar; light blue vest – Lands’ End; blue scarf – Kenzo; blue gloves –
 Lord & Taylor; blue metallic loafers – Gucci

But, after everything, I'm pretty certain that I'm a red girl...

And you?



Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Expanding Your Comfort Zone: Finding Festive Attire You Will Love

First things first: the amazingly nice people at Kathkath have extended to us a 40% discount on THEIR ENTIRE SITE! Use the code XMAS40, and be really grateful. They gave me ANOTHER scarf - the silver chain one -  and it was love at first site. These scarves are something special...

I mentioned a few days ago that I'm going to be moving slightly out of my comfort zone for my Thanksgiving attire...

It all started when my contacts at House of Fraser offered to send me something - they had a list of garments that were available (I'm guessing they were buyer samples?), and let me choose. The only item in my size that really interested me was this:

dress - Biba

Until now, I only rarely wore anything metallic, and never a dress like this. But because I am so comfortable in knit and sweater dresses, this wasn't a real "reach" for me... And it is a really cool dress! We're going out to a restaurant for Thanksgiving dinner, so I can wear this with opaque tights and low-heel dress shoes, and be both comfortable and dressy. Perfect solution!

That got me thinking about you, of course. Maybe, the answer to finding the perfect holiday outfit is as simple as looking in your closet. What's your favorite style, or signature garment? Is a version of that piece available in a "festive" fabric? It's just that easy - holiday-ready, but still in silhouettes or pieces that you know you love. No "costume" feeling, and no discomfort...

Let's start with my favorites, knit dresses. If you already have something like the grey dress hanging in your closet, there are LOTS of other options available in knit dresses, kicked up a few notches for evening wear.

When you're looking for this kind of garment, look for these keywords: sequined, beaded, embellished, ornamented, jacquard, velvet, metallic or brocade. 

Grey sweater dress – Acne Studios; gold & black dress – Biba
sequined dress – Brunello Cucinelli; lace sleeve dress – Coast

If you always wear button-front shirts, finding a shirt in a gorgeous dressy fabric is a very straightforward way to dress up; you can even wear your dressy shirt with the pants and skirts you already own! Add a pair of earrings, or a fancy shoe, and you're finished.
White shirt – J. Crew; blue shirt – Equipment; copper shirt –  
Emanuel Ungaro; white sequined shirt - Ashish

Jeans? Black velvet jeans are everywhere! But don't miss the chance to look at the jacquards, brocades, and satins that are available, too.
Blue jeans – L.L.Bean; black velvet jeans – J Brand; brocade jeans – 
 Ermanno Scervino; jacquard jeans – Diesel Black Gold

If there's one dressy garment that I think almost everyone should own, it's a cardigan. It can instantly change the dressy level of a simple tee shirt and pants, or anything else you wear with it.
Black cardigan – DKNY; gold waterfall cardigan – Joanna Hope; gold short 
cardigan – M Missoni; black beadedTed Baker

And if you're a blazer person, that is a wonderful option. I'm particularly taken with the J. Crew sequined tweed...

Navy blazer – L.L.Bean; brocade blazer - Raoul; brown velvet blazer – 
J. Crew; sequined tweed blazer – J. Crew

Tee shirts? Heck yes!
Perfect fit long-sleeve v-neck tee – J. Crew; gold tee – J. Crew 
(also available in silver and sky blue); cream tee – Oasis
metallic navy tee – J. Crew (also available in silver)

If you live in pants that aren't jeans, you have lots of choices for dressing up your daily look. And I have to point out how very easy it would be to make a pair of pants like this - there are lots of people giving sewing lessons these days; they would love to help you.

Perfect fit khaki pants – L.L.Bean; ivory sequined pants – J. Crew;
 flowered pants – J. Crew; mink brown satin pants – Coast

The idea of a dressy sweatshirt really appeals to the iconoclast in me - it's the perfect thing to wear when you have NO IDEA how dressy an event will be. If everybody's casual, you're wearing a sweatshirt. If everybody is really decked out - you're wearing sequins, beads, or some other dressy element. Plus the comfort level... sigh...
Grey sweatshirt – Lands’ End; black sweatshirt with pearls – SH Collection;
 grey sequined sleeve sweatshirtDKNY; ivory sequined sweatshirt –

If, like me, you live in black sweaters, a sweater with a touch of embellishment is easy to find, and changes everything.
Merino v-neck sweater – J. Crew; swallow studded sweater – McQ by 
Alexander McQueen; silver “hourglass” silhouette trimmed sweater –  
MICHAEL MichaelKors; crystal collar sweater - Magaschoni

And if you are most comfortable in tunics, you have tons of choices. Never forget that our friend Eileen Fisher makes DOZENS of tunics in luscious fabrics...

Tunic sweater – Tory Burch; ivory stretch silk tunicHelmut Lang
copper metallic tunic – Isa Arfen; navy embellished tunic – Tory Burch

If you're really at a loss for finding something amazing for the upcoming seasonal parties, don't forget to browse some of the deep discount sites like yoox, Neiman Marcus Last Call, Saks Off 5th, or the Outnet. You might find something of which you could only have dreamed, marked down to a price you can stand! Plus, they're a great source of ideas, and occasionally a good laugh...

Have you got holiday clothing sorted out? With my new dress, and my old sequined black sweater, I'm pretty certain that I'm covered (literally and figuratively) for anything my holiday season throws at me!


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Tuesday, November 24, 2015

A Day Off...

Gearing up for the holiday to come, but still thinking of you all!

Fan Vaulting in a Nave in Bath Cathedral

p.s. Make sure that you leave a comment on yesterday's post, so you have a chance to win that gorgeous Diana Vreeland book!

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Monday, November 23, 2015

What I Wore to the French Fete

Wow, what a party!  The French American Chamber of Commerce in Chicago had a blow-out part last Thursday in honor of the Beaujolais Nouveau, and it was AMAZING...

There were chefs from all over Chicago handing out samples of wonderful food, a lot of pastry chefs forcing us to each cakes and macarons (oh bother...), and more wine than you could possibly consume, even if you really worked at it. (I did my very best!)

Tish was there (from A Femme d'un Certain Age), and she was as elegantly beautiful and charming as always!

I tried my humble level best to do justice to the event by being understatedly appropriate. The dress code was "business elegant", which wasn't really the most help I've ever had. Some guests interpreted that guideline in ways that seemed... very... non-businessy... It was interesting!

Earrings – Matta; pearl bracelet -  Neeru Goel; watch – Movado
cardigan – J.Crew Factory; dress – Lands’ End; scarf – Parures des Maharajas
 – Hermes; pumps – Trotters

I can't possibly recommend the black dress from Lands' End highly enough. Flattering, comfortable, well-made... it ticks all of the important LBD boxes. 

My cardigan was actually an older one, from Eileen Fisher (very similar to this). I wore pearl jewelry because the details all over my scarf are strands of pearls, and I always like to have a sort of theme that ties everything together, at least for my own appreciation. And I was delighted to be wearing moderate heels. Once everybody was packed into the event rooms, your feet were almost impossible to see, so comfort was much more important than any other factor.

The party was, in fact, complete insofar as I saw 2 women fall off of their shoes, and there was 1 very inebriated guest crying in the Ladies Room. It seems like these things always happen at big events...

To top it all off, I cleaned up at the Silent Auction, and came home with armloads of swag. My first thought - of course - is to share it with you!

So leave me a comment, and you can have a chance to win this most AMAZING book:

It really isn't all that much about Ms. Vreeland; it's much more an overview of the visual style of Harper's Bazaar during the years she was there. Below are just 3 of the pages you will be able to study at length:
3 pages from Diana Vreeland: The Modern Woman

I hope that you all get to attend events in the upcoming festive season which are as much fun as last Thursday night was for me.


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