Saturday, April 18, 2015

Black, Beige, Marsala and Natural - A Four by Four, Whatever's Clean Wardrobe

As soon as I launched the newest Pantone Spring and Summer 2015 color scheme file (available here), someone asked me to do some work with the color of the year - Marsala. She had honed in on the black and khaki, and after a bit of discussion we agreed that the best 2nd accent color would be an unbleached linen/natural color.  This is the palette we finally chose.

I started with black, of course! Sleeveless and short-sleeved, cropped pants and "normal" pants, and all from 3.1 Phillip Lim, just for ease of matchy-matchedness.  You can, of course, find your four pieces from a different, less pricey, company, or mix them from a few different places.

Sleeveless top – 3.1 Phillip Lim, cropped trousers – 3.1 Phillip Lim
tee shirt – 3.1 Phillip Lim, trousers - 3.1 Phillip Lim

In fact, in order to find four pieces in khaki, I went to a couple of different sources. Once you've chosen a color scheme, you sometimes have to do some digging, or just be patient, in order to get the items you really want!

Short-sleeved blouse – Uniqlo,  cropped pants – Uniqlo
cardigan – Chinti and Parker, skirt – Celine Vintage

This is the part of this wardrobe that feels particularly summery to me. And a lacy top can be worn with jeans - don't let anybody tell you otherwise!

Crinkled tee – A.P.C., off-white jeans – Uniqlo
sleeveless lace top – Dorothy Perkins, sweat skirtUniqlo

But HERE'S where things got difficult - if Marsala is really the color of the year, it's doing a heck of a time hiding from the general public! I finally remembered that Lands' End always carries a really good assortment that they call burgundy - for school uniforms! But these pieces are as close as I could find to the slightly more brown/less purple Marsala... And one thing you know - these will ALL go together, they aren't going out of style, and they're well made. So if you're interested in this color, try looking for burgundy, maroon, oxblood, dark red...

Tee shirt – Lands’ End, long-sleeved tee – Lands’ End
cardigan – Lands’ End, short-sleeved twill shirt – Lands’ End 

This wardrobe is great for jewelry - just keep thinking "garnet, onyx, pearl, gold" and you're in safe territory. Not too many scarves, this time of year, though...

(note - the Argento Vivo brcelet comes eight colors, including a delicious turquoise and amazing dark silver pyrite)

Cotton striped and checked scarf – Krama Heritage, ruby crystal earrings – YooLa, black crystal 
earrings – H. Azeem, pearl earrings – Militza Ortiz, onyx and mother of pearl bracelet – Frieda 
Rothman,red agate braceletArgento Vivo, Initial disc necklace – Nashelle, pearl necklace – 

These are your sixteen pieces of clothing.  This would make a smashing, simple suitcase, or an easy wardrobe for a summer spent in a location not terribly hot, and where you occasionally are going to dress up. Substitute a pair of shorts for a skirt, or a tank top for a long-sleeved tee, as needed...

I was going to show a handful of outfits with accessories, but I felt strongly that it was important to show the enormous number of possibilities available from just a small selection of well-chosen pieces of clothing. By my calculations, this ensemble should give you at least 100 different options! Add in a black cardigan, a couple of pair of shorts and a tank top or two - you'd be set for the entire summer.

I imagine packing a bag like this and then just taking the train from place to place, all over Europe, from now until the cold weather sets in...



Looking Back:

NORDSTROM - Receive a FREE Gift with your $45 Estée Lauder Purchase

Friday, April 17, 2015

It's Time to Quit Lying to Myself about What I Wear...

I know that I've mentioned in the past that I'm a little bit of a gym rat, but I don't think that I've ever mentioned that there are days (maybe 3 times a week) when I get out of bed and put my gym clothes on immediately. Many of those days, I don't change OUT of my gym clothes until at least mid-afternoon...

Now, back when I was a swingin' advertising chick, I used to get dressed up pretty nicely five days a week, and if i was travelling for business, that would be seven days a week. That life, however, ended almost TEN YEARS AGO...

So let's look at my current life, honestly:

There's nothing wrong with sitting at my desk in nice, well-fitting gym clothes, working on The Vivienne Files, while I'm either waiting to start a workout, or cooling down from one. What wrong is pretending that this time doesn't count, when I'm shopping for clothes!

This wardrobe auto-delusion works against me in two ways:

1. I don't let myself get as complete a wardrobe of gym clothes as I really could justify. I lift weights 3 times a week, and I run/jog/walk (it's ugly) 3 times a week. This level of activity could justify a pretty serious workout wardrobe!

2. I over-buy dressy things - silk pants and tops, lovely jackets etc. Yes, I'm the kind of person who will wear these things just walking across the Loop to meet Belovedest after work, but I don't really need dozens of these kinds of options.

So, we're re-examining things...

Among other things, I'm going to sell quite a large number of Hermes scarves; don't forget to check my "Things For Sale!" page at the top of this page, below my feet...

Does anybody else live a wardrobe fantasy life that works again them?


Looking Back:

2014: A "Two Suit" Wardrobe in Navy and Beige

2013: Happy Birthday to the Vivienne Files!

2012: Imaginary shopping: extravagantly red

2011: So I just realized that people are still reading what I wrote... (the VERY FIRST Vivienne Files post!)


Thursday, April 16, 2015

How to Choose a Green Hermes Scarf!

The email asked me to help choose from among a handful of Hermes scarves, being purchased for a landmark birthday, and to serve as a focal point for personal style and image. But the most fun part? In a very monochromatic (black, dark denim, white, eggshell, pale silver, linen white) wardrobe, she is looking to this illustration for accent colors:

From Journey, by Aaron Becker, available here

This absolutely charming and intelligent book has no text, so it's appropriate for any child (and a lot of adults!) anywhere in the world... What a brilliant inspiration!

The scarves in her narrowed-down shopping were these:

Five green Hermes scarves from Spring/Summer 2015
Bolduc, Mythes et Metamorphoses, Perspective Cavaliere, Minuit au Faubourg, Les Faceties de Pegase

I was thinking about looking at shoes, to try to isolate the defining DNA of each scarf.

Dear, oh, dear....

There are a lot of ugly shoes in our world, aren't there?

So I'm back to my favorite, looking at jewelry and other accessories, mostly on the very excellent Bottica site. Lots of small and emerging artisans/artists there, with a world full of beautiful goods. If you're in the mood for a new accessory that you won't see coming and going on every street corner, this is the place to look! It's especially nice if you're trying to avoid visible logos, and if you feel strongly about supporting smaller businesses.

(Yes, they pay me a commission if someone buys something. I'm very grateful!)

My thinking is this - if you look at an entire grouping of items, based on a scarf, and you LOVE them all, then it's a pretty safe assumption that the scarf would appeal to you. Conversely, if a number of my choices rub you the wrong way, or just don't appeal, then maybe you need to reconsider the scarf. Or think about what YOU would choose to be in the scarf's "family", in the place of my choices. My selections are NOT rules for style, but you already know that.

Starting with the first scarf, I was taking with the strong angularity of the scarf - this is a good one for those of us who love graph paper, spreadsheets, and square corners! Plus the greens are a wee bit cool, lending itself to work with the greener shades of turquoise...

Hermes Bolduc silk scarf in green, with some complementary accessories
Square druzy studsMaya Magal, gold square cuff – Alicia Marilyn Designs, gold and turquoise 
ribbon bracelet – John and Pearl, gold and crystal ring – Sarah Kosta, gold stud earrings – Karolina 
Bik Jewelry, black bag – Emili

I love this scarf; I'm drawn the the silvery shadows, the cool hidden nooks and cranny of the image, and the overwhelmingly or, leafy and primitive feeling it gives me. So it was only logical that I would look for leaves, flowers, and animals! 

Even though a scarf and a necklace might seem to conflict, I'm including some necklaces in these "families" because you might NOT wear your scarf EVERY day... and you can wear a scarf and a necklace together; maybe your scarf is tied to your bag?

Hermes Mythes et Metamorphoses silk scarf in green, with complementary accessories
Silver leaf earrings – Caia, unicorn bracelet – 21dgrs, smoky quartz necklace – Sarah Kosta
crystal quartz ring – Sarah Kosta, amazonite rose earrings – toosis, bag – Daphny Raes

Two things really jump out at me from this scarf - the angular nature of the image, and the really strong moss green, which is an unusual pairing with the other shades of blue and green. The woman who embraces and really wears this scarf to its best advantage is going to be someone who loves all shades of green, and who loves a good geometric!

I'm particularly taken with the idea of these raw crystal cube earrings, and I note that they are available in lavender, pink, white, champagne, raw silver... sigh...

Hermes Perspective Cavaliere silk scarf in green, with complementary accessories
Cube earrings – Caterina Zangrando, leather bracelet – Giulia Boccafogli, triangle necklace – Liz 
Law, gold ring – Linnie Mclarty, raw crystal earrings – Noémiah,  olive green clutch – Georgina Skalidi

This scarf requires whimsy - an ability to laugh at the world, and to enjoy the playfulness of life. And it doesn't hurt if you can warmly embrace this strong golden yellow!

Speaking of sense of humor, this silver bracelet (and a lot of Emily Alice's work) makes me so happy - it's the graphic representation of a molecule of caffeine! She also makes jewelry with the molecule for estrogen - a great gift for a woman of a certain age. Talk about an inside joke...

Hermes Minuit au Faubourg silk scarf in green with complementary acessories
Silk bead earrings – Dorus Mhor, Caffeine bracelet – Emily Alice, citrine pendant – Sarah Kosta,
 reminder rubber ring – Caipora Jewellery, black leather earrings – Giulia Boccafogli, yellow 
clutch – Sabrina Zeng

This is another scarf with strong angular elements, but also a real softness and silvery tone in the colors. If someone chose this scarf, it would open up a world of blue tones to be added to their wardrobe! And a lot of soft brushed silver...

Hermes silk scarf Les Faceties de Pegase in green, with complementary accessories
Chrysoprase stud earrings – Ippolita, silver square bracelet – Article22, cluster necklace –
Katie Lees Jewellery, silver ring – Niza Huang, angled hoop earrings – V by Valkeniers,  grey tote – 

So which scarf would you choose? I think I'd choose the first one... I think...


Looking Back:

2012: April in Paris.... a guest post at A Femme d'un Certain Age

Alexis Bittar

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

A Long Weekend in Paris, with a Blue Jacket...

It was pointed out to me that this lovely jacket (thanks, House of Fraser!) would also look lovely with navy... so I'm taking us on an imaginary long weekend in Paris this time...

blue faux suede motorcycle jacket from Linea Weekend House of Fraser
Jacket - Linea Weekend

travel outfit in navy, with a blue faux suede jacket
Earrings – David Yurman, navy trousers – Linea Weekend, blouse – Linea Weekend, watch – Fossil,  
jacket – Linea Weekend, scarf – Brunello Cucinelli, trainers - Vans, navy tote – Brooks Brothers
suitcase – Eastpak

six-pack in navy and beige for a long weekend in Paris
Spatter-print top – Linea Weekend, ring – Pandora,  necklace – Swarovski, sleeveless top – Calvin 
Klein, ballet flats – Cocorose London, dress – Linea Weekend, silver sandals – Mint Velvet, earrings – 
Pandora, silver clutch – Head over Heels, capris – Mint Velvet, sweater – Mango, skirt – Dickins 

nine garments, in navy, soft blue and beige, for a long weekend in Paris

two outfits for a long weekend in Paris, including a soft blue faux suede motorcycle jacket

two outfits for a long weekend in Paris, including a floral skirt and a blue suede motorcycle jacket

two outfits for a long weekend in Paris, including a blue suede motorcycle jacket and navy capris

Looking Back:

2014: Chic Sightings: Dots!

2013: Project 333: My First Week in "My" Uniform

2012: Packing: Brown and Turquoise

House of Fraser

Sunday, April 12, 2015

A Pantone Spring 2015 Monster File, and taking tomorrow off...

I was toying around with the new Pantone colors for spring, thinking about upcoming posts for The Vivienne Files. The idea of "new" colors is always entertaining to me - I'd LOVE it if our eyes could suddenly be enhanced to see something that we've never seen before! 

But some people do find that the Pantone colors are very available through the upcoming season, and like to have an idea about which among them might work best with their existing wardrobe. So by the time I'd finished monkeyed around with all of these colors, I realized that I'd pretty much completely updated the old Color Planner document...

This baby includes all of the combinations of 2 neutrals (from the list of 14 neutrals that I've come up with, so far), and then shows each of those pairing with each of the 10 "new" colors.  This is what Black and Khaki look like:

Black and Khaki, shown as a neutral combination with each of the Pantone Spring 2015 colors

There are some real possibilities here for a seasonal accent color! The only one that doesn't really make sense is "e", which is Toasted Almond - too close to Khaki to make any sense at all...

Note that there are page numbers, and letter labels, just in case you find combinations that you want to bring to my attention, to request a wardrobe. Either send me an email at, or leave a comment here.

I've also taken some pains to update the way the neutral colors are rendered, to make them look a little bit better on screen. Google led me to some graphic artists who were fulsome in their advice about how to precisely "mix" the colors for best viewing. Bless the generous among us!

Since the template for this beauty (as well as the storage space) already existed, it only costs $.99 to purchase. (I charge in order to offset my storage and hosting costs, not in order to become madly rich!).  You can get this wonderful gizmo here:

Add to Cart

And just a note - there won't be a post tomorrow morning, and possible none on Tuesday. My schedule tomorrow is full of things that aren't HALF as much fun as The Vivienne Files, but sometimes we can't just have fun all day...


Looking Back:

2013: How to wear a petrol blue (or slate blue) v-neck sweater

2012: Packing: camel & coral