Wednesday, July 26, 2017

You have asked me this question a lot - how can you handle traveling to a hot destination, where you need to be appropriately dressed when occasions or locations require modest attire?

Modesty almost always means 1 or more of 3 "things" need to be covered:
1. your shoulders
2. your knees, or
3. your head

So we've got to make certain that we have available to us at all times (in the backpack!) a shirt with sleeves, a skirt (or the zippy-on pieces of zip-off pants...) and a scarf... If you're one of those clever people who can wrap and tie a scarf in such a way that it works as a skirt, you're in luck...

Let's start with a lovely abstraction of a wonderful beach destination:

Baie de Cannes by Pablo Picasso

These are lovely colors...

Baie de Cannes by Pablo Picasso with style guidelines and color palette

For the trip, even though this wardrobe is going to de-emphasize dark colors, I'm going to have our heroine travel in dark trousers - they're just safer and less likely to show the inevitable dirt.

This is the only cardigan I'm having her bring - this tweedy kind of look means that it will work with all of the beige tones, and the fabric is lightweight and relatively cool...

travel outfit in black and beige

earrings – Gemma Collection; cardigan – L.L.Bean; tee – L.L.Bean; shoes – FitFlop; bracelet – Gorjana; watch – Olivia Burton; linen pants – L.L.Bean; scarf – Nordstrom; backpack - Fjällräven

This is a very "nuts and bolts" wardrobe - I haven't paid a lot of attention to jewelry here, because I want to focus on the various pieces of clothing and how they layer together. But I DO think that a hot-weather destination absolutely requires both a sunhat and a pair of sunglasses - these aren't really accessories as much as they are essentials.

And yes, as much as I'm not usually a big fan of zip-off pants that become shorts, I think that this is the time during which they might make sense...

What I've done here is focus completely on sand-colored "bottoms" in a range of silhouettes; for someone who doesn't wear skirts, a pair of capris would be a logical substitute. The other goal here was to include a couple of long-sleeved shirts that could be worn over a tee shirt or tank top, or can also be worn alone with the sleeves rolled. A lightweight fabric is key here - I've chosen madras and seersucker.

Similar to what I did with the 3 bottoms is to make certain that our heroine has 3 different kinds of shoes, in similar colors, and all chosen for comfort as well as style. In some cases, carrying a change of shoes can make a vacation day feel much more comfortable! Also, sometimes all you need to do to be appropriately dressed is to cover your toes - I admit that I've only seen that once, and I was pretty amazed that it was part of a dress code...

(from a style point of view, note that I've somewhat focused on square shapes, in honor of the cubist Picasso...)

travel capsule wardrobe for hot weather in beige, blue and green

hat - Eric Javits; sunglasses - Kate Spade New York; blue top – Lands’ End; polo – Lands’ End; tank top – L.L.Bean; blue tee – J.Crew; beige tee – J.Crew; madras plaid shirt – L.L.Bean; seersucker shirt – L.L.Bean; skirt – L.L.Bean; zip-off pants – L.L.Bean; bag - Adrienne Vittadini; shorts – L.L.Bean; sandals– Bernie Mev.; espadrilles – The Flexx

This would be what our heroine would have with her:

travel capsule wardrobe for hot weather in beige, blue and green

Next I wanted to look at each of the bottoms to make sure that it would be wearable in a full range of outfits, from something strictly focused on comfort in hot weather, and then moving along a spectrum to something that would be more appropriate in areas with a dress code. That's tough to do with shorts, but this at least gives us a range of ways to assemble outfits with the garments available.

3 ways to style khaki shorts from a travel capsule wardrobe

3 ways to style khaki zip-off pants from a travel capsule wardrobe

3 ways to style a khaki skirt from a travel capsule wardrobe

3 ways to style black pants from a travel capsule wardrobe

But let's say that you are going on a really LONG trip, and you just don't feel comfortable with the smallness of the initial wardrobe. I thought that in this case, worthy additions might be pieces in chambray - a faded denim blue that's much lighter-weight and softer than denim. And a beige dress? This dress could theoretically be worn unbuttoned, over a tank top and shorts, as a duster, and then buttoned if necessary? Could you picture that?

chambray shirt – J. Crew; scarf – Caslon; Bermuda shorts – L.L.Bean; beige linen dress – Uniqlo; striped tee – Lands’End; blue tee – L.L.Bean

This is a pretty robust wardrobe - one could literally picture taking this to a beach house or to summer school, and living with this for 2 or 3 months...

a larger travel capsule wardrobe in blue, green, beige and black

As before, I want to make certain that all of these pieces are able to be used for activities along a spectrum of dressiness:

3 ways to style a blue top from a travel capsule wardrobe

3 ways to style a striped top from a travel capsule wardrobe

3 ways to style a beige linen dress from a travel capsule wardrobe

3 ways to style chambray shorts from a travel capsule wardrobe

3 ways to style a chambray shirt from a travel capsule wardrobe

Layering is the key to dressing appropriately when visiting sensitive locations, or attending certain activities while on vacation. I hope that this is helpful to those of you who specifically requested some suggestions for this kind of trip...


A Travel Capsule Wardrobe for Both Coolness and Modesty: Baie de Cannes by Picasso
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Monday, July 24, 2017

THIS is a tough color - it's really difficult to find any sort of accessories in this lime-y shade of green. But I think that it's a unique accent color that's well worth considering. If you're not comfortable wearing it close to your face, don't discount the beauty and the impact of a ring and/or bracelet...

As the weather remains really warm here in Chicago, I continued to build these little vignettes around dresses, although a couple of the dresses are decidedly more autumnal in feel - some for now, some for later!

I mentioned on Friday that I feel like the best balance for a wardrobe to lean much toward accessories, in a ratio to garments. On Friday when I got dressed to go out, I put on ONE dress (more than one would be eccentric...) and SIX accessories - two bracelets, a watch, a pair of earrings, sandals and my crossbody bag. This is probably the highest number of accessories you can wear with a single garment on a regular basis. Except... I have a dear friend who wear a TON of silver jewelry every day. Maybe a dozen pieces? 3 or 4 layered necklaces? 3 bracelets on each wrist? a handful, literally, of rings? And she always looks marvelous...

For these images, I'm not suggesting that you'd wear all of the accessories at the same time. Unless you want to. I always think that what you want is MOST IMPORTANT...

beige dress with peridot accessories

earrings – Saranarat; necklace – Kendra Scott; ring - Ippolita; sandals - L’Amour; dress – Uniqlo; scarf - Domenico Tagliente; tote – The North Face

For the grey dress, I opted for silver sandals and a grey bag - it was becoming difficult to find sandals in the right color, and the handbags that I found were... unusual. You will want to be patient if you choose to collect this color!

grey dress with peridot accessories

earrings – Lafonn; necklace – Yuniati; bracelet – Alex and Ani; sandals – Halogen; dress – Uniqlo; scarf – Salvatore Ferragamo; cell phone bag – South Moon Under

If you struggle when searching online for a particular birthstone, rather than searching for that particular stone, search for the term "birthstone." It's often more productive!

rust dress with peridot accessories

earrings – Kendra Scott; necklace – Satya; ring – Bhavesh; sandals – Splendid; dress – Uniqlo; scarf – P.A.R.O.S.H.; tote – Madewell

Don't be dissuaded if you don't like the first peridots that you see - they come in all sorts of shades of green. You might find some that are perfect...

And yes, the grouping with the (very inexpensive) teal dress is a little bit over the top, but I really love this dress and thought that it deserved the FULL peridot green treatment!

teal dress with peridot accessories

earrings – Kenari; bracelet – Iosselliani; ring - Olivia Grace Jewellery; boots - Aquazzura; dress – Uniqlo; scarf – Image Diary; bag - Mehry Mu

I really liked this mix of green shades with the focus on a bright bracelet - maybe a really deep manicure in the darkest red shades?

olive dress with peridot accessories

earrings – Alok Jain; bracelet – Nareerat; ring – Alok Jain; dress – Uniqlo; scarf – Gap; bag - Loewe

Don't forget the possibility of finding accents of peridot green in printed garments, or in jewelry with an assortment of stones...

black dress with peridot accessories

earrings – Melissa Joy Manning; ring - Tresor Collection; ballet flats – Andrea Morando; dress – Uniqlo; scarf– Roberto Cavalli; bracelet – Bloomingdale’s; bag – Issey Miyake

There's a lot to be said for making the effort to find a unique accent color - you certainly won't see yourself coming and going on the streets! Yes, it might take you months to assemble a solid "accessory family," but then you'll have it for years and years...


More from the Birthstone Series:

August Birthstone: Peridot!
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Friday, July 21, 2017

I tried. Yesterday I went into the Nordstrom store on Michigan Avenue here in Chicago. The store is 4 floors, so I have to believe that it's not one of their smaller stores...

And I struggled. First up, so MANY of the things that they have online are NOT in stores. That's a bit maddening when you walk in looking for something specific, only to find that it's not there...

Of course the store is arranged in a way to make your browsing as inefficient as possible; it's in their best interest to have you wander as much as possible, for as long as possible. I'm okay with that, if I can figure out a way to still make certain that I've seen everything in a certain category. In fashion jewelry, for example, I'm not at all sure that I saw everything.

I'm sure that this is a different feeling for those of you who don't live in a city, but I found that the store felt a lot like being in a mall - "here's the J.Crew section (I just walked past a J.Crew store...), here's the Tory Burch section (ditto), here's the Kate Spade section (ditto)"... Rinse and repeat. I don't need a department store to bring me the same offerings that I can find in other places that are literally within a 10-minute walk. Maybe this works well for them in other locations?

But the capper? They don't have a Petite department anymore... Instead, they've got a rack of Petite garments mixed into most of the various departments. So, for example, I very much wanted to look at Eileen Fisher Petite garments - I had to first find the Misses Eileen Fisher, and then look for the ONE, SINGLE, SMALL rack that had their entire offering of Eileen Fisher petites... This is irritatingly inefficient, and I trust will be a failed experiment.

Bottom line? Shop this sale online, unless your Nordstrom store is a whole lot easier to shop than mine is!

Personal notes - I don't include anything that's got big visible logos. I've avoided a couple of big accessory trends - tassels, and choker necklaces, because I see SO MANY WOMEN struggling with both of these. The tassels, especially, seem to be made to stick to the side of your neck when you're sweaty. I've seen earrings streaked with makeup, matted with sunscreen... Fiber jewelry is a tough move; if you're crazy about the tassel idea, look for metal tassels....

And the chokers? Nobody can seem to keep the where they want them on their neck; everybody seems to fidget with them endlessly. Never attractive, fidgeting...

There are a lot of tops available right now that tie at the hem, and then have ties hanging down on your thigh. I'm not sure what area of the body this is designed to flatter, but I passed on all of them. If you feel that this would be attractive for you, you're going to find quite a bit from which to choose!

The tops with the open shoulders? I don't think that this is a trend with "legs," so I skipped all of those too! Generally speaking, I seldom meet a trend that I love enough to give it closet-space. (or wallet space!)

That lovely dark red we call claret, or burgundy, or merlot? Quite a few cardigans and tee shirts - this is a good time to add this as an accent if you're in the mood!

So without further ado, these are things that caught my eye. I lean heavily toward accessories because I think that this is where the bulk of a wardrobe should be, and also these are pieces that are easier to mail order - fewer fit issues!

Up first are pieces that tempt me...

items from the Nordstrom Autumn Sale 2017

bag – Longchamp; rings – Freida Rothman; cashmere wrap – Halogen; gold bag – Rebecca Minkoff; earrings – Nadri; boots – Blondo

There are quite a few cashmere items in the sale - you'll want to get them home and in hand to make sure that they're worth the price. You're ahead to wear good-quality merino wool rather than cheap cashmere...

And then there are things that I would buy if I didn't already have something terribly similar already in hand:

items from the Nordstrom Autumn Sale 2017

suitcase – Tumi; watch – Skagen; scarf – Missoni; black bracelet – Chan Luu; gold bracelet – Gorjana; duffle bag – Sole Society; boots – Vince Camuto

Yes, things sell out. I'll be shocked if they don't restock things, if they can. It would only be sensible... The whole "members-only early access" and prospect of items selling out should NOT compel you to get a credit card, unless you want one. Items always, eventually, run out, and new things appear. There's nothing in any store that will change your life...

There are also quite a few pieces of Tumi luggage included in the sale right now (and others that are just plain and simple marked down!). If you're ready to invest in a good piece of luggage, this is a good way to do it.

items from the Nordstrom Autumn Sale 2017

bag – Brahmin; raincoat – The North Face; striped tunic tee – Halogen (similar here); rain boots – Hunter; athletic shoes – Nike

While I don't wear these colors, I can see the appeal in all of these pieces...

items from the Nordstrom Autumn Sale 2017

bag – Pixie Mood; brown bag – Brahmin; earrings – Gorjana; scarf – Max Mara; watch – Ted Baker; boots – BP.

The earrings feel just a little bit like Mickey Mouse, to me... but I would still wear them!

For younger people, there are a lot of appealing pieces on sale right now. I do see quite a few garments that are... over-designed? They have a just-right garment, and then they pile on some holes in the shoulders, or an errant ruffle, scallop, embroidery or other such gimcrackery that doesn't need to be there, and contributes nothing. Stop, already!

But these? Velvet is my favorite fabric, no question... The tee shirt.... maybe...

items from the Nordstrom Autumn Sale 2017

velvet kimono – Hinge; velvet ball cap – Hinge; crushed velvet tee – BP.

The velvet tee also comes in a delicious navy/violet color, and a warm mauve pink...

items from the Nordstrom Autumn Sale 2017

wine cashmere cardigan – Halogen (similar here); wine long-sleeved tee – Halogen; claret silk tee – Eileen Fisher; blue cardigan – Halogen; jersey dress – Eileen Fisher

Note that the blue cardigan comes in bright red and a clear yellow, as well as spruce and burgundy...

That gorgeous spruce that Pantone told us would be big is indeed easy to find! Woo hoo - it's pretty, it's flattering, it goes with most any neutral, and it's available in a range of sizes. What a miracle!

items from the Nordstrom Autumn Sale 2017

green wool tee – Eileen Fisher; tunic tee – Halogen (similar here); cardigan – Halogen; dress – Eileen Fisher

So after all of this, what will I/might I purchase? Velvet jeans are at about a 75% probability - I just got rid of my black jeans because they had SO MUCH Lycra in them that they were starting to pucker in weird places. Weird puckering is common enough on the bottom half of my body, without adding to it with my clothes!

And I try to wean myself away from the Evian spray bottles; they're madly bad for the environment, so I suspect that they won't make it to my apartment. For what it's worth, there are a TON of cosmetic and beauty items on sale, but you of course won't buy until you've checked Beautypedia to be certain that you're getting your money's worth, right?

items from the Nordstrom Autumn Sale 2017

dress – Eileen Fisher; onyx necklace – Gorjana; silver bag – Vince Camuto; travel water mister – Evian; velvet top – Eileen Fisher; velvet jeans – Eileen Fisher

There is a lot of lingerie available - it's always reasonable to stock-up when these pieces are on sale, as well as plenty of different leggings, hosiery of various ilk, and the always-necessary socks... Pajamas are worth a look too! And some Nike that would be appealing if I needed running shoes right now....

The bottom line? If you need something, take a look (but be warned that their search functionality is appallingly poor for such a major retailer). If you have everything you need, read a good book, go for a walk, cook something amazing, or take a nap!

If I Were Shopping, What'd I'd Buy at the Nordstrom Sale...
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Wednesday, July 19, 2017

I could use paintings from this artist for WEEKS! She had an amazing career, and her body of work is beautiful - graceful, colorful, yet true to nature. Genius...

Please be aware, when looking at paintings online, that a LOT of work has been "touched-up" by people gone mad with Photoshop. If something seems wildly out of the normal style for an artist, look for multiple versions of the image. Especially once something gets to Pinterest, it is widely circulated, even though it might NOT be authentic. This is also true if you see a photograph of a bird that seems unlike anything found in nature - some of those pictures have been really altered... sigh...

Same Lake House, Different Weekend...

"You know that there are frost warnings up there this weekend?"

Yes, I'm going to look for some particular migratory birds that are likely to be there now that the weather is cooler...

"Well, none of US are going up there this weekend. There's no way we could keep the kids out of the lake, and they'd catch their DEATH..."

I don't plan to swim - just walk a bit, and mostly sit quietly and watch for birds...

(well, watch for birds, and for the man who works for the Audubon Society... If there aren't crowds around, he will have more free time...)

rain jacket – L.L.Bean; bird earrings – Be Bhagavati; scarf – Burberry; sunglasses – Ray-Ban; tunic – Patagonia; watch – Larsson & Jennings; trail pants – L.L.Bean; waterproof booties – Teva; duffel bag – Herschel Supply Co.

"Well OKAY, if you're dead set on going. I know that the kids carried in a ton of firewood the last time we were up, so you should be okay. Just make sure you pack warm clothes..."

I'm over 50; I think I can figure it out, but thanks for thinking of me...

garnet earrings – Bloomingdale’s; fleece vest – L.L.Bean; white tee – M&S Collection; labradorite earrings – Carousel Jewels; green scarf – Irene Paris; bra– Agent Provacateur; thong - Agent Provacateur; kimono robe – Roses Are Red; swallow necklace – Origami Jewellery; beige sweater – Dorothy Perkins; taupe scarf – Baltica Foulards; red sweater – L.L.Bean; taupe pants – L.L.Bean; bracelet - Azuni London; ballet flats – Lucky Brand; bag – Ina Kent; skirt – Marks and Spencer; boots – Mountain Sole

I don't know if the farm stand will even be OPEN. What will you eat?

I might be going out for a meal. Or two. Or staying in... I'll take coffee and croissants with me...

I'm pretty well prepared, no matter what I might find to... amuse... myself.


Build a Travel Capsule Wardrobe by Starting with Art: Demoiselle Cranes and Lotus by Jessie Arms Botke
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Monday, July 17, 2017

This could qualify as Moderately Extravagant Monday!

And here's some art that might not be to everyone's taste, but colors that certainly have energy and make a strong statement:

St. John by Gerhard Richter

(I personally love Gerhard Richter, and this work especially...)

They Think She's Crazy...

St. John by Gerhard Richter with style guidelines and color palette

She sleeps like a baby on airplanes. Well, any place she can sit down, she can sleep soundly. And she uses this to her advantage!

Travel outfit in red and black

silk scarf – Shevitza; earrings – Marni; tee – L.L.Bean; watch – Rebecca Minkoff; coat - Issey Miyake; pants – L.L.Bean; suitcase – Crash Baggage; boots – Stuart Weitzman; tote – Urban Originals (if you dig the boot fabric, but prefer mules, they're here)

Those last-minute plane tickets that are dirt cheap, but only work if you can leave in 2 days, and only stay someplace for 3 days? She's all over them...

a travel six-pack in black, white and brights

white shirt – Brunello Cucinelli; crystal earrings – Alexis Bittar; drop earrings – Ink and Alloy; paisley scarf - Etro; gauze scarf – Elizabeth Gillett; black bag - Heio; gold bag - Okhtein; tee shirts – L.L.Bean; aquamarine and tanzanite earrings – Poppy Jewellery; jeans – L.L.Bean; skirt – J.W.Anderson; red dress – Harris Wharf London; booties – Blondo; pumps – Roger Vivier

Most people eschew such quick trips, because they can never get over the jet lag, and they don't feel like it's worthwhile to spend all that time on the plane in exchange for such a short time at their destination. She doesn't feel that way - not at all!

a travel capsule wardrobe in black, white and brights

She arrives at her destination - Paris, London, Copenhagen - wherever - feels fine, and ready to hit the pavement...

two outfits from a travel capsule wardrobe in black, white and brights

She never really worries about acclimating to the time change - she can sleep late, and then have a really fashionably late dinner...

two outfits from a travel capsule wardrobe in black, white and brights

If she chooses to go to a concert or opera, she doesn't have to worry about getting sleepy before it's over...

two outfits from a travel capsule wardrobe in black, white and brights

She's always tried to be a little bit different; who knew that it would be useful when it came time to travel?


A Travel Capsule Wardrobe that Starts with Art: Saint John by Gerhard Richter
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