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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Friday, July 14, 2017

One of you sent me some images of William Morris wallpaper and fabric ... oh, what lovely fun!

The Brook by John Henry Dearle for William Morris Co.

If you have a few minutes to spare, I can't encourage you enough to take a look at their wallpaper and fabrics. They might not be your style, but they are so lovely, creative and distinctive. The William Morris company is particularly adept at using themes and ideas from nature, and many of their products would make excellent inspirations for a wardrobe.

(and if you have a fondness for that spruce color that we saw from Pantone, get thee to L.L.Bean, where it appears to be a staple of their palette!)

When I saw this, I thought of a lovely heroine who drives, uphill (!) to get to her family's lake house...

The Brook by John Henry Dearle for William Morris Co.

The Lake House

"Make sure my cardigan is on TOP of the grocery boxes - I'm going to need it when we get up into the mountains!"

travel outfit in teal, khaki and white

Cardigan - L.L.Bean; chrysocolla earrings - Tiberio Gonzales; sunglasses – Smoke X Mirrors; tee shirt – Uniqlo; bracelets – Mudd; tote – Brahmin; pants – L.L.Bean; shoes - Converse

"If they have blueberries, I'll make cobbler. Otherwise, I'm thinking that we'll definitely have strawberry shortcake for breakfast... It all depends on what they have at the stand; if it's not in season, we can't just magically make it appear..."

a six-pack in blue and green for a cabin and cooking weekend

teal tee – L.L.Bean; nightgown – L.L.Bean; striped top – L.L.Bean; leaf earrings – Samuel B.; floral tee – L.L.Bean; leaf necklace - The Sak; bikini – Mara Hoffman; hooded sweatshirt – H&M; mixing spoons – Threshold; oven mitts – Mackenzie Childs; denim apron – H&M; beach towel – Marinette Saint Tropez; sweatshirt robe – L.L.Bean; denim capris – L.L.Bean; skort – L.L.Bean; sandals - Naot; slippers – L.L.Bean

"Yes, it's very different from the supermarket. This is food that grew right here, and is fresher than anything in the store at home. It's important to know what foods grow during different times of year, so you don't buy food that just flew in from Peru...."

a travel wardrobe for a cool summer weekend at the lake house

"Corn on the cob? Of course we can - get as much as you can carry..."

2 outfits from a six-pack in teal, blue and beige

"A few weeks ago he had some fresh beef available; help me remember to ask for any fresh meat that he has. There's bacon and hamburger in the cooler, but something else would be nice..."

2 outfits from a six-pack in teal, blue and beige

"You can get TWO bunches of flowers, if you promise to arrange them as soon as we get to the cabin. Put one on the dining table, and then you can have one in your room, too..."

2 outfits from a six-pack in teal, blue and beige

"If we empty the grocery box, I might be able to fit a bushel of peaches in the trunk on the way home..."


p.s. I think it's in my blogger contract to remind you that Nordstrom has a sale coming soon. If you need something, take a look. If you don't need something, you don't suddenly need it just because they put it on sale, do you?

Can Wallpaper be Your Wardrobe Inspiration? Heck Yes!
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Tuesday, July 11, 2017

I've made some progress on the 52-Piece Wardrobe Plan that we discussed last Wednesday.

First, I included the idea of columns for each of the "categories" of garment - I think this works pretty well:

a 52-piece wardrobe template
cardigan - L.L.Bean; chambray shirt - L.L.Bean; oxford shirts - L.L.Bean; black turtleneck - L.L.Bean; black jeans - L.L.Bean; blue jeans - L.L.Bean; long-sleeved tee shirt - L.L.Bean; tee shirts - L.L.Bean; khakis - L.L.Bean

The only real question here has to be about how many garments fall into each of the three categories, and that's going to have to be something that each of us personalizes. I will of course lay out my guidelines, but they're never carved in stone; I call them guidelines, and NEVER rules!

I tried to do something around the idea of using multiple colors for borders, to show that some garments were able to serve in multiple functions - FAIL. The page is pretty crowded already, and adding another border (thin as they are) just made things a mess. I think for multi-use garments, we're just going to have to remember that we have options!

The best progress, in terms of being able to work with this template, was to break it into 3 segments - 1 for each of the 3 areas of Warm Weather, Common Wardrobe, and Cold Weather.

template for a 19-piece warm-weather wardrobe

The Warm Weather page isn't filled in; maybe I'll "back fill" with what I'm wearing to pieces this summer and see how it stacks up. I have a hunch that I'm going to need fewer jackets and cardigans, and DEFINITELY more dresses...

The 2nd page is the original Common Wardrobe, from back in the day. I think this is a part of the template that is open for a LOT of experimentation, in terms of the clothes included. I'd like to build at least a few different "Common Wardrobes" to reflect different color preferences and personal styles...

template for a 12-piece Common Wardrobe

And then there's the 19 pieces for Cold Weather. After I get this whole package in a usable form, my plan, weekly, is to show my own wardrobe, as I add a piece each week (and eventually put a piece into storage for a while...)

template for a 19-piece cold-weather wardrobe

The only segment that's really well planned right now is the Common Wardrobe, because it's the same bunch of garments that we've looked at and worked with for years. I want to do this in warmer colors, in choices that more reflect my personal wardrobe, and maybe some other variations based more on navy? or grey?

a 12-piece Common Wardrobe in black, white, denim and khaki
cardigan - L.L.Bean; chambray shirt - L.L.Bean; oxford shirts - L.L.Bean; black turtleneck - L.L.Bean; black jeans - L.L.Bean; blue jeans - L.L.Bean; long-sleeved tee shirt - L.L.Bean; tee shirts - L.L.Bean; khakis - L.L.Bean

This is fascinating... Do you think it's going to continue to be useful?


p.s. Please note that my health is pretty yucky right now, and I'm finding that there are days during which I can't do much beyond sleep. I'm going to try to keep The Vivienne Files rolling along regularly, but at some point I just have to surrender and take time off. It's not from lack of love...

Planning Your Complete Wardrobe, 1 Segment at a Time
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