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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Saturday, November 21, 2015

Scarf Selling Saturday: Winter, times 2, plus a bonus...

First - a quick news update!

(1) The winner of the Kathkath rose scarf - FrugalScholar!!!

(2) KatieQuattro - are you still interested in buying Les Instructions du Roy?

(3) Margie in Toronto - your "number is up" for purchasing the Pink Napoleon.

Everybody can email me at

Tell me this doesn't look like a painting:

L'Hiver silk scarf - Hermes


Hunters in the Snow by Pieter Bruegel the Elder

 And what's better, I want to sell both of mine, so if you're looking for one that has lots of warm colors, how about this one?

L'Hiver silk scarf - Hermes

I understand that this scarf was issued in 1968, which seems frankly hard to imagine, but I can't find any source that indicates a re-issue at a later date, so these scarves are very possibly 47 years old! I'm suspending official judgment pretty much forever...

They're in very good, but not pristine, condition. The silk has a soft, sueded feel to it, which is pretty sumptuous. And both of them have small marks on the scarves, which are not noticeable when the scarf is worn, and which will not diminish your pleasure and joy in owning these scarves. The details in the illustrations are amazing - the dogs feet sink into the snow, the drifts accumulate around the sculptures; for those of us who adore snow, this is THE scarf!

I would like $225 for each of these - leave a comment stating which color you want (or if you want to be considered for both!), and why. Or just leave a comment sharing with us all your weekend...

Okay, the following has NOTHING to do with ANYTHING about The Vivienne Files, but I really enjoyed it, and I wanted to share. If you like dancing, or old movies, this may give you an all-day smile. Plus it's tremendously well-executed, with a precision, and an attention to detail, that I really admire. (plus - FRED ASTAIRE.... sigh....)

Have a beautiful weekend,
Share the love,

House of Fraser Party Shop

Friday, November 20, 2015

Start with a Brooch: Boucheron Lotus Brooch

Oh. My. Goodness....

If this somehow became mine, I would wonder WHAT in the world was going on, and then I would indeed build my entire wardrobe (and that of my bodyguards!) around it. What a beautiful piece of jewelry...

Boucheron Lotus Flower Brooch

But even if one is not destined to own this, it can still certainly be used as a style focal point, or inspiration. The colors are straightforward enough:

Yes, I included the black of the background; I think it serves well as a foil for the diamonds, sapphires and emeralds.

So she's heading home for a long winter holiday weekend. She doesn't wear lavish, or amazing clothes - mostly things that are readily available. But in her mind, she remembers the brooch, and it changes everything about how she carries herself...

Cowl top – L.L.Bean; paisley scarf – Lands’ End; sapphire earrings – JCPenney
watch – Porsamo Bleu; handbag – Merona; black velvet jeans – J. Brand
parka – L.L.Bean; waterproof boots – Blondo

Even if she's just wearing jeans and a tee shirt, the choice of colors, and the careful attention to accessories, reminder her that the beauty of the brooch she so admires can be carried with her everywhere. It just requires a bit of creativity, and discipline. Nobody else realizes...

And she was clever enough to realize that malachite and lapis can be the same colors as emeralds and sapphires, and she can have jewelry that makes her heart sing without missing a rent payment!

Plaid scarf – Lands’ End; green sweater – J. Crew; malachite earrings – Lagos
silver pendant necklace – Simon Sebbag; lapis bracelet – Neeru Goel; rings- 
Vince Camuto; black sequined cardigan – Billie & Blossom; black skirt –  
MICHAEL MichaelKors; white cardigan – J. Crew; sapphire tee – Lands’ End
crystal-trimmed ballet flat – Ugg Australia; blue loafers – MICHAEL Michael Kors
black jeans – L.L.Bean

This is everything she has with her for the long weekend. After even the most STRESSFUL family meals, seeing these things in the closet remind her of who she is, and of the beauty that she cherishes in the world.


Even though she only packed six pieces of clothing, she has plenty of options for getting dressed each day:

I'm staying home for Thanksgiving this year, and going out to a restaurant. I'll be breaking, just a little bit, out of my fashion comfort zone!

What are you doing?