Friday, November 24, 2017

Of course I've been thinking a lot about what it means to say that you're "dressed up." In the absence of showing more skin than usual, I think I've learned that there are four ways to go about this process:

  1. Anything metallic or sparkly - if you can find a garment in one of your colors that's been given some sequins, some beads, or metallic thread, the dressiness quotient is automatically raised.
  2. Ruffles, bows, or other trim that you would not normally wear. Swapping out an ivory cotton shirt for an ivory silk shirt with a bow at the neck can make a world of difference, while filling exactly the same role in your wardrobe.
  3. Swapping for a fabric with more texture or shine. Satin, velvet, lace, or brocade are all instantly dressy, even if you're talking about velvet jeans!
  4. And specifically for the winter holidays, certain patterns, like Fair Isle sweaters, are always seen as being festive. A sweater with reindeer, no matter how stylized, screams Christmas. Snowflakes, although hanging around the city until April, are a tired sweater or jewelry idea by January 2nd...

With these very "subject to change" guidelines, let's look at A Common Wardrobe in colors that aren't usually associated with winter holidays, and see what's possible!

A Common Wardrobe in caramel beige and ivory
ribbed tee – Uniqlo; ivory tee – Lands’ End; shirt – Lands’ End; pecan sweater – Lands’ End; Henley – Patagonia; ivory long-sleeved tee – Lands’ End; corduroy shirt – L.L.Bean; cashmere cardigan – L.L.Bean; striped tee – Banana Republic; khakis – L.L.Bean; cords – L.L.Bean; skirt – L.L.Bean

Winter white is relatively common this time of year, but finding anything festive in brown is really tough! Look for the color "copper" or "bronze" to help hunt down the few offerings available.

Four Key Pieces in caramel beige and ivory
Fair Isle sweater – Uniqlo; ruffle-front blouse – Lands’ End; metallic cardigan – Care of You; lace skirt - Uniqlo

With these 4 pieces I've tired to represent the idea of the Fair Isle sweater, something with a low-key ruffle, a very relaxed gold-flecked sweater, and an easy to wear elastic-waist lace skirt... As you can see, these outfits come together pretty easily! A few accessories, and you'd be ready for most occasions this holiday season.

how a ruffle on a blouse dresses up anything

a brown Fair Isle sweater for the winter holidays

a metallic cardigan dresses up A Common Wardrobe for the winter holidays

Should I try this with other colors? Suggestions always welcome.

love,
Janice

What IS Dressing Up? Taking a Warm Common Wardrobe into the Winter Holidays
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Thursday, November 23, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving in the United States! (well, heck, Happy Thanksgiving to everybody...) I know that I should be plying you with news about "Black Friday" sales, and lots of gifty stuff, but you will get quite enough of that kind of information without The Vivienne Files piling on, right?

So I'm going to respond to the overwhelming demand for teal for the holidays by looking at it with 3 different neutrals partners... Nothing like a bit of excess for today (says the woman who fully intend to have at least 2 desserts, and then work it off tomorrow in the gym...)

First up, three gorgeous teal pieces, paired with a core of black silk:

Five Key Pieces in teal and black
jacket – Self-Portrait; cashmere tunic - Halsbrook; velvet top – Eileen Fisher; silk pants – Eileen Fisher; silk shell – Eileen Fisher

The blazer is shown with velvet shorts at Nordstrom, if that appeals...

And while the pants are described as cropped, I found that for me they fit more like ankle pants... There are a variety of silk pants available right now from Eileen Fisher, including some really luscious velvet ones, and some wide legged silk too!

Similarly, if you're more comfortable with sleeves, there are plenty of silk tops available...

And I was reminded again today that it really is worthwhile to be patient while looking for accessories - I despaired repeatedly while preparing this, but in the end found some truly amazing and beautiful things! This is the time to look far and wide - beyond your normal "go-to" retailers. There are lots of people out there selling lots of surprising things...

These pieces come together in a variety of ways, from quite dressy to a wee bit more casual. The accessories really do a lot of the "heavy lifting" on these outfits, I think.

a teal blazer and black silk top and pants for the holidays
jacket – Self-Portrait; necklace - Heidi Daus; silk shell – Eileen Fisher; bag – Shiraleah; silk pants – Eileen Fisher; black velvet mules – Jeffrey Campbell

I own this Bao Bao Issey Miyake bag in silver, and I really love it. It was a mad extravagance which I don't regret in the least!

a teal velvet top and black silk pants, for the holidays
velvet top – Eileen Fisher; earrings – Louise Olsen; bracelet - Heidi Daus; flats – Jimmy Choo; silk pants – Eileen Fisher; bag - Bao Bao Issey Miyake

A sweater almost automatically makes books an okay choice, I say! And these boots are a perfect example of looking far and wide - the retail price of these can vary by LITERALLY over $300...

a teal sweater and black silk pants, for the holidays
cashmere tunic - Halsbrook; earrings - Heidi Daus; boots - Tibi; silk pants – Eileen Fisher; clutch – Dries van Noten

What if you want to branch out from black? Winter white - any shade of white, really - is beautiful with teal... (and the Eileen Fisher pants shown above come in bone, along with a number of bone silk tops...)

Five Key Pieces in teal and winter white
jacket – Self-Portrait; cashmere tunic - Halsbrook; velvet top – Eileen Fisher; satin ankle pants – Uniqlo; layered silk top – Nordstrom Signature

Winter white always suggests pearls to me! And the teal shoes tie the whole outfit together and keep the jacket from giving it a "top-heavy" feeling...

a holiday outfit in winter white with teal accents
jacket – Self-Portrait; earrings – Kenneth Jay Lane; layered silk top – Nordstrom Signature; bracelet – Majorica; satin ankle pants – Uniqlo; bag - Chloé; flats – Treasure & Bond

I'm not as worried about balance here, because the top is less structured and has shorter sleeves.

a teal velvet top and winter white pants for the holidays
velvet top – Eileen Fisher; necklace –Marco Bicego; flats – Gentle Souls; satin ankle pants – Uniqlo; clutch – Natasha

yes, the gold flats are very discounted!

a teal velvet sweater and winter white pants for the holidays
scarf – Pam Weinstock London; earrings - Aspina of London; cashmere tunic - Halsbrook; satin ankle pants – Uniqlo; ring - Mizuki; boots – Sol Sana

And what if you want to span a range of moods? A sparkly skirt and a classic dress give you plenty of choices:

Five Key Pieces in teal, gold and black
jacket – Self-Portrait; cashmere tunic - Halsbrook; velvet top – Eileen Fisher; sequined skirt - Simply Be; dress – Lands’ End

This would be perfect for an "after-work, office-ish party" evening - festive but not unbusinesslike.

a teal blazer and black dress for the holidays
earrings – Michael Aram; jacket – Self-Portrait; necklace – Nest; clutch – Edie Parker; dress – Lands’ End; pumps – Vince Camuto

I'm quite smitten with this scarf - it could dress up anything!

a teal velvet top and gold skirt, for the holidays
velvet top – Eileen Fisher; earrings - Mela Artisans; scarf – Collection 18; bag – Serpui; sequined skirt - Simply Be; mules – Mansur Gavriel

This is sort of a "relaxed festive" outfit - no uncomfortable shoes, and a warm sweater! Of course I've paired a square-motif scarf with square earrings, bracelets with angular faceted stones, and shoes that have tiny square holes in them - it's what I like to do...

a teal sweater and gold skirt, for the holidays
scarf – John Lewis; earrings - Argento Vivo; cashmere tunic - Halsbrook; flats – Vionic; sequined skirt - Simply Be; bracelets– Hila Gardner

I'm going to work on at least 1 or two more of these - the holiday merchandise is already starting to vanish from stores! What's the rush? sigh...

love,
Janice

Teal for the Holidays? Three Different Approaches!
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Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Yesterday, we left our heroine with a really lovely 16-piece wardrobe, but pretty much in need of more shoes, and at least a couple of pieces of jewelry. (okay, this is not NEED in the biological survival sense, but more need in the "being appropriately dressed for business" sense...)

So, as I love to do, let's work through one accessory at a time and assess the possibilities.

This very simple outfit cries out for a necklace, at least to me:

adding a necklace to a 4 by 4 Wardrobe in black, taupe and pink
sweater – Lands’ End; skirt – Lands’ End; blazer – Lands’ End; garnet floral necklace – Zayd Makarim; pearl necklace – Putu Gede Darmawan; onyx rose necklace - Khun Boom

The same necklace can of course be worn here, but I'd like to see my heroine with a softer, more rounded handbag. A briefcase is essential, but not every day...

adding a handbag to a dressy 4 by 4 Wardrobe in black, taupe and pink
cardigan – Lands’ End; sweater – Lands’ End; skirt – Lands’ End; left bag – Frye; buckled bag – Shinola; third bag - Serapian Milano

Okay, I'm the first to admit that floral boots aren't likely the next thing that this heroine needs! But they are very popular right now, and if she's ever going to own a pair, this is the year to do it. And what a fun way to bring some feminine zest to a simple pant-suit outfit...

(I almost got in trouble here - I found a pair of STAR boots... which I do NOT need...)

adding floral boots to a 4 by 4 dressy wardrobe in black, taupe and pink
blazer – Lands’ End; shirt – Lands’ End; pants – Lands’ End; first boots – Dolce Vita; second boots – Gabriella; third boots– Sam Edelman

You can go a long way with 1 pair of pumps, but if you're traveling for business, having a 2nd pair of dress shoes can be handy - especially if it rains, you feel like a change of footwear to wear to dinner, or your feet just cry out for different shoes!

(note - the Vaneli slingbacks also come in fabric, in a color they call "platinum," but which is pretty close to taupe in my eyes...)

adding black pumps to a 4 by 4 Wardrobe in black, taupe and pink
cardigan – Lands’ End; blouse - Giambattista Valli; skirt – Lands’ End; cap-toe slingbacks – Vaneli; patent pumps – Vince Camuto; fabric pumps - Adrianna Papel

While we're stocking up on shoes for our heroine, she will certainly want some loafers at some point in time...

adding black loafers to a 4 by 4 Wardrobe in black, taupe and pink
cardigan – Banana Republic; pants – Lands’ End; hardware loafers – Salvatore Ferragamo; studded loafers – Sesto Meucci; tassel loafers – Ecco

The classic simplicity of this outfit will set the perfect stage for another scarf. And please don't be dissuaded from these black separates just because this dress looks like it would fit a piece of spaghetti - these items come in a very full range of sizes, including Regular, Petite, and Plus.

adding a scarf to a 4 by 4 Wardrobe in black, taupe and pink
cardigan – Lands’ End; dress – Lands’ End; first scarf - Louise Coleman; solid pink scarf - Faliero Sarti; third scarf – Salvatore Ferragamo

Many people don't even own a brooch, but I figure if you're wearing a blazer with lapels, those lapels are the perfect place for a little something distinctive!

adding a brooch to a 4 by 4 dressy wardrobe in black, pink and taupe
blazer – Lands’ End; top – Banana Republic; pants – Lands’ End; hand & rose brooch – Hilda Cachi; pearl bar brooch – Nadri; white resin brooch – Kenneth Jay Lane

A classic black dress deserves pearls...

adding a pearl necklace to a 4 by 4 Wardrobe in black, taupe and pink
dress – Lands’ End; cardigan – Ralph Lauren; braided necklace – Eloquii; pearl station necklace – Majorica; triple strand pearls – Kenneth Jay Lane

Some days you just want pink earrings...

adding pink earrings to a 4 by 4 Wardrobe in black, taupe and pink
sweater – Lands’ End; cardigan – Lands’ End; pants – L.L.Bean; top earrings – Stephen Dweck; second earrings – Neetu Barathi; pearl earrings – Buana

While this wardrobe, and this heroine, already has a couple of scarves, it might make sense to look for something a little bit warmer? Or just another scarf, because SCARVES!

adding a scarf to a 4 by 4 Wardrobe in black, taupe and pink
sweater – Marks & Spencer; skirt – Lands’ End; first scarf – Avenue; second scarf – Missoni; third scarf – Elie Saab (yoox)

For many people who work at a desktop, a bracelet can be more of an annoyance than an asset! But at dinner, it can be a lovely touch - especially when it echoes your favorite floral motif...

adding a floral bracelet to a dressy 4 by 4 wardrobe in pink, black and taupe
jacket – Giorgio Grati; top – Banana Republic; skirt – Lands’ End; first bracelet – Coach; second bracelet –Bling Jewelry; third bracelet - TJMaxx

TJMaxx (and Marshalls) might not be your favorites, but they're worth our consideration right now because they continue to pay their employees in Puerto Rico, even as their stores there remain closed. A humane and generous thing to do in the face of ongoing disaster...

Never EVER forget sunglasses. Your eyes will thank you some day! And of course they're incredibly handy for looking cool...

adding sunglasses to a dressy 4 by 4 Wardrobe in black, pink and taupe
blazer – Lands’ End; sweater – Lands’ End; skirt – Iris and Ink; top sunglasses – Salt; second sunglasses – Ray-Ban; third sunglasses – Kate Spade

This last outfit - such a simple but luxurious top, with a lace skirt - just needs another little touch of something lacy to pull it all together. Earrings are SO easy, and timeless!

adding floral earrings to a dressy 4 by 4 Wardrobe in black, pink and taupe
velvet tee – Madewell; skirt – Iris and Ink; first earrings – Wadarat Supasirisuk; second earrings – Wadarat Supasirisuk; third earrings – Rupadana

As nice as the wardrobe looked with just the clothing, there's always something about adding accessories that gives a real feeling of style to the entire grouping:

a 16-piece 4 by 4 Wardrobe in black, taupe and pink, with accessories

We've already seen a stack of outfits possible from this 4 by 4 Wardrobe, but I love to ponder a few more of the possibilities:

3 ways to wear a black dress from a dressy 4 by 4 Wardrobe in black, taupe and pink

3 ways to wear a black lace skirt from a dressy 4 by 4 Wardrobe in black, taupe and pink

3 ways to wear taupe or beige pants from a dressy 4 by 4 Wardrobe in black, taupe and pink

3 ways to wear black pants from a dressy 4 by 4 Wardrobe in black, taupe and pink

3 ways to wear a black skirt from a dressy 4 by 4 Wardrobe in black, taupe and pink

Just as a reminder for those of us who are new to this grouping, this is the beautiful scarf upon which the wardrobe is based (thus the proliferation of floral and rose motifs!):

Vintage Rose Scarf by KathKath with style guidelines and color palette
Vintage Rose Scarf by KathKath

Remember that the lovely owners of KathKath are offering us all a 30% discount on anything on their site, using the discount code vivkath30...

love,
Janice

I Need Accessories For Client Meetings and Dressy Evenings! Start with a Scarf: Vintage Rose by KathKath
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Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Yes, you saw this scarf a long time ago - KathKath actually gave me one to give away to one of you! But now they've made this beautiful pattern available in both silk and a cashmere blend, AND in both rectangle and square shapes... As if that wasn't enough, you can also get a 30% discount on anything on their site using the code vivkath30. Pretty sweet, I'd say!

UPDATE: KathKath assures me that they've got the discount code working, and that it's good through the end of 2017 (woo, holiday gift money might be GONE....) If you continue to have issues, feel free to contact them directly; there's a contact form on their site. They're truly nice women... hugs, Janice

Vintage Rose Scarf by KathKath
Vintage Rose Scarf by KathKath

Our heroine is long past the point where she worries about wearing pink to an interview. A floral watch and slightly floral earrings are just part of her personal style; if her potential employer doesn't think they're acceptable, she's the wrong fit for the job! (oh, the years it took us to get this much confidence, eh?)

An interview outfit in black and pink
earrings – Stephen Dweck; blazer – Lands’ End; Vintage Rose Scarf by KathKath; watch – Olivia Burton; shirt – Lands' End; briefcase – Tumi; skirt – Lands’ End; pumps – Athena Alexander

In order to make sure that our "working from home, occasional meetings and dressy dinners" heroine doesn't get carried away in her shopping, I'm going to use the 4 by 4 Wardrobe Template to keep organized:

A black and pink interview outfit in the 4 by 4 Wardrobe Template

To my mind, the first and most obvious thing to buy when you've only got the 3 starter pieces is another shirt or sweater - the shirt is the thing that will need to be laundered most quickly, and is also the most memorable piece...

And yes, this color is called "Garlic Clove." What ARE they thinking? I love garlic as much as any woman, and maybe more than most, but it's not something that I associate with a cashmere sweater!

adding a taupe sweater to a 4 by 4 wardrobe
sweater – Lands’ End

Once you get the sweater, just go ahead and get the cardigan! You may never wear them at the same time, but if the color is one that works well for you, why not have both pieces? (this of course assumes that you were going to eventually get a cardigan or jacket anyway...)

adding a taupe cardigan to a 4 by 4 wardrobe
cardigan - Lands' End

At this stage, our heroine has two tops, and 2 "second layers," so she should be looking for pants or a skirt. These pants the infinite advantage of being in the same fabric as her black skirted suit - always a smart thing to find if you can!

adding black pants to a 4 by 4 wardrobe
pants – Lands’ End

Time for a 3rd top, and it's about time to find something that integrates all of the colors in the wardrobe so far:

adding a print blouse to a 4 by 4 wardrobe
blouse – Giambattista Valli

Pink? Heck yes! A pretty cardigan makes a great top over other things, and can also be worn on its own...

adding a pink cardigan to a 4 by 4 Wardrobe
cardigan – Banana Republic

This is normally where pants or a skirt would be added, but since the matching black dress is available, let's grab that. Having 4 black garments in the same fabric can make getting dressed really easy...

adding a black dress to a 4 by 4 wardrobe
dress – Lands’ End (483327)

My feeling was that this heroine was quickly becoming well-equipped for her client meetings, and that we could begin to branch out a bit. While this top is very business-appropriate under a cardigan or jacket, it can also be very pretty and feminine on its own at dinner...

Adding a pink top to a 4 by 4 Wardrobe
top – Banana Republic

Maybe all of her clients aren't "starched shirt" dressy?

Adding a taupe cardigan to a 4 by 4 Wardrobe
cardigan – Ralph Lauren

It is entirely possible to look and be businesslike while wearing twill pants...

adding a pair of taupe pants to a 4 by 4 Wardrobe
pants - L.L.Bean

Since the Northern Hemisphere is catapulting into cold weather, a sweater might be wise!

adding a pink sweater to a 4 by 4 Wardrobe
sweater – Marks & Spencer

Our heroine is due for another "second layer," which could be a cardigan or a jacket, any combination of these 3 colors. This one caught my eye, but don't discount the possibility of some sort of texture in a mix of taupe and black...

adding a tweed jacket to a 4 by 4 Wardrobe
tweed jacket – Giorgio Grati

Modest enough for business - dressy enough for ANY restaurant they throw your way for lunch or dinner...

adding a black lace skirt to a 4 by 4 Wardrobe
skirt – Iris and Ink

I feel that a solid black top is really long overdue! And why not velvet? It's very au courant...

adding a black velvet tee to a 4 by 4 Wardrobe
velvet tee - Madewell

When all of this is stacked up together, you can clearly see that it makes a very versatile assortment! I could swoon if I opened a suitcase to this:

a 4 by 4 Wardrobe in black, taupe and pink

Accessories for this tomorrow?

love,
Janice

p.s. Just in case you were hesitating, all 4 of the black "suiting" pieces come in a mad range of sizes, including Petites, Tall, and Plus sizes...

I Need a Wardrobe For Client Meetings and Dressy Evenings! Start with a Scarf: Vintage Rose by KathKath
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