Saturday, August 30, 2014

Adding a "Pantone" Accent Color to a 4 by 4: Mauve Mist

What do you do with a Four by Four Wardrobe if you want to dabble in a currently trendy accent color?  This has been asked a couple of times in the last few days, and I think it's a pretty important thing to think about; we all know that stores will show colors WAAAAAY outside of our plan...

This applies to those of us will well-established Four by Four Wardrobes, and for any of us who are still considering what to use for accent colors.  If you have a wardrobe that includes a LOT of your neutrals, sampling a seasonal neutral is a good way to give yourself some variety without breaking the bank.

I actually put together a little (relatively) document that shows all ten of this seasons "new" colors, juxtaposed against all 91 of the combinations of neutrals that we've been considering.  You can see from this sample page that one of the colors that is considered seasonal this year - aluminum - looks a heck of a lot like just plain old medium grey! Let's be serious - you can't invent new colors.  We've seen them all; all you can do is give them a snazzy name, and convince the merchandising world of their essential hipness...

This document is available in The Vivienne Files Document Store - there's a link to it right underneath the boat cruising down the Seine on my header photograph. 

Let's build upon the wildly popular smoky blue, pearl grey, navy and grey wardrobe from earlier this week.  So this is the new color that's being added - "Mauve Mist".
And this was the original wardrobe.
Lace-trimmed gauze scarf – Remi and Reid, silver flower earrings – 21 dgrsswirled silver bracelet – Komang Wirawan, silver necklace – Sri Luce square silk scarf – Antagoniste,  hoop earrings – Simon Sebbag, ankle boots – Sam Edelmanloafers – Walking Cradlesnavy henley – Uniqlo, jeans – Mango, navy shirt – Uniqlo, corduroy skirt – Peter Jensengrey tee – Kin, grey jeans – Uniqlo, grey cashmere sweater – Uniqlo,  wool trousers – Reissstriped sweater – Vanessa Bruno Athestylized fair isle sweater – Rachel Comeyjacket – Uttam, cardigan – Acne Studiosblue cashmere sweater – Equipment, light grey tee – Replay, blue shirt – Sophie, grey sweater – Dear Cashmere
 I'm submitting that you test the waters with this color by adding one garment, and a couple of accessories to tie everything together.  You could use socks, a bracelet, maybe even lipstick could be considered for a color like this!  
Blouse – Jil Sander – Stylebop, scarf – Roberto Cavalli, pearl earrings – Komang Wijayana
You can immediately see how well this color blends with your existing Four by Four Wardrobe - not just with the other colors, but with the mood and feeling of softness without being overly sweet.

And you have options, immediately, to wear your new goodies a lot!

Which of the Pantone Fall 2014 colors would you try, if you were going to try any of them at all?  Or are you going to sit out this wave of "new" colors and see what they cook up for us next spring?

                        Alexis Bittar


Friday, August 29, 2014

Packing for Paris, again!

Yes, there are lots more Four by Four Wardrobes on the way, but I like to mix things up a bit!

I don't leave for Paris and Amsterdam for 20 days, but I'm already starting to think this one through.  This is a particularly interesting packing adventure, because I'm currently living in hot summer weather (well, hot, cool, stormy, and just plain strange...), but I know that it's going to be more comfortable in Europe.  Unless it's not.  Sigh...

As usual, I'm planning to dress in layers, so worst case cold weather means more layers, and worst case warm weather means just a shirt rather than a shirt and sweater.  If it gets too extreme, I go shopping, or I stay in the hotel.  One can't pack for every eventuality, unless your entire wardrobe goes along.  Not an option!

So I'm flying to Paris with a couple of photographer friends. and Belovedest is joining me a few days later. I've debated the merits of wearing a white tee shirt, or even a striped tee shirt, on the plane, but I know perfectly well that if I spill something I'm going to kick myself, so solid black with accessories is how we're going to roll. Slouch pants are comfortable, and have a certain insouciant charm that I really like; they flatter my very muscular legs too, which is nice!  And please note - these pants aren't NEARLY as short on me as they show on the website; on me, they have a clear "break" in the front of the pants when I'm standing.  I have no idea why they are shown as ankle pants - they just look stubby that way!

I'm one of those people who always are wearing matching jewelry, because much of my jewelry is pearls, and they all go together!  I know that it's pretty "matchy matchy" for a lot of people, but I'm really comfortable with it, and that's the most important thing to me.
brooch - Tiffany (no longer available), earrings - Majorica, necklace - Max and Chloe, tee shirt - Lands' End, bag - L.L.Bean, slouch pants - Eileen Fisher, scarf - Julie Egli, cardigan - Eileen Fisher, loafers - Stuart Weitzman
You might notice that I've got quite a bit of J Jill clothing.  It's sort of become the go-to gift card to give me in my family, and I have a lot of luck finding basic clothes in petite sizes there.  No, I get no commission whatsoever from them, more's the pity!
marled sweater - J Jill (no longer available), black shirt - J Jill, striped tee - Muji (no longer available), black sweater - J Jill, blue scarf - Nordstrom, grey shirt - J Jill (no longer available), white tee - Lands' End, square scarf - Hermes, pearl bracelet - Majorica, sequined sweater - J Jill, pearl earrings - Majorica, pearl necklace - Majorica, white shirt - J Jill, waxed jeans - Eileen Fisher, hoop earrings - Katherine Seaman, black and pearl necklace - Majorica, pink scarf - Christian Dior (no longer available), paisley pants - J Jill, black knit dress - Eileen Fisher (no longer available), woven flats - Cole Haan/Nike (no longer available), silver bracelet - Spring Street, athletic shoes - Cole Haan/Nike
Our first few hours will of course be spent wearing the same clothes in which we flew - you can't just walk into your hotel room the second you arrive!  But when we do finally get in, I will change tee shirts, grab a different scarf, and then SPRINT to catch up the the photographers as they take off down the street.

Second day I have to be prepared, again, to keep up with these two.  We might well be climbing on things, or hanging upside down trying to get the perfect photograph - one never knows!  I imagine that we're going to be eating somewhere savory but relatively relaxed - otherwise, I'll change into my dress.

We've negotiated that I'm going to have some time alone during the day on Saturday; I might not do anything more strenuous than park myself at a cafe and take notes about Chic Sightings!  Although I may very well buy a pair of shoes - I'm not packing a mountain of footwear, and I might want another pair of loafers before it's all said and done.  These tasseled loafers are YEARS old, and might need to be retired and replaced...

Then Sunday, Belovedest arrives!  The photographers head off for their tour, and B and I are going to Amsterdam!  Of all of the places I've been in Europe, Amsterdam is a new one for me - I'm very excited.

Much sightseeing and museum-going...  Simple clothes, but THIS black sweater has sequins woven into it.  Sort of a fun little touch...  And the paisley pants will be quite enough activity in this outfit - a brooch to hold my cardigan shut, and some earrings.

I'm looking for restaurant recommendations in Amsterdam - any suggestions?  What was the very BEST meal you've had there?

After a couple of days of hard-core walking about, I imagine that we'll have a more relaxed day now.  This would be an ideal time for that "best meal" restaurant...

And then the train back to Paris - my original travel outfit, with a change of tee shirts!

 B has a lengthy shopping list... and then we're going out to dinner!  When we're shopping I actually spend quite a bit of time sitting in stores, so I can probably get by the entire day in my dress and flats - they're built for comfort in addition to being very pretty.

 And the last day?  I don't know what we'll do.  Walk, and walk, and walk, and walk, I'm sure!

I'm eager to hear any suggestions you have about Amsterdam - everything that I've read and seen about it seems wonderful!

                         Magellans


Thursday, August 28, 2014

Questions about the raison d'etre of The Vivienne Files

Vivienne's work wardrobe, from this post, 3 years ago

A lot of questions recently have revolved around the origins of The Vivienne Files, and what it is that drives me to write it, and what I hope to have accomplished by all of this work. Good questions, and well worthwhile for me to consider from time to time.

I don't have any contact with Vivienne any more, but I will always remember her as the first person that I met who really made it clear to me that looking gorgeous and well-dressed was in no way related to having a big pile of clothes, or to shopping incessantly.  She would never have gone into debt to buy clothing.  She only bought things for which she had saved the money; she only bought things for which she had planned carefully; she only bought things that worked meticulously well with what she already owned.

Was she a typical French woman? or a typical Parisienne?  I have no idea - I don't know all of the women in Paris, or in France.  I know that in Paris, one sees more well-dressed women than one sees in Chicago - certainly a highly percentage of the women look creative, interesting, and attractive in a way that's seldom seen in Chicago.

But moreover, Vivienne's way of dressing and shopping was financially responsible, which enabled her to be self-sufficient - an ultimately feminist and independent strategy.  And her avoidance of excess, of "cheap and cheerful", and of buying for the sake of buying, was very environmentally responsible.  Not only did she look good - she was DOING good by planning her wardrobe the way she did.

And I really wanted to share that with other women.  I, myself, really want to be like that, and I still have to work at it.  


  • It's been brought to my attention that maybe Uniqlo isn't the best source of clothing for us to support, because of labor, or environmental considerations.  I've only been able to find really conflicting information about the company, so I'm reserving a firm decision; if you have any fact that weight in on either side of the issue, I'd love to know.  Thanks!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

A 4 by 4 Wardrobe in Smoky Blue, Pearl Grey, Navy and Grey

The same core of navy and grey looks a LOT different when the accent colors are soft and subtle!
Lace-trimmed gauze scarf – Remi and Reid, silver flower earrings – 21 dgrsswirled silver bracelet – Komang Wirawan, silver necklace – Sri Luce square silk scarf – Antagoniste,  hoop earrings – Simon Sebbag, ankle boots – Sam Edelmanloafers – Walking Cradlesnavy henley – Uniqlo, jeans – Mango, navy shirt – Uniqlo, corduroy skirt – Peter Jensengrey tee – Kin, grey jeans – Uniqlo, grey cashmere sweater – Uniqlo,  wool trousers – Reissstriped sweater – Vanessa Bruno Athestylized fair isle sweater – Rachel Comeyjacket – Uttam, cardigan – Acne Studiosblue cashmere sweater – Equipment, light grey tee – Replay, blue shirt – Sophie, grey sweater – Dear Cashmere
I think this demonstrates that you can invest in a core of neutral colors, and then, as your preferences and tastes (and personal coloring...) change, you can shift into a different "feel" of accent colors, without having to completely redo your wardrobe.

Navy henley – Uniqlo, jeans – Mango, navy shirt – Uniqlo, corduroy skirt – Peter Jensen
Grey tee – Kin, grey jeans – Uniqlo, grey cashmere sweater – Uniqlo,  wool trousers – Reiss
  I changed out a couple of these tops, in order to soften up some of the more crisp colors and graphics of earlier wardrobes. 
Striped sweater – Vanessa Bruno Athe, stylized fair isle sweater – Rachel Comeyjacket – Uttam, cardigan – Acne Studios
Realistically, if you've chosen pearl grey as one of your accents, you've opened the lovely door to all shades of grey in your wardrobe.  Grey is a great color to blend...
Blue cashmere sweater – Equipment, light grey tee – Replay, blue shirt – Sophie, grey sweater – Dear Cashmere
I chose a solid scarf for this wardrobe, in a shade a few notches darker than the accent color itself.  Scarves don't have to be patterned or printed in order to have impact!
Lace-trimmed gauze scarf – Remi & Reid, silver flower earrings – 21 dgrsswirled silver bracelet – Komang Wirawan, silver necklace – Sri Luce square silk scarf – Antagoniste,  hoop earrings – Simon Sebbag, ankle boots – Sam Edelman, loafers – Walking Cradles 

                        Shoes.com





Tuesday, August 26, 2014

A Four by Four Wardrobe in Bright Blue, Ultra-Violet, Navy and Grey

This wardrobe is a perfect case study in having to be really patient in the search for the accent colors!  While navy and grey are pretty readily available, these particular beautiful, vivid shades of blue and violet were quite difficult to find!  But that's okay - you've lived this far into your life with your current wardrobe, and even if you only have the navy and grey pieces of this wardrobe for quite a while, you've got plenty of options.  If you settle for something that's close, but not exactly right, then you won't love your new clothes any more than you love your existing wardrobe, and that accomplishes nothing for anybody except the retailers!

Here's our color scheme:

First, the Core of Four in navy (don't those jeans look like they should have a horse and a holster with them?).  Yes, this is one of those great Uniqlo shirts that's ALWAYS shown with a color swatch over the left sleeve - there's really not a white line on the cuff like that! 

You might wonder about a corduroy skirt, but I have to confess to an immoderate fondness for one that I had, and would like to replicate.  The picture of me up on the top right of the blog?  Taken on a train between Milan and Venice, and I'm almost certainly wearing a black corduroy skirt and black riding boots with that gorgeous grey sweater..
Navy henley – Uniqlo, jeans – Mango, navy shirt – Uniqlo, corduroy skirt – Peter Jensen
A Core of Four in grey:
Grey tee – Kin, grey jeans – Uniqlo, grey cashmere sweater – Uniqlo,  wool trousersReiss
The Expansion Four includes both a blazer and a cardigan, since there were no 2nd layers in the first eight garments: 
Degrade sweater – Vince, striped knit top – Mint Velvet, jacket – Uttam, cardigan – Acne Studios
These are amazing:
Silk blouse – Eileen Fisher,  angora cardigan – Schumacher, purple tee shirt – Eileen Fisher, blue wrap top – Wallis
And oh, the fun of finding scarves that belonged in this wardrobe!  The bag might be a bit "out there" for those of us who feel we need to carry a true briefcase, but as a weekend alternative it's a fun way to incorporate your accent colors without spending mega monies on a status bag.

Note here some things I did when choosing the jewelry:  Since the first scarf is all about accordion pleats, I looked for a small earring that wouldn't be a distraction, that which WOULD echo the parallel line details from the scarf (the little hoop earrings).  Similarly, the paisley scarf called out for me to find jewelry that has swirling, curved, and loopy lines - thus I chose the bracelet and the larger hoop earrings, which have a weird little twist to them to add interest.  The silver necklace medallions also add an overall sense of roundness to the chain-style... 
Pleated silk scarf – Cathayana, ridged earrings – David Yurman, swirled silver bracelet – Komang Wirawan, silver necklace – Sri Luce, paisley scarf – Liberty Londonhoop earrings – Simon Sebbag, bag – K’amolon K’I K’ojonel, suede short boots – Aquatalia, loafers – Paul Green
How fun is this?
Navy henley – Uniqlo, jeans – Mango, navy shirt – Uniqlo, corduroy skirt – Peter Jensengrey tee – Kin, grey jeans – Uniqlo, grey cashmere sweater – Uniqlo,  wool trousers – ReissDegrade sweater – Vince, striped knit top – Mint Velvetjacket – Uttam, cardigan – Acne Studiossilk blouse – Eileen Fisher,  angora cardigan – Schumacher, purple tee shirt – Eileen Fisher, blue wrap top – Wallis, pleated silk scarf – Cathayanaridged earrings – David Yurman, swirled silver bracelet – Komang Wirawan, silver necklace – Sri Luce, paisley scarf – Liberty London,  hoop earrings – Simon Sebbag, bag – K’amolon K’I K’ojonel, suede short boots – Aquatalia, loafers – Paul Green
Someone asked, just this morning, how these clothes could be worn across a range of "dressiness".  Here I show the simple navy shirt with relaxed work looks - from the relative structure/2nd layer of the cardigan, to the more relaxed but solid sweater, and then Friday-ing out with the striped sweater. 

Similarly, the skirt could go relatively serious with a silk blouse, blazer (roll down the sleeves), and somewhat tame scarf to tie it all together.  The 2nd outfit gives you a solid navy column of clothes with a major accent in the cardigan, and that amazing scarf...  But the skirt could easily run around on Saturdays with the ombre sweater and ankle boots.   I hope this helps! 


                        NORDSTROM.com