Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Three Green Scarves, Three Color Schemes

My lovely friend bought the green handbag! But then she was debating about a new scarf to complement her bag; she narrowed her choice down to these three:

Bird scarf - Hermes Flamingo Party, leafy scarf - Hermes Dans un Jardin Anglais,
grid-patterned scarf - Hermes Bolduc au Carre

Each of these scarves would be beautiful with her green handbag, but what struck me was how each of these scarves could lend itself to a very different color scheme!

So I was thinking that maybe, if you were choosing from among three items like this, it might be helpful to think about how having the item in your closet would manifest itself in your future shopping choices. Sometimes, the ability to see where a particular purchase might lead you can give you an indication of how suitable the purchase really will be for you moving forward.

Bird scarf - Hermes Flamingo Party, leafy scarf - Hermes Dans un Jardin Anglais, 
grid-patterned scarf - Hermes Bolduc au Carre

When my mind started churning around the possibilities of these scarves, the first thing I thought of was the possibilities of a simple outfit.

Bird scarf - Hermes Flamingo Party,  sweater, tank and pants Uniqlo,
flats – Timberland

grid-patterned scarf - Hermes Bolduc au Carre, sweater, tank and trousers Uniqlo,
ballet flats –

leafy scarf - Hermes Dans un Jardin Anglais, sweater, tank and skirtUniqlo,
ballet flats – Coach

One of my favorite lines of speculation is to think about what sorts of jewelry might feel at home with a new purchase. I thought about feathers, and leaves, and squares as possible motifs that might be adopted in response to a new scarf. Not that you'd wear all of these pieces at once (!), but one or two of them would give you an inner feeling of harmony that only the most attentive of observers would appreciate!

Bird scarf - Hermes Flamingo Party, Feather pendant – Melinda Maria, feather bracelet – Melinda Maria,
pearl ring – LeiVanKash, feather stick pin – Alexander McQueen

grid-patterned scarf - Hermes Bolduc au Carre, Gold cube stud earrings – gorjana, squares necklace –
Anna Beck, crocheted ring – YooLa, square hinged bracelet – Louise et Cie

leafy scarf - Hermes Dans un Jardin Anglais, Leafy ring – Pandora, crystal bracelet –
Joanna Laura Constantine
, pearl brooch – Wayan Asmana, maple leaf pendant – Maria Belen Nilson

And of course, I'm always interested to see what various handbags might migrate into one's wardrobe after the scarf purchase...

Bird scarf - Hermes Flamingo Party, Nylon mini tote – Longchamp,
blue backpack – MZ Wallace, green clutch – Betty and Betts

grid-patterned scarf - Hermes Bolduc au Carre, Nylon mini tote – Longchamp,
camel mini-
crossbody bag – Lacambra, wood clutch – Susanna Valerio

leafy scarf - Hermes Dans un Jardin Anglais, Soft green tote – Ina Kent, quilted shoulder bag – Salvatore Ferragamo, cotton shoulder bag - Zanellato

None of us are fortune-tellers, so our ability to envision the future is necessarily limited. But I think taking some time to picture how a new item fits into our current wardrobe, and how it might influence additional purchases is a smart little "time-out" to take before a major purchase.

Does anybody take this pause, to make sure they're not going off into uncharted wardrobe territory?


Looking Back:


Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Integrating a New Accent Color: A Turquoise Handbag

Today, I'm going to try to answer two questions with one blog post. (something about birds and stones comes to mind, but I don't kill birds...) Many of you are reluctant to buy shoes that aren't in neutral colors - maybe it's a question of having to buy very expensive shoes because of foot conditions, or a reluctance to draw attention to lower body and/or legs, or perhaps you have Audrey Hepburn feet (aka disproportionately large)... But for whatever reason, it's perfectly justifiable, as if you have to explain or defend your preferences!

And of course, we wanted to marry navy and turquoise, because it's one of the great color combinations!

So let's grab this lovely bag first:

Bag – CAIA 

And go back to our navy travel or capsule wardrobe with one addition - excellent quality, very simple navy flats, which can be worn with the skirt and the trousers.

Navy tee, skirtstriped teetrousers and cardiganUniqlo, wedge flats – Tod’s

The most obvious way to draw attention to your face, or your hands? Jewelry!!! And turquoise jewelry is so lovely... I swear, if I had blue eyes, I'd wear something blue every day - maybe not turquoise, if it wasn't the right shade of blue, but something... I am the only person in my family with brown eyes... le sigh...

Torsade bracelet – Narayani, pendant – Neeru Goel,
Teardrop earrings – KhunBoom, stud earrings – Olga Hinojosa

And a few more accessories, including a headband. I wear a headband every day to keep my "growing out" curls from driving me daft; why are they such a neglected accessory? I've heard that they're not chic, to which I reply "well, you haven't seen ME wear one..." Anything is chic if you make it so; don't let anyone dictate to you!

Wave print scarf – KathKath, sunglasses – Michael Kors,
Headband – Under Armour, paisley scarf – Etro

Lots of possibilities here! I've deliberately under-accessorized many of these outfits, just to show the degree of impact even a small piece of jewelry can have on your overall ensemble. Plus, these just seem like summer to me, don't they?

Warm weather arrived with a crashing suddenness, here in Chicago! So these clothes finally seem seasonal to me; what a nice change.


Looking Back:

2011: Paris shopping: Diwali

Beara Beara

Monday, May 04, 2015

Integrating a New Accent Color: A Yellow Handbag

I know I said I was going to take Mondays off. Some Mondays, I will. But today I had this whole yellow handbag question lurking in my mind, so I thought I'd share what I've found and learned.

First up, there are lots of nice yellow handbags in the world! I personally would carry this one with the shiny plaque against my body (I'm not paid to advertise for any brand; I don't do it for free!). But this is a nice size, and I have every reason to believe it's well made, and it is available in seven colors...

And of course I'm sticking with these five navy garments, because I delight in showing the inherent versatility of timeless classics.

My initial adventure into yellow was so nice - yellow shoes were easy to find! And these espadrille flats on the bottom right are the same shoes that I used previously in hot pink - they come in a handful of really great colors; I could see them becoming a summer wardrobe staple.

Strapped sandals – Charles by Charles David, smoking loafers – Franco Sarto,
Braided leather sandals – Seychelles, espadrille flats – Via Spiga

But here's where I ran into LOTS of trouble. I had recklessly promised on Saturday that I was going to find some prints to include in this post - I was envisioning a classic yellow and navy striped shirt, or a pretty skirt with a navy background and daisies scattered across...

The next time I promise prints, just ignore me. I'm crazy. Just because a garment seems to be an "easy to find - of course SOMEONE makes it" idea, doesn't make it so. I turned over every clothing rock I know of - and I know where to find a LOT of stuff - and found nothing that appealed, or even barely qualified...

So? Accessories!!!  This assortment is smaller than usual, because it was expressed to me that nobody is going to go out and buy a whole stack of things to match a handbag. That was really never what I was suggesting, but I will take this opportunity to show the mileage available from just a very few new goodies.

Square scarf – Hermes Colliers de Chiens, bracelet – Tod’s ,
Sunglasses – Marni, rectangle scarf – Metropolitan Museum of Art Store

Frankly, all you need are a snazzy pair of shoes OR a scarf OR a nice piece of jewelry OR a statement pair of sunglasses, and your outfit will be balanced, and the yellow will look deliberate and planned, rather than "dressing in the dark".

Even on days when I'm not terribly organized, I'd like my appearance to at least suggest that I have my act together!

Next up is turquoise, and then I'm shifting to a grey core wardrobe and I'm going to talk about red. I've had a LOT of emails about red...

What color is bugging you - you love it, but can't figure out how to use it as an accessory? Let me know and I'll see if I can suggest something that will give you a few ideas.


Looking Back:

2013: How to wear a White v-neck sweater - the final sweater installment

2012: 12 ways to wear a blouse: Hot Tips by Frances Patiky Stein

2011: Back to the roots of The Vivienne Files - part 3


Saturday, May 02, 2015

Integrating a New Accent Color: An Orange Handbag

I know I've mentioned it before, but I really can't recommend a Longchamp Pliage bag highly enough; tossed into another tote bag, or into luggage, it can come in handy more often that you would imagine. Just for groceries, it's been used hundreds of times. And on vacation, it makes a great stash for dirty laundry during your trip, and then a handy way to get gifts back without crushing them in your regular (very small) luggage...

So today, let's envision the potential of a bright orange bag:

Bag – Longchamp 

The same old, same old, simple navy group of garments. Who could imagine that we could do so much with such simple pieces of clothing?

Navy tee, skirtstriped teetrousers and cardiganUniqlo 

Orange shoes weren't at all difficult to find - although the various shades of orange might make you mad if you try to match too closely! Just make sure that they feel similar, and you'll be fine; if anybody wants to get all lit up because your shoes and your bag aren't "dye-lot" matched, let them. It will keep them from causing some other sort of trouble for someone much more fragile than you!

Thong sandals – Jack Rogers, crossover sandals – DV by Dolce Vita,
Performated flats – OluKai, espadrille flats – Via Spiga

Today, I thought I'd look at some jewelry, to see how we could pull some bright accents into our outfit in a new way:

Stud earrings – BP, cord bracelet – Sailormade,
Wood bead necklace – Sumalee Nawakul, dangle earrings – Dabby Reid

Sunglasses are a necessity, so it only makes sense to use them as a way to integrate a new color!

Aviators - Ray-Ban, ombre frames – Dior,
Cat eye – Stella McCartney, wire rimmed – Ray-Ban

I love this look - perfectly classic, but far from expected!

Monday I'm going to take a crack at yellow and navy, with a print or two...  And there was a request for turquoise, and for cobalt...


Looking Back:

2014: A Winter Capsule Wardrobe, and the Full-Year Assortment, from "Ma To-Do List: Dressing"

2013: "You're So French" - the most recent addition to the Style Shelf

2012: Packing: summer on the coast of Maine

Neiman Marcus Last Call (Neiman Marcus)

Friday, May 01, 2015

Integrating a New Accent Color: A Hot Pink Handbag

Before we all indulge ourselves in beauty, let's talk about something important - Nepal.

I'm sure many of you have already donated to the relief funds for Nepal's recovery from the recent devastating earthquake, but if you're in the mood to do a bit of shopping AND benefit Nepal, Novica (one of our favorite sites for jewelry and other gorgeous crafts) is donating 10% of all of their sales from India to Nepal relief.

Someone in India has work, you have something beautiful, and more money goes to help the people of Nepal - a pretty excellent equation, I'd say!

Now let's revisit the idea of introducing a new color into a simple navy wardrobe. Today, the requested color was PINK! This bag could tempt many people to bring a new color into their wardrobe mix:

Bag – Michael Kors

And this is the simple navy capsule or travel wardrobe - remember that there are 10 possible combinations of these 5 garments!

Pink shoes were a LOT easier to scare up than green were. As before, looking for a weave, or suede, or a fabric, means that you aren't pressured to match the colors too perfectly. You want your overall outfit to look deliberate, but not the product of obsession.

Espadrilles – Nine West, suede loafers – French Sole
ballet flats – Coach, rope thong sandals – Lauren Ralph Lauren

Wire framed – Mykita, transluscentJason Wu
aviators – Wildfoxstippled square – Steve Madden

Cotton striped scarf – Missoni, wave print scarf – Shinerock London
embroidered scarfWhite Stuff, square scarf – Hermes La Maison des Carres

I love the bright, summery look of these outfits!

I'm going to wrap up this adventure tomorrow with an orange handbag, unless you have other requests, or specific items that you want to see addressed. Leave a comment, or send me a note at to let me know.


Looking Back: