Many of us are preparing for holiday trips of varying lengths, so today I felt like putting together something that just oozed luxury and subtlety. These rich, beautiful colors, fabrics and textures make a quietly elegant statement, without gaudy logos or overdone ornamentation.
I know I seem to talk about this same idea a lot, but I can't sufficiently emphasize the benefits of building your wardrobe around a unifying theme of some sort. Your theme could be a particular color scheme, a painting, a photograph, or a scarf - there are really no limits to what you might choose. This theme doesn't have to last throughout your entire life, nor does it have to define absolutely EVERY purchase that you make. However, it should be an overarching guideline that helps you make the hard decisions when you see something appealing - does it fit? does it clash? does it harmonize? does it make NO SENSE WHATSOEVER in the context of your chosen style theme?
So, when someone asked me to show some more navy and green, this was how I chose to do it. While you aren't going to be whipping out the scarf in the dead of July, it can still be the image and motif which informs your choices...
January and February
A warm sweater dress and tall boots are business or day-dressy, while a warm tunic sweater and narrow pants worn with ankle boots are an all-purpose outfit to snuggle under your heaviest parka.
A tee shirt, soft pants and rubber boots are going to be handy when snow turns to rain, and most of us have a spring holiday that requires a dress. Even if you don't have a holiday, putting on this dress might persuade someone to take us out for a posh dinner!
A bright green blouse means that spring is definitely here! I know that these shades of green aren't all identical - in a perfect world, we would be able to dye-lot match the scarf with each purchase. But we're going to have to settle for blending our colors nicely... And speaking of nice, a striped top, white trousers, and espadrilles just feel like summer for me.
For the hottest weather, simple tee shirts or tank tops, and shorts or skirts are all that's really needed. A couple of pairs of sandals, and you're set for outrageous temperatures! Note that here, there would be no way that you would wear your scarf, but you might still carry it in a tote bag so that, when you're indoors in brutally cold air-conditioning, you can wrap it around your neck or shoulders to stave off the chill.
I always like to show a suit, even if many of us don't wear them "together" as suits. A navy blazer is a handy addition to any wardrobe that includes navy as a neutral. And the September top just might match the October skirt - they're the same (blindingly expensive) brand. This shows that you can move your outfits around and use the pieces throughout much of the year, saving money, helping both your closet and the environment, and creating a unified personal style for yourself. I think that's called a "win, win, win, win"?
After a suit, one must have jeans! and a classic sweater. If you don't wear turtlenecks, a crew or v-neck would be just as useful here. And December's dress is lovely for holiday activities, but since it's sleeveless, it could easily be worn through most of the year, with a cardigan (or your navy blazer!) over it.
And here's your 12-month capsule wardrobe. Yes, there are some wildly varying shades of green here, but the message that you love, and look beautiful in, green comes through loud and clear. Your other accessories could include some emerald earrings, a jazzy green handbag... once you've isolated the style theme of your heart, you can go wild with it, and never worry that you're being wasteful or extravagant.
Just to show the versatility of this kind of ensemble, here are a few more outfits:
I happen to know for a fact that one of you will buy this design scarf for yourself for the holidays, and that you are struggling to decide which color you want. I further know that your wardrobe is basically navy, so I thought I'd play around a little bit with some ensembles to show what kinds of other preferences you have that might help make the choice clearer.
First up, the most lovely Hermes Ors Bleus d'Afrique - the Blue Gold of Africa. That refers to indigo, which was commonly used in textiles of this type.
First up, this scarf cries out to have the rich browns emphasized and accented. I am NOT suggesting that you would want to wear all five of these accessories at the same time, although you could... But if your eye is immediately drawn to these accessories and textures, then this might be the scarf for you. If you have a stash of beautiful brown leather goods, that's a great clue...
A beautiful rust, yellow, and palest wheat are the strengths here. If you wear navy because of social pressures like a work dress code, but you find warmer colors more flattering, this would be the choice for you.
Ah, here's where my heart and my eye always land - cool silvery tones. Note how the face of the watch catches the very soft bluish green shown in the middle of the scarf. You could certainly also find accessories with a touch of red, too. Don't miss the graphic stripe design on the sandals that's so compatible with the graphics of the scarf...
Of course, these kinds of guidelines work for all sorts of scarves - not just Hermes. But any time you're considering an accessory purchase, give some thought to other clothing items and accessories that you already own that will work with your new item to create happy accessory families in your wardrobe. These groupings give you a lot of versatility without having to work too hard to get dressed every day!
My wardrobe is in kind of a mid-season funk right now. My arms are getting a little bit girthy from my workouts (hurrah!!!), and a few things that used to be wardrobe stalwarts are going to have to move on to someone else's wardrobe. I'm losing sight of what my "big picture" wardrobe plan is... and that makes getting dressed time-consuming and tiring. Plus, since I don't have to go into an office any more, my wardrobe is long on "business-ish" garments that could be donated or sold. So it's time for me to Start From Scratch!
Step 1: Pants - easey peasy - my black pants from J. Jill. Perfect fit, and a 12-month fabric.
Step 2: Shoes - Stuart Weitzman "creampuff" style. They're long discontinued, but my next pair will come from here.
Step 4: My jeans are waxed denim from Eileen Fisher (discontinued, but great black jeans from her are here), and my shirt is a black and white linen print from J.Jill - which is again long time gone. Something similar is here.
Step 5: Majorica pearl earrings and bracelet, Hermes Croisiere watch (discontinued), an Agnes B. handbag, and my Hermes 70 cm "bandanna" (this scarf is similar). So far, this has been really simple and straightforward - I can just walk to my closet and find all these things easily.
Step 6: Two Accent Tops and a scarf! My starry sweatshirt from Maison Scotch, my Mystery Door scarf from Julie Egli, and my black and white striped jersey from Muji.
Step 7: An ensemble in my 2nd neutral - light black - aka grey. A big snuggly sweater from Eileen Fisher, grey flannel trousers from Saint James, and my grey sweatshirt from ASAP.
Step 8: Accent Color tops, plus a necklace. Majorica pearl and chain necklace (discontinued), red L.L.Bean tee shirt, and red L.L.Bean sweater.
Step 9: A skirt, with an appropriate top and footwear. My velvet skirt from Eileen Fisher, long gone from production, a black cashmere turtleneck sweater, and black kitten-heel boots.
Step 10: Jacket, casual top and casual shoes. My Barbour jacket (still perfect after years), my grey Eileen Fisher sweater (discontinued), and Munro shoes all fit the bill.
Step 11: A ensemble to express your personal taste. For me, black Eileen Fisher slouch pants, a black linen shirt, and a black and white marled sweater (a nicer one here) are essential, and very "mentally comfortable", so they must be added here.
Step 12: Winter essentials. Oh bother... I do not HAVE a long winter coat. Onto the (eventual) shopping list. But I do have my wonderful feather print scarf from Paris, and the best boots on the planet - a pair of Clark's that I've had for at least 10 years.
Step 13: More Accessories! I have a great Tumi clutch, a brooch I bought on ebay, my Alexis Bittar stud earrings (discontinued), ANOTHER set of Majorica pearl bracelet and earrings, and my most excellent silver chain from Novica. What I lack in clothes, I make up for in accessories...
Step 14: Leisurely wear. Another pair of Eileen Fisher slouch pants (discontinued) and a pair of skirted leggings are in heavy rotation with a simple white L.L.Bean tee shirt and a J.Jill denim shirt. Around my building, this is what I'm OFTEN seen wearing.
Step 15: A dress and cardigan. Finally, I squeeze in my favorite starry cardigan from Rika Amsterdam. And a dead simple black knit dress (similar here) is what I'm wearing almost every week this holiday season.
Step 16: Balancing Neutrals: which for me means I'd better scare up some more grey! So my Eileen Fisher grey silk blouse, and my extremely excellent COS tweedy dress get pulled into our assembly.
Step 17: Here's where I should balance out my 2nd accent color... I don't HAVE a 2nd accent color. There's no law that says I have to have one, but I might want to take a tour through my scarves and see if there's a color that has potential...
Step 18: Double-checking with The Common Wardrobe, and the idea of Whatever's Clean. I fall short here too. Although grey is one of my neutrals, I don't have a grey tee shirt (!?!). And I've noted before that I don't have blue jeans. Possibly a 2nd pair of black jeans, that aren't waxed cotton, would be right here... And with all of this black, a pair of light pants - probably in the neutral usually called stone - would be an idea. Stone is sort of a greyish tan, and is definitely a more cool tone than a yellowish straight khaki. But I DO have white shirts. Since I worked briefly in the baker, I have FIVE white shirts...
This was interesting for me to work through, because I learned that I'm VERY dependent on black, and I truly shy away from accent colors. My explanation for this is that I spend so VERY much time looking at clothes in order to build a beautiful blog that, by the time I am choosing clothes for myself, I want plain, simple, neutral and low-key.