Friday, May 26, 2017

Doesn't this make you want to just sit somewhere and watch the world go by?

oil painting in La Musee d'Orsay, Dans le Parc (Les Muses) by Maurice Denis

Someone driving up with friends for a spa weekend is using this color scheme to inspire her packing... (well, it inspires her entire wardrobe, not just one weekend!)

Dans le Parc (Les Muses) by Maurice Denis with style suggestions and color palette

Since they're driving, she can be super-casual and relaxed, but she still has her favorite leaf-motif jewelry - the painting strongly suggests that she's a nature lover.

casual warm-weather travel outfit in black and rust

Once they're at the spa, they'll be living in their robes, but she's going to need an outfit to get home in, and maybe something other than a robe in which to dine. Just because they put you in a robe doesn't mean that you're not allowed to get dressed!

travel capsule wardrobe for warm weather in black, ivory and rust

It's a tiny amount of stuff, but she has a few options for how to combine things, if for some reason they're delayed on their trip. (or just if she changes her mind!)

warm weather travel capsule wardrobe in black, ivory, gold and rust

Doesn't the idea of just a day or two away with friends, being pampered, sound appealing?


p.s. Just in case you've been living under a rock, or you just don't obsess about these things, the Nordstrom Half Yearly Sale is going on right now. I could tell you what I think is lovely there, but I think you can figure out what you want without my guidance! If you click on that link and purchase something, you do generate a wee commission for me, for which I am eternally grateful...
How to Pack for a Spa Weekend? Start with Art: Dans the Parc by Maurice Denis
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Thursday, May 25, 2017

I get dozens of these lists, and once in a while I actually take a look to see if there are any fresh ideas I can learn, or at a minimum some insights into the fashion zeitgeist that I can observe... In all fairness, this list was written by a young lady half my age, so her insights might be very different from mine!

In finding examples of these trends, I've tried to stick to relatively inexpensive pieces (with 1 exception I can remember). If you're tempted by a trend, it only makes sense not to spend the monthly grocery budget on an item that you might not want to EVER see again after Labor Day. (aka early September...)

As always, some aren't bad ideas, some are ridiculous, and many of them depend on the individual. At no point in time is there EVER a must-have item for every women. Never. No garment is universally required... And unless you are literally struggling to be adequately and appropriately clothed, you don't need to buy anything.

So let's see what we were told to buy this time...

1. Statement Sunglasses: I think if you're wearing any sunglasses, they make a statement! And any woman anywhere better already OWN some sunglasses, because they're important for protecting your eye health. This isn't about beauty...

And let's be realistic - it's not frivolous to have more than one pair of sunglasses!

Four pairs of sunglasses for Summer 2017
top – Quay Australia; second –Quay Australia; third – SONIX; bottom – Quay Australia

2. A Romper? I'm sure that one of you wears a 1-piece shorts and top combo successfully, but that's about as far from necessary as humanly possible. Many of them that I saw were either insultingly infantile, or absurdly provocative for a garment that was originally a toddlers' play garment.

I'm offering up the thought that your wardrobe might be brightened up quite a bit if you add a fun pair of shorts. These would bring a bit of pizazz to the most staid tee shirt:

four pairs of shorts for Summer 2017
floral – Dorothy Perkins; plaid – J.Crew; geo print – Lands’ End; patchwork – L.L.Bean

3. Maxi Dresses... A definite "it depends." Don't wear them so long that they drag on the ground, and you're okay. I rarely see them in the city that they look "right," (and don't ask me to pinpoint what that means - the women wearing them just seem uncomfortable) but out on our patio/deck, they look lovely. This is a case where you have to know yourself and do what's best for you! (but please avoid the "I never went to the prom" look...)

4 maxi dresses for Summer 2017
blue tile print – L.L.Bean; striped – J.Crew; red mélange – Lands’ End; geometric print – Dorothy Perkins

4. Ankle-wrap sandals. Well, these are cute as heck - especially those silver ones that look like a little jeweled cobweb!

But you have to remember that the straps aren't going to stay UP on your leg unless you tie them tight enough to cut off circulation to your pedicure. (they spray adhesive on the models' legs...) And your sunscreen's going to get ALL OVER those pretty white canvas straps. If you can live with those 2 caveats, these are a fun little update for the season.

4 pairs of wrap sandals for Summer 2017
wine – Rebecca Minkoff; canvas – Soludos; silver - Loeffler Randall; denim – Soludos

5. A Weekend Bag... don't we already HAVE these? As I said, the target market for this list was obviously women much younger than I am! But it's certainly reasonable to make sure that you've got a nice bag to carry for an overnight adventure; maybe this is the right time to pull out what we currently have and see if we're due for an upgrade...

4 weekend bags for Summer 2017
grey – Longchamp; black & brown – Sole Society; floral – Herschel Supply Co.; striped – Baggu

6. Denim Cut-Offs. No. Unless you've worn out a pair of jeans ON YOUR OWN to the point that cutting them off makes sense, this is a completely silly trend, along the lines of the billions of pairs of distressed jeans currently in the world. (actually, I wonder how many pairs of those there are... hmm....)

But unless you live in the hottest place imaginable (and you just might!), this could be a reasonable time to get a new pair of jeans. The white ones here are described as "lightweight;" I could be tempted to order them just to see what that's like. And if you avoid shorts and skirts, a pair of cropped jeans make sense, don't they?

4 pairs of jeans and cropped jeans for Summer 2017
faded – J.Crew; white – L.L.Bean; cropped – L.L.Bean; cropped blue – Per Una

7. A Denim Jacket. This is another one of those things that I have to imagine you already own, if you want one... but there's always an opportunity to get a nicer (or more weathered?) one, or get something denim that's far from the traditional jacket. This smock is really appealing; I'd wear it with leggings and boots over a black turtleneck in the dead of winter!

four denim jackets for Summer 2017
madly faded – Current/Elliott; smock-style – H&M; blazer – Ralph Lauren; pink – H&M

8. A lace or eyelet top. Heck yes! Why not? Don't spend a fortune (well, the black one isn't cheap...), and this could be something that you wear every week until it falls into teeny shreds in the bottom of the washer. This is a case in which a trend can be wearable by almost anyone...

four lace or eyelet tops for Summer 2017
floral – Dorothy Perkins; black – MICHAEL Michael Kors; (already sold out!!!); tank – Dex; tunic – J.Crew

9. Gold Jewelry. Hmmm... I never think of jewelry as being seasonal! But I think it could be fun to buy a new piece of moderately-priced jewelry and just wear the heck out of it every day until the weather changes, or your skin starts to turn green! I bought a black necklace recent - from J.Jill - and I intend to have it on with great regularity until the days start to get shorter...

(yes, the bracelet is available with the full range of birthstones...)

4 pieces of gold jewelry for Summer 2017
birthstone bracelet – Kendra Scott; crescent necklace – Panacea; earrings – Anna Beck; ring - Argento Vivo

10. Swimwear with ruffles. This could be GENIUS for some of us, who would love the ruffle to augment an area that's diminished, or to distract from something that's not up for inspection. And I broke one of my normal rules for The Vivienne Files by including the black suit with the front ruffle - I think it's got that much potential.

But that ruffle-shoulder one? Or the 1-shoulder? It's not like me to be so attracted to swimsuits!

4 ruffled swimsuits for Summer 2017
tankini top – Lands’ End; black 1-piece – Lands’End; print 1-piece – Underprotection; one-shoulder – J.Crew

I was surprised that this list didn't include off-the-shoulder tops, which seem to be absolutely ubiquitous, or the weirdly tricky "choker" tops, where a strip of fabric that goes around your neck is attached to an otherwise normal top. But one of the things that comes along with constantly churning store inventories (as opposed to back in the day when stores got shipments once a month) is that odd little mini-trends are going to spring up, and die just as quickly.

Any trends you're jumping on this year? I will need new jeans at some juncture, but otherwise I think I'm pretty well covered for the heat and fun to come!


10 MUST HAVE ITEMS for Spring and Summer 2017
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Wednesday, May 24, 2017

If you're in Chicago, you of course must go to the Art Institute of Chicago, our very deservedly famous art museum. But when you're there, make sure not to miss the fabric exhibit. It's small, it's in the basement, it changes every few months, and it NEVER disappoints...

Seen there last weekend, included in a really stunning exhibit of batik fabrics:

Batik Fabric early 20th Century from Central Java
Batik Fabric, early 20th Century, from Central Java

This fabric is maybe 9 or 10 feet long, and 4 feet wide. It's really kind of breathtaking...

Seeing these neutral colors working so beautifully together, our mythical heroine was able to solve her packing dilemma...

Batik Fabric early 20th Century from Central Java with style guidelines and color palette

I've got it all arranged...

We'll just go from city to city by train; I've already purchased the train passes....

Well okay, she thinks...

You just have to be able to carry your own bag; you know that I'm not going to be able to corral a mess of luggage on a train platform....

travel outfit in black and denim with brown leather accents

earrings – Chimento; cardigan – J.Crew; watch – Skagen; tee – L.L.Bean; jeans – L.L.Bean; scarf – Echo; suitcase –Thule; loafers – Naturalizer; tote - Baggu

And can I tell you something?

This should be interesting!

I wish that you would dress a little more casually for this vacation. I always feel under-dressed when you look so lovely, and I'm just wearing trousers and a shirt. You're not like other women; you don't need to get all gussied up to be beautiful...

She's gobsmacked. But this is worth doing, if it's worth mentioning, it must really matter!

So she plans. She schemes. She swaps things in and out (and in and out!) to get down to 13 pieces (plus a rain jacket!) for six weeks in Europe...

a cool summer travel cluster in black, ivory and brown

brown tee – Uniqlo; earrings – Talbots; scarf – Echo; bracelet - Miansai; black embroidered top – Jigsaw; cardigan – Stefanel; jeans – L.L.Bean; crossbody bag - Fossil

Scarves surely don't count as dressy, do they? Especially not in Europe...

She hesitates over a 2nd pair of jeans; these might need to be swapped out for a lightweight pair of black pants. Very casual black pants, though!

a travel wardrobe cluster for warmer weather, in black and ivory

satin dots top – Dorothy Perkins; bracelet – Siriporn; oversized tee – French Connection; scarf – Echo; ivory tank - Majestic; shorts – L.L.Bean; sneakers – Josef Seibel

So she packed trail shorts, instead of a dressier pair in linen. She packed her sneakers. She packed her lighter-colored tops without fear, because they have a long-standing agreement that she can shop any time she needs to!

warm weather travel outfit in black and blue

necklace – J.Jill; rain jacket – L.L.Bean; blue tee – J. Crew; sandals – Earth; skirt – L.L.Bean; scarf – Chomsuda Samana

She remembers her rain jacket, and reminders her sweetheart to pack one too...

She actually hesitates over her cotton skirt, and asks if it's too dressy for their plans.

Just don't take anything high-heeled!

an 11-piece travel capsule wardrobe in black, brown, blue and ivory

When she spreads everything out on the bed, it looks good together. Not exactly what she'd imagined, but she can see lots of possibilities...

a Whatever's Clean travel capsule wardrobe for warm weather in black, brown, denim blue and ivory

In all fairness, it took her a couple of tries to get to this point! And she was working with a pretty clear guideline...

a Whatever's Clean 13 travel capsule wardrobe for warm weather

They've long since agreed that they'll do laundry the first day in each city (and they've budgeted to have laundry done FOR THEM at least twice...).

She's got lots of possibilities, but after six weeks, these pieces are going to get OLD...

four ways to wear black shorts from a warm weather travel capsule wardrobe

four ways to wear blue jeans from a warm weather travel capsule wardrobe

four ways to wear a black skirt from a travel capsule wardrobe

four ways to wear black jeans from a travel capsule wardrobe

She will definitely have to replace 1 or 2 things, over the course of their trip.

And while she's carefully adhering to the request that she not be too dressy, she's also mindful that no mention was made about what lingerie should be packed....


How to Pack a Foolproof Travel Wardrobe, All in Neutrals
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Tuesday, May 23, 2017

This is just an observation that I've made in the last few days, that I hope might be interesting and/or useful for you...

Belovedest and I live in a roomy, but not insanely large, 1 bedroom apartment. For 6 weeks or so, in March and April, we had a TON of additional furniture in our apartment. Our neighbor was having floors redone, and rather than have her pay to put things into storage, we agreed to host things like a SOFA, a BED, a large number of occasional chairs, and a very bulky and fragile glass cocktail table.

We were... crowded. But we were fine; it really wasn't nearly the inconvenience you might have expected.

After all of the furniture was returned to its home, we realized that we could now get into a closet and a few other places that had been blocked for over a month. And we started to cull the contents; we had first-hand proof that we were able to live very comfortably without a lot of the things that we owned.

But when we got to some of our clothes, we realized that we still wanted to keep them. We WANTED them...

I think this violates all of those rules about "if you haven't worn it in a year, get rid of it!"

So I thought about why we were keeping things, and if it made any sense to do so...

The clothing we're keeping is still in STYLE - not at all dated, nor likely to date because it's classic.

We still feel great ATTRACTION to these pieces - we would buy them again, if they suddenly were destroyed.

These pieces are worth holding onto for future wear - the VALUE of them is such that replacing them in the future would be expensive. We didn't keep tee shirts, or old jogging shorts - we kept things like silk jackets...

These pieces could be incorporated into our wardrobes with great EASE at any time in the future - they're the kinds of things that dress up neutrals...

So what am I keeping? Primarily, I was wrestling with a couple of beautiful silk jackets from Eileen Fisher (one has to be 15 years old...) that I don't wear all that often:

Coat - Eileen Fisher

jacket - Eileen Fisher

I don't really know what this all means, except that the rules aren't always right for everyone, and that you have to find your own way in the world. Maybe I'm just rationalizing (oh THAT'S possible...) or maybe I'm onto something, but either way, I think that there has to be flexibility when we're dealing with something as intensely personal as wardrobes and self-image...

What do you think?


When You Don't WANT to Get Rid of Clothes... or When The Closet Purge Goes Awry...
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Monday, May 22, 2017

Well okay, I've also read that we get moonstones, AND alexandrite, but I'm going to concentrate on pearls. They're my all-time favorites... (I've actually never owned a diamond engagement ring, because I'd really always rather have pearls...)

And I'm going to get this out of the way right up front - these pieces are not all genuine pearls, and none of these pieces is expensive. There are smarter bloggers than me who can tell you all about real pearls, and glorious pieces of jewelry that include them (yes, Passage des Perles, I'm looking at you!), so I thought I'd concentrate on more modestly priced treats... Joy should not be confined to those with abundant disposable income...

For lack of any better idea, I've just grouped all of these lovelies by general style qualities...

First up, for spring and especially summer, jewelry that echoes shapes in nature seem like such a nice choice. Here we've got all kinds of sea life, as well as the always lovely flowers...

organically styled pearl jewelry

"coral" necklace – Talbots; floral ring - Kadek Hendra; turtle earrings – Talbots; flower earrings - Nyoman Rena; turtle brooch – Talbots; seashells bracelet – Talbots; brooch – Wayan Asmana

Here's where my heart really seems to settle - on cleanly geometric pieces of jewelry... It's not something that I can explain, it's just the way I feel. I think that it's really important to learn these things about yourself and to remember them when you're confronted with a world full of beautiful options. It's easy to be lured astray by something absolutely lovely that doesn't suit you at all!

geometrically styled pearl jewelry

pearl stud bracelet – Bauble Bar; bar earrings – Daniela de Sainz; swirl ring - Diah Arini; bracelet – Bourbon & Boweties; hoop earrings – Chan Luu; V earrings - Daniela de Sainz; dangle earrings - Khun Boom

There are timeless designs that could be a favorite of anyone.. These could be a lovely small touch with almost any outfit except maybe hiking gear? (although I'm quite sure I've worn pearl earrings while hiking!)

classically styled pearl jewelry

2-strand bracelet – Talbots; 6-pearl necklace – Dalia Pascal (264872); 4-pearl necklace - Majorica; peacock brooch – Wayan Asmana; ring – Lafonn; earrings - Majorica; cable bracelet - Wayan Neri

For years, this was where my heart was drawn; I had all sorts of illusions that I was more feminine and delicate than I really am! But pearls (especially surrounded by marcasite!) are so pretty.... sigh...

romatically styled pearl jewelry

dangle earrings – Wirabhuwana; freshwater pearl bracelet – Patricia Jara; long pearl ring – Olga Hinojosa; stud earrings – Alon Diller; ring – Made Sudiari; heart pendant - Kadek Hendra; brooch - Nyoman Rena

And while we're at it, let's not forget that pearls can come in all sorts of colors! Many of these have been dyed, and so you have to be sort of careful that you don't get something that's going to fade or do something strange as time passes. But the peacock luster of a grey pearl can be very gorgeous against a teal sweater, or a purple dress...

grey pearl jewelry

necklace – Gloria Gamio; round earrings – Carmen Anocibar; drop earrings - Withaya Cheunjit; bobby pins – L.Erickson; bracelets – Duanpen Tajunin; ring – Majorica; knotted pearl necklace - Duanpen Tajunin

I love pearls, and could wear nothing but forever. It's easily possible to have a LOT more jewelry than one strictly needs... Is that so bad?


More from the Birthstone Series:

June's Birthstone: Pearls!
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