Friday, April 24, 2015

Choosing the Right Scarf Color - One Approach

Here's a decision scenario: you know you like the scarf - the silk and wool blend, the pattern drawn from foliate motifs and calligraphy of the Sultan's courts of India, the knowledge that your purchase supports the Metropolitan Museum of Art - but WHICH COLOR TO CHOOSE????

scarves - Available at The Metropolitan Museum of Art Store,
online at or by calling 1-800-662-3397

I'm of the opinion that your wardrobe should have a certain DNA - a "fingerprint" that is as unique as your own. If this is true, then anything that you add to your wardrobe should look like it's related to the things you already own.

So maybe this decision can be made easier if we look at some options that might currently be in your closet, and see if any of them look like they're in your style family...

Do you have one of the new, very popular, lightweight quilted vests?  Which of these colors seems immediately like it's "you"?

vests - Uniqlo

Most of us own some jewelry; do you gravitation to the depth of amethyst, the warmth of amber, or the earthy textures of wood and earth tones?

Amethyst necklace – Sasina, amethyst earrings –Shanker
amber earrings – Mariana Llanes, amber necklace – Yves Saint Laurent Vintage
wood leaf earrings – Vaubel, brown bead necklace – Jozica 

It's a rare woman who never wears a tee shirt.... Which of these is already in your wardrobe, or might be an easily-imaged addition?

tee shirts - Uniqlo 

One of the joys of Longchamp totes is that they come in so many colors! But if you had to choose a neutral bag to carry frequently, which of these calls your name?

(for what it's worth, these bags are the BEST thing to toss into luggage when you travel, or into your regular tote on a daily basis; they're great for bringing back gifts from vacation, or for carrying those last-minute groceries home without taking yet ANOTHER bag from the supermarket)

bags - Longchamp

And of course, The Vivienne Files isn't going to go on for more than a day or two without some cardigans! I believe in their - their flattery, and their utility. Can you see yourself in any of these?

cardigans - Uniqlo

At the end of this exercise, it became blindingly clear to me that the first scarf is the one I would choose - grey is an important neutral for me, and I love amethyst. The scarf also lends itself to touches of red, and a substantial dose of black or navy...

The second scarf is for those among us who love brights! But this scarf could make a gorgeous statement pieces paired with a simple dark dress and beautiful gold earrings, too.

The third scarf is the embodiment of all of the beauty to be found in warm colors - all the shades of brown, the beautiful deep moss green, and the accents of red would be a beautiful addition to the wardrobe of the Autumn women among us.

Did this little exercise make your imaginary (or real!) choice among the scarves easier? And better yet, can you see this translating to your future purchases?


Looking Back:

Artisan Made Jewelry Designs

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Start with Art: White Ship by John Singer Sargent

That time of year is fast approaching when the lucky ones among us get all kinds of great invitations for weekends! If you have friends with a lake house, you know what I mean - lots of time in the water  - in a canoe, a kayak, or an inner tube! Chilly evenings, cooking out, laughing 'til your sides hurt... The last thing you want to worry about is what to pack!

Sargent's painting put me very much in the right mood for this scenario:

White Ship by John Singer Sargent

Maybe you're driving to the lake, taking the train and being met, or taking the Jitney, but under any circumstances, you want to look nice - casual, but still pretty, with attention to detail.

Hammered ball earrings – Nest, tan pants – P.A.R.O.S.H. , sleeveless top – Betty Barclay
cardigan – Nougat London, multi-stone necklace – Marco Bicego, sandals – Adam Tucker
pedicure polish – Butter London ( color is called Trollop, tote bag – Mary and Marie

Two swimsuits might seem like overdoing it, but if you're going to wear one for twelve hours a day, it's nice to have options! A hooded cardigan comes in handy when evening sets in and the temperatures drop...

Dress – Toast,  swimsuit – Speedo, plaid shirt – L.L.Bean
zip-front cabled sweater – L.L.Bean,  tan shorts – L.L.Bean, flip flops – Havaianas
sleeveless linen shirt – Uniqlo, print swimsuit – Shan, blue shorts – L.L.Bean

Do you get to take weekend breaks away from home during the summer? What kind of wardrobe would you like to see for your getaway?


Looking Back:

2012: April in Paris: Neutral, with Texture (a guest post at A Femme d'un Certain Age)

2011: Things I Admire (the very first Chic Sighting!)

Ouidad Climate Control

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Packing for a Weekend in the City

So often, you live just a quick train ride from a big city, but you don't make the time to visit! But there's a new exhibit at the big museum that you REALLY want to see, and a new restaurant... So let's cash in a few of those hotel loyalty points, and go downtown for a quick weekend away.

But what to take? How about starting with your favorite shawl, from the Metropolitan Museum of Art? It's a perfect reflection of your preferred color palette of autumn colors, and you know you will want it with you - at least on the train, for drafts, and in the restaurant, too...

scarf - Metropolitan Museum of Art Shop

scarf - Metropolitan Museum of Art Shop

For the trip, break out the saffron cardigan! There's never a bad time to wear it. And a touch of teal on your toes...

Tee shirt – Drumohr, gold hoop earrings – Melinda Maria,  watch – Skagen, trousers – 
pedicure polish – Butter London, backpack – Beara Beara

Since there's a lot of dining involved, a couple of your favorite dresses are good choices. (dressy, but no binding waistlines, just in case the menu overwhelms your good sense!)  All you need are comfy shoes and some pretty jewelry, and they're good to go. (any excuse to wear this wonderful necklace...) The simplicity of ivory separates - again with the striking saffron sweater - will be ideal for your day in the museum.

Even though you're only going to be away from home a couple of days, it's always a good idea to take enough changes of shoes to keep your feet refreshed. Low heels and flat soles don't take up much space at all in your backpack.

Teal dress – People Tree, chrysocolla necklace – Nest, bronze sandals – VC Signature,  
brown bag – Meckela, ivory linen capris – Forte Forte, sleeveless top – Jaeger, mother of pearl
 earrings – Alexis Bittar, gold bracelet – YooLa, ivory flats – Aerin, brown dress – Mango

When you lay everything out on your bed (just to check that you have what you need), you see that you're going to be very well equipped for whatever the city throws at you.

So this is your weekend:

What exhibit are you going to see? Doris Salcedo at the Contemporary? or the Irish, at the Art Institute? or another, in another city?


Looking Back:


Tuesday, April 21, 2015

A Clothing Diary Week 9

Some clarification is needed about how often I wear gym clothes, and where. Yes, I probably have gym clothes on EVERY day of the week - 6 days a week maybe at a minimum. BUT!!! I don't wear them outside of my building unless I'm running outdoors. The gym where I workout is in my basement; residents of my building see me in all of my athletic glory (ahem...), and I might stop at the grocery store in the basement of my building after I've worked out (yes, my building has a grocery store. And a dry-cleaner...) but that's as far as it goes. 

Wearing gym clothes frequently is NOT an excuse to be wandering the streets in tons of too tight, too thin, or too brief clothing. Frankly, on any given day on the streets of Chicago, I see FAR too much of the intimate details of female genitalia. I'd hesitate to wear something like that to the gym; I can't imagine being out in public while revealing that much about my personal bits and pieces...

scarf - Metropolitan Museum of Art Gift Shop, earrings - Majorica, tee shirt - Lands' End,
cardigan - Eileen Fisher, skirted leggings - Eileen Fisher, boots - Munro

earrings - Judith Jack (similar here), cashmere turtleneck - Milan (similar here), scarf - street vendor,
jeans - Eileen Fisher, shoes - Munro

earrings - Majorica, cardigan - Lands' End, brooch - vintage (similar here), shirt - Lands' End,
slouch pants - Eileen Fisher, flats - Thierry Rabotin

earrings - Rika (similar here), tee shirt - Lands' End, sweatshirt - Lands' End,
waxed cotton jeans - Eileen Fisher, shoes - Munro

This shirt, from Orvis, is exquisite. The trim is cut on the bias - who DOES that anymore?  And it's on sale below half price...

earrings - similar here, silk shirt - Orvis, necklace - vintage (similar here),
ballet flats - Thierry Rabotin, black capris - Eddie Bauer

Lots of Maltese Cross jewelry here!  Does anybody else have a recurring accessory motif?


Looking Back:


Saturday, April 18, 2015

Black, Beige, Marsala and Natural - A Four by Four, Whatever's Clean Wardrobe

As soon as I launched the newest Pantone Spring and Summer 2015 color scheme file (available here), someone asked me to do some work with the color of the year - Marsala. She had honed in on the black and khaki, and after a bit of discussion we agreed that the best 2nd accent color would be an unbleached linen/natural color.  This is the palette we finally chose.

I started with black, of course! Sleeveless and short-sleeved, cropped pants and "normal" pants, and all from 3.1 Phillip Lim, just for ease of matchy-matchedness.  You can, of course, find your four pieces from a different, less pricey, company, or mix them from a few different places.

Sleeveless top – 3.1 Phillip Lim, cropped trousers – 3.1 Phillip Lim
tee shirt – 3.1 Phillip Lim, trousers - 3.1 Phillip Lim

In fact, in order to find four pieces in khaki, I went to a couple of different sources. Once you've chosen a color scheme, you sometimes have to do some digging, or just be patient, in order to get the items you really want!

Short-sleeved blouse – Uniqlo,  cropped pants – Uniqlo
cardigan – Chinti and Parker, skirt – Celine Vintage

This is the part of this wardrobe that feels particularly summery to me. And a lacy top can be worn with jeans - don't let anybody tell you otherwise!

Crinkled tee – A.P.C., off-white jeans – Uniqlo
sleeveless lace top – Dorothy Perkins, sweat skirtUniqlo

But HERE'S where things got difficult - if Marsala is really the color of the year, it's doing a heck of a time hiding from the general public! I finally remembered that Lands' End always carries a really good assortment that they call burgundy - for school uniforms! But these pieces are as close as I could find to the slightly more brown/less purple Marsala... And one thing you know - these will ALL go together, they aren't going out of style, and they're well made. So if you're interested in this color, try looking for burgundy, maroon, oxblood, dark red...

Tee shirt – Lands’ End, long-sleeved tee – Lands’ End
cardigan – Lands’ End, short-sleeved twill shirt – Lands’ End 

This wardrobe is great for jewelry - just keep thinking "garnet, onyx, pearl, gold" and you're in safe territory. Not too many scarves, this time of year, though...

(note - the Argento Vivo brcelet comes eight colors, including a delicious turquoise and amazing dark silver pyrite)

Cotton striped and checked scarf – Krama Heritage, ruby crystal earrings – YooLa, black crystal 
earrings – H. Azeem, pearl earrings – Militza Ortiz, onyx and mother of pearl bracelet – Frieda 
Rothman,red agate braceletArgento Vivo, Initial disc necklace – Nashelle, pearl necklace – 

These are your sixteen pieces of clothing.  This would make a smashing, simple suitcase, or an easy wardrobe for a summer spent in a location not terribly hot, and where you occasionally are going to dress up. Substitute a pair of shorts for a skirt, or a tank top for a long-sleeved tee, as needed...

I was going to show a handful of outfits with accessories, but I felt strongly that it was important to show the enormous number of possibilities available from just a small selection of well-chosen pieces of clothing. By my calculations, this ensemble should give you at least 100 different options! Add in a black cardigan, a couple of pair of shorts and a tank top or two - you'd be set for the entire summer.

I imagine packing a bag like this and then just taking the train from place to place, all over Europe, from now until the cold weather sets in...



Looking Back:

NORDSTROM - Receive a FREE Gift with your $45 Estée Lauder Purchase