Friday, June 24, 2016

So I realized a couple of weeks ago that I wasn't wearing these 2 cardigans NEARLY as often as I felt that I should...

dots - Lands' End; flowers - Uniqlo
(this isn't my exactly cardigan - this one is navy, but for illustrative purposes...)
Every time I would pull out one of these sweaters, I just couldn't get an outfit together that really felt right.

In a bit of a funk, I went back to my own best advice, and realized that a lot of my basic summer clothes in black were either too big, or too...faded/droopy/saggy/limp/icky for public consumption.

So I picked up these - the Original Core of Four:

shorts - Equipment; tee shirt - L.L.Bean;
pants - L.L. Bean; tank - L.L.Bean

After those arrived and were well-integrated into my wardrobe, I got wild and bought these 4 tops:

gingham - Lands' End; dots - Lands' End;
white - Lands' End; black "big shirt" - French Connection

It turned out that I was wise to stock up on summer basics, because... well... the weather has turned hot here, AND I'm going to Florida for a week. (yes, going to Florida in the dead of summer will NOT win me membership in Mensa. Family wins out over humidity, every time!)

My current "regular" travel outfit, with a cardigan that's a blend of silk and cotton - perfect for warm weather:

tee - Agnes B.; jeans - L.L.Bean; cardigan - Eileen Fisher;
earrings - similar here; bracelet - similar here; shoes - Thierry Rabotin;
tote - L.L.Bean; suitcase - Tumi

And then 10 pieces of clothing, plus 2 pair of shoes. (pajamas, swimsuit, and swim tee will ALSO be here) 

I know that for almost everyone, this would be FAR too monochrome, but after I've looked at clothes all day working on The Vivienne Files, I find a black and white wardrobe is a good way to cleanse my color palate for another day of work. 

black shirtdress - Eileen Fisher;
light blue-grey dress - Eileen Fisher (similar here);
ballet flats - Thierry Rabotin; sandals - Thierry Rabotin

I'm well-covered, both literally and figuratively, for a week-long trip:

I will almost certainly throw in some earrings and bracelets, but not likely any necklaces, and certainly no scarves for this trip. But just seeing this page makes me feel really comfortable that I'm going to have enough with me for celebrating both my birthday, and the 4th of July.

Please note that you WILL see the "12 Months, 12 Outfits" installment for July on the 1st...

And then I'll be back on a somewhat more regular schedule by the 6th or 7th of July!


NORDSTROM - Choose 3 Free Samples with your Beauty Purchase

Saturday, June 18, 2016

I'm sure you see these lists too: "12 Things You NEED in Your Wardrobe in 2016." They always amuse me, and irritate me, in equal measure.

Let me be perfectly clear: there is NOTHING that is required for every woman. Nothing. Every woman does not needs shoes. Every woman does not need to wear a bra. Really, so long as we're all covered enough to be decent in public, I think it should be much more of a free-for-all than it currently is. Conformity kills creativity...

So let's look at this particular list, and see what we can learn that might be of use!

1. Ankle Boots

If there were even an item that I would encourage you to consider, it would be this. If you live in a climate that is cool or cold part of the year, and if you wear pants or jeans, these are pretty handy, fun, and flattering. They can either be worn to lengthen the line from your leg to your toes (and hide your purple socks!), or they can be worn as a great accent. Either way, carefully chosen, these can be comfortable as heck, and you can get your money's worth from them before they're considered passé.

But please think at LEAST twice before you buy open-toe/heel boots. To me, it seems like turning on the heat and then opening the windows!  "My heels are gorgeous" said no woman, ever... 

It might feel painfully early (in the Northern Hemisphere) to think of buying boots, but if you're at all picky, or if you wear a difficult size, bear in mind that the best boots will sell out (as all the best things do) QUICKLY. And you'll be able to spread out those expensive fall and winter purchases over more of the year if you start early. 

booties in 4 different colors
BlackMunro; brown – Munro;
 off-white – Hush Puppies; green – Blondo

2. White Buttoned Shirt

3. White Tee Shirt

NO. Just no. So many women don't like buttons up the front, and many women don't wear white as their light neutral, AND there are women who prefer to wear darker colors near their face. In other words, there are a ton of good reasons NOT to ever own one of these.  

However, if you do like to wear a light neutral top from time to time, I strongly encourage you to think WAY beyond the man's shirt stereotype. (I say this as a woman who wears white menswear shirts A LOT...) There are so many options that are relaxed, feminine, whimsical, dramatic, expressive, and just plain interesting. If you have a signature motif, or a preferred styling detail, it's probably available in a white, ivory, cream, or bone top, somewhere in the world.

(who am I kidding? this stars tee shirt just screams to me...)

4 white tops - alternatives to the "crisp white button-front shirt"
Frill-sleeve tee – Oasis; stars tee – Oasis;
tunicRoman Originals; sleeveless tunic – Mint Velvet

4. Jeans

 I know, you'd never think of buying jeans unless someone told you that they were a "must have item." Seriously, if you need jeans, you've already got them, and if you don't want to wear them, don't let anybody make you, or try to persuade you to change your mind.

There is a need in many wardrobe for a neutral pair of casual pants, but these could be all sorts of different things. I'm personally finding ankle pants to be useful right now, and I could easily envision having some fun with some culottes... Wearing things like this in place of jeans is often cooler, and always makes you look MUCH more dressed up than you feel. 

(experimenting with a new style from a store like Uniqlo means that you can try something different without missing a mortgage payment. If you end up really loving a silhouette or style, you can always upgrade in a year or two...)

Wide leg – Uniqlo; navy ankle pants – Uniqlo
gauchos – Uniqlo; cotton/linen drawstring - Uniqlo

5. Striped Tee

This is another one of those garments that, if you don't already own it, you don't need it! Those of us who loves striped tee shirts have been wearing them for years, and those of you who don't wear them know ALL about them, and have made the deliberate choice to NOT wear them. No list should change that...

There are SO many tee shirts in the world (far too many, in my opinion. Might I interest you in a gross or 2 of 5K tee shirts?) that you can indulge in 2 or 3 in the spring and change the look of many of your outfits. I particularly like to look at Uniqlo for tees, because they partner with all kinds of really cool designers. You can find beautiful, unusual, funny, classic, and just plain "new favorite" tee shirts... 

Navy – Uniqlo; grey – Uniqlo
yellow – Uniqlo; pink and blue - Uniqlo

6. Black Blazer

Great grief, nobody NEEDS a black blazer. Nobody needs to wear black, and nobody needs a blazer...

What you might need, though, is a dark neutral something to wear over your tee shirt, blouse or soccer jersey when the weather turns cold. I personally love cardigans, but a sweatshirt, or other style of jacket, is also an option.

Grey cardigan – Lands’ End;  brown hoodie L.L.Bean;
beige cashmere – L.L.Bean; navy rain jacket – Lands’ End

7. Tailored Trousers

If you don't wear pants, these make no sense at all. All women do NOT wear pants, no matter what the fashion world wants to tell us. And if you wear jeans, and then dresses to get "gussied up," then tailored trousers don't have a place in your wardrobe either! AND, for those of us melting in record heat, the concept of trousers is just plain icky!

It's not innovative nor creative to be told "you can wear your tailored trousers with your white button-front for work, and then change your shirt for your striped tee shirt for leisure!" You can figure these things out on your own. Following this kind of advice puts you at risk of looking like half of the women in any room you enter...

 Sigh... I wish we weren't constantly pressured to all look the same...

If you have these kinds of options in your wardrobe, you could go a LONG time without wearing trousers of any ilk, tailored or not:

Shorts – Uniqlo; skirt – Uniqlo;
Striped dress – Uniqlo; solid dress - Uniqlo

8. Black Pumps

These might be the single most conformist things you could buy - EVERYBODY tells you that you need these...

But if your wardrobe's not based on black, these are going to be useless. If you never get dressed up, ditto. If you don't wear pumps, same problem. There's no "one size fits all" shoe solution for women, any more than there are garments that really fit everyone.

Shoes are a great place to express your personal motif, be it a bow, a scalloped edge, or a lush tassel. If you want a black shoe to wear to get somewhat dressed up, there are plenty of more interesting options than the predictable pump:

Tassel – Louise et Cie; bow-trimmed – Ted Baker London;
Cross-strap – Caslon; scalloped – Sam Edelman

9. Black Leather Jacket

What is it with thinking that every woman has to wear black? And some of us don't like to wear leather - I look like a child trying to be tough if I wear a leather jacket! Of course many of us need some sort of a jacket, but we don't ALL want to be wearing black leather, do we?

10. Denim Jacket

Same general idea - they can be nice, and a lovely casual touch when worn with a dress or skirt, but they don't suit everyone. I either have to buy one that's ENORMOUS everywhere else on my body, or look like I'm trying to flatten my breasts into oblivion...

11. Olive Field Jacket

Olive? For EVERYONE? Yee gads...

There are so many other jacket options in the world - don't ever take it on faith that you need to own these, when there are more expressive and interesting options available:

Black satin – Wallis; floral – Ganni Sanders;
Plaid – L.L.Bean; blue – Dorothy Perkins

12. Maxi Dress

I have to admit that the whole idea of maxi dresses has been completely spoiled for me by seeing LOTS of women here in Chicago walking about with the hems of their dresses dragging on the pavement. The idea of bringing that garment back into my home at the end of the day, with all of the... icky stuff, shall we say?... that's on sidewalks gives me the shivers. We don't even wear shoes past the front door...

But moreover, these dresses that I see just don't fit, plain and simple. If you want to wear a maxi dress and have it altered to be the proper length, do it, and enjoy! And if the idea doesn't appeal, walk away!

grey floral - Uniqlo; navy floral - Oasis;
black and white - Lands' End; blue - L.L.Bean

Remember, these lists are written in order to make you feel inadequate, and to drive you to go shopping. The writers want you to buy things that you never thought that you needed; I want you to buy what's perfect for you, when you need it, and when you have the money.

Try to resist this kind of manipulation of your emotions and your ego; millions of women throughout history have lived productive and fulfilling lives without owning ANYTHING that ever appeared on a "must-have" list. You can too!


Shop Eileen Fisher Summer styles at NORDSTROM.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

I'm taking advantage of my time off to clear the decks - so a few more things are available now on the "Shop my Stuff" page.


Vintage Versace silk scarf

Saturday, June 11, 2016

I've been thinking about how these wardrobes would work for additional outfits, now that we're up to a dozen pieces of clothing in each wardrobe. So I played around and came up with another six outfits for each grouping. Enjoy!

Silk scarf– Hermes Voyage en Etoffes

Earrings – Lagos; pants – J.Crew; sweater - Eleventy; bracelet - Kendra Scott;
scarf -
Nordstrom; ballet flats -  Summit; bag - Neiman Marcus;
earrings -
Pichaya; dress - Lands’ End; bracelet - Chuleekorn;
scarf -
Marc Cain; cardigan – Jil Sander; loafers – Trotters

earrings - Wirabhuwana; bracelet - Achara; tee – J. Crew;
skirt - IDLF Uniqlo; cardigan - Lands’ End; ballet flats -Summit;
silk scarf– Hermes Voyage en Etoffes; bag - Halogen; earrings -
Nordstrom Rack;tank -Lands’ End; capris - Uniqlo;
sweater - Dex Clothing; canvas shoes - Keds; scarf - Nordstrom;
bag - Longchamp

earrings - Wirabhuwana; bracelet - Achara; sweater - Dex Clothing;
shorts - Uniqlo; silk scarf– Hermes Voyage en Etoffes;
ballet flats -Summit; bag - Halogen; dress - Dorothy Perkins;
cardigan - Lands’ End; canvas shoes - Keds; earrings - Pichaya;
bag - Neiman Marcus

silk scarf - Hermes Tyger Tyger

earrings - Kevia; pants – Prana; sweater - J. Crew;
shoes -Woolrich; scarf - Nordstrom; tote- Patricia Nash;
dress - Vince; silk scarf - Hermes Tyger Tyger; bracelet - Marianela Vargas;
pumps - Aerosoles; earrings - Bhavesh; tote - Madewell

earrings - Alexis Bittar; necklace - Kendra Scott; skirt - River Island;
tee – Lands’ End; cardigan - L.L.Bean; pumps - Aerosoles;
scarf - Nordstrom; bag - b.o.c.; bracelet - Siriporn; capris -  Uniqlo;
tank - Emporio Armani; sandals - Vionic; earrings – The Real Real;
tote -
Patricia Nash

earrings - Kevia; bracelet - Lead; cardigan - L.L.Bean;
shorts - Uniqlo; scarf -Nordstrom; ballet flats - Sam Edelman;
dress - Mango; pumps - Aerosoles; earrings – The Real Real;
silk scarf - Hermes Tyger Tyger; bracelet -  Siriporn; bag -

silk scarf - Hermes Le Voyage de Pytheas

pants – DKNY; sweater - Michael Kors; earrings - Catherine Malandrino;
bracelets - ABS by Allen Schwartz; shoes - Clarks; silk scarf - Hermes Le Voyage
Pytheas; tote - Street Level; opal earrings – JCPenney;
dress -Chi Chi London; cardigan - Lands’ End; ballet flats - Vince Camuto;
scarf - Nordstrom; bag -
Sonia Rykiel

tee – J. Crew; skirt - IDLF Uniqlo; earrings - Jennifer Fisher;
cardigan - Lands’ End; ballet flats - Vince Camuto; silk scarf - Hermes
Le Voyage de
Pytheas; bracelet -  Sonal Bhaskaran; bag - Treasure & Bond;
earrings -
Catherine Malandrino; capris - Uniqlo; sweater - Joseph;
bracelet - Saranarat; sandals - Vionic; scarf - Nordstrom;
tote - Street Level

necklace - Majorica; tank - Dorothy Perkins; shorts -  L.L.Bean;
earrings - Catherine Malandrino; cardigan – Diane von Furstenberg;
ballet flats - Vince Camuto; tote -  Street Level; opal earrings – JCPenney;
bracelet - Sonal Bhaskaran; bag - Sonia Rykiel; dress - Jaeger; silk scarf -
Hermes Le Voyage de Pytheas; pumps -
 Journee Collection

silk scarf - Hermes Cheval Mirage

earrings - Carmen Anocibar; pants – Etro; fleece top - L.L.Bean;
shoes - Woolrich; bracelet - Chuleekorn; cape - Antonia Zander;
earrings - Melissa Joy Manning; bracelet - Khun Boom; dress - IDLF Uniqlo;
silk scarf - Hermes Cheval Mirage; loafers – Pluggz;backpack - Topshop

tee – 321; skirt - IDLF Uniqlo; earrings - Melissa Joy Manning;
cardigan – Dorothy Perkins; loafers – Pluggz; necklace - Alexis Bittar;
bag - Open Sky; earrings - Niin; capris - L.L.Bean;
tank - Lands’ End; sandals - Aetrex; bracelet - Khun Boom;
tote - L.L.Bean

bracelet - Chuleekorn; top - Stefanel; shorts - Uniqlo;
earrings - Melissa Joy Manning; sandals - Geox; tote - L.L.Bean;
dress - Uniqlo; cardigan - Dorothy Perkins; ballet flats - Summit;
earrings – Cole Haan; bracelet - Kendra Scott; bag - Open Sky

silk scarf - Hermes Cheval Surprise Remix

earrings - Simon Sebbag; pants – Joseph; tank - Lands’ End;
loafers – Bandolino; cardigan - L.L.Bean; bracelets - Dee Berkley;
silk scarf - Hermes Cheval Surprise Remix; tote -
Briggs & Riley;
top - L.L.Bean; earrings - Chintan; shoes - Converse;
dress -J. Crew; scarf - Nordstrom; bracelet - Achara;
bag - Amici Accessories

Earrings – River Island; bracelet - Kate Spade; tee – L.L.Bean;
skirt - L.L.Bean; cardigan – Boden; loafers – Bandolino;
silk scarf - Hermes Cheval Surprise Remix; bag - Amici Accessories;
earrings -  Chintan; capris -  Uniqlo; top - L.L.Bean;
ballet flats - Patricia Green; scarf - Nordstrom; tote - Tory Burch

top - Scaglione; shorts - L.L.Bean; earrings - Chintan;
scarf - Nordstrom; sandals - Sam Edelman; tote - Tory Burch;
earrings - Karen Kane; bag - Amici Accessories; dress - Alexander Wang;
necklace - Chan Luu; pumps - Journee Collection

silk scarf - Hermes Au Pays des Oiseaux Fleurs

earrings - Ruben & Gilda Perez; pants – L.L.Bean; sweater - Ma’Ry’Ya;
ballet flats - Summit; necklace - Narayani; clutch - Halogen;
earrings – Dylan Gray; dress - Lands’ End; silk scarf - Hermes Au Pays
Oiseaux Fleurs; loafers – Aquatalia; bag - Vince Camuto

necklace - Narayani;; tee – L.L.Bean; skirt - IDLF Uniqlo;
bag - Vince Camuto; pumps - Heavenly Soles; cardigan – Issey Miyake;
earrings - Ruben & Gilda Perez; tank -  Lands’ End; tote -  Street Level;
capris - L.L.Bean; cardigan - Lands’ End; sandals - Naot; silk scarf -
Hermes Au Pays des Oiseaux Fleurs

earrings - Sukartini; bracelet - Wayan Asmana; dress - Uniqlo;
bag - Vince Camuto; ballet flats - Summit; silk scarf - Hermes Au
Pays des
Oiseaux Fleurs; earrings - Robert Lee Morris; bracelets -
Robert Lee Morris; shorts - L.L.Bean; jersey - IDLF Uniqlo
sandals -  Sam Edelman

Many of these items will be sold out by now, and some of the links are probably dead...


Shop New Arrivals Now at Alexis Bittar!