Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!

No Black Friday offers, no Black Saturday sales, no Cyber Monday links. Just a message from my heart, on this Thanksgiving in the United States. You all make my days delightful, and my work feels like fun when I know you're reading. Thank you.

My posts through this winter holiday season may be somewhat irregular, but never doubt that you ALL are in my thoughts. I'm always planning more delights for us to share...

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

How to Wear a Red Coat

FIRST UP: Please check out my page Scarves and Things for Sale. I just added a couple of necklaces that are NOT getting the attention they deserve in my closet, and should belong to one of you. And there are still some lovely Hermes scarves going unclaimed...  Thanks!  Janice

Nothing seems like a better idea this time of year than a red coat - it's bright, on these darkest of days, it stands out in a forest of black, and it throws a flattering rosiness onto any complexion. But how do you make a red coat work well with your chosen neutral color?  As always, I have suggestion!

  • Grey Neutrals
I believe that any of us who deal with long winters deserve at least a couple of pairs of gloves, a couple of scarves, and more than one hat, so I'm showing multiples which can be worn in a variety of combinations. 

For gloves or mittens, it makes sense to me to have one pair that matches your coat as closely as possible, and another pair that are your neutral.

I think patterned scarves that pull the colors of your wardrobe together are handy, and they bring a touch of focus and attention to your face (which is always where you want people to be looking!). There are a WORLD of scarves available - if you're looking for a particular color combination, just be patient and keep thinking of new ways to describe your online search. I believe that there is no combination that doesn't exist somewhere in the scarf world!

And hats? I'm a big fan of earmuffs, because I have voluminous fluffy hair that is crushed horrendously by regular hats. But I of course will show you some cool hats too, in a wide variety of styles. Again, it makes sense to look for both your neutral color and a color to match your coat, if you see them available and sufficiently irresistible.

Grey wool baseball cap – Stella McCartney, fringed scarf – Yasuyuki Machida, red gloves – Brooks Brothers, coat – Eastexgrey crew sweater - Dear Cashmeresilver grey trousers – Viyellaearmuffs – Lauren Ralph Lauren, silver grey trousers – Viyella, plaid scarf – Mr Start Woman, grey knit gloves – Stefanel
  • Navy Neutrals
As with all things navy, make sure you've got a swatch or something with you when shopping so that your "navies" blend well. 

While I'm not usually a big fan of leather coats, this one was impossible to pass up...

Navy knit cap – Comme des Garcons, square silk scarf – Valentino, red leather gloves – Isotoner, leather coat – Current/Elliott,navy cashmere turtleneck – Jil Sandernavy trousers – Viyellanavy faux fur earmuffs – Ted Baker, checked scarf – Linea, navy leather gloves – Brooks Brothers
  • Black Neutrals
Always the easiest to find! If you're in the market for a duffle coat, make certain that the very pronounced trim on the front of the coat is in a color that will work well in your wardrobe. For example, if you don't wear black, this coat is NOT going to be happy in your wardrobe. There are coats made that have beige, tan, or horn trim - they would be much better with brown and beige neutrals.

Rippled silk scarf – KathKath, red beret – Armani Collezioniblack mittens – Dorothy Perkins, duffle coat – Gucci,black v-neck sweater – Vince black linen trousers – Viyella shearling earmuffs – Ugggraphic print scarf – Etro, black gloves – Lauren Ralph Lauren

  • Camel Neutrals
Red does a great job brightening up camel! Remember, if you're really stuck for a scarf, to consider both Missoni and Etro; they're expensive, but often available at deep discounts, and they do an amazing job with colors. Keep an eye on Yoox, the Outnet, and Girissima for markdowns - they move fast, but the discounts are significant.

Camel hat – Portolano, checked scarf – Jaeger,tan mittens – Ralph Lauren, coat – Dashcaramel tee – Hallhuber, copper twill trousers – Lands’ Endshearling earmuffs – Ugg, zigzag scarf – Missoni, fleece lined gloves – Dents

  • Brown Neutrals
Fake furs, and some of the best paisleys around... plus you have the benefit of wearing a color combination that's always unexpected, and always tasteful. Stand out in that crowd!

Faux fur hat – Harvey Faircloth, striped scarf – Artillerylane, brown leather gloves – Apt. 9, parka – Woolrichbrown sweater – Gestuz, brown jeans – Viyella, red trilby – Planet, paisley scarf – Rosamunda in Blu, red leather gloves – UR

  • Olive Neutrals
Anything involving olive green is going to be difficult to find - it's just not a color that's available frequently. But when you do find something, it's always so deep and rich looking, and so just plain different from usual that you realize that it was worth the hunt. Don't forget to check men's stores for scarves and hats - they often carry a different array of colors, and the quality that you get for the price is generally better than you would get in a women's store.

Kangol cap, print scarf – Chesca, wool gloves – Barbour, coat – Dorothy Perkinsgreen cashmere sweater – Jason Wu olive trousers – Isabel Marant Etoile red beanie – Schah, fringed scarf – Yasuyuki Machida, red cashmere gloves – Armand Diradourian


Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Metallic Shoes and a Small Bag: How to Dress Up a Starting From Scratch Wardrobe

The first thing I noticed when I was looking for beautiful shoes and bags for you: there are absolutely RIDICULOUS, and sometimes positively dangerous, dress shoes out there. Heels that would only be suitable for walking from the limo into the nightclub, where you will be sitting for the entire evening...

But worse than that are the spikes and other lethal implements that now adorn shoes. If you're attracted to shoes with spikes, or even just with buckles or large jewels, make ABSOLUTELY sure that you've checked out how sharp all such things are, and be aware that crossing your legs, or even having your foot brush against your leg, could bruise you, tear your clothing, or even cut your flesh. I saw someone recent rip the daylights out of a pair of pants when she crossed her legs and a buckle on her shoes caught the fabric of her trousers. Ruined, they were, as Yoda would calmly notice. 

So if you hate shoes in which you can stand for an entire cocktail party without wincing, I'm not your girl today. Even the heels that I included are only 2 inches; that's the absolute limit I will consider.

As with so many things, if you think of something you'd like, make certain that you shop around on the internet A LOT. There are identical items available at prices that vary by as much as 50%. I try to link to the lowest priced versions that I can find, but as you know, that's always in flux. For a high-priced item, it can be well worth your time.

Another bit of advice: if you see something you like, BOOKMARK IT. Because you can do the identical search a day later and the item will not be where it used to be. I often create your lovely images over a period of 2 or 3 days, and when it comes time to actually put the links on the blog post, I wander aimlessly through the digital marketplace, searching pathetically for the same Chloe flats I saw less than 48 hours again. Don't imitate my sad state...

That said, I found some perfectly delightful, simple evening bags at very delightful, simple prices!

  • The bags and shoes:
Silver evening bag – Gunne Sax by Jessica McClintock, dark blue and silver ballet flats – Lanvin, navy and gold flats – DeSiena, perforated patent wallet – Artessorio, black d’Orsay pumps – J. Renee, ombre python bag – Zagliani, bronze ballet flats – Giuseppe Zanotti, gold woven bag – Sandra Cadavid, gold ballet flats – Saint Laurent, gold wristlet – Another Line, scalloped ballet flats – Chloe

  • The Navy and Grey Starting From Scratch Wardrobe
Yes, this bag is from Kohl's. I love the juxtaposition of the bag with Lanvin flats. I'm sure some designer somewhere would pull out their hair over it...

These outfits range from reasonably casual sweater and trousers with a fabric necklace and your dressy goods, to your best dress, dolled up with sparkly earrings and a nice scarf. Everything from cocktails with friends to a lovely holiday dinner is covered here.

  • The Navy and Beige Starting From Scratch Wardrobe
Yes, your khakis can be sort of dressy - at least dressy enough to run over to the neighbor's for some eggnog and jollity. The shoes make a lot of difference! And your lovely skirt and silk blouse step it up a notch with comfortable but dressy shoes, and some good jewelry. This won't get you to the Inaugural Ball, but these choices will handle most of what many of us face through the winter holidays.

  • The Black and Grey Starting From Scratch Wardrobe
This probably looks the most like "normal" dressy clothing, because it's black! Don't forget about your summer dresses this time of year. If the fabric and color are suitable, they can be really useful for parties - many parties are crowded and hot, so sleeveless will feel cool, and you'll stand out in the crowd.

  • The Caramel and Black Starting From Scratch Wardrobe
This handbag would make anything look good... but as with all of our other Starting From Scratch Wardrobes, a couple of simple additions and you're good for a range of activities. These warm accessories really look gorgeous...

  • The Brown and Beige Starting From Scratch Wardrobe
NOBODY wears brown for the holidays! If it's your best color, wear it with pride and revel in the distinctiveness that you bring to the crowd. Floral prints can be pretty this time of year, and as you're not wearing a poinsettia, your beauty which will be a relief to many people.

  • The Khaki and Olive Starting From Scratch Wardrobe
Another color that's unexpected this time of year, and we cheer that distinctiveness! Here's a case in which a summer sleeveless top looks perfect with khakis and metallic accessories for a casual get-together with friends. And your best dress benefits from the metallics, while your feet benefit from being able to stand all evening. If you're going to make the rounds of chatting with EVERY member of the Executive Committee, comfy shoes will be essential.

As before, all of the garment links can be found HERE. I was thinking of doing this one last time with some new jewelry as the "dressing up" factor - do you want to see it?



Monday, November 24, 2014

ASAP - As Sustainable As Possible - A New Paris Store (to me...)

Belovedest and I were doing our usual wander about Paris on our last vacation, when we saw this store across the street. It had the usual clean, simple look that many stores in Paris have (the stores there seem to be either very sleek and simple, or charmingly cluttered in a tiny and inviting way...). With reckless disregard for our safety, which is really the only way to walk in Paris, we crossed the street in the middle of the block and went in...

Before we escaped, we had purchased a beautiful linen plaid scarf for Belovedest, in soft tonal beige, tan and ivory, and I had a new cashmere hooded sweatshirt in traditional grey. I bought the largest size available in the sweatshirt, because I was looking for smooshy, cuddly comfort; I have to say after wearing it a few dozen times that I got everything I was looking for!

Here's their information, as well as a scan of their brochure. I typed out the text, for those of you on teeny little devices:

ASAP - as sustainable as possible
99, Rue du Bac- 75007 Paris
t +33 01 42222890 -

Priceless natural fibers (yak, camel, cashmere, silk and linen), not subjected to a dyeing process. Project with a low environmental impact.

Accessories and clothing produced with yarns and fabrics of the highest quality, selected and recovered among the best Italian companies who no longer use them because available in quantities too limited for a profitable industrial production.

 100% cashmere products dyed with natural elements such as flowers, leaves, berries and roots using no chemical additivies.

Major medical studies have confirmed, for the natural dyeing, the lack of reactivity in terms of allergy.

Products made frorm leather that has been tanned with vegetable tannins. No chemicals were used for the process of tanning: bio-degradable, hypoallergenic, non-polluting leather goods.
 The RVR Lardini reversible garments are made with natural fabrics on one side and water repellent fabrics on the other side. An innovative and versatile line perfect for those who travel.

We saw some of the RVR Lardini reversible garments, and if they had had something that suited my needs, I would have been ALL OVER it; I could definitely see a black tweed shirt-jacket style that reversed to a black water repellent fabric... (maybe they're listening...)

AND - the winner of last Monday's giveaway - L'Armoire Ideale des Paresseuses, is THE DUCHESSE!  How cool is that? Check out the link on her name - if you're not reading her blog, you're missing wisdom, charm, and good taste, as well as a heaping dose of intelligence and just plain common sense.

Here's the random number chooser:

I love Excel so much...

Sweet Duchesse, send me a note with your address ( and I'll get this right off to you.

love to all,

                        Alibris: Books, Music, & Movies

Saturday, November 22, 2014

A Dressy Top: How to Dress Up a Starting From Scratch Wardrobe

Another way to dress up your Starting from Scratch Wardrobe is to find a blouse, tee shirt, sweater, or even a sweatshirt that has something dressy going on. There's a world of options around this time of year: lace, sequins, beads, jewels and embroidery are all possibilities. 

Grey lace top – Dolce and Gabbana, yellow sweatshirt- Noshua, houndstooth sequined tee – Michael Michael Kors, striped top – Mother of Pearl, sequined sweater – Kaos, bone sequined sweater- Max Mara

If you want to see all of the garments and accessories from the original Starting From Scratch Wardrobe, check here.
  • The Navy and Grey Starting From Scratch Wardrobe
The lace top is beautiful with everything in your wardrobe; you could even wear it under your cardigan during the day, and then pop off the sweater at night in order to be more dressy. A pair of silvery grey dress shoes would amp up the look another bit, but you really wouldn't want to hang a necklace over the lovely lace - a bracelet would be sufficient.

  • The Navy and Beige Starting From Scratch Wardrobe
For this, I chose an accent color from the wardrobe, and got really casual by using a sweatshirt. While some of us might not find wearing a sweatshirt with a skirt comfortable, others might; this is something to consider if you find a dressy sweatshirt you like...

  •  The Black and Grey Starting From Scratch Wardrobe
I love this top - it includes both of the core colors of the wardrobe, and has a great menswear pattern too! 

  • The Caramel and Black Starting From Scratch Wardrobe

This was a fun top to stumble upon - an accent color from the wardrobe, decorated with one of the core wardrobe colors. Here's a case where you might want to find a nice bracelet or pair of earrings in solid black, because the Match Makers in caramel and black that are part of the Starting From Scratch Wardrobe won't really work here. Happily, this time of year, it's easy to find a pair of dressy earrings for a pittance..

  • The Brown and Beige Starting From Scratch Wardrobe
This is low-key dressiness - a bit of shimmer with tone-on-tone sequins. I have a similar sweater in black, and it's a work-horse in my wardrobe. Shimmer is dressy without being over the top.

  •  The Khaki and Olive Starting From Scratch Wardrobe
Another sweater in one of your accent colors, but in a very neutral accent. (if that makes any sense?) The short-sleeves gives you the option to wear almost 12 months - on a moderately warm evening, this would be lovely with beige linen trousers. 

I'm also going to look into the possibility of using accessories and/or shoes to dress up these wardrobes; is that something you'd like to see?



Friday, November 21, 2014

How to Choose a Winter Coat to Wear with Navy

Many of you were interested in a coat to wear with navy clothes, and I had great fun obliging! Some of these coats cost MANY months of rent, but they are amazingly beautiful, and they give us a look and a level of quality to which we can aspire in our more normal coat shopping.

  • The Patterned Coat
Paisley! Subtle, and almost iridescent, This coat doesn't need much. The hat is divine, the infinity scarf is a subtle melange of the colors in the coat, and the cashmere gloves pick up one of the brighter highlight colors. Feather earrings echo the swirling feeling of the pattern of the coat. 

Note: These cashmere gloves are going to show up a few times - they are available in a range of colors, and are a very reasonable price (for cashmere!).

Navy print coat – Stella McCartney, hat - Jacques Vert, teal and navy dip dyed ombre scarf – Vince, teal cashmere gloves – Halogen, navy sweater – Closed, feather earrings – LeiVanKash, navy corduroy jeans – Uniqlo, boots – Seychelles

  • The Bright Coat
They don't come much brighter! I didn't want to get TOO carried away with this bright color, so a navy beret with a bit of sparkle, and navy gloves, help tone down the exuberance just a bit. The soft scarf will be well tucked into the neckline of the coat, but will show if you've left open the top button. And the floral motif of the earrings is an homage to the flowered scarf.

Coat – Fenn Wright Manson, beaded beret – Accessorize, scarf – Yuh Okano, gloves – Isotoner, navy sweater – Closed, gold flower earrings – Neha, navy corduroy jeans – Uniqlo, boots – Seychelles

  • The Shade or Tone of my Neutral Coat
I took this to mean that I could find a coat in any shade of blue. Paler blues looked kind of odd with the navy outfit, so I chose cobalt. (Turquoise is also an EXCELLENT option...) This is a much more "over the top" outfit - especially the hat with the "cat's ears". Trust me, when you start looking for cat ear hats, they're EVERYWHERE.  I was shocked...  The marbled fabric scarf includes a bunch of shades of blue - it would be a useful addition to any navy wardrobe. And small blue earrings give you a bit of sparkle.

Blue coat - Stella McCartney, cat ears hat – Bernhard Willhelm, scarf – Edition de Luxe, navy suede gloves – Dents, navy sweater – Closed, earrings – Judith Jack, navy corduroy jeans – Uniqlo, boots – Seychelles

  • The Textured Coat
If your wardrobe is centered on navy and beige, this is the PERFECT coat for you!  The simple knit cap is also available in a bunch of lovely colors... A traditional plaid scarf, and beige gloves finish off your clothes. The earrings? They have the texture of the coat, and the angularity of the pattern of the scarf! No detail is too small, sometimes...

Tweed coat – Sessun, knit cap – Dear Cashmere, plaid scarf – Y’s, beige cashmere gloves – Halogen, navy sweater – Closed, earrings – St. John Collection, navy corduroy jeans – Uniqlo, boots – Seychelles

  • The Pastel Coat
You will NOT see a lot of other people sporting about in a coat in this color, trust me! It was pretty amazing to find a hat in the same color! Missoni scarves are always worth checking out if you're in search of a "Match Maker" item to pull 2 colors together - they are masters of the interesting and unusual color combination. Suede gloves keep things calm and low key.  And THESE earrings? Notice the zigzag pattern in them, which is also the signature knit of your Missoni scarf? 

Green coat -  Giorgio Armani, hat – Jo Gordon, scarf – Missoni, navy cashmere gloves – Halogen, navy sweater – Closed, earrings – Annabelle Lucilla Jewellery, navy corduroy jeans – Uniqlo, boots – Seychelles

  • The Complementary Neutral Coat
Mixing of warm and cool colors at it's finest! This caramel (or tobacco, or auburn) coat, hat and gloves look great with navy, and the amazing pleated scarf makes it all look intentional! For these earrings, I found the best priced amber earrings at a shop that raises money for animal rescue! Amazing....

Caramel coat – Diane Von Furstenberg, hat – Lisa Battaglia, scarf – Cathayana, gloves – 8, navy sweater – Closed, amber stud earrings – The Animal Rescue Site, navy corduroy jeans – Uniqlo, boots – Seychelles

As always, I'm working with a base of great simplicity. Or great elegance, as I prefer to describe it. A beautiful sweater, corduroy jeans, and navy boots - your options to build upon these simple basics are impossible to count. And that whole "solid dark vertical column" thing is no joke. 

Navy sweater – Closed, navy corduroy jeans – Uniqlo, bootsSeychelles

                        Kohls Department Stores Inc