Friday, December 23, 2011

Wardrobe based on 2 suits: Was Chanel right?

One of my favorite Chanel quotes is "One shouldn't spend all one's time dressing. All one needs are two or three suits, as long as they and everything to go with them, are perfect."

So I thought about how this quote applies to the wardrobes that I build - let's try on Chanel's advice!

First, two suits: one black, one taupe.  Now, to me, a suit is a jacket, pants, a skirt AND a dress.  (sometimes, nothing looks better than a dress and jacket).   Yes, I'm taking the definitions very loosely...

Black – 3.1 Phillip Lim, taupe – Viyella

Next, you need the things that go with the 2 suits.  One twinset that matches a suit, and another twinset in an accent color.  One turtleneck that matches one of the suits, and a turtleneck or other sweater in an accent color.  And of course, a light, neutral blouse, and a light, neutral tee shirt type top.

Red cardigan – Paul Smith, red tee – Ksubi, Black turtleneck – D&G, white tee – Debenhams, taupe cardigan – Fabiana Filippi, taupe topViyella, purple turtleneck – Miu Miu, white blouse – Alexander Wang

And finally, you're going to need jeans.  And let's thrown in a pair of velvet pants - just for fun.  And a really amazing, statement skirt.  Another solid top in a tee shirt type style (this one's silk, so it can be worn dressy or not), and a few things that combine the two colors of your wardrobe, and I'd say you're set for a long time to come.

Cardigan & sweater – See by Chloe, print blouse – Eastex, camisole – M Missoni, Jeans – Alexander McQueen, skirt – Etro, black silk tee – Sykes Silks, black velvet pants – L’Agence

Maybe Chanel was onto something.  For wardrobe editing, this could easily be the template that I use when I get around to doing the big purge...

Accessories to follow, when the hectic retail schedule permits!

Have a kind, generous, and patient holiday.  Be good to EVERYONE around you - your heart is big enough to extend human warmth to every person you meet! The love you share will come back to you a thousand-fold, but you already know that...


  1. Hello, I have totally run out of appropriate adjectives, so all I can say is brava!! Have a wonderful and joyous holiday.
    all the best,

    Deb from (green)Vancouver

    Ps, Your new header is beyond perfect, it echoes your mantra so beautifully.

  2. I am a long time reader but first time commenter. Thank you so much for your ideas and inspirations. My day is complete when a new Vivienne post appears. Thank you so much. Have a wonderful holiday season. Valerie

  3., love!! Of course she was right. Did you truly doubt her?; )


  4. What a lovely gift to your readers!

    24 pieces--yet most of us have so many more.

  5. This is a great post! Thank you!

  6. You mention a "big purge." I know that you have not been shopping but I wonder if you have been keeping track of what you have been wearing and how often you have worn the items you do have? How will you decide what to purge? When I am deciding what to get rid of, the most important question I ask myself is, "Would I chose to wear this item over anything else in my closet?" If my answer is "no" then I get rid of it. If there is something else that I would always choose over that item - it's gone.

    Thanks again!

  7. This is why j'adore your blog! Have a happy holiday.

  8. This is a fabulous wardrobe-building idea! If I ever have a lifestyle that calls for suits or skirts, I'll be following this one.

    Merry Christmas!

  9. What a lovely holiday surprise! I was a member of the French Chic Yahoo group a few years ago, and clearly remember your postings of the "Vivienne Files". When I saw "Vivienne Files" on Cupcake Carmel's blog role, I hoped that there was a connection. Your blog is just outstanding. I will be a regular reader. (I noticed Stephanie has already found you!)

    Susan O.

  10. Absolutely lovely!
    I wish I had learned about wardrobe building years ago - I would have saved quite a bit of money and would have looked more stylish.

    Happy holidays.


  11. Merry! Merry! Merry! Thank you for the lovely post and the timely reminder about kindness and patience. Wishing you a restful and warm Christmas! Thank you for all you have done this past year! By the way, LOVE Melrose Abbey ... the new header is gorgeous. Susan (Minneapolis)

  12. Again, so lovely and helpful. The only problem is now I have sooooo many sample wardrobes that I want LOL. By the way, I love the photo of the abbey at the top of your blog. We saw a ruined one in Scotland as well and I'm going to have to dig out the photos.

  13. This is fabulous. I was just thinking that 2012 would be the year I get my working wardrobe pulled together and that suits would be a good investment. The way you have spelled this out will be infinitely helpful in my quest. Thanks!

  14. great post! if i had had this template 20 years ago, my closet would not be such a jungle. also, i love the combination of black and taupe.
    esme noir

  15. aesthetic intelligenceDecember 24, 2011 at 11:29 PM

    I also would like to echo gratitude for your inspirational blog and your positive outlook.
    You wardrobe advice is practical and do-able, yet stylish and chic.

  16. Thanks and happy holidays! Your posts inspire and guide me in so many ways -- thank you so much! I love this post, it's got me thinking. And do share more about the big purge -- how to do a purge? XO and wishes for a great new year!

  17. Merry Christmas, Vivienne. Thank you for bringing calm and beauty to the blogging world.

  18. I would love to hear about the Big Purge...I really need to do one and find it so difficult!

    Here's just one example: a red cashmere twinset that was a gift about 15 years ago. Good quality, beautiful color, still in good condition. I'd have a hard time replacing it at today's prices. is too big. Styles were looser back then and even on top of that I liked things baggy at that time. Today I'd look for much more fitted. So, keep or toss? Whatever replaced it wouldn't be as nice and yet I don't feel great when I wear it.

    That's just one example. I'd love some guidance on the big purge.

    1. I would take it to a good seamstress who is competent with a serger. I am sure it is not the length that bothers you as much as the width of both pieces.

  19. Mmmm, red cashmere twinset... If it's a Petite Medium, you should send it to me! Just kidding (sort of) but I think you should consider selling it (maybe through a consignment shop) or donating it to a service that outfits women who are re-entering the workforce. Someone, somewhere, NEEDS those sweaters, and you will feel much better with them out of your sights, and on someone else's back. Free your space, both in your closet and in your mind, for things you really love. There are beautiful merino wools now that are more seasonless than cashmere - keep your eyes open for them.
    and thanks for being here with me,

  20. Really, I should have picked a different example...and I have several! But this twinset was a gift from my mother and there's no way she wouldn't find out. She probably wants it back herself!

    But the concept is good...the idea of having space for the things I love. I seriously need to work on that...with emotionally neutral clothes. I suspect that would strike a chord with most of your fans. Please keep us posted as you tackle it.

  21. Love your mix and match ideas! (Exept for the purple, but that could be changed easily :-))

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