Saturday, December 31, 2011

This series of objects, based on the book by Dominique Loreau, certainly doesn't match what I would choose for 99 essential objects (I've never actually OWNED a laundry machine...), but it does provoke thought about what is essential to ME.

Maybe as a New Year's exercise, it would be worthwhile to consider all of the many objects around us, and try to start distinguishing between the mere "wants" of temporary, superficial gratification, and the truly "essentials" of happiness.

May 2012 bring you all of your essentials, a healthy dose of your wants, and the ability to tell the two apart!  Thanks for being here with me this year, with much love, Vivienne

Cast iron skillet – Lodge, Stockpot with steamer – All Clad, gratin pan – Le Creuset, serving plate – Pillyvuit, immersion blender - Bamix

Toaster – Magimix, Bowl & strainer set – Williams Sonoma, squeezable measuring cup – FlexIt, Bento – Kobo Aizawa

Knife – Shun, honing steel – Michel Bras, cutting board – Boos, box grater – Microplane, Suribachi – La Pella Pottery,  Peeler – Henkel,  silicon spatulas – Williams-Sonoma,  chopsticks – Asian Food Grocer

CorkscrewVigneto, bottle opener – Web Restaurant Store,  Scissors – Wustof Trident,  Towels – Williams-Sonoma,  dishpan – Rubbermaid,  sponges & brush – Williams-Sonoma

Tray – Williams-Sonoma,  Bowl – Pillyvuyt,  Japanese dishes –, dishware – Michael Giotto

Tea set –,  insulated bottle – Thermos, Curtains, lamp & bed – Pottery Barn

Table & chair – Iljujjkin,  armchair – Zanotta,  refrigerator – unknown – please provide the brand if you know it!,  stove – Amana,  laundry machine - Samsung
Basin –, bath rug – Crate & Barrel, iron & ironing board – Rowenta, hangers s - Container Store

Vase – Baccarat, calendar – Borders, alarm clock – Travel Ben, radio – Bose, Eco-Me Home Kit –

Vacuum – Miele, mop – Container Store, tools – Stanley,  television – stock photo, laptop – Dell,  phone - Samsung

Tote & suitcase – Tumi, red cross-body bag – Osgoode Marley, planner – Filofax, correspondence box – Mark Lowenstein, accordion folder – Globe-Weis

Friday, December 30, 2011

As soon as I posted yesterday's illustrations, I received some questions about using other colors with navy. So here are two additional ways to work with the core of navy garments and brown accessories...

My next plan is to show THE SAME navy garments, only with accent clothing and accessories in cool colors. A core (a "Not so Crazy Eights") of a neutral color has a lot of potential for serving as a base for any favorite color you might want to wear!

Scarf – Hermès, gold earrings – Links of London (similar here), necklace – Van der Straeten (similar here), turtleneck – Aviu (similar here), jacket – John Lewis (similar here), gloves – Portolano (similar here), Handbag - Mulberry (similar here), suitcase– Mulberry (similar here), skirt – Stella McCartney (similar here), navy tights – Nordstrom, brown loafers – Ralph Lauren (similar here)

Navy blouse - Stella McCartney (similar here); drop earrings – Chan Luu (similar here), navy cardigan – Maison Martin Margiela (similar here); print blouse – Tucker (similar here); champagne pearl stud earrings - Majorica, long cardigan – Chloe (similar here), trousers – Stella McCartney (similar here); belt – Burberry (similar here), bracelet – Chan Luu (similar here), ankle boots – ALF (similar here),jeans - J. Brand; striped turtleneck - Kolor (similar here), print scarf – Dorothy Perkins (similar colors here), riding boots – Frye (similar here)

Scarf – Hermès, gold earrings – Links of London (similar here), necklace – David Aubrey (similar here), turtleneck – Chloe (similar here), jacket – John Lewis (similar here), gloves – John Lewis (similar here), Handbag - Mulberry (similar here), suitcase– Mulberry (similar here), skirt – Stella McCartney (similar here), navy tights – Nordstrom, brown loafers – Ralph Lauren (similar here)

Navy blouse - Stella McCartney (similar here); drop earrings – Nak Armstrong (similar color here), navy cardigan – Maison Martin Margiela (similar here); blouse – Moschino (similar colors here), olive cardigan – Old Navy (similar here), trousers – Stella McCartney (similar here); belt – Burberry (similar here), bracelets - 1928 (similar here), ankle boots – ALF (similar here),jeans - J. Brand; plaid front sweater - Daks (similar here), print scarf – Yigal Azrouel (similar here), riding boots – Frye (similar here)


Thursday, December 29, 2011

I've been receiving LOTS of questions about wearing navy clothing with brown shoes, and "warm" colors.  This seems like it could be tricky, since navy is pretty much a cool color, but men have been making this combination of cool and warm work for decades, and it always looks great!  My suggestions:

  • make sure your "navies" go together - navy can vary widely.  Either buy all pieces at one time (ambitious, to be sure!), buy them from the same designer (equally ambitious), or plan to carry or wear a couple of navy items when you shop, so that you can be certain that your current garments will work with new purchases.
  • feel free to experiment with any warm color as an accent. Green, gold, every shade of rust, persimmon, and coral will look great with navy.
  • With skirts, navy hosiery will keep your look more consistent.  Buy your tights at the same time as your skirt - navy can be difficult to match!  With pants, the sky's the limit for socks...
  • Tie together your look with warm-toned jewelry - gold with tortoise (fake, of course), coral (also fake!!!) or topaz will keep the warm theme predominate.
I've put together a wee travel vignette to illustrated my ideas - enjoy!

Scarf – Hermès, gold earrings – Links of London, necklace – Kenneth Jay Lane, Turtleneck – Aviujacket – John Lewis, gloves – Portolano, Handbag & suitcase– Mulberry, skirt – Stella Mc Cartney, navy tights – Dorothy Perkins, brown loafers – Ralph Lauren

Navy blouse and trousers – Stella McCartney, navy cardigan – Maison Martin Margiela, belt – Burberry, ankle boots – ALF, plaid shirt – Burberry, gold and tortoise earrings – RJ Graziano, long cardigan – See by Chloe, coral earrings and bracelet – Roberta Chiarella, leather sleeved tee – 3.1 Phillip Lim, jeans – J. Brand, print scarf – Marc Jacobs, riding boots – Frye

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

deeply excellent photo from Dale O'Dell. His website is

Walking up Michigan Avenue in the winter, the intrepid adventurer encounters many sounds: traffic, car horns, sirens, the occasional argument, some laughter, and every now and then... a shriek!  I've made a study of the various shrieks of the "winter footwear challenged" segment of the human species, and I have created the following field guide to help you interpret these sounds, and perhaps even get a visual confirmation of the creature.

A.  The sound: a muffled, rhythmic gasping sound, with occasional expletives interjected.
The creature in question: Post Pedicure Flip-Flopper

Visual confirmation: check the feet - bluish feet, perfect toenails, and cheap, flimsy, salon-giveaway flip flops being worn on freezing cold pavement.

B.  The sound: a short squeal, followed by ceaseless complaining.

The creature: Sitcom Wannabe Stockingless Wonder

Visual confirmation:  blue legs

C.  The sound: An abrupt, shrill and quite urgent scream, followed by the murmur of crowds.

The creature: Fashion Victim Heels-On-Ice

Visual confirmation:  usually found in the middle of a crowd of spectators, the FVH-O-I will be found on the ground, feet up in the air.  Confirmation will be when you can locate the very high heels which are the key to this behavior. Platform soles are also occasionally spotted.

D.  The sound:  A long wail, followed by chattering teeth.

The creature: The Ugg Wearer in Slush

Visual confirmation:  Again, check the feet.  Look for over-sized suede footwear, dripping wet and quite heavy.  Shivering is often exhibited by this particular speciment.

Here's hoping that this brief guide will help you better appreciate the urban wonderland that can be found in any big city!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Repudiation of Hagar, by Johann Conrad Seekatz
I don't think you should let things get QUITE this far gone...

When was the last time you truly WORE OUT a piece of clothing?  As in absolutely could not mend, darn, nor patch the thing?

This comes to my mind because, since I started the heavy-lifting seasonal job, I've demolished two pair of socks, two bras (don't ask...) and - best of all - I took off a tee shirt after work one evening and it completely fell to pieces in my hands.  It was as if every piece of thread in every seam decided simultaneously to just give up the ghost and quit.  It was almost magical...

But I don't remember this happening all that often in my adult life.  But when I was a child, I clearly remember wearing clothes until they were either passed on to someone else, or they went through the triage of fabric salvage.

1. Really heavy things, like work pants or jeans, were cut and stitched into long ropes, to be made into rag rugs.  These were the heaviest, most durable rugs in the history of floor-covering.

2. Printed fabrics, or pretty colors, of medium weight were cut for quilt pieces.  I remember at least one quilt (made by women in my teeny little 500-person home town) which contained a variety of swatches from remembered garments.  And we had a few wool quilts!  Sleeping under them was sort of like sleeping under the mattress - but they were really warm.  

3.  Light colored, lightweight fabrics (tee shirts, undershirts, sheets) were cut into squares, and put in the rag bag.  We had a heavy canvas drawstring bag, hanging in the basement, where we kept rags.  We washed them, and reused them, for most of the functions for which people now use paper towels.

Fabric really had to perform in my childhood...  What ever happened to this kind of thinking?  Since fabric manufacturing is one of the primary sources of water pollution worldwide, maybe we need to be a bit more conservative with it, and make sure that it is used for its full lifetime.

Friday, December 23, 2011

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...

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Brown tweed coat – A.P.C.,  brown trousers – Max Mara, suede loafersTod’s, lt. blue hat – Peter Jensen, lt. blue scarf – Forzieri, lt. blue gloves – Portolano, jacket – Balmain, Duke blue devils hat –, blue scarf – Rike Fuerstein, , blue gloves – Mango, brown jeans – J. Brand, brown sneakers - Bensimon

Monday, December 19, 2011

Black pants – Michael Kors, sweater – Miu Miu, belted wool coat – Vanessa Bruno, plaid gloves – Burberry, red scarf – Joseph, red penny loafers – Bass,  quilted jacket – Dorothy Perkins, lime green scarf – Michael Kors, green gloves – Magaschoni, lime green beret – Philip Treacy, black short boots – Rochas

Thursday, December 15, 2011

We saw this a couple of years ago, but it's charm does not fade!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Body brush –, nail brush – Caswell Massey, foot file – Imbali body care, toothbrush –, organic dental floss –,  unbleached cotton towel –,  toiletry kit – Royce Leather

Medicine cabinet photo – Esquire magazine, hot water bottle – Boots the Chemist, wicker basket –,  shallow sauce pan – Le Creuset

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Paisley slippers – Jimmy Choo, black diamond earrings – Kabiri, sunglasses – Oliver Peoples,  sewing box – Harbor Freight Tools, shoe shine kit – Church’s

Vanity case – J. Crew, scales – Seca, ashwood combWidu, Thermal ionic hair dryer - Solia

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Blazer – A.P.C., CardiganCacharel, Blouse – Theory, tee – Michael Stars, Pants – CC, Skirt – Max Mara, pants – Topshop, Scarf - Hermès

blouse – Chloe, Sweater – Cruciani, Winter coat – Calvin Klein Collection, Dress – Gucci, Pants – Marc by Marc Jacobs, Skirt – A.L.C., Sweater – Dorothy Perkins, coat - Debenhams

Dress – Thomas Maier, cardigan – Madewell, Olive brown tee shirt- Malene Birger, Sweater – Marc by Marc Jacobs, beige sweater – Vince, taupe tee – Crumpet England, Cords – J. Brand, Sequined top - Gryphon

all jewelry – Kenneth Jay Lane, gloves – Mulberry, square scarves – Hermès, plaid scarf – Etro, chocolate suede satchel – Topshop, olive scarf – Burberry, sunglasses – Oliver Peoples, clutch – Marc by Marc Jacobs, ankle boots – Modcloth, rust pumps – Easy Street, loafers – Burberry, bronze oxfords – Mulberry, brown riding boots – Asos, suede flats – Marc by Marc Jacobs

Friday, December 09, 2011

Please note that the 99 objects are going to include clothing, kitchen items, and some home furnishings... this is going to get interesting!
Lingerie – Chantelle, socks – Hue, tights – Fogal, Scarf – Hermès, scarf – echo, hat – Philip Treacy, gloves – Dents, umbrella – Burberry, shoes - Camper

Boots – Camper, pumps – Jimmy Choo, flats – Reed Krakoff,  sandals – Giuseppe Zanotti

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Gray suit – Stella McCartney, trench coat – Minimarket, wool coat – Marni, down jacket – Joseph Kelly,  cardigan – L.L.Bean
Scarf – Agnona, Yoga 3 pieces – Manuka, pajamas – Woolrich, swimsuit – Norma Kamali

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

I'm always intrigued by lists - the perfect wardrobe, the necessary objects etc. So when one of my favorite authors tackled this idea, I had the book in hand pronto. (available here from FNAC - ordering books from France is great fun!)

Dominique Loreau is a French woman who has lived in Japan for many years, and has written a handful of books which merge her innate French love of beauty and elegance with her acquired Japanese aesthetic of simplicity and clarity.  The books are written in relatively simple French which I find quite clear - this isn't like tackling Balzac in the original...

So my interpretations of what Dominique lists as HER essentials will follow, over a few day's time.  Please note that these are MY interpretation of HER list of items which she finds necessary and sufficient - not a list that's designed for anybody else in the world.  That said, it's tremendously thought-provoking, as are all of her writings.

Shirt – Thom Browne, Tunic – Etro, tee shirts – Galeries Lafayette, cardigan – Rag & Bone, pullovers – Galeries Lafayette

Wool & silk long-underwear – Hanro, pants – Donna Karan, Jeans – Levi’s, Khaki trousers – Old Navy

Monday, December 05, 2011

It wasn't quite this bad...

On my always-interesting walk to work this morning, I passed one of the "cheap and cheerful" clothing stores (which I really dislike) and saw something quite horrendous.

An ENTIRE rack of blazers.

Orange blazers.

Orange DOUBLE-BREASTED blazers.

For $9.99 EACH.

And they appear to have been constructed by pre-school aged children.  Who were blindfolded at the time.  And maybe drunk.  Not a straight lapel, nor an even hem among any of the more than 60 or 70 blazers I could see.

AND, the material was of an appallingly bad quality.

So: difficult color, difficult cut, horrid workmanship, and terrible materials.  The full-house of failure.

Please note: I think there is a place in the world for a beautifully tailored, exquisitely constructed orange blazer made of the finest materials, in the wardrobe of someone for whom it is a signature garment, and upon whom it is supremely flattering.  This woman is one in... well, a few thousand, at least.  

These were NOT that garment.  These were a waste of money, materials, energy, human exertion, and frankly they were sort of an affront to good taste everywhere.  I'd love to know what the wholesale buyer who ordered them was thinking...

Sunday, December 04, 2011

This is where I walk to work...

  1. If your coat has a back vent (an opening either in the middle of the back hem of your coat, or maybe two openings, one on each side of a back "flap"), and that vent is sewn shut with a cool little "X" stitch,  REMOVE THE STITCHING.  A vent is supposed to be open, and was sewn shut just to hold it in place in transit.  Nothing accents a bubble butt more than a closed vent.
  2. Fabric content labels on your sleeve are ALSO supposed to be removed.  I'm impressed that your coat is 100% cashmere, now take that label off and throw it away!
  3. Hems that drag the ground are unsanitary.  And unflattering.
  4. If your arms are hanging at your sides and we can see only the tips of your fingers (or nothing at all of your hands), your sleeves are too long.  Alterations are nothing to fear.
  5. I'm a bigger fan of black coats than you could ever imagine, but please consider some sort of accent accessory.  The streets are dark enough.  Unless you're a Goth, in which case, please carry on as you prefer.  
  6. There is such a thing as too much Burberry plaid. 
  7. Belted coats look much more insouciant if you tie the belt rather than buckle it.
  8. If you can't button all of the buttons on your coat, it's too small.
  9. Similarly, if you can neither tie nor buckle your belt because it's too short, you need a larger coat.
  10. Finally, leggings are not pants!

Thursday, December 01, 2011

This has in many ways been the easiest month so far.  Day to day, I'm only wearing a variety of gray or black tee shirts, jeans, and my work shoes. (and of course, my apron, which is NOT pictured here...) If anything, December might prove to be even more dull fashion-wise than November!

Working in retail is a great way to condition yourself away from constant shopping; the endless glut of unnecessary stuff that we have to handle every day makes the idea of actually buying something and taking it home absolutely repulsive.  What an insane frenzy of over-consumption the holidays are in the United States...

And I must give a warm, grateful shout out to my work shoes - Camper Pelotas.  They are durable, comfortable, and don't look like smooshy white marshmallow shoes.  If you've never considered Campers, I recommend them highly.