Saturday, May 19, 2012

Visualizing French Chic: 7 in black

One of the sections of the book French Chic, by Susan Sommers, which I read repeatedly, was one in which she listed seven items of black clothing, and then set out a little grid of how you could combine these items, and how they would be accessorized.

I could never visualize this.

So I decided to put together her suggestions graphically.  Some of the accessories ideas just scream "early '80's", and so I didn't stick to all 12 plans exactly as written...

This is an interesting approach to wardrobe-building, or to packing.  The vest is, to me, a difficult garment, and I would probably be tempted to substitute a leather jacket, denim jacket, or second cardigan.  And if you're not interested in 2 skirts and a dress, you could easily work with four different styles of pants.   

I think there's some potential to this type of plan, and I'm pondering recreating these outfits in other colors.

blazer – Romwe, leather vest – Thakoon, cardigan – Vince, dress – Moschino Cheap & Chic, pants – Chloe, pleated skirt – Isabel Marant, pencil skirt - Coast

Cotton shirt – Organic by John Patrick, pearl brooch – Debenhams, pearls – Mikimoto, pocket square – Joseph Abboud, lizard belt – Moss Mills, lizard loafers – Etienne Aigner, tee shirt – J. Crew, scarf – Hermès, bracelets – JCPenney, ballet flats – J. Crew, tights - HYD

Silk blouse – Tibi, pearl belt – Chanel, pearl earrings – Lanvin, flower brooch – Monsoon, pumps – Jimmy Choo, necklace – Marie Chavez, earrings – Jules Smith, ribbed tights – Fogal, belt – Mulberry, pumps - Valentino

Tee shirt – American Vintage, bracelets – H&M, socks – Kate Spade, loafers – Acne, blouse – Equipment, lace tights – Jonathan Aston, stud earrings – Nina Breddal, ankle boots - Acne

Shirt – Organic by John Patrick, velvet tights – Wolford, pearls – Kenneth Jay Lane, boots – Dr. Martens, scarf – Lily and Lionel, socks – Sportmax, loafers – Christian Louboutin

Black & red brooches – Yazbukey, Union Jack brooch – Lulu Guinness, clutch bag – Lulu Guinness, sheer tights – Wolford, slingbacksChristin Michaels, plaid shirt – Vanessa Bruno Athe, watch – Links of London, cross body bag – Radley Ealing, tie – Gucci, purple loafers – Debenhams

Silk blouse – Alexander Wang, leaf earrings – Blue Nile, clutch – Reiss, ballet flats – Cole Haan, earrings – Herve van der Straeten,  belt – Jigsaw, studded flats - Marais

18 comments:

  1. Well, I love the vest! Being a black and white woman, I love these combos...

    ReplyDelete
  2. Im not a vest fan either, but love the rest. Ive been reading over a lot of your posts as I have been put a real focus on improving my wardrobe, on a budget of course, so using these 4 core elements & adding to them is definately a great way to build a stylish wardrobe without spending a ridiculous amount of money, Thanks for the great tips, Ive put you on my blog roll so I don't miss any from here on in!
    Cheers

    ReplyDelete
  3. I also tried to picture the outfits suggested from the core pieces in the book, without much success. The layout here is very helpful.

    You've covered a variety of style types here, so it's interesting to see how the same basic pieces can look very different depending on accessories. I have much to learn about accessories.

    Thanks for including the vest. I know if was more popular in earlier decades, but I've been grateful to find a few more offered lately. I wonder if the vest divide is partly about having a generous chest (which I don't have) or a short torso (which I don't have). I feel great in a vest, and am a big fan of the "sleeveless blazer" version too, especially in a warmer climate.

    ReplyDelete
  4. This is probably the best capsule of them all. Why, because it explains the concept perfectly. Take the core and add your color pieces and your accessories. Janice it is time for a book. Write one. I would give them for gifts, to graduates, new brides, grandmothers , friends. Shopping has taken on an entire new level of enjoyment, as has wardrobe planning. XO's
    Karen

    ReplyDelete
  5. Love the coral. It's my new favorite color and in addition to looking great with black, it looks fabulous with light grey. Love the way you've laid everything out. Makes much more sense to me.

    I have this book and enjoy looking at it from time to time. You are right, it needs a bit of updating from the eighties, but it still has a timelessness about it. I'm emailing this post to myself to save for future reference.
    Sam

    ReplyDelete
  6. Ah, yes. The vest, or now named the "sleeveless jacket". I've had a love-hate relationship with that garment since my teen years in the 70's. It can look so casually polished yet it is often picked up by middle age women with questionable fashion tastes. Long duster vests have the "Maude" imprint and short vests became fashion poison once they became wearable art or billboards for various holidays and seasons. I agree with you here -- a soft cardigan would blend into this capsule far better. Thank you for the easy visuals here!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, I, too, always think "Maude" when I see ladies of a certain age wearing long vests. I think the rule should be "only wear vests if you don't have anything at all to hide." :)

      Delete
  7. I like this because of the broader variety of color, and yet because of reading all your earlier posts I can see even more combos than you've shown here. I feel like I'm starting to get it!

    But, what exactly makes this "French"? Is that word just becoming the label for good style and American the label for bad style? I have one French friend. She is the opposite of chic, and she is also sweet, humble and friendly. She laughed so hard when I brought up this concept of French women being the epitome of style. According to her, that is just a stereotype even in Paris, and out in the country it is no more true than it is here. Don't want to offend anyone, but that is straight from the French woman's mouth!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's French Chic, because I took the descriptions from a book called French Chic. What the author meant when she perpetrated the stereotype, I have no idea. I like to think of it as the archetypical self-aware, elegant woman; she just has the added pleasure of living in France!

      Delete
    2. I would love to be the archetypical self-aware, elegant woman, instead of cute.

      Delete
  8. Thank you for sharing! I really really liked all the outfits! You inspire me!

    ReplyDelete
  9. I would really appreciate seeing a version of this plan in autumn colours.
    P-l-e-a-s-e!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. aesthetic intelligenceMay 22, 2012 at 12:18 AM

      Yes please.

      Delete
  10. This is basically what I do in everyday life! I have a core of blacks and mix them with my favorite greens and a few warmer-coloured tops and accessories. It tends to look rather dramatic sometimes, but since I'm in my mid-twenties and currenty finishing college, it works for me most of the time - and when it doesn't, there are always softer-patterned scarves to touch it up a bit.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I have a black leather vest that is becoming a closet orphan and a beautiful black leather jacket that I wear to pieces... Where is the difference? Beautiful clothes, but I have to 'warm' them up, or else I look like death...

    ReplyDelete
  12. Hi there,

    I just wanted to say thank you very much for featuring our Lily and Lionel scarf on your site.

    We're glad you like them

    Web team @ Lily and Lionel

    ReplyDelete
  13. Loved the comment by anonymous (9:07 pm) and totally agree. I read French Chic in the 80's - even took a few notes. After seeing your examples I went back and looked up my notes. Her illustrations didn't make sense to me back then - not anything a 'real' person would wear - only celebrities like Princess Caroline or Paloma Picasso. Definitely not one of my favorite books, although I had saved my notes because the concept was fascinating. However, after finding your site, and reading it and re-reading it, I could make sense of the book. I just re-checked it out of the library and compared this chart to the book. Wow! Suddenly her concept became something I could use.

    You do an absolutely amazing job of making the formula come alive and be something that a regular person can relate to. I also love every single one of your capsule wardrobes. They are totally fascinating. Thanks for taking the time to share.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Hi, a vest in Europe is what you would call a tank top or camisole in America. What you call a vest, we call a waistcoat. So maybe the French Chic book was referring to the European version of a vest rather than the American version?

    ReplyDelete