Monday, April 30, 2012

Come visit today at A Femme d'un Certain Age, where I finish off my series of April in Paris, using lots of beige and a bit of blue for zing!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Some amazing color combinations, on some VERY nice, and lovely women...

Argyle cardigan – Pringle of Scotland, blouse – Tory Burch, earrings – Elizabeth and James, tote bag – Barneys New York, short boots – Acne, – Burberry Prorsum

Down vest – Moncler, scarf – Barneys New York, sweater – Ralph Lauren, jeans – Old Navy

Friday, April 27, 2012

my favorite seat, in my favorite cafe

Years ago, after I turned 30, I decided that absolutely nothing was more important to me than to travel. It became, for me, the primary criteria by which every purchasing decision was made: "Does this get me closer to an airplane?"  If the answer was no, then I at least paused before proceeding.

The upshot of this discipline is that I was able to go to Europe twice a year, spending about 3 weeks there in total each year.  My co-workers exhibited a constant combination of annoyance, jealousy, and just plain incomprehension as to how this could be done.  

Here's how:

  1. As soon as I got a cell phone, I disconnected my land line.
  2. Packed lunches.
  3. Coffee from the free office coffee maker, rather than the expensive cafe downstairs.
  4. No cable television.
  5. A library card.
  6. Lots of walking.
  7. Buffing my nails rather than paying someone else to paint toxic chemicals on them.

I'm not against manicures, or frappucinos, or having someone serve me a meal.  But I wanted to travel, and that's what I wanted the most.

You can only spend each dollar you earn once.  If you're NOT spending your income on what you want to do, why not?  Obligations to others are understandable, but lack of focus on your part can be changed.

Think big.  Think long-term.  Think outside the normal behaviors.  Life the life you dream of living.


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Thursday, April 26, 2012

We've been chatting a lot about camel and grey together, and this scarf was the perfect opportunity to introduce a couple of outfits with those colors.  Toss in a bit of soft blue, a little bit of yellow, and a dash of coral...  What a great scarf upon which to build some looks!

Stud earrings – Monet, Camel wool pants – Michael Kors, Sweater – Costume National, loafers – Tod’s, pearl stud earrings – Lord & Taylor, grey dress – Love Moschino, pumps – Salvatore Ferragamo

Silver earrings – Touch of Silver, Sweater – Lela Rose, jeans – Allsaints, boots – Acne, silver bracelet – Touch of Silver, Cap-sleeved top – Liv, denim skirt – Wrangler, sandals – Dorothy Perkins

Hoop earrings – Macy’s, Belted cardigan – Michael Kors, Suede dress – Sara Berman, sling-backs – Ralph Lauren, grey pearl earrings – Monique Pean, wool skirt with zippers – M Missoni, alpaca sweater – La Garconne, boots – Sam & Libby

Kyanite earrings – Astley Clarke, Silk dress – Equipment, belt – Maison Martin Margiela, pumps – Stuart Weitzman, coral earrings – Kenneth Jay Lane, tee shirt – LnA, cropped pants – Alice & Olivia, sandals – Elie Tahari

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Someone asked me to suggest a few outfits to go with the lovely Les Parisiens scarf.  This particular coloring is a perfect opportunity to mix warm beiges or browns with black, so I took that as my motif.

Please note that I'd be more than happy to suggest outfits to go with any scarf - it certainly doesn't have to be Hermes.  Just post a comment with a link to a picture of your scarf, or email me a picture at, and I'll take a look!

Dress – Ralph Lauren, pumps – L.K.Bennett, black sweater – Steven Alan, suede jeans – Current/Elliott, boots – Nicole Ranger

Brown pants – Burberry London, black silk & cashmere v-neck, two-toned leather flats – Sesto Meucci, black cashmere turtleneck dress – N. Peal, brown leather belt – CO-OP Barneys New York, brown suede pumps – Stuart Weitzman

Black cardigan – Debenhams, brown & black dress – Dorothy Perkins, black Mary JanesRepetto, ¾ sleeve v-neck tee – Splendid, beige capris – Piazza Sempione, Belgian loafers – Lanvin

Cashmere shrug – Lanvin, woven pumps – Bass, black jersey dress – DKNY, cabled cashmere sweater – J. Crew, black cotton skirt – Vivienne Westwood, riding boots - Frye

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

These are the eight winter garments that I've chosen to keep, which I wear in order to leverage the all-black core items already chosen to survive the wardrobe purge  (you didn't really think that I wear unrelieved black every day, did you?)

First I show my additions to my edited wardrobe, and then below, I show all of the items that have been specifically chosen (so far) to stay, through the first four stages of the curating and distilling process.

Yes, I really love argyle...
argyle turtleneck - Pendleton, striped tee shirt - Garnet Hill, argyle cardigan - Lands' End, black & white cardigan - Pendleton, dotted skirt - unknown, plaid skirt - Rodier Paris, black with white snaps cardigan - Agnes B., black & white herringbone skirt - Brooks Brother Black Fleece

pearl & black necklaces - unknown Chicago-area crafts-person, black w/white squares scarf - Vintage menswear, watch - Seiko, handbag - Louis Vuitton Sac Seau in black Epi, brooch & earrings - Judith Jack, boots - Eddie Bauer

Monday, April 23, 2012

Come see me today at Tish's, where I explore April in Paris in neutral colors with a bit of pattern and texture.  I would SO love to be sitting in a Paris cafe right now, watching it rain...

Saturday, April 21, 2012

I received a question about what could be worn with a specific Hermes scarf - one with a lot of brown, beige and camel tones in the center, and a bright green border.  My suggestions include all of the shades of brown, gold, white, and navy, which is always so nice with bright green...

And a lot of these clothes come from J. Crew.  I've been spending a LOT of time lately in the local J. Crew store, gift shopping, and I've found that they stock a large number of nice-quality basic garments.  Maybe not to your taste, or your budget, but certainly they are good "thought-starters".

Have a lovely weekend!

Two outfits - a dress, and a skirt and sweater - to wear with Hermes silk scarf Egypte in bright green
Hazelnut dress – Diane von Furstenberg, metallic sandals – Giuseppe Zanotti, ivory sweater – Inhabit,
 brown leather skirt – A.L.C., boots – Ralph Lauren

two outfits - a dress, and a blouse and pants - to wear with Hermes silk scarf Egypte in bright green
Navy dress – Philosophy di Alberta Ferretti, leather bracelet – Gorjana, 
navy pumps – Debenhams, white blouse, navy capris and green sandals  – J. Crew 

two outfits - a tee shirt and skirt, and a sweater and skirt - to wear with Hermes silk scarf Egypte in bright green
White tee shirt, sequined skirt, brown sandals, gold sweater, 
navy skirt and yellow flats  – J. Crew

two outfits - sweaters and pants - to wear with Hermes silk scarf Egypte in bright green
Navy sweater, khaki capris, navy ballet flats, camel sweater
brown cords and camel loafers  – J. Crew

Friday, April 20, 2012

Sweater – Le Mont St. Michel, Flats – Libby Edelman, jeans – J Brand

This very lovely young lady works in the building where I live.  While the jeans and sweater were very simple, the shoes demonstrated that she had put some thought into what she was wearing, and didn't just throw something together.  At her age, and with her level of natural beauty, she could have been wearing a sack and looked striking.  But with this level of style self-awareness, she's going to be just as elegant in 40 years as she is right now...

As the seasons finally seem to be moving toward warmer weather, I'm starting to go through that semi-annual wardrobe "switch out" that I find so distressing.  Vivienne repeatedly points out that this is not something that men do, and that women don't need to own that much more clothing than men, if we plan well.  So, I continue to try to plan.

I'm finding it instructive to spend a few minutes seriously pondering the garments that I'm deciding to donate, and trying to put myself back into the mindset that I had when I purchased said item.  Certainly, at the time that I bought almost anything in my closet, I was wildly enthusiastic about it.  

So what changed?

Why was I wrong?  WAS I wrong, or have my wardrobe needs changed since then?  If my needs have truly changed, shouldn't I re-allocate my clothing budget to reflect my current life, and not my various past incarnations?

If I was wrong, is this a mistake I've made more than once?  (humbly nodding "yes, I'll NEVER buy another sweater with a portrait collar, because I know they make me look like a golf tee")

Why do I repeat this mistake?  (delusions of pre-Raphaelite grandeur)  How can I stop it from happening again?  (uh, look in the mirror...)

Do I shop to try to accomplish something that SHOPPING CAN'T DO?  

What could I be doing with the money that I've spent on things I didn't need?

Know thyself.  

Thursday, April 19, 2012

My last springtime adventure in imaginary shopping is the "how to experiment with a fashion color" question.  I'm totally smitten with this striped top, and my desire for it would be sufficient to convince me to introduce pink into my wardrobe for six months or a year - however long the top lasts.

Here is a case in which I would NOT spend a lot of money on jewelry, and I would buy a decent pair of shoes or sandals, but not a long-term investment pair.  This small shopping spree is designed to brighten up my wardrobe for spring, indulge in a garment which I love, and participate in the "brightly colored pants" trend, without breaking the bank.

Tee shirt – J. Crew, cropped pants – Diane von Furstenberg, pink earringsTarina Tarantino, sandals – Betsey Johnson

These are the basic spring and summer garments that I'm going to use to leverage my purchases:

And this is how I'm going to use my purchases.  For a short-term treat like this, I would expect that I'd be wearing both new garments AT LEAST once a week through the spring and summer...

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Today, I've scaled back my purchases a little bit, and chosen to "buy" a more trendy color - cobalt blue.  I loved cobalt when we all wore it back in the 80's, and am happy to see it back again.  But I'm not willing to make quite such a major investment in blue as I was willing to consider yesterday in my imaginary red extravaganza...

So I would look to purchase the following:
Cardigan – J. Crew, tee shirt – DKNY, pants – Piazza Sempione, skirt – Diane von Furstenberg, scarf – Givenchy for Liberty of London, lapis earrings – Astley Clarke, lapis & onyx bracelet - Nordstrom

Based on the idea that I want to leverage these core wardrobe items:

 And this is how I would wear my new purchases!

While I wouldn't expect the garments to last more than 5 or 6 years, (and considerably less than that, in the case of a tee shirt) a I would be counting on keeping the jewelry and the scarf pretty much forever.  So if I have to choose between splurging a bit on clothes, or splurging on the accessories, the accessories are definitely going to win!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

I'm not shopping these days, but I do LOOK at lots of things (as you well know!).  So I decided to do some imaginary shopping; sort of walking through the process of what I would do IF I were in a shopping phase of my life.  

First up:  What basics do I already have in my wardrobe that I wear a lot, and want to use as a basis for leveraging my purchases?

Now, what do I want?  I've chosen to splurge on red this shopping spree.  It's an on-trend bright color, but it's dead classic, and never goes out of style.  It's a color I wear well, I already have a couple of beautiful scarves with a lot of red in them, and it mixes brilliantly with black.  

So... a cardigan and a tee shirt (sort of a twinset), a summery top, a pair of pants, a killer dress... 

And the add-ons: a "top accessory" (i.e. something above the waist), and a pair of shoes.  These are, for me, essential, because if I'm wearing the red pants with a black top, I want something red above the waist to tie the whole outfit together.  (yes, a scarf will do this, but in the hot weather, I want an additional option to scarves)  Similarly, if I'm wearing a red sweater and a pair of black pants, red ballet flats will make it look as if the red was a deliberate choice as part of an ensemble, and not just the only clean top in the closet! 

Red cardigan – Very Eickhoff, red tee shirt – Sandro, red sleeveless top with dotted trim –  Love Moschino,  red pants – DKNY,  sleeveless dress – DKNY, garnet stud earrings – Macy’s, ballet flats - Repetto

And now, the most important step of all: HOW will I integrate my purchases into my existing wardrobe?  I do this BEFORE I ever set foot in a store; before my credit card ever sees the light of day.  If I can't wear a new item at LEAST four or five different ways, it's not coming home with me...

Monday, April 16, 2012

Come visit me at A Femme d'un Certain Age, where I'm exploring the possibilities of what to take for an "April in Paris" 2nd honeymoon.  Navy, green, and springtime!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

This is the last iteration of the original "honeymoon" packing theme that I started over a week ago. But in the next few days, I'm going to do some imaginary shopping, I've got a chic sighting to share, and then I'm going to tackle a "second honeymoon in Paris" theme, which will have a slightly greater focus on neutral colors and modest silhouettes!

Brown cardigan – Aviu, turquoise earrings - Debenhams, white tee – Michael Stars, Scarf – Hermes, turquoise coat – Paul Smith, brown pants – Maxmara, penny loafers – J. Crew, brown bag – Christopher Kon

sunglasses – Modcloth, brown & turquoise woven clutch – Miu Miu, gold hoop earrings – J. C. Penney, turquoise striped top – Full Tilt, turquoise chandelier earrings – Aurelie Bidermann, white short-sleeved button-front top – Kookai, printed dress – J.C. Penney, brown tee – Oasis, turquoise cardigan – FTC, khaki capris – Levi’s, striped skirt – Vionnet, lace top – Dorothy Perkins, brown dress – Bailey 44, turquoise linen tee – Caypso St. Barth, brown ballet flats – Banana Republic, gold sandals – Vaneli, turquoise bracelet – Fantasy Jewelry Box, brown sandals – Madrone


Saturday, April 14, 2012

It's the color of the year!  But you can still wear it and look more elegant than trendy...

And I know that I said today would be the last iteration of this travel package, but someone asked me to try on turquoise, so tomorrow is brown and turquoise.  It's going to be beautiful!

Brown cardigan – Aviu, gold heart earrings – Alex and Chloe, white tee – Michael Stars, Scarf – Hermes, orange jacket – Creenstone, brown pants – Maxmara, penny loafers – J. Crew, brown bag – Christopher Kon

sunglasses – Miso, orange clutch - Tiffany, gold hoop earrings – J. C. Penney, orange striped top – J. Crew, flower earrings – J. C. Penney, white short-sleeved button-front top – Kookai, flowered dress – Priestley’s Vintage, orange tee – Oasis, orange cotton cardigan – Modstrom, khaki capris – Levi’s, flowered skirt – Vanessa Bruno, lace top – Dorothy Perkins, brown dress – Bailey 44, coral tee shirt – Eddie Bauer, coral wristlet – Dorothy Perkins, brown ballet flats – Banana Republic, gold sandals – Vaneli, coral bracelet – Ans, brown sandals – Madrone

Friday, April 13, 2012

Still evolving the same packing which started with my honeymoon, I'm now thinking of a trip where you're leaving a cooler climate (maybe early autumn in northern climes) and heading south.  Brown keeps your grounded in the September or October mood, but still lots of soft coral colors to enjoy your vacation destination!

Tomorrow is the last installment of this particular theme and variations; I'll be using the color of the year - tangerine!!!  (the identifying of annual colors always makes me laugh...)

Brown cardigan – Aviu, gold heart earrings – Alex and Chloe, white tee – Michael Stars, Scarf – Hermes, Coral jacket – H&M, brown pants – Maxmara, penny loafers – J. Crew, brown bag – Christopher Kon

sunglasses – Acne, pearl earrings – Kate Spade, coral chandelier earrings – Lauren by Ralph Lauren, coral striped top –, white short-sleeved button-front top – Kookai, flowered dress – Josephine, brown tee – Hanes, coral cotton cardigan – Uniqlo, pearl bracelet – Kate Spade, khaki capris – Levi’s, flowered skirt – Josephine Studio, lace top – Dorothy Perkins, brown dress – Bailey 44, coral tee shirt – Eddie Bauer, coral wristlet – Dorothy Perkins, brown ballet flats – Banana Republic, gold sandals – Vaneli, coral bracelet – Ans, brown sandals – Madrone