Saturday, August 31, 2013

Once upon a time, I was sitting in the lobby of a temp agency, and overheard a conversation between a very well-qualified applicant and the employment consultant who was about to send the applicant out for an interview.

"Why are the legs of your trousers safety-pinned?"
"I want to wear these pants later with high-heels..."
"Go home and change; I'll try to reschedule your interview."

Was everybody dying to know how I was going to handle the letter X?  I've sort of cobbled together a word which is the opposite of xenophobic - frightened of unfamiliar people, places or things.  Chic should have about it some sense of embracing the unusual, the different, and the just plain weird.  Not necessarily going to work dressed like a Samurai from the 16th Century (although there used to be a guy in downtown Chicago who wore a Samurai outfit!); maybe it's just the look in your eyes...

Costumes are never chic.

Attentive to detail.  Tidy, in good repair, well-brushed, and polished. 

Friday, August 30, 2013

What's your dream wardrobe?

Be specific. Imagine that the first cool fall day has arrived (if you're in the Northern Hemisphere), and that you open your closet/armoire/cupboard door and you see it: the Dream Wardrobe.

How many outfits?

What are they? A grey mini-skirt with a grey tunic sweater, grey tights, and silver flats? A simple black wool dress with an amazing paisley scarf and low-heeled black suede pumps? Dream specific dreams.

And then write them down, or draw them...

A dozen dream outfits - a general guideline
This is a rough outline of what mine would be, just to give you a sense of my process.

Now distill these various outfits down to their necessary component parts and pieces.

The garments necessary to construct your dream wardrobe
It may not necessarily be a huge pile of clothing

Now figure out what you already own...

What clothes do you need to build your dream wardrobe?
In this example, you're in a very good position for scarves and skirts, but you
want a new pair of pants, a dress, some flats, a cardigan, a necklace,
and one more tee shirt...

Your shopping list then looks like this:

A very simple autumn shopping list in pictures

For me, personally, my autumn purchase plan is the following:

six garments that make up my perfect autumn shopping list

At this point, I can take my clothing budget for the next three months, and shop and plan accordingly.

You may want more, or fewer, outfits. You may want a lot of jeans and very few skirts. This is your dream! But the more specific you can be, the more you can bring your dream closer to reality...


PS - If you need help creating your dream wardrobe, I've built a number of tools to help you plan your wardrobe which can be found on the Planning Documents page. These tools includes the Pantone Color Planner, Wardrobe Cost per wear calculator, 24-piece wardrobe worksheet, and more. They do cost a bit of money, but that helps me keep this website running.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

This looks really nifty, but it seems terribly small.  Or does it?
I think the hardest part of travelling is getting all of one's toiletries and personal care products sorted out and ready to roll. For years, I would pack a lot of things that I never used, or that I only used a little bit.  Finally, I decided that there had to be a better way.

So I got all of my products assembled and into their appropriate bags, and starting on the first of the month, I used NOTHING but what I had packed.  NOTHING.  In fact, I found that this was a particularly good opportunity to sort through all sort of cosmetics and other items that were... languishing... in my bathroom.

I found, after a few weeks, that I had been carrying enough shampoo with me, on every trip, to last at least a month.  I couldn't have used all of the moisturizer I had packed if I stayed away for 90 days.  Frankly, there was absolutely nothing in my bag that couldn't be minimized, pared back, cut down, or flat out eliminated.

So get things assembled, and start living from your luggage on September 1. See if you can learn something, and pack a little bit lighter in the future.
my liquids...

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Wednesday, August 28, 2013

All of these scarves, and scarves in FIFTY-ONE other colors, are available from Nordstrom
Back in the dark ages of the 80's, when I was in graduate school, I worked for a department store.  (very un-glamorous, I assure you).  This was back when department store inventories were NOT driven by individual "designer" boutiques; we had separate departments for suits, for sportswear, for formal wear etc.

For a while, I worked in the area which sold tee shirts, blouses, shirts and sweaters.  We carried at least a dozen styles at any point in time, depending on the season, and each style was available in a couple of dozen "cosmetic" colors.  In other words,  we always had tops available in every possible shade of coral, peach, plum, pink, berry, cherry, crimson, scarlet or whatever other lipstick-like color you could imagine.

And so, when someone had their colors "done", or if they just plain knew what their best lipstick and/or blush color was, they'd come to our department and match garments to be worn near their face to colors that they already KNEW were flattering to them - those of their preferred cosmetics.  It seems so obvious now...

For decades, I've not seen a store carry a wide range of colors in any item.  But right now, Nordstrom is carrying wool/cashmere wraps in 76 different colors.  Some of the colors have extraordinary names, and many of them are quite hard to distinguish one from the other.  

I think it's safe to say that if you buy a scarf that matches your favorite lipstick, you'll find that it looks good on you.  And these kinds of colors go with any neutral...


NORDSTROM - Choose 3 Free Samples with your Beauty Purchase

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

I saw a couple of these outfits late last winter, and then didn't see the color combination again until this week, where I spotted it a handful of times.  This is a great look to collect if yellow flatters you...

Sweater – Jules B., Shorts – Trussardi, sneakers – Superga , sweaterStella McCartney,  jeans – 7 for All Mankind,  earrings – Linnie McClarty  oxfords – BC Footwear

Sweater – Tom Scott,  cropped trousers – Moschino Cheap and Chicflats-Adrienne Papellearrings – Dorus Mhor, blouse – Chloe,  skirt – Marc Jacobscardigan – Miu Miu,  Bracelet – Eleanor Bolton 
Dress – L’Autre Chose,  scarf – Terracotta New York,  pumps – Nina, yellow sweater – Antonio Marras, skirtOpening Ceremony, sandals – Biala

What a fun capsule travel wardrobe this could be!

Monday, August 26, 2013

The travel outfit is always the most important decision when packing a tiny suitcase.  In the worst travel outcomes, you can be stuck wearing this outfit for a REALLY long time.  Even if everything goes perfectly, this is the outfit in which you arrive - your first impression at the branch office, or the hotel, or with the relatives.

As much as I adore textured and patterned cardigans, for the Four Pack, I'd stick with a solid-colored cardigan.  This amazingly beautiful sweater might get a lot of action, if the weather proves to be cool, and a solid makes it easier to coordinate other items.

Blouse – Monsoon,  earrings- Alexis Bittar  pants - Coast + Weber + Ahaus,
Cardigan – Givenchy ,  scarf – Have A Nice Day,  flats- French Sole
tote – Longchamps

Here's where decisions get difficult.  I'm building on the color of the cardigan, and my first choice was to include a dress which would look perfect under the sweater, if necessary.  The beige flats from my travel outfit could be worn with the dress, but I'm also going to include a pair of pumps in black - this trip has a definite business feel to it.

Knowing that I've got black pumps, and a tan cardigan, I started looking for a skirt that would fit into the theme, and then I picked up two solid-colored tops that echo the tan and the black.  This necklace includes both of my core colors as well as a hint of the grey from my travel pants. A solid scarf in yet ANOTHER shade of tan makes it clear that I do indeed intend to mix a number of shades of one color.

Black silk pulloverProenza Schouler,  necklace – Alexis Bittar,  skirt – Marc Jacobs,
  tunic- P.A.R.O.S.H.,  dress – Diane von Furstenberg, pumps – Sofft
wool and cashmere wrap - Nordstrom

 Now you have a variety of choices!  This doesn't exhaust the possibilities - you could certainly put either of the solid tops over the dress...

Shop Stuart Weitzman SS13 Flats


Saturday, August 24, 2013

State Street and Madison, yesterday afternoon.  She crossed again the light.  She fell. The oncoming car screeched to a halt to avoid hitting her.  And was promptly rear-ended by a bus...

She got up and walked away...

Friday, August 23, 2013

One of my very favorite readers recently asked me about packing with only four garments - which of course is entirely possible.  She also requested a variety of colors, rather than my usual four by four of one color. This is easily enough clothing for a 3 or four day trip - even longer, if you have laundry facilities available, and you could easily pack in a tote bag.  Keep the 2nd pair of shoes light and flat, add just a few accessories to keep things lively, and make sure you've whittled your toiletries down to the absolute necessary minimum.

Cardigan – Dear Cashmere, blouse – Isabel Marant, trousers –Dorothy Perkins, loafers- Rebecca Minkoff,, earrings – NightFox Jewelry, cashmere wrap – Nordstrom, watch – Skagen ,  tote – Lacambra
Necklace- JACCO ,  pants – Vionnet,  floral tee- J. Crew, flats – Kork-Ease,  wine tee shirt – Standard James Perse,  scarf – YuhOkano sweater – Rag and Bone

Thursday, August 22, 2013

cuff bracelet- Eina Ahluwalia

You've probably noticed by now that I show a LOT of accessories from the website  This is because (1) they have beautiful things! (2) they promote and support small designers and manufacturers of accessories, and (3) when we shop there, we have the opportunity to purchase items that won't ever be seen in a department store or other chain outlet; it's a chance to wear something truly uncommon and original.

Well, the people at Boticca have noticed how much I support them, and in return, they're offering all of us a 15% discount on anything we purchase before the end of August 2013.

Our discount code is VFILES15.  To redeem the code, all we have to do is enter the code at the checkout in the field 'I have a voucher code' below the shipping and the billing address.

I have all the autumn/winter clothes that I need, but I can always use another scarf...

scarf -  Rosemary Goodenough

or earrings....

earrings - Julia Failey

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

I've left the grey garments the same as the ones that I used with shades of green last week, in order to really emphasize the degree to which these outfits shift in their mood and appearance based on the accent color used.  Here again, we see a successful pairing of warm and cool colors!

Tee shirt – Dolce and Gabbanashorts- Emma Cook, earrings - Cynthia Jonessandals – Ferragamo, peach trousers – Ted Baker London, scarf- Terracotta New York,  loafers – Geox ,  silk top - Emporio Armani

Sweater – Maison Kitsunescarf -milleneufcentquatrevingt, cropped trousers – Moschino Cheap & Chicflats-Adrienne PapellSilk blouse – Equipment   skirt – Marc Jacobsnecklace- YooLacardigan – Miu Miu, pumps - Tsubo
Dress – Cacharelcardigan - Dorothy Perkinsbracelet - Hringa,  sandals - Splendidcardigan – Monsoon, canvas shoes - Keds, jeans - Monsoon, flats - Frye
And I noticed as I was pulling together these various looks - all of these garments, taken together, make a very lovely and rather versatile capsule wardrobe.  Yet another compelling reason to decide once and for all what your favorite "signature" motif or theme might be, and build upon it!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

navy tee shirt – Majestic , navy pleated top – Carven ,  navy capris- - Marni Edition, navy skirt – Miu Miu,  beige tee shirt – J. CrewTan pants- J. Crew, beige skirt – J. Crew, beige cardigan – J. CrewBlush tunic – Mango, tee shirt – J.Crew, cotton shirt – J. Crew,  jeans  - Textile Elizabeth and James

Scarf – Alva-Norge, scarf –Hermès, earrings-  Kasturjewels,  necklace – YooLa,  bracelet – Eina Ahluwalia, navy flats - Earth, beige flats – Elliott Lucca

Gold shard earrings- De Anna Kiernan,  Tee shirt – Max Mara, navy cardigan – Miu Miu, checked pants – Steven Alan, scarf – milleneufcentquatrevinftquatrewatch – Fossil, tote bag - Brahmin, loafers - Geox