Friday, January 24, 2014

Build a Capsule Wardrobe by Starting With a "Difficult" Scarf: Sepia and Light Grey

 One of my friends asked me specifically to suggest some ways to wear this scarf - Musique des Spheres, from Hermes. The scarf came out... at least 10 years ago? And thus is only available on the secondary market, but as you can clearly see, it's a stunner. There is NOT a pink patch in the upper left corner... I struggled to find the best image of this scarf I could, and this was what I found.

Identifying the adjectives that convey the aesthetic of this scarf is difficult - I had to think and study for quite a while. But I found that I kept coming back to the ideas of contrast (the clarity of the lines against the background), balanced with an overall sense of muted coloring (the scarf is not pure white, and the lines are NOT pure black), and a feeling of swirling grace and curvilinear fluidity, along with the clear-cut squares and parallel lines of the music staves. Basically, lots of lines...

Musique des Spheres Hermes scarf

So when I looked at jewelry, I was drawn to the ring, because of the tones of the pearl, and the contrast of the round and square elements. The bracelet has the same sort of greyish pearl feeling, with the strongly curving lines of the metal links. (and it's on sale!) The watch - muted contrast, a feeling of the parallel lines, and an overall delicacy that the scarf certainly demonstrates. Maybe it's just me, but the earrings look almost like treble clef symbols with pearls dangling! And the pearl necklace (YUM...) echoes the not quite black, almost sepia tone that's found here. Sometimes, I would just scroll through pages and pages of jewelry, with the scarf visible on one side of my computer, and the jewelry rolling by on the other, and just let me subconscious take over...

jewelry to wear with Musique des Spheres Hermes scarf
Hermes Musique des Spheres, ring – Delfina Delettrez, grey pearl and link
 bracelet – Slane, silver knot and pearl earrings – Majorica, baroque pearl
 necklace – Majorica, watch – Anne Klein

So when it came to choosing clothing to wear with this scarf, I sort of started from the same point of view that I adopted with the Maillons black and white scarf - let's look for some red!  But this red is muted, shadowed, toned down a notch or two, and the neutral with which it will be worn is something off to one side of stark black - either taupe or a deep grey...  (note the trim around the garnet earrings - parallel lines that curve, and small, delicate detail).

two outfits including maroon to wear with Hermes Musique des Spheres
Hermes Musique des Spheres, silk blouse – Marc Jacobs, taupe pants –  
Burberry Prorsum, bag – Ina Kent, flats – DKNY Active, garnet stud earrings –  
Blue Nile,  sweater – L.K.Bennett, skirt – Comme des Garcons Shirt Girl
ankle boots – Kurt Geiger

Blue, again, is a color to always consider, but as with the red, I was looking for a more subdued blue.  And the white is going to be softer, and closer to beige or ivory.  These earrings share the same general aesthetic with the red ones above - this type of earring could become a beautiful personal signature!  (and note the subtle rectangular jacquard pattern of the capri pants - little touches of linear detail everywhere...)

two outfits including slate blue to wear with Hermes Musique des Spheres
Hermes Musique des Spheres, cardigan – Prada Sport, twill pencil skirt – 
J. Crew,  clutch bag – Mondrina, pumps – Isaac Mizrahi New York, pearl stud 
earrings – David Yurman, jacquard pants – Chloe, tee shirt – James Perse
espadrilles – Balear Mania

Warm colors are always an option, and this is another case in which I looked for a more low-key, but still saturated, color.  Note that the curves on the handbag echo the violin, the green ring bears the parallel lines that recur in this work, and the tweedy pants are the same colors as the scarf...

two outfits including gold and green to wear with Hermes Musique des Spheres
Hermes Musique des Spheres, tee shirt – Aniye by Women, corduroy pants –
 Isabel Marant Etoile,  cross-body bag – Beara Beara, loafers – Rose Petals,
 green sweater – Authentic Original Vintage Style, ring – Elizabeth and James
tweed pants – Haider Ackermann, loafers – Bernardo

I always like to include a warm-weather outfit with scarves, even though your hair or your handbag might be your only wearing options!  This outfit is very basic, but reflects the only two colors in the scarf, and are a perfect platform for sandals with a touch of linear ornamentation, and a textured bag that comes pretty close to the line colors of the scarf.

And the tweed skirt... Lots of linear details, squared off, includes the two colors of the scarf.  This is a skirt which could be worn with any of the other blouses or tee shirts...  The knit of  the sweater has patches of clearly grid-like texture too...  And another pair of earrings - these with subtle facets - which combine the circular and the square motifs of your beautiful scarf.

Hermes Musique des Spheres, silk sleeveless top – Acne Studios,  linen shorts
 – Zenobia, flat sandals – Apepazza cross-body bag – Cole Haan, earrings –  
Judith Ripka, cabled sweater – Velvet, tweed skirt – Marc Jacobs, pumps – Trotters

You have a lot of options from these garments!

travel capsule wardrobe based on Hermes Musique des Spheres silk scarf

Bogs Footwear (Weyco)


  1. Ooh, that is gorgeous! Love those taupe ballerinas!


  2. Janice, I am in awe! Thank you so much for these fabulous suggestions, none of which would ever have occurred to me.

  3. This is gorgeous, and I love how you're explaining your train of thought. I have a lot of my own thinking to do. Thanks so much!!

  4. One of your best! Thank you for the beauty.

  5. I love the diversity and richness of colors. I learn so much and get such great ideas from you. Thank you!

  6. Beautiful. Just beautiful.

  7. A truly magisterial commentary, Janice! Love it!

  8. You never cease to surprise me. Simply beautiful.

  9. Thank you for taking the time to share your detailed thought process in the analysis and selection. I also think this scarf is best worn by a woman with compatible coloring of hair and skin, who has an elegant ballerina type figure and finely boned face.

  10. Very nice! As I spend more time studying and thinking about my wardrobe, I am finding that the overall look is most effective when all of the little details go together, such as color and shape. No longer can I look at any one neutral and say, "Oh, that would go with anything." Muted neutrals go with muted colors, strong neutrals with strong colors, etc. I also notice things like the shapes of collars and jacket bottoms. Rounded collars do not look as well with straight skirt lines as they do with a skirt with more swing. As an aside, I do so enjoy the days that you feature softer colors, as those look best on me. So much of what is available in the stores now is black, super-bright, or highly saturated.

  11. You are amazing! When I saw the picture of the scarf I did not expect to be so inspired. Beautiful choices

  12. I love the scarf, but I wonder how much of the effect is lost when it is worn tied (which I assume it would be). For instance, the line of the Beara Beara bag would not echo the lines of the violin on the scarf if that violin had, essentially, disappeared. I do see the value in using the scarf for inspiration only, but it does beg to be worn. This is an issue with many of my scarves, and I haven't yet worn them as super-hero capes, but that might be next!

  13. Janice,
    How simply beautiful! There is no way in the world I would have come up with anything like these....It is such a treat to come to your website and see the things you put together....

    (What about your days off?....)

  14. Not only do I love the subtle tonality you put together for this wardrobe, but I am sooo impressed with how you shared your thinking about design as you are putting the various garments and accessories together. I am inspired to take time to think about my own wardrobe and what pieces might fill in the spot you place the scarf and help visually tie together my clothing. Even though I am ostensibly an artist, I have not thought through all the design variables in what I wear... so I send you a large virtual bouquet of whatever flowers will suit your taste

  15. Your eye for color is truly masterful, and the subtleties of line and form you are introducing are really an enhancement to the way we think about clothes and accessories and their relationship to one another. Beautiful!

  16. JANICE - a special request if you have time. A PATRIOTIC PACKING LIST in red white and navy blue BUT with a twist ..... Key words : SOPHISTACATED SEXY - all examples elsewhere are cheesy or too casual.

  17. The thought process that you employ, just blows me away! I learn something new every day, even when the colors are ones that I would personally never use. You are such a fountain of knowledge and inspiration! Karmen