Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Building a Capsule Wardrobe by Starting with Art: Are you More Calder or Mondrian?

Many readers send me art to consider for the inspiration for a wardrobe - thanks a lot!  Send me any inspirations you have... 

MANY people choose Calder or Mondrian as their favorites, and I initially thought that I could put together one wardrobe that would accommodate both art preferences.  For example, here are two works of art which are typical of the suggestions that I receive.

Moonlight in a Gust of Wind – Alexander Calder, Trafalgar Square - Mondrian

Obviously, both of these works of art suggested this color scheme - clearly you can see the appeal of these clean, clear, and vivid hues.


I first hit a hitch when I was thinking about the initial garment in the wardrobe.  A white shirt seemed obvious - but soft and graceful silk, or a crispy cotton?  The silk is very fitting for the sweeping curves of the Calder, but the Mondrian called for angular structure...  It was a quick lesson - there's more than color involved in working with art as an inspiration!

Lace shirt – Chloe (mytheresa), cotton shirt – Closed (mytheresa)

My second favorite garment - a tee shirt - posed the same question.  I had a world of choices for a red tee shirt - did I want a draped and fluid wrap top, or a clean-lined v-neck cotton tee?

Wrap top -  A. Friend, tee shirt - Target

So I decided to just pursue the question of the contrast between the two styles, in a representative sample of garments.  Please note that these garments aren't really going to put together a wardrobe per se, but are more chosen to illustrate the subtle kinds of detailing and difference that can make all of the difference between a garment you love and a garment that just doesn't feel right...

Floral tee – Isabel Marant Etoile, striped tee – Laurence Dolige

Blouse – Uttam, cotton shirt – Hugo

This is a subtle difference...

Short denim dress – Raw Correct Line, denim shirtdressEach x Other

Cables are so curvy, and color-blocking is so OBVIOUSLY Mondrian, isn't it?  

Cabled sweater – Ralph Lauren Black Label, color blocked turtleneck – Atto
 Draped softness, or contrast trim menswear?

Pearl grey cardigan – Theory, charcoal cardigan  - Closed

This second dress is pretty much a direct Mondrian rip-off...

Floral dress – Dolce and Gabbana, sleeveless dress – Herve Leger
Wool or leather?

 
Wool skirt – Hobbs London, leather skirt – Drome
Gentle pleats or a crisp wrap?

Gathered skirt – Dsquared2, single pleat skirt – Kenzo


Rounded prints and shapes, or squares and angles?
Black rounded satchel – LP Blue, cotton scarf – Jil Sander,  
wool scarf – By Malene Birger, black square satchel – Rebecca Minkoff
Pompoms vs angular quilting, round vs linear, floral vs braided...

Fluffy trimmed ballet – Kudeta, signet ring – Tiffany, drop pearl earrings –
 Nikki Baker, floral bracelet – Priyo Salim,  
quilted flats – Geox, stone ring – Burcu Okut
pearl frame earrings – Yael and Tal, braided cuff – Achara


Of course, seeing the difference between these two style subtleties doesn't really answer the question of which you prefer.  I could easily make a case that I should wear Calder, because it echoes the roundness and curviness of my body, my hair, and my face shape.  BUT...  There's also the school of thought that I should wear things that are more angular in order to counterbalance the pronounced roundness and fluidity of my appearance.  Personal preference?

love,
Janice

STYLEBOP.com

40 comments:

  1. Wow! This study is utterly fascinating. I would have thought, at first glance, that the vibe was the same. Not so, as your incredible work shows. I've learned I'm a Calder, not a Mondrian.

    I'd love to see what you could create with Kafinsky or Klimpt!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Extremely interesting!!! I found myself leaning towards Calder. I too would love to see a Klimt theory!

    ReplyDelete
  3. I love your capsules, but please show clothes on people! I have no idea how half of these scarves are supposed to actually be used in the outfit. Flat clothes are flat how will the outfit look on a human being? Please show some practical application and not a catalog.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think this question was adressed before: if I remember correctly, showing them as is, means Janice doesn't have to look for the exact combination on a person, nor does she have to fiddle with chopping this blouse and photoshopping it onto these trousers. Plus, not all readers have the same bodyshape. So doing it like this is more inclusive than exclusive.
      There are lots of tutorils about, on how to tie scarves. You may want to check the archives.

      Delete
    2. But how the outfit would look on "a human being" (especially one suited to modeling clothes) is NOT how the outfit is going to look on ME. Most of these posts are for sheer inspiration and brainstorming, not so I can click through and buy the outfit. I definitely appreciate that Janice shows clothes in the abstract; plenty of other blogs show more practical what-I-wore-today applications, but I don't find those nearly as useful or educational as this blog is, day after day.

      Delete
    3. Well said. Janice's thought-provoking posts cumulate over time into a total re-thinking of dressing and shopping habits.

      Delete
  4. Love this. A great lesson that can be applied to any favorite artist.

    ReplyDelete
  5. It's always fascinating, Janice, to hear your thought process. There's such an education here about line and texture and drape; you've taught me that color, which used to preoccupy me, is only the starting point.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I have a split personality on this one!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I do also..I thought I would be Mondrian all the way, but found that I also loved the fluid tops of some of the Calder choices.....

      Delete
    2. Me too. I I love the bold, clean lines of Mondrian and in my clothes I avoid any kind of frills, but I like a combination of fluidity and structure. By the way, I once heard that Mondrian painted in a suit and tie!

      Delete
    3. Mostly Mondrian with a modicum of Calder for good measure. FWIW even as a young woman did I ever look good in frilly, ruffled clothes.

      Delete
    4. Mostly Mondrian with a modicum of Calder for good measure. FWIW even as a young woman did I ever look good in frilly, ruffled clothes.

      Delete
  7. I think go with your body shape rather than against it. I've heard the counterbalance theory before, but I have a rather angular face and whenever I try rounded glasses, all they do is draw attention to how soft my facial features *aren't*

    ReplyDelete
  8. This was an easy choice for me--Mondrian all the way!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Utterly fascinating!! Now I know why blouses with ruffles feel uncomfortable, regardless of their fit. I'm a Mondrian!

    ReplyDelete
  10. I am a firm believer in following your body lines rather than trying to counterbalance them. I am a full-busted x shape and the crisp button up shirt just does not work on me at all. However, a fluid, silk button up blouse does.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Thanks Anonymous for the comment about the body lines and your experience with glasses. I've been contemplating that question and I think I have been doing the counterbalance thing for a long time and always feeling awkward. Now I'm starting to follow body lines and it works.

    Grasshopper--thanks for your reinforcement of the concept as well.

    ReplyDelete
  12. This post is so clever! You make the difference between the two so clear - and I am Mondrian in shape and style all the way (although, no bright colors for me)!

    ReplyDelete
  13. Brilliant post with fascinating illustrations to demonstrate the point. I'm team Mondrian - not just in clothing but even in home decor.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Interesting. Just realized that i dress more Mondrian, but my house is totally Calder. Maybe public personality and private? even more food for thought. thanks.

      Delete
  14. Apparently, I'm a Calder. Until the accessories - then I switch to team Mondrian. Who knew? Absolutely fascinating post.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Thanks for all you do. Its inspiring. Amazing talent at combining clothes and attaining a classic and still feminine look as well as comfortable. Its a challenge that you meet in so many ways.

    ReplyDelete
  16. This is just incredible! Such a brilliant illustration of how line and shape affect our choices. Thank you SO much, Janice, for all the time, effort and skill that you put into each of these amazingly instructive posts. I've learned more about wardrobe planning from you in the past year, than in all my previous 54 years, put together!

    ReplyDelete
  17. This is a fascinating new way to think about style choices! I feel like I am looking with new eyes - the paintings and furnishings in my rooms are either rounded and soft or have straight lines with lots of texture to them - like the clothes I just learned I prefer! Thank you for the lesson and new perspective!

    ReplyDelete
  18. You just totally explained why I have some beautiful clothes hanging in my closet that I don't wear! They all fall in the Mondrian category. They seem like they should work, but now I know why they don't.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Great post! It looks like I am a Mondrian, though occasionally might make a "Calderian" choice. I tend toward classic, tailored, clean lines in my clothes. This was very interesting and will be of help when I think about future clothing choices. Thanks for making me think about why I choose as I do.

    ReplyDelete
  20. This was an excellent tutorial on the nuances of clothing selection. It tells me why I love certain garments so much and why I just don't wear some others. I am about to go weeding in my closet and this will be very helpful. Thanks, Janice!

    ReplyDelete
  21. I enjoy your "start with art" capsules, as well as your commentary on your thought processes. I was elated to see that you selected an art piece with more colour, I am not one of your "classically neutral" ladies...I love colour and pattern and "fun" styles. It seems as I have gotten older and out of the corporate work world I feel freer to express my sparkly ( so I've been told) personality! I have always admired the elegant woman who looks poised and finished in her classically neutral pieces, but alas, I am not one of them...I would be interested to see your classic spin on the colourful works by painter Juan Romero (Fernandez). One of the challenges of dressing with colour and pattern is to not look cheap or tacky, or too inappropriately youthful. Your careful thinking and skillful editorial eye would be appreciated on this!

    ReplyDelete
  22. Such a brilliant post! Yes, color, line and shape, all equally important (not to mention texture and sheen...). I have a challange for you, Janice, how would you combine delicately angular with strongly rounded? I happen to need to balance them both, and also classic lines with liveliness and some creative expression : ) -- preferably in bright and vivid colors with dark neutrals as the base!

    ReplyDelete
  23. I think your personality also a role with this. A person may be round and curvy in physical presentation but they can be "angular" in how they move, think and relate to others.

    ReplyDelete
  24. Janice,
    Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! This was a fabulous post. I have struggled for years trying to put good wardrobe capsules together, and have some success with groupings by color, but this post was SO helpful, because it showed the differences between flowing soft textures, curing and graceful lines, and angular, graphic and straight textures and lines. This post really illustrated why I haven't always been successful in putting my capsules together - I was mixing/matching the wrong "vibes" - no wonder why my groupings didn't quite work together...

    Thank you for all of your hard work and thought you put into your posts for the first time in my 50+ years, I am finally starting to understand how fashion works!

    ReplyDelete
  25. Really interesting - and very true!
    For fun with art, love this TED talk by a popular Swiss comedian (in English) - the Mondrian reminded me -
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=57eeP31s-Rs

    ReplyDelete
  26. Boy, have you touched a nerve! just look at all the comments.

    I first said "Mondrian, of course", but then I really looked at the art and the Calder really spoke to me, as did many of the "Calder garments". Then I realized that i mostly wear Mondrian, but long to wear Calder. Perhaps i need to break out a bit more - take more chances? Maybe i need to put on my big girl pants and go bolder? maybe it's because i'm a Gemini and i'm letting my Mondrian side dominate? Much tasty food for thought. Thanks a lot!

    ReplyDelete
  27. What a fascintating post! It is all in the details, isn't it? I'm pretty much Calder all the way, myself and I think the shapes suit my body as well - I'm a plump hourglass, not an athletic type who'd suit the angular, sporty inspired clothing. The exception is that pencil skirt which I'd wear as well as the more flowing Calder option.

    ReplyDelete
  28. Janice, this is awesome! My brain is definitely Mondrian but my body is obviously Calder! Luckily, I love both artists. LOL!

    ReplyDelete
  29. Calder all the way for me!

    ReplyDelete
  30. I am blown away by your astute sense and ability to dissect the mood of the art to clothing. I have to say it again, pure genius. Gosh darn, do we have to choose?

    ReplyDelete