Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Building a Capsule Wardrobe by Starting with Art:The Libyan Sibyl by Michelangelo

The Libyan Sibyl - Michelangelo
The Libyan Sibyl - Michelangelo

I am often asked to consider basing a wardrobe or a travel capsule on this most lovely of Michelangelo's works, and I have to admit that I find her sort of intimidating! The unusual color combinations, as well as the overall strength and power of her image are so striking that my brain goes a bit blank after studying her for a while.  

Let me quote, at length, the excellent www.moodbook.com site's description of her:

"The Libica, or Libyan Sibyl brings pre-Christian prophecy to a close. With a graceful movement, displaying her lovely shoulders, her foreshortened arms, and the lowered profile of her fine head with its gold tresses, she lays aside the open book as if about to close it. It is a large and cumbersome volume which might well contain all former prophecies. The splendid and superbly gowned figure is extremely colourful; gold tints prevail in her dress lined with salmon pink: the gold of wisdom, the only certain kind of knowledge.  Here as elsewhere, one marvels at the extraordinary effects obtained with the cold, flat technique of alfresco painting, which had none of the advantages and material possibilities of oil.  This figure is that of a noble lady rather than a prophetess, the opposite and counterpart of the gloomy Jeremiah. A faint smile lighten her otherwise remote air."

Well okay! But let us plunge into our project - first, isolate some of the unique colors:

                       The Libyan Sibyl - Michelangelo, with key pastel colors graphic

And now, some outfits!  Grey and a strong salmon/orange give us some options:

orange and grey outfits
tee shirt – Gucci, cardigan – Vince, trousers – Dondup, loafers – Aerosoles, tee shirt – Humanoid,earrings- Vivien Frank Designs, capris Dsquared2, silver sandals – Propet

And grey with the silvery lavender pink is another choice:

pink and grey outfits
raw crystal earrings – Noemiah, dress- Almari, sandals – Aerosoles, blush lace top –Dorothy Perkins, grey shorts – Dorothy Perkins, bag – Rebecca Minkoff,canvas shoes – Vans

And to "flesh out" this travel pack, a couple more neutral grey pieces, and accent tee shirts in the strong gold and the retiring spring green...

garments in shades taken from The Libyan Sibyl by Michelangelo
linen blouse – Humanoid, twill skirt – Dash, gold tee shirt- Gentryportofino, infinity scarf – Halogen, mint tee shirt – Bench Sixfive

It's an eclectic wardrobe, but still has a unifying feel, I think.
Travel capsule wardrobe in colors taken from The Libyan Sibyl by Michelangelo

And you have plenty of ways in which these pieces combine to give you travel (or summer) variety.

eight outfits taken from colors in The Libyan Sibyl by Michelangelo

I might look for a pair of orange earrings?  or a solid green scarf?

Looking back:

2011  - I think about the meaning of the phrase Coup de Coeur,and how we should pursue that feeling when we're shopping.

2013 - My progress with Project 333, back in the days when I was working in an office, are shown in Project 333: Another week, with travel, work and the gym.

DesignPass Timeless Interiors


  1. I try to guess which colours you pull out for a Start With Art post, and thought for sure you woud've gone with a light blue or something close to mint or light turquoise. Orange is tricky, but very interesting...

  2. This is stunning. I have an orange pencil skirt, and I will take see what I can come up with this morning.

  3. I'm not seeing that green in the painting at all. Love the combos, though.

  4. Oh my. There is no other word but stunning. You are the Michelangelo of clothing blogsters.

  5. The moodbook site is great. Grazie.

  6. Very interesting combos, but i don't see the green either. And there's a whole lot of beige that didn't show up in the clothing.

  7. Coincidence - I was just reading about the Sistine Chapel paintings, amazing background story. Apparently Michelangelo based the female figures on young male models then stuck on the heads and breasts, that's why they're so muscley. Anyway, your combinations are wonderful, I wouldn't know where to begin with such a complex painting.

  8. I do love this!! My favorite colors and one of my favorite artists though do take a look at Vuillard's paintings! The green, I believe is in the table cloth behind the figure.

  9. Clearly I live a casual, low-brow, rough and tumble life. Instead of focusing on the nuances of the woman and reflecting on how lifting the book is symbolic of the putting away of old prophecies, I kept looking at the little boys. In my viewing of the painting, I can hear the foremost boy whispering, "Knock if off! Mom's going to bust us." Or perhaps I was just overhearing my own sons.

    Love the outfits. They look like something a mom of rough and tumble boys would wear. As Gail said, "You are the Michelangelo of clothing blogsters."

  10. One of my favorite segments of art in The Sistine Chapel!! Ahhh Michaelangelo!
    Beautiful color palette!

    The Arts by Karena

  11. You have done a wonderful job here. I love these colors and your interpretation is spot on. This is definitely a color palette I would happily wear.

  12. I found this to be so inspiring...you have me thinking of these colors now! Thanks Janice!

  13. I notice you often use items from the UK. Do you order from there as well, or is that just to include international readers. I was wondering, if you order from UK companies, have you had trouble with shipping or extra fees, and what are returns like?

    1. I occasionally order from the UK or France, after very careful deliberation! Usually I order from companies that cover all of the import fees, which helps a lot. I don't know about returns - I'm quite sure they would be expensive... A lot of the time, I will include images of clothes that feel like the right thing for what I'm working on, and I don't worry a lot about origins - I'm more interested in the quality of the photograph, and the "rightness" of the garment.

  14. Absolutely love this. The mix of bright, light and soft colors is spot on, and the outfits feel casual, young and well put together. I'm taking this and pulling from my closet this afternoon!

  15. Truly lovely. That would be a cheerful, happy wardrobe to wear!

  16. Wow, you are talented! The colours you pick would be lovely on a 'spring' or 'warm summer' from the traditional colour descriptions - a strawberry blonde with green eyes would be ideal. Not my colours, but I do like the clothes.

  17. What great colours! I am transitioning with hair colour and was afraid that I would have to give up my orange clothing but I could just soften it a bit with the grey, salmon or soft green. How inspirational! Merci!

  18. I have been studying this post quite carefully! I particularly like the mix of colors and the fact that it does not add layers to add interest. I live in the south and can tell you that most of us don't layer from May to October! I will be traveling to South American this summer and plan on using this as a guide for what to pack. I will be "shopping my closet" for most things. I already have the grey shorts, grey pants, green, orange and grey striped t-shirts. I will be picking out a few new things - adding some black and more technical fabrics (wicking, anti-microbial, sun protection, etc). It is amazing what fabrics are out there now to make travel easy and look less like Indian Jones! Thanks so much for the inspiration!

  19. Way nicer than the "Ma Wardrobe". Trust yourself.