Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Starting From Scratch Step 9: A Skirt, and Essential Accompaniments

Somehow, one of the great mysteries of the internet, this post vanished, and was replaced in its entirety by a post from two years earlier! Happily, I have all of my images saved on my computer, and in the cloud, so I'm able to recreate the look of the original post. I think that my explanation will be much as it was, because I'm still working with essentially the same brain!

Any time you notice things that look complete bizarre or inexplicable here on The Vivienne Files, please send me a note: I can't check every post EVERY DAY, so your assistance is deeply appreciated!

Next step in the Starting From Scratch Wardrobe - you don't own a skirt or dress yet! A skirt is the more versatile of the two, because it can be worn with a variety of tops. Right now, we're going to find a top that's very much the same tone or color as your skirt, in order to give you a solid, unbroken vertical line and a somewhat "dress-like" look.

And matching dress shoes! With a moderate heel, and in a classic style though, please.

navy skirt - Hobbs London, blouse - Vince, pumps - Jimmy Choo

green shirt– Silvian Heach, navy blouse - Vince, navy wool cardigan – Miu Miubeige cardigan – Marellanavy silk tee – Theory, mint green
tee - 
Reisswhite silk blouse – Nic +Zoeyellow tee – Warehouse, yellow
sweater– Woolrich,  tan pants – Uniqlo flaired skirt - Hobbs London, 
navy trousers – Viyellanavy jeans – Uniqlo

tweed skirt - Marc Jacobs, cashmere sweater - Dear Cashmere, pumps - Trotters

lilac tee – Nougat London silver grey tee – Hallhubernavy cardigan – Dorothy Perkins
navy seed stitch cardigan – 
Joseph, grey cashmere cardigan – Jaeger, pink wrap blouse– Velvetwhite cotton shirt – Diane von Furstenberg,
pink short-sleeved shirt – Fenn Wright Manson,  grey tweed skirt - Marc Jacobs,
 lavender blouse– Marni Edition
 grey crew sweater - Dear Cashmerenavy trousers – Jacques Vert silver grey trousers –
Viyella,  grey jeans – Rebecca Taylor

brown skirt - Precis, brown back-buttoned blouse - Alberto Biani, brown pumps - Vaneli

blue blouse – Uniqloyellow top – Uniqlo tan marled cardigan – Junarosechocolate brown
fleece cardigan – 
L.L.Beanbrown cotton tee – Uniqlolight blue tee - Velvetbrown back-buttoned
 blouse - Alberto Biani,
 ivory silk blouse – Jaeger,  yellow floral blouse - Topshop brown
twill trousers - 
Lands’ End, beige pants – The Row, tweed skirt - Precis, Coat – Tomaso,
brown jeans – Viyella

tan skirt - Vicky Tiel, blouse - French Connection, suede wedges - French Sole

khaki tee - Targetolive cardigan – Merona khaki cashmere cardigan – La Garconne,
beige blouse - French Connection
olive tee – Shu Moriyamaturquoise angora sweater–
Roberto Collina,  turquoise silk blouse – Ralph Lauren Black Label, beige skirt - Vicky Tiel,
ivory silk blouse – Jaeger green tee shirt -  James Perse,  olive trousers – Isabel Marant Etoile,  skirt – Derek Lam,
tan trousers – Hallhuber
beige jeans – Morgan

black skirt - Joseph, black top - Hobbs London, black pumps - Trotters

black tee – Hallhubergrey cardigan - Mango black cotton and cashmere cardigan –
10 Crosby Derek Lam, vertical striped top – Malene Birger, white cotton shirt –Diane von
blue shirt - Uniqlo, black elbow sleeve sweater - Hobbs London, grey tee–
T by Alexander Wang, red blouse – Cutiegrey skirt – Diane von Furstenbergblack jeans – Current/Elliottgrey pleated trousers – Alberto Biani,
black skirt - Joseph, 
black linen trousers – Viyella

black skirt - French Connection, black top - Closet, black pumps - Sole Society

blue tee – Majestic Filaturescaramel tee – Hallhuber, coral tee shirt – Warehouse, black cardigan – Michael Michael Korscaramel
wool and cashmere cardigan – Customer Lovers
, black mandarin collar blouse
 - Closet, c
oral silk tunic – Equipment blue linen shirt –
Jaeger,  ivory silk top – Jaegercopper twill trousers – Lands’ Endblack trousers
Mint Velvetcaramel jeans – Toastblack jeans – R13,
black skirt - French Connection



  1. I was wondering when we would get to skirts!

    I agree that I always need that formal-but-not-party outfit -- but I usually choose a simple dress rather than a skirt. I'll give your version a bit of thought, though.

    BTW, I represent clients before the IRS -- and I happen to have an appointment with an examiner this morning! I'm wearing a dress and heels.

    LOVE this series.

  2. Thank you! I would wear any of those skirt and top combinations. I myself much prefer skirts to pants - they are so much more comfortable to me.

  3. It's ok to choose them in any of the neutral colours?

    1. Either of your neutrals, or one of your accent colors - the only requirement would be that the pieces work with the rest of your wardrobe, and that you have the right shoes...

  4. Well, you don't know me, but I never wear skirts or dresses either. I wore a silk pant suit to my son's wedding and my DIL thought I looked great. So an alternate to the skirt would be ... another pant in a neutral? Now you can say you "know" 2 people that never wear skirts. :)

    1. Absolutely - really nice trousers can always take the place of a skirt in this day and age, unless you're going to be someplace with a truly specific and strict dress code. I don't know of any, but I'm sure they still exist!

  5. Assignment complete Miss! I'm such a class creep! This is like having homework but it's the kind you'd rush home to do - not sure I ever had much of that! I've behaved with the skirt and the top, the shoes, mine were already low/mid heel so I've swapped your suggestion to a pair of flats for me which I do occasionally wear nipping to the shops etc. (I wouldn't wear them with the skirt outfit though). And finally my little cheat - another belt! I know I know, I am rubbish at keeping things to a minimum but I do have a genuine reason. One of the main things I dislike about skirts is that unlike trousers I feel tops absolutely have to be tucked in (unless it's a tight fitting one and mine aren't really) the problem with that for me is the 'puffy' gathered line where skirt waist meets top - it feels untidy - so I threw in an obi / thick waist belt and problem solved!

    1. I wear skirts with sweaters - no tucking on this torso!

  6. I've been wavering between two of your colour schemes and have just reached a decision. I will have one of them (black, white and grey neutrals) for autumn and winter plus the other one (navy, white and grey neutrals) for spring and summer - though my pink and purple accent colours will be a bit brighter. Sorted!

    In consultation with my two daughters, I wore a white trouser suit with a peach silk blouse to my oldest daughter's wedding, though I do wear skirts and dresses occasionally. Do I count as half a person, as I rarely wear skirts?

    1. Funny you say that Sue, as I was putting mine together, I kept looking at my yellow thinking, I like this now in July but I don't know how I feel about walking around in sunny yellow come December - so I think I am going to build two as well and try and reuse as much as possible the core items from the first in the second and change the accent colours!

    2. Sue - you are DEFINITELY a whole person! I'm fascinated to hear how frequently women can comfortably wear pants suits for formal occasions - thanks for sharing.

      And Charlie, don't discount the standout statement that a beautiful yellow cashmere or wool sweater can make in the dead of winter. If it's flattering to you, you could really look amazing!

  7. Do not own a skirt, and only three dresses - one winter and two summer. Would love to have more, but my post-menopausal body just does not seem to fit into anything that I like. But I keep looking, and I do believe that life would be easier with a skirt or two. I depend on dressier accessories to raise the level to "almost dress".

  8. Interesting feedback on skirts. . . I pretty much only wear skirts, except for exercise, some forms of house work, and camping. I wear all of my tops untucked. :)

    Yesterday my teenage daughter had a clothing meltdown, so I had her put all of her clothing on my bed. We sorted out things that don't fit, and don't work for her. Using the "start from scratch" methodology, I was able to determine that she has black, white and khaki as neutrals and magenta, fuchsia, and turquoise as accents, primarily. Her wardrobe is seriously lacking in pants, and she wanted one of those trendy long knit skirts. Armed with this information, we went shopping. It was really easy to pick out a skirt - even though it's a print, it has black, white, fuchsia and turquoise in it. Having done the color analysis cut down the decision making considerably. -- Carol in WA

    1. That was probably fun, and a good lesson for both of you!

    2. Karen - after we got through the meltdown it wasn't bad. :) My daughter loves color - frequently arranges things by color, for example - and reads over my shoulder when I read this blog. She enjoyed the paintings that turn into a wardrobe series. Pants are still a problem, and I think we're just going to have to go the mall, hit the anchor stores, and then go to everything in between. She has a certain casual style she's looking for, but her shape is completely different than mine is/was, and so I have no idea about brands for her. Plus, I've been on a pants boycott for a number of years. :) --Carol

  9. I almost never wear skirts but bought two black ones recently, a flared skirt like the Hobbs example you've shown and a mid calf tube skirt. Both "skirt" my thick calf issue because one flares out and draws the eye out and the other covers to the slimmer part of my calf. Maybe with your encouragement I might actually WEAR them...

  10. I find the feedback about skirts interesting as I am the opposite. With the exception of jeans I rarely wear pants and since I work in a professional office environment that does not allow jeans I wear a skirt or dress almost every work day. - I may wear a pair of pants to work once a month. I find skirts and dresses much more flattering and comfortable and since I have a short waist I don't usually tuck in my tops.

    1. So what dress styles work for you as a short waisted individual? I love the look of skirts and dresses on other people but have such a difficult time finding a good fit due to my short waisted figure.

    2. I'm super-short waisted, with high hips, so I wear dresses that are straight from my shoulders. I do NOT bother with trying to create the "illusion" of a waist, because it's not there, and I'm not trying to be something that I'm not. By the time I put on a scarf or necklace (and a big smile!), nobody's looking at by waist anyway...

  11. Skirts? Not for me unless they are ankle length and totally cover up these old, spider-veined, fat-calved, ankle-swelling, skin-cancer-removal-scarred legs. I know many women who do not wear skirts at all for similar reasons and for others of their own. I now own 4 skirts because I am trying to add them to my wardrobe. They are all long. Heels? No way and not for the past 20 years with these feet. My shoes are all about support and must be able to remain comfortable for hours of walking or standing. Most of the time, they need to be appropriate for the compression socks the doc says I need to wear daily (which I'm not very good about doing). Thanks to the 60's for taking us out of the time where girls and women were not allowed to wear pants at school or work. I remember those days of going to school as a little kid in a skirt and not being able to play at recess because of the stupid skirt. And wearing pants under the skirt when it was cold. And not being allowed to walk through the reception area of the dorm at college in pants of any kind. Fortunately, I chose a profession that did not require skirts to fit in. I always had the option of wearing skirts or pants or jeans. Choice is good.

    1. Choice is EVERYTHING. I remember pants under my dress for school, and it's not a happy memory... The whole key to The Vivienne Files approach to dressing is to figure out what's best for you, and run with it! We are unique beings, and should certain dress as such...

  12. Janice, I love the shoes with low to mid-heel heights that you've chosen for wearing with the skirts. They'll look delicious with the skirts but also be comfortable for standing and walking on those special occasions. Excellent tips here! And like the others, I'm very much enjoying this series. I'm hoping to do new capsule-building for summer (I'm in the southern hemisphere where summer seems a long way away) so will be referring to these posts a lot for inspiration, and to avoid overshopping.