Monday, November 10, 2014

Building a Capsule Wardrobe by Starting with Art: Are you More Renoir or Laurencin?

Two of my favorite artists, and two subtly different approaches to the feeling of romance and femininity. Renoir is very traditionally (late 19th century) soft, ruffly, dainty floraly kind of feminine.  Laurencin, very much like Chanel who is the subject of this painting, gives us a little bit sleeker vision of womanly grace and beauty.

The Umbrella – Renoir,  Portrait of Mademoiselle Chanel – Marie Laurencin

How do these subtle differences translate into your personal style - your choices of accessories and garments? Both are beautiful and appealing, but there are substantial differences, if we study the paintings long enough. These were some of my thoughts:

For jewelry, Renoir art gives me the feeling of delicate, carefully jeweled pieces with a lot of detail, and a bit of sparkle.  Laurencin suggested to me something more simple, relying on the lustre of the stone, and the curving graceful lines of the setting.  I pictured it like this:

Marcasite and pearl earrings – Judith Jack,  silver link bracelet – Judith Jack,  
pearl and marcasite brooch – John Lewis, pearl drop earrings – Ralph Lauren
gold and pearl bracelet – Majorica, clover brooch – Chanel

Either of these looks suggests a beautiful pink blouse, but the Renoir woman has the floral pattern right IN the fabric of the blouse, while the Laurencin is a sleeker top with ornaments carefully scatter about the fabric.  Renoir woman's earrings have sparkly settings of tiny stones, while the Laurencin lady's earring is more smoothly rounded. And Madame Renoir carries a bag of lacy delicacy, while Lady Laurencin's bag is equally feminine, but is a simple bag with the single, exceptional ornament attached to the bag.

Pink printed blouse – Julien David,  grey moonstone earrings – Kalan
black perforated clutch – Artessorio, pink embellished blouse – Sharon Wauchob
yellow and white gold earrings – Lauren Ralph Lauren
engraved plaque clutch bag – Dareen Hakim

A Renoir-esque necklace is a feast of strands, stones, and a bit of overstatement, while the Laurencin-inspired necklace is all subtle, glossy simplicity.  Renoir skirts have ruffles, while Laurencin skirts have a shimmer and low-key gradiation of color.  And of COURSE, Renoir would suggest a lacy flat, while Laurencin's has just a touch of a luminous toe cap to give it some lady-like appeal.

Onyx and silver necklace – Alexis Bittar, tulle ruffled skirt – Redvalentino
black lace ballet flats – Gianvito Rossi, lucite link necklace – Alexis Bittar
cap-toe ballet flats – Lanvin, charcoal ombre sequin skirt – Mint Velvet

Madame Renoir's scarf choices are distinctly floral, and her otherwise modern watch will CERTAINLY have some diamond trim!  Lady Laurencin's scarves are a bit more modern, but still softly flattering, and her watch has a sculptural appeal complemented by the beautiful rose face.

Floral linen scarf – Brooks Brothers, diamond bezel watch – Movado,  
Fleurs et Papillons de Tissus silk scarf – Hermes, color-blocked scarf – 
Simply Vera Vera Wang, pink bangle watch – Movado, Petit Duc silk scarf - Hermes

You wouldn't necessarily wear more than one or two of these pieces at a time, but once you've clearly defined what feminine, lady-like, delicate or pretty means to you PERSONALLY, your choices become clearer.  Find what makes you happy, and commit to it!

Beara Beara


  1. Both versions are stunning! But I seem to fall solidly in the Renoir camp, stylistically and by what's most flattering on my body type.

  2. Mrs Laurencin here.

  3. This is so helpful. I am Laurencin all the way, and find it hard to articulate that style. Now I know how.

  4. A brilliant post, Janice, revealing two distinctly different kinds of romantic wardrobe-making. You had me at the Laurencinesque pearl drop earrings...

  5. Agree with the Unknown Ms Laurencin. You've defined my unconscious preferences and leanings. Now I can be more purposeful with my purchases.

  6. Neither artist is among my faves (I know you love Laurencin). You gave Laurencin nicer stuff!

    1. I didn't thinking so; the Hermes scarf I most admire right now is the Renoir one, and I love Judith Jack jewelry... but you're right, Laurence is a top 5 artist with me for sure! Any other artist comparisons you can suggest? I know you have good taste...

  7. I am firmly a Laurecin, however, I'm choosing the scarf and some of the jewellery from the other side. I like sleek, simple, clean lines. However, the scarves and jewellery you choose are very "large" with large print and "bold" for the purse and jewellery. I think of Eileen Fisher as Laurencin, which if I could afford I would wear. I am a short person with coloring and features that cannot carry the bold and large images and accents but I also cannot carry the busyness of either the Renoir or the Laurencin shirt so I would say neither in my case for the shirt. Either that or I am just that much more conservative in my wardrobe choices.

  8. I am I choose Do we really have to choose? Both paintings, and all the clothing and jewelry are lovely. I would wear from either side.

  9. Oh dear, I think I have identity issues. I like both of them, but probably lean more to Laurencin.

  10. I prefer the renoir, which is odd, as my clothes are simple and modern. I think it's because of the beautiful textures and delicacy of your Renoir selection. Some of the items might contrast well with minimalist pieces. Food for thought! (more of these posts, please!)

  11. I like Renoir silver from the first picture and Laurencin watch and scarves from the last. Renoir skirt in your option is too short and in my opinion not his style. I like what you do and I am waking every morning with your posts. Just continue. All the best from Maja (Belgrade, Serbia)

  12. The Laurencin wardrobe with the Renoir jewelry. I prefer the cleaner lines, but would let the accessories to the work of adorning.

  13. Oh, what a helpful post! I hadn't thought at all of looking at things this way, though I have already been learning how to distill what suits my style from the overall philosophy policy of your posts, even when the actual items are not "me". (Of course, many of them are just totally covetable.....).

    I am Laurencin all the way. I didn't really think your choices were inherently "nicer" for Laurencin; and I found the style directions clear enough - obviously, print size etc is determined by one's own body size and the scale of what one feels comfortable with. (But I confess, I still struggle sometimes with choosing something that would suit MY style rather than picking things that would look superb on one or other of my stylish sisters!)

  14. Ha, this is great, how I love this post! Personally, I would love to see more posts about this kind of stylistic details. For me, the subject of colour combinations has been sufficiently treated, though I always leave your blog with some new idea or inspiration.
    Thanks and greetings,

  15. This is a fantastic post! I'd love for you to do more posts like this. (I'm definitely more Laurencin)