Friday, February 28, 2014

So this is your dream:

From Mount Darling by Peter Simpson.  Yes, it's an oil painting!

And maybe this is your current reality:

photo: Associated Press

All the more reason you should consider shopping your dream, and at least wrapping your immediate self (i.e. your body) in the calm, soft, organic and tranquil colors of which you dream.

Start small - a simple silk tunic that can be worn with any pair of pants you own... This tunic, all on it's own, could raise your spirits for a few days!  Maybe some blue shoes, or a bag.  And your next pair of jeans could certainly be green rather than something more predictable and conformist...
From Mount Darling – Peter Simpson, tunicEmporio Armani, flats – Aerosoles, bag – Knights and Roses,  jeans - +People

So many shades of blue from which to choose - but you don't really have to choose!  Just as the sky blues all blend into beauty, in the same way you can combine shades of blue with the same overall "feel" into a harmonious whole.  And the sandy beige of the soil is an easy color to work with anything you already own, or plan to purchase.

From Mount Darling – Peter Simpson, chambray trousers – Hobbs, sweater – SuperDry,  denim skirt – Altuzarra, tunic – Lands’ End

More distinctive colors stand alone well as an uncluttered dress.  More shades of the sky, to wear near your face, and to reflect smiles onto you.
From Mount Darling – Peter Simpson, dress – Sandwich, cardigan – Majestic, cotton shirt – Uniqlo,  tee shirt – Uniqlo

A few more things, just to give you some options.  Calmness, organic beauty, and simplicity are they key words here. The green tee shirt has a bit of a pattern in it which gives the feel of sunlight playing on greenery...
From Mount Darling – Peter Simpson, ¾ sleeve tee – Uniqlo, sandals – Naturalizer, scroll-patterned tee – Biba, beige tee – Hobbs, dress – Dickens and Jones, scarf – Roda

Beautiful.  Easy to wear. Calming to see, in your closet or in a mirror.

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Thursday, February 27, 2014

I get lots of offers, and I'm sure you do too.  Often, I find myself thinking about the offer a whole lot more than I really should, and a LOT more than the offer deserves...  How to sort this out?  Advice welcome; let me share with you my current dilemma.

I just received this in the mail.  I have a very well-documented love of Eileen Fisher clothing and design, so seeing this in my mail will of course immediate spark my interest - at least to see what she's got new and interesting for this season called "spring", which I don't understand, here in sub-zero Chicago...

Flip over the mailer, and I get more intrigued:
If there's ANYTHING I like more than a tidy list of garments, I don't know what it is.  Something in me mentally starts immediately going through my closet and checking the contents against the list...

But THEN, it gets worse!

This bad boy is inside the folder...

$25 off, for a minimum $50 purchase.  If I could limit myself to $50, this would be a hammering deal.  But...

So my dilemma is this:  $25 is not trivial, but $25 off of something that I don't need is a meaningless savings gesture as a part of a larger expenditure that was optional until I went to my mailbox.


Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Yesterday's double posting was, in fact, a mistake on my part - the pattern mixing post was supposed to be this morning's post.  But I'm having well-documented issues with Blogger, and they chose to give you the gift of two posts yesterday; who am I to argue?

So today I thought I'd share a small post with a few quick observations I made in New York. 

 First, most women in New York are NOT amazingly beautiful and well-dressed.  They might be slimmer than the national average, but that might just be because one walks a lot in New York. (and if you take the subway, you climb a LOT of stairs...)

Secondly, pretty much the entire city wears black coats.  Maybe grey.  Possibly denim...  It's a dark, dark, DARK crowd.  I think my next winter coat might be some astonishingly bright color, just to break up the monotony.

Third, scarves are becoming much more common.  Not at the levels of Parisian ubiquity, but most women were wearing a scarf, and even a few men.  When most of the men are wearing scarves, we will have achieved a Paris level of scarfiness!

I noticed a couple of themes that were frequently repeated in women's outfits.  The first was the Fair Isle sweater with a bright or light scarf:

Yellow and grey – Viyella, scarves – Halogen, navy and hot pink – Superdry, blue black and white – Sister by Sibling

This was invariably worn with black or grey trousers, or jeans.  Serious boots were the order of the day on almost every woman except the most silly and reckless.

And I saw a lot of striped sweaters, worn with patterned scarves - dots, animal prints, or more stripes.  This is certainly not unexpected, giving the amount of pattern mixing that was being advertised everywhere.  As long as the colors worked well together, these ensembles were very attractive and innovative.  Again, the bottom half was simple, warm, and solid-colored.

Black and white turtleneck – Mango, dotted scarf – Manila Grace, zipped cardigan – Isabel Marant Etoile, leopard scarf – Valentino Garavani, blue grey crewneck – Proenza Schouler, striped scarf – Denis Colomb

I saw mixed patterns in almost every window display in New York - along with color blocking, it was the ubiquitous fashion suggestion for spring.

You know perfectly well that I'm not a big believer in the following of trends, but sometimes a fleeting style element might catch your fancy.  There's nothing wrong with buying one or two things that clearly demonstrate your connection with the here and now, and that indulge your love of the trend in question.

Pattern mixing is tough...  It requires a pretty astute eye to pull together different garments in different patterns.  That's why I really like the idea of buying one garment in which the patterns are mixed for you.  Let the designers figure out the hard part!

So, depending on what your overall wardrobe "theme" is, you might indulge in the following.  For those who love black and bright colors, one of these tops would be easy to wear with black trousers or a skirt.  And the easiest way to handle pattern mixing is just find a dress!

Dress – Love Moschino,  blouse - Etro, tee shirt – Metropolitan Museum of Art
If taking out a second mortgage for a garment doesn't worry you, definitely look at the brand Etro.  One of their signatures is the mix of patterns that they use.  Their garments are gorgeous, made like works of art, and might last a lifetime...

 For those of us who live in the black and white world, any of these choices would easily integrate into our core wardrobe of neutrals.  I'm rather digging this tee shirt... it combines really attractive pattern mixing with a flattering placement of the patchwork, which brings attention to one's face and away from the torso...
Tee shirt – Labour of Love, jacket – Acote, dress – Labour of Love
 If our favorite things are denim, here are some choices...
Dress – Dorothy Perkins, tee shirt – Marc by Marc Jacobs, pants - Topshop
 Do you love earth tones?  Any of these might integrate beautifully into a wardrobe containing brown, khaki, or ivory neutrals.
Draped blouse – La Prestic Ouiston, dress – Nic and Zoe, tunic – Etoile Isabel Marant
 Devoted to flowers?  Here you go...
Dress – Mary Katrantzou, tee – Suno, blouse – Thakoon
 And if you love pastels, these are easy ways to integrate a touch of pattern mixing without going overboard.
Tee shirt – Metropolitan Museum ofArt, dress – Pierantonio Gaspari, draped blouse – Le Sarte Pettegole
Green is a favorite too...
Tunic – Isabel London,  tee shirt – Metropolitan Museum of Art, dress – MSGM
Please note, if you're interested in these great tops from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, they run very narrow - great for layering, but if you want to wear it solo, consider sizing up a lot.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

 This photograph was sent to me as a suggestion for a wardrobe - and what a great idea.  This photograph prompted, in me, ideas of wood, stone, natural fabrics and textured fabrics.  While I'm going to start with mostly colors in the beige/brown/grey families, there are definite hints here of green, blue and orange that would be great accent colors here.

Another question I've been asked is about the possibility of purchasing garments one at a time, so this is something we're going to try here.  And the idea of not matching colors exactly - the colors in this wardrobe (with one exception) won't be identical matches...

So here we go!  First off, wouldn't you like to be sitting in this room with a good book and a glass of wine (or cup of tea)?

Earth-toned interior from Architectural Digest, with a lot of wood details.
image - Architectural Digest

These are the only two garments that match, and this was more by accident than design.  I could envision making the decision to purchase a light neutral jacket and pants with one top - maybe just a sweater - and then building from there.  Maybe you already owned light neutral shoes?  Add in a leather bag and a warm peachy tee shirt and we're off to a good start. 

Off-white jacket and trousers, with two choices of beige tee shirt or sweater
Interior from Architectural Digest, pants – Erika Cavallini, loafers – DV by Dolce Vita
sweater – Burberry Brit, tee shirt – L’Agence,  jacket – Erika Cavallini
camel tote – Lacambra

In my mind, a skirt would be a logical next choice - and I chose the darkest color from the stone pillars. Next, you could maybe shop your closet for a very light, creamy top... A cardigan in a color very close to that of the skirt will also look good with your beige pants and your other tee shirt.  Jeans in a medium stone color can be worn with your beige jacket, your light rust sweater, and either tee shirt...

Dark stone cardigan, skirt and trousers with a soft white draped tee shirt.
Interior from Architectural Digest, draped tee – Weekend Max Mara, skirt – Sandwich
cardigan – Maison Martin Margiela, pants – Linea Weekend

Finally, the weather gets warmer, and you opt for some more fluid and dressy fabrics.  A couple of comfortable tunics, in linen or silk, can be chosen with an eye to the colors of pants and your skirt...  To balance out the numbers, add in a pair of blush silk pants, and then a muted, nature-inspired print skirt...  Nude sandals, and a bracelet with an assortment of subtle stone colors, and you've got literally dozens of options.

two warm-weather outfits based on an interior from Architectural Digest - tunics and a dressy skirt, or silk pants
Interior from Architectural Digest, silk pantsP.A.R.O.S.H., sandals – Nicholas Kirkwood,  
linen tunic – Gossip, silk tunic – Joseph, bracelet – Adha Zelma Jewelry,  skirt – Dosa

I could get through quite a long time with these clothes!

12-piece capsule travel wardrobe in earth-toned neutrals, inspired by an interior photograph from Architectural Digest

16 possible outfits from a 12-piece travel capsule wardrobe

16 possible outfits from a 12-piece travel capsule wardrobe

16 possible outfits from a 12-piece travel capsule wardrobe 
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Monday, February 24, 2014

The core of my wardrobe, right now

Thanks so much to the reader who steered me to the New York Times Magazine article: Sign of the Times/Slaves No More by Cathy Horyn. It ends thus:

...a woman of indeterminate age who knows what she likes and has shrugged off what she no longer has any use for, and maybe never did. If that sound rather limited, that's the point. I'll stick with the same paint colors and my lovely old kilt, because, it turns out, there's a surprising amount of harmony in unremarkable choices."

(emphasis is mine)

Timeless. Elegant. Classic. Simple. Unique. Beautiful. Maybe not the words by which I live, but definitely words that inform and illuminate my style choices.

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Thursday, February 20, 2014

One of my readers has been shopping with this great Van Gogh painting in hand...  She's got a solid core of gorgeous gold items:

Bedroom in Arles – Van Gogh, dress – P.A.R.O.S.H., sandals – Repetto, shorts – Erika Cavallini, cardigan – Burberry Brit, bag – Labolsina, jeans – Sass and Bide

And she's picked up some light blue clothes too, which she doesn't like to wear with the gold:
Bedroom in Arles – Van Gogh, dress – Jil Sander, tee shirt – Marni , silk tunic – DKNY, capris – Alice and Olivia

And she's also picked up a few tee shirts in the accent colors of the painting:
Bedroom in Arles – Van Gogh, orange tee – Standard James Perse,  pale green tee – Maison Martin Margiela, dark green tee - .Tessa, red tee – J. Crew

So now, she's got this assortment of clothes.  Everything, on it's own, is beautiful, but she's not finding that this is as versatile as she would like.

One of the charms of Van Gogh is that he combines difficult colors in innovating ways, and isn't terribly dependent on neutral colors.  It's a glorious way to paint, but not an easy way to build a wardrobe.  The right person could certainly wear these clothes, color-blocked and devil may care...  but if you're not comfortable doing that, a few neutral garments and a couple more accessories might help pull things together.  So I suggested these - note the very painterly earrings!
Bedroom in Arles – Van Gogh, cardigan and jeans – Uniqlo, loafers – Sebago, tee shirt – Kaliko, drippy earrings – Eina Ahluwalia, bracelet – Natasha Collis,  sandals – naya

The brown goes well with both the blue and the gold, some brown shoes ground multicolored outfits, and a few gold accessories will help us leverage the gold garments with other things...

Here's the new wardrobe: