Friday, April 03, 2015

Color and Proportion - Step 2: Adding Shoes, and the Occasional Solid Scarf

For this 2nd step in my pondering about proportion, I want to introduce some shoes into the equation, as well as a solid-color scarf. I didn't find that I felt the scarf was "necessary" as often as I had expected - sometimes a pair of shoes made enough difference in the proportion of the outfit that the scarf, while fun, might be superfluous.

And, for what it's worth, this $24 scarf is available in 26 colors...

three solid black beige white  infinity scarves, three solid black beige white driving moccasions
Infinity scarf – Tasha, black loafers – Cole Haan, beige loafers – Tod’s, white loafers – Tod’s

For these first two outfits, shoes that matched the cardigan lent enough "gravity" to the outfit that I didn't really reach for a scarf. Out fit 3 is more problematic - in screaming hot weather, white sandals might work, but white shoes made this look really "uniform", in the medical profession sense. Maybe the beige scarf and loafers would be better?

white jeans and a white tee shirt with black beige or white cardigan and loafers

These outfits felt a lot easier to wear when shoes were added! Scarves might add something, but I opted to just show how much the shoes helped with #4 and 6.

Here again, a shoe that picked up the color of the cardigan provides a sense of intentionality to the color combination that was missing when shoes weren't shown.

black jeans and a black tee shirt with a neutral cardigan and neutral shoes

Same general idea - the accent color garment now looks more "on-purpose" when a 2nd item in the outfit is the same color...

white jeans and a white cardigan with either black or beige tee shirt and loafers

BUT!!! The white shoes, with outfit #12, just looked plain silly... I can't explain why, I just didn't like the ensemble...

beige jeans and a beige cardigan with either a white or black tee shirt and driving moccasions

Same story here, there's no way the white loafers were going to please me with outfit #14. but the beige with outfit #15 are fine. White shoes are really tough...

black jeans and a black cardigan with either a white or beige tee shirt and driving moccasions

Now we get to the 3-color outfits, which most of us felt were the most awkward. I think the black shoes help with #16, although it's still not really as "together" #17.

beige jeans and a black cardigan with either a black or white tee shirt and driving moccasions

Here I felt, for the first time, that a scarf was really going to help. For #18, the white on top felt too "light" (silly, but I can't explain how it struck me). The beige scarf gave me more of a feeling of solidity. While #19 still isn't optimal, I think accessories help quite a bit.

beige jeans and a white cardigan with either a white or black tee shirt and driving moccasions

These white pants are tough! I don't thnk #20 works terribly well, but I could see wearing #21.

white jeans and a beige cardigan with either black or beige tee shirt and driving moccasions

Now here's how a scarf can really bring balance. But #23 is always going to be difficult. hmmm....

white jeans and a black cardigan with either a black or beige tee shirt and driving moccasins

I personally don't know if I could pull off wearing the white loafers with #24, but I do at least feel like this outfit has an overall balance that's not too bad. But the white cardigan in #25 just seems out of place...

black jeans and a white cardigan with either a white or beige tee shirt and driving moccasins

Enfin, we see again that the 3-color outfit improves with the addition of accessories, but still doesn't "work" as well as the 2-color outfit.

black jeans and a beige cardigan with either a white or a beige tee shirt and driving moccasins

So, is there any help to be had for 3-color outfits? Tomorrow, I'm going to try some printed scarves to see if that makes a difference. If I can find them, I'm going to show some 2- or 3-colored shoes, too!


PS - For those of you who like to read ahead, here are all the articles in this "Color and Proportion" series:


  1. Great post, leaves a lot to think about. I am looking forward to seeing some pattern combinations of the colors. What about polka dot or stripe tees that combine 2 of the colors? I think adding the scarf just covers up the color of the tee if you wear a cardigan, unless you don't tuck the tee in and show it sticking out of the bottom of the cardigan, which I am okay with. I am also okay with wearing a scarf with just a tee. I do have to say, I don't like any of the combinations with white shoes, I just don't like white shoes.

  2. There is indeed a lot to think about even when the solid coloured accessories are added. The white shoes are my least favourite part of the puzzle. As I try to imagine these outfits with a print scarf that I already own, animal print (black, beige and white) might work.

  3. my numbers from my post yesterday:

    8-still doesn't work, for me
    10 is now so-so for (which would me I think I could wear it, if I had no other choices)
    13 now works fine, for me
    15 still a 'no'
    19 no
    20 no
    23 is now so-so for's not terrible, but it's also not perfect, either

    this is a fun experiment :) I am wondering if jewelry added in the color of the shoes/scarf would help some of the more questionable combinations? Or maybe a printed scarf instead of a solid?

    I am also in the "I just don't like white shoes" camp.

  4. Is it the fact that the white shoes are SHOES? Like everyone else, I didn't like any of the white shoe outfits. But if I mentally substitute white SANDALS, the outfits become better. Are those white loafers one of those items that look great in the store, but really don't go with anything? This is a casual ensemble, which I prefer, but I wonder if those white shoes would work better if they were pumps and the pants were skirts or slim ankle pants? Hmm .... interesting.

  5. I think hair color might matter. E.g., I can imagine 19 looking okay on someone with dark hair and 25 on someone with blonde or light brown hair.

  6. I really like 1, 8, 11, 13, 17, 18, 21, 22, 27. What these have in common is only two colors at a time, with each color on at least two items. There's no "odd man out." Somehow these look the most sophisticated to me - more so than the solids (5, 7) or solid with a single accent piece (12, 14). Another way to tie in an accent color is with socks. Color 1: cardigan, pants, shoes. Color 2: t-shirt, socks.

    I wonder if it would be different if an accent was a true "accent" (red, teal) rather than another neutral?

  7. I agree with Suzy about the accent color (I mentioned that on yesterday's post).

    t just hit me that the problem with the 3 color outfits is using white and beige together. Thoughts, anyone?

    1. I don't mind the white and beige together. And looking them over again, the 3-color outfits I most prefer are the ones with a white t-shirt. There's just something about a crisp white shirt!

    2. Your right, I don't mind the white and beige as long as the white is the tee. I like #26. I have several white tees and wear them under my cardigans. A white cardigan is okay, but I would need to balance it with a darker color on the bottom - I could probably wear #25.

  8. How about the Hermes Carre Kantha ( for a patterned scarf? Although I don't think it's available new any more.

  9. Thanks for letting us play with you while you work though your process! I hardly ever wear even two solid neutrals at a time, so appreciate this backing up and starting from as-blank-as-possible a canvas. Looking forward to the patterned scarves, agree these will probably pull together the ensembles that we are currently struggling with...

  10. While you could certainly be seen in public in any of these, some of them definitely have a better feel than others. Those that have a piece in each of the 3 neutrals don't really do it for me. To me they scream for a patterned scarf or statement necklace to pull them together. I agree with several others that the white loafers just don't tend to work. White sandals probably would in most cases. I think a patterned scarf or other accessories will really take these to a more exciting level. As for patterned shoes, you showed some b/w houndstooth flats by Naturalizer not terribly long ago. Those would be cute with the b/w outfits.

    I also whole-heartedly agree with the poster that mentioned a striped or other printed t-shirt would be great with these outfits. Of course I own a whole closet full of prints and not nearly enough neutrals!

  11. So useful to think of the way that long scarves can utterly change the proportions of separates...As ever, Janice, I learn so much from your daily blog tutorial!

  12. I don't wear white shoes either........but do I like them with the white pants.

  13. The white shoes don't work for me either, I would go with a white espadrille or a little strappy sandal. Great color combo for travel.

  14. For me, this is not about color, but rather contrast in value ( lightness to darkness). Because of my fair coloring, I have to limit my outfits to medium with dark, or medium with light. I can't do a high contrast combo of very dark with very light. In addition, I prefer columns of color to enhance my vertically challenged height. I have also found that if a colored bottom and another color in a top are close in value, with the addition of a different value topper, a column of color is also created. This limits the number of outfits I can wear, but makes me more satisfied in my appearance, so you see me, and not the outfit.

  15. I think that this is a great experiment having black and white (achromatic) and a neutral (any) and seeing how they mix together. Janice has kept the options to simply three 'colors' and hasn't at this stage complicated the experiment with bags, earrings and necklaces. .These combinations can be adapted to what ever your light and dark's are like navy and cream or brown and pale blue etc etc. It is all transferable. So many combinations - I calculated 432 provided you always wear t-shirt, pants and shoes, . Thanks Carol S

  16. What about the hair color of the wearer? More tan? More dark? More silver? That could make all the difference in those tricky 3 color outfits.

  17. Those white loafers are tough! Not a fan. I am loving this series! Lots to think about. The two color outfits are still my favorites!

  18. Shoes lighter than pants just don't "ground" an outfit for me.

  19. This is an interesting exercise which I will apply to my own color palette (no beige or white pants!). I agree that the tri-color outfits present more of a challenge, but nothing that could not be overcome with the addition of pattern or at least some texture, like a tone-on-tone stripe or jacquard. Everything is too smooth and solid, down to the shoes (well, at least the Tasha loafers have an eyelet/bow detail). If the white loafers were instead white eyelet espadrilles or a laser-cut ballet wedge they would look less like nurse's shoes. Or swap the beige loafers for a pair of Sperry Top-Siders Bluefish in black marinier stripe - they would pull together every single outfit. I also think if the beige and white cardigans had 3/4 sleeves it would improve the proportions and look less blocky when worn with the same color pants.

  20. I LOVE the three color combos. An addition of a patterned scarf or something will help. This is how I often dress. I have a couple of handbags with the three-way color block that really work. Jewelry can also work to accent and tie things together.

  21. Maybe a pop of colour shoe, like red or brilliant blue instead of white...

  22. I'm with oekmama, I love the idea of a "statement shoe" in place of the white, which isn't really very versatile, especially if you live north of the Mason-Dixon. I suppose that's really not the point of the thought-experiment though!

  23. IMHO if the shoes don't match the pants, then they need to match the cardigan. Matching the shoes to the T just isn't substantial enough.