Saturday, April 25, 2015

Integrating a New Accent Color: A Smoky Blue Coat

Another interesting email: One of your is seriously considering the coat shown below, but you have some concerns about how this color will integrate into your primarily black and white wardrobe.

Well!!! It's a lovely coat - I particularly like the way that the buttons are placed close enough together that the double-breasted effect is actually vertical rather than horizontal (a rare bit of design intelligence, I'd say). The pockets help with the vertical feeling too, and this shade of smoky blue is beyond lovely - subtle and rich.

BUT! It's a substantial (gulp) investment. This isn't a purchase that you make on a whim...

The writer also indicated that, if she chose this coat, that she wants to purchase a handful of accessories over the next year in this shade of blue, in order to help her new coat feel at home. But she was having a hard time picturing how this would actually unfold...

Let's take this step by step!

Step 1 - The Coat Itself

Slate blue or smoky blue coat from Dsquared2
Coat – Dsquared2

Step 2 - A Scarf that Complements

The question here is simple - can you picture yourself buying and frequently wearing one of these? If not, what kind of scarf DO you think you would wear with this coat? For most climates, a scarf is important outerwear, and for most style, a scarf is a valuable addition to a solid-colored, long coat.

blue coat with four different complementary scarves
Coat – Dsquared2scarf with angled ends – Hermes, gem print scarf – Radical Chic
geometric scarf –
Florenz, angled scarf – Radical Chic

Step 3 - A Piece of Jewelry, or Two

This step accomplishes a couple of things: (1) it tests your willingness to wear this color close to your face or against your skin, and (2) questions your comfort with purchasing something that might be in your possession long enough to be a family heirloom. If either of these prospects makes you uncomfortable, maybe you need to think about what initially attracted you to this color.

Oh, and that heart-stopping moment when you have the PERFECT brooch in hand, but you have to actually PUNCTURE the surface of your new coat. I love the look of a beautiful brooch on outerwear, but it's not lost on me that it's a hard step sometimes!

(does anybody else sort of... do a double take? when you see the brand Nixon on watches? I remember a day when it wasn't considered a really desirable association... I date myself!)

smoky blue Dsquared2 coat, with an assortment of blue jewelry
Coat – Dsquared2, triangle labradorite earrings – Eilisain Jewelry, bead necklace – Lena Skadegard,
 ring – Lana Jewelry, watch – Nixon, brooch – St. John, bracelet - Shanker

Step 4 - A Bag

Many women have very strong feeling about the bag that they carry; considering the purchase of a bag in a color similar to that of your new coat is another opportunity to closely examine your comfort level with the color. You might like smoky blue in fabric, but in leather it might be a step too far. Does this change your inclination toward the coat?

Smoky slate blue coat with a choice of blue handbags
Coat – Dsquared2, nylon briefcase – Piquadro, cube bag – Colle’cte, suede sack bag – Orciani
leather tote – Chloe, clutch bag – Miller and Jeeves, shoulder bag – Knights and Roses

Step 5 - Other Accessories

Now you want to think about how much you're willing to see this color repeatedly in your accessory family. I'm not suggesting that you buy all of these, but you probably want a hat, and in much of the world you CERTAINLY want gloves. When you consider the possibility of a blue manicure, or a blue Fitbit, are you still in love with the color?

Smoky blue coat with sunglasses, Fitbit, nail polish, fedora, gloves and a belt in coordinating blue
Coat – Dsquared2, sunglasses – Oliver Peoples, fitness bracelet – Fitbit, nail polish – Essie 
(color – Spun in Luxe), fedora – Rag and Bone, gloves – Originals by Jack and Jones, beltPrada

None of these questions are foolproof to keep you from making a buying error - we ALL buy the wrong thing sometimes. But I think there's value in trying to see your new purchase through a "long-term" filter, and to see what other sorts of items might creep into your wardrobe on the heels of this major investment.

What color tempts you? And in what kind of item? I'd love to explore this idea further!


Looking Back:


  1. A great post Janice. Smokey blue is a colour that I find very tempting as a possible alternative to adopt instead of navy blue sometime in the future. Love the jewellery and handbags. Would this colour of blue go well with any white or would it look better with a soft white/ cream?

  2. I think this blue is much more interesting than navy (which I actually love) - and I'm amazed at all the options out there. What better way to make a color statement than with a coat! How do those smoky blue accessories look with black & white? To me, that's the next step. The Hermes scarf would suggest it all works together. I'm personally tempted by orange/coral - but want to keep it from looking garish (&/or cheap).

  3. I love the latitude of the new gym rat, Janice; including an old fashioned brooch and a FITBIT in the accessories steps.

  4. The brooch on a coat thing is scary!! I will only consider pinning through a cloth coat.

    An orange handbag has tempted me for YEARS, but I cannot justify the purchase. I do have a lot of Autumn colored clothing, which makes an orange handbag seem like a no-brainer, but I still feel like "what will you really do with an ORANGE handbag?".

  5. I like the color and the jewelry, especially, but the coat's three-quarter length sleeves would nix the purchase for me. I made that mistake once and regretted it.

    1. I was sort of assuming that on a woman of normal proportions, the sleeves would be regular length? I know if I tried this on, the sleeves would probably STILL be too long. But you're right, for someone with long arms, this would be an immediate NO vote...

    2. Yes, in the merchant's description, the coat is described as having 3/4 length sleeves. That would nix the purchase for me as well. Although it's a beautiful color! (And that Hermes scarf is stunning. Would love to have an entire wardrobe based on the colors in that scarf . . . Janice?)


    3. I think those 3/4 length sleeves would also soon look dated. And more than $1000 for a trendy, cotton trench coat???? I love the illustration of the wardrobe-choosing process though.

  6. I would accessorize with lots of ivory, camel and taupe, rather than going for a monochromatic look. The coat color, like blue denim, can stand alone.

  7. I would accessorize with lots of ivory, camel and taupe, rather than going for a monochromatic look. The coat color, like blue denim, can stand alone.

  8. This coat will look prettier with white than with black (it's shown with white on the website and looks great). But then the problem is, how much are you going to wear white versus black in the winter time? And a bigger question: is this coat timeless and practical enough to spend big bucks on it? To me it reads as an accessory piece, not a real workhorse for practical wear winter after winter. I would be worried that the color will fade with cleaning and exposure to light and dirt. I would also be concerned that if my figure changed, a double breasted cut with very large buttons might not be so flattering. And after one winter with freezing wrists, I would be annoyed by the search for extra long gloves in coordinating colors. Your reader may have the budget for big accessory spends and if so it's a great piece. But for me, any item of clothing in which I'm going to invest needs to be practical first and timeless second; I don't know if the cut or color of this coat meet those criteria.

  9. Prussian blue is one of my colours, but can I find anything in this colour? No! Can you help?


  10. I have a leather jacket this color, which I find very versatile. But I agree that purchases outside of one's norm elicit others. So fun if you like the new direction, so not if you decide you made a mistake. I am trying to decide right now whether to keep my first pair of skinny jeans. Do I look like a bowling pin? Are they over? Do any of the shoes I own go with them? May return just because I am so indecisive about them, and wonder same thing about coat -- indecision is probably best resolved by refraining, even tho this coat is very glamorous.

  11. In case no one noticed, this is a 100% COTTON coat. I don't think it is intended for serious winter wear.

    1. it also looks on the model to be car-coat length. This is def not a winter coat. This is a casual spring coat. It also happens to be gorgeous and the color is beautiful. Wish i was in that rarefied market....

  12. This is the beginning of another chapter for your book. Another useful exercise to help us with our decision making. Personally, I would wonder about how the colour works for my coloring, eyes, skin and hair. For me, a person who looks good in black and white will not be flattered by this colour.

    Deb from Vancouver

  13. The details and the colour of that coat are beautiful. I don't wear a dress coat enough to buy something like that but I sure would combine any of those accessories with grey.

  14. I love your new perspective - these process oriented posts. Even though this is not the color for me, going through this evaluation process with any potential piece is a fabulous way to evaluate a new piece in a logical, rational way - unusual for many purchases.
    Thank you,

  15. This is one of my favorite colours and I have trouble finding it. Your thought process is a good one to consider for any major purchase. I found myself nodding over every collage - yes, yes, yes. And then when you mentioned the blue Fitbit - well, I've got one on at this very moment.

  16. Must agree about the Nixon watch. Would hardly call anything w/that name fashionable.

  17. I like the look of the watch and love the color, but the name does give me pause. My son asked for a Nixon watch for his high school graduation gift a decade ago. They were quite popular with skateboarders at the time. I guess they were all young enough not to have any negative vibes associated with the name.

  18. The first thing I noticed about the coat is that it buttons opposite from the norm. It would drive me crazy. I like the color, but don't think the style and fiber are very versatile.

  19. Why would it have men's buttoning?
    To me it looks very square and unflattering but then I don't wear double breasted anything and I find narrow, fitted sleeves more flattering. I guess if you were tall and thin you could wear this boxy look.


  20. Love this color! and the options you show to go with the coat. Looking at that blue clutch :)

  21. Hi Janice,

    I love your blog, and have pinned so many of your ideas. The smokey blue color is one that really caught my eye especially, because I recently bought a trench coat ( much!!! less expensive than the one you featured) at Loft. I LOVE this little bargain, and the color is great for ME, but not necessarily for my WARDROBE! So, your thought process for this purchase is very informative, even if my investment is much less. I just want it to work with all of my black! Thanks so much for helping to make wardrobe decisions more

  22. I like this process based post! Good ideas for choosing a coat!

  23. Hi Janice, just throwing out an idea : what would you think about making post copying the style of a person you admire? Like analyzing their style and helping us see what really are the basic elements…. I love your blog as it is, this is just a suggestion in the same line as posts you already do!

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