Monday, May 04, 2015

A Yellow Handbag: Integrating a New Accent Color

I know I said I was going to take Mondays off. Some Mondays, I will. But today I had this whole yellow handbag question lurking in my mind, so I thought I'd share what I've found and learned.

First up, there are lots of nice yellow handbags in the world! I personally would carry this one with the shiny plaque against my body (I'm not paid to advertise for any brand; I don't do it for free!). But this is a nice size, and I have every reason to believe it's well made, and it is available in seven colors...

And of course I'm sticking with these five navy garments, because I delight in showing the inherent versatility of timeless classics.

My initial adventure into yellow was so nice - yellow shoes were easy to find! And these espadrille flats on the bottom right are the same shoes that I used previously in hot pink - they come in a handful of really great colors; I could see them becoming a summer wardrobe staple.

Strapped sandals – Charles by Charles David, smoking loafers – Franco Sarto,
Braided leather sandals – Seychelles, espadrille flats – Via Spiga

But here's where I ran into LOTS of trouble. I had recklessly promised on Saturday that I was going to find some prints to include in this post - I was envisioning a classic yellow and navy striped shirt, or a pretty skirt with a navy background and daisies scattered across...

The next time I promise prints, just ignore me. I'm crazy. Just because a garment seems to be an "easy to find - of course SOMEONE makes it" idea, doesn't make it so. I turned over every clothing rock I know of - and I know where to find a LOT of stuff - and found nothing that appealed, or even barely qualified...

So? Accessories!!!  This assortment is smaller than usual, because it was expressed to me that nobody is going to go out and buy a whole stack of things to match a handbag. That was really never what I was suggesting, but I will take this opportunity to show the mileage available from just a very few new goodies.

Square scarf – Hermes Colliers de Chiens, bracelet – Tod’s ,
Sunglasses – Marni, rectangle scarf – Metropolitan Museum of Art Store

Frankly, all you need are a snazzy pair of shoes OR a scarf OR a nice piece of jewelry OR a statement pair of sunglasses, and your outfit will be balanced, and the yellow will look deliberate and planned, rather than "dressing in the dark".

Even on days when I'm not terribly organized, I'd like my appearance to at least suggest that I have my act together!

Next up is turquoise, and then I'm shifting to a grey core wardrobe and I'm going to talk about red. I've had a LOT of emails about red...

What color is bugging you - you love it, but can't figure out how to use it as an accessory? Let me know and I'll see if I can suggest something that will give you a few ideas.


Looking Back:

2013: How to wear a White v-neck sweater - the final sweater installment

2012: 12 ways to wear a blouse: Hot Tips by Frances Patiky Stein

2011: Back to the roots of The Vivienne Files - part 3



  1. Beautiful morning to you! I know you tend to steer clear of fast fashion, but have you browsed through Old Navy, H&M, & Target recently? They seem to have a decent selection of summer weight tops for around 20$. I try to get 1 or 2 tops in late spring to carry me through to mid fall. It helps keep my wardrobe from getting stale year after year. I also keep the best new top of the season to wear at least 2 summers down the road.

  2. It's so hard to find colors that the Pantone and marketing gods have not deemed in fashion. I appreciate your persistence. Yay for red. I love red. Not coral, not orange, but red. It can be hard to find too.
    I did visit the Shoes of Prey staff at the Nordstrom in the Washington DC area. They are a permanent part of the shoe department now, with tablets for ordering your design, a wall full of all their shoe styles, samples of all fabrics, and plenty of shoes to try on. The staff in the store can customize your shoes even more than you can online in terms of fit. I found a pair that was too tight through the toes: Nordstrom can actually order a deeper toe box through the manufacturer for you. I have high hopes for the pair I ordered (I wanted to check colors at home, so Nordstrom simply emailed me the design I made, I can order it at my convenience.)
    I bought a new pair of nice looking Munro flats five weeks ago that are already showing wear. Stuart Weitzman has apparently been bought by Coach and their sizing has changed. I'm hoping this new alternative is a winner. Thanks for the tip!

  3. Hi, this question is for "unknown" above. The Shoes of Prey are very intriguing to me. How would you describe the quality and fit?

    Deb from Vancouver

    1. I have not received my order yet. After I have I'll post something here.

    2. Hi,

      That would be very helpful.
      Deb from Vancouver

  4. One thing that stands out to me in this series is how you can invest in your core neutrals or base colors, then if a trendy color strikes your fancy, you can pick up a couple of accessories or a tee shirt for not a lot of money. It's a great way to change up your look without actually re-inventing your wardrobe. Thanks again, Janice!!

  5. I love this, Janice! The bright burst of yellow with navy is less expected than green or preppy pink--and, as always, a gorgeous scarf pulls everything together.

  6. I love yellow. I have a yellow handbag I've owned for years, and whenever I carry it, it seems to make people smile and comment. Yellow with navy blue is such a wonderful combination. Although I often wear black w/yellow accents, my preference is for navy and yellow. The contrast is more subtle. You've definitely hit my pleasure zone. I also have a silk flower I wear in my hair in summer that's a creamy, barely-there yellow. Looks great w/my red hair.

    Cheers, M-T

  7. Thank you for doing this! The yellow looks great with the simple navy clothes. I should have known it would be difficult to find complementary patterns and accessories. I think that's part of my attraction to yellow. I will take it as a challenge!

  8. I love yellow! I bought a yellow handbag last year and spent the whole summer trying to find something/anything to go with it. I didn't think of sunglasses.

    Tod's bracelet is beautiful and also reminded me of the storypeople wristwraps (, which are a little more whimsical. I may finally have the excuse I needed to buy one!

  9. Hi Janice, Thanks for all of your inspiration with colour. One item that I need help with is a dusty pink thigh-length overcoat which was given to me last week. It's not a colour that I usually wear and I'm trying to make it work for me with my dark blonde/light brown hair and fair complexion. I have a variety of scarves, only one in that toning that is pink with a black fleur de lis on it. Could you suggest some colours to put it with please?