Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Building a Capsule Wardrobe by Starting with Art: Carnation Lily Lily Rose by John Singer Sargent

Wow! When I asked for paintings, you all came through with some beautiful suggestions... 

This John Singer Sargent is so lovely...

In the deepest shadows, I saw navy, although on another day, it could be deepest gray, or maybe something else - really good paintings are wonderful in the way they can have so many different aspects over time.

I'm embarking on a 4 by 4 that's particularly challenging: a casual wardrobe in soft and fluid navy and white. So VERY often, navy and white are crisp, and starched, and nicely pressed and snappy - which is pretty great. And I'm sure that at some point earlier in the fictional day, these lovely white dresses were immaculate and pristine, but NOT by this time of day!  So this time, I'm looking for flowing, pleated, gathered, draped and lacy...

Here, I was able to find a sheer, lace-like yoke, and some shimmer too!

Tank – Mint Velvet, capris – Dorothy Perkins
tee – Mint Velvet, trousers – Joseph

I was lucky to spot crocheted trim, lace, and lots of supple draped fabric:

White cardigan – Mango, shorts – Iro,
Wrap top – Planet, palazzo pantsMango

This wardrobe wouldn't be ANYTHING without flowers! Some pleats too, and a nicely relaxed tee shirt:

Pink lace top – Quiz, peach tunic– Sandwich,
Navy top – Jacques Vert, green tee - Uniqlo

One of the many great things about this wardrobe is that you can indulge in lots of pretty pastel tops, as well as making sure that you have a nice core of navy and white things in soft, feminine prints and fabrics. Two different approaches to the same navy and white core!

This skirt is shown on the store site as being very "evening", but this is the kind of thing that could easily be worn during the day with sandals and a casual top, too! When you're packing, this kind of versatility is very useful.

Navy skirt – Jacques Vert, floral wrap top – Kaliko,
Wrap lace top – Kaliko, white tunic – Alexander Wang

This wardrobe gets the very prettiest flower earrings, as well as a pair of espadrilles that are NOT ordinary - lace, satin trim, and a ballet silhouette gives these the more feminine look we're after, without making them twee or unwearable.

Pink floral earrings – Militza Ortiz, white lace “ballet” espadrilles – Casadei ,
bag – Tory BurchGold floral earrings – Giuliana Valz-Gen, 
navy sandals – Bettye Muller

This would set you up quite handsomely for summer, wouldn't it?

And here's how it fits into the 4 by 4 Wardrobe Template.

And as an added special bonus "undercover" secret - this is what you need if you HATE to wear skirts in the warm weather - Jockey Skimmies.  Imagine you took the most comfortable imaginable hosiery, and hacked them off above the knee. Light, smooth, no lines or bumps, no thighs rubbing together...  Just trust me on this; you can find them here.

would I steer you wrong?




  1. Umm. Well, you'd never steer me wrong, but the Skimmie link doesn't seem to work. :) Incredibly evocative re-creation of the John Singer Sargent painting here in this wardrobe, Janice. I just don't know how you do this!

    1. Thanks for letting me know! I just put a new version of the link in; I hope THIS one works better!

  2. I love to see navy shown as soft and draped. There are times for crisp but the mood of this painting is gently draped and flowing, a favourite look of mine. The link works now. Brava!

  3. I agree- I really love how you have captured the essence of this painting in your choices. Beautiful. Someone is really going to love this for themselves. Jazz

  4. I've always liked that painting, captures the glowing lights so beautifully.
    And might I add, apart from the peach, I have those colours hanging in my closet, the pink being more of a blush shade. I wish I could wear shorts, I'd love those white ones.

  5. Is it any surprise that a) I had a poster of this painting hanging in my room as a child, and b) this wardrobe is custom-made for me!? Navy and white are definitely the neutrals I am drawn to, but I don't want to look like I'm heading out to a regatta every single day! And flowers are my ornament of choice, always! I just LOVE this!

    And I hope that you're feeling well, taking it easy, and looking after yourself!

  6. This speaks of easy, elegant summer days. So lovely.

  7. It is great how you have "prettied up" navy and white. The flow navy skirt is lovely, would be "poetic' in its movement. You make this look so easy but I imagine there are many hours of thinking, analyzing and finding the right items to put it all together.

    Deb from Vancouver

  8. be still my heart--that painting is an old friend of mine. (I've seen it in person and it is glorious.)

    I find more navy in my wardrobe these days--moving from black to grey was step 1; this seems to be step 2.

  9. I will second the Skimmies recommendation. They are just the thing to make bare legs under a skirt fabulous once you reach a certain age. ;)

  10. This is one of my favorite paintings. I love all the pieces you selected to go with it! You have such a talent of pulling these things together. :)

  11. I love this collection. I think what makes it extraordinary is the way you carried the 'edges' into some of the clothing: those blades of grass, vertical folds of fabric, etc, offset the softness of the flowery bits.

    In the clothing, the straps of the navy sandal, the grid on the sweater, the near-horizontal bands on the navy Mint Velvet tank, and the vertical folds of the tunics all take wardrobe to the next level. Too often, for me, flowing and/or flowery outfits get carried away with the sweetness and start to look little-girl-laura-ashley when worn by adult women. Balancing the edges with the flowing is a particular genius of yours, Janice, among many others.

    Do you paint as well as do these clothing-based-collage-art pieces we see on your blog?
    Sue G

  12. Sargent is one of my favorite artists, and the colors in this collection are just gorgeous! Bold, cool colors translated into soft and flowy fabrics. Just wonderful. You do have a genius for this sort of inspired contrast.

    Cheers, M-T