Friday, July 17, 2015

Building a Capsule Wardrobe by Starting with Art: The White and Green Hat by Georgette Agutte

How did I make it so far into my life without knowing about Georgette Agutte?  She was French, and she painted some really wonderful paintings; I encourage you to look her up. You're going to be seeing more of her on The Vivienne Files, I can promise!

Someone suggested this lovely painting - she seems like she would be a kind and gentle friend, doesn't she?

The White and Green Hat by Georgette Agutte

As with most paintings, there are a variety of ways to approach the colors, but I've gone this direction:

"Doesn't she look like Grandma?"

Your sister said, and just like that, the whole idea got started...

So now, you and your older sister are going on a road trip, starting with the town in which your grandmother was born. The stated goal is that you're going to look for where HER parents were born, and then where THEIR parents were born, etc. etc.

As far as you can go, in two weeks. Assuming that you don't need to cross the Atlantic Ocean - that would certain change things!

At least you can pack without a LOT of worrying about space; your sister's car isn't called "The Condo" for nothing...

Cashmere sweater – J. Crew, jeans – J.Crew,
Silk blouse – J. Crew, trousers – J. Crew

Normally, packing with off-white clothes would be sort of daft, but your sister is pretty compulsive about how cleaning her car, inside and out, so you should be safe!

Cardigan – Polo Ralph Lauren, jeans – Lee,
Shimmer tee – Mint Velvet, skirt – True Religion

And an autumn travel adventure requires jeans and a cozy cardigan!

Bead-trimmed top – Modcloth, cashmere sweater – J. Crew (sold out),
Striped tee – Alexander Wang, green shirt – Equipment

Blush tee – Velvet, navy trousers – J. Crew,
Orange tee – Majestic Filatures, blush sweater – DKNY

Yes, you are bringing a briefcase, so you can keep the paperwork that you accumulate organized. Birth certificates, marriage licenses, death certificates...

Also, many people might think you're crazy for taking lovely accessories for a trip like this, but if spending quality time with your sister isn't a special occasion, then special occasions DON'T EXIST. 

You know what's important...

Leopard scarf – Alexander McQueen, drop earrings – Melissa Joy Manning,
gold stud earrings – Infinite Gold
, three chrysoprase bracelets – Joias do Rio,
chalcedony ring – Leah Alexandra
 scarf Chefs Indiens,
navy briefcase – Seventy Eight Percent
Suede driving 
mocs – Cole Haan, boots – Splendid

What will you discover? Family scandals? An unexpected inheritance? Or just how much you really love your sister...

Treasure enough for you, and you know it!

You packed just by choosing a suitcase full of favorites, but somewhere in your mind, there's always a plan:

Belovedest and I are road-tripping in Wales and England this fall... does anyone else enjoy this kind of exploration?


It's good to be in the club!


  1. I have an orange EF linen shirt that I have not worn all summer. Will give this a try today.

  2. You've done a lot of beautiful schemes with navy lately! This is very close to my ideal wardrobe palette - what I'm aiming for, not what I have. In my imaginary wardrobe this is supplemented by a core of four in a light cocoa, to blend with the orange and aqua green.

  3. Seen all together, what an unusual and striking combination of colors for a wardrobe. Seen broken down (both by fours and by outfits), this is a spectacularly lovely, fresh, and 'happy' color scheme! Janice, you are muse, instructor, mentor and role model to women worldwide and on top of that I think we all feel like you're also our BFF! Thank you for brightening our lives and inspiring us every single day (even the days you take a break from posting)! Linda T from Okemos

  4. Wales and England ? That was my bucket list trip last Autumn --Luv, Luv, Luv ! Be sure to take rain gear and expect chilly temps --suggest even packing some gloves in your outerwear. Still observing the tops you pack --basically keeping things either plain or with slight embellishment or stripe for the ability to vary the look with accessories. Sooo, the tops worn by day can also be rotated for dinners at night with the addition of a cardigan or jacket. As you saw in a recent post of mine my insecurity of using the short sleeve tops in the evening to nice dinners in restaurants in upscale hotels while on a group tour, in addition to always feeling cold. Perhaps I've been trying too hard ! Varying temps have also been my consideration along with my need for varied looks with the minimum necessary to accomplish those goals. I'll keep watching --your genius is bound to sink into my thick skull one of these posts, so please continue -- !!

    1. In your example I also see three pullover sweaters, and a shirt which could be used in your triple top secret to layer for chillier temps. By George, I think I've got it --spoken with a British accent ! I've been limiting myself to think only in terms of short sleeve tops and cardigans, thank you, my dear !

  5. Ooops! I didn't see the pale pink in the pie circle. In Australia there might be a lovely wide-brimmed summer hat, perhaps with a scarf tied around it. Love the soft green. Very delicate and translucent. Thanks Carol S

  6. I've just discovered this blog recently and it is so wonderful! On an open thread in another blog I follow I'd asked for wardrobe tips, mainly how to get better at working with color, and I'm so glad this blog was recommended. Thank you, Vivienne, for sharing your posts with the internet :)

    This morning, I saw a video about a gentleman who was given glasses that correct color blindness. His friends didn't tell him what the glasses were for, they just gave them to him and he saw various colors in their true form for the first time. It reminded me of a post a while back (sorry, I can't recall exactly which one) in which you mused about how wonderful it would be to be able to see new colors. I think you'd enjoy it, so I wanted to share.

    1. EVERYONE should watch this video NOW - just in case you think your life is boring, or that you have nothing to celebrate. Even the smallest things are miraculous and should fill us with delight.

      GOG11 - I'm buying you dinner the next time you're in Chicago - I owe you BIG for this gift.

      big hug,

    2. I'm so glad you enjoyed it, Janice! I nearly cried when he went outside, and it is so humbling to see him in awe of a little construction flag. While many of us would see that little flag as visual clutter or ugliness (if we even saw it at all), he was just smitten. I hope you have a good weekend :)

    3. I remember that part fondly too - his appreciation of things that we for granted, or actively dislike, was eye-opening and humbling. I love working with colors, and I will NEVER taken it for granted.

      Everybody, please take 5 minutes to brighten up your day, and your outlook on life, by watching this man see colors he's never seen before.


  7. i've been loving your little narratives. They remind me of the original (before Gap purchase) Banana Republic catalogs, which I used to read like novels.

    Can't wait to hear about your travels this fall.

  8. I'm not normally a huge fan of long road trips, but as I do more genealogy research I'm finding that I really enjoy seeing the places my ancestors lived. I was in Rhode Island in the fall and imagine my surprise to see HUGE portraits of my 7th great-grandparents hanging on the wall of a restaurant housed in an historic building. Really made the day of the hostess of the restaurant when I told her I was related to them. I daresay, I wasn't nearly as fashionably dressed as the heroines of today's vignette. Of course I was digging through old, hidden graveyards that day too.

    1. That's the kind of story that I was hoping the heroines of my imaginary vignette would have! What a wonderful coincidence.
      big hug,

  9. Love your little narratives too Janice! And since you ask, my sisters and I are taking a trip this August to Broome (in the far north-west of Australia.) It's way too far for a road trip, but I'll be using your Whatever's Clean 13 template to help me pack. Do enjoy your trip to England and Wales!

  10. I love these diaries. And I do think a road trip with a sister is an occasion to dress for! England and Wales sounds wonderful.

  11. Dear GOG11, thank you so much for the link to the video, it made me cry and reminded me of the loveliness I take for granted so often. The story lines are so much fun I think it might be fun to create one around my wardrobe while I dress. Imagination is a magical thing - thanks for being so generous with your magic Janice. Hugs, Karen

  12. Janice, I am so enjoying the increasing number of little stories you give us with your wardrobe posts. Your imagination is delightful. I would love to read short stories or novels you might imagine up.

    In fact I imagine a new literature niche of short stories of full length novels that are punctuated with full color wardrobe layouts at key points along the way. Or a niche of style books that are as much story as fashion photography?

    After all, there are many food-centered or food-accent sub-genres, why not style? If a fiction book can be studded with recipes, why not with art-based wardrobes?

    If the best cookbooks (in my opinion) are those that come with some sort of story about the food--about the recipe development, or the trip the writer was on when she discovered this dish, or the memorable dinner party where she debuted this menu--why couldn't style books be as much about stories surrounding the clothes and stories surrounding the art that inspired it?

    You obviously have many talents, and together they are extra-inspiring.

    Now I'm off to view the video GOG11 shared.

  13. Another fun narrative! I love my sister and we have been on many road trips over the years. Never a genealogy trip, but that is s thought! Thanks for another great wardrobe!