Friday, July 24, 2015

Start with a Vase: A Qianlong Vase, and packing for China

One of you is taking off soon for a trip to China, and you have asked me for some ideas about what to pack. 

I did quite a bit of reading about travel to China, and one thing that was stated repeatedly was that it's important not to take too many clothes, because (a) it's extremely easy and inexpensive to get laundry done in China, and (b) there are quite a few non-clothing items that you need to pack, so you want to reserve space for those kinds of items. (OTC medicines etc. - PLEASE do some research before a trip like this, to be certain that you have with you all of the recommended necessities.)

Now, for some aesthetic inspiration.

Sotheby's assessed this vase at around $1,000...

When the hammer went down, it sold for $18,000,000.

Even experts might not see your true value!


My thought process when building this color scheme was to use the navy as neutral - easy to wear for travel, and then use the beautiful green and white as accent colors for clothing. The glorious cognac base is a great color for leather accessories, and there's no way you could use anything but gold for jewelry and metal details.


A cardigan for layering, a scarf for amusement, green socks just because you can, and warm cognac accents in leather, and in your earrings. This capsule doesn't include any blindingly expensive anything - one fewer worry in the middle of so many things to think about, and to absorb.

No, the tote bag shown is NOT your suitcase...


earrings – Sorrelli; tee shirt – L.L.Bean; trousers – J. Crew; watch – 
Skagenscarf – Rumisu; navy cardigan – Ann Taylor; green socks – 

Here's where I got really strict - a pair of capris for warmer days, a skirt for a change of pace (and in case there's anything dressy happening!) and a simple dress for days when you've sent 3 or 4 pieces to the laundry. Shoes designed for comfort and walking, just enough jewelry to keep things interesting (notice all of the jewelry has a "round" element to it, in honor of the vase that inspires us), and a top with a hint of metallic gleam, for when you need a bit of brightness.


(Yes, all of the tee shirts are from L.L.Bean. Once you find your size, and you see that they carry that glorious shade of green that you like, why not stock up? There are no bonus points for variety...)


tee shirts – L.L.Bean; navy capris – J. Crew; chalcedony necklace – 
Urban Poshchiffon and leather scarf – Brooks Brothers; gold 
bracelets – Lauren Ralph Lauren; infinity scarf – Old Navy;  
bag – Express; dress - J. Crewhoop earrings – Janna Connercognac metallic 
top – M Missoninavy cotton skirt – J. Crew; ballet flats – 
Taryn Rose; loafers – Ugg Australia

If this is too painfully little for you to pack, look for a plain white shirt, a cognac cardigan, maybe a pair of floral trousers in mostly navy, with hints of your green and white... Maybe a navy and white striped shirt? Or another dress, in a pattern?  Just don't overdo - that's the one thing I've read repeatedly...



I'm pretty sure that this is a "Whatever's Clean", if you use a scarf of piece of jewelry to tie together disparate colors...



I always think that having my packing sorted out is a great way to ease your mind about at least part of the stress/excitement of travel to new places.

love,
Janice

Shop Luxe and Unique Gifts for Her at AHAlife.com!
 

34 comments:

  1. Wow, I love this wardrobe! I am going to Kap Verde for 1 month in january and I want to create a Capsule wardrobe for that trip.

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  2. Beautiful color combination, love it. May have to do with the fact that it strongly resembles my current capsule wardrobe ;)

    For China, I would also recommend packing a large scarf / pashmina. I have been to Hong Kong and always had a scarf in my handbag for when entering any kind of building / subway station / metro / boat... The airco's are on full force and you experience quite huge temperature differences between inside and outside. So for those days you do not have a cardigan on you, take a scarf to wrap around your shoulders.

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  3. I really, really love this!. Having moved over to navy as a first neutral, I'd been struggling to find a name for my second 'mid brown-orange' neutral and here hit is… 'cognac'. And I love soft greens, so basically this is a perfect colour scheme!
    Many thanks, this is one to bookmark
    Alice

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  4. The vase is stunning. The use of mint green with this cognac and navy is intriging. It seems like this shade of brown is often used very conservatively and teamed only with navy or black and cream. Janice would it be possible to give some examples of what other colours would team well with navy and cognac? Thanks Jazz.

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    1. A range of pinks would look good with navy & cognac. As would a variety of yellows or purples or reds or blues or whites. The only colors I can think of that would be tricky are gray and black.

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    2. I second pinks with Cognac! Look how wonderful it looks here: http://www.thesartorialist.com/photos/on-the-street-ponte-santa-trinita-florence/
      Janice, would you consider doing a version with rose/pink swapped out for the celadon?

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  5. Janice, Another wonderful post! I didn't see where the dress is from, and wonder if you would provide the source? Thank you, Ann

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    1. Dear Ann,

      It's from J. Crew - I just added the link to the bottom of the image. Thanks for catching my mistake!

      and have a glorious weekend,
      Janice

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  6. I love these selections! I use black, blue and green in my everyday capsule collection. Adding the cognac would be a great way to add a little depth to my autumn and winter look - a few pieces go a long way.

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  7. This is such a wonderful source of inspiration, and one I'd never think to use. Safe travels to whomever will be going to China; I hope you have a lovely trip :)

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  8. If our lucky traveler leaves her non-clothing (shampoo, toothpaste, aspirin, toilet paper, etc.) behind when she heads home, she'll have plenty of room for souvenirs.

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  9. I particularly like the shoes - they look comfortable and still stylish - great combos today !

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    1. I agree. The handsome cognac shoes look perfect for travel!

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  10. Wow wow wow, I just love this wardrobe and already have these colors (minus the cognac). So.. Cognac it will be. I also switched to gold jewelry mostly. Love all of these items. Must get that beautiful leather/ chiffon scarf.. And the Old Navy ones also! You are a genius !

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  11. This is very beautiful, and gorgeous inspiration that vase is. Cognac used to be my go-to accessory until I tired of it some years ago. Time to rekindle that relationship. Have a lovely weekend.

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  12. Cognac forever! Sometimes, I think it is passé and put my things away for a time. But they always venture out again. My navy is more of an indigo blue as navy is too cool for my colouring. Another winner, thank you.

    Deb from Vancouver

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  13. Always a pleasure reading your posts...haven't commented for awhile but i do love to see your new posts on my lap top.
    The chinese vase is gorgeous...as are the classic clothes that you have chosen.

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  14. Love love love the cognac leather! The celadon is a very elegant color, but just not for me. If I swapped out the celedon (and the cognac sweater - I love the look in leather, but not as textile) for something warm - red, hot pink, rosy pink, ballet pink - depending on my mood - this is me all over!

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    1. Oooh, I was about to buy those shoes, but I've promised my feet nothing but real leather. Here are the ones I'm saving up for... http://www.colehaan.com/jagger-weave-oxford-sequoia/D42724.html?dwvar_D42724_color=Sequoia&dwvar_D42724_width=B#cgid=womens_shoes_oxfords&start=34

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  15. Love the color set. But just a few suggestions. When are you going to China and where. if summer/early fall with a lot of time in Beijing/Shanghai you need to think New Orleans with heavy pollution: swingy airy skirts, not pants, cotton, not silk scarves, as they too will need washing, breathable walking shoes. buy Chinese green oil (available everywhere) for insect bites and deterrence. Buy silk scarves from the silk store in the security area Beijing airport near where US departures are usually, plus lower price souvenir/gift scarves are everywhere. The airport ones are spectacular, unusual, and well-priced. If going to interior (Xian, boat trips) cool cotton and linen is a necessity. Plus, everywhere carry a sweater or stole in bag as Chinese are currently setting air conditioning at frigid levels.

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  16. This selection fits right in with what I know you need for China: an "expensive casual" look. People don't tend to wear a formal look, but in hotels and business settings they do dress well, with good accessories.
    The weather can vary depending on where you are - Hong Kong has had torrential rain this week.The Chinese "tiger heat" is now over but in many places the humidity will be high until October starts.
    I second the comment about walking shoes, even if you only walk in the cool of the morning in the parks to see the dancing and tai chi.
    Suggest taking a small or electronic English/ Chinese dictionary as it will help if you want a manicure or anything else.

    Kate

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  17. Thank you Janice for doing this capsule wardrobe for China. I will use black in place of the navy. I am going in September to Shanghai, Xian and Beijing plus river cruise. Will try to pack light and color co- ordinate too. Will try for cotton tops.
    Thanks again!

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  18. I kept a photo diary about my last trip to China (Shanghai, Suzhou, Xi'an) and will send the link if you reply to this comment. A few thoughts after several trips there: The jet lag is awful. I used Benadryl to go to sleep and jolts of Starbucks Via (almost an OTC drug for me) to get past it. It's much worse than going to Europe.

    Be prepared for humidity. Xi'an was so bad, my deodorant would't dry on its own! Take packets of wet wipes for your hands. If you learn no other words, you need (spelled phonetically) shia shia -- it means thank you. Be prepared to bargain hard for the price of souvenirs -- be polite, but don't back down on your price. We once got a price to half and then a Chinese friend got it down by half again.

    If you find a tour of a Communist government silk factory, take it and, at the end, buy way more scarves than you need or deserve.

    Safe travels!

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    1. And -- if you're in Shanghai, you must see the Shanghai Museum -- preferably for a leisurely day. And the Yu Yuan Garden.

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    2. Also look out for the (official) Jade factory and the silk carpet factory. I wished I had taken the dimensions of my rooms, because the most beautiful silk rugs were very reasonable.

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    3. Would love more info since you have travelled this route. Are capris acceptable for day trips? I know it will be very humid.

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    4. Sorry to take so long to answer. There is nothing leisurely about this summer! The link to my scrapbook of the last trip is below. You should be able to click on it and view it. Capris are perfectly acceptable. We saw Beijing 15-ish years ago and I don't remember it in detail -- but do plan on seeing the Great Wall (get in shape before you leave the US -- the Wall has more of a slope than I expected), the Forbidden City and Tianamen Square. Most tours take you to a cloissonne factory and/or art galleries -- If you like those things, great. For me, it felt like I was being bored into buying things. Shanghai, Suzhou and Xi'an are covered in the book below. (Loved the silk factory in Suzhou, of course.) If you have the time while in Shanghai, take the high-speed train to Hangzhou (and google Hangzhou for details). It's built around an old, Emperor's lake and it's by far the most beautiful part of China I've seen. There's an old city in Hangzhou and the walk around the lake is beyond belief. Safe travels!


      https://www.dropbox.com/s/wti5rcfuc97kc8i/China2014%20as%20printed.pdf?dl=0

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    5. One last thing: Be prepared to be stared at. Be prepared for strangers to stop and ask to take your picture with them.

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  19. Love these colours too. And I have a Longchamp Le Pliage in Navy, so of course the trimmings are Cognac leather - but I never thought of it as a wardrobe combination! Duh!

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  20. One of your loveliest posts ever in my opinion. Every outfit has interest and a focal point - nothing dull here!

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  21. very informative post for me as I am always looking for new content that can help me and my knowledge grow better.

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  22. Since you asked, yes, I can travel for that long with fewer pieces of clothing. Our European trips over the last 6 years have ranged from 4 - 8 weeks. We have spent week-long stays in apartments in Paris, Aix-en-Provence, Amsterdam, Bruges, Lisbon, and Florence. There have been somewhat shorter apartment or hotel or B&B stays in many other places from Iceland to Turkey and Greece and back to the UK and Ireland. My total wardrobe for all those trips, regardless of weather, adds up to 11 well-coordinated pieces including 3 pairs of pants and 8 tops. Depending on the location(s) and the weather, those tops may include blouses, tees, long and/or short sleeves, tanks, vests or cardigans. I would like to take less, but I haven't been able to downsize to what I took on my first trip to Europe when I was 31. I traveled for 4 months from September to January with 2 pairs of pants, 2 turtlenecks, 1 sweater and I jumper that I never wore. I do need to have 2 pairs of shoes -- one for serious walking and standing and one for going out to dinner in the evening. I travel carry-on only, with a 22" spinner and a "personal item". I keep the spinner to a total of 20 pounds, including its own weight of 6 pounds and everything else I have in it. Everything is washable and we wash at least once a week, just like at home. I hate doing sink laundry, but will do it in a pinch. Over the years we have dealt with the laundry issue by doing it in the apartment, doing it at a self-service laundromat, dropping it off at a laundry and picking it up later and having the hotel or B&B do it for us. Surprisingly, some hotels or B&B's will do it in one load for free or a very reasonable price -- not the outrageous price per item on the list in the closet. I think that one of the reasons for that "deer in the headlights" look I get when I talk about packing light is that people haven't considered doing laundry along the way and think they have to wear a totally clean and completely different outfit every single day.

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  23. Hi, Janice Riggs! I love the clothes you chose to pack for China. The colors are amazing and everything is so elegant and comfortable as well. Great choice!

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