Monday, August 31, 2015

Build a Capsule Wardrobe by Starting with a Scarf: French Paisley Striped Shawl from the Metropolitan Museum of Art

For all of us who are art lovers, it's important to remember that we can indulge ourselves while supporting our favorite museums. Gift shops make a real point to find the most beautiful items available, and they always have a certain quality that you just don't see in every store...

This beauty screams fall, doesn't it?

French Paisley Striped Shawl -
Available at The Metropolitan Museum of Art Store, 
online at 
or by calling 1-800-662-3397.

What really appeals here is the way that the strong camel and brown tones provide a perfect backdrop for the clear red, green and blue:


 Under the Radar

She wanted to travel. A lot. She has a project, and some goals in mind. So she wants to get out of town, maybe as often as every other weekend, through the autumn and winter...

There are LOTS of cities really close to her - just 2 or 3 hours by train.

But if it turns into a big project every time she tries to get out of town on Friday afternoon, it will never happen. So it's imperative that she come up with a system to stifle any big conversation about how often she travels...

First up, if she wore this same outfit to work every other Friday for 6 months, who would notice?

chambray shirt – Boden; pants – Boden; French Paisley Striped Shawl
 – Metropolitan Museum of Art Store; cardigan – Boden; earrings – Alexis Bittar;
 watch – Modcloth; coat – Tagliatore;  socks – Kate Spade
boots – Steve Madden; tote – Longchamp

And she could keep these things packed all the time. Come back into town Monday morning, go to work, do laundry Monday night and repack everything...

Camel tee – Lands’ End; silk skirt – Apiece Apart; wristlet – Deux Lux; bracelet
 – Alexis Bittar; earrings – Alexis Bittar; red sweater – Uniqlo; camel flats
 – Jeffrey Campbell;  boyfriend jeans – Moto; white shirt – J. Crew; square
 scarf – Laleh Fayaz;  tiered necklace – Alexis Bittar; green cardigan - Uniqlo

It's really not all that many things to segregate from the rest of her wardrobe. Nobody's paying that much attention to what she wears - they'll never know that there are 9 pieces specially reserved for her adventures!

And no matter what she pulls out of the bag, she can get dressed without worry!

Even if she has to come back to work on Monday in the same camel trousers, her outfit might be completely different. Certainly sufficiently different that it won't excite any comment...

And some Monday, she'll walk into the office and give her notice. She will have found the job, and the apartment, in one of those other cities. Maybe THEN, when she's on her way out of the door, someone will notice what she's been doing...




  1. Good morning....another excellent novella with excellent clothes. Thank you
    Deb from Vancouver

  2. It's so interesting that you mention the scarf from the Met; I have been thinking in the past few days it was time to check out their offerings now that the seasons are changing. I get inspiration from every one of your posts, so thank you for all the time you put into your tales of possibilities + fashion ideas. Wonderful!

  3. I would happily wear any of these combinatiins, especially with the square scarf. It is beautiful.

  4. The paisley scarf is lovely, and your 9 slots certainly create a lot of versatility. Does this mean that sometimes one starts with the scarf and maybe the core colours and then builds the accents from there?

  5. Lots of unexpected places have great gift shops. My favorite is our local botanic garden. Beautiful accessories that, of course, carry a floral or nature motif.

  6. Janice,
    Examining this format closely, I see 8 basic outfits, and then the bottom changes for the next 8 with a skirt instead of the trousers, and finally, another eight using the jeans on the bottom --24 outfits from 9 pieces of clothing --love, love, love, thank you !

    1. More than that! You can wear just a sweater, just a top, or any combination of top and sweater, so I count 45 outfits total!

  7. This makes me want to go home and pack a suitcase tonight.

  8. Hi, Janice - is there a link for the skirt? Thanks!

  9. Sorry; my bad. I read "skirt" as "shirt."

  10. Lovely, thank you!

  11. Slightly off-topic. I think someone at Kroger (giant American supermarket chain) has been reading The Vivienne Files. This morning I walked in by the clothing dept and found a sign: "Do you have a closet full of clothes and nothing to wear?" The sign then told how to select 12 pieces of clothing and four accessories in two neutrals and one accent color. Then it showed a chart that looked very similar to the one Janice has been showing us. The 16 items were arranged so that you could run your finger across a row or down a column and have a coordinating outfit. Very clever and very Vivienne.

    1. Where does Kroger have a store with a clothing department?

    2. The stores that are called Kroger Marketplace are huge. Most have a bank, a Starbucks, a Fred Meyer jewelry store, and many other departments - sort of like a Wal-Mart only I like Kroger better. My store originally had a large section of housewares and even furniture, but someone must have decided to change that last year because all that disappeared, and clothing appeared. I've never bought anything, but I suppose if Wal-Mart and Target can sell food, Kroger might think it needs to compete in clothing.

  12. That LF scarf is gorgeous. Have you seen one in person?

  13. Hmmm - if all the camel pieces were navy, and the green sweater was hot pink, and the skirt was knee-length, I think I could wear this wardrobe forever!

    1. Like so:

  14. I got a couple beautiful scarves this spring from a friend who got them in India -- they are similar to the one here, and I can't wait for cooler weather to wear them. I should make one of your charts.
    And a weekend vacation every other week? Yes, please!

  15. Love the socks! Having really good ones adds so much to an outfit - do keep including them in your posts!

  16. I absolutely LOVED this post Janice. I've read it at least 4 times today, for some reason it really stuck with me.
    Once I got a few minutes I ran to Polyvore and made a collection based off my current wardrobe concept.
    Your blog is such and amazing inspiration, please keep up the great work. :)