Thursday, September 17, 2015

Eight Color Ideas, from Ma To-Do List: Dressing by Colleuille and Gontier

Yes, we're visiting my favorite fashion book yet AGAIN... Frankly, until I've blogged about literally every page of this book, I'm not going to tire of it, nor find it boring - it's really just that good.

If you can read French, or are willing to throw yourself into a translation frenzy, you can find it here. The next time I'm in Europe, I'm going to look for a few copies for us, since it's becoming more and more difficult to find...

Today's inspiration was found on a page about figuring out how to work with color in a wardrobe; to one side, they tucked in this little list of garments with the heading "We love, we dare..."

I love some of them. I might even dare a few of them. What do you think?

When I decided to share this list with you, I thought immediately that I would show you a few garments that (loosely) met their description - some of their chosen items were a bit hard to find! But then I thought I'd also show you how these items could be worn - at least, how I'd integrate them into an outfit. What this gives us is a variety of idea for integrating an unusual color into an otherwise pretty neutral wardrobe.

Pine Green Trousers

Green trousers don't feel particularly daring to me - they specified pine green, which is vague enough that you could choose any number of pants that would fill the bill.

Cropped – P.A.R.O.S.H.; chinos – J. Crew; cords – Lands’ End

I would wear this outfit just to have an excuse to wear this scarf!

Sweater – Lands’ End; Chinos – J. Crew; scarf – Laleh Fayaz; boots – Trotters

Red Cocktail Dress

They specifically said a red "flamenco" cocktail dress. A little too "over the top" for me, and incredibly difficult to find!

Flounced sleeves – See by Chloe; flared short sleeve – Dorothee Schumacher
Lace sleeve – Diane von Furstenberg

I tried to echo the flare of the skirt by my choice of accessories... 

Earrings – Alexis Bittar; clutch – Emilio Pucci
flared short sleeve – Dorothee Schumacher; pumps – Trotters

Shocking Pink Skirt

For someone with a lot of black or navy in their wardrobe, this could turn into a surprisingly workhorse piece - especially with the right scarf or piece of jewelry.

Straight skirt – Giambattista Valli; flutter hem – Jane Norman
Mid-calf - Eggs

A soft, flowy blouse - untucked - and a great necklace make this an easy evening ensemble.

Blouse – Emporio Armani; necklace – Amanda Marcucci; straight skirt –
 Giambattista Valli; clutch – Jaunt; sandals – Pelle Moda

Why would you even WANT to integrate a really unusual color into your wardrobe? Well, a gift from a loved one who's feelings you really DIDN'T want to hurt? Maybe a community or work activity that requires/strongly suggests that you wear the color? Or you're the odd man out in a family group photograph, in which everyone is going to wear a variation on a certain color scheme?

It could happen...

Gold V-neck Sweater

This color SCREAMS sports team to me...

Cotton sweater – Lands’ End; chevron knit – Lands’ End
Featherweight cashmere – J. Crew

The white shirt keeps the gold a bit away from your face, they trousers and loafers give you an outfit with a bit of polish, while the socks keep an element of fun in the mix. The amazing scarf pulls it all together - I could actually picture myself wearing this, and I NEVER wear gold...

Cotton sweater – Lands’ End; shirt – Lands’ End; socks – Punto Blanco; 
pants – J. Crew; scarf – Hermes Siesta au Paradis; loafers – Louise et Cie
Wine Tie-Dyed Cardigan
Why yes, they did indeed specify a tie-dyed cardigan. Let me assure you that I did TRY to find one...
8-buttonLands’ End; subtle floral –  Uttam Boutique; 
V-neck – Paul by Paul Smith

This would be great for a dressy lunch or a nice, but relaxed, evening. I tried to keep the floral sensibility present in the jewelry and bag. And velvet pants make EVERYTHING feel more special.

cardigan – Uttam Boutique; garnet earrings – Alok Jain
garnet ring – Mahavir; black velvet trousers – Viktor & Rolf;  flower-trimmed
 clutch – Carlo Fellini; patent loafers – Dune London

Acid-Green Blouse

Oh. Dear. Me.
If you can successfully wear this color, you should do so, frequently, and take advantage of your unique coloring and temperament. SO many of us can't wear this color in any way, shape or form.

Sleeveless top – Michael Michael Kors; draped sleeves – Phase Eight
Rolled sleeves – Jane Norman

Here, I took a key from the fluidity of the top, found some jacquard trousers with a wavy pattern, and echoed the found motif in the accessories. It still makes a lovely ensemble, for someone who can wear this very strong, unmissable color.

Sleeveless top – Michael Michael Kors; clutch – Natasha Couture
silk jacquard trousers – Agnona; peridot bracelet – Shanker
sandals – Menbur

Klein Blue Dress

I just stuck to a bright, saturated blue, and didn't try to nuance the color of a dress in an image - that leads to madness!  There are dozens of options, in a color that flatters a great many people, and which is a great change from endless black.
One-shoulder dress – Stella McCartney; v-neck dress – Mango
Long sleeve dress – Boutique Moschino

I felt like taking this dress into the realm of tunic, and layering it over black. With flats and a gorgeous scarf, it's more casual, relaxed, and somewhat youthful. THIS is an ensemble I would wear day after day...

v-neck dress – Mango; turtleneck – Lands’ End; scarf – Echo
merino tights – Falke; flats – Arche

Mandarin Coat
My book really wanted this coat to have a Courreges feel about it, but that's a little bit exigent for our purposes, so I just tried to find some really great options in orange.
¾ sleeve jacket – Issa; parka – Helen McAlinden; 3-button cocoon – Neera

What all of these options have shown us is the way that accent colors can really shine when worn with a base of neutrals. So coming full circle, we're back to the cabled turtleneck and the velvet pants, as well as those nifty little boots.  A change of earrings and scarf, and we're able to successfully integrate a completely new accent color into an outfit that doesn't scream Halloween.

parka – Helen McAlinden; earrings – Bhavesh; sweater – Lands’ End;
 scarf – Lulla Collection by Bindya; black velvet trousers – Viktor & Rolf
 boots – Trotters

What I learned AGAIN from this exercise is that virtually any color, combined with core neutrals, and carefully accessorized, can be the centerpiece of a beautiful look. When the "must-have" seasonal colors are pushed upon us, if we find ourselves tempted by one of them, we can indulge without taking our wardrobe into scary, uncharted territory.

You just gotta have a plan...




  1. I think the moral of this story is that, with the right scarf, anything is possible!

  2. I love this exercise, would love to see more.

    1. Agreed! I loved this post!
      - Kaci

  3. Love love love the pink skirt. It may veer into Barbie territory, but I find it gorgeous. But I'm in a pink period, like Picasso...
    And I never thought about a mandarin parka, but it looks amazing.
    Great ideas, Janice!

    1. My wardrobe is exclusively black + gray + white and then jewel tones (pink/orange + teal/emerald), so that pink is a color I get a fair bit of wear out of, and I do have a pink skirt that gets a fair bit of wear. I love wearing it with either gray or doing pattern mixing with white & black patterns.

  4. Massive post! Loved the colours and the outfits. There's the clutch again - the one that comes in three gorgeous colour ways. And now the cute bootees. And the yellow spotted socks. Carol S

  5. Interesting excercise, and I agree that the Fayez scarf is gorgeous.

  6. Janice,
    Oh that Fayez scarf ! Pine green --right up my alley ! Acid green --not so much ! I love color, combined with neutrals, as long as they are toned down to not overpower my light, soft Autumn coloring. However, like a busy pattern, bold color can become tiresome to my eye, so I would be inclined to wear them less frequently.

  7. I have a nice solid core of neutrals with which to work. This summer I came home with a shocking pink skirt for reasons that I still don't understand. I am surprised by how often I reached for it and how nicely it played with black, ivory, and navy.

  8. I love green - I think of it as bottle green. There seem to be more choices this year. I love the green pleated skirt by Zara.

  9. "Why would you even WANT to integrate a really unusual color into your wardrobe?" Because you love the color, of course! Pine green, red, shocking pink, wine, klein blue, and the just-right acid green all make me happy :-) The other colors make me happy too, when I see them on other people!

    - Kaci

  10. This post is a godsend or all those moms who want to support their kids in sports/music/drama and show some school spirit, but are faced with challenging school colors. Like orange and black. Perfect ways to tie in those colors, yet still look fashionable. Now please excuse me while I look for an orange parka to go with my black pants. :)

  11. I have a raspberry corduroy skirt (Ann Taylor Loft) that I LOVE to wear in the winter. My favorite outfit with it is a navy cashmere turtleneck, raspberry skirt, medium blue tights (bluestockings, get it?), and tall black boots. I also have a rose and peach silk shantung skirt (that I made myself!) that I'll wear with a black or navy top and strappy sandals. Oh, hell - I'll just show you!

    P.S. - my high school uniform featured a v-neck (nasty, acrylic) gold sweater and it looked *uniformly* bad on everyone!

  12. I have a very light coloring and do not consider myself a fashion risk-taker, but I have owned or do own most of the items (or very similar) on this list! The orange coat is the one notable exception. My pink skirt has gotten a lot of wear this summer!


  13. For some weird reason, I love wearing acid green (or lime), its one of my favorite type of greens. Love it with dark greys, blues and small accents of fuschia (like a lipstick or belt + earrings)

    It may not be the best color (peachy white skin, dark slate blue eyes and dark mousy blond hair, powderpink is one of my most flattering color, its like a "nude" color on my skintone), but Im not someone who get bothered by "what color looks flattering" or "clothes shouldn't wearin you", because I would wear them anyway! ;) I have four pieces in this color, a cardigan, a midi flared skirt, a mini tube skirt and flowy v-neck blouse and now keep eyeing on accessories in this color. Its a little bit bright/flashy, but it works better than moss and olive greens which make my skin look sick. Bottle/pine green is also an favorite, but Ive a crush on acid/lime green more... If you love a color so much, I don't see whats wrong with looking too bright (the clothes are wearing you, not you wearing them) or make your colorings a bit off (old rose is one of those colors that make look very pale, but I love it too much to care) because its not the end of the world. ;3

    But its one of those colors I can only wear when I feel in the mood for it. Like, I dont favor wearing it for special occasions and appoiments or very casual events but dont mind wearing on leisure or summer wear! For dressier occasions, Im drawn to rich bold hues like winter-y colors and generally wear mostly berry shades or cool but soft colors like burgundy, rose, powder/light pink, deep blue, lemon and peach worn with gold jewelry. (Neither "neutral" or "bold" territory kind of woman, LOL).

  14. The V-neck – Paul by Paul Smith links back to Lands End. In the past I've had a jacket and a couple of tops in the strange acid green. That color has never been on any of my color charts, but it works for me and I always got compliments. It was a fun color for informal occasions. Thanks for the reminder that I should consider that color again.

    1. Dear Abigail - thanks for letting me know! These links can go awry, and I don't always catch them...
      big hug,

  15. WOW! How brave and clever to tackle this challenge. Makes me think twice about a brilliantly colored skirt.

  16. I agree about acid green! I look awful in it, but people who look good in it look GREAT, and should wear it because they are so few in number they will stand out.

  17. This is a great post and so comprehensive, it is a great reminder of the incredible value of a neutral wardrobe into which can be added items of colour and pizzazz.

    deb from Vancouver

  18. Love this, Janice. As a redhead with green eyes and porcelain skin, virtually all of the 'unwearables' are for me: acid green, orange, gold. Just bought a beautiful flame (orange red) merino wool wrap dress from Baujken (worth a look: very good quality)
    Wish I could read the book in it's original french, but my 'O' levels aren't up to this!

  19. Great post! I'm pale, freckled & auburn haired. Acid green looks great on me, as long as the saturation doesn't run too far to the yellow end of the spectrum. I love wearing it with very dark navy and grey, which tones it down. Also, I think the instinct is to pair with gold jewelry, but silver/platinum keeps it fresher and in a cooler palette. I would wear the sleeveless Michael Kors with navy skinnies, flats and chunky modern silver jewelry.