Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Mixing Black and Florals

If you're not mad for monochromatic wardrobes, yesterday might not have been your dream. But this idea has all kinds of potential; what if you're all about floral prints?

Floral jacketGiambattista Valli; short cardigan – Ted Baker; long
 cardigan – Desigual; short-sleeve tee – Oasis; long sleeve top – Diane 
von Furstenberg; blouse – Equipment (moda operandi); skirt – Jaeger
narrow trousers – Wallis; wide trousers - Warehouse

Oh my... While each of these garments is quite beautiful on their own, when you pile them all together like this, they could give even the most staunchly pro-botanical among us hay fever...

But if you also own at least these 9 solid garments, you're really in pretty good shape, wardrobe-wise. The solids temper the impact of the print, and give them center stage, and make garments that might seem busy or "too much" into pieces that are just perfect.

short cardigan – J. Crew; open cardigan – J. Crew; boucle jacket – IRO;   
black linen tank – Eileen Fisher; black tee shirt – Eileen Fisher; black turtleneck
 – Donna Karan; black slouch pants – Eileen Fisher;  black skirted leggings – 
Eileen Fisher; black waxed cotton jeans – Eileen Fisher

The addition of the floral pieces to your core black wardrobe will give you at least 81 additional combinations; I'm NOT going to show them all this time! Rather, I've selected a few different ways that these pieces can be worn. I've included some great flower earrings, and some simple black shoes - this would be an easy and very pretty way to get dressed every day!

If you choose your florals carefully - things like a cotton cardigan - these outfits can span all seasons.

Earrings – Achara; labradorite earrings – Khun Boom; onyx earrings – Alok Jain
Flats – Seychelles; short boots – Michael Michael Kors; Chelsea boots – Dune London

The tee shirt could be worn alone with pants or a skirt in the summer, and then layered under a cardigan or jacket as temperatures drop; it's much more efficient to find ways to wear clothes throughout the year, rather than completely change out your entire wardrobe twice a year.

Onyx earrings – Khun Boom; garnet earrings – Neeru Goel;  floral basket earrings – Buana;
Ballet flats – Easy Spirit; scrunch boots – Bussola; Chelsea boots – Camper

If you're madly uncomfortable drawing attention to the bottom part of your body, you could simply skip this part of the wardrobe completely, and may be get a few more jackets or blouses...

Onyx earrings – Neeru Goel; peridot earrings – Kenari;  carnelian earrings – Citlal Castillo;
Sandals – Munro; tasseled flats – Louise et Cie; loafers – BCBGeneration

I have one last idea for leveraging the 9-Piece Slot Machine that I'm going to share with you tomorrow. Do you have any requests, suggestions, or questions?


Halcyon Days


  1. This is a really great example of the importance of clear personal style. I love florals, and yet only three of those pieces would be right for me with my other rules. (Not a complaint - this is as it should be!) That floral t-shirt, though! I am exercising discipline in not ordering it right this minute!

  2. Choosing patters by theme, excellent idea! Can tie pieces into one's signature element that way. I'd be interested to see a version with more that one color in the solid 3x3, though I understand finding coordinating prints would be difficult then. I tried making one with blue, plum and white but I'm not sure I quite got it. (http://www.polyvore.com/solid_pattern_mix_accessories_office/set?id=175907748)

    Thanks for the great ideas!

    1. I think you capsule looks great, Anne! So glad you shared it -- but, you said you're not satisfied with it yet -- can you eek out what feels not-there-yet to you? Do you love the colour blend? Is it how the shapes work together? Maybe there are individual pieces that you don't like....

      If it were my wardrobe, the place where it feels 'not quite' for me is in how the patterned skirt has a hard time blending with some of the possible top and third piece combos...I think I'd try a solid colored but heavily textured or interestingly cut skirt in that spot -- or exchange the patterned tops with interesting solid ones and then add one or two more patterned bottoms that have the same mood/theme as that adorable skirt.

      Blending multiple colors and patterns is so tricky, I like to keep all of the patterns in one category: tops OR bottoms. When Janice adds patterns it is almost always in this way, and her capsules are exceptionally mix&match balanced.

      It would be fun to see the circular-themed jewelry you show replaced with something in those same graphics and shapes you are leaning toward, too: I'd call it soft diagonal lines and curved slashes.

      I'd love to see how Janice would tweak it - she has a major talent for accessorizing on a theme without kitsch or repetition.
      I hope you keep showing us your groups, Anne! It's fun to see how people apply this stuff. I'd love to see more commenters show their work : )

    2. Hmm. I agree the skirt doesn't scan as part of the group, though in wearing it would be the only print (printed bottom row, solid color blouse & topper from the first set of 9, as Janice shows above - polyvore limits the ability to show this clearly) and the colors tie in.

      I had a lace skirt there for a while, but felt I might be cheating the idea of a printed bottom row since the other two (blue trousers, plum skirt) were tone-on-tone jacquard and not a print. If I get a moment I'll look again and see if I can find something better fitting. Juggling multiple colors is tricky, but I was taking that as a challenge here. I also did a black and white one earlier - http://www.polyvore.com/after_vivienne_files_sept_2015/set?id=175870456 which has a variety of patterns but seems more unified, to my eye, likely because of the limited color palate. But I would be bored wearing it, I crave color variety.

      How to apply a consistent theme with subtle repetition and variation in accessories is one of the main things I'm learning from Janice, and I'm still quite new at it. I let polyvore's offerings define my search for accessories, though I have no doubt there are more harmonious options. (Polyvore does let users tag things from the internet and import them, if one is willing to spend the time.)

      I'd love to see a remix of this (or any set I've posted), see what fresh insights or a more practiced eye would bring. Thanks for the comment, it's helping to refine my editing process. (any comments & crits are welcome)


    3. Quick update: I took a screen capture with some other options for the skirt in question. I feel there are good options, but nothing is a 10. Again, the painterly swirl on the side is the original inspiration.
      Any thoughts appreciated!

  3. Janice,
    Your wonderful mind has shared more inspiration for those of us determined to pare down our wardrobes for all seasons.
    I wish I could wear black but it's just too dark. Living in Southern California I struggle to find my Seasonless neutral, especially when green makes me glow. Camel and beige too light, dark brown is only good for a few months, alas, I'll keep reading. Perhaps one day you'll come up with just the right idea for me.

    Thank you for all you do and share.
    A faithful fan,

    1. There are lots of sludgy neutrals that look really good and work well with other colours. Pewter is a good one, there are some interesting off-blacks and recently Sew Ruth has been showing a cool brown, a very lovely neutral if you can wear brown.
      Hope you can find one you love– it makes all the difference in the world.
      Vancouver Barbara

    2. Why can't green be your neutral? Or, if that feels like too much for you, try piling all your favorite greens on your bed and tossing various neutrals into the mix until something sings. I particularly like silver (pale grey) and platinum (pale greige) with green, but there are SO many greens - and the only person you really have to please with your choice is yourself!

    3. Re pewter: My daughter lives in southern California, in San Diego. She just got married there a few weeks ago. For months before the wedding, I tried to assemble a capsule wardrobe based on pewter. It's a flattering color for me, and it works well with both black and navy as well as pastels and brights. But I couldn't find enough clothes in this color, so I ended up defaulting to khaki. (Compared to pewter, khaki seems to be ubiquitous.)

  4. Love that Desigual cardigan and it could woo me even though it is black because it would be so flattering and appropriate for all kinds of situations! A very top star pick.

    Deb from Vancouver in Madrid surrounded by Desigual

    PS everyone talks and writes about how the French dress but I am very taken by Spanish style. The men and women of all ages and sizes have a lot of flair and personality in their appearance and carriage. No cookie cutters and no lulu lemon.

    1. Yay for a lack of lulu lemons! :-)

      ...another Vancouverite...

  5. Love this concept although it is still way too monochromatic for me. I can see that if all the second nine pieces were in different jewel tones, or florals in various colorways, or even just all different random colors, you could make a wardrobe that would give you plenty to wear every day without ever feeling bored -- lots of variety, although the second group would not go together. If the second "slot machine" was in two or three colors that went together, you'd get an even larger variety of possible outfits.

  6. Love the concept and the florals though I rarely wear florals. I'd love to see the same concept with geometric prints. After black and warm grey (mid to dark), I find purples, olivey greens and a touch of russet (Merlot, this season's version) work for me.
    The Desigual coat is wonderful as is the Valli floral jacket. I would wear the coat but probably not the jacket; not because I don't love it but it's too formal for my lifestyle.
    Thanks always for your thoughtfulness and fun.
    A lot of Vancouver gals today... and one more...
    Vancouver Barbara

  7. Lovely! This made me realize that I rarely wear florals. In fact, I rarely wear prints or patterns of any kind. But I love black & it looks good on me, even with my 60 y/o skin tones, and floral-on-black, as long as it's big & bold & (better) a bit exotic, really revs my engine. This took me back a bunch of decades to my first job, when my favorite garment was a black silk blouse with red flowers on it -- I wore it with black pants or a red knit (mini) skirt & always felt like a million dollars in it. As I rethink/revamp/renew my entire wardrobe post-retirement, I'm thinking maybe there's room for one of these. I'd be hesitant about floral pants, but then again -- why the heck not? The ones shown are amazing.

  8. I like your slot machine basic black pieces...they are like a canvas for creativity and artful dressing!

  9. That's a neat description hostess. I'm having fun playing with this idea in my own wardrobe using the plain neutrals as the canvas, and patterned more colourful pieces as the accents. It's a rich series, Janice, thank you.
    I would like to be able to mix patterns with different colours too, as you sometimes see in the fashion magazines - like a striped top with reds and a flowery skirt in blues. It sounds weird but it can look utterly lovely and gets away from the 'put together' look without seeming just ditzy or as though you got dressed in a panic. But I haven't cracked it - perhaps it has to do with the different colours bring complementary or in the same tonal range?

  10. I feel the same sometimes- with this strong yearning for bold colours, like your red tops and blue pants Coco - sometimes I think our society has become so conservative with its use of colour........... and I long for those wider days, but still wanting to look a tad sophisticated as well :)