Thursday, April 30, 2015

I've been thinking a lot about my friend's inclination to buy a bright green handbag. This time of year, when it feels like we haven't seen ANYTHING green since the Christmas tree came down, bright green can be really tempting. And if the bag in question is beautifully well made, in a classic design, the urge makes even more sense!

This was the bag in question - you might be able to see the allure:

Green handbag from Michael Kors
Bag – Michael Kors

But I, for some reason, just can't quite see an ensemble in which you're wearing other colors (in this case, navy), and the only green thing in your outfit is the bag. Other people are okay with this, but for balance and a sense of intentionality, I like to see another green something included. If you don't feel this way, this post isn't going to mean much to you!

So let's start with a handful of navy garments - just enough to give us a variety of ensembles. (for what it's worth, there are 10 possible combinations, not including silly things like wrapping a tee shirt around your head as a headband)

5 piece mini capsule travel wardrobe from Uniqlo

The easiest way to bring in a 2nd color to an outfit is through shoes - and if you find shoes that aren't smooth leather (woven, suede, or even fabric!), then the colors can be a bit "off" and still not be horridly clashing.

Yes, I would wear the Converse. Not for everybody, but certainly a possibility!

green shoes: sandals, driving mocs, ballet flats and sneakers
Navy and green slides – Adidas by Raf Simons, driving moccasins – Coach
ballet flat – Coach, canvas sneakers - Converse

A green belt is another very fun idea. If you're looking for a wild assortment of belts, check out Yoox. Their choices come and go really quickly, but they have more options than anyplace else I've ever seen. (yes, they pay me a small commission; I'm very grateful!)

Gold filigree buckle belt – Dirk Bikkembergs, braided belt – HTC
narrow belt – Pinko Black, leather and metal belt – Dquared2

And it's not The Vivienne Files unless I'm looking at scarves... The scarf with the detachable charm is a fun idea - you could arrange the scarf in a way that the charm acts as a pendant...

four green printed scarves
Organza scarf – Yuh Okano,  chevron print scarf – Target,
rectangle scarf –
Yarnz, scarf with detachable crocheted charm – rumisu 

This is how I envision the outfits; now if the weather would JUST get warm enough to wear this kind of thing...

Someone has also asked me about a hot pink handbag - I think we'll revisit this tomorrow with some different accessories!


Looking Back:

2012: April in Paris, The Final Chapter (a guest post at A Femme d'un Certain Age)

Monsoon US

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Why yes, it IS April, but we aren't seeing any weather that feels warm! I wore gloves, without exception, every time I was out - most of our highest temperatures were just around 50 degrees Fahrenheit. While I love cold weather more than most people, I have to admit to being ready to move into something just a tad warmer...

My week was filled with preparations for moving (down the hall, but it involved two different landlords for each of the apartments, a renovation about to start in the new apartment, and plans for renovations the second we're out of our current digs), visits to my doctor, and accompanying a friend to her appointments too! If there's ever a market for guided tours of Northwestern Hospital in Chicago, I will be the first person to qualify as a guide.

AND!!! the most fun might have been going to Leslie Hindman Auction House, to preview the recent auction of Luxury Accessories and Vintage Fashion. (click here to see the results) When Slim and I arrived, there was nobody else visiting, so we got to rummage about uninhibitedly. She tried on quite a few beautiful things... Ah, the loveliness, and the dreams, and the curiosity about the lives these objects have touched...

earrings - Rika (similar here), necklace - Wayan Asmana, shirt - St. James,
trousers - Eddie Bauer, shoes - Munro

earrings - Majorica, scarf - Julie Egli, bracelet - Majorica,
 dress - COS, ballet flats - Cole Haan (similar here)

gold knot earrings - similar here, tee shirt - Muji, cardigan - Lands' End,
scarf - Hermes, slouch pants - Eileen Fisher, flats - Thierry Rabotin

scarf - Hermes, earrings - Majorica, cardigan - Lands' End, shirt - Lands' End,
shoes - Stuart Weitzman, trousers - 
Eddie Bauer

earrings -similar here, necklace - Silpada, sweater - J.Jill, scarf - street vendor,
skirted leggings - Eileen Fisher, boots - Munro

Looking Back:


Tuesday, April 28, 2015

My computer is behaving badly, and my familial obligations are cutting into my blogging time (which is fine, because I know you all understand!), but I have enough time to share this WONDERFUL site, where you can design your own shoes, and actually have them MADE!!!

My designs, using the Shoes of Prey website

Pick a general style, and start playing with leathers, fabrics, trim, ornaments etc. The prices are not out of this world (more department store than thrift store, but nothing I built was over $150), and the options are nearly limitless.

Many of you make your own clothes (and I know that at least a few of you are truly artists at what you do!), but some of us who don't have the facility, or the facilities, to do that could certainly indulge our creative and individualistic impulses in a pair of shoes. Or two. Or more...

FWIW, I don't get anything from Shoes of Prey except great pleasure!


Looking Back:
2014: 18 = 216, in a really big, perfect wardrobe slot machine...

2013: Chic sighting x2 - at the bakery counter

Monday, April 27, 2015

Let's hypothesize that the nearest orchestra to you is going to be playing a favorite - Beethoven's 7th? And you know that the concert will end later than the last train, so you're going to stay overnight. This is the very EASIEST packing - you just need something to wear that evening, and a clean blouse or top to wear home the next afternoon.

So pull on some jeans, and some nice accessories, and hop on the train! You can actually walk from the train station to your hotel, and since your bag is so small, you can stop for lunch, or do some shopping...

white tee – Uniqlo, belt – Prada, jeans – Current/Elliott, sunglasses – Oliver Peoples
cardigan – Allude, watch – Nixon, loafers – Church’s, coat – Dsquared2, gem print scarf – 
Radical Chic, leather tote – Chloe

This is all you have to pack - some toiletries, and some nightwear, and you're set!

sleeveless dress – Bevza, print tee shirt – Uniqlo, clutch bag – Miller and Jeeves
triangle labradorite earrings – Eilisain Jewelry, ring – Lana Jewelry, slingbacks - Gianvito Rossi

Hang up your dress when you get to the hotel to change (although it has a bit of texture, so it won't show wrinkles much at all!), and make sure your tee shirt is neatly folded somewhere. This is how the rest of your brief break will look:

I know there are lots of people here in the Chicago area who take advantage of empty downtown hotels, and excellent restaurants, to take a quick "mini-vacance" over the weekend - do you?


Saturday, April 25, 2015

Another interesting email: One of your is seriously considering the coat shown below, but you have some concerns about how this color will integrate into your primarily black and white wardrobe.

Well!!! It's a lovely coat - I particularly like the way that the buttons are placed close enough together that the double-breasted effect is actually vertical rather than horizontal (a rare bit of design intelligence, I'd say). The pockets help with the vertical feeling too, and this shade of smoky blue is beyond lovely - subtle and rich.

BUT! It's a substantial (gulp) investment. This isn't a purchase that you make on a whim...

The writer also indicated that, if she chose this coat, that she wants to purchase a handful of accessories over the next year in this shade of blue, in order to help her new coat feel at home. But she was having a hard time picturing how this would actually unfold...

Let's take this step by step!

Step 1 - The Coat Itself

Slate blue or smoky blue coat from Dsquared2
Coat – Dsquared2

Step 2 - A Scarf that Complements

The question here is simple - can you picture yourself buying and frequently wearing one of these? If not, what kind of scarf DO you think you would wear with this coat? For most climates, a scarf is important outerwear, and for most style, a scarf is a valuable addition to a solid-colored, long coat.

blue coat with four different complementary scarves
Coat – Dsquared2scarf with angled ends – Hermes, gem print scarf – Radical Chic
geometric scarf –
Florenz, angled scarf – Radical Chic

Step 3 - A Piece of Jewelry, or Two

This step accomplishes a couple of things: (1) it tests your willingness to wear this color close to your face or against your skin, and (2) questions your comfort with purchasing something that might be in your possession long enough to be a family heirloom. If either of these prospects makes you uncomfortable, maybe you need to think about what initially attracted you to this color.

Oh, and that heart-stopping moment when you have the PERFECT brooch in hand, but you have to actually PUNCTURE the surface of your new coat. I love the look of a beautiful brooch on outerwear, but it's not lost on me that it's a hard step sometimes!

(does anybody else sort of... do a double take? when you see the brand Nixon on watches? I remember a day when it wasn't considered a really desirable association... I date myself!)

smoky blue Dsquared2 coat, with an assortment of blue jewelry
Coat – Dsquared2, triangle labradorite earrings – Eilisain Jewelry, bead necklace – Lena Skadegard,
 ring – Lana Jewelry, watch – Nixon, brooch – St. John, bracelet - Shanker

Step 4 - A Bag

Many women have very strong feeling about the bag that they carry; considering the purchase of a bag in a color similar to that of your new coat is another opportunity to closely examine your comfort level with the color. You might like smoky blue in fabric, but in leather it might be a step too far. Does this change your inclination toward the coat?

Smoky slate blue coat with a choice of blue handbags
Coat – Dsquared2, nylon briefcase – Piquadro, cube bag – Colle’cte, suede sack bag – Orciani
leather tote – Chloe, clutch bag – Miller and Jeeves, shoulder bag – Knights and Roses

Step 5 - Other Accessories

Now you want to think about how much you're willing to see this color repeatedly in your accessory family. I'm not suggesting that you buy all of these, but you probably want a hat, and in much of the world you CERTAINLY want gloves. When you consider the possibility of a blue manicure, or a blue Fitbit, are you still in love with the color?

Smoky blue coat with sunglasses, Fitbit, nail polish, fedora, gloves and a belt in coordinating blue
Coat – Dsquared2, sunglasses – Oliver Peoples, fitness bracelet – Fitbit, nail polish – Essie 
(color – Spun in Luxe), fedora – Rag and Bone, gloves – Originals by Jack and Jones, beltPrada

None of these questions are foolproof to keep you from making a buying error - we ALL buy the wrong thing sometimes. But I think there's value in trying to see your new purchase through a "long-term" filter, and to see what other sorts of items might creep into your wardrobe on the heels of this major investment.

What color tempts you? And in what kind of item? I'd love to explore this idea further!


Looking Back:

Friday, April 24, 2015

Here's a decision scenario: you know you like the scarf - the silk and wool blend, the pattern drawn from foliate motifs and calligraphy of the Sultan's courts of India, the knowledge that your purchase supports the Metropolitan Museum of Art - but WHICH COLOR TO CHOOSE????

scarves - Available at The Metropolitan Museum of Art Store,
online at or by calling 1-800-662-3397

I'm of the opinion that your wardrobe should have a certain DNA - a "fingerprint" that is as unique as your own. If this is true, then anything that you add to your wardrobe should look like it's related to the things you already own.

So maybe this decision can be made easier if we look at some options that might currently be in your closet, and see if any of them look like they're in your style family...

Do you have one of the new, very popular, lightweight quilted vests?  Which of these colors seems immediately like it's "you"?

vests - Uniqlo

Most of us own some jewelry; do you gravitation to the depth of amethyst, the warmth of amber, or the earthy textures of wood and earth tones?

Amethyst necklace – Sasina, amethyst earrings –Shanker
amber earrings – Mariana Llanes, amber necklace – Yves Saint Laurent Vintage
wood leaf earrings – Vaubel, brown bead necklace – Jozica 

It's a rare woman who never wears a tee shirt.... Which of these is already in your wardrobe, or might be an easily-imaged addition?

tee shirts - Uniqlo 

One of the joys of Longchamp totes is that they come in so many colors! But if you had to choose a neutral bag to carry frequently, which of these calls your name?

(for what it's worth, these bags are the BEST thing to toss into luggage when you travel, or into your regular tote on a daily basis; they're great for bringing back gifts from vacation, or for carrying those last-minute groceries home without taking yet ANOTHER bag from the supermarket)

bags - Longchamp

And of course, The Vivienne Files isn't going to go on for more than a day or two without some cardigans! I believe in their - their flattery, and their utility. Can you see yourself in any of these?

cardigans - Uniqlo

At the end of this exercise, it became blindingly clear to me that the first scarf is the one I would choose - grey is an important neutral for me, and I love amethyst. The scarf also lends itself to touches of red, and a substantial dose of black or navy...

The second scarf is for those among us who love brights! But this scarf could make a gorgeous statement pieces paired with a simple dark dress and beautiful gold earrings, too.

The third scarf is the embodiment of all of the beauty to be found in warm colors - all the shades of brown, the beautiful deep moss green, and the accents of red would be a beautiful addition to the wardrobe of the Autumn women among us.

Did this little exercise make your imaginary (or real!) choice among the scarves easier? And better yet, can you see this translating to your future purchases?


Looking Back:

Artisan Made Jewelry Designs

Thursday, April 23, 2015

That time of year is fast approaching when the lucky ones among us get all kinds of great invitations for weekends! If you have friends with a lake house, you know what I mean - lots of time in the water  - in a canoe, a kayak, or an inner tube! Chilly evenings, cooking out, laughing 'til your sides hurt... The last thing you want to worry about is what to pack!

Sargent's painting put me very much in the right mood for this scenario:

White Ship by John Singer Sargent

Maybe you're driving to the lake, taking the train and being met, or taking the Jitney, but under any circumstances, you want to look nice - casual, but still pretty, with attention to detail.

Hammered ball earrings – Nest, tan pants – P.A.R.O.S.H. , sleeveless top – Betty Barclay
cardigan – Nougat London, multi-stone necklace – Marco Bicego, sandals – Adam Tucker
pedicure polish – Butter London ( color is called Trollop, tote bag – Mary and Marie

Two swimsuits might seem like overdoing it, but if you're going to wear one for twelve hours a day, it's nice to have options! A hooded cardigan comes in handy when evening sets in and the temperatures drop...

Dress – Toast,  swimsuit – Speedo, plaid shirt – L.L.Bean
zip-front cabled sweater – L.L.Bean,  tan shorts – L.L.Bean, flip flops – Havaianas
sleeveless linen shirt – Uniqlo, print swimsuit – Shan, blue shorts – L.L.Bean

Do you get to take weekend breaks away from home during the summer? What kind of wardrobe would you like to see for your getaway?


Looking Back:

2012: April in Paris: Neutral, with Texture (a guest post at A Femme d'un Certain Age)

2011: Things I Admire (the very first Chic Sighting!)

Ouidad Climate Control