Saturday, May 30, 2015

Something everyone struggles with is having to pack when the weather is iffy, or when you're going to be moving around through different weather conditions. So I thought I'd take our "Whatever's Clean 13" template as a guide to making this easier.

I've laid it out this way:

A simple navy, white and turquoise palette is the order of the day. (and starting with the Kathkath scarf, I've loosely adhered to a theme of waves and water...) No matter what the travel plan is, I like to make sure that I'm traveling with long trousers, closed-toe shoes, and a cardigan. Depending on your mode of travel, you want to be prepared for too much air conditioning, or a rotten heating system. And it's always easier to take off your cardigan and roll up your sleeves than it is to try to get dressed in warmer clothing that's tucked into your suitcase.

white denim shirt – Uniqlo, silver wave earrings – Lupita Betancourt, bracelet – She-Beads, navy trousers – The Row, navy cardigan – Acne Studios, scarf - Kathkath, driving mocs – Pluggz, tote – Street Level

This is everything that I packed (in my imagination, of course!). You can already see that there's sleeveless, and sandals, so a change of temperature is expected...

Striped tee – Vince, swimming pool clutch bag – Jimmy Choo, white cotton cardigan – Vince, white sleeveless linen shirt – Uniqlo, silver wave bracelet – Aoy, navy dotted cardigan – Uniqlo, silver earrings – Sarah Kosta, white cropped jeans – White Stuff, turquoise sleeveless blouse – Yumi, watercolor print top – Episode, navy pencil skirt – Austin Reed, white denim skirt – Closed, turquoise jeans – 7 for all Mankind, silver sandals – 9 West, organza scarf – Yuh Okano, turquoise ballet flats – Geox

And here's the entirety of your travel wardrobe:

Here's how things look on our template. Although I drew up the template making it look like turquoise is the second neutral, it really is the accent color.

One important note that I've learned while doing these wardrobes: if you want to include prints or patterns in your travel capsule wardrobe, you need to do it with one of the three "rows" of the template. Otherwise, you're going to have to mix patterns between tops and bottoms. That's not impossible (and I might be doing it during some wardrobes here) but it makes things more difficult.

And here are a few (well, 15) of your optional outfits. There are, in reality, dozens of ways to wear these 13 garments.

I think this would be a great wardrobe for a trip that included both city and more rural pursuits. Not exactly equipped for fly fishing or rappelling down a cliff, but a nice outdoor walk, or a picnic, would see you well prepared!


PS - For more inspiration, read about packing light and the "Whatever's Clean" article.

Friday, May 29, 2015

This can't be good.... Your boss comes into your office: "I need to you to go to Des Moines (or Dusseldorf, or Dublin), because they've already spent 80% of their year's budget for widgets! Get out there and see what's going on!!!"

Nobody in your office has ever been to "The D City Office", and so you have no clue what to expect. Who buys and uses the widgets? The C-Suite guys in 3-piece suits? (I can personally verify that men in Dublin still wear vests with their suits...) Or is it Jen, Roy and Moss, down in the basement? Is some moron executive treating widgets as if they're disposable? Or did a genius in Procurement find widgets at 80% off, and buy a 5 year supply? Your plate is full...

The IT Crowd - one of the funniest television shows I've ever seen...

So, in addition to having to figure out (a) what IS a widget?, (b) how is it used?, and (c) how many of them should an office use in the course of a year, you've also got to pack!

No worries; I've got this!

Start formal - it's always easier to peel off a suit jacket and a silk scarf than it is to try to pretend that you're "executive-worthy" in jeans and a sweater.

Fairies Penny scarf – Joanna Allsop (similar here), blazer – Paul Smith (similar here), trousers – Paul Smith (similar here), sweater – Steffen Schraut (similar here), mother of pearl earrings – La Kaiser (similar here), watch - Skagen, tote - Lodis, loafers – Gucci (similar here), suitcase – Tumi (similar here)

If you arrive wearing this, and you end up in the basement with the tech people, you should be okay...

Normally, for a trip like this I would NEVER suggest packing 10 items - this sounds like it should be a 3 day trip. But when venturing into the face of the corporate unknown, you need options.

So let's envision our "Whatever's Clean 13" like this. On the left, a cluster of six items that are pretty dressy - your navy pantsuit, and things to wear with it. On the right, a cluster of six items in grey (which will go with navy perfectly), but which are a bit more relaxed in feel. And holding things together there at the bottom, a pair of trousers, or a skirt, that will work either direction.

Your travel outfits plugs in like this:

Yes, your blush top could be on either side of this equation, but I tossed it into the more relaxed side of things, just to show that it's possible to mix things from both sides.

This is the rest of your wardrobe for travel. Arguably, the hardest part of this wardrobe might be finding a skirt that you can wear with the blazer from your navy suit! The smartest thing to do would be to find a way to purchase all 3 pieces at the same time, from the same vendor. But in the absence of that, a change of texture will help "non-matching" things work together. This skirt is bouclé, which contrasts with your blazer without clashing.

And I chose a couple of short-sleeved sweaters to include here, because to me they span the "dressy/casual" divide really well. Under a blazer, they don't really make a statement. With contrasting trousers, they're more at ease and informal.

And I opted for tan trousers; men wear tan trousers with a navy blazer frequently, so it's a very accepted business ensemble. But if you're leaning away from "corporate dress", you can always just treat them like a pair of khakis!

Grey cardigan – Jardin des Orangers, pearl necklace – Elyona (similar here), circle brooch - Mikimoto, square scarf – Hermes Au Coeur de la Vie, navy short-sleeve sweater – Joseph (similar here), clutch bag – Tevolio (similar here), white short-sleeve sweater – Lamberto Losani (similar here), grey short-sleeve tee – Uniqlo (similar here), navy dotted silk tee – Uniqlo (similar here), striped scarf – Haider Ackermann (similar here), grey skirt – Uniqlo (similar here), tan cotton trousers – Planet (similar here), grey trousers – Max Mara (similar here), medallion print blouse – Prabal Gurung (similar here), navy suede pumps – Jimmy Choo (similar here), grey pumps – Vince (similar here),  navy boucle skirt – Boden USA(similar here)

Your template is complete:

This is always a good time to toss a couple of seriously elegant accessories into your bag. If you're going to have to go toe-to-toe with a knucklehead CFO who breaks three widgets a week, you're going to want to have all of the psychological armor you can muster! (but just for spite, your clutch bag is from Target...)

Now, you have lots of options!

I used to LOVE business travel, and I miss it terribly, but I'm not going to pretend that it wasn't sometimes a pain in the neck!


PS - For more wardrobe planning templates and the latest Pantone Color Planner check out the Planning Documents section of the website.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

You might have noticed that, when I asked what color palette everyone preferred for a custom bracelet, there was a wide divergence of choice. Which is great - I love diversity!

But when I tallied up the votes, there was no clear winner...

So I got in touch with our friends at She-Beads, and we came up with an even BETTER idea...

Leave me a comment here, tell me what 2, 3 or 4 colors you would use to make your dream bracelet. Next Thursday morning, I'll draw a winner, and that winner will have that bracelet MADE FOR THEM by She-Beads...

That's a pretty spiffy offer, I'd say!

If you're struggling for color names, check out this site, which has color names that you've never even heard of, or look at my earlier post here, which might help you be more precise.

I'm really looking forward to your responses, because I'm going to look to them for ideas about color schemes for upcoming blog posts, too.  Of course, when the winning bracelet is done, I'll be doing a post specifically about it!

My favorite color scheme?  They've already got bracelets just for me:

bracelets - She-Beads

What's your preference? Lots of brights? More classic navy and grey?  I can't wait to hear what you have to say!


Alibris UK: books, movies & music

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

I really love the "Whatever's Clean 13"... 

I love travel, and I love packing light, and I love the idea of being able to just stick your hands into your bag and pull out things that will come together in a beautiful outfit.

Today, I'm looking at warm weather, but prepared for some coolness. I know that trips to the south of France, ranging into Cinque Terre and Venice, will give you some hot, lavender-scented days in Provence, but then in Venice, after dark can be positively damp and cool... You can't be prepared for every last possible need, but you can be intelligent, and beautiful...

Lace is the unifying theme today, starting with this beautiful (and outrageously expensive) lace top. Comfortable pants and shoes, the always essential cardigan and scarf, and you're good to go!

Black cashmere cardigan – Dear Cashmere, lace top – Aquilano.Rimondi, mother
 of pearl earrings – LaKaiser,  cotton trousers – Uniqlo,  cashmere blend scarf 
Faliero Sarti, watch –Fossil, black patent loafers – Tod’s, tote bag – Longchamp
rolling suitcase – Tumi

I'm assuming, for purposes of our imaginary trip, that there will be abundant sightseeing, but that there will also be many romantic nights. Not necessarily black-tie dressy, but things for which you still want to look lovely, and feel alluring. 

So, starting with our travel outfit, our substitutions are as follows:

  • black cardigan, replaced by beige cardigan;
  • lace top, replaced by black floral top;
  • lace top, replaced by botanical print top;
  • lace top, replaced by beige sparkle top;
  • lace top, replaced by ruffled beige top;
  • lace top, replaced by black sleeveless top;
  • beige trousers, replaced by beige shorts;
  • beige trousers, replaced by black skirt; (just sort of roll and stuff in the bag)
  • beige trousers, replaced by beige lace skirt; (so easy to pack!)
  • beige trousers; replaced by black trousers.

This gives you thirteen pieces - two "covers", 2nd layers, or cardigans, six blouse/tee shirt tops, and five "bottoms".

I chose simple, flat sandals that area all described as being designed for comfort, and the jewelry, clutch bag, and black wrap all have an echoing sense of lace about them. 

Beige cardigan – East, lace medallion bracelet – Gag&Lou, floral sleeveless 
top – Quiz, white tee shirt with sparkles – Ginger and Soul, black lace-trimmed 
wrap – Uniqlo, black lace earrings – Liz Law, ruffled top – Part Two, gold earrings – Eina Ahluwalia
nature print top – Yumi, black sleeveless top – Raquel Allegra
beige shorts – North Face, lace skirt – Polo Ralph Lauren
black chiffon skirt –  Polo Ralph Lauren, black cotton trousers – Isabel Marant 
 Etoile, lace clutch – Tevolio, black sandals – Gentle Souls,  
gold sandals – Born, gold slingback espadrilles – Naturalizer

This all seems to live together quite nicely, doesn't it?

 And, as with any "Whatever's Clean" wardrobe, you have literally dozens of choices, suitable for a casual dinner, a rainy day in a museum, a sunny day outdoors, or a very romantic evening meal and walk around town.

If for some reason you strongly felt that you needed more clothes, you could add a skirt or trousers (maybe in a beige and black pattern, although this would break the sacred "Whatever's Clean"...), and two more tops. I can't personally imagine packing more than 16 pieces for almost anything...

But what do you think?



Tuesday, May 26, 2015

There's just nothing more glamorous than posting an Excel formula to open a blog post!

Remember that delectable scarf from Kathkath that they offered to us last week?

Riad scarf - Kathkath

Well, Lorrie, send me your contact information so that I can forward it to Kathkath - because IT'S YOURS!

Congratulations to Lorrie, and thanks, as always, to all of you who hang around here with me and share my day...

I don't think I've mentioned it before, but Belovedest and I are moving, at the end of June. Just down the hall, but we've been given an irresistible offer on a REALLY irresistible apartment with a spectacular lake view, and so we're going to accept...

The new apartment is a 1 bedroom, which is a big step up for those of us who have always lived in studio apartments! But so far we've been very lucky - someone gave us an absolutely amazing bed and dresser, along with enough bedding for a small army! (and it's not just ANY bed - it's a hardwood sleigh bed, with a matching "dry sink" dresser; I could not have chosen nicer furniture if I'd looked for a month...)

But we do have a couple of things we want for the new place - a pair of bar stools (I'll post pictures of the kitchen once it's built - it's going to be all new from the cement floor and the studs up and out!), and a large framed mirror. And we're ONLY looking for things that are second-hand; there's so much used furniture in the world that we really don't need to have someone cut down a tree and manufacture something just for us...

And that got me to thinking about clothes, which is never far from my mind. Since I already have SO many clothes - more than enough - why don't I commit myself to buying only second-hand clothing for a while. Like a year...

So, starting today! I am only buying clothes that have already been purchased at retail by someone else. Things might still have tags on them, they may have never been worn, or they may be "gently worn", but I won't be the person carrying them out of a store in a shopping bag. Exceptions: lingerie, and running shoes. (used running shoes - not a good idea!)

I know that many of you make your own clothes (I'm still awed by some of your work!), and that many of you are vintage and resale experts. This is going to be a new challenge for me, but one which I embrace in the spirit of thrift and ecology.

Tell me of your "already depreciated" clothing adventures!



Saturday, May 23, 2015

The extremely lovely people at She-Beads have made us an offer we can't refuse - they will make a one-of-a-kind bracelet for me to give away to one of you!

So, they asked me what color scheme I would prefer...

I have a preference - the colors of The Vivienne Files - greys, white and soft pink.

But in order to give us all a choice, I culled back through Pinterest to find the most frequently repinned images and color schemes, and the last four of these options came from there.

So which do you love the most? Which would make a gorgeous bracelet?

have a glorious holiday weekend,


Friday, May 22, 2015

One of the interesting things about writing The Vivienne Files is that I can see what posts are continually revisited, and what images get Pinned (and re-Pinned) on Pinterest. And without fail, every week, the "Whatever's Clean" wardrobes are at the top of the list.

That makes sense to me - there's really nothing in the world easier than being able to reach into your closet without looking and know that you can grab a coherent ensemble.

So I've been thinking a lot about how "Whatever's Clean" can transfer to travel - it's an obvious fit. Especially for all of you who have to travel through a variety of climates, knowing that all of your clothes will work together makes it possible to relax about at least one aspect of your voyage.

I'm going to play with this idea off and on for a while, but I thought I'd start with a packing challenge that I know well - the long business/leisure trip that spans temperatures from cool autumn-ish to warm late spring-like temperatures. No winter coats, and no swimwear needed, but temperatures from the 50's F to the 70's F at least...

(random note: just put gloves and a knit hat in your bag and leave them there! Last weekend, in Chicago, we were wearing sandals. Yesterday, when I went out for lunch, I wished that I had my gloves with me. Temperatures can swing - be prepared!)

In transit - you're going to somewhere cool, and you're going straight to the office! You want to make a bit of an impact when you arrive, so you select a bright blouse and a statement cardigan to wear while traveling.

Travel outfit with a yellow blouse, a black skirt and a black floral embroidered cardigan

yellow blouse – Moschino, earrings – Freida Rothman, cardigan – Kansai Yamamoto, watch – Karl Lagerfeld, skirt – Dolce and Gabbana, boots – Frye, bag – Tumi

Okay, that a great outfit, but you've got... six weeks? to go. How do you build?

I suggest that you think about what you could substitute out for any ONE garment in your travel outfit.

  • floral cardigan - OFF, solid black cardigan - ADD
  • yellow blouse - OFF, white shirt - ADD
  • yellow blouse - OFF, denim shirt - ADD
  • yellow blouse - OFF, purple tee shirt - ADD
  • yellow blouse - OFF, black tee shirt - ADD
  • yellow blouse - OFF, red tee shirt - ADD
  • black straight skirt - OFF, black pleated skirt - ADD
  • black straight skirt - OFF, black capris - ADD
  • black straight skirt - OFF, black dress trousers - ADD
  • black straight skirt - OFF, black jeans - ADD

It's always wise to have lots of tops, because they are most likely to need to go to the laundry, they are close to your face and are more memorable (both for you and those around you), and you can switch out necklines and sleeve lengths to address changes in climate.

Jewelry and scarves are critical; I didn't show scarves here, but I would probably include one scarf or necklace for each top packed i.e. five. They're small, they're light, and they give you the feeling of something different to wear. For this example, I chose all jewelry that mixes yellow and white gold, so that you're not standing in a hotel room in the pre-dawn darkness trying to tell if your earrings are silver or gold. NOT a question you need to consider...

10 items to pack, mostly black, to give you a "Whatever's Clean 13"

All tops – L.L.Bean, skirt, capris, trousers and jeans – Uniqlo,yellow and
white gold hoop earrings – Kohl’s, gold and silver bracelet – Marc by Marc Jacobs, black clutch bag – Sabrina Zeng, yellow and white gold pendant – Marco Bicego, ballet flats – Born, wedge sneakers – Taryn Rose

This shows all of your "stuff". It's a lot of black - if you keep to a dark neutral for your major "below the waist" pieces, you can cut way back on the number of shoes that you pack. Just assume that if you're packing carry-on for more than a month, you're going to grow tired of some of your garments. But if you're moving from place to place, the people around you aren't going to notice nor care that you're wearing the same 13 garments week after week, and you're saving yourself time and hassle by not having to deal with a lot of luggage!

And yes, you're going to have to have laundry done, probably once a week. The money you don't spend paying to have a suitcase checked will be easily eaten up having laundry done! But don't assume that you have to have the hotel do you laundry; there are a lot of "same day" laundry services which cost much less, and do a wonderful job.

And don't, whatever you do, send all of your shirts, or all of your pants, to the laundry at the same time! That's asking for trouble - everything damaged, lost, etc. Just too much out of your control; don't risk it.

"Whatever's Clean 13" in black, yellow, red, purple and white

There are at least 80 ways to wear these 13 pieces. That will easily get you through six weeks! In reality, you're probably going to find combinations that you like the best, and wear them often. But it's good to have lots of choices - if a garment blows out somewhere between Milan and Berlin, you still can get dressed!

16 outfits from a "Whatever's Clean 13" in black, yellow, red and purple

16 outfits from a "Whatever's Clean 13" in black, yellow, red and purple

16 outfits from a "Whatever's Clean 13" in black, yellow, red and purple

16 outfits from a "Whatever's Clean 13" in black, yellow, red and purple

"Whatever's Clean" 13 pieces for long term travel

Does this work for leisure travel? Heck yes! Just think about substituting shorts or capris for dress pants and skirts, tank tops for blouses etc. I would like to work more on this idea, so if you have a particular trip upcoming that worries you, leave a comment about it and I'll think...


PS - For more tools to help you plan your wardrobe, including the latest Pantone Color Planner, check out the Planning Documents section of the website.