Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Wow! When I asked for paintings, you all came through with some beautiful suggestions... 

This John Singer Sargent is so lovely...

In the deepest shadows, I saw navy, although on another day, it could be deepest gray, or maybe something else - really good paintings are wonderful in the way they can have so many different aspects over time.

I'm embarking on a 4 by 4 that's particularly challenging: a casual wardrobe in soft and fluid navy and white. So VERY often, navy and white are crisp, and starched, and nicely pressed and snappy - which is pretty great. And I'm sure that at some point earlier in the fictional day, these lovely white dresses were immaculate and pristine, but NOT by this time of day!  So this time, I'm looking for flowing, pleated, gathered, draped and lacy...

Here, I was able to find a sheer, lace-like yoke, and some shimmer too!

Tank – Mint Velvet, capris – Dorothy Perkins
tee – Mint Velvet, trousers – Joseph

I was lucky to spot crocheted trim, lace, and lots of supple draped fabric:

White cardigan – Mango, shorts – Iro,
Wrap top – Planet, palazzo pantsMango

This wardrobe wouldn't be ANYTHING without flowers! Some pleats too, and a nicely relaxed tee shirt:

Pink lace top – Quiz, peach tunic– Sandwich,
Navy top – Jacques Vert, green tee - Uniqlo

One of the many great things about this wardrobe is that you can indulge in lots of pretty pastel tops, as well as making sure that you have a nice core of navy and white things in soft, feminine prints and fabrics. Two different approaches to the same navy and white core!

This skirt is shown on the store site as being very "evening", but this is the kind of thing that could easily be worn during the day with sandals and a casual top, too! When you're packing, this kind of versatility is very useful.

Navy skirt – Jacques Vert, floral wrap top – Kaliko,
Wrap lace top – Kaliko, white tunic – Alexander Wang

This wardrobe gets the very prettiest flower earrings, as well as a pair of espadrilles that are NOT ordinary - lace, satin trim, and a ballet silhouette gives these the more feminine look we're after, without making them twee or unwearable.

Pink floral earrings – Militza Ortiz, white lace “ballet” espadrilles – Casadei ,
bag – Tory BurchGold floral earrings – Giuliana Valz-Gen, 
navy sandals – Bettye Muller

This would set you up quite handsomely for summer, wouldn't it?

And here's how it fits into the 4 by 4 Wardrobe Template.

And as an added special bonus "undercover" secret - this is what you need if you HATE to wear skirts in the warm weather - Jockey Skimmies.  Imagine you took the most comfortable imaginable hosiery, and hacked them off above the knee. Light, smooth, no lines or bumps, no thighs rubbing together...  Just trust me on this; you can find them here.

would I steer you wrong?



Monday, June 29, 2015

 So how does the gorgeous, warm palette from last Saturday translate into a much more casual grouping? Beautifully!

In order to keep the feeling of softness and flow, I looked for fabrics like corduroy, which has both depth and softness, moleskin, which has a nice plush texture, and of course silk. Gathers and jacquard fabrics also give us a little bit of grace and detail...  (note: I even chosen nail enamels with shimmer, which gives a sense of movement!)

When choosing items to go into this wardrobe, always ask yourself "yes, it goes, but does it have the requisite fluidity and movement that gives me my desired image?" There's lots of brown and orange in the world, but much of it is crisp or static - not right for this! (I made an exception for the suitcase - a fluid suitcase is just weird to imagine, and would be a nightmare to pack!)

Travel outfit in brown and orange, inspired by Flaming June by Sir Frederic Leighton
Blazer – Kenzo Vintage, leather and brass earrings – CAIA, leather bracelet
 – Karl Muse, boots – Burberry, cotton pants – Topshop, blouse – Rosie Assoulin,
 scarf – Jean Paul Gaultier Vintage, bucket bag – Marylai, rolling bag – Hartmann

Packing for a long weekend, in warm colors inspired by Flaming June by Sir Frederic Leighton
Orange sweater – Title Nine, triple-wrapped bracelet – Vivien Frank Designs,
 nail enamels – Butter, brown flats – Blackstone, gold silk cloud scarf – Yuh 
Okano, crystal drop earrings – YooLa, brown moleskin trousers – Tulchan, silk
v-neck blouse – Emilio Pucci, leather chukka sneakers – Frye, brown silk cashmere
 scarf – Yuh Okano, vanilla jeans – Mint Velvet

A weekend on the west coast of Ireland would be all the more delightful if you had this in your hotel room armoire!

A travel capsule wardrobe in warm colors, inspired by Flaming June by Sir Frederic Leighton

three outfits in warm colors, based on the colors in Flaming June by Sir Frederic Leighton

Just for our reference, this was the original painting, and the color scheme that I chose. This wardrobe doesn't include any green, but if you were going to ramp up from a 4-Pack to something more abundant, the green would be a fresh change of pace...

Flaming June by Sir Frederic Leighton, and a color scheme drawn from that painting

More painting suggestions, please!



Saturday, June 27, 2015

Someone particularly special sent me this painting, with a request for a Start With Art - what a wonderful idea!

These were the colors that I chose. While there's a ton more orange in this painting than anything else, only the rarest among us will be able to pull together any kind of a wardrobe, no matter how small, with mostly orange. So I gave the warm brown prominence...

I was really thinking about texture and flow here - draping was important! 

Tweed jacketAlberta Ferretti, crossbody bag – Fossil, bracelet  – Eina
 Ahluwalia, amber earrings – Liz Law, pumps – Kenneth Cole New York
dress – Michael Kors, scarf – Emanuel Ungaro Vintage, duffle bag – Bric’s

Just enough to be able to get away for a long weekend - lots of emphasis on dining-out attire! And the budget was unlimited madness for this wardrobe - suede pants and a bank-breaking dress and sweater. But very reasonably priced shoes, and a downright inexpensive clutch bag:

Camel dress – Agnona, clutch bag – Call it Spring, quartz bracelet – Khun Boom,
 orange bracelet - Caipora Jewllery, camel pumps – Andrew Stevens, scarf – Yuh
 Okano, shell earrings – Kenneth Cole, brown agate earrings – Novica, suede 
pants – Emilio Pucci, sweater – Bottega Veneta, boots – Leon Max, orange 
dress – Therapy

Wouldn't this be nice to see in the armoire of the hotel?

This wardrobe took me quite a while to put together - some of the pieces were tough to find - and so I had a lot of time to mull over how we all might handle our upcoming change of season purchases... I was actually sort of imagining a woman who took careful stock of her fall clothing situation, and had determined that the things shown above were going to be her autumn/winter shopping list. (unlimited budget, you know...)

Right now, if your email is anything like mine, you're inundated with advice about big summer sales (which are handy IF, and ONLY IF, you've trashed something in your current wardrobe to the point of unwearability), and of course the WONDERFUL PRE-SEASON sales...

But what if???  We ignored all of that?

What if, instead of looking at specific, very beautiful items, we took about 10 steps back, and thought about our color palette? the adjectives that we want to use in building our appearance and our image for the next year? the overall feeling, aura, sensibility or mood that we want to surround us?

And then looked at the stuff we already own, to see if we're already okay?

And ONLY THEN, maybe, look for the things that we need?

Our cart is very much in front of our horse these days; we get these emails, or read these editorials, about beautiful things on sale, and then we decide to buy them - we're letting the external stimulus create for us the buying decision.

Shouldn't we, as mature adults, decide what we want, and then look for it? This isn't as easy, certainly; stores aren't terribly good about carrying the things that would best suit us. But if we let the merchandise drive our choice, then we're just admitting that we're willing to settle. If you're running short of clothing, that might be necessary, but a lot of us have the time to wait...

There will be beautiful clothes in the stores next month, and the month after, and the month after. And there will always be another sale...


p.s.  If you've sent me a painting request for a Start with Art in the last month, please re-send! I've lost a few emails in my pain-killer pleasure dome...


Thursday, June 25, 2015

Sometimes, I buy something with great enthusiasm and completely confidence that I'm going to wear it A TON, but instead it just sort of... hangs there...

This has happened with my really cool black and white dotted skirt from Uniqlo (no longer available, I'm sorry to say). There's NOBODY in the world that should be able to wear a black and white skirt like this more often than I can, but it just wasn't happening.

So I decided to apply myself to planning outfits including said skirt, and I discovered that this sweetie is, in fact, a true seasonless wonder. I paid particular attention to those core tops that I try to keep in my wardrobe all the time - the Eileen Fisher tops that can be the timeless workhorses of a wardrobe. All it took was a few minutes of thought and planning; now, this neglected item will move into full rotation. I'll get my money's worth, it won't end up donated or in a landfill somewhere, and I have another handful of effortless ensembles!

bracelet - Kenneth Jay Lane, tank - Eileen Fisher, skirt - Uniqlo, sandals - Thierry Rabotin, red cardigan - Eileen Fisher, black tee shirt - Eileen Fisher, necklace - Majorica, ballet flats - Bottega Veneta

bracelet - Buana, sweater - J. Jill, shoes - Thierry Rabotin, earrings - La Kaiser, scarf - Julie Egli, sweater - L.L.Bean, boots - Munro

earrings - xxx, scarf - Hermes, tee shirt - Eileen Fisher, cardigan - Lands' End, pumps - Thierry Rabotin, scarf - KathKath, cardigan and tank - Eileen Fisher, bracelet - Majorica, flats - Bottega Veneta

Since I've decided to limit my shopping to ONLY used/second-hand, it might be smart of me to keep checking my closet for under-loved beauties lurking about...


PS - In my drug-sodden state, I updated the Pantone Color planner to take a look at the Autumn/Winter 2015 colors (now updated to 2017). This file includes all of the "two-neutral" color combinations, shown with each of the 10 "new" Pantone colors. You'll have 91 pages that look like this:

There's a $2.99 charge to help me pay to host the file - you can get this fascinating study here:

Add to Cart

I'm particularly interested in what color combinations catch your eye - I'd love to do some 4 by 4's with these ideas in hand...

PPS - For more planning tools and inspiration, visit the Planning Documents section of the website.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Three possibilities from KathKath

Just a quick update to let you know that my lovely partners at KathKath have EXTENDED their discount offer to readers of The Vivienne Files! Through July 26th, you can get 40% off of any regular-priced scarf using the discount code VIV40.

AND... you can get an additional 10% off of any sale scarf, using the discount code VIV10.

I know that many of you have looked at these scarves repeatedly - now's your time to grab your favorite!

When I'm feeling better, I see a wardrobe based on that elephant scarf (far right, above) colors. Black, beige, dusty mauve, jade and bone.... hmmm....

Yours, recuperating slowly,
with lots of love,


Saturday, June 20, 2015

Sometimes, you have items of clothing that are perfectly fine, but lacking a certain... something...

Example, the following. I have FIVE of these white shirts (from Lands' End - highly recommended), from when I worked at the bakery. They're really wonderful shirts, but 5 is a bit over the top. And this black velvet tunic is lovely, but it falls into this difficult gap of being not really dressy enough to be dressy, but still seeming a bit over the top with jeans.

Easy, fast, relatively inexpensive update? Buttons!

These are Murano glass - it's virtually impossible to get a good photograph, but you have to trust me that they're pretty gorgeous...

And these are very simple plastic - black with white trim. Imagine this with my black and white dotted skirt, and a red cardigan...

I'm pleased with the outcome - I see a couple more button changes for some of my other white shirts!

My hospital procedure went very well - we had some trouble controlling my pain for a few hours, but now I'm home, heavily drugged, and groggy, but always thinking of you all!