Monday, August 31, 2015

For all of us who are art lovers, it's important to remember that we can indulge ourselves while supporting our favorite museums. Gift shops make a real point to find the most beautiful items available, and they always have a certain quality that you just don't see in every store...

This beauty screams fall, doesn't it?

French Paisley Striped Shawl -
Available at The Metropolitan Museum of Art Store, 
online at 
or by calling 1-800-662-3397.

What really appeals here is the way that the strong camel and brown tones provide a perfect backdrop for the clear red, green and blue:


 Under the Radar

She wanted to travel. A lot. She has a project, and some goals in mind. So she wants to get out of town, maybe as often as every other weekend, through the autumn and winter...

There are LOTS of cities really close to her - just 2 or 3 hours by train.

But if it turns into a big project every time she tries to get out of town on Friday afternoon, it will never happen. So it's imperative that she come up with a system to stifle any big conversation about how often she travels...

First up, if she wore this same outfit to work every other Friday for 6 months, who would notice?

chambray shirt – Boden; pants – Boden; French Paisley Striped Shawl
 – Metropolitan Museum of Art Store; cardigan – Boden; earrings – Alexis Bittar;
 watch – Modcloth; coat – Tagliatore;  socks – Kate Spade
boots – Steve Madden; tote – Longchamp

And she could keep these things packed all the time. Come back into town Monday morning, go to work, do laundry Monday night and repack everything...

Camel tee – Lands’ End; silk skirt – Apiece Apart; wristlet – Deux Lux; bracelet
 – Alexis Bittar; earrings – Alexis Bittar; red sweater – Uniqlo; camel flats
 – Jeffrey Campbell;  boyfriend jeans – Moto; white shirt – J. Crew; square
 scarf – Laleh Fayaz;  tiered necklace – Alexis Bittar; green cardigan - Uniqlo

It's really not all that many things to segregate from the rest of her wardrobe. Nobody's paying that much attention to what she wears - they'll never know that there are 9 pieces specially reserved for her adventures!

And no matter what she pulls out of the bag, she can get dressed without worry!

Even if she has to come back to work on Monday in the same camel trousers, her outfit might be completely different. Certainly sufficiently different that it won't excite any comment...

And some Monday, she'll walk into the office and give her notice. She will have found the job, and the apartment, in one of those other cities. Maybe THEN, when she's on her way out of the door, someone will notice what she's been doing...



Saturday, August 29, 2015

The wealth of colors in this painting lead me in all sorts of directions, so I thought I'd share with you my thought process as I finalized a color scheme for us to work with here.

Nature Morte by Georgette Agutte

 My very first instinct was drawn to the fabrics in the background of the painting - the vivid blue was the first thing that I envisioned as a lead neutral for a color scheme, with accents of the white fabric, all of the red flowers, and the oranges.

But where this would make a great scarf, or piece of jewelry, I realized that there wasn't going to be any easy way to find enough garments in that shade of blue to put together even the smallest capsule wardrobe. (this is a BIG advantage to being able to sew - you could make your core garments yourself!)

So I turned to the color in the vase - this year's supposedly trendy marsala/burgundy/wine whatever... Giving myself the ability to use a range of shades in this color opened up more possibilities:

But I'm still just a little bit too stuck on that gorgeous blue - there's no way it can carry its own weight as a 2nd neutral. So I shifted it back to a role as an accent color, and at this point, this is the scheme with which I want to proceed:

After my mad color wanderings, I decided to keep this travel capsule to a super-small Four Pack. First step was to find a gorgeous coat in the primary neutral! I underpinned it with a very simple black outfit, maroon boots, and a tote bag. For accessories, I tried to find things that reflected the ornate and detail-filled nature of the painting.

Boucle coat – Karl Lagerfeld; boots – Munro; scarf – Sam Edelman; sweatshirt
 tunic – Uniqlo; pants – J. Crew; earrings – Kendra Scott; cuff bracelet –

Maybe because I keep hearing about people having to make this kind of a trip, but I envisioned our heroine making a quick overnight trip for a wedding. These are a cinch to pack for, once you know what you're wearing to the wedding!

This wedding will probably be somewhat dressy, but we're not entirely sure, so an outfit that balances a really over-the-top skirt with a simple cashmere sweater will keep our options open. If she arrives and finds that the wedding is REALLY more casual than she expected, she can tuck her amazing necklace into her equally amazing clutch bag. At least across a dinner table, she will look as if she's just wearing simple black...

(if your mortgage is paid, and your children are through college, take a look at the absolutely gorgeous lace skirts at Dolce & Gabbana - they are art works in fabric... and the lace shoes...)

Necklace – Oscar de la Renta; print blouse – Mother of Pearl; sandals – Pelle Moda; 
black cashmere sweater - J. Crew; bag – Dolce & Gabbana; scarf – Halogen;
 maroon lace skirt – Dolce & Gabbana 

An early afternoon wedding, with dinner and dancing to follow, will eat up the entire day, so the only other clothes she really will need is for the trip home. The same trousers from the first trip can be worn again, as well as the sweater from the wedding. In order to keep everything happily in harmony, a print blouse in the maroon of the winter coat will look great with the black. Grab the wrap from the wedding and throw it around your neck, and you're ready to head home.

The day after a wedding is no time to agonize about what to wear!

I have to admit, as much as I personally adore all of these things, I also have a completely different vision about how this could have turned out, still using our color scheme. So next week, this painting, and this scenario will be back, with a very different approach to things.

There are so many possibilities in life!


p.s. It has come to my very HACKED OFF attention that many of you aren't getting emails when I post. Rest assured that, even in the absence of email notifications, I'm probably posting every day but Saturday, and you can just check in here to visit with me. I'm trying to fix this problem, but Google isn't exactly fully engaged in the process with me, if you know what I mean...  xo


Friday, August 28, 2015

If you are a fan of floral prints, get yourself to the Ted Baker site... I stopped into his store in Chicago on Saturday, and it was an oasis of beautiful floral fabrics. His items sell out really quickly, so if you see something that really grabs you, it's worth acting quickly. The prints are intricate, beautifully rendered, in lovely fabrics, and very feminine without being at all prissy or twee. Gorgeous...

Silvie Shadow Floral scarf – Ted Baker

There are at least a couple more colors that I could have pulled from here - there are touches of apricot, and of course a soft white would be ideal - but this is what I'm working with:

Silvie Shadow Floral scarf – Ted Baker

You don't dress like a scientist...

She has like flowers for as long as anybody can remember; she was most placid, as a baby, in flowered clothes! From earliest childhood, she was reading books about flower history, cultivation, symbolism, breeding - pretty much anything about flowers. Everyone assumed that she would outgrow this enthusiasm; children often have interests that wane as they grow up.

Silk tuxedo blazer – Vanessa Bruno; silk trousers – Vanessa Bruno;
Silk jersey and crepe top – Steffen Schraut; ponte pencil skirt – Eileen Fisher

But she studied Botany in college...

Merino cardiganUniqlo; mini-pleated skirt – Barbara Casasola;
Black blouse – Mint Velvet; black lace trousers – Mint Velvet

After she got her PhD in the DNA of flowering plants used in ornamental plantings in the 19th Century, people began to believe that she really did like flowers more than most people...

Pleated top – Vionnet; violet short sleeve blouse – Kelly Love
silk v-neck blouse – Vince; tee shirt – Master & Muse

In addition to teaching, she spent a lot of time looking for old flowering hedges. It was a normal weekend for her to prowl through abandoned farm sites, trying to find plants that had survived the last 150 years. She found Ireland a particularly delightful place to clamber about; the stone walls held secrets of floral botany that were impossible to imagine.

Dress – Helen McAlinden; cardigan – Ermanno Scervino;
V-neck sweater – J. Crew Factory; lace-detail skirtErmanno Scervino

And when she was at the University, she always carried with her a sense of the floral - something strong, beautiful, softly-colored, but resistant to the elements...

Pink pearl and blue topaz earrings – Buana;  marcasite and pearl brooch
 – Lord &Taylor; silver cuff bracelet – Ploy Intha;  marcasite and mother of 
pearl pendant – Genevieve & Grace; onyx necklace – Neeru Goel;  flower 
black bordered floral scarf – Kathkath; stud earrings – Oscar Figueroa;  blue
 and green floral scarf – Ted Baker; t-strap pumps – Trotters; patent pumps
 – Trotters; loafers – Via Spiga

It was always simple to find a gift for her - something with a flowering motif would be sure to please! And if it has some feeling of older times, more the better.

So tell me, is it nature or nurture? Before she was even born, they had determined that her name would be Rose...


NORDSTROM - Shop New & Iconic Eileen Fisher 

Thursday, August 27, 2015

A very special request! 

This is such an interesting color combination - distinctive, but calm and very grounded in nature. The woman who wears this is going to be very special...

Light, Earth and Blue by Mark Rothko

Although the obvious neutrals here are olive green and navy, I gave each color equal weight in the color scheme to reflect the balance that I see in the painting. Your view may differ!

She Just has An Eye... 

Nobody else seems to ever get sent to the auctions - especially the big ones in Europe. But, in all fairness, after she found that Jasper Johns that NOBODY else believed to be authentic, nobody else can realistically expect to go. When it comes to spotting the overlooked gem in the market, nobody is her equal.
Knit cape – See by Chloe; trousers – Vince; earrings – Dabby Reid; tee shirt – 
 Uniqlo; scarf – Missoni; yellow socks – J.M.Dickens; boots – Naturalizer;
 carry-on bag – Hayden-Harnett

Normally, you have to fly to the auction the day before, and back the day after. But she's very petite, and she figured out years ago that if she offered to fly Coach Class rather than Business, they would let her leave a few days early. She says it's so she can get over jet lag...  Many of her co-workers suspect that she just liked spending a couple of extra days in another country. As if that was some sort of fault?

Square scarf – Hermes Petit Duc; yellow cardigan – Boden; labradorite earrings
 – Argento Vivo; bracelet – Alexis Bittar; clutch bag – Nancy Gonzalez; ribbed
 sweater – The Row; labradorite pendant – Avindy; navy pearl earrings – 
Jordan Alexander; green glass earrings – Cynthia Serrano; dress – J. Crew
yellow wrap - White & Warren; moss cardigan – J. Crew; lace blouse –  
Giambattista Valli; pumps – Manolo Blahnik; jeans – Otis

When she returns from these long weekends, everyone asks her what she did on those extra days. It just seems like such a career-limiting gesture to take a couple of days off and go sightseeing!

Of course, if your do all of your sightseeing in art museums, and your job is buying art, then maybe it's not so career-limiting after all. But she's not one to blurt out every little detail of her trip...

Don't you just hate it when everyone assumes that you were born with some skill that's really the result of very hard work?


 Get The Label

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Finally! We are settled in our new apartment... It was, realistically, a pretty small move - just down the hall, from a west-facing studio apartment to an east and south-facing 1 bedroom apartment.

We wouldn't have moved - we were massively happy in our studio, but we received SUCH an incredibly kind offer to rent the 1-bedroom unit that it was pretty much impossible to pass up. Now, we have enough space to have either of our mothers visit, and give them a bedroom and master bathroom to themselves. They will have a modicum of space and privacy, which is always useful when family members are in close quarters.

This is our view, seen over my extraordinary chaise longue. Why yes, it IS wide enough for Belovedest and I to sit in together!

Possibly the most interesting part of the move, from a Vivienne Files standpoint, was moving into a new closet. Our closet now is an open mini-room, much more than a normal walk-in closet, because it has a WINDOW... But knowing how very quickly light will fade clothing, we keep the shade tightly closed... As much as you see really appealing open closet arrangements all over the internet, where your perfect capsule wardrobe is hanging against a wall in your bedroom, I can't advise this kind of setup. Closets and armoires became common for a reason; dust and light are not the best friends your wardrobe can have!

Can't you tell that this is mine? Black, white, grey, and a touch of red:

In the course of sorting through EVERYTHING, I realized that I own a few things that need to find better homes. Foremost among those, I have FOUR Hermes twillies...

I love these little gizmos - they're the most cunning idea Hermes has had in at least a few days! They're perfect to wear at the neckline of a shirt with a collar, as an ironic throwback to the bows that we all wore in the 80's. And they're great to wear in your hair. Unless... you have to use a product in your hair. Sigh...

As my hair gets longer, I've found that I look like a big brown and grey dandelion unless I use some curl defining lotion in my hair. And after I've put that in my hair, I'm REALLY reluctant to put a gorgeous piece of silk into the middle of it; the idea of those chemicals on that silk just gives me the willies.


In the next couple of weeks, I'm going to do a major clean-out of my silk scarves, and will thus be selling a stack of Hermes scarves. Prices will be good, so stay tuned!

From the top:
  • a sepia brown with tiny black letters that spell (if you're an acrobat) Hermes. (SOLD)
  • yellow, turquoise, bright green, grey and black geometric print.(SOLD)
  • soft greys, celadon green and blue Astrologie pattern (SOLD) , and
  • black with golds horse tack pattern.(SOLD)
 These are cool; you won't be disappointed!

Belovedest takes the best photographs, doesn't he?

After the dust has (sort of) settled, I have to admit that I really love to move. Does anyone else, or am I alone in my insanity?


Neiman Marcus Last Call (Neiman Marcus)