Saturday, October 31, 2015

Another chance to buy one of my beautiful scarves! I have so much TOO much stuff; and this is a scarf that needs to get out and about and get some appreciation...

Hermes Les Instructions du Roy

But first things first  last Saturday's Venice scarf! Dear MzMary, who left the very LAST comment on that post, please send me a note at so that we can arrange for your purchase of the gorgeous Frey Wille scarf...

So how might someone wear the scarf above?

First up, there are substantial touches of taupe in the scarf, so I envisioned someone in a simple taupe dress, a fabulous bracelet or two, and simple pumps, with the scarf tied in her hair - maybe holding back a low pony tail? Nothing over the top, but softly luxurious...

At the other end of the spectrum, this scarf is all that a plain white sweater and grey trousers need to go almost anywhere! I particularly like the touch of gold earrings  to echo the gold details in the scarf; silver is so expected with grey that the gold makes a real statement.

Dress – MM6; bracelet – Alexis Bittar; pumps – Nina
sweaterLe Ciel Bleu; earrings – Alexandra Alberta; loafers – Trotters;
 grey pants – L.L.Bean

In the cold weather, a snuggly top, cords and boots are almost a uniform, but the addition of a pastel scarf will soften the entire look.  I particularly like the small but extravagant earrings; casual doesn't have to be drab!

And the gold details in this scarf are very very golden yellow, so why not a sweater in that color too? And some blue earrings, just because nobody in the world wears blue earrings with a yellow sweater; heck, nobody sets aquamarine stones in gold-toned metal! Ground this sort of "out there" combination with a simple skirt and pumps to keep things from going off the rails completely.

Fleece cowl top – L.L.Bean; earrings – Vivienne Westwood; taupe cords – CC
boots – Mountain Sole; gold sweater – Jardin des Orangers; aquamarine earrings
 – Tiara; skirt – J. Crew; pumps – Jimmy Choo

If you want to wear your scarf for something like a Friday dinner, a dressy sweater with jeans is a good option. Simple earrings and shoes in which you can walk are all you need.

And for work, a comfortable dress, with flats and pearl jewelry set a nice neutral background for your scarf. Here, I would bias fold the scarf into a long strip, tie one knit in the middle of the scarf, and then tie the ends in the back so that the knot hung down in the front like a necklace, making the scarf the center of attention. See a variation here that uses three knots...

Earrings – Latelita London; gold sweater - Joanna Hope; ivory cords –  
Citizens of Humanity; cream loafers – Ugg Australia; pearl earrings – Cole Haan;
 dress – Sandwich; bracelet – Devoted; pumps – David Tate

As we did last week, if you're interested in buying the scarf pictured above, leave a comment starting with the phrase "I'm interested". If you're not interested, just leave any other comment and share your thoughts, please! There are a few tiny spots on just one corner of the scarf (pictured); virtually any way you tie the scarf these spots can be hidden. The scarf is otherwise in very good vintage condition, which means no holes, no snags, and a nice soft hand to the silk. I'm asking $150 for this gorgeous beauty...

Have a lovely weekend,

Wolf & Badger US

Friday, October 30, 2015

Now the fun starts! The clothes from yesterday are certainly very nice, if not mind-bending, but in order to give things just a touch of zest, and a sense of finish, some well-chosen accessories are imperative! (well, shoes are imperative, even if you never wear a scarf or a piece of jewelry; when pressed to offer up what piece of clothing every woman, without exception, should own, the only thing I can honestly think of is shoes...)

Reminders of our basic style source, and the clothes with which we're working:

            Cardigan – Boden; jeans – Madewell; turtleneck – Madewell; cords – Lands’ End;
cardigan – L.L.Bean; jeans – L.L.Bean; tee -Sunspel; trousers - J. Crew;
Blue top– J. Crew; red crew – J. Crew; shirt – J. Crew; striped top – Lands’ End
Fleece vest – J. Crew; striped top – J. Crew; star sweater – Chinti and Parker; corduroy skirt – L.L.Bean

As I said, shoes first! I always look for something comfortable - that's completely NOT negotiable. When men start wearing uncomfortable shoes, I will too. In the meantime, my feet are just as important as theirs...

This seems like a minimum assortment for autumn and winter. I don't think that anything dressier is required; a corduroy skirt isn't a ball gown, and so peau de soie pumps don't have a place here; if you have to have a special-occasion dress, you'll need special-occasion shoes too. But you might be surprised how far you can go in life without one!

Remember, when you're looking at tall boots that have a buckle near the top, check that buckle like crazy, to make sure that there are no protruding metal pieces that might catch the hem of your skirts. Nothing like having your hem ripped out 5 minutes out your front door to ruin your day!

short boots – Kork-Ease; tall boots – Dr. Scholl’s; driving loafer – UGG Australia

Next, if you're inclined in this direction, look for scarves. Many women would NOT be interested in a square silk scarf, and that's fine. Even if you're going to wear a silk scarf, it doesn't have to be from Hermes, and don't forget that there's a world of secondhand Hermes scarves online that cost a wee fraction of retail. If you're dubious about the authenticity of a scarf, send me an email!

When choosing a printed scarf, let your heart and your color palette be your guide. This scarf wins out because of the deep navy background, the warm camel details, and the touches of our bright blue accent. If you were going to pick up orange as an accent color, rather than (or in addition to!) the red we used, this scarf would answer up to that challenge too.

The plaid scarf is SO perfect - it combines your neutral colors in a timeless pattern, and thus should be wearable for ages. Don't be put off because it's from Neiman Marcus - it's from their outlet store! ALWAYS check places like outlet stores from high-end retailers for goodies that you would never normally buy...

Square silk scarf – Hermes Dans un Jardin Anglais; plaid scarf – Neiman Marcus

I can't tell you how much I HATE having only 2 items in that image. Too much symmetry...

Now, jewelry. A tiny assortment is really more than enough. I always look for earrings first - something really plain - almost neutral - that gives a finishing touch to an outfit, and keeps your empty piercings from showing! These have a brushed surface, in keeping with the burnished and textured surfaces of our painting. These are from the Saks Fifth Avenue outlet store - I really can't emphasize often enough how it's worthwhile to check those stores for lovely items at very good prices.

The plain bar necklace isn't brushed - that felt too matchy - but it is simple enough that you could wear it almost constantly.  The navy bracelet is a good place to add a touch of navy back into an outfit that feels too "camel-ish" - like a camel sweater and tee, with navy pants. This bracelet would add a bit of navy back above your waist. (depending on where your hands happen to be at any given moment!)

And then, I fell into the wonder world of stars....

First, the earrings caught my attention - they're really unusual, without being freakish or unsuitable for a grown woman. (they're available in silver, and rose gold...) And the ring is just plain fun and pretty. So I threw myself headlong into the star theme, and added a pendant too. It might not be advisable to wear all three together, unless you wanted to. (I don't really adhere to a lot of rules!)

Brushed gold hoop earrings – Jude Frances, leather bracelet – Celine
bar necklace – Madewell; star earrings – Tada & Toy, star ring – 

And finally, something you probably need, and something you don't! A small, cross-body bag, that is in the same leather family as your shoes, is pretty necessary. I was able to find one that didn't have screaming logos all over it...

Socks? Well, you have to wear them; would it be wrong to have a tiny bit of fun with them? These are such ideal colors to wear, just once in a while, when wearing one of your accent-color tops. If you're going to have a wardrobe whim, this is a nice inexpensive one to have.

Socks – Talbots; cross-body bag - Halogen

My next project is always to arrange all of the accessories on one page. This can take AGES, but I think it's important to be able to see everything together. This is a great way to see things that really don't belong, and is a step I would never skip. Accessory Families are probably my very favorite thing to do on The Vivienne Files!

Even more challenging might be putting all of the clothes and accessories together in an image, but again, I feel that it's important to see things all together. This just feels like an autumn trip - wear 3 pieces, and pack the other 13. Everything seems to look comfortable together, and the options for how to wear just throw themselves off the page at us.

My last step is to go into the outfits created previously, and accessorize them. I sort of imagine that I'm getting dressed in the clothes in question, and envision what I would reach for in order to feel "complete". If I can't do that, I know that I've missed the boat on choosing accessories, and I go back to that step and start again.

That, in a very large nutshell, is how I do a Start With Art wardrobe on The Vivienne Files. Yes, it takes me anywhere from 6 to 10 hours...

Tomorrow, the 2nd of the scarves I need to sell. But for Monday, are we interested in a dressy wardrobe based on this same Rosetti painting? I'd be happy to oblige, of course!


Gorgeous Shop

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Okay, now that we have our color scheme, we'll need to start picking clothes!

Our color scheme

Our Style Reference Document

As always, I'm going to start with the neutrals, since they're the really essential foundation garments for your 4 by 4 wardrobe. First up, the elusive camel, or vicuna, or caramel, or walnut (although I think of walnut as darker), or amber, or whatever else this color might be called. This is one of the essential qualities that you have to bring to the clothing search - a real flexibility in how you describe what you want!

And look outside your normal comfort zone - Google images and see what comes up. Look on Polyvore, or other shopping sites.

This turned out to be a tremendously tough color to find, unless you were interested in spending four figures on a pair of jeans, so I chose a range of the shade which blend well. So far, I'm happy with these - they feel warm, and have that luxurious depth of color that I think the painting suggested.

Cardigan – Boden; jeans – Madewell;
TurtleneckMadewell; cords – Lands’ End

Next up is the MUCH easier navy. Again, since I'm thinking about doing this as a casual wardrobe, I choose a cardigan, tee, trousers and jeans. Since the fabrics are so varied, the colors don't have to match perfectly. But I did try to keep the navy as dark as possible, so that when we introduce the brighter blue accent color, it will definitely look like an accent, and not just another shade of navy.

Cardigan – L.L.Bean; jeans – L.L.Bean;
Tee – Sunspel; trousers – J. Crew

So far, this isn't a terribly tough project, except just physically finding the garments. But now, some decisions have to be made...

After spending the night thinking about this painting, I think I concluded that the underlying message here is optimism and cheer. Beatrice lives on, in heaven. Dante will see her again. This is a painting of hope, love, and faith. So brightness, clarity, and energy will be appropriate to bring into this wardrobe.

First task, a range of tops in the three accent colors. All three of these pieces could be tee shirts, turtlenecks, or button-front shirts, if that's what you truly most love to wear. But I show a range of styles, just to give us some visual variety. And I include a white shirt, because I've found that it IS possible for almost anyone to get one that fits (try Lands' End - their Petite size range changed my view of shirts forever), and that once you have one, you find a ton of ways to wear it.

Blue turtleneck – J. Crew; red cashmere crew – J. Crew;
White shirt – J. Crew; striped turtleneck – Lands’ End

This is the time to start looking for garments that combine two or more of your five colors - especially those that include your two neutrals. I believe that the turtleneck above is caramel with navy stripes, but I can't prove it. When you want to buy striped garments, get a customer service person on the phone and ask them WHAT is the color of the stripes. Why they don't mention this in their descriptions is beyond me...

The Expansion Four can be pretty fun - keep the colors in mind, and the themes, and daydream about what you would find both amusing and useful...

I started with a vest, but a fuzzy one, rather than down! Since we've had such fun with vests recently, it was irresistible, and for autumn and winter, it will be cozy.

The striped shirt ticks all the boxes - every color but camel, and stripes too! Plus it's not something you'll see every day...

The star sweater might have been better if the stars had been camel, or if the sweater had been camel with navy stars - that's the kind of item that you want to grab immediately if you see it! But this sweater has a lot of charm, and is very versatile; it can be worn on its own, under the navy vest, or over the white shirt. Not bad mileage! (and if you'd prefer a scarf to the sweater, there's a matching scarf available here)

And for the final piece, I felt that this wardrobe needed one more "bottom" for balance. You wouldn't have to get a skirt, but if you wanted one that was still on the casual end of the spectrum, corduroy seems perfect. I liked corduroy here because it has that lush texture that the painting seems to demand, and it has a strong linear quality in the wales of the fabric that echo the stripes that we wanted.

Fleece vest – J. Crew; striped top – J. Crew;
Star sweater – Chinti and Parker; corduroy skirt – L.L.Bean

Everything here seems to hang together pretty well. I always try to fill in the template in order to see if anything look odd when placed near all of the other pieces. I look for a shared mood, level of formality, and a certain "je ne sais quoi" that makes me feel like it's a true wardrobe and not just a collection of separates.

One last double-check that I do is to see if it's possible to assemble a range of outfits from the pieces chosen. In this case, since there are five bottoms, I've put together five pages of outfits - four with each bottom. 

And the dividers on these pages aren't always just a "throwaway" filler - I try to create something that holds the essence of our style inspiration. Here, I took the six-pointed star from the painting, and used our two neutrals for the outline and then the fill. In this way, I'm always reminded of the unifying theme that holds the wardrobe together.

What you can clearly see from these outfits is that some nifty accessories are required! And that's what I'm going to show you tomorrow...