Thursday, January 28, 2016

Building a Capsule Wardrobe by Starting with Art: Portrait of Madame Lisle and Madame Loubens by Degas

A long time ago, someone asked for me to work with a painting by Degas; it's taken months, but I'm finally on it! (I really do try to get to as many requests as possible, I hope you understand...)

If you just glanced at this painting, it might seem somber and sort of gloomy. But give it a minute - there's a lot of warmth and beauty here. These women appear comfortably  tucked up in the lap of luxury!

So I felt that the black component was impossible to avoid, but it seemed equally inevitable that the accent colors would be warm: 

No Need for Accolades

Now that everything is finally accomplished, and all of the celebratory events are beginning, it would only be natural that she might want a bit of the credit, and of the attention!

Square scarf – Hermes Cavaliers du Caucase; dress – Lands’ End; cardigan – 
J. Crew; ruffled silk blouse – H&M; pearl earrings – Judith Jack; Kiss cuff 
bracelet – Evocateur; pearl stud earrings – Majorica; bag – Lodis; pearl & gold 
 cuff – Eshvi; flats – Nicholas Kirkwood; pumps – Trotters; black sleeveless top
 – Joseph; floral jacquard silk culottes - Etro

But she's actually very comfortable being in the background. She knows what she contributed, and that's quite sufficient for her - the praise of others isn't really necessary.

Tank - Topshop; sneakers – Converse; jeans – L.L.Bean; merino sweatshirt 
 – L.L.Bean; shorts – J.Crew Factory;  green top – Oasis; sandals – Jimmy Choo

She's quite used to taking GOOD care of herself. If anybody ever bothers to pay close attention, they can clearly see that she's quite well-rewarded for her efforts. Yes, she provides those rewards herself; is that wrong?

These pants look like Eileen Fisher "slouch" pants, at a fraction of the price...

Eyelet top - Uniqlo; hoop earrings – Kenneth Jay Lane; infinity scarf –  
Charming Charlie; trousers – Uniqlo; wrap top – Dorothy Perkins; stud 
earrings – Cole Haan; floral scarf Etro

This is what she has packed for the events. It might seem dark and retiring, at first glance. Closer attention will show that everything has a touch of the "special" about it... That's the way she likes it!

If you count on yourself for appropriate rewards for your achievements, you are never disappointed! And you always get exactly what you'd most like...





  1. This is a beautiful collection. It's like the black provides the counterpoint to give the browns a real warmth and richness.

  2. I love this. So subtle. Thanks again Chris..Australia xx

  3. I love the warm colors with the black, I really want that olive Oasis tee. These 2 women make me smile, they look like they are waiting in their parlor for someone to the 2 sisters in Cranford.

  4. Janice,

    "Quiet luxury" and "a touch of the special" describes how I prefer to dress. Understated, but not plain. If I could magically change the black in this painting to brown, I would wear this template grouping in a heartbeat, minus the skirt and dress, sigh ! You have really shown me the wisdom of using at least one twin set when I pack !

    1. Yes, Shrebee, you are not alone with this style statement. Something special about each ensemble is what makes the difference, and difficulty, of assembling wardrobe items. I look and look but seldom purchase. It sometimes seems impossible to find items that speak to me.

      Thanks for speaking my mind about the wisdom of Janice too.

  5. I am rapidly running out of various ways to say" wow, wonderful". This is another group I could quite happily own. Even the black which I try to avoid, works for me with this grouping. I really like the luxe hoodie.
    Deb from Vancouver

    1. I want that hoodie SO MUCH... I'm not sure if I can justify it... hmmm....

  6. Gorgeous! I love your approach to Clean 13 with dress, casual, and the middle ground. This grouping is so close to the colors that I most often pack for travel - black and caramel and deep red. In my case I add white and teal. Oh, and denim because at heart I am a child of the 60's! I think I need that caramel cardigan. - nancyo

  7. Although the scarf you suggested was sold out by the time I read your post, I did find a very lovely butterfly and grasses design in rust and black at the Metropolitan Museum of Art Museum Shop. They also had a William Morris design in rust and black. I love the idea of using the warm rust-brown with black. It adds options to my basic black wardrobe. Thank you!

    1. Sold out ALREADY? Sheesh... but you're right, the shops at museums can be wonderful places to find beautiful scarves. Thanks for sharing!

  8. Brilliant once again Janice! I love this colour grouping, and i am learning to be more aware of accessories that complete an outfit.

  9. I can never get too many ideas for blacks, browns and greens...just love it...and the painting!

  10. Oh, that Kiss bracelet...! I am coveting it HUGELY! What an inspirational collection. I find myself learning so much from you -- Mahalo nui loa (thank you very much)!

  11. I love the camel, black and cream together with just a touch of the dark red/rust. Very classy! I like it with the saddle/tan accessories you featured recently.

  12. These are not colors that look good on me at all, but I really enjoyed this wardrobe because it helped me understand (again) the principles and not get hung up on thinking, "I wish I had that!!!" It's such a flexible system.

  13. It happens to be perfect for me, this one! Slimming black for the lower half, with warm or cream tops. Love the Kiss bracelet, the pretty scarves, the twirly dress ... Feminine and a neat capsule. Thank you too for introducing me to a Degas painting I didn't know. It's stayed with me all day. I enjoyed the analogy with the sisters in Cranford.
    Robyn in Tasmania