Saturday, February 06, 2016

Building a Capsule Wardrobe by Starting with Art: Fumee d'Ambre Gris by Sargent

I spotted this painting ages ago, when I put together the "Images and Color Schemes: 100 Works of Art" file (which you can still buy here). So when one of you wrote to me, asking that I use this image on the blog, I was enthusiastically happy!

Fumee d'Ambre Gris by John Singer Sargent

This is the page that I included the the Images and Color Schemes file:

The exotic nature of the painting suggested a travel wardrobe, but I didn't want to go too far overboard into a desert vacation, so I went back to our "range of events" trips that so many of us are taking this spring and summer.

And I decided to break a few rules, too!


Generally, she's described as the eccentric aunt, but she prefers to think of herself as an iconoclast. An original. A truly self-defined woman...

And she doesn't wear high heels! Nor stockings...

But she can get dressed up as well as anyone, even if it's going to be one of those long weekends with everything from formal dinners to weddings to a picnic. She can pull this off, with carry-on luggage. Iconoclasts as very self-reliant!

Oval earrings – Nordstrom Rack; black pants – T by Alexander Wang; black tank
 – T by Alexander Wang; black bracelet – Vince Camuto; black sandals – Munro;
 bag – Luana Italy; coat – The Row; blush silk top – Theory; opal earrings –  
Kendra Scott; bracelet – Kendra Scott; gold sandals – Clarks
blush silk pants – Theory

One of the joys of making her own rules is that she can continue to wear culottes when everybody else thinks they're passe. (they should look around a bit - culottes are still EVERYWHERE in stores...) She's old enough to realize that her knees don't need to be out in public.

Natural tank - Uniqlo; sandalsOluKai; natural culottes – Baja East; 
hooded sweatshirt – Patagonia; gray tank – Uniqlo; seersucker shorts – 
Rag & Bone; sneakers – Tod’s

Her friends think Uniqlo is too "young" for them. She scoffs at those kinds of pigeonholes - nobody carded her when she went shopping, and if they had tried... well... she would have had to have a wee conversation with them...

Tunic – IDLF Uniqlo; bone earrings – Maiyet; cardigan – L.L.Bean; rose gold 
and diamond studs – Melissa Kaye; sequined scarf – Armani Collezioni; blush 
and white scarf – Brunello Cucinelli; dress – ISLF Uniqlo

She's quite pleased with what she's packing. That touch of black punches everything up a bit, and gives her some very unexpected options in an otherwise soft and subtle palette. It's like black eyeliner with grey hair...

She has dozens of options:

The young people always like to hang out with her; they think she's "cool." She enjoys their company immensely, and always learns from them, as much as they do from her. This is how life should be, eh?




  1. I am so taken with the painting...I have never seen it before. It is gorgeous...thanks for introducing us to art as well as clothing, Janice!

  2. I have seen this painting many, many times in the Clark Institute--a wonderful museum in Williamstown MA.
    This is one of your most elegant ensembles, a pleasure to behold!

  3. Stunning, flowing garments. This woman would have a lot of ironing in her future, but maybe she would have a laundress as well as gorgeous, iconoclastic clothes.

    1. Maybe she doesn't mind having wrinkles on her clothes; I know people who like to wear linen because the wrinkles on the clothes complement the wrinkles on their face! But I love your idea of a laundress... sigh...
      big Saturday morning hug,

  4. Love the colours. I can identify with this, I always fell a great satisfaction from wearing something unique, unusual, unexpected, and yes, rule-breaking.

  5. What a treat to wake up to this gorgeous painting this morning - thank you for your interpretation of my request!! Although I have a slightly different palette (and age?) from your Iconoclast, I have already headed over to Uniqlo (too young for me? Nah!) and purchased that tunic. And it's funny that you describe her as an iconoclast because I actually paint icons. - nancyo

  6. I wanted to comment on why I love this website so much. I have been meaning to make this comment for some time, but I always decide against it because I am afraid I will miss one really important reason. Here goes:
    1. The art
    2. The color combinations that I collect and use each season
    3. The wardrobe building schemes. My favorite is the 4 x 4, but I evaluate each and every one posted
    4. The sensibility and wearability of the clothing items
    5. The common sense when it comes to how much is enough; the message is not "buy, buy, buy" which can be tiresome
    6. The imagination that goes into making everything interesting and fun
    7. The featured websites that have introduced me to others that I would have missed
    8. The archives that I can search when I have to travel

  7. Wow, I just had to comment because you have really outdone yourself with this one! The clothes and the story mesh so perfectly. And the interesting and unusual, but they look so comfortable to wear. And chic! Hmm, perhaps I have a future as an eccentric aunt, it really seems to appeal to me!

  8. The white coat meshes so well with the inspiration painting.

  9. You have hit it out of the park again. Linen is so wonderful because it is like a cat, only does what it wants to do. Also, some all time winners for a whole life, the Row Coat is the absolute best.
    Deb from Vancouver

  10. I love the palette and the character!

  11. Serene, stunning and yet sensible! Great combination.

    Mary mcm

  12. Lovely painting, lovely capsule! Thank you Janice. I find the Ines de la Fressange range for Uniqlo very tempting - quite suitable for the dame du troisieme age too.
    More generally, those soft cottons and linens in the delicate shades that you've found look ideal for summer cool.
    I sometimes browse in Twiggy's collection for M&S also but IDLF is more 'me'. Then the challenge is to find fabrics for sewing something similar (I live in a small town, and online shopping alas doesn't lend itself to the all-important 'fabric feel').
    Very good inspiration here for us both in 'the look' and in the story!
    Robyn in Tasmania

  13. Very interesting capsule. Not my style but pretty to look at. I so appreciate your efforts on our behalf!

  14. I want to like Uniqlo--their stuff seems well styled and well priced. But every time I go to the website I feel enraged instead. Their XL is a size 14--maybe someone should tell them that's the AVERAGE size of an American woman. And if you're a 16 (and I am) you're an XXL, which they have yet to have in anything linked from this blog. I know you're not responsible for them Janice, and maybe (like Abercrombie & Fitch), they're just not interested in clothing about 1/2 of American women. But I, for one, am conducting a personal boycott against companies who size like this. Tired of all the size shaming so prevalent in the clothing industry.

    1. Danielle, I am an Australian size 22 (plus) so I really only fit into the shoes and accessories that Janice suggests. I rarely look up the suppliers as I know they either won't fit or their plus sizes have a smaller colour range. I take aboard Janice's ideas and try to apply them to my wardrobe. Just recently I looked at an online store craving after their merino cardigans (the orange one!) but alas they didn't have anything any where near my size.Very sad as we have to wear clothes like everybody else. Carol S