Thursday, November 17, 2016

The French 5-Piece Wardrobe Starts with Art: Still Life with Bouquet of Flowers and Plums by Rachel Ruysch

Dear Elizabeth, who's favorite designer is Vionnet - send me an email at theviviennefiles@gmail.com with your mailing address. You won the Mainbocher exhibit book!

So what do you do if you WANT something new, but you really don't need anything? You feel the need for brightening up, for some new ideas and inspiration, for some updated options in your wardrobe... I think it's important to take these feeling seriously, and to act on them deliberately, with a clear plan and established goal. If you just start buying things willy nilly, you risk wasting money, and feeling guilty, and still not satisfying that urge that stems from something vital within you.

How about first find something beautiful to help focus that sort of  "all over the place" desire that you're feeling:


Still Life with Bouquet of Flowers and Plums by Rachel Ruysch
Still Life with Bouquet of Flower and Plums
by Rachel Ruysch


Rachel Ruysch was pretty good, wasn't she?

My thinking here was of someone who has a wardrobe a lot like mine - long on black and white, with all of the essentials covered. So what you see here, at first glance, is that lovely warm red - and that's going to be perfect with black and white!

Still Life with Bouquet of Flowers and Plums by Rachel Ruysch

Let's assume that she's starting with these basics:

Capsule wardrobe building blocks for a French 5-piece wardrobe

Although I'm writing about the "French 5-Piece Wardrobe," this heroine doesn't need, nor particularly want, to buy 5 pieces of clothing. However, she could certainly buy 5 items...

First up, she finds this scarf, which echoes the colors and the feelings of the painting, but has a bit of update - some scattered stars, and a leopard border! (yes, the designer's initials are in the middle, but it's subtle to the point of being unintelligible, so I'm going to roll with it...)

A silk scarf as part of a capsule wardrobe
scarf - Robert Cavalli


With scarf in hand (physically, or mentally), our heroine start browsing "flower" colors, and when she gets to poppy, she knows that she's found what she wants - warm red, soft, classic, fluid shapes, a good quality and ethically responsible manufacturer. If you can't afford Eileen Fisher at her (sometimes breathtaking) retail prices, I strongly encourage you to look at places like Thredup for her things at lower prices - they don't date, and most of them are beautifully made. When thrifting, her name should be at the top of your list!

A shirt and dress in red for a capsule wardrobe

And now, because she's only buying 2 pieces of clothing, she thinks that she should make sure to have some really pretty, festive jewelry. (yow, do I have a weak spot for onyx and marcasite...) 

Dressing up for the winter holidays will be easier, and in the long days after that, these pieces will bring a bit of joy every day.

Oh yes - she's going to check to be certain that she has the right shoes to wear with her new dress...


Accessories in black and silver for a capsule wardrobe

 So today's "French 5-Piece Wardrobe" (which really is just a fancy Continental way of saying "my autumn shopping spree!) is just 2 garments, and a few accessories. She may not buy all 3 pieces of jewelry; she may already own the right shoes, so that would get us down to the obligatory five pieces.

Obligatory according to whom???


The French 5-Piece Wardrobe Starts with Art: Still Life with Bouquet of Flowers and Plums by Rachel Ruysch

Wouldn't this be delightful to pack for a getaway after the first of the year? Warm enough to be warm, with a pretty dress for a nice evening out...

The French 5-Piece Wardrobe Starts with Art: Still Life with Bouquet of Flowers and Plums by Rachel Ruysch

The new additions will help our heroine be prepared for a wide variety of events through the first of the year, or even just for everyday activities that deserve beauty:

The French 5-Piece Wardrobe Starts with Art: Still Life with Bouquet of Flowers and Plums by Rachel Ruysch

I'm discovering more and more that I don't need a THING in my wardrobe. I'm going to Paris the first week of December, and I don't really have anything targeted for shopping. AND, I'm thinking of making 2017 a Year Without Shopping....

Stay tuned for the decision!

love,
Janice
The French 5-Piece Wardrobe Starts with Art: Still Life with Bouquet of Flowers and Plums by Rachel Ruysch
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17 comments:

  1. I have a red summer dress that always gets compliments. Your idea of an all-season red dress is smart.
    BTW, I finally posted some photos of real people--locals and tourists--about town here in Carcassonne. For some ideas on what to wear in France in the fall.

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  2. I really think you need that scarf for your trip.

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  3. Loving the posts this week. I do find that I get tired of my carefully chosen, mostly neutral wardrobe and sometimes just feel a craving for a new color or a little 'sump'n, sump'n' to spruce things up. Thinking about how to do that in a considered way is really helpful. Much better than wandering around a mall until I find something.

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  4. Janice,
    I 'm with you -- actually, my closet overflows with neutrals and accent colors, so I really don't need anything more, unless I come across what seems to be the very rare find of a top, blouse, or shirt, in one or two of my neutrals with an accent color or colors that I already have. If anything, I need to pare down !
    Question -- I don't see any belts as part of the accents, so do you wear the shirts untucked ? I recall that you are short waisted, as am I, but I have always loved the polished look of a leather belt at the waist, though perhaps not on a soft, flowing top.

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  5. After following you for several years, I changed the way I shop. Instead of buying what caught my eye, I figured out what I wanted, then went shopping. It's totally different. Now, I really don't need any clothes except when something needs replacing. Thanks for helping me bring order to the chaos that was my closet. I too am taking time off from shopping. I started this July 1st and really am enjoying it. I still really enjoy your blog, it just doesn't lead to shopping as often as before.

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  6. I'm with you on the spending cutback. I should finish up with capsule wardrobe purchases before the end of the year, and after that replacements for worn items and any essentials I may have overlooked should be all I need. I have already gone through my shoes and donated those that don't fit to a worthy cause, but still have to do the same for clothing. That should pare down my wardrobe enough to allow me to tell at a glance where the gaps are, and I know there are not that many of those. I so appreciate this latest series of posts in helping me to achieve that goal of thoughtful spending only, which I plan to apply to all purchases, not just those for apparel.

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  7. When perking up my wardrobe or trying out a new accent color, I have a list: scarf, socks, bracelet or earrings, solid tee, patterned button shirt, cardigan or vest. I don't ever get everything at the same time; I usually start with the solid tee and perhaps the socks or scarf. Then, if I like it, I add the other pieces, usually one at a time. Sometimes it results in just a seasonal perk for existing pieces, sometimes it results in a whole new accent color that becomes part of the ongoing palette.

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    1. How sensible and what fun!
      Robyn in Tasmania

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  8. I think you have the right idea Virginia - just those small changes can perk things up so much.
    I'm having the same issues since retiring - I don't NEED anything (in fact I was a bit shocked to see how many sweaters I actually owned when I did my wardrobe changeover) - BUT - every now and again something nw would be nice. But I also need to cut way back on spending so I can't justify any major purchase. My mostly black, white, grey and navy wardrobe has all the basics but luckily, a pretty scarf or bracelet in a colour such as this red would go with pretty much everything. I think I will wait until my Christmas shopping is all done and then shop the sales for 1 or 2 brighteners for myself.
    Keep us on the straight and narrow Janice!

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  9. That scarf is fabulous! I can't wear warm red but I can see myself indulging in the color by wearing this scarf with a black top and pants and accessorizing with red shoes or bag (maybe even both!). Until this post, I'd always assumed warm red couldn't find a spot in my closet.

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  10. I love the concept of a core neutral wardrobe, with punches of color here and there. I have already started my Year Without (Clothes) Shopping, but may make it 15 months and go through 2017. I have purged a ton of clothes, and still have more than I care to, so this next year will be focusing on attrition. Thank you for all that you do for us! I may be a "capsule concept" convert yet.

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  11. The detailing in the accessories you've chosen is delicious! I love the way they refer to the painting. And that scarf could tempt me into red ...

    But I have repeatedly struggled with the Year Without Clothes Shopping, despite working through the excellent Jill Chivers program MYWCS. The best I can manage is careful shopping in accordance with your helpful advice, to achieve a curated wardrobe of clothes I really like and wear. I know you have stronger resolve than me! Your exercise program being just one example.

    Robyn in Tasmania

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  12. Such a pretty group of clothing. The plain colours go well with the patterned scarf. I seem to have patterned skirts, plain tops and patterned scarves which are difficult to put together.

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  13. This is so pretty, as I always look for ways to warm up black. I think I will join you on your shopping fast. Most of my purchases this year were inspired by a beautiful scarf that was featured here....

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  14. I love Rachel Ruysch's intricate, delicate, insect-laden paintings. Her artwork has been delighting and inspiring people for centuries. I also like that she was a guild member during a time in history where women were not allowed in guilds. She painted from the time she was a teenager until old, old age. All this and she raised 10 children. I love that there's a wardrobe based on her art!

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  15. Paris! How lovely. Do hope you have a wonderful time. I love Eileen Fisher; only have a few of her pieces. But very comfortable and stylish. xo Deborah

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  16. This is such a good idea! It's amazing how so few items really do perk up the black and white! You are a genius Janice! : ) I wish I was going to Paris. I bet it is even more magical all dressed for Christmas! Take lots of pics for us!I am really considering a shopping fast as well. I don't know that I could make it a whole year! The painting is gorgeous!

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