Monday, October 31, 2016

It was glorious. Absolutely, positively wonderful. Of course, anybody who knows me at all understand that 2 weeks alone with Belovedest is going to be the best thing in the world, no matter where we go. But I've got to tell you - if you've EVER got the chance to visit the Abruzzo region of Italy, DO IT.

aerial view of Roccamorice, Abruzzo, Italy
A view of Roccamorice from the air. If you know who took this photograph,
please let me know so I can credit them!

The mountains area extremely steep, and the towns (many of which date back thousands of years) are perched on the tops of the mountains where they are stunningly picturesque, and easily defensible if a band of mounted villains try to attack. If I ever write a Medieval romance, it will DEFINITELY be set in an Italy mountain town...

the Abruzzo forest colors in autumn
A relatively wide road. The autumn foliage was stunning...

We went hiking - there's a hermitage near where we were staying that we really wanted to visit. But we apparently got the wrong end of the mapping stick, because at one point, this was the path:

Hiking path to Santo Stefano de Majella

We turned back! (I admit, I fell...) we're going to have to go back and try again some day...

So what did women in Italy wear? Virtually anything you can imagine, including a shockingly inappropriate amount of lycra, revealing body parts that might have better been left to the imagination.

And big jewelry. Holy handbags! The unwritten rule that your earrings should be smaller than your ears was never obeyed in Rome...

But there were some fairly clear trends that we observed. Foremost, lots and LOTS of people were wearing super-lightweight down jackets. Always horizontally quilted. Even if the temperature was near 80 degrees Fahrenheit; style trumped appropriateness EVERY TIME...

down jackets as seen on women in Rome

I saw a fair number of coats with 3/4 sleeves. Personally, I can't recommend these unless you're either (a) wearing something short-sleeved under them, or (b) wearing long gloves. Most frequently, I saw women wearing these with their undergarment sleeves showing (obviously, no way to avoid this) and it generally looked awkward. Your may like this look - if you do, you're on trend with the Italians!

3/4 sleeve coats as seen on women in Rome

Leather? OH yes, there was a lot of leather being worn. I couldn't quite understand WHAT they were trying to accomplish, because the weather was decidedly warm, and leather skirts (and pants!) couldn't have been comfortable. But I saw literally dozens of black leather skirts, in every possible structure imaginable:

leather skirts as seen on women in Rome

There were plenty of leather jackets in evidence too, but it was interesting to me that the majority of them were round-collared and VERY simple. I saw a few more "motorcycle" kind of jackets, and a few leather blazers, but easily 3/4 of the jackets that I saw were styled like these:

leather jackets as seen on women in Rome

And just a word of advice, regarding leather jackets (or almost any garment, for that matter!): just because you can fasten it doesn't mean that it fits. I saw some zippers that looked just about to blow...

On a much brighter note, I saw a LOT of women of a certain age dressed in impeccable quiet good taste. It was really quite a formulaic kind of ensemble, built around a beautiful tweed or patterned straight skirt - not tight, but trim. Next, a beautiful blouse with a modest neckline, most commonly a silk bow in a light neutral color. Add a dark neutral cardigan, serious jewelry (some really BIG gold necklaces), dark tights and shoes that will tolerate cobblestones. Add in the most beautiful handbag you can afford, and you'll look like a Roman woman:

A classic Rome outfit in navy and white

And what did I buy? Well, one night, before dinner, B and I stumbled upon a combination craft market/flea market, where someone had an entire table of scarves. Any Hermes to be found? If there are, I'm going to spot them!

For about 40% of retail, and in spotless, possibly unworn condition? Heck yes!

Hermes Pierres d'Orient et d'Occident in red and royal blue
Hermes Pierre d'Orient et d'Occident

I also found a black and white tweed jacket. Sort of a blazer, sort of outerwear. You'll see more of it in the future!

If you followed me on Instagram, you might have noticed a couple of things. First - my phone behaved appallingly badly in Italy. In the little town were we were for the first week, our phones would work ONLY when we were sitting outdoors on the plaza overlooking the ravines. Anywhere else in town, it was not happening. So my Instagram feed would arrive in batches, although I had been taking pictures occasionally throughout the day.

The other thing that I've realized, and you might have discovered, is that I'm most likely to take photographs of strange little details that catch my eye; I leave the major art works and architectural masterpieces to those with a better camera and a steadier hand than I have!

So I leave my little description of our vacation with one of my favorite sights along the roads of Italy:
the Eni six-legged fire-breathing dog


Style Watch - What women are wearing in Italy, Fall 2016
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Friday, October 28, 2016

It's always interesting to work with red, blue, and white in a capsule wardrobe - the challenge is to do justice to three colors that look great together, without ending up looking like someone's flag... The grey here, the 2 shades of red, and the 2 shades of blue, give us lots of options to avoid a very "bleu, blanc, rouge" kind of look. (unless that's what you want - I'm not going to tell you no!)

2 classic scarves in red, blue and white

For this very abbreviated little ensemble, I focused on just four colors. Introducing a spectrum of grey could give you a million options... 

2 classic scarves in red, blue and white, and a capsule wardrobe color scheme based upon the scarves

He Falls Asleep....

At the symphony. Always. Audibly...

And that's kind of a drag for her, because she LOVES it. The longest Mahler, the most repetitious theme and variations from Bach - she adores it all...

a travel outfit in navy and red

They finally realized that, for the price of HIS ticket, she could spend the night downtown...

a Tote Bag Travel plan in blue, red and white

2 outfits taken from a Tote Bag Travel plan in blue, white and red

And of course, it never occurs to him that she's going to do some holiday shopping - HIS gift, especially - while she's down there alone. He'd never give her the opportunity to buy him something, would he?


A weekend travel capsule wardrobe in a blue, red, and white color palette
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Thursday, October 27, 2016

I'm back from Italy - we saw nothing of the earthquakes yesterday. Thanks so much for all of your emails and texts checking up on us! 

And for those of us looking for clothes in teal or a GORGEOUS dark maroon (they're calling it fig), check out the November collection at J.Jill....

hugs, Janice

I love camel.... I never wear it, because I look like death on a hot day when I try, but it always looks so rich and elegant in a capsule wardrobe...

two classic scarves in camel, green and burgundy

There's at least 1 shade of blue lurking in this scarf, as well as a variety of green hues... and the solid scarf, on the website, is described as "olive." That seems... strange. But it's proof that you have to really search high and low, and in all sorts of odd places, to find things.

I hope you'll notice, through this ensemble, the recurrence of square and angular motifs which echo the grid-like nature of the scarf. I love to look for these little unifying qualities in jewelry, bags, and even pajamas! 

two classic scarves in camel, green and burgundy, and the color scheme based upon the scarves


"You want me to come downtown for a meeting? Sure..."

"WHAT? Over dinner? You do know what time the last trains run, don't you?"

a travel outfit in camel, burgundy and white

"I know that the client would rather see me, but where am I spending the night, if we're going to be wining and dining until the wee hours?"

a Tote Bag Travel plan in camel, burgundy and green
cardigan – Etoile Isabel Marant (sold out); bag – Okhtein; tee – L.L.Bean

2 outfits taken from a Tote Bag Travel plan in Camel, Green and Burgundy

The nicest hotel downtown. Their response was VERY satisfactory...


A weekend travel capsule wardrobe in a camel, green, and burgundy color palette
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Wednesday, October 26, 2016

These colors could be "Halloween-y," in a capsule wardrobe but I'm going to keep that from happening!

Two class travel scarves in orange, black, and sand

The presence here of the sandy tan, and some white, are critical!

two classic scarves, in orange, black, and sand

She Wrote Her Thesis...

about Lázsló Moholy-Nagy! So when she learned that the Art Institute of Chicago had a HUGE special exhibit of his work, she cleared a couple of days from her calendar...

A travel wardrobe in orange, black, and sand

His work influenced all sorts of things in her life - not the least, her affection for orange!

a travel outfit in orange, black, and sand

She knows that she's going to have to leave the museum and dine, and go to sleep, but she's headed back the next morning for more.... more....

2 outfits taken from a Tote Bag Travel plan in orange, black, and sand for a travel capsule wardrobe

More joy? More appreciation? More admiration?

More happiness....


A weekend travel capsule wardrobe in an orange, black, and sand color palette
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Tuesday, October 25, 2016

This just feels like cozy autumn clothes, doesn't it?

two classic scarves, in olive, ivory, and denim

The primary neutral in this capsule wardrobe could easily be denim blue, and you could include accents of red or yellow, too...

two classic scarves, in denim, ivory, and olive, and a color palette based upon them

She Owns ONE Dress...

And ever month or so, in the cooler weather, she puts it in her messenger bag, and she goes downtown for the night, with her sweetheart... Sometimes she feels like she should get something different, but...

a travel outfit in denim, olive, and ivory

He loves olive green. He loves the dress. He loves these special evenings when they go to the theater, or just dinner...

What to pack for an overnight trip, in denim, ivory, and olive

A weekend travel capsule wardrobe in a denim, ivory, and olive color palette

But he loves her, most of all...


A weekend travel capsule wardrobe in a denim, ivory, and olive color palette