Tuesday, October 31, 2017

I thought that this painting might be good for Halloween - it's sort of dark without being macabre or outright spooky...

Shattered Tree by Otto Dix

I see this painting all of the time - it's in the Art Institute of Chicago - and I swear that I see navy blue in the areas near the horizon! At any rate, I think that these colors make amazing accents... One could easily include some gold, some medium blues and a bit of grey and live with the color-scheme forever.

Shattered Tree by Otto Dix with style guidelines and color palette

This is my starting point today. This version of The Common Wardrobe is a hair dressier than usual - no jeans, and a pair of navy wool pants in their place. A pair of high-quality trousers can be worn almost anywhere... The navy ribbed tee shirt is a notch more elegant than the white cotton tee shirt, so that provides you with additional options.

The Common Wardrobe in navy and white
ribbed tee – Uniqlo; white tee – Lands’ End; plaid shirt – Lands’ End; washable wool sweater – L.L.Bean; white shirt – Lands’ End; long-sleeved tee – J.Crew; merino turtleneck – Uniqlo; cardigan - Uniqlo; striped tee – J.Crew; twill pants – L.L.Bean; cords – L.L.Bean; wool pants – Lands’ End

The necklace shown here is fast becoming a classic... It's available in FIFTEEN different combinations, and I see them everywhere!

I couldn't resist the brown sweater, even though a longer-sleeved sweater might be more classic. But I saw a lot of women wearing shorter-sleeved sweaters over button-front shirts when I was in Paris (it's going to take me a few minutes to get used to the proportion!), and how useful is a sparkly sweater with the winter holiday fast approaching?

The French 5-Piece Wardrobe in shades of russet, coral and dark chocolate brown
cardigan – Eileen Fisher; necklace – Fairchild Baldwin; square scarf - Klements; brown sweater – Eileen Fisher; chiffon scarf - Cornici; tee shirt – J.Crew

It's not really surprising that these colors go together - blue and orange are opposite each other on the color wheel, which is always supposed to meant that they complement each other...

3 ways to wear a russet cardigan with A Common Wardrobe in navy and white

3 ways to wear a russet necklace with A Common Wardrobe in navy and white

3 ways to wear a print scarf with A Common Wardrobe in navy and white

3 ways to wear a brown sweater with A Common Wardrobe in navy and white

3 ways to wear a coral scarf with A Common Wardrobe in navy and white

3 ways to wear a coral tee shirt with A Common Wardrobe in navy and white

a travel capsule wardrobe based on A Common Wardrobe in navy and white, with accents of russet, coral and brown

Imagine this wardrobe with a nice warm brown bag, and a good pair of brown loafers - so many possibilities!


Updating a Navy Wardrobe for Autumn - Start with Art: Shattered Tree by Otto Dix
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Monday, October 30, 2017

Okay - that wonderful Talbots giveaway from last week has ended; we have winners!

The winning comments were:

  • #becauseimalady I know comfort and style are not mutually exclusive.
  • #becauseimalady I know classy never goes out of style.
  • #because I'm a lady I know why there is a difference between sweatshirts and sweaters!

What a delightful batch of comments! I was very impressed with the degree to which so many of us demonstrably value kindness, sensitivity to others, self-respect and a positive attitude - exactly what I would have expected, based upon the years of warm, honest, respectful and friendly comments that we've shared here...

If you'd like some of my new business cards to share with friends and acquaintances, just drop me a line at theviviennefiles@gmail.com with your mailing address and how many cards you would like...

Winners, please send me your address so that I can send your $100 gift cards - and if you feel like sharing, let me know what you plan to purchase...

to all of you,

I always love these months when we have a choice of stones - although November is a little bit strange because the average observer won't know the different between topaz and citrine... Which is a good thing; gold topaz aren't all that common, while citrine is pretty easy to find!

As usual, I'm starting with 6 really basic outfits in 6 neutral colors - 3 cool and 3 warm. Sweaters and corduroy pants are a good uniform this time of year in Chicago!

This first bracelet makes me swoon, just a little bit...

a rust outfit with citrine and topaz accessories
sweater - J.Crew Factory; earrings - Latelita London; necklace– Saranarat; bracelet – Ashley Pittman; cords - J.Crew Factory; scarf – Julie Impens

If you want to wear a "warm" stone with "cool" clothes, don't forget to look for stones set in silver, rather than gold - that balances the impression of the stones quite a bit.

And while we're remembering things, don't forget to look in the men's department when you're looking for scarves - especially if you want a classic pattern in timeless colors. They're also less expensive, sometimes... Can't figure that out...

navy outfit with topaz and citrine accessories
sweater - J.Crew Factory; citrine earrings – Dewi Putera; necklace – One Kings Lane; bracelet – Judith Ripka; cords – L.L.Bean; scarf – Hickey Freeman

This is a color combination made in heaven, or on the color wheel...

olive green outfit with citrine and topaz accessories
sweater – L.L.Bean; citrine earrings – Ippolita; bracelet – Vera Bradley; citrine and peridot ring – Bloomingdale’s; cords – L.L.Bean; scarf – Polo Ralph Lauren

I found this the hardest to really coordinate, but I think that looking for lighter (less orange) stones helps a lot. And a Missoni scarf can always tie together the most unexpected color combinations - they're geniuses at that sort of thing!

grey outfit with citrine and topaz accessories
turtleneck – Uniqlo; citrine earrings – Alok Jain; citrine necklace – Lagos; citrine ring – HSN; cords – Lands’ End; scarf - Missoni

A classic topaz stone would blend into these clothes perfectly, but just to make a bit of a statement, I looked for darker stones...

a camel outfit with topaz and citrine accessories
turtleneck – Uniqlo; citrine earrings – JCPenney; bracelet – Robert Lee Morris; ring - The RealReal; cords – L.L.Bean; scarf – Drakes

I would do embarrassing things for this bracelet... I could easily see basing an entire wardrobe on black with the accent colors from these stones. Some designers are just plain brilliant...

a black outfit with topaz and citrine accessories
merino turtleneck – Uniqlo; earrings – Kevia; necklace – Robert Lee Morris; bracelet – Ashley Pittman; cords – L.L.Bean; scarf – Missoni

While I never EVER think of topaz as a stone or a color that would flatter me, I might figure out a way to make it work if I owned that bracelet...


More from the Birthstone Series:

November's Birthstone is Topaz, or Citrine... Some Ideas!
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Friday, October 27, 2017

The questions around color combinations can go in all sorts of directions...

She Fell in Love with the Scarf...

Berlin Grafitti 2 scarf by ImageDiary
Berlin Graffiti 2 scarf by ImageDiary

She loved the story, the print, the colors... but her core wardrobe was grey and white! Is this going to work? She's going to honor her impulses and make it work...

Berlin Grafitti 2 scarf with style guidelines and color palette
Berlin Graffiti 2 scarf by ImageDiary

She's starting here - comfortable and very versatile, but very grey, too... Not to worry, she has an idea!

The Common Wardrobe in grey and white

The scarf will of course tie outfits together, but so will warm stones or faux stones like tortoise or amber, set in silver. And then she found another scarf that mixed some warm and cool...

(yes, "5-Piece" is an approximation, not a law!)

French 5-Piece Wardrobe in royal blue, brown and squash

The blue sweater is simple - blue and grey are both cool, and are easy to wear together...

3 ways to wear a royal blue sweater with grey pants

But she was delighted to see that everything worked well! The brown boots play a key role...

3 ways to wear a brown cardigan with grey pants

3 ways to wear a squash orange turtleneck with grey pants

3 ways to accessorize grey clothes with warm-colored accessories

She's got a lengthy trip planned around the winter holidays - this might be just the ticket!

a travel capsule wardrobe in grey with blue, brown and orange accents

With a clear plan, even "difficult" color combinations can be beautiful...

Can I Wear Warm Accent Colors with my Cool Favorites? Start with a Scarf! Berlin Graffiti 2 from ImageBerlin Grafitti 2 scarf by Image DiaryDiary
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Thursday, October 26, 2017

Another promoted post. Talbots gave me some stuff, and some things for you too!

Talbots was always the "go to" store for ladylike clothes... I remember when Belovedest and I moved back from Ireland, and I was wearing the smallest clothing size I've worn since high school, and I really NEEDED a "kick butt and take names" suit - I went to Talbots. When I worked in an office, the family gift cards were ALWAYS for Talbots...

I have to admit, though, that I've always had reservations about the term "lady." I always felt that it meant older, and more retiring, and genteel in a way that might mean being a doormat. The idea of manners and good breeding and appropriate conduct appealed, though... I was conflicted.

Which is why I'm happy to embrace Talbots' current efforts to reclaim the term "lady," on our terms. Or, as they put it: "being a "lady" is defining it for yourself and being unapologetically you - real, confident, fun, and imperfectly enchanting."

So how does this involve us all? First, Talbots gave me some more clothes! Let's look at what tempted...

Obviously - I'm always interested in something black and white, or black and grey. Snuggly, sweatery, and long-sleeved are ALL in the rotation now that the temperature dropped a solid 30 degrees in the last few days!

cardigan – Talbots; half-zip sweater – Talbots; dotted tee – Talbots

I've been mad about cables since I was a little girl - and some of these colors are pretty appealing! The tweedy cabled sweater sort of has my name written on it, too. And I was pleased to note that the cardigan that I bought before I went to Paris is still catching my eye as I scroll through the Internet...

sweaters – Talbots; black tweed sweater – Talbots; cardigan – Talbots

I briefly flirted with the idea of a marled, tweedy dress... And BOTH of these floral sweaters keep attracting my attention; I'm going to have to be alert to this sudden (and somewhat out of character) interest in florals!

dress – Talbots; grey flowered sweater – Talbots; black flowered sweater – Talbots

But #becauseimalady, I know enough to take the advice of my friends! When I reviewed what I packed for Paris, quite a few of you noted that I seem to have a pretty serious affection for the black and white marled garments that I own. So when I saw these 2 pieces, and I remember what you all had said, I knew that I had winners!

sleeveless shell – Talbots; cardigan - Talbots

I can already see these coming together in an easy 6-Pack wardrobe for a long weekend... I just need to find my destination!

cardigan - Talbots; black tee - L.L.Bean; cream tee - Lands' End; sleeveless shell – Talbots; velvet cropped pants - Uniqlo; black ponte skirt - J.Jill

Also #becauseimalady, I keep my word about keeping my "active" wardrobe streamlined! So this is what I'm currently wearing. My sleeveless dress has ceded its position for a striped dress from L.L.Bean that I particularly love...

striped tee - Muji; cream tee - Lands' End; black tee - L.L.Bean; dotted shirt – Lands’ End (similar here); gingham shirt – Lands’ End (similar here); birdseye sweater - & Other Stores, black crewneck cashmere sweater - L.L.Bean; black cashmere cardigan - Lands' End; chambray shirt - J. Crew; black ponte skirt - J.Jill; jeans - Dearborn Denim; pants – Eddie Bauer; striped dress - L.L.Bean

The "stardigan" is back! And my short-sleeved tee shirt and jumper dress have made way for my new sweaters...

velvet sweatshirt - & Other Stories; cardigan - Talbots; tweed sweater – J. Jill (similar here); lace top - Talbots; velvet tunic - Eileen Fisher; star cardigan - Maison Rika (somewhat similar here); ruffled shirt - Lands' End; cardigan - Talbots; sleeveless shell – Talbots; velvet cropped pants - Uniqlo; plaid skirt - J.Jill (similar here); dress - Eileen Fisher; tweed dress - COS (similar here)

This is the full current wardrobe - more than enough for anything that life throws at me!

But here's where the really good fun starts!

Leave me a comment - use the "hashtag" #becauseimalady - and tell me what being a lady means to you... (Talbots wants us to use the hashtag, so I'm complying - anybody who gives us gift cards gets to make at least ONE request, eh?)

And next Monday, at 4 pm Chicago time, I'm going to randomly choose THREE commenters to receive a $100 Talbots gift card! Yes, I have 3 of these... Your odds of winning are very good!

So let me start:

#becauseimalady, I know the difference between pants and leggings!


p.s. If you're in the mood for holiday socks, Talbots has TONS. I need socks like I need a bad headache, but I'm SO tempted...

A Giveaway for You! #becauseimalady Promotion at Talbots...
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Wednesday, October 25, 2017

It's always a question - there are LOTS of good wardrobe ideas that work beautifully with black (and usually with navy and grey), but what if your favorite colors are warmer, and softer?

Let's start here, just for the sake of art. We saw 2 exhibits of this artist when we were in Paris - there was 1 small room in the Centre Pompidou, and then a much larger exhibit in the Musee Cernuschi (which is just outside of the Parc de Monceau, and is well worth the search!).

Composition by Lee Ungno

This just screamed to me across the room - I saw khaki right away, with amazing accents...

Composition by Lee Ungno with style guidelines and color palette

So let's think of a starting point that is lovely for a moderate winter - not a place where you get snow, necessarily, but where you see cooler temperatures. You don't worry about slush and splashing salt-laden muck, so you can still wear your favorite summer colors:

A Common Wardrobe in soft, warm colors
ribbed tee – Uniqlo; ivory tee – Lands’ End; shirt – Lands’ End; pecan sweater – Lands’ End; Henley – Patagonia; ivory long-sleeved tee – Lands’ End; corduroy shirt – L.L.Bean; cashmere cardigan – L.L.Bean; striped tee – Banana Republic; khakis – L.L.Bean; cords – L.L.Bean; skirt – L.L.Bean

You can clearly see that there are literally a few dozen ways to wear these 12 items! But, even with cashmere sweaters, and corduroy pants, it doesn't necessarily have that "autumn-y" feeling you might want...

Let's add these 5 pieces, and see what happens!

French 5-Piece Wardrobe in burgundy, russet and dark chocolate brown
cardigan– Ralph Lauren; scarf - Bindya; tee shirt – Lands’ End; bag – Coach; pants – Lands’ End

Even just bringing the scarf into existing outfits gives a much more "cool weather" feel...

Adding an autumn colored scarf to a soft, warm Common Wardrobe

3 ways to wear a burgundy cardigan a A Common Wardrobe in soft, warm colors

3 ways to wear a pumpkin tee shirt with a A Common Wardrobe in soft, warm colors

3 ways to wear dark chocolate pants with a A Common Wardrobe in soft, warm colors

new outfits from adding a French 5-Piece Wardrobe to A Common Wardrobe in soft, warm colors

As always, this is a pretty neat way to pull together a travel wardrobe - start with a dozen of your core, stand-by, always important neutrals, and add literally a handful of accents!

a travel capsule wardrobe in soft, warm neutral with autumn-colored accents


Does the "French 5-Piece Wardrobe" Work with Warmer Colors? Start with Art! Composition by Lee Ungno
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Tuesday, October 24, 2017

She is feeling a little bit... subdued. She was strangely drawn to this painting:

Nature Morte sur une Chaise by Juan Gris

She decided to embrace her feelings of reserve and quiet, and thus decided that this was how she was going to plan her upcoming wardrobe purchases for autumn and winter.

Nature Morte sur une Chaise by Juan Gris with style guidelines and color palette

It wasn't that she really needs new clothes - she's got a good base of her favorite neutrals. But she felt that it was time for a good snuggle, and a scarf of two to hold her tight... She could give lots of reasons for feeling the way she does right now - the weather? the change of seasons? At any rate, she's going to do a bit of shopping...

A Common Wardrobe in mostly black
black tee – L.L.Bean; white tee – L.L.Bean; white shirt – Lands’ End; black v-neck sweater – J.Crew; grey tee – Uniqlo; cotton turtleneck – Lands’ End; chambray shirt – J.Crew; cashmere cardigan – Lands’ End; striped tee - Faith Connexion; black jeans – Fat Face; black cords – L.L.Bean; black twill pants – L.L.Bean

After much watching, and some almost ENDLESS searching for scarves, these are here choices. She's (quietly) very pleased...

French 5-Piece Wardrobe in mustard, muted turquoise and wine
cashmere turtleneck – Uniqlo; scarf – Furious Goose; turquoise sweater – ORA; cabernet tee – J.Crew; scarf - Missoni

She accomplished exactly what she desired - a number of new outfits, without a lot of fuss and effort. Sometimes it's important to keep things easy!

3 ways to wear a mustard yellow cashmere turtleneck

3 ways to wear a turquoise print scarf

3 ways to wear a turquoise sweater

3 ways to wear a Missoni scarf

3 ways to wear a wine tee shirt

Maybe a trip will perk her up a little bit? At least she won't have to think too much about what to pack!

a travel capsule wardrobe in black and white with accents of mustard yellow, muted turquoise and wine


Start with Art: A "French 5-Piece Wardrobe" Based on Nature Morte sur une Chaise by Juan Gris
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