Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Could be a dream, could be a nightmare, could just be a sweetheart - the enigmatic nature of this image is striking:

L'Ombre by Pablo Picasso
L'Ombre by Pablo Picasso

When I saw L'Ombre in the Picasso Museum last year, I knew that I would want to share it with you all!

L'Ombre by Pablo Picasso with style notes and color palette

Her Work is Complicated Enough, Thank You...

She's a psychiatrist. A shrink. She sits, quietly, and listens to people. Takes notes. Tries to formulate the perfect, pithy question to open up the hidden pain in her patient's mind, and help the healing start...

nine wardrobe Neutral Building Blocks in denim, white and beige
sweater – L.L.Bean; cardigan – L.L.Bean; denim shirt – J. Crew; tee - Lands’ End; white shirt – Lands’ End; sweater - Simply Be; khakis – L.L.Bean; skirt - L.L.Bean; jeans - L.L.Bean

She's always watching people, listening to people, learning from people. So she doesn't really want to spend a ton of time worrying about what she's going to wear - it just plain and simply isn't all that interesting to her!

a dozen outfits built from the 9 wardrobe Neutral Building Blocks in denim, white and khaki

a dozen outfits built from the 9 wardrobe Neutral Building Blocks in denim, white and khaki

She does, however, grasp that she has to be dressed every day, so she tries to be organized and to have a plan when she purchases clothes:

nine wardrobe Neutral Building Blocks in a 4 by 4 Wardrobe

Her favorites colors are an eclectic mix, which she manages to pull together pretty beautifully, given the minimal level of effort she puts into her wardrobe plan!

7 accent garments in tobacco brown, soft mint green and sky blue
cardigan – Magaschoni; sweater – Fat Face; blue ribbed tee – Sportmax; mint tee – J.Crew; blue top - L.L.Bean; cropped jeans – NYDJ; pants – Marks & Spencer

She likes to think that dressing casually puts her patients at ease, and that wearing familiar silhouettes keeps them from obsessing about what she's wearing. And she derives great comfort from the accent colors that she's chosen, grounded in nature as they are - bark brown, spring leaf green, and the blue of a springtime sky.

a 4 by 4 Wardrobe in denim, khaki, and white with accents of cognac brown, sky blue and soft green

She never struggles to get dressed - THAT would be a waste of time that she really wouldn't tolerate...

12 outfits from a 4 by 4 wardrobe with a denim and khaki core, and accents of green, blue and tobacco brown

12 outfits from a Four by Four wardrobe with a denim and khaki core, and accents of green, blue and tobacco brown

When she has a particularly difficult work day, she reminds herself that her accent brown color could always be called cognac... And calling for cognac after a hard day might be just the needed cure!


Accents for a Denim and Khaki Wardrobe - Start with Art: L'Ombre by Pablo Picasso
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Tuesday, March 28, 2017

I'm sure there's a story here, and I'm afraid it might be a sad one:

Stairs in the Garden of the Asylum by Vincent van Gogh
Stairs in the Garden of the Asylum by Vincent van Gogh

Even in difficult circumstances, van Gogh captures the exuberant energy of nature, in a very limited palette:

Stairs in the Garden of the Asylum by Vincent van Gogh with style notes and color palette

Celebrating Nature is Her Profession

Landscape architect - it was the title that she always wanted. So she started out working as a landscaper with a successful female manager, and she went to school in her spare time...

sweater – L.L.Bean; cardigan – L.L.Bean; denim shirt – J. Crew; tee - Lands’ End; white shirt – Lands’ End; sweater - Simply Be; khakis – L.L.Bean; skirt - L.L.Bean; jeans - L.L.Bean

For a long time, she wore a uniform of khaki pants, and a bright green polo shirt with a logo, and a matching bright green jacket when the weather demanded. So when she finally wasn't in a "uniform" position anymore, she didn't feel the need for a wildly extensive wardrobe. She found that her simple khaki, denim and white wardrobe gave her lots of options...

a dozen outfits taken from 9 wardrobe Neutral Building Blocks

12 outfits taken from 9 wardrobe Neutral Building Blocks

Now that she had some extra money to spend on her clothes, she was determined to do so with a clear plan:

how 9 wardrobe Neutral Building Blocks fit into a 4 by 4 Wardrobe

Of course, she would continue to wear green - it was part of her life! But not the bright green of her uniform - more of a deep teal that she really loved. And the allure of a warm caramel was not to be denied, either. When in doubt, she turned back to her van Gogh inspiration to keep her on track:

cardigan – Lands’ End; v-neck sweater – Uniqlo; floral tee – Kettlewell; green & white tee – Marks & Spencer; teal tunic – L.L.Bean; cropped pants – L.L.Bean; pants – J. Crew Factory

She spent most of her time looking at seed catalogues, and books about historic gardens around the world - not a lot of fashion magazines in her life! But when she opened her closet door, she was delighted with what she saw:

a 4 by 4 Wardrobe in denim, khaki, white, teal and caramel

Most of the time she needs to dress nicely enough so that everyone knows who's in charge, and occasionally she even has to dress "up" for client meetings. Despite her small wardrobe, she has literally dozens of outfit options.

a dozen outfits taken from a 4 by 4 Wardrobe in denim, khaki, teal, caramel and white

12 outfits taken from a 4 by 4 Wardrobe in denim, khaki, teal, caramel and white

Most of her friends have wardrobes that revolve around a core of denim and khaki, but they're never worried that they're going to be dressed alike. She's going to meet up with them at the end of the week, and it will be interesting to see how they've each put their own very personal "spin" on their neutral wardrobe cores.


PS - For more articles about building a wardrobe from a core, check out the 4 x 4 Wardrobes page.

How to Accent a Denim and Khaki Capsule Wardrobe: Start with Art - The Stairs of the Asylum by Van Gogh

Monday, March 27, 2017

Everyone already knows how to wear diamonds - there's a big business consortium that's been telling us exactly what to buy, and how to wear it, for decades...

So I'm looking at something a little bit different - unpolished diamonds, or diamonds as an accent with other stones, or diamonds in unusual colors. So if your birthday's in April (or the birthday of a special someone...) and you don't want to go full-on solid diamonds, I have some suggestions:

diamond accented jewelry with an olive dress, and with a rust dress
Dress – Uniqlo; necklace – Celine Daoust; wrap - Loro Piana; scarf – Cornici; necklace – David Yurman; dress – Uniqlo

(yes, you've seen some of these dresses before! A nice dress can stand up to a lot of scrutiny, and works well with a variety of accessories...)

And this black pleated dress? I'm just saying - it's a REALLY good thing that I'm not shopping for a dress (or anything else!) this year - this really appeals to me. Sigh...

And yes, those ARE diamonds on that necklace - diamonds in all sorts of colors!

diamond accented jewelry with a beige dress, and with a black dress
dress - Uniqlo; bracelet - MeiraT; scarf – Eileen Fisher; Scarf – Hinge; dress - Uniqlo; necklace – Noor Fares

I love the way the diamond accents on these subtle colors add just a bit of sparkle without being overwhelming:

diamond accented jewelry worn with beige, and with grey
dress – P.A.R.O.S.H.; earrings - Meira T.; ring - Belpearl; cardigan - N.Peal; cardigan – James Perse; earrings - David Yurman; ring – John Hardy; dress - Patagonia

When you're getting dressed up, you can choose any accent color you like, or you can go totally monochromatic - both are beautiful!

diamond accented jewelry worn with an ivory dress, and with a navy dress
Dress – Lands’ End; necklace - Frederic Sage; scarf - Nordstrom; scarf – Irene Paris; dress - Uniqlo; earrings – Marco Bicego

Diamonds are lovely with less dressy options too - especially these unpolished green diamonds! Who would have thought...

diamond-accented jewelry worn with olive, and with navy
cardigan – Polo Ralph Lauren; green diamond earrings – Mona Lisa’s Closet; bracelet – Roberto Coin; dress – Peter Cohen; dress – Uniqlo; earrings - Gurhan; bracelet – Sydney Evan; cardigan – Fat Face

So if you would like a little something with diamonds (or you're shopping for a gift), you can see that there's a wide world of options!


More from the Birthstone Series:

How to Wear Diamonds in a capsule wardrobe - the April Birthstone; Some New Ideas!
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Friday, March 24, 2017

After you've had a bit of time to process the outfits for the first 4 months of the year, which I shared here yesterday, it's time to dive back in and finish the year, and the capsule wardrobe!

First, let's refresh our memories about what our "inspiration scarf" is, and the color palette that I drew from the scarf:

Ted Baker London Entangled pansy scarf with color palette
scarf - Ted Baker London

She Loves Flowers

And she has no better explanation for it than that - she loves them. Yes, she grew up helping her parents in their flower beds - that certainly played some role in her affections...

May and June outfits in purple, white, blue and navy
cardigan – Coohem; satchel – Vera Bradley; sleeveless top – L.L.Bean; earrings – Gemma Collection; sandals – Birkenstock; shorts – L.L.Bean; scarf - Ted Baker London; bracelet – TFS; sandals – Nine West; dress - Bagutta; earrings – Melissa Joy Manning; bag – Kate Spade

So when she didn't have to go to the office any longer, she decided to remake her wardrobe in the image of her dreams and desires - flowers, and flowery colors!

July and August outfits in purple, green, navy and white
polo shirt – Lands’ End; tee – Lands’ End; sandals – Jack Rogers; necklace – QVC; shorts – Lands’ End; scarf - Ted Baker London; cardigan – Vince; brooch - The RealReal; boots – Bella Vita; shirt – Lands’ End; ring – Lord & Taylor; skirt – A.P.C.

Sometimes, when the weather turned cold, it was hard to bear in mind the floral theme that she wanted to emphasize, but she always had her color scheme to turn to - nothing's cheerier on a cold day than a gorgeous, classic violet shirt!

September and October outfits in navy, purple, green and blue
shirt – Lands’ End; vest – Lands’ End; shoes – Clarks; gloves - Mark & Graham; jeans – L.L.Bean; scarf - Ted Baker London; sweater – Boden; tee - J.Crew; tote bag - Zadig & Voltaire; shoes - Keds; cords - Uniqlo

Even in the dead of winter, when she wears her softest fleecy pants and warm boots, she's going to remember the flowers...

a cold-weather outfit in navy and purple, and some tops in white, purple and navy
jacket – Lands’ End; turtleneck – J.Crew; boots – UGG; hat - Everlane; sweatpants – L.L.Bean; scarf - Ted Baker London; sleeveless shirt – Lands’ End; lavender sweater – Lands’ End; tank top – Lands’ End

(yes, December's garment are not an outfit! When I evaluated the balance of everything in this wardrobe at the end of the November "shopping," I felt that there weren't enough warm-weather "tops," and I took this opportunity to stock up for our heroine!)

This is how her closet looks when she opens the door. Simple, timeless, with beautiful accents that make her smile:

a complete wardrobe in navy, purple, blue, green and white

If she travels in warmer weather, she's well-dressed:

a warm-weather 4 by 4 Wardrobe in navy, purple, blue and white

And if she's on the road in the winter, she can still channel her inner garden of beauty, in her wardrobe:

a cool-weather 4 by 4 wardrobe in navy, purple, green, blue and white

Accessories are where she really let her imagination, and her deepest affection, take over!

accessories for a navy-based, flower inspired wardrobe

This is the wardrobe of a gentle woman, in all senses. She knows what she likes, and she's very true to it...

wardrobe and accessories in navy, purple, green, blue and white

Someone might tell her that she has too many flowers in her jewelry, or that she should branch out in her wardrobe color scheme...

Those comments don't even make sense to her; they might as well be speaking some VERY foreign language!


How to Gradually Build a Capsule Wardrobe: Start with a Scarf - Ted Baker Enchantment
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Thursday, March 23, 2017

A normal blogger would wait until this was finished to share it with you, but nobody's ever accused me of being normal!

I freely admit that I think Ted Baker London makes some of the most beautiful scarves, and that they are an excellent starting point for a well-chosen capsule wardrobe. This just screams spring to me... and if you're a pansy person (or you love someone who is) this would be a beautiful "no reason at all" gift:

Esme Enchantment scarf by Ted Baker London
Esme Enchantment Scarf - Ted Baker London

This beautiful floral is available in such wide-ranging lovelies as ballet flats, bags, 2 swimsuits, a cover-up, cropped trousers and a matching sleeveless top, a blouse, a tee shirt, a couple of skirts, a couple of dresses and of course other shapes and sizes of scarves. I have to admit that a tee shirt in this fabric would be tempting - it's a really easy to wear this beautiful print, without having to be "scarf adept." Or the sleeveless top in hot weather....

At any rate, the colors that we're going to have at our disposal are so lovely!

Esme Enchantment scarf by Ted Baker London with color palette

I've only made it through the first four months of the year, on the wardrobe-building front, which is why I hesitated about posting this. But I thought maybe seeing just a few months might give you an opportunity to better "digest" these outfits, rather than having a dozen thrown at you all at one time...

Yes, these outfits are long on basic garments; I don't think that there should be a lot going on in an outfit to distract from (1) the beautiful scarf upon which we're focusing, and most importantly (2) the beautiful woman wearing the clothes!

Esme Enchantment scarf by Ted Baker London with outfits for January and February
cardigan – Lands’ End; tee – J. Crew; loafers – AGL; earrings– Lonna & Lilly; pants – L.L.Bean; dress – Lands’ End; cardigan – Lands’ End; pumps – Trotters; earrings – Bloomingdale’s; pansy bracelet - Orchard Jewelry

Yes, a sleeveless dress in February might seem a bit nutty, but I'm thinking of Valentine's Day, and then of a dress that can be worn through the spring and summer. That's the beauty of the matching cardigan - it makes the dress wearable, and then gives you that bit of flirt factor if the restaurant, theater or other venue is warm...

Esme Enchantment scarf by Ted Baker London with outfits for March and April
sweater – Vince; bowed flats - Vaneli; earrings – Vera Bradley; skirt - Cityshop; necklace – Vera Bradley; pants – Comme des Garçons; sweater – Missoni; flats - Softwalk

I love cropped pants and ballet flats for spring; my legs really almost never get cold! (and yes, the earrings and necklace match; you don't ever have to wear them at the same time!)

This is what you have for clothing, so far; this would be a great long-weekend springtime travel capsule wardrobe:

And knowing that I'm going to be building substantially on this start in the next day, we can see where I am for a good core of neutrals, with a decent percentage of accents. This will of course "flesh-out" beautifully as the outfits are added...

Sorry for the miniature post today, but I've had a very difficult time getting myself moving; some days I just plain need rest, and my body will NOT be denied.

But I'm always thinking of you,
with love,

How to Gradually Build a Capsule Wardrobe: Start with a Scarf - Ted Baker Enchantment
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Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Someone asked me what this wardrobe would look like with ONLY ivory and black pieces, incorporating prints and patterns as the accents. And someone else asked what I would do if I were choosing how to build on the original 9 Neutral Building Blocks. So I thought I'd incorporate both ideas into one post - a last look at those 9 ivory and black pieces!

First off - these are the pieces that I would add, if I were going to build on the neutrals. It would be really easy to just get seven striped garments! But I always love a good marled sweater, the mitered skirt is a fun way to slim one's hips, and then there's that Keith Haring tee shirt that I like so much...

seven wardrobe accent pieces in black and ivory
cardigan – Lanvin; sweater - L.L.Bean; shirt - Uniqlo; 2-color top - Mint Velvet; tee shirt - Uniqlo; pants – Theory; skirt – Dorothy Perkins

And just for reference, the original nine wardrobe Neutral Building Blocks:

9 black and ivory wardrobe Neutral Building Blocks
v-neck sweater – L.L.Bean; cardigan - L.L.Bean; sleeveless top – L.L.Bean; short-sleeve tee - L.L.Bean; long-sleeve tee – L.L.Bean; sweater - L.L.Bean; jeans – Brock Collection; shorts - L.L.Bean; pants - L.L.Bean

Imagine a trip - something around 2 weeks or so - and this 4x4 Wardrobe is what I'm packing:

a Four by Four Wardrobe in black and ivory

Of course, let's not forget that I have the 12 outfits (at least) that can be pulled together just using the original 9 solid-color garments:

12 outfits composed from 12 solid-colored neutral pieces of clothing

This first outfit looks like something I might wear to travel (maybe black pants instead of recklessly dangerous ivory?), and then the 2nd outfit might be what I'd switch into for hanging out in the hotel, or dashing off somewhere, if the weather's nice enough:

2 ways to wear a Keith Haring tee shirt
tee shirt - Uniqlo; loafers – Patricia Green; jeans – Brock Collection; cardigan - L.L.Bean; earrings – Astley Clarke; tote – Ted Baker London; wristlet– Vera Bradley; tee shirt - Uniqlo; shorts - L.L.Bean; bracelet – Tai; sandals – Cole Haan

I'd be certain to have one top that was soft, somewhat lightweight, and a little bit draped, just to be relaxed and a bit feminine.

2 ways to wear a black and ivory print pieced top
2-color top - Mint Velvet; ballet flats – Sam Edelman; pants - L.L.Bean; earrings – Poppy Finch; satchel – Sole Society; 2-color top - Mint Velvet; sandals – Cole Haan; shorts - L.L.Bean; sunglasses – DIFF; bracelet - Oro Pearls

While the marled sweater isn't exactly a solid color, it's such a subtle mix of colors that it's really easy to wear with more overtly "printed" garments.

2 ways to wear a black and ivory marled cotton sweater
sweater - L.L.Bean; bracelet - Oro Pearls; pumps – Rockport; skirt – Dorothy Perkins; scarf – Unpaired; sweater - L.L.Bean; wristlet– Vera Bradley; ballet flats – Sam Edelman; pants – Theory; necklace - Plumeria Exclusive London

Wearing the striped shirt with the striped skirt might be really risky, but having the solid v-neck sweater over the shirt keeps the actual "contact point" of the 2 fabrics from being visible, and limits the amount of shirt showing to just the collar and maybe a bit of the cuffs. I wouldn't be at all self-conscious about the mix of stripes, when limited in this way!

And I own the Hershel backpack - I'm loving it. It's surprisingly roomy, but doesn't feel bulky at all when I carry it. Sort of a Harry Potter-ish kind of a bag...

The silk scarf is small, and would tuck into the collar of the shirt easily. While it's a print, I think it will work well with the shirt, since the shirt stripe is subtle. I'd have to have them in hand to be absolutely positive...

2 ways to wear an ivory striped linen shirt
shirt - Uniqlo; pumps – Rockport; v-neck sweater – L.L.Bean; skirt – Dorothy Perkins; brooch – Banana Republic; satchel – Sole Society; shirt - Uniqlo; backpack – Hershel; small silk scarf – Halogen; pants - L.L.Bean; cardigan - L.L.Bean; loafers – Munro

It would be fascinating to try on this skirt and see just HOW those mitered stripes flatter... Normally, I would travel with a solid black skirt, but having something like this might be fun - it's not as if you're under contract to wear madly different outfits every day that you're traveling!

two ways to wear a black and ivory miter striped skirt
tote – Ted Baker London; sweater - L.L.Bean; rings - Freida Rothman; skirt – Dorothy Perkins; pumps – Rockport; earrings - Freida Rothman; short-sleeve tee - L.L.Bean; flats – Josef Seibel; cardigan - L.L.Bean; skirt – Dorothy Perkins; bag - Reiss

The pattern on these pants is so small that you needn't worry about them being unflattering - unlike some huge hibiscus pattern sprawled across your... body...

two ways to wear black geometric print pants
earrings – Poppy Finch; v-neck sweater – L.L.Bean; wristlet– Vera Bradley; pants – Theory; small silk scarf – Halogen; ballet flats – Sam Edelman; earrings – Astley Clarke; short-sleeve tee - L.L.Bean; flats – Josef Seibel; cardigan - L.L.Bean; pants – Theory; bag - Reiss

And yes, at this point you've seen all of the accessories before; having a theme for everything that you're packing means that a lot of things can work multiple shifts! And while I love this cardigan, the week that I buy a Lanvin sweater will be that week that has 7 Wednesdays in it...

2 ways to wear an ivory and black striped cardigan
cardigan – Lanvin; bracelet - Oro Pearls; sleeveless top – L.L.Bean; loafers – Munro; pants - L.L.Bean; scarf – Unpaired; sunglasses – DIFF; cardigan – Lanvin; sandals – Cole Haan; short-sleeve tee - L.L.Bean; shorts - L.L.Bean; backpack – Hershel

This is how everything looks, all pulled together for packing. I have to admit that I'd prune out at least 1 or 2 bags, and probably a pair of shoes. But I think that with some judicious folding and organizing, I could easily pack all of the clothes, jewelry and scarves with no trouble!

4 by 4 Wardrobe in Ivory and Black with accessories

I'm going to take another look at 4 paintings, with the same neutral colors at the core, next week or the week after. I might miss a post tomorrow, because I've got something large-ish that I'm working on, and I might not have the stamina to finish it in 1 day. If I'm missing tomorrow, I apologize in advance!


For more on Personalizing a Neutral Capsule Wardrobe, please read:

How to Build an "All-Neutral" Capsule Wardrobe in Ivory and Black
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