Saturday, September 05, 2015

How to Create Your Capsule Wardrobe - a Vivienne Files Bookshelf Excerpt

Taken from one of my very favorite reference books for The Vivienne Files: Ma To-Do List by Jeanne-Aurore Colleuille and Laure Gontier. I'm going to quote directly from their book in grey type, and my comments will be in this color...

The 3 Secrets for Creating your “Capsule Wardrobe”

“My style is the result of distillation. I have accepted my grey hair. I only wear black and white. Each year, I buy three or four dresses which I wear in rotation. I own a pair of jeans.” – Jamie Lee Curtis

This barbaric Anglo-Saxon concept, adored by fashion magazines and women of style across the Atlantic, doesn’t have a real French equivalent.

The word that they use to describe this concept is barbarisme... is doesn't translate with quite the harshness of the word in English. 
Nonetheless, the idea of a “capsule wardrobe” can be universal. The product of the art of distillation, just to the essence, your style and your wardrobe can hold the best and the most versatile items, just like those impeccable globe-trotters who tour the world with a miniscule suitcase and manage to be elegant in all circumstances. (my dream...) Not so easy? Let’s go, shall we give it a try?

1.    Dictate your rules

Limits, paradoxically, free your creativity. Without rules, there is no personal style. So make a list of your personal style rules. Favorite colors? Sleeve lengths? Skirt preferences? Type of collar that you prefer? Note everything that you love, all the things that make a garment something that makes you feel like you. Then, cast a glance into your closet and eliminate everything that doesn’t meet your draconian standards. (whoa!) And don’t buy anything more that doesn’t obey your rules. (okay, this is only reasonable)

Let's think about how many rules you might have. Given that there are literally millions of pieces of clothing available to purchase, and you're only going to buy a handful - literally a half dozen or so - of items this season, you need a strict policy for why you don't buy everything else. There are unwritten rules (for most of us!) about things that cost a month's rent, or that don't begin to fit, but the potential number of rules you have in your mind, or on your list, should be REALLY long... My list is just getting started!
2.    Work on your coordination

A variety of colors, tops and bottoms that are impossible to coordinate, shapes and materials without a common ground: these are the enemies of the ideal wardrobe. At the base of the “capsule wardrobe” is a simple idea (and yet we apply it rarely!): everything should go with everything else, so that you can get dressed with your eyes closed. (sounds like a "Whatever's Clean Wardrobe to me!) For colors, you’re looking for harmony and versatility, without necessarily choosing to wear all black or navy. If you love red, why not make that color the “common thread” through your capsule wardrobe? 

Another must: hold onto the essential simple, classic pieces (black tank top, pencil skirt, classic trousers) which can, with the addition of simple accessories, serve as both casual and dressy.

I break their rules right from the beginning, because I include two accent colors that only work together in a few instances. But I think the idea of having an entire wardrobe with EVERYTHING that coordinates is pretty ambitious; having a wardrobe that reflects a consistent personal preference and aesthetic concept is more realistic for most of us.
3.    Choose your Signature Piece

It’s this which gives your wardrobe its theme and tempo. Reflect on “the” piece (single piece? How about a family of pieces? can we start gradually???) without which you couldn’t live (a favorite unique jacket, for example) and decide to make it the reference point for your wardrobe: all the other pieces must be able to work with it, help it be used fully. If things don’t work with your signature piece, they should be eliminated.
I have three ideas of what my signature might be. 

  • Pearls? 
Pearl with gold or silver settings, and some Maltese cross motifs are my very favorite jewelry.
Narrow gold bracelet – Kenneth Jay Lane; wide gold bracelet –
 Kenneth Jay Lane; brooch – Chanel Vintage; silver pendant – Konstantino;
 mother of pearl in gold stud earrings – Marco Bicego; stud earrings in 
silver – Balenciaga; chain and pearl necklace – Lanvin;
 gold chain and pearl necklace – Miriam Haskell

  • Scarves?  
I wear them every day in the cold weather, and as often as I can manage on warmer days. My core would have to include black with flowers, a black and white graphic, something black and gold, as well as 1 or 2 red scarves, and a pink one...
Floral with black border – Gucci; stars – Beck Sondergaard; black and gold
 – Hermes vintage; red scarf – Hermes vintage; pink scarf – Hermes vintage

  • Or, most likely, a core of solid black garments, over which I wear a variety of accessories, snazzy jackets or fun cardigans... 
Black linen tank – Eileen Fisher; black slouch pants – Eileen Fisher; black
 tank dress – Eileen Fisher; black silk tee – Eileen Fisher; black skirted leggings
 – Eileen Fisher; black turtleneck – Donna Karan; black waxed 
cotton jeans – Eileen Fisher

While I can't wholeheartedly recommend that we all whittle our wardrobes down to a core of items that all go together, I think that this is a grand concept for travel; it feels a lot like the sort of travel capsule wardrobes that I build all the time.

But I DO agree with them that there needs to be a unifying thread in our wardrobes and our purchases that helps us visually define ourselves to others, and which helps us discipline and focus our purchases. As with so many of these cool French fashion books, there's something interesting to be learned...


Friday, September 04, 2015

Orange and Red! A last look at Nature Morte by Georgette Agutte

This color scheme had to be revisited one last time, because there's an eccentric aunt lurking in the background who wants a bit of attention. (just for the record, I'm the eccentric aunt in my family's tree...)

She persists in believing that orange and red are meant to go together! They're side by side in the color wheel, they're both in flowers, and fruits, and lots of beautiful prints. Why not pair them - it's a singular style statement that you don't see every day!

You would see this woman... on a plane, train, you name it, she's going to be visible. Happily, her sunny personality is equal to the level of high-intensity color.

Orange jacket – Lauren Ralph Lauren; sweater – Uniqlo; boots – Munro
 earrings Kendra Scott; cuff bracelet – Alexis Bittar; scarf – Echo
tote – Le Sport Sac

For reference purposes, and to give credit where artistic credit is due, let's take a last look at our beautiful painting, and one of the color scheme that I took from it.

The eccentric aunt must be onto something, because it's not really difficult to find beautiful garments that use both orange and red in them, to beautiful effect.

dress – J. Crew; flower earrings – Ying; bracelet Khun Boom; evening bag
 – Natasha Couture; sandals – Pelle Moda; red wrap – Nordstrom;  sleeveless 
top – Kenzo; red earrings – Kate Spade; garnet bracelet – Astley Clarke; faux 
wrap skirt – Eileen Fisher; sweater Yakshi Malhotra; black 
pumps – Sam Edelman

For such a small assortment of clothing, there are quite a few options here. The turtleneck with the skirt would be lovely with opaque tights and flats, and you could easily pull the red sweater over the sleeveless blouse, and then wear either pants or a skirt... If you tossed a black cardigan into here, and maybe a pair of orange jeans (!!!!) you could go for a long time and be well-dressed.

Since she's a member of the family, EA (eccentric aunt) gets to come to the rehearsal dinner...

She's pretty funny, when she starts telling stories about the various mishaps that occurred at her weddings...


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