Friday, April 21, 2017

After I looked at this painting again, on a different computer, I realized that I just HAD to consider the possibility that the "jumper" here really is more olive than brown...

Before the Parachute Opens by Tullio Crali with color scheme of olive and shades of teal to aqua

Today's heroine is drawn to this painting by the angularity of it - she's the woman who really admires a good right angle, straight lines, clean structural joints and elegantly well-executed welds. She does have a bit of a hidden soft spot though...

travel outfit in teal and olive green
scarf – Reiss; watch – Ted Baker; sleeveless – Haute Hippie; earrings – Alternative; crossbody bag – Marc Jacobs; pants – L.L.Bean; oxfords – G.H. Bass & Co.; jacket - Madewell; overnight bag – Briggs & Riley

Her tote bag is solidly squared off, and easily holds her gear for an overnight trip - maybe she's an architect going to visit a site and then dine with some of the people working there?

an overnight Travel Capsule Wardrobe in olive and teal

earrings – Bony Levy; tunic – Simply Be; ballet flats – Topshop; pajama top - Eres; pajama bottoms - Eres; clutch – Glint; scarf – Missoni; blue earrings - Ippolita; bra - Thirdlove; thong – Thirdlove; top – Simply Be

I'm no miser when it comes to buying pajamas, but these are pretty extravagant!

And I have to give a rousing shout out to Thirdlove, the company that makes this lingerie. I've purchased a couple of bras from them, and I'm quite pleased...

If you're working with a difficult color combination or scheme in your own wardrobe, I encourage you to keep your eyes open for a Missoni scarf that might work in your wardrobe. They are the absolute Italian masters of the odd color combination, and they make them look perfectly comfortable and lovely. You don't even have to exactly match the colors with which you're working - their colors seem to look good with all kinds of things that are just sort of close...

two outfits from a travel capsule wardrobe in olive and teal

Our heroine has a nice outfit - a subtly, delightfully textured tunic and her "utility" pants - to wear for dinner, with some simple but structured accessories. For her return trip, she's back to hard-working olive separates, with a sheer-trimmed tee, square earrings (again!) and a great scarf to tie it all together.

a travel capsule wardrobe in olive and teal

Again, this isn't the wardrobe with which one wants to be stranded for a long time - a 2nd pair of pants might be the best thing to include if that's a risk. And you could always tuck in an off-white tee shirt.... (both of the scarves would be perfect with off-white!)


Build An Overnight Travel Capsule Wardrobe by Starting with Art: Before the Parachute Opens, Version 2
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Thursday, April 20, 2017

Such an amazing painting - from such an unusual and compelling point of view!

And I've noticed that the central color of the jumper is dark brown on my main computer, but that she is more olive green on my laptop! No wonder we have so much trouble talking about colors - we're not even necessarily seeing the same things...

But since I've found a few nice brown pieces, I thought that I'd stick with my initial impression that she's mostly brown. Maybe I'll re-visit this painting and use olive instead - what do you think?

Before the Parachute Opens by Tullio Crali
Before the Parachute Opens by Tullio Crali

My only style thoughts were of a strong respect for the sky, space, flying, and birds! But this color scheme could really work for a long time, although it would take a long time to find just the perfect pieces. (as always...)

Before the Parachute Opens by Tullio Crali with color palette

So maybe my heroine is traveling to a flight school? To go bird-watching? To the Smithsonian Museum of Flight in Washington DC?

As always, my travel outfit includes closed-toe shoes; I'm always amazed/concerned when I see people flying in sandals. At a minimum, don't your feet FREEZE? Not to mention the fact that you walked through the security checkpoint in bare feet (major ickiness there!) and if the plane has to be evacuated.... well...

travel outfit in cool brown and aqua
scarf – A. Breccia; watch – Olivia Burton; shirt – L.L.Bean; earrings – Susan Hanover; aqua bag – Coach 1941; pants – L.L.Bean; loafers – Lucky Brand; jacket – L.L.Bean; bag – Frye

Our heroine is only away for one night - a lovely but not overly dressy evening out, for which she'll change shirt, shoes and jewelry. (note star jewelry - the sky is always on her mind...)

For her return trip, she pays homage to birds with a very avian scarf, and some feather jewelry! (these kinds of obsessions/signature elements don't have to be screamingly obvious; I don't know that anybody would notice these little touches.)

tote bag overnight travel in teal, aqua and brown

earrings – Sydney Evan; metallic shirt – MSGM; ballet flats – Topshop; nightshirt – Dickins & Jones; clutch – Glint; scarf – Aspinalscarf - Aspinal of London; feather earrings – Nighthawk Jewelry; bra – La Perla; thong – La Perla; top - Salvatore Ferragamo

The fabric of her blouse for evening, coupled with some small but sparkly earrings and metallic ballet flats, makes even the most casual of trousers "pass" for the night. Nobody's going to get down and carefully analyze your pants - if they do, give them a little kick. Or two.

Her return trip outfit is pretty monochromatic, so I chose a scarf for her that is both the perfect colors AND that echoes her flying and sky-oriented state of mind. Simple gold feather earrings are all she needs for jewelry.

two outfits from a Tote Bag Travel capsule in cool brown, teal and aqua

This is everything that she has with her; being stranded would be a bit of an issue, because she's only got that 1 pair of pants. But at least she could mix her accessories around a bit and at least feel a little bit changed...

a Tote Bag Travel capsule in brown, aqua and teal

Lest you think that my repeated concerns about being stranded are silly, a friend of mine was just stuck in Berlin for 2 days. Two DIFFERENT hotel accommodations, AND they lost my friend's luggage. Friend is finally back home, but still without the checked bag. Carrying on just makes sense...


PS - For more tips on traveling light, check out my page all about packing.

Build an Overnight Travel Capsule Wardrobe by Starting with Art: Before the Parachute Opens by Tullio Crali
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Wednesday, April 19, 2017

While I continue to wrestle with a brown Neutral Building Blocks capsule wardrobe, I'm still playing around with the navy and grey wardrobe from earlier this week. I realized that (a) we should take a look at some accessories, and (b) these neutral pieces translate into a WONDERFUL travel wardrobe!

Imagine this outfit for almost any kind of travel - in a car, on a train, or flying. Sleeves that can be rolled, a cardigan than can be cuddled, a watch for punctuality, sunglasses for the coolness factor, and a small touch of jewelry to bring focus to your face. Some comfortable shoes and a good tote bag, and you're all set!

travel outfit in navy and grey
sunglasses – Dior; ribbed cardigan – L.L.Bean; necklace – Lane Bryant; striped shirt – J. Crew; watch – Mondaine; duffel – Lipault; loafers – A.G.L.; pants – L.L.Bean; suitcase – Briggs & Riley

The first outfits that I was going to address for accessories were those that used the Neutral Building Blocks as a suit of sorts... With a navy cardigan and skirt, the striped top doesn't need a lot more accessorizing. I thought that earrings would bring a nice bit of "finish" to the overall look. I really wanted to include a pair of simple low-heeled ballet flats and a small navy bag to carry the essentials. While this outfit is a bit dressy, thanks to the skirt, it's still easy to move around because the shoes are great for walking, and the bag doesn't weigh you down!

The more casual outfit with pants, tee shirt and jacket seemed more like a tote bag kind of ensemble. I chose one in grey just for variety - it would, of course, be fine to have a navy tote, but when you're working with 2 neutrals you might want to be careful not to go overboard in favor of either color. This scarf is a very inexpensive cotton one, so it's pretty ideal for warmer weather - if it's too hot to wear the scarf, you can always tie it to the handle of the bag!

And these shoes will be really useful in this wardrobe. They can be worn with or without socks, so that means that they're good to wear for most of the year. Since I turned this into a packing wardrobe, the shoes are going to reappear!

two capsule wardrobe outfits in navy and grey
navy cardigan – L.L.Bean; striped tunic - L.L.Bean; earrings – Kendra Scott;
ballet flats – Ukies; skirt – L.L.Bean; bag – Sophie Fleming;
sweater jacket – Lands’ End; cotton scarf – Echo; loafers – A.G.L.;
tee shirt – L.L.Bean; pants – L.L.Bean; tote – Nadia Minkoff

Next, we have outfits that use a column of the darker neutral navy, with a lighter grey 2nd layer worn over.

The first outfit is very casual - a walk on the beach, sitting on the deck kind of look, so I thought that really casual sandals and a pair of sunglasses would be essential. (You've GOT to have sunglasses, right?) But just to keep things pretty, I tossed in an easy-to-wear bangle bracelet...

The 2nd outfit is a bit dressier - that draped tunic makes things look more feminine. Say you need to go into town to meet with the contractor who's going to re-do the kitchen... You've got a cardigan because you know that the air conditioning might be in overdrive, a really fun braided bracelet to draw attention to your hands, and a somewhat whimsical pair of heart earrings just to prove that you're not stodgy! You wear your ballet flats and carry all of your notes and photographs in your tote bag. Good to go!

two capsule wardrobe outfits in navy and grey
dotted polo - Uniqlo; sunglasses – Dior; bracelet - Argento Vivo;
shorts – L.L.Bean; sweatshirt – L.L.Bean; flipflops – Sperry;
grey jacket – L.L.Bean; bracelet - Tory Burch; sleeveless tunic – Marks & Spencer;
ballet flats – Ukies; pants – L.L.Bean; earrings – Marc Jacobs; duffel – Lipault

I then wanted to look at a couple of outfits that used the same long-sleeved shirt style. For the first outfit, you all decide to go into town for dinner on a chilly evening. You've got your cuddly cardigan, and a touch of jewelry to bring attention to your face and to your conversation. Your loafers are perfect here...

It gets sunny the next day, but very breezy, so you pull out your other long-sleeved linen shirt, with shorts and a sweatshirt. While everybody's frolicking around on the canoes, you're going to sit in a lawn chair and polish your nails navy blue! (you're not the boring one in THIS family...) Your ball cap gives you enough shade to be able to watch the family silliness and protects your scalp and face.

two capsule wardrobe outfits in navy and grey
necklace – Lane Bryant; pants – L.L.Bean; linen shirt - Uniqlo;
 loafers – A.G.L.; earrings – Novica (similar here); ribbed cardigan – L.L.Bean;
nail enamel in Michelle – Julep Beauty; shorts – L.L.Bean; linen shirt - Uniqlo;
flipflops – Sperry; cap – Rag & Bone; sweatshirt – L.L.Bean

These last 2 outfits mix up the pieces with no real pattern...

The first outfit is for wandering around in one of the nearby small towns - maybe some grocery shopping. (Keds pack down small!); If you want to sit outdoors, you can get a bit of sun on your arms, but if the afternoon turns chilly, (or if you're lingering in the frozen foods section of the market) you've got a jacket and scarf...

And the last outfit gets you back to work on Tuesday morning, looking like an adult, but still comfortable.

two capsule wardrobe outfits in navy and grey
tote – Nadia Minkoff; grey jacket – L.L.Bean; tank – Gap; shoes – Keds; grey pants – L.L.Bean; scarf – Vivienne Westwood; sweater jacket – Lands’ End; earrings – Novica (similar here); striped shirt – J. Crew; ballet flats – Ukies; skirt – L.L.Bean; bag – Sophie Fleming

This shows everything that is packed for this mythic long weekend away. It would certainly be easy to do a little bit of judicious editing to make this wardrobe even smaller, but I felt like throwing all caution to the wind for once and packing a wide assortment of things. (maybe some pieces would be left at the cabin until the end of summer?)

a changeable weather travel capsule wardrobe in navy and grey

Right in the middle of writing this up, I got a call from someone inviting Belovedest and I to visit their farm in Wisconsin for a weekend; can you tell I had "getaway weekend" on the brain?


p.s. I've put a new page on The Vivienne Files - "Shopping The Vivienne Files." It's a direct connection to some of my favorite stores, that I search through every day when I'm building our wardrobes. I'm also going to put links to some of my core garments in my personal wardrobe. If you click through these links and make a purchase, it will indeed generate a commission for me - I'm very grateful! If there's anything you'd like to be able to easily access from this page, let me know and I'll put a link...

How to Choose Accessories for Travel: a Navy and Grey Travel Capsule Wardrobe
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Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Okay, it's not really chaos - I'm just having some blog issues. Many of you noticed that my Blog List magically disappeared, so I got to wrestle with that...

And then there's the whole brown wardrobe question. It's difficult. Really, really difficult. Those of you who love wearing brown know what I'm talking about!

Today's also my mother's birthday, so I'm going to frankly neglect The Vivienne Files for a few hours and hang out with her; she's visit me right now, and I'm going to take advantage.

So let me leave you with this photograph taken yesterday, just down the street from Chez Vivienne Files. To me, this is a reminder that you can adopt any color scheme in the world that you want! Many of us are old enough to remember the admonishment that you NEVER wear pink and orange together - clearly the tulips did NOT get the memo...

Be yourself. I'm finally coming to grips with my innately tomboyish nature, and sturdy, "built for action" physique. Svelte I am not, but solid I can claim! And I shall do so... gradually...


Monday, April 17, 2017

This all comes together so well - navy and grey is a really seasonless, timeless color combination! I love a good classic capsule wardrobe...

Let's start with a reminder of where we're headed, more or less. Last week we covered choosing neutral building blocks using this template:

Neutral Building Blocks template

First up is building from the "bottoms" up! This might feel counter-intuitive, but I still think that it's the most logical approach; these are the pieces that for many are hardest to find/fit, and they're the pieces that get worn most often. These really need to be great!

Three different way to choose the bottoms for Neutral Building Blocks
shorts – L.L.Bean; skirt – L.L.Bean; pants – L.L.Bean; pants – L.L.Bean; grey pants – L.L.Bean; canvas pants – L.L.Bean; shorts – L.L.Bean; skort – Lands’ End; pants – L.L.Bean

And I'm going to put it on record again - if you find something (pants, tee shirts, whatever) that you really love and know that you will wear a lot, buy multiples! Buy three, four - heck, buy seven! There would be worse ways to get dressed than to pull out "your" pants every day and work around them. If it was good enough for Steve Jobs, it's good enough for me!

Choosing second layers for Neutral Building Blocks in navy and grey
navy cardigan – L.L.Bean; zip cardigan – L.L.Bean; ribbed cardigan – L.L.Bean; sweatshirt – L.L.Bean; navy hoodie – Lands’ End; shawl-collar sweatshirt – L.L.Bean; rain jacket – Lands’ End; grey jacket – L.L.Bean; sweater jacket – Lands’ End

As the days begin to get really warm (it's plain old hot here in Chicago today...) it starts to feel a little bit weird to be making sure that you've got 2nd layers. But air conditioning makes some environments positively frigid, cool days happen even in the middle of July or August, and the right 2nd layer makes a warm-weather wardrobe into a 9-months of the year wardrobe...

Two notes of recommendation - the jacket in the middle on the bottom is REALLY NICE. La Photographe owns it, and she wears it constantly... And she's really picky about comfort!

And I have a couple of pieces of the "Ultrasoft" sweats (the first item in the 2nd row), and I can vouch that they are indeed that! The sweatpants are like pyjamas...

Neutral Building Blocks using a solid column of color with a constrasting 2nd layer, in navy and grey
sleeveless tunic – Marks & Spencer; striped top – Orcival; short-sleeved top – Uniqlo; dotted polo - Uniqlo

It might feel sort of dull to think of wearing mostly dark shirts and blouses, but there's such a variety of styles, textures, and detailings available that it could be a sort of fun challenge. And of course a dark top doesn't have to be solid - the striped top "feels" dark, but breaks up the "wearing solid colors every day" routine.

dressing in suit-like ensembles with a constrast top in Neutral Building Blocks of navy and grey
tee shirt – L.L.Bean; striped tunic - L.L.Bean; oxford – Lands’ End; draped tee - Uniqlo

Here's an example of a striped top that gives more of a feeling of grey than navy - it's fun to have these kinds of options available.

And that knit jacket - I'd have to have that in my hands to be sure that I was comfortable with the color. I have a hunch that the photograph has been brightened a little bit to show the details of the jacket, but I'm not certain...

Building a set of Neutral Building Blocks in navy and grey with all the same style of shirt
linen shirts - Uniqlo

There are those among us who always wear long sleeves - I did for a couple of years when I was "growing out" a really large scar on my elbow. These shirts are linen so they would be quite comfortable in hot weather, they would be pretty good coverage in the sun, and of course, the sleeves can always be rolled up a bit to show off a pretty bracelet or two!

(and these shirts just got marked down - a third off...)

Building a set of Neutral Building Blocks in navy and grey
¾ sleeve tee – Uniqlo; lace yoke top – Dorothy Perkins; tank – Gap; striped shirt – J. Crew

This grouping shows a variety of possibilities in shirts and tops - lace trim, marled fabrics, or stripes. Once you have a color scheme in mind, you'll be in a better position mentally to notice these kinds of options when you see them.

Just in case you didn't want to be limited to 9 Neutral Building Blocks, this is what the wardrobe looks like if you assemble ALL of the pieces shown today:

a 34-piece navy and grey wardrobe of Neutral Building Blocks

This is 34 pieces of clothing - if you wanted to adhere strictly to Project 333, you would want to eliminate 1 piece (probably a jacket, I'd guess). This wardrobe isn't scintillating and amazing, but it has a good variety of styles, enough pieces for very warm or relatively cool weather, and you could literally get dressed in the dark without worry of making a faux pas. That, to me, is a pretty good wardrobe!

I'm going to try to tackle brown in the next few days if my schedule permits. I may be called out of town for a bit, at the last minute, but I'll do my best to keep things rolling here at The Vivienne Files.


How to Choose Navy and Grey Neutral Building Blocks for a Capsule Wardrobe
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