January 31, 2014 We'll be in Paris soon, and I'm already daydreaming about what we'll do while we're there... First off, I'm trying really hard to look upon the whole flying process as positively as possible. I can sit for 8 hours without a whole lot of trouble - I've done it at work for decades, so being on an airplane isn't that big an adjustment. I can hold hands with Belovedest, relax, and listen to music or some of my favorite apps on my phone. I've recently downloaded Insight Timer, which has dozens of guided meditations that are grand for relaxing... and then I can switch to one of the many apps that is just one long soundtrack of thunderstorms. A bottle of water, some skin serum, and I'm ... View the Post
Archives for January 2014
Start With Art: The Breakfast Room by Childe Hassam
January 30, 2014 My life - wardrobe-wise - is now an interesting contrast between being in gym clothes, or leisure clothes, for much of my time, and then every now and then I have to look like I belong in a business meeting or a dinner party... Apparently I'm not at all alone, because many people have asked me about how to have a coherent wardrobe strategy when you dress for such a wide variety of activities. So I chose one of the very beautiful paintings suggested to me, and went to work. This painting is an innovative combination of accent colors, some interesting asymmetry, and a wide range of grey through beige and taupe neutrals. First up - the gym! Being able to use grey as a neutral is ... View the Post
Build a Capsule Wardrobe by Starting With a Scarf: Navy and Burgundy
January 29, 2014 What if you bought a new scarf, and you liked it so much that you decided to make EVERY clothing purchase, for a year, based on the colors of the scarf?
I get lots of questions about red, white and blue wardrobes, so when I was asked to address this scarf specifically, I thought it could be great fun. This looks like a tremendous amount of shopping, but do bear in mind that the average American purchases 68 garments and 7 pair of shoes per year, and that it's entirely possible that you already own a few of these items... This budget is pretty extreme, but I'm pretty confident that you can find beautiful items for just a bit less ... View the Post
Some Winter Thoughts
January 28, 2014
I grew up in a very snowy and cold place, so these Polar Vortexes don't completely overwhelm me, although they're pretty doggone dreadful... My parents were particularly adept at handling the cold, and so I have a few ideas and insights that might be useful.
Cover your head - at least your ears. It seems really obvious, but lots of people manage to skip this part. If your hair absolutely won't sustain a hat, at least put on some earmuffs - those bare ears sticking out of the side of your head are a freeze magnet.
And you should avoid wearing big earrings, necklaces next to your skin, or anything metallic that touches you directly. Metal gets ... View the Post
Build a Capsule Wardrobe by Starting With a “Difficult” Scarf: Liberty London Ianthe Scarf
January 27, 2014
Yes, I was going to take the day off, but I had this post finished... Liberty London makes this scarf is a variety of colors, some assorted sizes, and at least two different fabrics that I know of, but no matter how it's done, the Ianthe scarf is a popular classic. But this scarf is subtle, understated, and challenging...
I really honed in on the subtlety of the coloring, and determined that very muted, dusty or milky colors would blend best. The overall curved patterns combine to form a starburst feeling, which I wanted to hold in the back of my mind, and the very fine detailing meant that I was going to be watching for small stones in jewelry, fine but visible textures in fabric, ... View the Post
Many Small Thoughts – Collected
I often notice things that I want to remember to tell you all, but much of the time, no single thing is worth a full blog post. So today, you get a whole bunch of relatively random factoids in one place. ( can you believe that Spell-check did NOT reject the word factoid?)First up, the weather in Chicago has been uniformly dreadful - bitterly cold. But my feet has NOT been cold when I was out, and that's because I wear Bogs boots. I wear them with nothing but tights on my feet, and my feet don't get cold. Ever. It's amazing.
They're not sleek,and they're not elegant, but when you're dressed in 14 layers of clothing and you look like a walking boudin noir, warmth is all you care about, ... View the Post
Build a Capsule Wardrobe by Starting With a “Difficult” Scarf: Sepia and Light Grey
January 24, 2014 One of my friends asked me specifically to suggest some ways to wear this scarf - Musique des Spheres, from Hermes. The scarf came out... at least 10 years ago? And thus is only available on the secondary market, but as you can clearly see, it's a stunner. There is NOT a pink patch in the upper left corner... I struggled to find the best image of this scarf I could, and this was what I found. Identifying the adjectives that convey the aesthetic of this scarf is difficult - I had to think and study for quite a while. But I found that I kept coming back to the ideas of contrast (the clarity of the lines against the background), balanced with an overall sense of muted coloring (the scarf is not pure white, ... View the Post
We Need to Talk…
January 23, 2014
That said, I've got to confess: I'm getting overwhelmed. I've tried from the inception of The Vivienne Files to post six days a week as often as I possibly can. This usually meant that I was working at least part of six days a week, and I never minded that.
But recent posts are taking a very long time to compose. For each garment or accessory I show here, I look at at least 1,000 rejects. The images usually have to be cleaned up in some way, and resized. By the time I've created the hyperlinks, and drawn some nifty little dividers on the pages, and tweaked everything to my satisfaction - well, you can appreciate the effort. And then it takes me a couple of hours to find the right words to translate what's ... View the Post
Start With a “Difficult” Scarf: Black and White
January 22, 2014 This scarf, currently available from Hermes, is incredibly beautiful - much more interesting in person than any photograph can do justice...
But it's easy to see how you could fall into the routine of wearing this scarf pretty much exclusively with black and white garments - it just seems reasonable. So I'm proposing a mental "reframing" of the scarf that might expand your comfort zone with it... First off, think of the adjectives that characterize the unique beauty and appeal of this scarf. To me, this scarf is clear, graphic, and linear. This gives you a basis upon which to think about the sort of outfits that might benefit from the addition of this ... View the Post
Capsule Wardrobe Packing Outfit by Outfit: Pink, Maroon and Black, for Business Travel
January 21, 2014
The weather's cold, and you've got to go on a business trip. A SERIOUS trip...Start with a comfort garment - the favorite cardigan will make you happy, and will suggest your color scheme too! Choose a couple of outfits that ensure that you bring all of the pieces of your black suit, add a couple of jazzy red garments, and you're all set for business events. One simple dress, and everything will fit in a carry-on bag.
A black winter coat, and some gloves, will be needed here, of course:
First day in the home office - better look serious!
And you know they're going to take you out to dinner...
Second day in the office is a lot more mellow, ... View the Post
Shopping with a Painting, or What I Bought, January 2014
January 20, 2014 For quite a while, I've described my personal style as LaValise de la Garçonne, aka The Tomboy's Suitcase. I try to remind myself that I really don't need clothing much beyond what I would pack for my next trip, and that as much as I'd like to be a classy, elegant, lady-like creature, I'm much more likely to be the person who climbs up the ladder and fixes the broken gizmo than I am to be the prim princess with the clipboard supervising the process...I've just recent stumbled upon the perfect painting to express my colors and overall feeling that I want to accomplish in my wardrobe: Two Sisters with a Cello, by Marie Laurencin. I can't actually SHOW you the painting, because I can't afford to buy rights ... View the Post
Breaking All the Usual Packing Rules: Navy and Green
January 18, 2014
Normally, I've always suggested that you pack around a great travel outfit, and then a carefully selected travel capsule wardrobe of separates, chosen separately, all working together.
But what if you decided to pack outfits? If you work from a unifying theme around which you choose all of your outfits, this is a very effective idea, which also has the benefit of helping you remember all of your important accessories!
For this example, I'm packing for someone who LOVES the combination of blue and green, and who has a variety of clothes and accessories which reflect this. The trip starts somewhere relatively cool, but will include some warmer weather activities, and a dressy dinner for a special ... View the Post