November 11, 2014
This isn’t a question I get every day: a reader has decided that she wants to buy this particular design of Hermes scarf – Le Songe a la Licorne. (it means the dream of the unicorn – I have no idea why…) She stated that she wears a lot of camel/tan/beige, and was leaning toward a winter coat in either blue or rose. Whew…
But this is really an interesting question – how DO you choose from among a variety of colors (for anything, not just an Hermes scarf), when there’s a wide variety available?
My suggestion is that you think about what the other items AROUND the potential purchase might look like. Do you already own the jewelry, or shoes, or whatever, that will make the outfit all come together? If you already own the complements to your new item, that makes the choice much easier. (unless you really don’t LIKE those complementary items, in which case, get rid of them!)
So let’s start with a warm, simple outfit in the neutral camel. Or tan. Or beige…
Our first choice has a blue border that just jumps out at me, and so I chose a coat in that color, and some earrings too. (notice the triangular shape that echoes the triangles all over the scarf formed by the criss-crossing strips?). And the middle background area of plum is a nice color for a bag and boots. If this scheme is appealing, maybe this is the scarf to choose!
More triangular earrings, but this time I mixed the very prominent red in the scarf with the dark blue inner border. There are a lot of different color combinations possible from any one of these scarves; you should focus on the colors that catch your eye, and that you love most! If the idea of red boots makes you happy, look no further…
The first thing that I noticed about this scarf was the variety of shades of pink. So when a two-toned pink coat showed up in my search, I knew that I was onto something. To keep everything else more subdued, I concentrated on the black background, while not forgetting my view of the triangles that always pop out when I look at this scarf.
Raspberry is a little bit more subtle in this scarf, and there are a lot of tan highlights here, so that’s where I concentrated my attentions. I think this combines subtle and bright pretty nicely!
This coral coat tones down the very strong tones of this scarf well, I felt. And since the scarf has such a strong presence, I kept the rest of the hypothetical accessories very low-key for balance. But I like the way that the rose gold earrings reflect the rosy color of the snuggly coat!
While this scarf is very bright, I thought I’d pull together a muted vignette using the teal/hunter green colors that are the accents of this scarf. This is another ensemble in which the scarf is the star of the show, but none of the supporting characters pass unnoticed. Gold boots! And a jazzy green clutch – nothing timid here.
Okay, I’m the first person to admit that this is a LONG way to go in order to choose a scarf, but this is no small purchase for most people – a good deal of planning might be smart. And it’s always good practice to envision how you’ll wear something BEFORE it’s purchased – this can make all of the difference between good buys and bad ones, or the difference between a great purchase and walking away!
Janice – Thank you for a terrific lesson. I'm always amazed at what colors can be pulled out when building an outfit around a scarf, Hermes or any other brand. I am fortunate to own Hermes scarves, but readers can use your principles for any scarf, or even a statement necklace. Love this post, and welcome more like it.
I start every day with you, and look forward to what you will share. :)
You surprise me .. everyday you are doing better and better
What a wonderful post
As you said a Hermès sarf it's not a small purchase.. but I think they are worth it..
Would you be so kind to build a wardrobe aroun this one???
And I must say its important to try on the scarf in person, if possible, to make sure the colors suit one's coloring.
I agree with the comments above that your posts are so inspirational. Have to resist the urge to go shopping, but you did put some beautiful ensembles together.
Genius at work (again and again and again)!
Yes, yes and yes again! This demonstrates once again how your talents are way above most style bloggers. Superb.
Deb from Vancouver
Dr. V. O. says
Another genius post — with the price tag on those scarves it is so important to think through the purchase, and now you've given us a system for doing it! I like the idea of gathering together a consistently favorite/successful outfit, key color combo, and set of good accessories then choosing the scarf colorway to match or compliment. This is much more sane and rational than showing up at Hermes – without a point of reference, without a clue & at the mercy of the sales associates. The end product will be a scarf that can be enjoyed for a lifetime rather than sitting on a shelf or put out to consignment (money loss either way). Do more of these kinds of posts please! As always, your approach is a breath of fresh air.
This is great. Perhaps if I ever come to Chicago, you can help me pick out a scarf. The choices make my head spin.
I agree with an earlier commenter–color next to one's complexion is key, and figuring out one's color season so liberating! You look like you share my season, soft autumn, Janice. Have you had your colors done? It was a revelation to find out why black makes me look like a corpse (sa cannot wear black or pure white). An Hermes scarf near the face in right colors can do a lot to mitigate the effects of unflattering clothing colors though!
hostess of the humble bungalow says
Oh you make me want to buy them ALL!
I like to try on many scarves when I am purchasing a new one as my budget will not permit me to have them all….the clerks in Hermes are very helpful and I usually take my husband along for a second opinion.
Hermes should hire you to put together a book for their scarf presentations!
Oh, my. These gorgeous ensembles do make it seem entirely reasonable (on the day I manage to win the lottery) to buy this scarf in every color!
I enjoyed this post very much. I agree with the other commenters that the scarf must be tried on near the face to make sure the colors are complementary. When choosing to invest in one accessory that has so many colors, I typically will choose the one that has the MOST colors that complement my wardrobe, as to get more wears out of it. So in this reader's inquiry she mentions tan, camel, beige…this leads me to the scarf with the beige ground with a lot of tan and then some accent colors. This way it will go with a majority of her clothes and any accent color clothing she may own can be used to create an outfit. Great work, Janice!
In your choices I thought 4 or 5 would probably work best for someone who wears a lot of tan/beige.
Great advice Janice. My first Hermes scarf was an expensive mistake. I chose it because I loved the design and colours of the WHOLE scarf. While it gives me joy to look at, it doesn't suit me or my wardrobe. I'm off to London and Paris this December and will buy another as a memento of the trip. I've learnt so much from theviviennefiles and other blogs such as Maitai's, that I'm looking forward to having very long drawn out sessions with SA's at the various Hermes stores until I find the perfect choice. I remember being so nervous entering my first store. But I love how they they are so well trained they don't mind spending ages with a customer, even little old me.
Cynthia Peterson says
Wow. I especially love the black scarf with the two-toned pink coat, but you have made fabulous choices here. What great food for thought. I have a Cynthia Rowley silk velvet/silk satin reversible oblong scarf in shades of turquoise, fuchsia, and purple with various other colors. So far I have only worn it with black or navy. Now I am going to purposefully see how many outfits I can create with what's in my closet. You rock!
Anne Chevalier says
Nothing short of brilliant!