May 7, 2020
The capitalization of the painting is the artist’s; artists see things in ways we hope to learn, some day…
While there are quite a few really fun colors in this painting, any heroine worth her salt knows that you’ve got to limit yourself a bit, at least at the start of a wardrobe “build.”
First up, our wise heroine decides to make certain that she has a solid base for her wardrobe in navy and white:
Her heart was SET on hot pink and purple… but the marketplace of clothing didn’t really help her out much!
This is one of the hardest parts of putting together any wardrobe – deciding that you KNOW what you want, but then finding that your lovely dreams are not readily available in the retail apparel market!
She had fantasized about a great print or floral skirt with a navy background and bold colors in the print… Maybe even a blouse or top that matched. It was not to be – at least not this week!
And she’s decided that she might teach herself to knit, just so she can have a wonderful cardigan in some sort of marl, or tweed, or intarsia pattern in hot pink and purple. It might take a while, but it would be worth the effort to have a one of a kind sweater in her favorite colors, right?
Finally, she finds purple, and hot pink, at least in solid colors. Cuts that she can wear, prices that she can afford…
And then she realizes that she might as well “flesh out” her navy and white with some stripes, and some florals. If she can’t find things in her accent colors, she might as well enjoy the prints in her neutral colors…
When she cleans out her closet and hangs her spring wardrobe there, she feels a bit of a tug toward more accent garments – but overall she can see that she won’t struggle to get dressed! Some days neutral, some days brights:
In her mind, she imagines a nice neutral outfit that she might wear any day, and then she substitutes one of her accent garments, to see how simple the switch really is. The difference can be amazing:
And the easiest way of all to get dressed – a dress! Once she discovered Skimmies to wear under skirts and dresses, her feelings about dressing “up” changed a lot!
Every time I think that it’s going to be warm enough here in Chicago to start wearing spring clothes, we have a solid week of temperatures in the 50’s! I’m ready, any day that nature decides to cooperate!
how are you all doing?
p.s. Five years ago, I started with a scarf to assemble a 4 by 4 Wardrobe in soft brown, with ivory and shades of blue and green. It’s still lovely…
p.p.s. Is it my imagination, or am I seeing lots of INSANELY expensive clothes available? And some retailers are ALREADY bringing cashmere sweater back into inventory; I feel like I’ve lost touch with reality…
Great painting! I see black and navy also. Combine this with the difficulty in sourcing certain colors and there you have my dilemma. I use dark tops to visually diminish certain things, and black and navy are always available. I try for all tops going with all bottoms so I use denim, tan, olive, stone. I am fine with mostly neutrals. My stumbling blocks are toppers. And accessories.
Hmmmm, that must be one “ interesting” puppy ! It is such a wise choice to use neutrals primarily when the desired accent colors are just not available . However, as your retrospective pointed out with the lovely soft brown, sometimes the preferred neutrals are also not available ! I have yet to find a beige Summer top ! Patience, patience , huh ? That Capri scarf was delightful !
We are holding off on putting out potted plants on the deck — a low of 32 tomorrow night ! This weather cannot decide if it’s still Winter or has moved into Spring !
Could the offering of the cashmere sweaters now be due to the non buying public over the past few months ? Our world has become a bit upside down ! Actually, a bit of cashmere would be welcome in this changeable weather !
Nancy Cook says
As to learning to knit, I say, go for it! My quarantine project is knitting a cardigan in one of my favorite colors that’s not easy to find in the market. Knitting is a great “centering” activity if you happen to be dealing with anxiety due to the pandemic.
Oh, Yes please! Those are my colours, with grey as my light neutral. I would put every piece into my closet, just adjust the t-shirt neckline to a v-neck and it’s perfect. Where I live, it’s already into the high 20s Celsius so shorts and tanks are my daily uniform But, I’m day dreaming of lunch on a terrace somewhere, maybe in a dress, sandals and a big hat. Someday soon, I hope.
Our heroine totally needs to learn to knit. Or maybe she should learn to sew. Or both!
I agree, especially when trying to find difficult colors. There are plenty of easy knitting patterns for “tees” that can be done in a cotton or linen yarn and would be so nice for the warmer months. I have one that I knitted a few years ago and enjoy often!
Such beautiful colours, i actually have a painting hanging in my living room with these same colours in it. I decided early on this spring to build my spring wardrobe around it. I’m glad to see your strong emphasis on a core of neutrals, it makes getting dressed so much easier. We are expecting a run of warm days here 20 degrees Celsius or higher. So i can finally wear my spring clothes ( must shave legs ). So i’ll Be enjoying the warm ocean breeze looking well put together even if no one sees me. Great work as always Janice, will you be doing accessories? Distant hugs, Gina from Sechelt .
If it ever becomes possible for you, I can warmly endorse laser hair removal! It’s a game-changer for those of us with such poor vision that shaving becomes a frightening few moments of playing with sharp things while nude, and wet…
Oh boy, that was a great LOL moment you gave me Gina and Janice, thanks! It’s been really great to read your posts daily during these upside-down times, I’m in Spain where things have been crazy to say the least. Your post is like the first zip of an ice- cold lemonade on the first day of Summer!
Oh boy, that gave me pause!! My hubby thought it was hilarious. Fortunately (???!!) for me I’ve reached that certain age where I only have about 6 hairs on each leg. ( There has to be some perks of getting older.) so there you have it, wet, nude and poor eyesight trying to find 6 hairs to shave off. YIKES!!
Thank you so much for the hard work you put into these posts. I’ve been reading every post for the past several months and especially appreciate your links to the exact items so they can be purchased by the reader. You amaze me with your ability to find clothing in the colors your want! However, at age 40, I often find the wardrobes a little . . . shall we say older? I’m also curious about your selection of retailers. For example, in the above wardrobe, I am certain you’d have no trouble finding hot pink and bold purple pieces at Ann Taylor, Loft, J. Crew, or Boden. In addition, items from those retailers (and the like) would be more in line with what someone in my age group would wear, along with plenty of hip senior citizens I know. I know that you emphasize quality over quantity, which I completely agree with, but I find my pieces from those retailers last several years with proper care. Of course, perhaps I am not the target demographic for this blog and I respect that and your choices. I will continue to read because I enjoy it. Again, thank you for all of your hard work!
Oddly enough, the biggest thing that limits where I find clothing to show on The Vivienne Files is whether or not a retailer shows simple, “flat-lay” photographs of garments. I personally won’t purchase anything that I can’t see that way, unless it’s from a brand that I know REALLY WELL. And a lot of really great companies don’t show their clothes “completely,” and so they never make the cut.
I do like J.Crew and use their clothes here; my understanding is that they’re planning to continue life as usual so I’m not worried about their bankruptcy. I will check the other companies regularly so I don’t miss something useful!
Thanks for your kind words, and your thoughts – I appreciate it!
Sally in St Paul says
It surprises me how infrequently retailers show a flat lay of the garment. Not only does this limit what appears on The Vivienne Files (boo! don’t make life difficult for Janice, people!) but also limits my willingness to buy those items online. Of the stores April mentioned…I have found Boden to be pretty good at showing a flat lay of tops, but more hit and miss with bottoms/dresses. Ann Taylor and Loft (straight sizes) seem not to show flat lays, though they clearly have the flat lay image available for their “ways to wear it” collages (I didn’t see an obvious way to capture that flat lay from their site, though). Loft plus size items (which I purchase) often do have flat lays, but sometimes no model image. I really would like to see both a model image and a flat lay for each garment, and I can’t imagine that I’m in the minority on that. With people avoiding stores right now, you’d think this would be the time for retailers to up their online game. Retailers that already have the flat lay image in their “how to wear it” but don’t bother including it as a full size image with the other images…I don’t understand their thinking here. It would be really cool if the web sites supported customers making their own “how to wear it” collages from the items available on the site (and for Loft/Ann Taylor, they could even allow you to mix items from both clothing lines). Ah, if only I were the Queen of the Retail Universe…
I’m trying to sort out the Ann Taylor images – if I can get them big enough, I can remove the background and use the image. It’s a work in progress…
And I’ll vote for you to be the Queen of the Retail Universe! Where do we sign up?
Beth T says
I wish that they used real women for models instead of 5’10 stick thin women in their twenties. Telling me that the garment is size 8 (4 US) on a 5’10 model is not helpful to me who is 5 foot and 12-14 (10-12 US). We’ve campaigned for plus size models – why not Petite size? The average height of a British woman is 5’3!
Sally in St Paul says
Yesterday’s yellow/green accents were fun to look at, but I LOVE this bright pink/purple/white/navy color scheme for myself. I found the comparison of an original neutral outfit and the same outfit with an accent piece substituted absolutely terrific! That really helps us visualize the impact these accent items could have.
If you were interested in a follow up post, I would love to see accessories added to this wardrobe and paired with the neutral and accent versions of these outfits. I can see four obvious versions: neutral clothes & netural accessories for an understated look, neutral clothes & accent accessory(ies) for a small pop of color, neutral/accent clothes & neutral accessories for a larger pop of color, and neutral/accent clothes & neutral/accent accessories that support and integrate the color into the outfit. I mean, I know intellectually that a lot of different moods can be achieved with a same/similar base outfit just by changing up the number/amount of color and the accessories, but it would help to see these different options side by side.
I also think accessories might be a good place for this heroine to look for bridge items with a mix of neutrals and accent colors (while she’s working on that home-knit cardigan…or ordering one custom-made, which is another possibility, I suppose). For example, I have a navy scarf with pink and purple flowers that leaps into this collection. It would look great with that first outfit (navy striped top, white capris, pink cardigan), for example. (Stripes & flowers FOREVER!)
Beth T says
Following on from your earlier comment about ‘how to wear it’ suggestions on clothing websites would be great. Women’s magazines often take a garment and suggest looks for different occasions or they will take a colour and suggest different outfits based on the four main body shape. Online retailers need to up their game particularly with so many High Street shops closing in the UK because greedy landlords want massive rents. I just learnt today that another big department store in a major town near me will close. That’s hot on the heels of another one that is destined to close and the store turned into a bowling ally.
I love just browsing the rails and seeing collections together is inspirational. You don’t get that experience online.
Retail analysts say that shopping should be an experience so let them bring back fashion shows and beauty salons in store. Let them bring back shop assistants who know the stock inside out and can pull an outfit together. These days all you can find is someone on the till. Where is proper Customer Service?
Beth T says
Wow – quite a vivid palette today! However, I love the colour of the Lands End purple dress. I’ve made a decision to buy more purple, even though it is hard to find, because it is my favourite colour. It isn’t as popular as it used to be but comes in a wide variety of shades.
To that end, I went on the Lands End UK site and looked for the dress but it’s not available in petite. However there was a Petite floral maxi dress in the same colour (which is more my style). Better still the UK site has 40% off full price clothes! I also bought a few things that had been reduced including a fleece lined cardigan for winter. At this rate I’ll be wearing it next week.
We are promised a ‘Spanish plume’ of hot weather for the next couple of days, then showers on Sunday and the temperature will drop to 12 degrees next week, though it will be fine and sunny.
You are right about retailers offering an odd selection of clothes. Many clothes retailers in the UK have cancelled their summer collections as their warehouses are full of clothes they can’t sell. They are desperate to sell stuff so the discounts are huge. I will only fill gaps from now on such as purple and pink.
Linda P says
I was thinking a bit of subdued yellow could be added, maybe just as a short-sleeved tee or shirt for these very bright colors.
There are quite a few colors in this painting that could show up in a tee shirt or other top – it’s got a lot of potential!
Beth T says
Does anyone else pick out a minor accent with a coloured piece of jewellery – just a hint of something else going on. I notice a hint of turquoise in this picture, So with this wardrobe, I would wear navy bottoms, a purple top and a white cardigan with purple flowers and turquoise butterflies on it. My jewellery would include something turquoise blue as a hint of another accent.
Susanne Chandler says
The J Crew pencil skirt has a matching tie neck blouse. I’ve been wanting something like this for a while and it’s on sale with a promo code for another 50% off. Can’t afford not to buy it!
I am always on the lookout for bright or dark pink with navy for summer wear. Too bad you couldn’t find it, because I would have scooped it up!!! One of my favorite summer tops is white with a floral that has both pink and red, along with navy, black, dark teal. It works with almost everything I own! I have found some beautiful lightweight print scarves with navy and dark pink at Joules.
And I am that person who really dislikes purple with navy, and I don’t love it with black either. I most often wear my purple with gray. – nancyo