April 4, 2022
She’s Always Rather Dressy…
She always has been – they’ve all known each other since school, and she was always the most dressed-up of them all at any event! Not that she was ever inappropriate – just a notch or 2 fancier than them..
So when they make plans to get together for a long weekend in the city, they look forward to seeing her, (of course!) and seeing how she is dressed!
For what it’s worth, she’s hysterically funny, very generous, and an all-around great friend…
This weekend should be particularly interesting; they’ve got tickets to Orchestra Hall, and dinner reservations another night at one of the new, “fancy” restaurants that has recently opened…
They haven’t all been together for a while; the pandemic made it impossible for them to travel! There is so much to talk about – so much catching up to do…
They never try to “keep up” with her – it wouldn’t make sense! They all have their own style, and she has hers:
Everybody should have a friend that makes your jaw drop from time to time!
p.s. Four years ago, the heroine du jour (with a wardrobe based on Renoir) was as opposite as possible from today’s heroine!
Janice, thank you for giving us something pretty to begin our day with. Every ray of light is appreciated! This is pretty, I wonder if we can meet the rest of her gang… It made me think on the post on 4 looks from 4 friends wearing the same item differently, so fun to look at!
Hugs and blessings from Barcelona!
Beth T says
Arwen, that sounds like a fun idea – four heroines with four different takes on the same theme for the same occasion – a 4×4 with people. Now that would be a challenge, Janice that I’m sure you would succeed with!
I like this idea too. I love reading Janice’s stories of our heroines. Meeting this one’s friends would be a fun spinoff.
The Boden cardigan is so pretty. If it came in other colors, it would be in my cart in one swift click!
Beth T says
Stunning and sophisticated. These pieces would make me feel special.
It is a challenge to feel dressed up next to a very glamourous person but by the same score, men and women have sometimes commenting on my wearing a dress/skirt and jacket for a special occasion implying that it’s a bit too much and unnecessary. However, I then realise it’s because they are underdressed by not bothering to wear anything different to their normal everyday clothes. It’s a shame that to be trendy, you have to look under-dressed and unpolished. Wearing jeans to a wedding. Wearing trainers with a pretty dress. A man wearing a well-worn jumper to a formal award ceremony instead of a suit or jacket. Am I old-fashioned in just wanting to look nice for special occasions without people making remarks?
30 years ago, wearing smart clothes social events was nothing unusual. I began to notice a change about 20 years ago when my kids were in school. Turning up looking smart was acceptable if you were going to or coming back from work. Changing into a different outfit for a school event, from the clothes you wore at school drop-off, was somehow frowned upon. Even if it was just changing from jumper and cords into a shirt and smarter trousers/skirt. Nowadays, you have to dress as if you haven’t bothered. So I’m hoping that the proliferation of period dramas and films will bring about the acceptance of glamourous dressing as a normal aspiration from head to toe. Even just replacing a cardigan with a soft jacket makes a difference.
Some readers will think that it’s expensive to buy smart clothes but shopping around for clothes to suit your style can be achieved on a small budget.. My clothes and accessories come from shop sales, online market websites, vintage fairs, charity/thrift and supermarket stores make it possible to buy nearly new or BNWT clothes and accessories at a fraction of the price. Looking good does not need a large wallet. If you are handy with a needle or sewing machine, you can trim and embellish, reconfigure or upcycled garments.
The Boden cardigan is amazing. I have seen a similar embroidered embellishment on the bodice of a Monsoon denim dress. The same look could be achieved for a small price by stitching ready-made embroidered and beaded applique patches to a plain cardigan. Haberdashery departments and fabric shops stock them. They come in different colours to so the effect could be subtle rather than contrasting. Changing the buttons on a cardigan can also notch up the glamour.
I’m also pleased that you have found a two piece blouse and matching skirt. So many different outfits can be achieved with just those two pieces.
I did wonder how you would incorporate three accent colours into one weekend wardrobe. You’ve achieved it by choosing light pink as the main accent contrasting with a dark neutral but hinting at the red and green with the floral printed blouse and skirt plus another scarf in a similar colourway. Very clever, because three accents might be overwhelming this time but they open up the possibility of further extensions to the wardrobe.
As always, you have given me a good start to the week and a lot to.think about.
I love, and look for, occasions to dress up, and have built up a dress-up capsule. All the pieces can be worn in some other way, but can also be combined to be dressy for opera, a cocktail reception. One of these days I might even sew a floor length skirt, but right now black silk pants get mileage. Janice has done some holiday capsules in the past; I hope she will again, for no specific occasion but just to have on hand.
Beth, I have noticed the same things over time. At home I would wear black capris and black tank tops and my friends would ask are you going some where? You’re dressed up. Now that I’m retired I am very casual but when I leave the house I usually wear a third layer. I find cardigans more comfortable that jackets but I wear fitted cardigans that look neat and slimming. That said I’ve been wearing a knit glen plaid blazer with a multicolor scarf and MY SONS and husband complimented me on my outfit! I’m on the lookout for a red knit blazer now. But I’m with you, I dress to please myself and I don’t care what others are wearing.
Sally in St Paul says
I think being with someone who seems “more dressed up” can provoke a mixture of feelings of admiration, envy, and/or embarrassment that depending on the person/situation can come across as that “you are dressed up too much” thing, even when the person is actually thinking more along the lines of “I’m not dressed up enough.” Isn’t it unfortunate that people can’t just *compliment* a dressed up person on their outfit?
My hubby and I often comment how disappointing it is to dress up nicely for a lovely dinner at an old historic inn and then see other patrons there dressed in tattered jeans , or sitting there eating with baseball caps on their heads , while staring at their cellphones ! Some things in life have not changed for the better !
And yes, you being “ overdressed’ is just showing up their own lack of self respect and caving to current culture !
Mairéad Conlon says
I absolutely live your blog. Like Beth above I live to dress up and have more dressy stuff in my wardrobe than casual clothes but it means I don’t get to wear them as often so I have wardrobes off clothes brand new and never worn !! However reading your Vivienne files has given me a lot more to think about. Thank you so much
I found myself nodding along with Beth’s comments. I remember when you “dressed up” even for an air flight.. glad we don’t do that anymore, but I find it sad that anything seems to go now for anything. I remember being appalled going to the opera in LA and seeing people in jeans..Although I am much more relaxed now in my clothing than I used to be, I am still (out of my four friends) the “dressed up” person – as well as being one of the more “dressed” people at work. Yes, I do wear upgraded sweats from time to time, and with foot issues I’m most often in Vionics than any sort of heels/pumps, but still better dressed than most of my co-workers. Seattle is very relaxed. Enough of the soapbox, Beth said it all so eloquently. A friend told me the other day (one of the four) that she just always appreciates how pulled together I look, and that it’s obvious thought and care go into my decisions and yet I seem to have fun with the process. I do have fun with the process, and I thank you Janice for your contributions in helping me achieve that pulled together look people seem to think I have. :)
I am from the (slightly) younger generation that does not dress up very much for anything. I find myself now wanting to dress up more, but not really knowing how. Trying to figure out how to do that has been helped by this blog and this group. It is tough when I get invitations to a wedding or something dressy. I have (at most) five dresses and that includes casual to dressy and all seasons. A part-time return to the workforce a few years ago made me start considering my jeans and a t-shirt mom way of dressing. I am slowing building in some more things that are shifting my wardrobe, but still leaving me comfortable in my own skin. It is a long process for sure.
I’m a skirt and dress wearer so I automatically seem to be dressier than most people (even though my outfits are really quite simple). Like Beth, I miss attending an event where everyone made at least a bit of an effort.
As I read her comments, multiple memories flashed in my mind of young women with immaculate, colourful, expensive manicures (read: huge effort) who wore athletic or extreme casual wear to events and/or nice’ish restaurants. I’m struck by the wildly different norms of my generation (late Boomer) and theirs.
So, everybody does their own thing and I’ve determined that my comfort level will probably be different from the general flow but that’s okay. I’ve heard a saying lately “you do you”. 🤦🏼♀️ We dressier folks can say to ourselves “I’ll do me”. I absolutely prefer to be slightly overdressed than underdressed.
Back to today’s wardrobe: I love the matching blouse and skirt, which my mother would have termed a two-piece dress. There is so much flexibility with that outfit and I’m happy to know that some brands still make them. I had a two-piece dress years ago and loved it. Mum gave me wise advice concerning it: always launder both pieces together even if I only wore one of them. That would ensure that they looked perfect together (colour-wise and degree of wear of the fabric) when I wore them together.
“Ditto” from me on wanting to see what the other three friends wore for their reunion weekend!
PS. Could someone provide the link to the “4 Looks From 4 Friends” article mentioned by arwen77? I searched for it but came up empty handed.
Here is one of the posts… the one where they all are together for the reunion. There are some before about each one of them.
Thanks SO much!!! I’m diving in now….
I agree with the comments on a dressed up look. It is my natural fall back and I have to work hard to stay casual, look de jour here in the Caribbean. I would however like to have seen a shell or simple tee to work under the cardigans just in case our heroine got a bit hot.
Love this. I’m an adamant “no black” dresser but I would wear this whole beautiful wardrobe in a heartbeat.
Sandy b says
This beautiful wardrobe is for my fantasy life. The throw back capsule is my real life, lol.
Linda P says
Same for me, Sandy b!
Linda P says
Hi Janice and Everyone! Oh, I wish I had a job/pastime where I could dress up on a daily basis-! Skirts and dresses do not last well with crawling on carpets or sponge painting. Mind you, on the occasion we go ‘out’ to dinner, or a treat to the theatre, I seize the opportunity.
So I guess I am more like the heroine in the look back, or one of the 4 friends of today’s heroine. I would be the one with a green blouse and long open velvet jacket to go with the floral dress, if it’s acting like winter. If it’s feeling springy I have a green short sleeved jersey top to go with the skirt, and a short-sleeved black blazer or my lightweight black cardigan. Flats, of course, and today’s scarf. And I would be the one talking about the NFL draft at the end of the month.☺
Lois Breedlove says
I’m afraid that even when I was working I was not the dressy kind of woman. I’m probably closer to the woman four years ago (minus the shorts!). But I did notice that Eileen Fisher made it in both scenarios. Some brands are capable of that kind of flexibility.
And I too would like to see what her friends wore!
Among my friends, I also tend to be the more dressed up of the group. I really appreciated Wendy’s comment:
We dressier folks can say to ourselves “I’ll do me”. I absolutely prefer to be slightly overdressed than underdressed.
Also, today’s heroine matched my color scheme today. I have found that it is much easier to be “matchy-matchy”, as has been commented about me, since I began following The Vivienne Files.
beth byrd says
Although I’m 60+, I’m still working and absolutely love dressing for the office every day. Even though the pandemic changed clothing to a more casual feel, I’ve found I can incorporate most casual pieces into my dressier wardrobe.
I’ve always been a fan of black and pink, and this wardrobe is gorgeous!
Would be fun to see what the others in the group of four put together!
I swear that one of the reasons that Belovedest goes back into his office occasionally is to get dressed up – even if he’s the ONLY person there!
I am another one who loves to dress up. I really try to be casual but the best I can do is a smart jacket when wearing jeans for shopping trips or coffee with friends.
The items were pretty, but I found myself more interested in the dressy or not comments. As one who tends to reach for dressy first, I end up wondering just how to do casual for things that the Mr springs on me last minute. I’ve been on the receiving end of those nasty-nice comments about the dressiness level & while they really sting at the time, it boils down to knowing who you are & dressing for you. I get comments more because of wearing a 40s or 50s cut which suits my body type more than today’s looks. Men usually say I look like an old fashioned doll, but women may be unkind & mocking. Then add in very fair skin & deep red hair…and my preference for both a soft vintage hairstyle and make-up… It gets noticed…and I have to remember that the mean comments are more about the speaker than me. It may be that the person wants to find a look that suits her, but doesn’t feel okay about veering out of the modern norm. Maybe she thinks my style is disrespectful of feminism. Maybe she hates the way it looks. I just know that being comfortable with ones own look carries a special kind of class that I want to aspire to every day…
Feminism has NOTHING to do with personal style. NOTHING. If you dress with self-respect, you are a feminist. Full stop. I get really grumpy when people think that women who dress in a lovely, soft style aren’t feminists… Sheesh!!!!
Off my soapbox…
Sally in St Paul says
Kari, while I don’t dress anything like you describe, mean comments about it got my ire up today on your behalf! I love it when people rock their own personal style, even if it’s one I don’t share or even like all that much.
As for feminism dictating a manner of dressing…good grief! To me, feminism is about making your own choices, not turning in one form of authoritarianism for another.
Kari, I think your wardrobe sounds amazing! Both because it’s different from the norm but mostly because you have found what suits you, what you’re comfortable in and most importantly, what makes you feel like you. You are the person I would want to sit next to at lunch so I could pick your brain about shopping sites and soak up your confidence. I have friends who dress in ways that I would never consider for myself, but I can still admire and learn from them. Appreciating what others do, even if it is not your personal taste, is something we should aspire to. We should all be so lucky as to find our own style and inhabit it as you do.
The meaning of ‘dressing up’ can change depending on where one lives and also one’s interpretation of dressed up. Many bloggers espouse the ‘elegant casual’ style or ‘smart casual’ and they most often wear jeans albeit with a large price tag and seem to wear that look everywhere. Like the previous poster wrote we should aspire to wear what suits our style and what we feel comfortable in and not dress to impress or ‘one up’ our friends. Or dress in such casual clothing that we intentionally make others feel uncomfortable. Notice I said ‘intentionally’…I know husbands who will wear a beat up sweat shirt or ripped jean out to dinner while their wives have clearly taken pains to dress nicely and after husbands have been asked to dress appropriately.
If my friends are humoured and appreciate my silk and cashmere wardrobe that’s wonderful but if they at anytime feel that I am attempting to out dress them then I am not reading the room very well.
I do love this wardrobe though!!
Thank you Janice…Bravo! You can be on your soapbox
anytime you like. I’ve heard some crazy things from small minds over the years…one woman asked me upon seeing a truly nice Katherine Hepburn inspired look (a classic pantsuit) who bought my clothes for me implying that I was relying on a man to pay for my style rather than being smart about finding designer pieces on extreme markdowns or at consignment shops. It’s been a good 15 years since that comment, but I haven’t forgotten the tackiness or spitefulness of it. That was the most blatantly anti-feminist thing I’ve ever experienced. For the record, I do not equate my style with feminism or against it. Just sharing about experiences related to dressiness levels and the sometimes insane things people will say.
I just had to throw in another 2 cents here. All through my school years including college my mother made my clothes – or I did. They were current, on trend, and beautiful. I had a friend who consistently would demean what I was wearing (yeah, some friend) My mother’s standard comment was “well, if they are going to say things like that, they really aren’t a friend, are they?” I think someone else said something similar above, and I don’t hear negative comments about what I’m wearing any more (maybe that just means they don’t say them to my face) but bottom line is if someone is going to say something negative about what you are wearing, what does that say about them? Water off a duck.
Ladies…thank you all so much. Hugs to all of you for reminding me that the Mean Girls who grew up to be Mean Co-workers are just nasty bullies whose comments aren’t worth a thought when I plan my wardrobe. I wish you were my co-workers instead…how fun would that be!
I know many of you dislike distressed jeans, but I’m kind of hoping one of her (kind) friends rocks her denim and leather boots while admiring her beautiful and classy friend (as I would do if I had one). My mother has a cousin she has admired for decades who always looks more dressed up and put together than everyone else. Janice’s advice has helped me so much in feeling put together even in a very casual part of the country. I have a friend who always comments on my purple canvas shoes, which look great with my purple sweatshirts. On the other other hand, I met a mom a few months ago who always looks fabulous in a skirt and lipstick—maybe the younger generation will bring back the dressiness factor? She has made me reconsider the play date mom uniform.
Love this discussion…and it’s very timely for me. I am about to start a part-time volunteer leadership position in a non-profit organization where I’ve volunteered for a number of years. I’ve noticed that since COVID, and since a change in management, dress has become more casual in this office. I generally wear a jacket/blazer over black (or navy) top and pants. My counterpart in this office wears athletic wear or very casual jeans, outfits that would have raised eyebrows in the office just a couple years back. I fully support her decision to wear what she is comfortable in…after all, she, too, is a volunteer putting in lots of hours without pay…and she is doing a wonderful job. I just don’t want to look over-dressed (and old…she’s about 10 years younger than I) in her eyes or the eyes of management. So, I’ve decided to swap the jacket for a long cardigan or topper or maybe wear a blazer with nice jeans. I think this look will fit in a bit better, and I’ll still feel professional.
Beth T says
My last job was for a charity. There was no dress code but it was quite relaxed. The age range of volunteers was 18-80+ from different backgrounds and lifestyles. My clothes style relaxed whilst I was there but my co-workers all noticed that it didn’t matter what I wore, it was always colour co-ordinated and suited me. Several of them said that they could be having a hard time themselves, the weather could be foul, and transport up the creek, but seeing my coordinated outfits or the fact that I’d picked out small details with jewellery gave them a lift. They knew I wasn’t well but my the fact that I had bothered helped them. Colour coordination gives me confidence to face the day and I’m glad it helped them too.