July 29, 2022
gardened, and harvested edible wild plants and flowers. Our heroine has all of the notebooks that she kept from her garden and from the forests on her property…
Now, she travels to teach any group of people who want to learn what she learned from her great-grandmother! This long weekend, she’s headed up into the far north to a small school that specializes in traditional crafts and folklore…
The weather will probably be cool…
Generally speaking, these events are VERY casual, but she’s learned that it is wise to have a skirt with her, just in case!
And she likes to pack shorts, no matter how cool the weather will be. There’s just nothing like hiking in the forest, wearing shorts and hiking boots, and carrying a bag of tasty things found there…
She loves the colors of the forest, and so she dresses in them as often as possible!
She doesn’t believe that anybody to whom she’s presenting pays ANY attention to what she wears, but she still likes to be sure to have plenty of options, just in case something gets damaged; forests can be hard on clothes:
Have you learned anything from your family that you could teach other people?
I can shoot a bow and arrow…
p.s. Six years ago, our heroine packed three outfits, in black, grey, red and white – everything she needs!
I love everything in this post. The Botswana stones have long been a favorite. Once upon a time long ago, before I was “told” that black was more chic and sophisticated, my clothes were all brown. I find myself going back to brown now as I am most comfortable in that color. Thank you for this beautiful post.
This is quite lovely, and that scarf is amazing. When I was in high school and college I wore a fair amount of brown. Not quite sure why it got so dropped by the wayside. I did a lot of things with my grandmother out in the forest. We used to go “coning” which is where you go out and find green pine cones – put them in burlap sacks – and take them to the feed and seed to sell. Then they would sell them to the forest service who used them to replant. I don’t know if they still do that. Also would go out and peel cascara trees – same sort of thing – sell the bark to the feed and seed who sold the sacks of bark on. Some of my fondest memories are going up in the woods with my grandparents (grandpa was a logger). Thank you!
We peeled cascara bark as well. My parents had 5 kids on a teacher’s salary in a small community. We earned money toward our own school clothes and toward college savings. I also picked berries for the commercial growers, waited tables and manned a fire lookout.
I love stories like this! While in college in rural Appalachia, I had local friends who harvested wild ginger. Locations were top secret.
Amy Christensen says
What beautiful outfits and I love hearing the stories of your heroine’s travels. My mother taught me how to sew and crochet, thought I haven’t done either for quite some time. My dad taught me how to change a flat tire (he was an airplane mechanic), and my middle brother taught me how to punch like a boy….at least that is what my hubby says. Ha, ha. – Amy
I love these colours, being an “autumn” girl. Always find it challenging to find dressier clothes in these colours, but casual activewear is not a problem. We recently went on a car trip and I was so pleased with my clothes. Everything matched and I felt I had options no matter what the activity was. Thank you for all the tips!
This collection is absolutely lovely and is just the inspiration I am looking for. I always love the groupings that feature “tonal” colors that can blend or flow into one another, allowing monochromatic outfits that aren’t one solid color and easing the anxiety of trying to precisely match pieces from different manufacturers. Grays and taupes are great at this. But my skin needs a lot of warmth and heathered shades are often too cool and muted. Thank you for putting a collection together that shows how to do this with brown shades! Also, I am curious to hear everyone’s thoughts on wearing the saddle tan oxfords with the dark brown pants. Many years ago, I wore something similar and was told that I needed to wear dark brown leather goods if my clothing was dark brown unless I was wearing a print that combined both dark brown and cognac. This bit of advice, whether right or wrong, has stuck with me and continues to cause frustration because it is much easier to find cognac than dark brown in shoes, bags, belts, etc.
I also like the “tonal monochromatic” look. With regards to your shoe question: obviously i think it depends on what you like :) and that should over-rule everything. having said that, my two cents: it’s a “feel”. Note in Janice’s pairing, the top has some lighter browns in it, the jacket is that same mid-brown caramel/congac color. It works well, and happens to align with the advice you were given. If I’m (hypothetically) wearing the dark chocolate pants and a warm ivory top (no mid browns to tie it in), I would default to black in winter and late fall(i agree, its too hard to find dark brown in accessories), but I would use the cognac in early fall or spring, when I’m purposely trying to give off that “lighter, more summer” vibe. I might tie it in with a tortoiseshell hair clip or something that melds the browns, but not necessarily. Hope that helps!
Dame Eleanor Hull says
That advice probably stems from the notion that you should “ground” an outfit by wearing darker colors on the bottom, or that one looks taller with a single color on feet and legs. If you’d wear shoes in an accent color, then tan/cognac with darker brown is fine; if you want that long line or grounding, then you’re stuck with the search for dark brown shoes.
Sally in St Paul says
I imagine the advice you received was getting at intentionality and/or what Dame Eleanor noted about grounding and/or looking taller by matching shoes to pants. Or perhaps simply from a person with a style that is very classic and matchy-matchy. A lot of the style advice of yore is outdated also so that’s another thing to consider.
From your profile pic, you have gorgeous warm mid-tone hair, so I think a cognac shoe/boot would be a lovely bookend to your outfit. (If you had dark brown hair, the analysis would be a bit different.) If you’re wearing a cognac belt, bag, and/or other accessories (e.g., a necklace on a cognac leather cord) that would certainly reinforce the idea that the cognac is intentional and not “I just threw on whatever pair of random brown shoes that came to hand.”
I do think it’s easier to blend cognac and dark brown if you’re wearing an item that has both colors in it…whether that’s a garment (as Ezzy pointed out) or an accessory (as Dame Eleanor noted). This bracelet is certainly a nice example. Warm leopard prints might also be your friend. But I don’t think it’s necessary to do this.
It’s a very interesting question because the “pop of color” shoe is a tried and true styling trick – it’s not to everyone’s taste but it is “a thing” that I would expect most people who think about style to recognize when they see. Perhaps cognac with dark brown isn’t a strong enough hue difference to see the cognac as the pop, and instead gets mentally categorized as “mismatched browns” without some other outfit element reinforcing the cognac.
Personally, I think brown can be a very tricky one to blend across varying specific colors because the warm vs. cool brown element can be so salient. Janice did an amazing job of doing this in the capsule (as did the bracelet designer) but there are definitely possible combinations here that are not comfortable to my eye – I think due to an unresolved visual tension between the warm and cool undertones. For example, the second to last outfit with the taupe zipneck, rusty brown top, and dark brown pants give me pause (as it looks on my screen). I was very happy to see a nice cool taupe brown top (it’s a hard color to find), but it doesn’t sit as easily in the capsule as I would prefer.
No I don’t think you need dark brown with dark brown. A good saddle brown or cognac or ivory would work…even turquoise or forest green leather would look smashing if you wanted to take it up a notch. I am looking at the men currently in dark blue suits sporting saddle brown or cognac shoes….years ago my father, the undisputed king of sartorial correct stylings would have slain a man for wearing brown shoes with a blue suit. It was black only! Times have changed and so have our attitudes. All dark brown would make you look like a cute little brownie but kinda blah, no? Jazz it up….lots of great coloured leather out there.
I just loathe brown but I am happy that many feel it works for them. I spent much of my youth ‘in the bush’ jigging’ cats (catfish!!;)and cooking up young bulrushes and mushrooms in butter, picking blueberries and pin cherries for jam with my grandmother. I learned to load, clean and shoot a shot gun and fix an outboard engine. Canoeing and connecting with my roots….then off to private girls school for the rest of the year. Unusual childhood but I have good memories.
Dame Eleanor Hull says
Alas, I learned not to wear shorts in the woods because of ticks. The shorts might be for sorting her finds, back inside, on the porch or in the garden! Or on the river, if one is available.
I can do a lot of the country style crafts such as patchwork/knit/sew/mend/make preserves etc. Sadly the rest of my family have no interest in learning although they never refuse a homemade gift.
Lovely collection of autumnal colours today but not the right colours for me unfortunately.
Isn’t that the truth? I also sew/crochet/mend etc… had an entire conversation w/one son about how I can jerry-rig anything to work out of things around the house. I told him I did not grow up in a throw-away age. And yes, they do really appreciate the homemade gifts!
I love these brown shades! I learned to sew from my mom and grandma and make some of my clothes (I used to make a lot of theirs). Now all four of my kids can run a sewing machine if needed and hand sew a little. We’ll see as they get older if any of them take off with it or not.
Sally in St Paul says
It’s so interesting to see these various brown colors together. As I said above, I’m a little leery of the taupe brown zipneck because it seems too cool for the rest of the capsule…the color of the funnel neck sweater sits more easily with the other pieces to my eye. The skirt is also borderline too cool of a brown to mix readily but it does look very nice with the dark brown sweater, so if that’s a sort of a “packed because this is a specific outfit I might need for a dressier occasion,” then it works. (And we don’t need literally every possible combination of items in a capsule to be a winner.)
For mixing and blending of brown colors, I think the Dark Academia aesthetic is a great resource. Even if the particular pieces/silhouettes aren’t your thing, the way that browns in various colors and textures are brought together in that style could be very enlightening.
The colors are really an issue here – the colors of the garments as I initially saw them on the various retail websites don’t EVER seem to copy well into my images, and then when I put them on the internet the seem to shift even more! If someone wants to get unimaginably rich, they need to find a way for colors to translate across all kinds of platforms without becoming distorted…
My father – a teacher – loved brown, and lived in it… it’s what I always think of when I think of teaching!
I click on a lot of your links to check colors. Even the retailer websites don’t get the color just right. I recently ordered a beautiful trench from Nordstrom. Perfect classic style sure to last a decade! I thought it was a warm camel, but when I tried it on, something was “off.” I’m one of THOSE shoppers that frustrate retailers because I carry my color palette and insist on colors being just right. When I do get it right, I can pretty much haul any neutral out of my closet, grab any accent color (or two!), then apply my coordinated makeup and walk out looking good. So this supposed camel wasn’t working with a lot of my bright colors. I finally realized it had an ever-so- subtle olive undertone. 😢 Patience is required. I will keep looking for the beautiful golden, clear brown that suits me. BTW, I adore those oxfords and the color. I’d wear them with jeans, chinos, navy, grey and, of course warm tan/camel/brown.
Sally in St Paul says
Oh no, so it’s not only how it shows up on various screens, it’s how the color changes when you move the images! In the end, there is no substitute for seeing the item in person (unfortunately). Janice, we appreciate the great effort you take finding the pieces and putting these collages together.
Sally in St Paul says
I also just have to say that I get weary of this “nobody notices what you’re wearing” idea because it’s really not true. I mean, yes, there are a lot of people who don’t notice, but many people do. I am one of them. Just because we don’t say anything most of the time, it doesn’t mean we don’t notice. I don’t point this out so that people start feeling more anxious about what they wear, but I don’t think it serves people to believe that nobody is paying attention when some people are. (It’s not something we all do on purpose even; for some, it’s just how our brains work.)
So I think the heroine is wrong to think nobody will notice what she’s wearing when she’s presenting, but luckily, her capsule makes putting together lovely outfits very easy so no need to stress about it.
My dad had trouble distinguishing similar colors (black, dark brown, navy – for example), so he got help putting together outfits. One day when he got home from teaching his 6th graders, he said that after one class, a group of girls approached him and gently asked him if he’d dressed himself that day. When he said that he did, they said they could tell because of X, Y, and Z. It slayed me how kind they were about it.
All of this is to say, If you’re going to be presenting, that’s a really good time to bring your A game to your outfit choices. Pick something that makes you feel confident and that you will feel good about people noticing.
Dame Eleanor Hull says
Not only do I notice, one way I occupy myself in dull meetings/presentations is to imagine how I would make over the people around me, if I think they’re not wearing flattering clothing.
I hope someday I can meet Sally IRL, because I think we have a lot in common!
Sally in St Paul says
Yes, Dame Eleanor, that would be terrific. Wouldn’t a Vivienne Files meet up be fun? :)
😂That’s what I do as well! I sit on the street waiting to meet a friend or in the airport waiting for a plane noting the best outfits and wondering why only a small percentage of women look put together. Too many fall for whatever is fashionable and then wonder why their wardrobe doesn’t hang together year to year. (No pun intended.) And don’t even get me started on how many people look like they just rolled out of bed or grabbed their outfit from the dirty clothes pile.
That’s really one of the reasons I started The Vivienne Files – stores are fully of beautiful clothes, and the vast majority of people look like they just crawled out of bed. It’s not kind to yourself to make NO effort to look decent… And it’s a waste of tons of beautiful clothes!
Hi all!! I’m putting my 2 cents on the discussion about people caring for what we wear. I think that people don’t notice in detail what we wear if we’re wearing an appropriate outfit for the occasion. I’m a teacher and pretty sure my students note what I wear (most of the time suit-like outfit with printed/contrast top). But I’m also sure they don’t realize I wear a less than 33 capsule to work including shoes and outerwear (I go 2-3 times a week). And completely sure nobody cares if I wear my black slacks every Monday. I feel like the rebellious heroine inspired by a Matisse painting with a cat, hehe hehe!
Cheers and blessings!
I like to think that you have 1 student who keeps a spreadsheet of what you wear every day, and who is modeling their own wardrobe around your careful planning and restraint!
I always enjoy these bracelet posts- the glimpses into someone else’s life through the focus on a colour scheme in a bracelet- her character and needs expressed through her clothing choices. Reading a person from how she chooses to present herself. It’s like people watching.
I can enjoy someone else’s colours and style without for a moment wanting to own or wear any of it. I’m not a brown person although it took me a while to figure it out. My last attempt was with the alluring chocolate box heroine. I intersected with the warm pinks and tried chocolate brown again. It was worth exploring but now I just enjoy the vicarious thrill of seeing these capsules expressing someone else entirely.
Ohhh, that’s such a lovely thought!
I confess — I am an outfit watcher ! ! While waiting in line outside of a restaurant or eating outside at a bistro, or waiting for my plane to arrive, I entertain myself by watching what Americans wear . A lot of the time I am bored, seeing the same old leggings being worn with a top that does not cover female parts , or the awful tiresome distressed jeans and tee shirt look ! Once in a great while I am stunned by a terrific outfit . One day in a grocery store, I saw a woman wearing white jeans, an orange and white striped collared shirt, and orange loafers — her outfit was well planned and beautifully , though simply executed !
Your examples above — I want this group of clothes , as long as the under tones are warm , as Sally in St. Paul pointed out ! This post makes me look forward to Autumn again , though I am still happy for now wearing my Summer aquas and peach/coral tones with tan or stone bottoms and also light denim blue in tops and bottoms .