Saturday, April 19, 2014

More Wardrobe Leverage: 3 = 30

Let's say that you are the happy owner of the 24 piece wardrobe in navy and beige that we've looked at for the last two days...  And you decide that you want a little bit of brightness for spring!

The only real thing you want to keep in mind while shopping is the degree to which anything new that you choose can be worn with your core pants and sweaters.  A scarf that includes your core colors, along with a couple of pretty accent colors, is a good place to start.  Pick up a pair of tee shirts in the accent colors, and you're on your way!

Green tee – Ralph Lauren, scarf - Halogen,  turquoise tee - Lauren by Ralph Lauren

At first, these don't see to be a particularly compatible choice for your original wardrobe:

Butterfly cardigan - Oasis, red tank - L.L.Bean, navy tank - Target, dotted blouse - People Tree, green linen shirt - L.L.Bean, white tank - Target, patterned blouse - Velvet, striped tee -  People Tree, green tank - L.L.Bean, red cardigan - L.L.Bean, blue tee - Target, navy dress - Dorothy Perkins, tweedy sweater-  Acne Studios, white tee shirt - Target, linen shorts - L.L.Bean, navy cardigan- Dorothy Perkins, linen dress - L.L.Bean, navy capris - Dorothy Perkins, ikat print skirt -  Monsoon, linen pants - L.L.Bean, navy dress pants - Dorothy Perkins, jacquard pants -  ‘S Maxmara, navy palazzo pants - Dorothy Perkins

But in fact...


Friday, April 18, 2014

2 dozen = 12 dozen, at least

I'm always intrigued by how many outfits you can pull together from a well-chosen capsule wardrobe, so after I built yesterday's ensemble, I started pulling together outfits, just out of curiosity...

Remember, these were the 24 garments with which I started:
Butterfly cardigan - Oasis, red tank - L.L.Bean, navy tank - Target, dotted blouse - People Tree, green linen shirt - L.L.Bean, white tank - Target, patterned blouse - Velvet, striped tee -  People Tree, green tank - L.L.Bean, red cardigan - L.L.Bean, blue tee - Target, navy dress - Dorothy Perkins, tweedy sweater-  Acne Studios, white tee shirt - Target, linen shorts - L.L.Bean, navy cardigan- Dorothy Perkins, linen dress - L.L.Bean, navy capris - Dorothy Perkins, ikat print skirt -  Monsoon, linen pants - L.L.Bean, navy dress pants - Dorothy Perkins, jacquard pants -  ‘S Maxmara, navy palazzo pants - Dorothy Perkins

There are almost certainly more possibilities here; I threw in the towel after I passed twelve dozen...

Alibris: Books, Music, & Movies

Thursday, April 17, 2014

A "Two Suit" Wardrobe in Navy and Beige

Another visit to this concept, keeping the beige linen (I'm SO lazy...) and using navy as our other neutral.  I'm going to try to explain the steps for choosing these items in more detail, so that you can recreate what I do in your own closet.

Also, I want to address the question of having multiple pairs of dark neutral pants. Often, we're told that "you shouldn't own three pair of navy pants", but I heartily disagree, because of the wide variety of navy pants that you might own. In this particular example, I've included very narrow navy capris in a cotton fabric, a wide-legged trouser (full-length), and a silk-like palazzo pant.  My feeling is that these three pants give three very different outfits when combined with the same top: capris are on the casual side, the dress pant is very work or meeting-worthy, and the palazzo pants can be quite dressy.  As with all fashion or style advice, your mileage may vary, and you should make your own choices!

First up, the navy "suit-equivalent" of a cardigan, two very different trousers, and a simple dress that can be worn alone or with any kind of jacket, cardigan, or shirt-jacket over it.  Navy is a drag to match, so it makes life easier if these pieces can be found in the same store, or from the same manufacturer.
Cardigan, caprispants, dress - Dorothy Perkins
The next "suit" has much more casual options!  If you weren't interested in shorts, you could substitute a skirt, and if the sleeveless dress is too revealing, you could look for one with elbow or 3/4 sleeves.  The cardigan can be worn with almost anything you own, and when worn over the sleeveless dress, it makes it appropriate for work or more conservative requirements.
all garments - L.L.Bean
I've always believed that every closet should include a core of solid-colored, simple tops - enough of them to be able to avoid daily laundry.  While for this particular wardrobe it would be most obvious to choose navy and beige, I've opted to replace the beige with white, because it's more flattering near the face, and will go well with anything you choose.

all tops - Target

There's a very wide range of directions that you could choose to go when choosing accent colors to go with navy and beige.  I've chosen two subtle, sort of dark-ish colors, but you could easily work with pastels like pink and lilac, or brighter colors like leaf green and turquoise...
all tops - L.L.Bean

Next, I look for printed, patterned, or textured tops which combine the two neutrals.  These can be floral, any sort of abstract/geometric print, or something as whimsical as this great butterfly cardigan. And a tweedy textured sweater is always useful, except when outdoors in the sweltering hot weather. 

Cardigan – Oasis, sweater- Acne Studios, blouse – People Tree,  striped tee – People Tree

Just to round out the wardrobe, and because I think 24 garments is a nice tidy number (especially if you want to buy all-new hangers for spring!) I add four more things.  One pair of neutral, but much more dressy pants, a soft and relaxed tunic shirt, a whimsical printed skirt that could go to work or to any casual social activity, and a pair of jacquard pants.  Note that this is definitely NOT a "whatever's clean) wardrobe - there are some tremendous possibilities for unattractive pattern mixing here...

Palazzo pants –Dorothy Perkins, blouse – Velvet, skirt- Monsoon, jacquard trousers – ‘S Maxmara

But this is a summer wardrobe with tons of possibilities:

NORDSTROM - Shop Comfort Shoes for Spring

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Can Chanel Guide Us to a Workable Casual Wardrobe?

One of the most popular posts I've ever written was asking if Coco Chanel was right when she told us that a woman only needs two suits to be well dressed.  (find it here)  I'm often asked how this idea translates for those among us who wear mostly casual clothing, and who don't really have any use for a suit.  So these are my thoughts:

First off - the equivalent of the black suit - a cardigan, capris, pants, and a dress:

Cardigan, capris, pants- Dorothy Perkins, dress – Alice & You

and then a similar approach in beige - another cardigan, linen pants, a pair of shorts and another dress:
all linen pieces - L.L.Bean

First add-on is a couple of "twin-sets" in accent colors.  But only one cardigan, and a linen shirt to take the place of the 2nd sweater, and relax the feeling:
Tank top – Dorothy Perkins, cardigan – L.K.Bennett, linen tank – L.L.Bean, linen shirt- L.L.Bean

A few very plain tops:
all tops - Target

Some tops that combine the 2 neutral colors:

Cardigan – Liviana Conti, tee shirt – Raquel Allegra, tunic- Only, animal tank – Hobbs

And some other essential garments that round this capsule up to 24 pieces.  A dressy pair of pants, another pair of shorts, a cool shirt and a denim skirt.  Of course, if you never wear dresses or shorts, more shirts and shorts will be your choices.
Black silk slouch pants- Isabel Marant, black shorts – Elle, sleeveless shirt – Morgan, denim skirt – Morgan

I could get a lot of mileage from this wardrobe for warm weather- everything from very casual to appropriate for an office or a meeting.

A few outfits...

Dorothy Perkins(US)

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Chic Sightings: Dots!

Now that it's snowed in Chicago, it feels strange to post the very warm-weather outfits that I saw over the weekend.  But spring WILL arrive - it always has...

This dress was amazingly attractive; while I don't in any way need more clothes, this would really tempt me!

Dress – Department 5, slingbacksMiu Miu, sweater- Joseph, skirt – White Stuff, flats- Ferragamo

The girl wearing these pants looked fabulous.  I think her legs were 4 feet long...

Tunic- Hallhuber, pantsLove Moschino, flatsManolo Blahnik, sweater – Oasis, black jeans- Morgan, canvas shoes – Grasshopper

The tunic in the 2nd outfit was WAAAAY cuter in person than the photograph really conveys,and it looked tremendously comfortable too.

Tee shirt – Warehouse, capris – Dorothy Perkins, sandals- Sofft,  tunic - Phase Eight, skirt- Viyella, sandals- Michael Michael Kors

Monday, April 14, 2014

Chic Sightings: Navy and White Striped Top

We've only had a few days of warm weather (and it might snow tonight!), but I saw a ton of striped tops over this weekend, styled in all sorts of different ways...
Striped top – Petit Bateau, yellow capris – Dsquared2,  espadrilles – Bella Vita, green golf pants – GolfinoTechno, canvas shoes – Converse

Striped top – Petit Bateau, white jeans – 7 for All Mankind, red loafers – Aerosoles, skirt – Jil Sander, espadrilles – Lauren Ralph Lauren

Striped top – Petit Bateau, navy blazer – Mango, skirt – MaxMara, pumps – Trotters, cardigan – Paul Smith Black Label, navy trousers – Dorothy Perkins, red flats – Chloe

Friday, April 11, 2014

The Spring 2014 "Must Have" List.... ahem

If you've been reading The Vivienne Files for very long, you know pretty well that I am NOT convinced that there is every ANYTHING that you must buy.  I believe that the majority of us need to wear shoes, but beyond that, I think that clothing and accessories are pretty much an open field...

That said, most of us want to look as if we are at least somewhat aware of evolving culture and style around us. So when I saw a fairly reasonable five-item "must have" list, I thought I would at least take a look.

First item up was a total reject for me: Little White Dress.  
  1. White is not flattering on many of us.
  2. White is difficult to wear, from a see-through/lingerie point of view, and
  3. White gets dirty, and shows the slightest bit of soiling, much faster than anything else.
There is a good case to be made that a new summer dress is a wonderfully useful and cheery purchase, but any of these would be more inclined to get my vote over anything all white:
Yellow linen – East, rose cotton – Dorothy Perkins, denim dress- Dorothy Perkins, flowered dress-0039 Italy,striped dress – A.P.C.

Next up was another item that I just couldn't quite see as an essential item - a studded denim jacket.  The traditional denim jacket cut isn't all that flattering on many women, and studs can be too cold and too hard, from an overall impression point of view.  (that's called TCTH in our household)

But a denim jacket in a different style might be something to consider.  The changeable weather of spring could see any of these getting quite a few outings.
Blazer – Viyella, biker jacket -3.1 Philip Lim, utility  jacket- Topshop, wrap coat- Four Seasons, long two-color coat – Joe Richards

Third item - something that I can ALWAYS suggest as a way to perk up your face - stud earrings.  Because they cover the holes in pierced ears, studs can help us avoid the draggy droopiness that dangly earrings often bring.  And a pretty color that compliments your eyes wouldn't be wrong, would it?

Green ocean glass – YooLa,  coraltoosis, pineapples – Lee Renee, gold and onyx –Chen Fuchs, sunstars- Enelle London, line hearts- flake, pearls- Michelle Oh, lapis – Barbora Rybarova, forget-me-nots – Sian Bostwick

The 4th item on the "must-have" list was so obvious that I was surprised that these would be considered a "fashion" item: neutral wedge sandals.  While I'm not at all convinced that most of us need vertiginous fat platforms on our leisure shoes, the idea of a neutral sandal for summer is a thought with which many of us could easily agree.

The fifth and final item  - an eye-catching clutch bag - is one that I immediately rejected - I need straps, because I want my hands free!  But I'm curious: do you carry a clutch bag? Just for evening, or during the day too?  Am I doing something wrong?

Taupe – Mary and Marie, pink floral – Liucia Japan, orange – Rachana Reddy, perfedArttessorio, steel and wood – Susanna Valerio