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


Thursday, April 10, 2014

Inspired by a Blue and Beige Hotel Room

Ah, you wanted to see outfits from the OTHER hotel room?  That, I can do...
Hotel des Grands Hommes - Paris

This isn't entirely different from yesterday's room - it shares a camel/beige sort of feeling, but some beautiful shades of blue give us a different wardrobe.

There are lots of stripe influences in every room I've seen in this hotel, and that's great, from a clothing choice perspective.  A striped cardigan is always going to get my vote...  And the lace skirt and trimmed blouse are the same as from yesterday, but take on a different look with a blue cardigan.

Cardigan – Coast + Weber + Ahaus, trousers – Etro, loafers – Rockport, cardigan – Viyella, skirt – Burberry London, silk blouse – Vanessa Bruno
 Soft blue will always make me think of chambray, and I love the striped sweater with the skirt (more than any pair of shorts that I saw!).  These espadrilles would be great with anything denim or chambray, all summer long.  And this tunic is soft, patterned, with subtle colors - exactly what this room indicated to me.
Sweater – Mango,earrings- Neeru Goel,  skirt –Harvey Faircloth, Espadrilles – Soludos, tunic- Thakoon, bracelet – Tiraphan Hasub, ballet flats – Calvin Klein
 Even if you're dressing for something  very casual, you can still use the soft blue inspired by this room in your outfit to remind you of your inspiration.  And doesn't this dress need to be loosened up some?  Unbutton those buttons, roll those sleeves a bit, and slip on a fabric necklace... and lose that fabric belt - a belt of luggage leather would look much nicer.
Sweater – Philosophy di A.F., jeans – Lauren by Ralph Lauren, sandals – Aerosoles, dress- A.P.C., fabric necklace – Saako Designs, pumps- Isaac Mizrahi New York
 This outfit is also from yesterday's choices, but takes on a different feel when the shoes are soft blue.  And mixing shades of blue is strongly suggested by this room - notice how the bedding, the headboard, and the woodwork are NOT all the same color, but still look as if they belong together.
blouse – Laurence Dolige, taupe pants – Weekend by Maxmara, loafers – Tods, dress – Warehouse, earrings – Christina Llapa, scarf – Gucci, pumps – Jimmy Choo

As we often notice, these eight outfits give you a nifty little capsule or travel wardrobe:

Artisan Jewelry Designs

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

I Want to Dress Like an Empire-Style Hotel Room

This is a typical room in the Hotel des Grands Hommes, in Paris.  The colors and the details in this room can inspire a beautiful wardrobe.  The colors words that I focused on were taupe, beige, camel, apricot, slate, gold, copper and bronze.  I was looking for soft, patterned, draped and refined looks...

Hotel des Grands Hommes, Paris
 The striped colors of the headboard drew my eye to this sweater - it's softness confirmed my choice.  And the combination of apricot and charcoal with a detailed scarf were irresistible.
Sweater – Theory, jeans – Mango, boots – Rag & Bone,  tee shirt – J Brand, scarf – rumisu, skirt – Rick Owens
 I loved this coat, and the ornate flats appealed.... and the draped tunic dress, with warm tobacco leather leggings and metallic ballet flats are a relaxed outfit that would be very at home in this room!
Satin jacket – No. 21, jacquard trousers – Sandwich, loafers – The Flexxdress – Paul and Joe Sister, leggings – P.A.R.O.S.H., ballet flats – Calvin Klein
Even when dressing for work, you can carry this feminine and beautifully detailed look into your clothing. 
blouse – Laurence Dolige, taupe pants – Weekend by Maxmara, bag – Longchamp, dress – Oasis, Rose vintage scarf – Nordstrom, pumps – Sofft
The bow on the cardigan was impossible to pass up... and the lacy blouse and lace skirt are made a bit more sober with a simple cardigan, which you could easily leave behind if you wanted to go super-dressy.
Cardigan – Odd Molly, trousers – Etro, loafers – Tommy Hilfiger, cardigan – Dondup, skirt – Burberry London, silk blouse – Vanessa Bruno, gold mesh bracelet – Milena Zu
As always, outfits chosen with a unifying theme will combine to form a pretty nice travel capsule wardrobe: