Archive for August 2011

Nancy Nix-Rice’s minimum wardrobe : Accessories

August 27, 2011

Nancy Nix-Rice has been writing about a basic wardrobe over the last few weeks. (I’m planning posts on possible patterns).

Unusually, Nancy also makes suggestions for accessories.
And using accessory colours to integrate the colours of the clothes.

Colours :

  • dark neutral
  • light neutral
  • accent colour
  • accent colour 2 (optional)
  • mid neutral (optional)
  • Easier but not essential if the neutrals are related colours, such as dark brown/ camel, plum/ dusty rose, black/ grey.
    If you don’t look good in strong contrasts, use darker and lighter rather than dark and light.

    – – –

    Nancy’s accessory suggestions are :

    Belt : dark neutral [reversible to light neutral]

    Shoes : dark neutral
    Shoes 2 (optional) : light neutral

    Bag/ purse : dark neutral with light neutral trim
    Big bag/ tote : dark neutral

    Scarf 1 : dark neutral + light neutral (+ a touch of black if you have it in your wardrobe)
    Scarf 2 : dark neutral + light neutral + accent colour (+ mid neutral optional)
    Scarf 3 (if adding 2nd accent colour) : both neutrals + both accent colours.

    Pashmina shawl (optional) : both neutrals + accent colour

    Necklace 1 : dark neutral + light neutral
    Necklace 2 (optional) : mainly dark neutral
    Necklace 3 (if adding 2nd accent colour) : both accent colours

    P.S. Nancy now has posts on belts and bags to flatter your body shape.

    – – –

    Socks / stockings/ tights/ pantyhose need to co-ordinate in colour as well.

    For a current look, how about adding some leggings or opaque tights (don’t know what they’re called in the US) in one of your 3 key colours. Or in another accent colour if you’ve got the legs for it 😀

    This season you can wear ankle length leggings even under a calf length skirt.

    – – –

    For a current casual look : big scarves are a good way of adding character to a simple outfit. In flattering colours they draw attention to your face. There’s several marvellous scarf tying videos at Eileen Fisher.

    And there’s a fun YouTube video on scarf tying.

    (P.S. Nancy now has a lesson on scarf tying. And here is YouLookFab on scarf styles that don’t shorten your neck. And a website on 37 ways to tie a scarf.)

    The colour, pattern and texture of scarves usually make them the focal point of an outfit.
    3.1 Phillip Lim has a different approach this season. He uses scarves made from the same fabric as the garment they’re worn with. Good idea for using fabric scraps ?

    For a current business look : instead of neutral accessories wear strong colours to brighten up classic neutral outfits. Big bags and shoes in red, blue, yellow, green, orange, purple. See my post on classics for work. Though make sure there’s something else about your outfit that draws attention to you, not to your bag and shoes 😀

    – – –

    UK Vogue says the accessory styles for winter 2011/12 are :

  • Knee-high boots
  • ‘Hug and hold’ bags (basically this is a way of holding a large bag at the base rather than hung from the handle)
  • Mini bags (any style of ornate bag just big enough for a phone and lipstick – more considered as jewellery)
  • Choker necklaces
  • Hats
  • Add touches of sequins or fur as current trims.

    Changing from big tote to one of these Mini bags could be an easy way of going from work to dressy.

    Hats are usually in a dark neutral or an accent colour. Choose an accent colour that makes your skin look good. I find a light neutral more flattering – reflects more light on your face.

    – – –

    Accessories are a good way of introducing your own style when wearing basics.
    What are your personal favourite accessories ? see brief thoughts in my post on a personal wardrobe plan (about 2/3 of the way through).

    YouLookFab has questions about which shoes you like to wear.
    heels or flats
    heels – stiletto or stacked
    sandals or boots
    round toe or pointy toe

    And what is your personal style for jewellery ? I prefer bracelets and pins/ brooches to necklaces or earrings. But they’re not so effective for bringing attention to your face. I prefer collars for that. And there’s a huge variety of possible styles for each jewellery item – dainty or striking, angular or curved, modern or antique, in different materials. . .

    – – –

    There’s a good discussion strand on accessories at Stitcher’s Guild.

    All this has made me think. I realise I don’t usually consider accessories at all. I used to be a bag person, but not since I stopped working. I also used to wear a collection of brooches in different styles, to add a touch of ‘quirky’ to professional clothes.

    If we follow Nancy’s advice, it’s the scarves and jewellery in the right mix of colours that we need to keep an eye open for !

    – – –

    Other posts in this group on Nancy Nix-Rice’s wardrobe plan :
    Neutral Cores, colours, personalising
    Accent colour and print
    Adding extras
    More thoughts
    And related post :
    Two-piece dresses

    – – –

    Links available August 2011

    = = =

    Next week I’m planning to learn the latest Photoshop Elements. I’ve been using Version 2 and this is Version 9! Then hopefully there will begin to be images again 😀

    Hooked flare

    August 20, 2011

    There are many patterns for tops with a hooked shape to the side seam. Here’s the latest, McCall’s 6398.


    A type of flare which swirls marvellously as you walk. And plenty of room for larger hips. But I’m not convinced it’s good for the large of hip, as it does draw attention to them !

    – – –

    My new iMac has a beautiful screen, and I’ve been happily watching webcasts and web videos.  It took me some considerable battles with automated systems before I could get the update to the latest OS.  But thankfully that now seems to have settled down.  So I’ve calmed down and can explore the fancy new facilities.  Next week for learning a bit about the new word processor. . .

    Like RTW ?

    August 13, 2011

    Manufacturing clothes is very different from what we hobby sewers do.

    It’s not one of my goals to make clothes that look like RTW. Round here, RTW typically means black or grey, and badly made in cheap fabrics. Have you ever gone onto a department store fashion floor and seen a sea of black ? Definitely something I sew to get away from 😀

    Some mail order is good, some not. One of my favourite designers has lowered quality to keep prices down. Happily that’s obvious from their catalogue. They don’t photograph quality and then send dross.

    Here’s a series of recent posts from YouLookFab which make it clear how very different the whole RTW process is from what we do, as non-professionals making single garments.


    Making samples

    Cut and make

    Trim and dispatch

    Interview with the designer – Karen Kane

    And that’s for making RTW quality garments. The clothes in the big clothing store in this suburb must be made by robot to be possible at that price, which is a whole other world again. (Or by very poorly paid people living in appalling conditions.)

    If we want to compare ourselves with professionals (and we don’t need to !), we are most like professional dressmakers who make individual garments for individually shaped people. Or perhaps people who make short runs of clothes for small boutiques.

    P.S. 18 months later YouLookFab has another series, on a smaller clothing company. Here’s a fascinating piece on how the pattern maker fits into the process, and the skills involved.

    (P.P.S. 2018.
    Here’s a post by Brooks Ann Camper, who makes custom wedding dresses, and has never learned either pattern making or clothes construction by the conventional routes. She teaches making personalised clothes directly, rather than by adapting an average pattern.
    Here’s her list of on-line classes – with rich materials and much personal help.)

    = = = = = = = = = =

    My very beautiful new iMac arrived yesterday. My big step for this week is to get it connected to the internet. Then I’ll be able to see everyone’s Flickr photos 😀

    – – –

    Links available August 2011

    = = =

    Summer snippets, and some autumn trends

    August 6, 2011

    Sadly it’s time for me to upgrade my computer, which is going to be a major enterprise. My current one still does everything I want for my own computing, but it is excruciatingly slow or doesn’t work at all for much of the web (have been going to the public library to upload my images for the last few months. . .)

    This computer is such an elderly Mac, it’s from before all the big technical changes at Apple – the previous chip, the previous operating system. . . Which means none of the software is unchanged.

    I’ve put this off too long. I’m really not looking forward to learning everything anew, though I suppose I should celebrate all the new facilities there will be.

    So I’m taking a few weeks off, to sort it all out. Not shutting down altogether. I’ve done some short paragraphs which are ready at WordPress. There should be a little something to post each week for the next few weeks, whatever disasters strike here behind the scenes . . . 😀

    Here’s the first of them, a longer blast off about a recent fashion magazine. Sorry it’s rather grumpy 😀

    – – –

    UK Elle’s September 2011 issue is bringing out the worst in me. Seems to be one of those magazine issues deliberately designed to put people off having anything to do with fashion. . .

    Advertisements : Beautiful clothes, but worn by bored dissolute looking models. I suppose bored rich kids are the target customer for the prestige brands. But there’s no pleasure or attraction in looking at them for the rest of us.

    – – –

    Elle editorial : their favourites among the styles to choose between next season.


    You no longer need bother to make your ‘boyfriend’ style clothes look womanly.

    Karl Lagerfield at Chanel appears to have completely lost the plot, and shows a sort of androgynous goth grunge. And everyone is saying what a marvellous collection it is. Reminds me of the story of the Emperor’s new clothes.

    Definitely more edgey than classic.

    – – –

    Combining opposites

    Many designers enjoy combining apparent opposite style elements. But we seem to have moved on from leather and lace.

    Lagerfeld does have one interesting new idea. A short classic soft tweed and curved edge Chanel jacket with braid trim worn layered over a longer classic crisp tailored jacket.

    from Chanel ad

    Not clear if they’re two separate jackets. Might be sleeves of both fabrics. Perhaps they’re joined at the neckline.

    Lagerfeld does have the gift of making such an odd combination of opposites look elegant. Though no doubt I’m being closed minded, I have difficulty imagining whose personal style this will appeal to, apart from the extreme fashionista.

    Perhaps I’m completely out of touch, and this ‘combined’ (incongruous ?) style will be the season’s big new idea that is most copied in the high street ? Soft short layered over crisp long. There’s another photo in this Elle issue of a young designer wearing a curved fur vest over a square-cornered herringbone tweed coat. Well it does look warm for winter.

    – – –


    The dominant print this season is polka dots. Another androgynous idea. Lovely for straight edged people who like geometric prints. (Buck the trend and go for random dots if you can’t bear all that regimentation :D)

    And “We’re not talking florals or fluoros here. That’s, like, so s/s 2011”. Oh dear. Well, there are so many fashion options these days. I’m sure you can find a designer who celebrates big florals this season, who you can use as your inspiration.

    Another main prints theme this season is ‘patchwork’. Not mixing fabrics in small pieces as in quilting. But each section of a garment made in a different style of print. (Combine your florals and your polka dots, which patchworkers have always done.) An exciting and interesting idea, I love it as I enjoy making multi-fabric quilts. But difficult to pull off successfully in a garment I suspect.

    – – –

    Aggressive sexuality

    Ah, here is the leather and lace. The alternative style to extreme masculinity is in-your-face sado-masochistic sex. Hmm, not something I’m competent to comment on.

    No doubt if you like them you will already be making up corset patterns (with no disrespect intended to that useful site).

    – – –

    Advanced eccentric boho – called individualism

    The extreme version of combining incongruous elements.

    In the supermarket yesterday there was someone wearing :
    – grey running shoes
    – dark ankle socks
    – a chiffon handkerchief hem skirt with drapey ruffles in a bright warm clear watercolour print.
    – a droopy black blazer
    – a big plastic tote in a different colour group.

    She was tall and thin, so if her clothes had been of high quality, she might have been photographed for this issue of Elle.
    It really does require a very high level of styling gift to do this look successfully.

    – – –

    For some more wearable ideas see the – US Vogue Trend Report, or their Shopping Guide for the coming season.

    YouLookFab’s ideas on Fall Fashion week are here.

    Meanwhile, obviously I’m not a true fashionista ! Well, perhaps high fashion magazines do present extreme versions of the looks in the first magazine of the new season. But if these are the ‘runway’ styles on offer for the winter ahead, I think I’ll stick to ‘street’ style and clothes I feel comfortable in 😀

    – – –

    Links available August 2011