21 March 2011

  • Red Cardigan: Vintage Michael Kors, mommed
  • Black Jersey Dress: Ann Taylor, endlessly remixed
  • Black Tank: Gap maternity, via gap.com
  • Printed Silk Scarf (as belt): Vintage Burberry, mommed
  • Brown Tweed Flats: L.L. Bean

Oh man . . . can it be spring already? We alternately suffered through and enjoyed the teasing weather all weekend, tempting the fate of sunny but slightly-too-cool-for-comfort days by putting in new plantings and shivering a bit through long walks before finally retreating for a serious basement cleanout and homework on Sunday afternoon. We woke up to a noisy storm this morning, but the rain seems to have tapered off . . . just in time for me to spend the day in the library and in what is seriously the coldest seminar room in history.

I’m balancing these competing meteorological demands, as well as those of a long and busy day, with removable layers built on bare legs and flats. I’m keeping things interesting, though, wearing a boldly (floral!) printed scarf as a belt, and mixing this pattern with the smaller-print tweed on my shoes. It’s not nearly as bold a pattern mix as the one I wore on Thursday, but it added a little more visual interest than plain black flats would have. In addition, despite my love for mixed neutrals, I know that black and mid-range brown can be a harsh contrast, so the tweed (and the visual separation of my bare legs) helps “blend” this mix a little more smoothly. And while it really is still the same dress, I’ve had to add a modesty cami under its surplice neckline, as it’s now a bit too va-va-voom for a day when we’re talking about the regulation of sexuality in the workplace!

I was flipping through the new issue of InStyle this weekend, and came across an interview with the guys from Proenza Schouler which taked about ways to wear spring’s bright colors trend (they were far less thorough than the academichics were on this topic this weekend!). Interestingly, they recommended wearing bright colors against black as a way to “manage” these spring brights, particularly at the office. I was surprised by this advice. Maybe it’s just the stuffy old person in me, but nothing says terrifying freshman year of college flashback to me like the idea of a woman in a bold orange/turquoise/pink top and black pants, and it’s hard for me to see how this kind of bright-against-black pairing could look either tasteful or professional, or do anything other than make them look brighter! Giving credit where credit is due, though, I’m giving their advice a try today, but with a color combination that, for me, is much more familiar: bold tomato red against black. I’m softening the abruptness of this contrast by using the floral print scarf as a bridge, but it still feels a bit . . . juvenile to me, somehow. Any suggestions?

How are you wearing brights for spring? Can bright-against-black look grown-up enough for work, or is it too youthfully exuberant? What’s your go-to neutral for pairing with spring’s searing shades?

21 March 2011

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  • Miranda

    I actually like the bridge that the scarf provides between the cardigan and dress! Just this morning I was struggling with how to do black; I have black pants and a pencil skirt in my wardrobe because I “should,” but I never feel confident pairing them up. Putting them with neutrals is to bland; putting them with color feels awkwardly blocky. This is an idea I can use!

    • http://narrowlytailored.blogspot.com S. of Narrowly Tailored

      Thanks, Miranda! I’ve definitely developed some recent malaise about black—while it was my go-to neutral for quite some time, I’ve been increasingly drawn to charcoal and navy as significantly more soothing (it might be a visceral reaction to hearing someone refer to black—and particularly to black suits on professional women—as “b*tchy”). I think these items can work well with other neutrals and a pop of color, though, so I tend to do a lot of black, dark grey and….

  • http://omglydia.blogspot.com Lydia

    I really like how you did the red and the black together with that scarf! I’m not sure if I agree with that article though either…I personally love brights with lighter neutrals like grey, khaki, and white.

    Shopping and Spreadsheets

    • http://narrowlytailored.blogspot.com S. of Narrowly Tailored

      Thanks, Lydia! I definitely agree with you—the lighter neutrals seem to just be an easier, more soothing pairing with bright colors…

  • http://fashionableacademics.blogspot.com Shakespeare’s Feminine Ending

    I love the scarf as a belt with or without the cardigan. And I was wondering, are you wearing flats because of the weather shift or because of pregnancy or both?

    • http://narrowlytailored.blogspot.com S. of Narrowly Tailored

      Hi SFE! Thanks! I wish I had a succinct answer to your question, but I honestly don’t know. I think on this particular day, I was thinking, I have a long day of class and a long moot court practice where I’ll be on my feet the whole time, and flats just seem easier. It’s also possible that, consciously or unconsciously, I was trying to tone down the ways that this outfit felt “too sexy” for school—I suppose I felt like flats rendered it more “cute” and less overtly sexy (a statement about which we could say volumes re: gender performance!). I might also have just missed flats with skirts, a look I tend to reserve for the spring and summer (again, consciously or unconsciously, I feel a little too youthful and girlie in flats with tights). I’m sure a time will come in my pregnancy when I’m feeling less comfortable and more “tottering” in high heels, but I’m hoping that will be a ways off (and hoping that my recent foray into dizziness as a new symptom is not an indicator that that day is sooner to come than I’d like!). Is that an appropriately lawyerly non-answer? ;)

  • http://theauspiciouslife.com Linda

    The cardigan color goes so perfectly with your scarf/belt. And together they are wonderful against the black. I think using scarf like that is a great way to add some color to your wardrobe!

    The Auspicious Life

    • http://narrowlytailored.blogspot.com S. of Narrowly Tailored

      Thanks, Linda! I’m so glad I finally figured out how to pin this scarf in a way that vastly neatens up the whole scarf-as-belt experience—it looks like much less of a hot mess from the back, and makes it possible to layer much more efficiently!

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