It’s a dream come true: someone reads my mind and sends me a pant I wouldn’t have thought would be right for me and it turns out to be PERFECT! That happened last week when a package arrived from J.Jill. It was a gift and an invitation to try a couple of pieces from their latest collection. Okay, I thought, I’m game. I slipped into these pants and it was shock and awe.
Why? Two reasons. You know how I’ve had a hard time finding patterned pants. I’m attracted to the small scale of this print. It doesn’t overwhelm me. They’re cut in a sleek way. I’m not quite Boho in my style, you know, all flowy and everything. I’m more tailored. These pants give me a little bit of Boho but a lotta bit of tailored. I’m both trying something new (patterned pants) and still living inside my tried and true style comfort zone. Next step: Put a whole outfit together!
Building an outfit with new pants
For starters, this pant is the star piece of the outfit. I want everything else around it to support the pant. So when I went to style it for its debut down the red carpet that is my life in Sonoma, I tried to figure out what it wanted to be paired with. I thought of an oversized white shirt. Yes, maybe. The pattern looks Indian to me so I thought of pairing something long over it, like a tunic. I tried one on but it was too much fabric. That’s when I realized this pant wanted companions that were lean as well. Okay, let’s go through the closet and find something lean.
Bingo! I pulled out my black sheer Vince lean sleeveless button up tunic. I slipped it on and the pants were clapping profusely at my choice. (I love when clothes are enthusiastic!)
Sometimes I get self-conscious about my skinny legs compared to the rest of me which is more round. So adding this layer of sheerness made me feel like I was adding some design weight, some insurance, filling in over my thin legs and creating more balance to my shape.
But I needed a top to go under the tunic! A woman can not wear this outfit with a sheer tunic alone! I am very low on simple black knit tops as support pieces. (Note to self: Buy a few layering pieces in black that are simple and smooth.) I tried one I had but it was a surplice style and the folds showed through under the tunic. It was too messy looking.
Wait a minute! Don’t I have a black sheer Petit Pois T-shirt? Why yes, I do! I put that on over a simple smooth black tank top and now it was all smooth under the tunic. Everything was clean and lean.
Bring on the accessories!
Then came the accessories. This outfit was feeling sophisticated and rich to me. So I went to my gold bangle department and decided to stack them all together. I added my Victor Sanz gold and diamond ring. The platform sandals I put with this outfit have a whiskey (bourbon? rye?) colored base so I went into my small bag department and pulled out this vintage handbag, also lean, and also whiskey-ish. I have a hat I bought in Fargo that is in that same rich brown color. I was having a bad hair day so the hat was perfect addition!
I love that there are three places where that whiskey/bourbon/rye color is repeated: the shoes, the handbag, and the hat. That color adds warmth to this mostly black outfit and makes it more interesting than if I’d used black in those places instead.
As Russ and I strolled through the Plaza we had to go visit our friend at J.James, Valerie Raven. She’s so darn savvy about all things art and fashion and I wanted her ideas about the influence of the print on this pant. At first she thought Indian and then she looked at the bottom part closer and thought it could be a French influence as well. Then her friend Annie came into the store, another fashion aficionado, and she thought it looked Moroccan. (I looked up the details of the pant and they call the color Black Aviero Border. I Googled Aviero and it’s a city and a municipality in Portugal!) They were both ready to go buy this J.Jill pant. I told them it comes in black and red as well. “Oh, red! You must get red ones,” Valerie said. I think I agree!
Of course, as we chatted about all things fashion, I got more ideas for blog posts. I had to zoom in and get a picture of Annie’s shoes. (A little something about her outfit: the ruffled skirt is in a large butterfly pattern. Look closely and see what she did for her necklace: It’s a strand of pearls and she used a big butterfly pin to create the focal point. C-L-E-V-E-R move!) I loved how she too was layering a black tank under her black sheer top.
I’ll be showing you a closeup of her shoes soon in another post. I got it half-written in my head today as I was driving down to Marin to visit two different clients. Stay tuned!
Have you tried working with something recently that was a little outside your comfort zone? Please share!