Garanimals for Grownups
April 27, 2013 6:16 AM   Subscribe

The Vivienne Files. "Timeless, Elegant, Classic, Simple, Unique, Beautiful. Working toward carefully curated and deliberately distilled wardrobes that reflect our personal styles and our distinctive contributions to the world."

For more than 2 years now, Janice at The Vivienne Files has been posting inspirational collages and basic tips to help women get maximum mileage out of their wardrobe dollars using versatile pieces and color combinations that play well together. You can peruse by your favorite colors, review fundamental concepts like "building by fours," or identify the best take on a classic piece that will add an extra dimension to the things you already own.
posted by drlith (21 comments total) 29 users marked this as a favorite
Wow, I love the layout on that blog. It allowed me to look for the sort of colors I wear and for things to do with them very easily.
posted by immlass at 8:21 AM on April 27, 2013

I like the layout, but I think most of her combinations are pretty pedestrian. There's no WoW! factor for me, nor any So Weird It's Cool looks.
posted by Ideefixe at 8:28 AM on April 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

Omg, this is sort of exactly what I want someone to come over to my house to do with me.

Or for me. Seriously, just put all my clothes together in ways I never thought of before, take pictures of them for me in say, 30 to 100 combinations and then print them into a book for me.

But please do not try to make me outfits around Hermes scarves. Because I do not own a single Hermes scarf.

I would make you brownies. Or maybe something fancier.
posted by bilabial at 8:34 AM on April 27, 2013 [3 favorites]

Vivienne Westwood had a lobotomy?
posted by gorgor_balabala at 8:45 AM on April 27, 2013 [4 favorites]

People suggest this blog all the time to me because I recently entered all my clothes into a database and started trying to really pay attention to patterns in how I dress. No deep or meaningful reason, just a random fluffy self-awareness project. Also, I find fashion/clothing blogging seductive almost in a sinister way, even though it always lets me down because no-one achieves Valerie Steele insight (note, Steele's blog is not interesting, but her books are).

But I find the Vivienne Files layout impossible. I always end up navigating away in frustration because I can't stand the popup, full-screen required, layout. She used to have a button up top where you could pick a different layout, but none where any better. Some add-on I'm running, or some browser incompatibility, or something basically prevents me from seeing any of her actual content.
posted by crush-onastick at 8:58 AM on April 27, 2013 [2 favorites]

Ideefixe: "There's no WoW! factor for me..."

I agree. I mean, most of this stuff would barely work to equip a Mage or even a Warlock. It'd be nice to at least see some chain mail layouts, even if she's not going to give us any plate armor designs.
posted by koeselitz at 9:28 AM on April 27, 2013 [6 favorites]

crush-onastick, the button to choose a different layout is still there, but you have to click around to see it in the default layout. For example, here is the classic view, and from there you have the layout options in the upper-left corner. Does classic view work for you? (I was having problems with the others, but this one works ok for me.)
posted by Houstonian at 9:28 AM on April 27, 2013

Wait, you have a clothing database? Using what, and can I have a copy? That fills an OCD need I didn't know I had until I read your comment.
posted by dejah420 at 10:31 AM on April 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

I use Open Office Base, the household inventory template. I added some information, including a "last date worn" and a "dates worn" column. I move the date from "last date worn" to "dates worn" when I update the column. There's probably a better way to handle it, but it works for me.
posted by crush-onastick at 10:43 AM on April 27, 2013 [2 favorites]

Some of us need a little help achieving "pedestrian."

Once I emerged from poverty and started having money to be more selective about clothes, I eventually discovered I was really drawn to strong prints and patterns. I wound up with far too many "statement" pieces and just couldn't get myself psyched to buy enough basic neutrals/solids. I used to look at a site like J.Jill that everyone else seems to love and it would fills me with teh sad to see so much solids.

This was made doubly hard by the fact that I have a very hard-to-fit lower half.

It is only just recently, as I approach my 45th year, that I've decided to revise my strategy: I'm picking a limited palette for each season (at the intersection of what's trending, what I have/know I like, and what can transition across seasons) and then allow myself a certain budget to pick one or two strongly patterned items. The rest of the budget is to fill in the gaps in the area of neutral/solid foundation pieces. Hopefully, over time, this will allow me to weed out those items I've bought that I really like individually but struggle to pair with anything else in my wardrobe. And also force me to buy pants.
posted by drlith at 11:00 AM on April 27, 2013 [2 favorites]

I was going to discount this as frivolous, but this is quite helpful to me. I'm packing for a five-day business trip and determined to take only my carry on (about the size of a slim bowling bag).

Scarves! Why do I always forget about scarves? I can get away with the same black cardigan/skirt for three days if I have a different scarf.
posted by mochapickle at 11:05 AM on April 27, 2013 [3 favorites]

I love this site, for the very reason that the combinations are not super-wild. I feel like I can easily adapt her ideas to my own style.

BTW, I am also one of those who needs help with the basics. I recently purchased a capsule wardrobe

and it was one of the best uses of my money ever. I found this company great to deal with, and I am sure there are other good ones out there.
posted by rpfields at 12:00 PM on April 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

Sorry, link luddite. is the service I used.
posted by rpfields at 12:07 PM on April 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

I love this blog! Because I read it through Google Reader Feedly, I never saw the layout before.

It's nice to have a fashion blog aimed at women who are between "Katy Perry" and "Mrs. Roper" stages of fashion.
posted by kimberussell at 1:15 PM on April 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

bilabial: "Or for me. Seriously, just put all my clothes together in ways I never thought of before, take pictures of them for me in say, 30 to 100 combinations and then print them into a book for me. "

Swapsies? I always think of doing this and then get up and look at my wardrobe and simply cull it down to bones again. And a few years ago I finally gave up trying to please other people and wearing colours - I hate them, I really do. So I have built my ardrobe out of this boring sort of palette of black, grey, navy and occasional pops of purple, yellow or blue. No prints! So this is right up my alley, except the accessorising. I really like that she does a restrospective on the 33 items for a season pick - that's the kind of thing I like to see with fashion blogs.

The site looks very different between my netbook/laptop bastard child and now I have it on a monitor at home. Very different and I really hate that as a reader!
posted by geek anachronism at 3:27 PM on April 27, 2013

Any site that just shows pictures of pretty clothes is useless. The advice boils down to "get clothes that are timeless classics!" with no substance. Yes, good advice sounds good. But you showed me this thing that I now like, where am I supposed to find it? What if I never do? "Oh yeah, I'll just go out and buy a quality-looking blazer that fits my non-petite but non-plus sized body while not spending the small fortune I'm already spending on fixing up my house. Why didn't I think of that??" What if the only clothes I can find look like some alien's approximation of what a female should wear to a sex convention? It's tough out there. I can shop on Chicago's State St and Michigan Ave every day after work and not find one appropriate thing to wear that I can afford. That is why the concept of a "clothes database" is baffling to me. I only ever have about 5 things to wear at a time. As soon as I find a new one, another one is ready to retire.

Sites like this (and when I see nice looking outfits on Pinterest that are just images put together on Polyvore) just remind me of all these sad realities or that I'm living in a sad alternate universe from everyone else somehow.

I also want to commend whoever designed this site for plopping a bunch of navigation right over the scrollbar AND disabling the down arrow so I can't scroll down. Very cutting edge.
posted by bleep at 3:40 PM on April 27, 2013

Quite a bit of snark upthread. Mrs Roper? Really????

I think the information in the blog is useful for someone carefully building a minimalist wardrobe with thoughtful and quality pieces. As for the details - after all, it's the accessories that make a look, not the basic pieces.

Sending Askers to this site might help resolve about a good quarter of the fashion questions in AskMe.
posted by seawallrunner at 5:28 PM on April 27, 2013

@bleep: have you tried taking your clothes to a tailor? While shopping with my mother in law, I picked up a Michael Kors periwinkle jersey sheath dress for about $40. I just took it to the tailor and I can't wait to get it back. I just wanted to make one small change but my tailor found a few additional alterations she could do that will really make it look great on me. There are a lot of clothes that I buy only if they fit well off the rack but if some simple alterations will change a dress from something I like to wear to something I LOVE, that's a reasonable investment in my opinion.
posted by kat518 at 12:47 PM on April 28, 2013

I don't have time to go to tailors. And that would suppose that the biggest problem is that decent looking clothes don't fit me. The problem is decent looking clothes I can't afford, and what I can afford isn't decent - obviously cheap fabric, cheap construction, and weird details everywhere, the opposite of "timeless classics". I just feel like telling women how to shop is pointless, when the fashion industry determines what's available, whether we like it or not. You can't just say "today I'm looking for a nice blazer" when it's not blazer season so there's 1 or 2 to choose from if you're lucky, and they both look like Star Trek costumes.
posted by bleep at 1:12 PM on April 28, 2013

Unfortunately for my wallet, I don't share those problems. I'm seriously considering the clothing database idea and am trying to figure out the best way to do it without having to take pictures of everything I own.
posted by kat518 at 4:17 PM on April 28, 2013

bleep - I sympathise. I recently had a huge wardrobe cull, and the one thing I want to get is a blazer that actually fits. Everything out there is the right fabric/colour but not forgiving enough on the bust, or will fit my bust but makes me look like The Refrigerator in drag.

Tailoring is a good solution if you're a little bit off from standard sizing, but not if you are busty, or have a high waist-hip ratio, or are tall - all the reasons why I struggle to get things to fit me well off the peg. The standard UK high street cupsize is a B - the amount of tailoring it would take to fit a jacket to my H cup and then the rest of my body as well would probably involve more or less remaking it from scratch. And with fabric getting cheaper and nastier, it almost seems not worth the effort.
posted by mippy at 3:16 AM on April 29, 2013

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