6 Scarves 2021: January Additions, #1 Black & Grey, Gina
In January, Janice started building her wardrobes using her Starting from Scratch wardrobe series as the basis. Step 1 involved adding a nice pair of solid neutral pants or dark wash jeans, a t-shirt, a cardigan, and a pair of loafers. This is so sensible, isn't it?
January is the 2nd coldest month of the year in Minnesota, and it's generally snowy enough that wearing pants outdoors can be a little problematic. But since this was the COVID work from home winter, I wore pants a lot more often than I do in a typical January. Since all of the Sallys are in that same mode, I thought that a skirt or pants in a solid color, coordinating long-sleeved tops or pullover sweaters, and warm vests, cardigans, or blazers would be a good place to start.
Oh yeah, a quilted or puffy vest? You're going to be seeing a lot of those. I recognize that this is idiosyncratic, but for my lifestyle, job, and workplace, my typical winter trio is pants/skirt, pullover sweater, and quilted/puffy vest. On any given winter day, you could do worse than say "look for the woman in a quilted or puffy vest with a scarf" to send someone my direction. (To clinch it, specify "woman with very long blonde hair and glasses." For politeness sake, in our fat-phobic society, you probably wouldn't say "chubby woman," but that would be accurate.)
So if the Gina wardrobe isn't getting a pair of black pants in January, surely a black skirt is on tap. Or a grey skirt or pants? Nope. Instead, things went almost immediately a little bit off the rails as I started with a pair of pants in an accent color: wine. Wine is an interesting color in that, to my mind, it is a "pseudo-neutral," a relatively dark accent color that can often function like a neutral because it's not as bright or saturated as a primary color, it is compatible with a lot of different accents, and is one that doesn't seem as unusual or overpowering when worn in abundance in a single outfit. I mean, if you imagine the color impact of wearing head-to-toe candy apple red versus burgundy/wine, the wine version seems more sedate, more similar to wearing a head-to-toe neutral.
The wine group that I had assigned to this wardrobe, representing a dark version of the dark pink palette wedge, includes a pair of wine pants, a wine quilted vest, and a mulberry elbow-length peplum sweater. (The wine and mulberry are not identical colors, hence the different names, but they are quite close and blend very well.) That quilted vest in the wine set limits the time frame in which it can be added (yes, even in Minnesota), and the color just feels very wintery to me. Now ideally, that mulberry sweater would be long-sleeved and we'd have a full winter trio in wine; since it's not, I added a couple pieces in grey to fill the gaps. Actually, the grey tipped blazer is technically a very fine black and white pattern, but at any distance whatsoever it looks like a textured grey. Wine + Grey = Hello It Is January. The wine theme extends to a pair of burgundy professional-looking flats (that can be worn with trouser socks) to blend with the pants. For jewelry, interesting-but-professional earrings in silver and the January bracelet every wardrobe is getting: a stretch bracelet with a mix of silver and gold colors. It may be impossible for me to overstate how much I like the mixed metals look; it seems modern and, to be straight, it makes life so much easier than the days when matched metals were de rigueur. The earrings are silver, the buckles on the flats are gold, the bracelet is both; something about including that piece containing mixed metals adds a sense of intentionality to the combination. It's completely unnecessary to bridge the gold/silver gap in this way, but I find it satisfying.
Grey pullover sweater - CJ Banks - 2X - $13.49 - 5/2020
Mulberry peplum sweater - Loft - XXL - $17.44 - 2/2017
Hurray, Loft.com now has plus sizes, so XXL is no longer their largest size!
Wine quilted vest - Croft & Barrow/Kohls - 2X - $16.74 - 12/2019
Dark grey tipped blazer - thrifted, I.N. Studios/ThredUp - 20W - $10.99 - 4/2020
Wine pants - CJ Banks - 24W - $7.00 - 8/2020
Silver multi-hoop earrings - Macy's - picked by personal shopper when I bought my interview suit in 2014
Gold/silver chunky stretch bracelet - CJ Banks - $9.99 - 12/2020
Burgundy flats - thrifted, Fioni/ThredUp - $13.99 - 4/2020
And it's January, so clearly scarves are needed! Here are our 6 scarves. Yes, 6! I know. You're thinking, we have 6 wardrobes and 12 months, and sure not all of them are scarf months even in Minnesota, but still, how is this sustainable at the rate of 6 scarves per wardrobe per month? Or is she throwing all the scarves in at the beginning? Fear not, friends. It will all work out. Instead, focus your mind on the possibilities offered with this variety of scarves. Scarves are as close to enduring crazy closet magic as it gets.
The colorful one on the upper left is, of course, our inspiration scarf. To its right, a floral scarf that fits amazingly well into the palette: black with pink, burgundy, light blue, and white. A print scarf with a burgundy background seems a natural fit with the wine set, hence the bird scarf. Then a trio of grey scarves to relate to the grey pieces and offer some alternatives to the bold prints.
Black/grey/pink butterfly scarf - Kohls - $14.00 - 12/2015
Black/burgundy/pink floral scarf - Loft - $6.00 - 5/2020
Burgundy/lime/pink bird scarf - Amazon - $7.00 - 12/2019
Dark grey pashmina - thrifted, ThredUp - $8.88 - 8/2020
Faded grey-black polka dot scarf - thrifted, ThredUp - $2.40 - 12/2019
Grey/white ombré paisley scarf - thrifted, Charming Charlie/ThredUp - $4.37 - 8/2020
Let's build some outfits from these items. Now since the Sallys are easing back into dressing in actual clothes and not pajamas, they don't need 31 outfits to get through the month (or even 19 outfits, only counting work days). But we want them to have enough options that they aren't limited to wearing the exact same combination every time they have a Zoom meeting. Perhaps one sample outfit with each scarf will give us a chance to consider some possibilities.
You will see that I add either the bracelet or the earrings to each outfit, just for variety, but of course both could be worn at once!
Outfit #1 is the most professional one in the group to my eye. A column of color with a somewhat interesting but classic style of blazer and a solid grey pashmina that can be added for warmth.
Note that when I say "professional" in reference to a Sally outfit, I don't mean strict business corporate type level of professional! I really mean "on the more classic/dressier end of the business casual spectrum of my workplace." For example, if I were going to attend a meeting with the senior leadership of my non-corporate organization, this is the kind of outfit I would wear because it would feel closer to the level of guys in suits than say, Outfit #5. That said, there is a woman on the senior leadership team who is always wearing something funky/casual like a faux fur vest or a denim jacket in these meetings, but I figure she's earned it. As a guest to such a meeting, I feel more confident being more low-key and conventional in my style and keeping the focus on what I have to say.
Outfit #2 feels more eclectic to me, with a bold, colorful scarf that doesn't exactly match the sweater and pants in color. To my eye, they still work together well though. This sweater is surprisingly soft, and I like the various textures in the knit.
Outfit #3 uses the same garments from Outfit #2 but switches up the accessories just a bit for an end result that feels a bit more subdued and harmonious. With a scarf worn over the sweater, people on her Zoom call might not even realize it's the same grey sweater she wore 2 days ago.
On a cooler day, Outfit #4 might be just right with the sweater layered under the blazer. I'm a really big fan of ombré scarves; they are more interesting than a simple solid colored scarf, so they work well with other solid items, but are more subtle than a print scarf, so they can be worn with patterned garments very easily.
Outfit #5 brings in my beloved quilted vest for a business casual look that is perfectly appropriate for a Sally's workplace (even if there were not a pandemic). The polka dot scarf is rather understated, allowing the mix of textures in the garments to take some attention.
Now Outfit #6 might not fly in Minnesota January, but Gina's Sally can look forward to a time when an elbow-length, lightweight sweater is all she needs. In the meantime, she can pop the blazer over it.
So full confession: I don't wear this mulberry sweater as a stand-alone top as shown in Outfit #6. I used to, when I bought it in 2017, but it's now a bit too small for me to do that and feel good about it. It's odd...it still fits well on the front and looks normal, but on the back, it is tight in the area above the peplum. Not uncomfortably tight to wear, but it looks close-fitting enough to make me feel self-conscious about it, in an office work environment especially, where drape or skim is so much better than cling. This is an extreme case, but I have noticed before that one difference between an XXL straight size top and a plus size top is that the plus size one is more generous through the bust-to-waist area, even if it is otherwise very similar dimensions. In some cases, particularly in toppers like cardigans/vests/jackets, I purchase the straight size version by choice because I feel like that the plus size one is too voluminous. But usually, the plus size fits my shape better. I did reserve the right to some fantasy resizing of items as needed for this project, and I'm applying it to this lovely peplum sweater so that Gina's Sally can make use of it both as a layering piece (as I do these days) and as a stand-alone top when the weather warms up.
Although starting a wardrobe with an abbreviated accent color core of items was...let's say non-standard, I am satisfied with this grouping. I still think a long-sleeved sweater would have been a more versatile option, but working with what I have available, there is enough variety here to get Gina's Sally through January.
To finish up, I have created a little matrix where I am keeping track of items that have been added to wardrobes and categorizing them. There are 3 "seasons" included: Winter, Transition (Spring & Autumn), and Summer. I have created columns for bottoms, tops, toppers, scarves, necklaces, and shoes. In each wardrobe, in each season, for each color category, I can mark what has been added each month:
x = solid piece
T = tonal piece (i.e., tonally works with this color though it is a different color)
O = ombré piece
P = print piece (not ombré)
Here is how January's additions have been coded in the Winter wardrobe season:
Wine pants - x under bottom
Wine quilted vest - x under topper
Burgundy bird scarf - P under scarf
Burgundy flats - x under shoes
Grey pullover sweater - x under topper
Grey tipped blazer - P under topper
Dark grey pashmina - x under scarf
Faded grey-black polka dot scarf - P under scarf
Grey/white ombré scarf - O under scarf
Black/grey/pink butterfly scarf - P under scarf
Black/burgundy/pink floral scarf - P under scarf
If you wonder where the mulberry peplum sweater is: good question! I actually added it to the matrix in the Transition wardrobe season that I'm not showing here yet (T under top since the mulberry is not quite the same color as the wine). But it's been accounted for and will show up in the season where it makes more sense. By leaving a blank spot in the Winter / Wine / Top spot on the grid, we know that we don't have a true cold-weather-compatible wine top in the wardrobe yet.
Do you have a favorite color, item, or outfit from this group?
In my next post, we will look at the January additions for our second wardrobe: #2 Navy & Beige, Darcy.