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Combining Pleasing Pairings for SIA: Interrupted Reading + DIY Bead Soup Earrings

Terri at Meadow Tree Style is the curator for this round of Style Imitating Art (SIA), and it is her last selection as a host for this style challenge. After three years, she has decided to step down, which is sad for us, but I am grateful for the time and effort she has put in as host. Her final selection is the 1870 painting "Interrupted Reading" by French artist Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot. I completely agree with Terri that "the lady is pensive as if she is thinking about a passage that she just read."

Style Imitating Art selection
Source: meadowtreestyle.com

Although our model is dressed for very different weather from winter in Minnesota (Terri says the model's costume is considered Italian), I was able to modify it for the season. I started with my thrifted Talbots camel-gold silk skirt to represent her tan skirt, then added a brown quilted vest to stand in for her bodice. (I'm not sure whether her bodice is brown or black, actually, but it looked dark brown to me when I looked the first time.) This may seem like a strange combination but if you've been on my blog for a minute, you've probably noticed that I enjoy wearing a quilted vest with skirts in the winter. The juxtaposition of the casual vest and dressier skirt works for me, though I know it's not everyone's cup of tea.

First two pieces selected

Now for the Pleasing Pairing elements of this outfit. Brenda Kinsel famously coined the phrase "beauty bundle" to refer to a set of accessories that work beautifully together and can be worn together with different clothing combinations to create multiple outfits. My Pleasing Pairing concept is similar to that but is not limited to accessories; it refers to any two (or more) items that reliably work well together in outfits.


You may be wondering why this is something I make a big deal out of by giving it its own name because it's pretty basic: some things in your closet really work well together, OK, so what? I agree that it's basic...though I'd prefer the term "foundational"...but I believe that a LOT of women really haven't figured out go-to combinations of items that they can use when building outfits. And so they're missing out on a great outfit creation shortcut that can help them create new interesting looks without spending a lot of time on it.


If you've ever stood in your closet wondering which of your tops is a silhouette that looks good with the particular skirt, jeans, or pants that you've picked to wear that day, then ended up trying a bunch of different tops until one looks right, you know the inefficiency in outfit creation that can arise from not knowing your Pleasing Pairings!


I think there are a multitude of approaches we can successfully use in putting outfits together, but I am a big proponent of creating outfits by combining groups of pieces that you know work well together. This method is more flexible than rewearing identical outfits but more structured than starting from scratch in your closet every morning. Let's take my SIA outfit as an example of how this can work in practice.


With my brown quilted vest and camel-gold skirt selected, I could use Pleasing Pairings to fill in pieces of the outfit. First, I know that I really like to wear my tall brown boots when I wear a skirt with my brown quilted vest - Pleasing Pairing 1 for the outfit. I usually wear this combo with brown tights, so that was another easy choice.

Pleasing Pairing

A reliable combination with my camel-gold skirt is this silky square scarf with a giraffes-and-leaves motif that has a nice amount of mustardy-gold color in it. Though my skirt is more of a muted matte gold and the scarf is a brighter gold color, I really like how the two pieces look together in outfits - Pleasing Pairing 2. Note that scarf is versatile because it has both black and brown neutrals; this means I can wear this Pleasing Pairing with brown as I am in this outfit or with black (or both). I could readily trade out my brown quilted vest + tall boots Pleasing Pairing for the identical one in black (yes, I have multiples of the vest and tall boots!).

Pleasing Pairing

So with those two Pleasing Pairings, I have my skirt, vest, boots, tights, and scarf set for my outfit. I just need to pick a top to wear under the vest and complete my look with accessories. I definitely could have worn a cream sweater to interpret the model's white shirt, but instead I chose a maroon sweater that is similar to the warm color of the tablecloth in the painting. (I've worn brown + cream/ivory together recently and wanted to do something in a deepr tone.) So in what you see here, I only made 3 decisions; the Pleasing Pairings filled in the rest.

Plus size outfit idea for women over 40
OOTD 12/13/23

You may wonder about me having two identical pairs of tall boots in black and dark brown, but I wear wide-calf boots so they can be tricky to find. When I found this style of comfortable boots in a classic riding style, I didn't hesitate to buy them in both colors of leather. ($105, Fitzwell brand from Zappos, March 2014; 46 wears; $2.28 CPW.)

Plus size outfit idea for women over 40

I wore my silky square scarf in a variant of the kerchief style I recently shared with my capsule outfits. I folded it in half to make a wide triangle, wrapped the ends around my neck and back to the front, then tied them in a small square knot. Wrapping the ends back around the front to tie gives it a slightly different look but also provides more coverage at the front of the neck on colder days.

Plus size outfit idea for women over 40

My all-DIY daily bracelet stack is a bit of a mish-mash! I started with the paper bead bracelet duo in purple (top with coin) and black/dark red (bottom) and the black bead bracelets I often wear with that. {Page to bead photos here.} To bring in other colors from my outfit, I added the dark red pearl, brown tiger-eye, and camel-gold stone bracelets {Stretch bracelet tutorial here.} I liked how this stack turned out!

DIY Paper Bead Bracelet Stack

I wore a new pair of DIY bead soup dangle earrings that I made to coordinate with the paper bead bracelet set I'm wearing. They definitely don't match the scarf, but they go well enough.

Plus size outfit idea for women over 40

These earrings have 6 beads each, 3 of which I took from my bead soup and 3 of which came from my general stash. The orchid glass pearls, black glass beads, and dark purple bellflower glass beads were from my bead soup. I added the dark red and pink-purple flat Czech glass beads (bought from Bead Box Bargains) as spacers. I've discovered that I really like using flat colorful beads in conjunction with round beads in my stacks so I have made a point to buy some. BBB is nice because you can get them in small-ish quantities; I think these came in packages of about 10-20 per color. Remember, there is no law that says you can't buy some new beads to support the use of beads you already have! I used a couple of orchid seed beads to add interest to the dangling glass flowers. Antique bronze findings coordinate well with the gold in the bracelets.

Design bead soup earrings for a paper bead bracelet set

Now for the main event: our Rabbit Imitating Art selection! Having eschewed the white from the painting when creating my outfit, I decided that a rabbit with a white and tan/light brown coat would be a great choice here. This gorgeous Mini Lop with a broken "blanket" fur pattern and irresistibly pettable crown mane, sitting in a demure sphinx-loaf position, is perfect!

Rabbit Imitating Art selection

Seeing the bunny in the painting does change my interpretation of the model's facial expression somewhat. Although she could be reflecting on something in the book she's been reading, there is definitely a greater sense of "interrupted reading" now that she has a rabbit on her lap! I think she is daydreaming now, her mind moving further and further afield, the rabbit's soft weight the only thing keeping her from floating entirely away. As for the bunny, she seems ready to push the book open with her front paws so she can "consume" the contents. Perhaps the book is "Aventures d'Alice au pays des merveilles" (translated by Henri Bué into French in 1869) and our bunny friend is curious about Le Lapin Blanc she's heard so much about. If the book is not Alice, then it should be...having gone down the rabbit hole would explain the model's expression! The edges of the book appear marked by the lop's interest; are those just rough-edged pages or has a bunny been nibbling at it? (In my experience, the bunny has certainly been nibbling at it.)

SIA artwork with rabbit
Interrupted Reading "improved" with rabbit

Thanks for joining me today for this Style Imitating Art + Rabbit Imitating (and Improving) Art post!


To see other outfit interpretations of this artwork, check out the review on Meadow Tree Style.


This is my last post of 2023 - Merry Christmas to those who celebrate, and Happy New Year! I look forward to seeing you again around January 3, 2024.


Do you have a good memory for what particular combinations of pieces in your wardrobe work well together? Do ever wear combinations on repeat? Do you repeat entire outfits?


Blogs I link up with are listed here.

8 Comments


awayfromblue
Jan 10

I've never heard of the term pleasing pairings before but I love it - as someone who relies on basic outfit formulas a lot to get ready and dressed for the day, pleasing pairings is something I'm aware of even if I've never called it that before. I think that you really nailed it and how easy it makes outfit planning! :)


You did such a good job with this theme. Hope you had a merry Christmas and a good start to the new year :)


Away From Blue

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sallyinstpaul
sallyinstpaul
Jan 10
Replying to

Thanks, Mica - hope 2024 is going well for you so far, too! I love a good short-cut to putting an outfit together, and both outfit formulas and pleasing pairings are great approaches to that (and they can definitely be used together!). I think both of us like to break things down, so I'm not at all surprised that you were already aware of this concept; I did make up the specific pleasing pairing term myself as far as I know so I don't think it's out there by that particular name. But for me, having a term for something helps cement it in my mind!

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mlrbanks57
Dec 21, 2023

You should trademark Pleasing Pairings, Sally! It's genius...well, actually, everything you do when it comes to putting outfits together is genius! I totally missed the maroon tablecloth because I was so intent on figuring out if she was really upset about being interrupted or if she was just thinking.


And, I love your Rabbit Imitating Art! It just may be my favorite bit. This bunny fits perfectly with the art, and I'm willing to be it's had a nibble or two of the book!


Have a wonderful Christmas and holiday season! See you next year!


https://marshainthemiddle.com/

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sallyinstpaul
sallyinstpaul
Dec 21, 2023
Replying to

Thanks, Marsha! The book in this painting was perfect for the Rabbit Imitating Art piece. I really don't see the "upset" in her expression at all. She must just be thinking about rabbits...haha. Have a great Christmas and New Year!

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Di Cook
Di Cook
Dec 20, 2023

Very nice adaptation of the garments the sitter is wearing in this month's SIA portrait. I agree she has a very far away look in her eyes, perhaps off in a world of her own! I could definitely benefit from creating more pleasing pairings in my wardrobe, thanks for the inspiration. Currently, I think I do this with bags and shoes more than clothing, but I do not hesitate to repeat what seems to be working well for me. I hope you have a wonderful holiday season, and I look forward to your posts in the new year!

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sallyinstpaul
sallyinstpaul
Dec 20, 2023
Replying to

Haha, love the "world of her own" idea, Di! Shoes and bags are a great place to start with this, especially as you have such a wonderful collection of both. Happy holidays!

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Shelbee On The Edge
Shelbee On The Edge
Dec 20, 2023

I love your bunny choice and placement for this one, Sally! Hahaha. What a cutie. He was definitely chewing on those pages! I also really enjoyed reading about your concept of Pleasing Pairings! That is a brilliant was to save time in outfit creation. I definitely have some pleasing pairings in my closet that I rely on heavily. This outfit is really cute and I always like when you wear your puffer vests with skirt outfits. The contrast of casual and dressy always appeals to me and it really does suit your personality and style. These rich fall colors are gorgeous on you, too. Well done, as always! Wishing you a blessed holiday season, my friend!


Shelbee

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sallyinstpaul
sallyinstpaul
Dec 20, 2023
Replying to

Thanks so much, Shelbee! Isn't it interesting how personal style can be - me with the my skirts + vests, you with your dresses + dusters (which is a combo I always enjoy seeing on you)? Happy holidays to you!

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