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Create Unusual Color Combinations with Scarves for SIA: The Drawing Lesson

Terri at Meadowtree Style is the curator for this round of Style Imitating Art (SIA), and she picked the circa 1665 painting The Drawing Lesson by artist Jan Steen of the Dutch Golden Age (1588-1672). She chose this artwork first of all because she liked it! And she thought it would be a good one for a style challenge due to the many colors (dusty roses, pinks, blues, blue-greens, golds, and tans) and textures in the painting.

Source: meadowtreestyle.com

There are a lot of elements in this painting, but sartorially, my attention was drawn to the outfit of the female student. I immediately knew I would create my outfit around my thrifted camel-gold silk skirt from Talbots that is a pretty good color match for her skirt and is made from a refined fabric that felt appropriate to the young lady's look. (See more styling options and OOTD with this skirt here and here.)


Next I started looking through my scarves for ones with some combination of the colors in her outfit: gold, pink, teal, white, and burgundy/brown. I had hardly begun my search when this scarf caught my eye. The orange-gold, aqua, and maroon/burgundy colors fit well with the golden skirt and warm toned wood, the teal sash on her outfit, and the dark reddish colors of her scarf and chair, respectively. The paisley pattern reads very classic, and the overall look of the scarf felt reminiscent of the tapestry hanging on the back wall of the studio, so I thought it a great fit.

With those two pieces in place, it was easy to draw on the colors of the scarf to finish the outfit with a dark aqua cable knit sweater and burgundy/maroon tights and ankle boots. I link to Bridgette Raes' posts on road map styling often because using prints/patterns to guide your color combinations is just such an easy, natural way to put colors together into a cohesive whole. (Of course this isn't a revolutionary method that she invented and that no one had ever done before, but I really like her treatment of it with good analysis and examples.) Sometimes the color combos that result from this styling technique are common, expected, and easy on the eyes to see/brain to process. And sometimes they are quite unusual and unexpected, like this aqua + gold + burgundy combination that I would never have come up with on my own!

Plus size outfit idea for women over 40
OOTD 1/13/23

This peacock feather motif finding from Fire Mountain Gems echoed the colors and paisley shapes from the scarf, so I added it to my DIY elastic-and-shank-button scarf ring. (Perhaps a dangling cherub or severed human foot would have been more on theme with the items in the studio, but you work with what you have.)

Plus size outfit idea for women over 40

My all-DIY bracelet stack was a really fun, colorful one to put together. I started with the multi-colored stone and two paper bead bracelets that form a set based on a burgundy bird print blouse I have. I supplemented with the orange stone, red glass pearl, and camel-gold stone bracelets to reinforce those colors from the scarf. I had wanted to include a dark aqua stone/glass bracelet also but realized that I haven't made on yet! I still do occasionally run across these holes in my DIY bracelet collection, but they get rarer all the time.

DIY Bracelet Stack

My earrings are another DIY project, burgundy garnets and gold spacers on gold hoops...what I call the world's easiest DIY earrings because the hoops and earring hooks come in a set from Amazon so there's no wire-working involved. If you can put beads on a pre-formed wire hook and open and close a jump ring, you're good. I wore a silky gold scarf as a headband...which is such a close match to my hair color that you can hardly see it unless you look for it.

Plus size outfit idea for women over 40

I was surprisingly pleased by this outfit, strange color combination and all. It's actually a very simple outfit when you break it down: standard cable knit pullover sweater, straight skirt, matching tights and ankle boots, and paisley scarf with jewelry to accessorize. I have found that I really do, in general, prefer simple, basic, classic silhouettes over dramatic, architectural, artistic, ornate, or unconventional ones. My personal look comes much more from how the items/colors/prints are worn together than how "interesting" or trendy any single piece is.

Plus size outfit idea for women over 40

This is definitely the most unusual way I've worn this sweater. Here are six other OOTD featuring the sweater in less over-the-top combinations.


A Friday at work with denim, navy, and a lighter aqua butterfly print scarf for a monochromatic/analogous color scheme.

Plus size outfit idea for women over 40

A work outfit with black and a scarf with a myriad shades of blue, blue-green, and green.

Plus size outfit idea for women over 40

A weekend outfit with a black and white print mix.

Plus size outfit idea for women over 40

A work outfit with navy and another scarf...this time with blue, blue-green, and yellow shades.

Plus size outfit idea for women over 40

Two weekend outfits with dark wash skinny jeans and a scarf + shoes print mix.

Plus size outfit idea for women over 40
Plus size outfit idea for women over 40

Now for my favorite part, selecting a Rabbit Imitating Art for this painting! Given Jan Steen's position as a Dutch master, obviously a Dutch rabbit is the fitting choice. (Unlike Steen, the Dutch rabbit is not from the Netherlands; the breed originated in England in the 1800s but was developed from rabbits imported from Flemish Brabant, about 115 miles from Steen's birthplace in Leiden, Netherlands). Because of all the warm brown wood in The Drawing Lesson, I chose a tortoise Dutch with orangey fur (along with the white in the distinctive markings of the breed). He has not been rubbing his face on fresh pencil drawings; the grey-blue shading is part of the breed standard for the tortoise Dutch. Orange and Blue are opposites on the color wheel, so I suppose the tortoise Dutch is just rocking a complimentary color scheme!

Tortoise Dutch rabbit

The rabbit decided he wanted to attend this drawing lesson too, and apparently it makes no difference to the instructor, who gets paid either way. But as the lesson drags on, the bunny appears to be lulled into drowsiness...

The Art Lesson "improved" with rabbit

Or so he'd like the instructor to think! While his eyes close and his ears start to droop, the rabbit slowly, surreptitiously reaches out with a front paw to touch the edge of a bowl on the table. Any moment now, he will push down on the edge and cause the bowl to flip over, sending that pencil flying, completely disrupting the lesson. This is what happens when you allow a notorious trickster into your class.

Dutch rabbit in troublemaker mode

Thanks for joining me today for this Style Imitating Art + Rabbit Imitating Art post!


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


Do you enjoy unusual color combinations? What inspires you to try a new color combination?


Blogs I link up with are listed here.

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