How to Wear a Brown Column of Color for SIA: Still Life by Clara Peeters
Terri at Meadow Tree Style is the curator for this round of Style Imitating Art (SIA), and she picked the painting Still Life with Nuts, Candy, and Flowers (1611) by Flemish artist Clara Peeters, the "best known female Flemish artist of this era and one of the few women artists working professionally in seventeenth-century Europe" (Wikipedia). Terri points out that Peeters worked at a time when women had few opportunities outside marriage, and though she has 31 signed works to her name, relatively little is known about her. Terri selected this painting "because the color is absolutely deep, rich, and glorious...[with] cooler weather and fall written all over this work." I couldn't agree more about the timeliness of this piece!
The black background, the lush flowers, and the deep golden/bronze tones of the cup (?) in the center are what first drew my eye, so my initial thought was to select a dark piece with a realistic "fall floral" print as the starting point for my outfit. And as I looked at the painting, something about the rich browns of the nuts and pretzels in conjunction with the month of October got me wanting a brown-based outfit for an autumnal interpretation.
Well, turns out my stock of realistic fall floral prints on a brown or black background numbers a big fat zero! So I stepped back from the floral element and turned my attention toward building a brown inner column of color accessorized with gold as my outfit's base.
Brown is a color I've been really warming up to in the last couple of years as my blonde hair has darkened from lack of sun exposure as I've been in at-home mode since the start of the pandemic. (In other words, instead of my typical sun-lightened blonde, I'm showing the darker, more tawny natural blonde of my lion's mane.) My inventory of brown clothing is still rather limited, but luckily I have some pieces that work extremely well together to create some color formulas for the various seasons.
Summer: Dark brown short-sleeved T + light brown capris
Inner column of color (tonal colors)
Fall and Spring: Dark brown short-sleeved T + brown jeans
Inner column of color (matching colors)
Late Fall/Winter: Dark brown zip neck sweater + brown quilted vest + brown jeans (note: the sweater is a thrifted very close fitting men's sweater that I always wear with a topper layer like the quilted vest)
"Trio" - inner column, outer column, modern twin set
So for an early October SIA outfit, I selected the short-sleeved T and jeans to create a brown inner column of color, then added shiny gold loafers and leather earrings. And now I have the base pieces in place to start creating a million different looks based on layering pieces and additional accessories. It's a nicely harmonious base outfit on me because the colors repeat the dark gold of my hair and the brown of my glasses. But I believe that anyone can wear a brown column of color if either (a) they choose the right browns or (b) they just want to!
With my base in place, I next chose a topper to layer over it, and it was an extremely easy decision. I have a lightweight olive cardigan with an open weave that is perfect for early fall weather, so I used that to represent the soft greens of the foliage, table, and nut dish from the painting.
Now I turned my attention back to the floral element of the painting, which I absolutely did want to include in my interpretation in some way. As I highly value a cohesive look, I was hoping for a scarf with both brown and olive in the print to act as a bridge piece for the column and the cardigan...and further hoping for a floral motif. Well that was a big ask but I did find one scarf that came close! I think of this scarf from Amazon as a bird print (and featured it in #7 of this bird print round-up), but it also has foliage in the print...brown branches, lime/olive leaves, and pink berries. While this was not a spot on match to the flowers in the painting, I thought it would work well in my outfit and would at least provide a nod to them.
I liked how the outfit turned out! Though navy isn't a color from the painting (a black background to the scarf would be more on point), it's a neutral that I like A LOT and wear more easily than black (which is both harsher and more achromatic than is ideal for my soft, color-rich appearance can stand up to).
Today's look is more on the "inspired by" than "imitating" side of the spectrum, but it actually feels more "me" than the black-based realistic fall floral print that I originally had in mind. The rich depth of the oil painting is gorgeous, but the softer colors and textures of my outfit suit me better. So for me personally, this outfit is better than one that adheres more closely to the artwork. Just another good reminder that when working with outfit inspiration, it makes a whole lot of sense to take the original piece and filter it through your own preferences (in terms of color, texture, dark/light, silhouette, etc.) rather than to try to recreate it in its totality.
And in terms of sustainability, to me it doesn't make sense to purchase something for the purpose of hewing more closely to an outfit inspiration - whether that's artwork or another blogger's outfit or what have you - unless it is truly my style and my colors and is something that I will actually wear again and again.
Here's a close-up of this scarf that I styled with a simple dark brown faux-tortoiseshell scarf ring to repeat the brown color. I could easily see substituting a pair of brown shoes for the shiny gold ones for a more muted look, but I like how the bright gold earrings and loafers are the statement bookends of the outfit.
And the earrings definitely bring attention to my face! I also wore my sparkly gold headband in keeping with the gold theme. It's always fun for me when my scarf/necklace/topper (something in that "portrait area" of the outfit) repeat colors of my hair or eyes. The scarf has a range of green, blue-green, and blue (navy) colors that are present in my eyes. Imogen Lamport at Inside Out Style talks a lot about the portrait area (1:00 video) and using hair and eye color to determine your best neutrals (post) and signature colors (post; post). I don't always follow this very good advice intentionally, but I do often notice it when it happens.
For my daily bracelet stack, I chose a number solid-colored bead bracelets in the main colors of the outfit: olive/sage, brown, gold, and dark blue/navy (all DIY except the gold spacer bracelet from Amazon). I have paper bead bracelets that work with these colors, but I preferred a more color layered look with this outfit.
The brown jeans, olive cardigan, and bird/foliage print scarf (with a burgundy background instead of navy; I have both versions of it) previously appeared together in this outfit from last April that I featured in my modern twin set post. When it comes to bridge piece scarves that contain both brown and olive, these two bird/foliage print scarves are all I own. Because I'm wearing these colors more and more, I've been considering whether I'd like another scarf with brown and olive (in which they are more prominent). No decision yet but I've added it to my "wish list" spreadsheet for now.
Although my personal coloring does not stand up well with the strong deep colors of the oil panting, my SIA rabbit selection certainly does! This gorgeous tan rabbit's fur is a dark shiny black with edging in a rich rusty brown. This vivid pattern is created by two sets of recessive genes that (1) limit the black coloration (eumelanin) to the back and sides of the rabbit, leaving the stomach, inside of the ears, rings around the eyes, and underside of the cheeks to be a yellow-ish color (phemelanin) and (2) increase the amount of rufous red that shows in the yellow-ish color areas.
Are you surprised that in today's "improved" artwork, the rabbit is not munching on the flowers? His attention has been caught by the pretzels on the right side of the painting. "Is it food?" is a question every rabbit must ask himself. A bunny certainly can and often will eat a pretzel, but it's not a very good idea! Time for someone to lure the rabbit out of this still life with an offering of high-fiber veggies.
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 Meadow Tree Style.
Do you like to wear brown? Do you like to wear an inner column of color? Do you have a preferred way to style your column of color? Do you dress your "portrait area"?
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