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How to Wear Black in Summer: SIA Karin by the Shore by Carl Larsson

Salazar at 14 Shades of Grey is the curator for this round of Style Imitating Art (SIA), and she selected the lovely painting Karin at the Shore by Swedish artist Carl Larsson. Salazar chose this "conventionally pretty" painting due to "the soft watercolor tones, delicate lines, and the contrast between the lady's dark dress and the colorful flowers."

Source: 14shadesofgrey.wordpress.com

I was also struck by the difference between Karin (the artist's wife) figure and the nature scene around her...not just the colors (though that is a strong point of contrast), but how solid and substantial in line and saturation she looks compared to the soft, fragile, and color-washed quality of the flowers. This made sense to me when I read the artist's own words about this painting:

Karin walks along the shore and looks wistfully at the autumn's very last flower. The next night they froze away!

To my eye, Larsson has underscored the greater levels of vitality and robustness enjoyed by his wife compared to the late-season flowers in his portrayal. (The flowers lasted perhaps another 36 hours. Karin lived another 20 years.)


The most appealing visual element to this painting for me was the black outlining Larsson used throughout the work. The painting is described as "watercolor on paper," but I assume that Larsson used black ink to outline the watercolor. I thought that this style may have been influenced by his early career as an illustrator, but it seems that Larsson began to develop this characteristic look to his watercolors in his late 30s. His earlier watercolor paintings had a more blended, color-washed look.


Here are the elements in the painting that I identified as possible inspirations for an outfit:

-Black outlining

-Colors (Karin): black, white, blue

-Colors (nature scene): light and medium green, orange, light blue, grey

-Areas of lighter, softer color contrasting with black

-Flowers

-River water

-Trees

-Delicate details

-Black dress

-Blue pinafore

-White hat

-Hair worn up

-Lace

-Boat

-Dog


I looked through my wardrobe for items with black outlining and was thrilled to find this floral button up shirt with a floral print over a subtle blue houndstooth background! Right away this shirt covers the orange flowers, green leaves, and blue sky (+ Karin's pinafore) from the inspiration painting. Although it's a long-sleeved shirt, I like to wear it in warm weather as a lightweight layering piece, so it works fine for summer wear.

I next selected this black linen-blend flared skirt, which is reminiscent of the shape (though not length) of the black dress Karin wears in the painting. To layer under the shirt, I was immediately drawn to this apple green tank that brings in more of the green from the artwork. By happy coincidence, it is also textured with an irregular wavy look that can represent the ripples on the river water. (I also wore this tank in the SIA outfit for Sweet Dreams by Rus Khasanov.)

I liked how these three pieces came together! I had not worn either this skirt or top with the button up shirt before but they are a great combination.

OOTD 6/27/22

Since I used the green from the painting in my top, I chose orange ballet flats. The black and white enamel statement necklace has gold around the edges of the flowers for another dose of "outlining" in the outfit.

I initially planned to wear some green glass pearl earrings, but then I remembered that my white butterfly earrings are outlined in silver and hence an irresistible addition. I don't wear hats, and I certainly own nothing as dramatic as Karin's hat, so I substituted this silky white-on-white striped scarf as a headband. When I folded up the scarf, I kept it fairly wide so that it would have more impact. I totally forgot that Karin's hair was pinned up so mine is its usual long and loose style.

My daily bracelet stack started with the trio of DIY paper bead bracelets from the fish scarf light blue/green/white/gold set. I liked how well the color scheme fit with this shirt. I supplemented that set with three more DIY bead bracelets in lime green jade, black glass, and dull orange stone. I have a mix of gold and silver in this stack, which the black bracelet with both metals helps bring together.

To revisit my list of elements in the painting, I have bolded the ones that I included.

-Black outlining

-Colors (Karin): black, white, blue

-Colors (nature scene): light and medium green, orange, light blue, grey

-Areas of lighter, softer color contrasting with black

-Flowers

-River water (ripples/waves)

-Trees

-Delicate details

-Black dress (black skirt)

-Blue pinafore

-White hat (white headband)

-Hair worn up

-Lace

-Boat

-Dog


While black can have a heavy look/feel for summer, I like to use some combination of these strategies when I wear it:


(1) Select black pieces that have a light, airy, softer and muted look and feel. This can be achieved with natural fibers like linen, open weaves like crochet, looser silhouettes like this flared skirt, and/or items that are just less saturated with black color.


(2) Wear black on the bottom half rather than right next to the face. For many people, black next to the face looks harsh anyway, and it can also look rather somber for summer in my opinion.


(3) Wear black with colors that are lighter and also brighter and at least mid-saturated. Pastels can work but I find the combination harder to get right. (If you have icy Winter coloring, you might find it easier to pull off the black + pastel combo than I do with my low value contrast.)


(4) Bookend the black with an accessory in the other half of the body that includes black (like my necklace) to add cohesion. (If you have very dark hair, you automatically bookend a black skirt, pants, or shoes.)


(5) Show some skin. No, this doesn't mean you have to go out of your comfort zone with a lot of skin! But a bit of arm, leg, collarbone, etc., can go a long way. (While Karin in the painting was appropriately dressed for her time, that much black in summer could look quite heavy, even funereal, in the modern era!)


(6) This one isn't just for summer, but for an intentional look with black: Wear an item with black in the print as a bridge/linking piece.


And here are a few OOTD featuring this floral shirt, which I wear both as a topper/over layer in warm weather and as a stand-alone or inner layer in cool weather.

Mint T + black capris - Summer plus size outfit idea for women over 40
Mint T + black skinny pants - Summer plus size outfit idea for women over 40

This bracelet stack contains the 3 DIY bracelets I made to coordinate with this shirt: the orange/coral/blue paper tube beads with gold spacers, the blue/white/black bicone paper beads with white spacers, and the blue-aqua mountain jade bead bracelet. I also added the DIY dull orange stone bracelet with the gold metallic center bead (which is one of a set of 3 bracelets I made with these stone beads...you see them a lot on the blog) and a pair of DIY mixed metal spacer bead bracelets.

My Rabbit Imitating Art choice was inspired by the figure of Karin with her deep black dress and white hat. This black Dutch rabbit shows off the gorgeous bold fur pattern for which the breed is famous. Despite its name, this rabbit breed was developed in England, based on rabbits imported for the meat market from Belgium weekly in the 1830s. The imported rabbits sometimes had this basic fur coloration pattern, and breeders began to pick out the ones with the most even markings to develop the modern Dutch rabbit breed...for which we are all grateful since it is a gorgeous bunny! (Wikipedia)

Black Dutch rabbit

In 1908, Karin Larsson was strolling along the banks of the river Sundborns in Sweden when she encountered an unexpected fellow creature on the path. Little surprise that she stopped in her tracks to gaze at this beautiful rabbit in wonder and contentment.

Karin at the Shore "improved" with rabbit

To see other outfit interpretations of this artwork, check out the review on 14 Shades of Grey.


Additional reading on wearing black in summer:

-Styling Black For Summer

-How to Make Your Black Clothes Look More Summery

-Wearing Black in the Summer


Do you like floral prints? Do you wear black in summer?


Blogs I link up with are listed here.

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