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  • Writer's picturesallyinstpaul

Mixing Black and Navy Prints for SIA: Floral Forms

Terri at Meadow Tree Style is the curator for this round of Style Imitating Art (SIA), and she picked the 1936 watercolor "Floral Forms" by Hungarian-American painter Emile James Bisttram. Terri had decided to select artworks close to her home in Kansas City, MO, and this one is in the collection of the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art. This painting offers a lot for us to work with in creating a spring outfit!

Style Imitating Art selection

It's been a minute since I've participated in the SIA style challenge, and I was happy to see such a colorful floral painting as our artwork. The bold watercolor flower motifs and the color palette of the piece made my new linen top from Lands End a slam dunk. I purchased this "deep sea navy waikiki floral" top for $10.49 during a crazy sale last December. It is the same top as my beige striped linen top (see Outfit #2 here) from summer 2020 in a different print. I liked the beige striped one so well that when I had the opportunity to buy more for $10-$13, I did. Finding a good stand-alone top for summer (i.e., one that doesn't need layering) can be tricky, and these are just right for that purpose. I almost didn't buy this particular one because I really don't need another navy-based floral top. But fortunately I realized that I would wear it a lot because navy-based prints, especially floral prints, are one of my dozen "feels like me" items (#12). I immediately paired it with another of my "feels like me" options: pearls worn casually (#11). I loved how the cream faux pearls and clear crystal beads in this thrifted piece pick up on the ivory shapes in the painting, and I knew I'd need a large-scale necklace to show against this statement print.

Floral top + faux pearl necklace

My first choice for bottoms was dark denim ankle pants, but I had second thoughts when I realized I hadn't included the geometrical aspect of the painting...the straight lines and stairstep zig zag emanating from the upper right cream circle. So I substituted my recently purchased red plaid pants featured in March's Cherokee beadwork SIA outfit. A large bold floral and a low-key plaid are a print mix standby...and print mixing is #8 on my "feels like me" list. (I really like these Effortless Stretch pants from Kohls; I now own three pairs. Amy recently shared a fun outfit styling the same style of pants in a different plaid.)

I admit that I had a moment there when I hesitated about wearing a print with red and navy and a print with red and black together. But I quickly decided that since (1) the poppy red is such a strong color tying the prints together, (2) the amount of black in the plaid is really small, and (3) black and navy are often hard to distinguish from each other anyway, this would be a great opportunity to try wearing black and navy together. And I loved the result!

Plus size outfit idea for women over 40
OOTD 5/22/23

I know some people find print mixing challenging (or they just don't like to do it). But I think creating an outfit mixing navy and black prints might, oddly enough, be easier to do than mixing navy and black solid pieces because you can rely on elements of the prints to tie them together into a coherent whole. In my case, it's obvious that I paired this top and pants together because they share that bright poppy red color, so the dominant red color creates a bond between the pieces and an overall sense of intentionality in the outfit.

If you've not dared to pair navy and black, you can of course start with dark blue denim + black as an alternative (that's what I usually do). But if you'd like to try it with straight up navy, a print mix might be easier than you think. If a top + bottom print mix is a bit much for you, go with something a lot smaller, like a floral scarf with a bit of black + a navy striped top. If print mixing is a no-go, how about that same floral scarf with black in it (or any other multi-color scarf or necklace) paired with a solid navy top...or even navy pants (where there is a top in between separating the colors)?

I am reminded of Liz Klebba's navy polka dot + black leopard outfit that she wore last summer, which I thought was really cute and opened my eyes to the navy + black print mix option. Her post about wearing black with navy generally is a good read also with some nice OOTD examples, and I like the "channeling cat-titude" concept as a key to style. The combination also brought to mind outfit #2 "dark florals with black" from this post from Angie at YouLookFab last week.

Now back to my outfit...the large faux pearl necklace was a winner with the floral top, but I decided that the look would benefit from some more oomph in the necklace category. So I added this bold gold-tone chain and tassel necklace that I bought from ThredUp at the same time as the other necklace. (It's so weird because they don't usually sell jewelry; they just happened to have three necklaces one time for $3 or less each and I bought them all.)

Plus size outfit idea for women over 40

I picked up the red, gold, and navy colors in my daily bracelet stack: the 4 DIY bracelets of a set I created to wear with a navy-based bird print blouse (#3 in this post). The two paper bead bracelets bring in more of the geometric element of the painting with the plaid paper of the top tube bracelet and the stripes created by rolling the paper into beads in the lowest bracelet. And of course the round beads mimic the circular "floral forms" of the artwork.

Plus size outfit idea for women over 40

I had just washed and braided my hair the morning I wore this outfit, so my hair was sleeked back and darker gold in color...which felt like a nice fit for the rounded shapes of the painting. I continued the "round red form" vibe with round red crystal earrings.

Plus size outfit idea for women over 40

I wasn't sure what shoes to wear because I already have plenty of red in the outfit and neither black nor navy seemed right. So I ended up using the idea from my last post of wearing gold loafers! They are a great neutral that coordinates with my hair color and repeats the metallic color of the necklaces and bracelets.

Plus size outfit idea for women over 40

Now for our choice of Rabbit Imitating Art! The "Floral Forms" painting has an abundance of round shapes and washes of color, so I looked for a rabbit with similar qualities. This gorgeous brown Netherland Dwarf rabbit with darker "points" (ears, nose, and feet) fit the bill perfectly. This breed is well-known for its disproportionately large head, short ears, and rounded head, which combine to give an eternally juvenile ("neotenic") appearance.

Netherland Dwarf Rabbit
Netherland Dwarf Rabbit

In the original painting, the zig zag line pointed to an empty space (or a round cream form), but in the improved version, it leads us directly to the dwarf rabbit! It's interesting that the darker nose area in the middle of the bunny's face is very similar to the dark centers of the red flowers. Though now that I look at the painting again, I'm starting to wonder if those dark centers are actually eyes! Do you see how closely they resemble our rabbit's eyes? OK, no worries, that's not creepy at all.

SIA artwork with rabbit
Floral Forms "improved" with rabbit

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 ever mix black and navy in an outfit? Do you mix prints? Would you wear this much bright red at once? Do you struggle with finding stand-alone tops for summer? Do you like linen?

Blogs I link up with are listed here.

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