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Styling Riding Boots for SIA: Countess de la Maitrie + DIY Paper Bead Page to Bead Examples

Salazar at 14 Shades of Grey is the curator for this round of Style Imitating Art (SIA), and she picked the 1910 portrait Countess de la Maitrie by French painter Charles-Albert Walhain. She came across this painting when searching for examples of women's riding habit for a story she was writing and was inspired to use it for the SIA challenge due to the masculine cut and color of the habit.


A full-length portrait of a woman in specific dress lends itself to a very literal interpretation, and I didn't resist it. I looked to the elements of the Countess's outfit to create my version. I started at the bottom with the warm brown riding boots and the grey skirt, which to my eye has a strong slate blue quality. I had never worn these two items together (according to my outfit history spreadsheet) so right away the challenge was opening up a new combination from my wardrobe. Sometimes people get flustered at the idea of combining items with warm and cool undertones in the same outfit, and I get it...mismatched undertones can cause tension, like when you put a warm pink and a cool pink next to each other and they clash. But I don't think you need to be rigid about avoiding mixing up your warm and cool undertones entirely! I believe in experimenting widely with color combinations because there are so many factors that influence how two items will look together that it's hard to predict what will work without trying them.

On to the top half of the Countess's look...I picked this navy fleece blazer tipped in grey (thrifted, Lands End) as a nod to her grey jacket. (I wore this skirt + blazer together with a blush pink floral blouse as shared here.) I don't own any waistcoats, despite that being the White Rabbit's go-to style when out of uniform, but I was able to replicate the buttons up the front with this denim shirt. Surprisingly, I had never worn the denim shirt with either this skirt or this blazer, despite it being such an easy-to-wear pairing...because a denim shirt goes with almost everything!

Plus size outfit idea for women over 40
OOTD 2/13/23

I repeated the navy from the blazer in my tights, which means my tights, skirt, and boots are all different colors. Many women think they need at least 2 but preferably all 3 of these pieces to be in matching colors, but that isn't necessarily the case. I don't even own tights that are slate blue or cognac. With tall riding boots and a skirt that falls at or just below the knees, you only see a small amount of the tights anyway. If you select a neutral or semi-neutral that works with the outfit overall, you'll be fine! (Of course you could also chose a bright accent color, but that wasn't the vibe I was aiming for with this outfit.)

The Countess is wearing a gold brooch at the throat and a purple floral boutonnière, but I went in a somewhat different direction with this silk square floral scarf (thrifted, Art Institute of Chicago). I folded it in half to make a triangle and tied the ends together to wear like a bandana. This styling definitely has a more Western riding feel, but a denim shirt and bandana (even if made of silk) is more true to my Oklahoma roots than a brooch and just felt right.

Plus size outfit idea for women over 40

Using the color palette of the scarf as my guide, I selected a DIY paper bead bracelet set in navy and maroon as the basis for my daily stack, then added the agate/silver rabbit and navy/silver bead bracelets. (I noticed in this photo that the maroon and peach stripes on the paper beads in the top bracelet are a spot-on match to the flower with the peach petals outlined in maroon; this kind of detail makes me inordinately happy.)

DIY Bracelet Stack

I wetted my hair down and slicked it back into a ponytail, which doesn't make my hair look like the Countess's but did at least get my lion's mane under control. Simple white pearl stud earrings lent an understated polish.

Plus size outfit idea for women over 40

I've really been enjoying my tall boots this winter after not wearing them at all last year (when I wore pants with ankle boots or flats). By coincidence, riding boots are having another "moment in the sun" this fall/winter...which is kind of funny when you consider that they are a timeless classic, but I know I wasn't the only one who had set mine aside there for a while during the height of the ankle boot era. I would probably have normally chosen my tall grey boots for this outfit (to match the edging on the blazer), but I loved how the cognac ones worked out.

Plus size outfit idea for women over 40

Next up: our Rabbit Imitating Art pick! Seeing the two-toned black and tan Dachshund in the painting, I absolutely had to choose a similar-looking rabbit. Enter the Tan rabbit breed! I know I've shared Tan rabbits before, but how could I resist revisiting this gorgeous breed of rabbit?

Tan rabbit

It's interesting...both dogs and rabbits have an agouti gene with a recessive version that creates this coat pattern (called "black and tan" in dachshunds and "tan" or "otter" in rabbits), but the "molecular genetics of pigment-type switching in dogs may differ from that of other mammals." In rabbits, the tan allele makes the fur over the main part of the body have hairs with a solid color from skin end to tip but leaves the typical wild-looking agouti fur with bands of color on each hair (from skin end to tip: white, grey, rufous, and black). This gene (in conjunction with some rufous modifiers that extend the red through the white areas on the agouti hairs) gives the Tan breed of rabbit their characteristic look of a dark body with reddish-tan "points," which to my eye looks very much like those of the dachshund! Overall, I'd say that the reddish-tan on the rabbit has more of an "all around the edges" look, while the dachshund has larger reddish-tan areas on the muzzle and feet.

Dachshunds were bred to hunt badgers (hence the name: "badger dog") and generally enjoy hunting small mammals like rabbits, so our Tan bunny disapproves of the dog in this painting. I think the rabbit makes an excellent replacement! (In life, a Tan rabbit is about half the size of a miniature dachshund, but our Tan wanted to be big enough to really obliterate all signs of the dog in the painting and who am I to tell her no?)

The Countess de la Maitrie "improved" with rabbit

I thought this was a good time to share another outfit with the denim shirt + tan/ OOTD from last fall. I really liked how the striped scarf brought the colors of the top and bottom half together.

OOTD 11/19/22

These paper tube beads started life as a catalog image of a hoodie with a floral print in soft, muted maroon and grey-green. Fairly chunky tube beads with the silver paint on the ends give them that "beer can" look.

I made the paper bicone beads from this full-page ad in The Economist featuring a starry dark navy sky and the planet Mars. After cutting the strips, I covered the white lettering with silver marker, which added silver stripes to the navy, dark red, and light red. The pinpoints of light from the stars are small enough that some of them are visible on the rolled beads, which is an effect I really like.

Other posts in this series:

DIY Paper Bicone Bead Tutorial

DIY Paper Tube Bead Tutorial

DIY Magazine & Catalog Bicone Bead Examples - Part 1

DIY Magazine & Catalog Paper Bicone Bead Examples - Part 2

DIY Magazine & Catalog Paper Tube Bead Examples - Part 1

Design a DIY Bracelet Set: Start With a Scarf (Summer) - Part 1

Design a DIY Bracelet Set: Start With a Scarf (Summer) - Part 2

Design a DIY Bracelet Set: Start with a White Floral Shirt (Summer)

Design a DIY Bracelet Set: Start with a Pink Outfit (Spring)

Design a DIY Bracelet Set: Start with a Colorful Striped Top

Design a DIY Bracelet Set: Start With a Butterfly Scarf

Design a DIY Bracelet Set: Start With a Two Color Summer Outfit (Navy + Green)

Dark Blue Casual Summer Outfits with DIY Paper Bracelet Page to Bead Examples

Light Blue Casual Summer Outfits with DIY Paper Bracelet Page to Bead Examples

3 Summer Pants Outfits with DIY Paper Bracelet Page to Bead Examples

How to Wear a Pullover Sweater over a Dress + DIY Paper Bracelet Page to Bead Examples

Pink for Valentine's: 3 More Blush Pink Outfits + DIY Paper Bracelet Page to Bead Examples

11 More Pink Outfits for Valentine's Day + DIY Paper Bracelet Page to Bead Examples

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 14 Shades of Grey.

Do you like wearing tall boots? Riding boots? What type of boots do you prefer? How are you wearing boots this winter?

Blogs I link up with are listed here.

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