In last week’s cardigan post we talked about four formulae for adding layers to our look, specifically using light cardigans. Formulae #’s 1-4 were somewhat basic, fairly expected and proven usages of the cardigan as a layering technique (haha, like that technical lingo? Wait till we get to Advanced Cardigan…).
Well, today’s Frilling Formulae are a step up from Basic. A little less-expected. A little more daring. A little more Frilling. And very colorful!
Remember how Formula #1 involved matching the cardigan color to a color in the pattern? Well, as we progress to Intermediate Cardigan, we want to think about harmonizing our colors rather than matching them. First we learn the matching rule, then we learn to break it.
Formula #5: Tone-on-Tone
Also known as Monochromatic. I love this look. It’s a trick I personally pull a lot. I just love piling on layers of the same color. In fact, I think I exercised a fair amount of restraint by not wearing pink shoes and lipstick. That would be overkill, right? Anyway, the point is to layer varying shades of the same color, or varying textures of the same color. Here I have my favorite pink Madewell v-neck tee with a hot pink cardi overtop. The scarf could just have easily been a neutral color, or a necklace, or removed entirely. I kept the bottom neutral with dark skinnies.
Aurelia is mixing lavenders here, with a cute striped short. (Incidentally: Ellie, this is a version of your warm-weather outfit.)
…And she’s doing the same outfit concept here, but with mixed-pinks on top. See? Super useful.
Formula #6: Bright-on-Bright (or Pastel-on-Pastel, or Pastel-on-Bright, or Neon-on-Neon)
Color blocking has been a big trend the past few seasons, and this is a variation on it. Take two strong colors, and put them in the same outfit. Zoey D is always doing this on New Girl. I always love it.
These three examples are all of cardigans and dresses. But a bright top paired with a bright cardigan atop a neutral or printed skirt or pants accomplishes the same thing in terms of this formula.
The Patterned Cardigan
So far we’ve only discussed solid cardigans. Now its time to step it up to patterns! The You Frill Me gals LOVE pattern. You will be amazed at how much use you’ll get out of a couple patterned layers. I only have a few patterned cardis, but I wear the heck out of them. If you’re afraid of pattern, or just unfamiliar, here is the simplest way to wear it
Formula #7: Patterned Cardi + Solid Base Layer
Your base layer – say a cami, blouse, or tee - can be neutral. For sure, the easiest is to throw a pattern on top of a navy, white, or black tee. And that surely works. But we’re talking about playing with lively, bright color here, soooo…. why not pair stripes or animal print with a bright or pastel solid?
Naomi texted me this quick pic she took of a combo she likes to wear, pairing her teal and navy stripe with a bright coral top. I love these colors. She is definitely thinking about color harmony here, but what’s interesting about this striped cardi is that I’m guessing she gets tons of use out of it since the teal and navy can work with a lot of different colors. For instance, a yellow top would be just as cute with it. Or red. Or cobalt (mixing hues). Or pink. You get it.
Alternatively, Naomi could use this same cardi and follow the reverse of Formula #1, and wear a coordinating (matchy-matching) base layer. But it wouldn’t be as playful, would it?
And here is one of my own favorite printed cardigans. This sucker gets tons of use. We think stripes and animal print are two of the easiest patterns to wear and remix. In fact, I mostly consider the animal print to be neutral, and tend to use this particular cardigan just like I use a neutral one, and mix it with lots of different prints and colors. I just threw it on with a v-neck tee and a cobalt cami (I like a camisole to keep my tummy covered while nursing) for a regular weekday. But it dresses up easily too.
This is only the tip of the iceberg in terms of pattern. Oh yes my Frills, there will be more. Advanced Cardigans is aaaaaall about pattern. And other fun things.
So what do you think? Opine in the comments!
We’ve been talking about the “Rule of Three” - the idea of layering pieces to create a more cohesive, sophisticated look - over here on the blog lately. There’s been lots of discussion happening on facebook about it, and apparently it has struck a chord of inspiration with some of our favorite readers. Fabulous. Frilling!
My darling friend Ali gave herself a challenge to help her step up her game a bit in the style department. She decided that for 3 days she’d follow the Rule of Three. I asked her about her experience and here’s what she said:
I’m fashionally challenged. So after Fran explained the “three layer rule,” we made it homework: three days of three layers in one week. To start, I went thrifting and found a few new pieces that I could easily layer with items I already own:
Day One: I picked the sky-blue cardigan, layering it over an favorite T and adding the new necklace. I wasn’t convinced it was a great outfit, but I knew I’d made a start. I took my photo–but I wasn’t happy about it.
Day Two: I picked the teal cardigan, which I had fallen in love with. I poked around on the LOFT website, looking for how their models wore their cardigans. I noticed most of the “loud” cardigans were paired with neutral tops, so I imitated that. A beaded necklace functioned as my third layer. I felt confident in my choices and let my husband snap a cute pic for me.
Day Three: I faced a two-outfit day. For work, I picked the black-and-white striped tee. Fran had challenged me to use a scarf as my third layer rather than a necklace, so I added a black cardigan and a hot pink scarf. I paired the top with a flirty skirt instead of my uniform pants–and I felt like a movie star.
For after-work, I knew I’d be attending a formal awards banquet. I chose a print top with a cami and a complementary necklace, paired with a white skirt and metallic wedges.
How does it feel, now that it’s done? As someone who usually finds shopping and dressing to be painfully difficult, the three-layer challenge was liberating. My confidence grew exponentially. And, as I stood in my closet the night before the final challenge day, putting together my outfits was actually fun. Frillingly so.
There are so many things I love about this. One is that Ali was about to make the Rule work for her in her daily life fairly easily. Two is that she went shopping with a purpose, looking for specific pieces to work with and Frill up her existing wardrobe. Three, that Ali embraced some bright, fun colors. And four, that she said her outfit made her feel like a movie star. And that, folks, is where it’s at.
Ali, You FRILL us!
PS: Ali, your next challenge is to remix those cardigans into other outfits.
PPS: Stay tuned for the next installment of our cardigan series, hopefully later this week!
My friend Ellie sent me a message that said: “…Remove Old Navy cotton from my choices and I’ve gotta be honest I’m lost when it comes to hot weather fashion. I can’t wear three layers every day…” (She’s referring to the Rule of Three, mentioned in yesterday’s post.)
With that comment in mind, I thought I’d share an outfit that I envision Ellie getting a lot of use out of. Ellie, what you’re intuiting is true: Woman Cannot Live by Old Navy Alone. O.N. is fine for the odd fun piece here and there, but we grownup women do need a little more sophistication now and again. So, taking into account Ellie’s vibrant and fun personality, her job as a minister to youth and college students, as well as her job as a Mama to two young boys, not to mention summer heat and humidity; I made this collage of an outfit I think Ellie might find pretty useful in her daily life.
These are obviously example pieces you could sub for something else, but you get the idea: a lightweight tank, a cute dressier-type short (sista has great gams), a comfy wedge sandal, a lightweight 3/4 sleeve cardigan for air-conditioned spaces. Summer date night – done. Daytime meeting – done. Grocery shopping – done. Grown-up but fun. Sophisticated but not stuffy. And all pieces that work in myriad ways with lots of other outfits.
So, ya’ll know Aurelia and I are always talking about cardigans, right? I even published a post entitled “Cardigans 101,” where I talked about the Frilling Four: four cardigans I recommend to start your cardi collection. See, what we’re really talking about is layers, ’cause cardigans make great layering pieces.
We think layering is an easy way to make your outfits look put-together, grown up, and interesting. Layers take a little more thought than just throwing on a top and bottom and running out the door, but not that much more once you get the hang of it. The best advice I’ve found is the “Rule of Three.” Shana has a great post on it if you’re unfamiliar. (This post is helpful too.) The gist is, aim for three pieces on top. For warm weather these may be a tank + a light cardi + a statement necklace. Or a tee + blazer + scarf. Or in cooler weather a cami + long sleeve button-up + fuzzy sweater. You get the idea. Three is the magic number.
A YouFrillMe reader friend sent me this message: “Fran, I am now the proud owner of several mostly-solid-colored cardigans. But I have no idea what to put underneath them! Would love some help…”
Ok friend, here goes. The rules are…(drum roll)…there are NO RULES. But, lest I seem unhelpful, here are a few examples — “formulae” if you will — to get you started on your happy layering journey.
Formula #1: Patterned Blouse + Coordinating Solid Cardigan
This is the simplest, most no-brainer way to combine layers. Think 60′s housewife. Here Aurelia does the formula in a more modern way, but its the same principle your granny has been wearing in her twinsets for years. And I don’t mean that in a bad way. It’s classic and a little bit preppy, and it works.
I’m doing the same formula here: I simply chose a color from my the pattern in my dress and added that color cardigan. Easy peasy. Not unexpected, but cute. My seafoam statement necklace satisfies the Rule of Three.
Formula #2: Mixing Neutrals
Here I’m following the Rule of Three with a tank, a light cardi, and a statement necklace (this chunky seafoam necklace has been keeping me good company this spring – I’ve been throwing it on with everything). With the exception of the necklace, everything is neutral in color: a navy tank, wheat-colored cardi, and light gray shorts. Neutrals like this are like the O-negative blood of your wardrobe – the universal donors that can go anywhere. I love mixing neutrals, but I try to not let it get too boring by adding cool accessories like the necklace and these hand-me-down blue Naot wedges (soooo comfy!).
Formula #3: Neutral Top + Bright (or Pastel) Cardigan
Here my friend Ali is demonstrating her layering skills with a neutral blouse plus a bright cardigan. With a neutral (white, cream, beige, gray, navy, black, chambray) blouse and bottom, she can choose any color cardigan she wants. This turquoise is springy and enlivening, and she’s following the Rule of Three by adding a cute beaded necklace. The lace on the white blouse adds textural interest also. Doesn’t she look pretty?
Aurelia is following this same formula below (from this post, if you’ve been following her series on how to wear chambray), and also following the Rule of Three, with her chambray + coral cardigan + statement necklace:
Formula #4: Bright Top + Neutral Cardigan
This is Formula #3 in reverse. Beth, a master hand at neutrals, is wearing a solid pastel shirt-dress with a neutral cardigan. Her cardi is extra frilling because it’s subtly striped and menswear-inspired. The Frills are in the details, folks.
And remember Naomi did this too, with her cobalt top and beige cardi paired with a bold pattern on bottom.
More ideas for how to wear your layers to come, so stay tuned for Intermediate and Advanced… but meanwhile, how do you do it? And, if you’re in need of more cardigan inspiration, check out Shana’s How We Wear it series.
Look at this sweet baby.
Somehow, 6 months have passed. Unfathomable. But there she is, in all her jolly glorious adorableness. I used to secretly judge parents who would be constantly kissing their babies in public. You know, those ones who are always just walking around smooching away regardless of the situation. Well, I am one of those parents. I can’t help it. Seriously, the most smoochable baby. Those cheeks. You try picking her up without smooching them and tell me how you do.
I am FRILLED to introduce you all to my lovely, always-fashionable friend Naomi. A couple weeks ago she let me photograph some of her FRILLING outfits. This lady is a bona-fide fashionista (who used to work at Neiman Marcus!) not to mention an all-round beautiful person, and her sense of style is awesomely inimitable.
I love many things about her style, but one thing I really appreciate (prolly since I’m not so good at it myself) is how she can rock bold, solid colored pieces, and nail it every time. This is a skill. Mixing solids ain’t for sissies. I think it’s more advanced than pattern-mixing, myself. And Naomi does it with confidence and flair and gets it RIGHT, and then accessorizes it brilliantly.
She has three strong colors on (three!) and still manages to look cohesive, smart, and grown-up. See how she keeps the accessories neutral in color? And then adds a quirky boot that somehow works brilliantly to flabbergast us further with her skillz? How does she do that?
Fairly basic in theory, right? Jeans, tee, jacket, loafers. Three solid pieces, thoughtfully put together, and frilled up with just the right amount of sparkle and pattern. And another slightly quirky, but imminently versatile shoe.
Yes, the shoes are awesome and probably a closet workhorse. But I’d like to take a moment to point out this jacket. I think everyone needs a stylish, lightweight, structured jacket. They just come in handy in all sorts of ways. Of course, for some of us (aherm….me), this could be a standard-but-trusty jean jacket. Not for Naomi – hers is white with cool zippers and a moto vibe. Let that be a lesson to us all.
This may be my favorite of the three looks, but I am a sucker for a good maxi skirt. Here she’s got a strong pattern in the skirt, balanced by a strong solid on top. (Oh, cobalt + tangerine, I heart you!) Then added a neutral cardigan, and a fabulous-but-neutral shoe.
Oh, and a little sparkle here and there, just for FRILLS.
I asked Naomi a few questions so we could get a peek into her style psyche, and this is what she said:
Define your personal style in just a few words:
“Always changing, love solids, dark colors, and an amalgamation of high end and low end”
Quality or Quantity?
“I’m definitely a quality gal! Its hard to always afford quality, but the satisfaction I get from buying a good quality piece that lasts me years is awesome! The amount of clothes I have doesn’t matter, when I know I will usually go to my designer brands before the Target, Forever 21 stuff anyway. “
Where do you like to shop?
“I love TJ Maxx! I can get unique items there and good brands for affordable prices. I also like Neiman Marcus Last Call Clearance Center and Buffalo Exchange. Those are my top places. I do sometimes mix in some Target, H&M, and Forever 21. I also have a lot of stuff from Banana Republic and Loft in my closet as well. They just fit me perfectly. “
What drives your purchases (trendiness, usefulness, impulses, etc)?
“…Need. I know what I have in my closet like the back of my hand. If I really want a specific type of top to go with a specific skirt (I usually have an idea of what that is ahead of time) then I’ll go get one. I know what kinds of pieces are the most figure flattering and I tend to stick to a certain silhouette. When I try venturing out and buying a huge tunic or something in fashion that doesn’t flatter my figure, it usually just sits in my closet doing nothing. So I try to maximize my wardrobe by selecting pieces that are versatile and I know I’ll love and get a lot of wear out of… I also sell clothes EVERY season to Buffalo Exchange. So my wardrobe is constantly turning around and changing. “
What inspires your fashion choices?
“…Fit and color. I’m a huge believer that fit is more important than fashion. Also, I know what colors I can wear that will do something for me and the colors that will do nothing for me. Beiges, tans, pale colors, don’t do anything for me, so I can try to add those colors to bottoms or accessories, instead of tops or dresses.
Name three major must-have, can’t-live-without-em, workhorse items in your wardrobe?
“A scarf! Can’t live without one! A cashmere or wool blend cardigan (I’m very cold natured), and cotton/spandex leggings for their versatility. “
If you could have only one pair of shoes in your closet, what would they be?
“It would have to my leopard print Liz Claiborne flats as shown in the pictures. They are so comfortable and can make any boring outfit feel fun!”
Any advice for the more color-challenged among us?
“It’s always a good idea to match hues. If you are a wearing a bright hue you want to pair with another bright hue. For example, the salmon/creme chevron skirt might not have looked as good with a pale color on top. If you’re color blocking, you always want to throw in some neutrals. That’s one reason I love that neutral OPI “Did you ear about Van Gogh” Nail color I’m wearing in the photos. It goes with all the color I like to wear. I try to stick to neutral jewelry when wearing color as well. If you don’t know what to wear with a certain color— Black or White is always a great go to!”
But wait. What is that we see there? Is that a hint of a pooch we see? Why, yes, it is! Naomi is going to be joining the ranks of us Mamas pretty soon. She’s now 19 weeks and counting! A gorgeous mama-to-be if I do say so myself.
Naomi, you FRILL us! And congratulations to you and your hubby on your bump!
So, I’m planning to buy one pair of sandals this spring. And it’s my birthday soon (hello, 31, and may you bestow upon me a mantle of wisdom) and new sandals have been my request, along with a box of non-GMO Cinnamon Toast Crunch analog all to myself no stealers. Oh, and a mani-pedi. Fellas, a mani-pedi never comes amiss. Anyway, here in Texas we get a lot of wear out of our sandals. Like 3/4′s of the year it’s sandals weather. So sandals are waaaay more important of an investment than boots. (This is the reason I did not purchase a killer pair of tall boots this past season that tempted me in a major way, and which I went so far as to buy then return in favor of my Tom’s wedge booties that I didn’t figure would make me sweat so much, and which, to my credit, I’m still wearing in April. Plus, I’m over the tall-boots-with-skinnies thing, even though it may be just me. So there.)
Last year these Blue Dansko’s came to live with me. And I looooooove them. With serious, pregnant-mama-comfort (then, not now. oh no don’t even mention the p-word to me.), wear-with-everything kind of crazy love. I tell you I wore these babies with everything: dresses, skirts, pants, shorts, yoga pants. Yes I did. And they will not be resting this year either. But. Occasionally the blue clashes with something or other and I find myself needing another pair of super-comfies in a more neutral color, even though the blue is pretty damn versatile. So, I’m on the hunt. I’m mainly looking in the brown family, but haven’t ruled out black, gray, navy, or nude. My comfort standards are fairly stinking high: must be suitable for baby-wearing, dance parties, park outings, and church; a tall order, I grant you.
First off on my try-on list (mainly because I have a $40 credit at the Clark’s store):
Clark’s Caslynn Paula:
Dansko’s Tasha. If these are as comfy as my darling Blues, I will be a happy camper.
I also like Dansko’s Sandi:
These Swedish Hasbeens are too cute and classic to ignore:
What am I missing? What else should I try? Sandals are a big deal, and I don’t drop bucks on crap to clutter up my closet with, as much as Target tempts me. I have learned that $20 does not buy me love. So weigh in, if you will. Size 38cm if you wish to gift. Just throwin’ that out there happy birthday to me.
1. B potting some seeds with her grandpa “Pop A”
2. Baby Taco, ready for takeoff. 5 months old.
3. We dyed some eggs.
4. Huntin’ em up.
5. Everyday: “B, what would you like to do today?” “Um, some painting.”
6. A new gnome hat, which unfortunately resembles a dunce cap currently. I’ll have to embellish it, I suppose…
At 5 months, Baby Taco is…
When Little B was 13 weeks old, we had a photographer come to our home in San Francisco and do a family shoot. I wanted to do another when T was 13 weeks old. The lovely Aubrey Stopa came to our house for a couple hours on a Saturday morning, and here is some of what she captured.
My friends, these are two different babies. Can you tell which is which? I think it’s safe to say they’re sisters…
Thanks Aubrey! You Frill us!
Friends, full disclosure here. This is in no way healthy. This is in every way decadent, stick-to-your-hips, raise-your-blood-sugar, delicious. To make matters worse, it’s easy. Apologies in advance.
One day, shortly after T was born, I happened to be lounging, nursing her and watching PBS, which is pretty much the only TV we have, being as we went cable-free over 2 years ago (and never looked back). Well, P. Allen Smith’s show came on. And he was making this Orange Marmalade Cake, which instantly grabbed my attention. How could it not? It looked so delicious and simple and fresh and lovely and scrumptious. And it has lived in my mind ever since. Finally, an excuse came along to make it: to celebrate the visit of a dear cousin.
Yellow cake, plus layers of mascarpone cheese, cointreau-tinged marmalade, slivered almonds, and fresh clementines. Well, I will refrain from tempting you more. But if the opportunity arises, and you feel like a splurge of gooey sweetness is in order, look no further.
PS: I made this with a gluten-free cake mix and it was fairly magical.