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how will you wear the color of the year?

The people at Pantone are obviously on my side…ultraviolet is the color of the year, and as you know purple is one of my favorites!

I love to wear it, I love to look at it, and I love to design with it.

But maybe you’re not so confident when it comes to wearing such a bold color? Let me help: here are six outfit ideas on what to wear with the color of the year.

 

wear purple with navy blue

the natalie scarf from Holland Cox with a navy dress
Purple can do anything navy can do, which makes them perfect for each other. I picked this very conservative navy dress, because I bet you already have something similar in your closet (maybe a navy skirt? or a navy blouse?).

Whatever your navy item, the natalie button scarf will flawlessly coordinate, and you won’t even have to change any of your other accessories.

Instant upgrade, and instantly on-trend: what’s not to like?

 

wear purple with bright blue

the natalie scarf from Holland Cox with a stripey sweater and royal blue pencil skirt
This is a much bolder option, of course! But it works on the same principle: blue and purple are natural allies, and will generally look great together.

Mixing prints is always going to be an easy way to upgrade your outfit. Since stripes go with everything, this little stripey sweater was an obvious choice.

The tonal print of the natalie button scarf means that it will mix well with lots of different prints, in lots of different shades of blue, purple, gray, and black…making it the soon-to-be star of your capsule wardrobe!

 

wear purple with a print

the aida button scarf from Holland Cox with a purple dress
Speaking of prints…I know you have that one thing in your closet that is some bold color that you very rarely wear. Maybe you’re not sure what it works with?

The aida button scarf is the key to getting that dress (or top, or skirt, or whatever) back in rotation!

The small-scale crosshatch is super easy to wear, and the black and white means you can wear it with literally anything! Add your favorite shoes and accessories and you’re good to go, with a new, upgraded look.

 

wear purple with gray

the raina crossbody bag from Holland Cox with a gray sweater dress
I love wearing purple with gray, because it guarantees your gray will never look dingy or dull.

(It also guarantees your purple will not overwhelm you…if that’s the sort of thing you worry about!)

Bold amethyst jewelry (yes, you can wear a long necklace with a scarf!) makes the purple in the natalie button scarf pop. Try the same look with your gray blazer, blouses, and pencil skirts!

(Also shown: the raina crossbody bag.)

 

wear purple with gold

bold purple print dress with a gold button scarf from Holland Cox
As I was putting together these outfits, this dress called out to me! It is totally something I would wear, and is exactly the kind of bold, graphic print that I live for!

But you don’t have to pick a bold print for this combination to work. Purple and yellow are complimentary colors, which means they are literally meant for each other!

The maya button scarf is a gold tonal print with a subtle shine, that can be paired with pretty much any solid color for an instant upgrade.

Wearing it with purple guarantees you’ll be best dressed in any room!

 

wear purple with red

the rosetta scarf from Holland Cox with jeans and a striped sweater
Confession time: I cheated with this one. First, the only purple in this outfit is on the trinity everyday bag.

Secondly, this outfit works for the same reason the first one does: because purple and navy are like fraternal twins (only one twin is just a bit more glamorous and a bit more bold)…they naturally go together!

The rosetta button scarf perfectly compliments the stripey sweater, and bam just like that, you’re walking around on your day off, looking stylish, on-trend, and confident, without even trying.

 

Even if you’re not as excited about the color of the year as I am, you can use these same ideas to experiment with any bold color! Try thinking of your trusty neutrals in a new way, and using some bold and bright accessories as a way to wear new colors and new color combinations.

For more ideas, subscribe to my Insider’s List. Subscribers get a short series of posts full of all kinds of style experiments and new ways to think about color, print, and what you wear everyday. Click here to join up!

 

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everyday is v-day

Yesterday might have been Valentine’s Day, but V-Day goes on!

V-Day is not just about candies, flowers, and stressing over whether to “celebrate” what is essentially a made-up holiday. As I have posted here before, Holland Cox is co-sponsoring a local production of The Vagina Monologues. Not only do I want to invite all of you to the performance (again), but I want to remind you what V-Day is all about.

The author of The Vagina Monologues, Eve Ensler, is also the founder of V-Day, a global movement to end violence against women and girls. The horrors that women face worldwide is something that we might not want to think about at all, but is something that needs to be thought about, and talked about. Definitely more than once a year. Just like making sure your loved ones know you care about them.

So, to keep V-Day going, tell your friends, families and lovers how much you love them today, and you should probably do it tomorrow and the next day, as well. Then consider helping out the V-Day organization by taking action in your local communities, or by supporting our production of The Vagina Monologues.

I will also personally donate $10 to the House of Ruth (the beneficiary of our production) for every purchase made at www.hollandcox.com and my Etsy store during the month of February. Keep V-Day going at least until the end of the month, if not all year round!

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history of handbags, part 4

Good afternoon boys and girls, today we’re going to talk about where the history of handbags intersects with American history: the carpet bag. The bag itself is really as simple as it sounds. It was a sturdy travel bag made up of peices of carpet that were sewn together with a leather strap. Sometimes it was a single peice of carpet that doubled as a blanket when unfurled, to keep its owner warm on unheated railcars.

Both of these are from the mid 1800s; the first carpetbag was made around 1830, but the humble style became famous during the Reconstruction era following the American Civil War, 1865 – 1877. The derogatory term “carpetbagger” was applied to seemingly opportunistic Northerners who flooded the South looking to cash in on economic and political opportunities there. According to urban legend of the time, these intruders carried all their belongings in a single carpet bag, flaunting the fact that they had no intention to settle in the South, and were merely coming to take advantage of the post-war chaos.

These days “carpetbagger” is still a favorite slur to hurl at politicians of all persuasions, but the carpet bag itself is also still quite popular. A quick search online reveals several stores that specialize in recreating the 19th century classic, and even some big name designers have introduced their versions. Some of them aren’t even strictly made of carpet, but really just thick tapestry-like material, or even simply texturized leather.

If I had a sewing machine robust enough, I know I’d be making bags out of carpet remnants in a second! In the mean time, I have turned my attention to other interior decorating fabrics…those of you who have seen the fall preview know what I’m talking about!

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history of handbags, part 3

Imagine you’re a stylish Edwardian lady, and you’ve been invited to a friend’s country estate for the weekend. Knowing that you’re going to need a different outfit for every “event” for three days – at least six a day – you’re going to need a lot of luggage. What to do? Well, being as stylish as you are, you’re going to do what the French do:

…and stock up on handmade luggage from Louis Vuitton, who has his logo handpainted on to every peice. And you know what would be really handy to have on the train and on the dusty roads en route to your friend’s estate? Certainly not a frilly, fussy little reticule. While beautiful and precious, they are hardly built for the rigors of cross country travel. What you need is a nice, sturdy leather bag with a handle and a lock.

This is a modern bag (the “speedy”), of course, but it’s based on the legendary Keep-all, one of the first pieces of luggage from Louis Vuitton that wasn’t a trunk. And so began the lust for leather in ladies’ accessories. From this point onward, the history of handbags is infused with varieties in styles and materials that were unimaginable beforehand. Until next time!

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history of handbags, part 2

It has irked me to no end that women’s clothes almost never have pockets (or linings, but that’s another post). Why should we be left out? Erin over at A Dress A Day calls it the “handbag industrial complex” that has forced the pocket out of women’s clothing. My protest is only on principle of course, because I’d probably carry a handbag anyway, but it’s nice to have options, right? So imagine my surprise to learn that the origin of the handbag as we know it today is actually the pocket. Ah, delicious irony! Back in the day men and women both carried little drawstring pouches, which hung from the waist and housed one’s essentials. Of course, this system didn’t always work since the pouches were quite vulnerable to theives. The solution was to move the pouches to the inside of the clothing, with a little slit in the outer layer of clothing so you could get to your pouch without removing anything.

Everything was swell until the late 1700s, when the popular fashions for women slimmed significantly into the empire silhouette. Gone were the wasp waists and voluminous skirts that so expertly hid the pocket-pouches. Out of necessity, the pocket moved back to the outside of the clothing, and instead of being tied around the waist, was carried in the hand by a long strap, and heavily decorated in a way to indicate one’s social station.

This reticule is on display at the Victoria & Albert museum in London (one of my all-time favorite museums!), and is an English version from the early 1800s. The little pouches were dubbed “ridiculous” by the French press because they were essentially underwear made into outerwear, which is actually quite ridiculous when you think about it, even though we modern ladies are quite used to the concept (thanks Madonna!).

There you have it! Purses are really pockets that evolved away from the clothing. Next week we’ll discuss the leap from these sweet little embroidered fabric numbers to the structured leather bags that made Hermes famous (see last week’s history).

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history of handbags, part 1

Like every aspect of human life, fashion has a long and interesting history. A & E (or History Channel?) did a whole 3 hour show on the bra and its accompanying unmentionables! The handbag is no different. I came upon an interesting tidbit the other day and I thought I’d share it with you here. Hopefully this can become a regular feature of insatiable need, provided I don’t run out of interesting handbag facts.

You don’t have to know anything about fashion to have heard of Hermes, the legendary French label. At the very least you’ve seen their distinctive silk scarves printed with saddles and other horsey gear, and you’ve seen the frenzy whipped up over the “Kelly” and the “Birkin” bags. Hermes is also responsible for this very familiar silhouette, which has been imitated and copied endless times since it’s debut in 1923. Behold, the Hermes Bolide:

A precursor to even the Louis Vuitton Alma (which looks very similar but came out in the 1930s), the Bolide intrigues me because apparently it is the very first bag in the world to use a zipper. Imagine never seeing a bag with a zipper before and then being presented with a lovely like this (or very similar to this) in some chic little store, wearing your little flapper outfit and ropes of pearls. I wonder how much they cost back then? Anyway I thought this was fun because of course, all of my Holland Cox bags have zippers (so far!) so it’s nice to know there was a beginning for such a feature.

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revenge of the indie designer

Once upon a time there was a clever, talented lady named Nicole who made handbags from her own unique patterns. Because they were so unique and well made, they became wildly successful, with writeups in all the most fabulous fashion magazines. Then, a soulless mass market clothier thought they’d steal her design and sell it for much less and nobody would notice, and they’d rake in the cash in the mean time. Well, guess what. Nicole noticed, and she made them stop. Read all about it here.

I know that the less talented and the uncreative will always try and poach on those with imagination and vision. I know that rampant copying has been part of the fashion business forever, and I also know that big businesses will always try and stomp all over small businesses. But that doesn’t make it okay, and that doesn’t mean that we have to put up with it.

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the sampler

Finally! I am very pleased to be contributing to The Sampler once again. I missed March, April *and* May but I just sent off my Summer Sampler stuff today! I don’t want to scoop Marie’s sneak peeks, so I won’t post a picture, but I will tell you what they are: I took the strap from my wristlet, added ribbon ties to each end and made reversible headbands. They are mostly in pretty girly patterns so hopefully any male Sampler subscribers out there have girlfriends/sisters they can share with. 🙂

So, last night I saw Episode III. I liked it! I’m not here to start any arguements with any fans/former fans out there, but I will simply say that I actually experienced emotions while watching…fear, disgust, sadness, pity… just like in a real movie. It was a nice change from the other prequels. But I have to say the best part was the trailer for The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. I got chills, I’m not kidding. It looks so fantastic!!! I can’t even begin to estimate how many times I’ve read the Narnia books ~ I may have to dig those out and read them again. Casting Tilda Swinton as the witch is absolute brilliance. I hope they’re going to make all 7!

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new stuff!

I clearly learned nothing from last weekend. More partying, more shopping…not so much with the sleeping. But sleeplessness has its advantages! I was planning on contributing only a bunch of my skinny wallets to the HHG (which, by the way, will be open for sign-ups on June 1), but one recent evening when I should have been going to bed early I came up with this instead:

makeup bag set

A set of three makeup/accessory bags. The biggest one has a 9″ zipper closure and darts at the bottom to make it extra roomy inside. The middle one also has a 9″ zipper but lies flat and is about an inch shorter, and the small one has a 7″ zipper and is super cute. 🙂

I made a whole slew of the smallest ones a while ago, as my very first contribution to The Sampler. I’ll be sending a few of those into the HHG as well:

They look small but are actually quite useful. Not to mention adorable! Anyway, the set may eventually make its way on to the web site, but I’m not promising anything. Right now I think I’ll make a few for Renegade to see how people like them in real life. In addition to these guys, I will contribute my apple green & black skinny wallet (as promised) and the koi fish classic handbag to the Summer Happily Handmade Giveaway! Remember, starting June 1, sign up early and often. 🙂

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so sleepy

I am a rockstar. (and you thought I was a handbag designer….) This weekend the girls and I really pulled out all the stops! Friday night was a bachelorette party (the summertime urban cocktail party is this weekend!). It was at a country western bar. Luckily I had a gigantic belt buckle to wear, purchased on a trip to San Antonio for the Day Job. It is official gear from the Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association. I swear I am not making that up!

Saturday was a trunk show featuring the lovely and talented Swank Creations and You Lucky Girl jewelry design ~ naturally I bought goodies from both of them! We had more partying and more dancing planned for Saturday night, but that did not stop anyone from partaking in the serious shopping spree that ensued, involving both downtown DC and northern Virginia, all of us in heels and dripping in our new You Lucky Girl jewelry. Naturally the social obligations didn’t stop for Sunday…but what can you do, it’s summer!

The bottom line is that it’s Monday, I’ve lost my voice, my feet hurt, and my *eyes* hurt I am so tired. Yet I still got some business done! I had a lunch meeting today where I made a sale (only one chocolate candy wristlet left people!), and delivered a custom order to my pal Jenn, and I’m getting some new packaging designed for the summer Sampler. Now, however, I’m going to sleep. 🙂

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