Tag Archives: neutrals

upgrade your basics with a button scarf

The button scarf has been the best seller at Holland Cox since I introduced them in February 2016, and it’s easy to see why! They are bold, colorful, easy to wear, and are the perfect capsule wardrobe accessory: they can make anything you already have in your closet look amazing!

Here are some outfit ideas showing how a button scarf can upgrade your wardrobe basics, and create outfits that make you feel happy & confident, and not like you’re fading into the background!

 

your basic black pencil skirt

upgrade your plain black and gray outfits with a dragon print button scarf
You probably have a plain black pencil skirt, because you figured it would “go with everything,” and you’d get lots of wear out of it.

You probably also have lots of plain, solid color tops because of the same reason. Unfortunately, now you have lots of outfits that are just plain. See where I’m going with this? Enter bold and bright accessories to save the day!

I’ve styled this black pencil skirt and plain gray top with the lucille button scarf, which features my absolute favorite dragon print fabric, and bright red flannel.

The trinity everyday bag finishes off the outfit, because a plain black bag would just be too sad at this point.

The lucille button scarf is a perfect example of how black and gray don’t have to be boring…they can be bold and bright as well (when you mix them up just right)!

 

your fall/winter outerwear

blue book marble button scarf with a gray pea coat and a black 517 tote from Holland Cox
Remember that your button scarf can coordinate with your favorite coat and gloves, too! The winter scarves are lined with cotton flannel, so they are warm enough (and stylish enough) to serve as your outerwear scarf and as an accent to your outfit.

The fitzgerald button scarf is all about shades of blue, so will look amazing with a wide variety of coats you probably already have…from the denim jacket and khaki trench coat you wear in the fall, to the  wool pea coat you bring out when real winter arrives!

(Also shown: the sofia 517 tote)

 

your go-to sweater & jeans outfit

purple book marble button scarf with a gray sweater and jeans
Everyone has a cozy sweater and favorite jeans that are the backbone of their fall/winter casual wardrobe. Wouldn’t it be nice to elevate your go-to outfit a bit? Turn it into something that makes you feel confident and stylish, not just comfortable?

The button scarf is designed to do exactly that! This is the natalie button scarf, in a classic book marble print that looks great with all your favorite neutrals: black, navy, gray, even brown and white.

(Also shown: the simone everyday bag)

 

What do you have in your closet that could use a little boost? What favorite outfits of yours could be even better with a little bit more color, and a little bit more style? Check out all the button scarves and imagine how they could elevate your everyday!

 

 

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how to wear gray, part 2

Most of the time, plain neutrals can be too dull to make you feel happy and confident.

But there is definitely a way to make neutrals amazing, and to wear them without fading away (check out part 1 of how to wear gray)!

Here are a few more ways to wear gray (starring the simone 517 tote) that will make you feel fabulous, not like you’re fading away!

 

choose a contrasting color

 

how to wear gray: with bright red

 

The last thing you want is to look dingy or dull, and gray paired with other neutrals can lead you right down that horrible path.

What you need is something that pops against the gray, and nothing pops like bright red! The simone 517 tote is backed with bright red vinyl, and is lined in red quilted cotton, so clearly red is my favorite color to contrast with gray!

The McQueen tartan suggests gray without matching it exactly, and the peplum top echoes one of my suggestions from the last post about choosing interesting silhouettes.

Wear this outfit to the office, and everyone else wearing black and gray and brown will be the ones fading into the background!

 

play with patterns and shapes

 

how to wear gray: with contrasting prints

 

One of the best things about the 517 tote is its unusual shape – gentle curves instead of straight lines make it a bit more stylish than your average tote bag, and the radiating lines of the simone tote in particular are both eye-catching and oddly demure.

I chose this top (instead of something plain) for this outfit because it achieves the same effect.  Black and white gingham is a subtle but interesting pattern, and the ruffled half-sleeve is an unusual silhouette in a world of three-quarter sleeves and cold-shoulder tops.

This outfit wouldn’t be the same with a plain t-shirt, would it?

 

wear a denim dress

how to wear gray: with denim

 

The whole point of the denim dress formula is to get you thinking about denim dresses the same way you think about your jeans: your go-to thing for effortless dressing.

Since this dress is slim fitting with very clean lines, it compliments the sleekness of the simone tote beautifully!

Classy gold jewelry and red d’orsay heels give this outfit a very ladylike look. But both the dress and the bag would work just as well with more casual accessories…such is the power of a great bag and a denim dress!

 

Check out my Pinterest boards for more outfit ideas on how to wear prints and high style denim!.

 

 

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how to shop smarter this fall

Even if you’re not technically going back to school, this time of year is still about starting fresh! You might be eyeing your closet right now with a mind to update, but without having an idea of how to go about such a thing…here’s some ideas to get the most out of your “back to school” shopping!

The bottom line is, remember that practical does not mean plain. Next time you go shopping, walk right past the plain, “neutral” basics and try these three strategies instead:

 

shop for interesting textures

 

the cassandra tote with an embroidered top and dark blue jeans

 

The easiest way to escape from the trap of plain is to look for interesting textures when you go shopping. You might find this easier and less intimidating shopping for bold prints or bright colors. In fact, you can be totally monochromatic with an interesting texture, and you’ll still probably be the best dressed in the room!

The outfit above assumes you already have a pair of jeans you love, and cute booties to wear with them. Instead of shopping for a new, plain top to wear with them, how about something with embroidery, applique, beading, lace, or some other kind of surface design? A top with more visual interest will instantly elevate anything you wear with it, and will coordinate with more things in your closet than a plain version ever could.

I love the effect of an interesting texture, which is why I designed my latest handbags with high-relief quilting. The cassandra 517 tote is shown above, featuring my favorite chevron wave motif stitched in black thread on natural canvas. Click here to see more details on the cassandra tote, and think about what plain thing from your closet you could replace with a textured version!

 

shop for your colors

the persephone tote with navy trousers and a printed blouse

You probably already have navy pants, and a pair of “nude” pumps from a few years ago when everyone insisted you must own a pair. When you’re out shopping for a way to update them, think about color instead of more plain. What colors do you like to wear? Which colors look great on you? What colors make you feel happy and confident?

If you’re afraid of bright colors, an accessory is a great way to experiment. I would totally feel comfortable wearing the outfit above with a bright red blouse, but maybe that’s scary to you! A bag like the persephone tote is easier to wear than clothing in the same colors. If wearing red makes you happy, now you have an awesome bag to carry everyday that will get much more use than a plain black bag. See how that works?

 

shop for interesting silhouettes

 

the sofia tote with a black bell sleeved dress

 

I can hear some of y’all complaining but Valerie I love wearing all black that’s ~my thing~ and you can’t make me stop! Good news my friend, I am not going to tell you to stop wearing black!

But next time you go shopping, how about looking for new and interesting silhouettes?

The bell-sleeved dress in this outfit is an excellent example. Dramatic sleeves have been a thing for a while now, and I don’t think they’ll be going away anytime soon. This same dress with plain sleeves would be absolutely nothing to write home about, and not a way to make yourself feel happy and confident when you get dressed in the morning! The interesting sleeves make all the difference.

This is what I was thinking when I designed the 517 totes…I wanted a simple tote design that was nevertheless dramatic and interesting, and worthy of being your new favorite bag. One of the ways I chose to do that was to make them a slightly unusual shape: they are slightly taller than usual, and have gentle curves where most totes are built on straight lines.

You can do the same thing with your fall shopping! Just remember that practical does not mean plain, and you’ll end up with a new wardrobe that will make you much happier than anything basic ever could!

 

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how to wear gray without fading away

Gray is a neutral that is often hailed as being softer than black but just as versatile…which is true, but I think it can very easily look deadly boring as well.

(sometimes even a little dingy or dirty…nobody wants that.)

Here’s five outfits I’ve styled starring the sibyl everyday bag, with five ways to wear gray that will highlight your style, not make you fade into the background.

 

choose a print

 

The best way to make any outfit interesting is to choose a print, of course! Think how boring this outfit would look with a plain t-shirt and a plain cardigan.  The sibyl everyday bag isn’t printed, but the design stitched in has the same effect…much more eye-catching than solid gray.

This outfit is also a great example of the versatile style of the sibyl everyday bag  – even though it has a very sophisticated air, it works just as easily with super casual weekend wear.

 

choose interesting tailoring

 

By “tailoring” I mean both the style and shape of a garment, as well as how it fits. Wide leg jeans are definitely coming back in style, but you don’t see them everywhere yet – you’ll still stand out in a crowd of skinny jeans and baggy, boyfriend-style jeans. When you don’t blend into the background, it’s so much easier to feel confident and stylish!

You can’t beat Haider Ackermann for interesting tailoring, and this jacket is so eye-catching that it almost has to be in unassuming gray to really show off the design. Way more interesting than a more conventionally styled top!

 

choose interesting texture

 

Texture can elevate any outfit in the same way a print does – by adding visual interest, and providing a little escape from the ordinary.

It’s why I added stitched details to the sibyl everyday bag, rather than just creating a bag in solid gray and solid red.

Texture can be added to plain fabrics with techniques like embroidery or applique, or can be a part of the fabric itself, like the eyelet lace of this top (or the nubby texture of wool tweed, for example).

 

choose outstanding accessories

 

 

It is absolutely okay to have your handbag (or some other awesome accessory) be the star of your outfit!

These pants are pretty amazing on their own (the interesting design details is what does it), but imagine for a moment plain gray trousers, and this feature-less black top. Pretty dull, and not something that’s going to help you feel confident and stylish when you wear it.

But add a great handbag like sibyl and some gorgeous pearl jewelry, and it’s a completely different story!

This is the whole concept behind a capsule wardrobe, of course. The key to making your capsule wardrobe work is having versatile, interesting accessories that work for lots of different looks!

 

choose to not wear gray at all

 

 

 

Remember friends, coordinating and matching are not the same thing! This outfit is a great example of how neutrals can be mixed and matched together indefinitely. It’s also another great example of making your handbag the focal point of your outfit.

The gray and red are actually the accents of this outfit, rather than the starting point. With everything else black and white, the bright red of the sibyl bag really stands out!

 

Have I given you some ideas on how to experiment with your style? For more ideas, subscribe to the Insider’s List and I’ll send you 7 Style Experiments to try right now, and you’ll never feel like a wallflower again!

 

 

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