wardrobe salsa

modern tie-dye tunic

love this modern tie-dye top, boho but not too “granola”

earrings | top | tank | bracelet | bracelet | bag | jeans (similar) | shoes

For some years now, I’ve been focused on building a wardrobe composed mostly of neutral, solid, go-anywhere basics. It began as a desire to simplify and eliminate that “nothing to wear” scramble. I feel I’ve achieved this, but somewhere along the way I think I got a little too locked in, and mostly quit looking beyond those basic pieces. While accessories can certainly add personality to a simple outfit, there’s something to be said for those “added value” clothing items that bring the zhush, energy and visual interest.

But I’m also wary; in the past I’ve pushed myself to add color and pattern, only to find those items going unworn, perhaps because they were too singular, and too far outside of my style formula. I flip through rack after rack, or webpage after webpage thinking, “not me, not me, not me.” There’s a lot of great fashion out there, really beautiful things, but so few that I feel I can connect with, that fit my body and fit in with my life. Pieces that are both special AND easily wearable seem to be fashion’s unicorns.

Sometimes a fresh pair of eyes is needed.

Le Monsieur actually spotted this Raquel Allegra top when we were making a quick pass through Barney’s at The Grove after an early dinner. (Blog Reseach™ bien sur. 😉 ) He suggested I try it on. “This looks like you.” Though I loved the modern take on tie-dye, the garment on the hanger left me dubious. But the moment I put it on…un coup de foudre. “Love it immediately?” Absolutely. Sticker shock? Well, yes. But a piece like this adds so much more to my wardrobe than a dozen plain tops ever would, and satisfied a style craving I’ve been trying unsuccessfully to feed with “more of the same” for some time now. To use a food analogy, it’s as if I were trying to get flavor by heaping more rice and beans on my plate, when what I really needed was dollop of salsa. And like some of the best salsa, this top is handmade in Los Angeles.

gold-tone bracelets

 

I’ve styled here with my favorite white NYDJ jeans (now a couple of years old) but have some ideas for workday outfits too. Do be sure to check out “How I Wear My: White Jeans” at The Rich Life On A Budget and Everything Just So.

Some take-aways:

1. While I’m glad I’ve spent the time and effort to build a solid wardrobe foundation, more of a good thing isn’t going to make a difference at this point. I need to save my focus and budget now for those few Fabulous™ items that will add the spice and flavor. (Basics can always be replaced as needed.)

2. I always seem to stumble over those Fabulous™ items when I’m not specifically looking for them, and when I keep my eyes and mind open.

3. Sometimes there’s no substitute for shopping in person.

How do you add a bit of “wardrobe salsa”?

Linked up: Throwback Thursday, Visible Monday

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56 Comments

  1. Pam
    May 6, 2015 / 3:45 am

    I just love your looks, and the pale neutrals you’ve been showing lately are perfection on you.

    You really hit the nail on the head with this article. For years while traveling for work I relied on neutrals – black and ivory. When I retired, I moved to a more “colorful” place and added lots of color (random purchasing) in my clothing choices. That did not work for me because – annoyingly time consuming to put together ensembles and travel planning was difficult. Further, colors, prints made available by the industry don’t always coincide with “my” best colors. Finding best color + prints + fabric type + design/line all together in a perfect garment – forget about it!)

    So – back to neutrals, but my neutrals have expanded beyond black and ivory now. Have gotten lots of inspiration from your blog for special pieces that add more interest.

    My personal best look is long over lean and that, with the expanded neutral palette makes dressing sooooo easy. Sadly, shoes are all neutrals due to 11AAA size. So – my “zhush” comes from great jewelry and scarves.

    • une femme
      May 6, 2015 / 7:46 pm

      Hi Pam, thanks! I’m so glad the blog has been helpful. That balance between neutrals and color is always a tricky one.

  2. May 6, 2015 / 4:49 am

    Great insight, Une Femme. And a gorgeous top that I think will make you happy every time you wear it. xo

    • une femme
      May 6, 2015 / 7:46 pm

      Patti, thank you!

  3. rukshanaafia
    May 6, 2015 / 4:58 am

    A stunning top – something about the diagonal , well spotted Monsieur . And may I suggest another takeaway ? Sometimes another pair of eyes will see what you might otherwise miss .

    • une femme
      May 6, 2015 / 7:47 pm

      rukshanaafia, thanks so much! And it’s true, sometimes we shop with blinders on.

  4. May 6, 2015 / 5:12 am

    Gorgeous top! The Monsieur has a good eye:). I have been contemplating similar recently and you have articulated my own thoughts so well. I’m finding now that my wardrobe is where I want it, I am ready to add some special, almost wildcard, items that might be a little unexpected but are still truly reflective of my style. I think this top is very you and will be something you enjoy coordinating with existing pieces in your wardrobe.

    • une femme
      May 6, 2015 / 7:49 pm

      Deborah, thank you. Sometimes le Monsieur surprises me. Those wildcards can be the pieces that really personalize our style.

  5. GingerR
    May 6, 2015 / 6:00 am

    It’s worth stopping to think for a moment or two when someone tells you that an item “looks like you.”
    It can’t be because hubby associates you with tie dye!

    • une femme
      May 6, 2015 / 7:51 pm

      GingerR, it’s funny, but I don’t think he saw that print as “tie-dye.” I think he was looking at the colors and the edgy stripes.

  6. Kristi
    May 6, 2015 / 6:35 am

    Great top – looks wonderful on you!

    • une femme
      May 6, 2015 / 7:51 pm

      Kristi, thank you!

  7. Leslie K
    May 6, 2015 / 6:36 am

    My closet is overflowing with neutral basics, which are so easy to buy online. Thanks for the reminder to get out there and bring another pair of eyes so I don’t bring home just more of the same. Love that top and the longer hair!

    • une femme
      May 6, 2015 / 7:52 pm

      Leslie K, thank you! I shop alone so often, and need to remember that some of my best finds have been “team efforts.”

  8. avicennia
    May 6, 2015 / 6:38 am

    Kudos to Le Monsieur. I’m currently in the first phase you described only neutral basics. Its working to organize wardrobe and clarify my thoughts. Perhaps in a couple of years I’ll be able to go back to other colors and statement pieces.

    • une femme
      May 6, 2015 / 7:55 pm

      avicennia, I’m glad I did spend so much time building and refining my neutral basics. Having a good sense our wardrobe foundations really does help figure out the shapes and silhouettes that work best for us, and we can carry over that understanding when we’re ready to branch out a bit.

      • avicennia
        May 8, 2015 / 6:41 am

        Thank you for the lovely comment. I look forward to your guidance when I’m ready to start branching out!

  9. amidprivilege
    May 6, 2015 / 6:46 am

    That is a fantastic top that looks wonderful on you. Sort of the wild girl version of your pale yellow J. Crew top, the one with birds? flowers? Also, what’s the use of living in California if we can’t pull out the boho stops on occasion? <3

    • une femme
      May 6, 2015 / 7:56 pm

      Lisa, thank you! Yes, it’s a very similar shape, but a more refined piece I think.

  10. Leslie Coe
    May 6, 2015 / 7:07 am

    A great piece and addition to your wardrobe. The difference between our basics and our special pieces is that the special ones are memorable, usually because of pattern and color. I love having my core of basics in neutral colors, but isn’t it fun to have a few pieces like this top to pull out occasionally. I would say your husband was right – it is so you.

    • une femme
      May 6, 2015 / 7:57 pm

      Hi Leslie, thanks so much!

  11. May 6, 2015 / 7:25 am

    What a great piece. I’m still having to be wary of my attraction to colour and print as I refine a core of basic neutrals, but this is exactly at your sweet spot. I just bought a new piece that I hope will hit mine…a mustard-ochre linen moto vest. We’ll see how it plays in Paris next week, the ultimate test…

    • une femme
      May 6, 2015 / 7:57 pm

      Frances, thank you! Your vest sounds nifty…I love that color!

  12. May 6, 2015 / 7:37 am

    I love this look on you and I am especially crazy for that unusual bracelet. Wow! Thank you so much for the mention, we both really appreciate that! xx

    • une femme
      May 6, 2015 / 8:00 pm

      Jill, thanks very much, and thanks for such a great monthly feature!

  13. KPL
    May 6, 2015 / 8:05 am

    Great shirt – love her stuff.

    • une femme
      May 6, 2015 / 8:01 pm

      KPL, thanks! She’s on my radar now.

  14. May 6, 2015 / 8:26 am

    Its perfect. I’m like you on neutral basics, but I have a lightweight cotton tunic with that same design!

    • une femme
      May 6, 2015 / 8:01 pm

      Anne, thanks!

    • une femme
      May 6, 2015 / 8:02 pm

      TNMA, thank you! Sometimes he can be downright insightful.

  15. May 6, 2015 / 11:21 am

    I was a little surprised when I first viewed this posting Susan!! It seemed more bohemian than normal for you, HOWEVER, I love it. Especially, I like the little pink or salmon that is subtle, but meaningful to the overall design. Bravo, my friend! So cuteeeeeeeee 🙂

    • une femme
      May 6, 2015 / 8:03 pm

      Hi Kande, there’s still a little bit of Inner Hippie Chick in here. 😉 Thank you!

  16. Cindy
    May 6, 2015 / 11:42 am

    I am so often amazed when reading your blog. The words roll off the page as if I wrote them myself. This post is a perfect example. I feel that I have the basics down, but have been feeling restless in all of my shopping lately. Now I know why. I need “SALSA”. Thanks for saying what I always seem to be thinking!

    • une femme
      May 6, 2015 / 8:04 pm

      Cindy, it’s so gratifying to know that, thank you!

  17. May 6, 2015 / 11:43 am

    Your salsa analogy is spot on. And your husband, what a great guy to spot this for you. It’s funny how that happens. I used to have more black clothes than is humanly possible. I’m glad you found something that is a go-to piece that gives you just the right “aaah” factor.

    • une femme
      May 6, 2015 / 8:05 pm

      Melanie, thanks! I joked a few months ago that my closet looks like a cat burglar’s lair, but I’m slowly expanding my comfort zone.

  18. May 6, 2015 / 12:13 pm

    I add a “kick’ to my outfit by adding a bright pop of color to my neutrals. I also like to wear vintage bracelets or interesting jewelry (great conversation starters).

    Love your mix of white, nudes and gold!

    • une femme
      May 6, 2015 / 8:06 pm

      blondewithasilverlining, thanks!

  19. May 6, 2015 / 12:15 pm

    I love it. I too have been looking for something wonderful like this to set off my wardrobe. This is perfect for a casual wardrobe.

    • une femme
      May 6, 2015 / 8:06 pm

      Nancy K, thank you!

  20. iolacontessa
    May 6, 2015 / 5:38 pm

    I have NO PROBLEM finding SALSA for the wardrobe……….UNFORTUNATELY!You might say I have too much!

    • une femme
      May 6, 2015 / 8:06 pm

      iolacntessa, I have been there too! 🙂

  21. Jer
    May 6, 2015 / 5:53 pm

    Great top! It looks better on you than on the e-catalog model! I relate so much to your style!

    • une femme
      May 6, 2015 / 8:07 pm

      Jer, thanks so much!

  22. happinessatmidlife
    May 6, 2015 / 7:32 pm

    I always love how well you wear neutrals which I struggle with. I think this top is a great addition to your closet with a softer color and will work well with your neutrals.

    Alice
    http://www.happinessatmidlife.com

    Hope to see you Thursday for TBT Fashion link up.

    • une femme
      May 6, 2015 / 8:08 pm

      Alice, thank you! Some people are more comfortable in colors than neutrals, and that’s OK too. See you there.

  23. Zanna
    May 6, 2015 / 7:36 pm

    Beautiful but why so expensive?

    • une femme
      May 6, 2015 / 8:10 pm

      Zanna, thanks. Yes, it is expensive. My guess is because it’s a handmade piece including the dyeing, made here in LA. The fabric is really lovely too.

  24. Jojo
    May 6, 2015 / 10:45 pm

    I appreciate your comment about saving focus and budget for a few Fabulous pieces. I’m planning to downshift my work life soon (not ready to retire, but definitely ready to cut back) and my clothing budget will need to align with the new reality. Reading this helped me realize that, going forward, I should focus on adding some interest rather than more of the same (black, gray, blue). Thanks for sharing your thoughtful insights. Very helpful, as always.

  25. May 7, 2015 / 1:56 am

    Le Monsieur has a good eye. Perhaps you will help me to be more adventurous with my choices when we meet.

  26. Karen
    May 7, 2015 / 9:36 am

    Everyone has already said it all in the comments above, but I like this one very much, and will come out of my normal lurking crouch to add another line or two. I am always inspired by your blog and our style sensibilities are similar, although I’m probably shopping on a little more of a budget. I too have fair coloring, have LOTS of black and white clothes and LOVE them, and LOVE wearing them, but when I wear something colorful or light/bright, I get compliments and everyone tells me it suits me. Yet I don’t feel fully comfy or “myself” in something attention-getting. A curious dilemma but one worth finding the limits on either end so that we don’t get stuck in a rut too often.

    Thanks for all your posts…..

  27. Jess
    May 7, 2015 / 2:49 pm

    Love this top, it would seem to go with both neutrals and color. And we both seem to have white jeans on the brain, as I put together a white on white look with a bit of color. Love the bracelet too. I tend to wear a fair amount of color, but like to add color with accessories.

    please stop by ,jess xx
    http://www.elegantlydressedandstylish.com

  28. Marie
    May 7, 2015 / 9:00 pm

    So pretty and flattering on you! The diagonals echo the asymmetrical sweater/top hemlines that you wear so nicely.

  29. Janet
    May 16, 2015 / 5:16 am

    Wonderful and fresh!

  30. May 18, 2015 / 3:19 am

    I am in LOVE with that top! I love tie dye but it is hard to find a tasteful piece. This one you have on is simply stunning!

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