Toile Away

I’ve noticed a lot of toile items popping up recently.  Toile, also known as toile de Jouy, originated in 18th century France, and referred to cotton or linen fabrics depicting scenes of the French countryside.  Since the 18th century, toile patterns have expanded to include a large variety of scenes from various locales.  Toile is sometimes confused with Chinoiserie, which is roughly French for “Chinese-esque.”  Chinoiserie likewise depicts landscapes, however, they are distinctly Chinese.  Chinoiserie can also refer to a broader set of design elements that appears on furniture and accessories.  Chinoiserie merits its own post; I’ll save that  for another day.  What I most enjoy about toile is that it tells a story.

Jessica Hart in VogueJessica Hart in Vogue’s February 2013 issue.


Modcloth toile dressDress by Modcloth.  I would replace the matching belt with a solid color belt.


Shopbop Carven dressThis more modern silhouette from Carven is the piece I would choose.  Carven currently has a slew of toile pieces, including this dress, these shoes. and this tote:

Carven tote


This toile blazer would take office looks to another locale.

Toile blazer
Celebrity Sightings At LFW SS2013 In London - September 15th, 2012
Laura Bailey mixes toile with plaid.  Image via Tumblr.

Toile scarfThis MIR toile scarf is a great way to incorporate the toile motif into your look without having it take over your entire ensemble.  Also available in coral, blue, orange, turquoise, and brown print here.

Peter Pan CollarEtsy


For the gent in your life, a toile bow tie:

Toile bow tieCountry Club Prep


Lilly Murfee

This Lilly Pulitzer scarf is one of my favorite toile picks for spring because the pattern is NYC Toile, depicting famous NYC spots.  Lilly Pulitzer has carried some fantastic toile pieces over the years.

I don’t wear shorts, but I had to purchase a pair last spring just to own a bit of this fabulous Lilly toile fabric!  I still haven’t worn them, but one of these days I will (or do something else with the fabric):

Lilly Resort 2012 Jungle Glam ToileLilly Resort 2012 Jungle Glam toile.


Like many fashion trends, toile is one that also translates easily to the home.

Green toile bedroomMarcus Design


Toile bed Tumblr


Toile blackTumblr


Trad Home

Blue toile room via Traditional Home.  Fabric by Hinson & Company.


Tropical ToileToile goes tropical in a wallpaper from Thibaut.


Carnival ToileI adore this Thibaut carnival print for use in a child’s room.


Toile dining Houzz.


Toile black 2Tumblr


Aerin Lauder bedroomAerin Lauder’s toile bedroom via Vogue.


Toile bathroomI love this black and white toile bathroom from Lonny.


Toile isn’t just restricted to wallpaper.  You can add a dose of toile to a room with panels, window treatments, bed linens, or even a single pillow.

New Orleans Toile trayThis black and white New Orleans toile tray table works well with a pink couch and zebra stripe pillow.


Toile fabric on dining room chairs adds a needed touch of pattern to this dining room:

Toile chairsVia Elle Decor.


You can re-create the toile look in your home with these French Laundry linens:

French Laundry linens

Bunny toile wastebasketBunny toile wastebasket from The Well Appointed Home.

Toile pillow 1

Toile pillow via Etsy.


Toile coastersToile coasters via Etsy.


Ralph Lauren, Hinson & Company, Thibaut, and Shumacher are all excellent resources for toile fabrics and wallpapers.  If you don’t wish to paper an entire wall, consider framing a piece of toile fabric.

Toile framedPinterest.


Another creative idea is to hang English transferware (or other toile patterned china) on the wall as you would a collection of paintings or photographs.

Toile transferware


Etsy has a wealth of toile products, from corsets to crib bumpers.

Do you own any toile clothing or home accessories?  Do you have any resources for toile products?  If you could choose any pattern as a signature motif, what would it be?

Recent Inspiration

With a trip to Key West, a long visit from my in-laws, Easter, and a stomach virus, it has been awhile since I’ve shared what’s inspiring me.  Here are a few of the things that have inspired me most recently:

AWAKE blouseA.W.A.K.E.

E. TautzE. Tautz

I’m completely obsessed with shirting these days.  Jackets used to be my obsession, but after amassing a collection of them, I’ve moved on to shirts.  I also think that the prevalence of shirting in magazines and street style photos has been influencing my desire.  Thanks to Moda Operandi and That’s Not My Age, I’ve been introduced to these luxurious shirts from A.W.A.K.E. and E. Tautz.  I’m especially enamored with the top shirt from A.W.A.K.E.; the tailoring is so unique.  My Wish List has just grown a couple of shirts longer.


Rear Window

Carolyn Murphy and Tobey Maguire reenacted scenes from the Alfred Hitchcock classic, “Rear Window” in the April issue of Vogue.  “Rear Window” is one of my favorite movies and I adore Carolyn Murphy’s modeling; she has a penchant for portraying glamorous protagonists.  The Marc Jacobs dress on the left would be a fabulous wear to work piece!  Check out this photo spread in Vogue if you haven’t already!


Watercolor eggs 2via Spoonforkbacon

This piece of inspiration is a bit late, but I was recently taken with these watercolor eggs, so I tried them at home with Baby Boy.  He loved the painting process!


Grilled cheese

Did anyone celebrate National Grilled Cheese Day on April 12?  I certainly hope so.  While I opted for a burger (with bleu cheese) instead, I recently had the best grilled cheese of my life at the Key West restaurant, “Better than Sex.”  This restaurant has to be the most unique dessert place I’ve experienced, and it definitely has the most titillating menu descriptions I’ve encountered.  The brooding, romantic atmosphere and rich desserts were fantastic.  I enjoyed a glass of cabernet rimmed in chocolate (red wine and chocolate, what better pairing could there be?) and the decadent chocolate grilled cheese, which the menu describes as “Danish brie cheese & dark Belgian chocolate grilled on homestyle buttered bread kissed with cinnamon and sugar. Served snuggled up against a shot of strawberry champagne soup.”  This incomparable grilled cheese sandwich has inspired me to re-create the sandwich (or convince my husband to re-create it) at home.



This quote resonated with me recently as I traveled to Key West for the wedding of one of my best friends.  I believe that pleasure time should be spent wisely, doing the things we enjoy most.  It’s not often that I take a pleasure trip on my own, so I made sure to relish the time catching up on magazine reading, enjoying key lime pie and conch fritters, exploring Key West, spending a bit of time on the beach, and most importantly, catching up with college friends and celebrating our friend’s marriage.

Key West 2Key West 1


Pleasure 2


Does anyone else watch CBS Sunday Morning?  In my opinion, it’s the best show on TV.  It gives me everything I want to hear in 90 minutes:  a trumpet and signature sunshine to greet the day, a quick news summary, political coverage, arts features, human interest stories, a nature scene at the end, and occasionally a special song sung at the piano by the affable host, Charles Osgood.  I’ve been watching this show for years, since discovering it with my mother, and it never fails to inspire me in some way.  Several weeks ago, before heading to Key West for my friend’s wedding, I watched this story about the importance of friendship.  Lately, as I retreat deeper into family life, I’m simultaneously being reminded of the importance of nurturing my friendships.

wedding2StyleAspirations posing with the beautiful bride.

What has been inspiring you lately?


Build a Wardrobe from Scratch: The Accessories

You’ll notice that in all of my “Building a Wardrobe” posts, I highlight classic pieces.  I believe that when building a wardrobe, classic pieces provide a foundation.  Once you have built this foundation for your wardrobe, you can focus on collecting items that reflect your personality without worrying about missing essentials.
Without further ado, here are the 10 accessories that I find to be essential, in both the “Luxe” and “Less” categories:
Black leather tote bag
Givenchy Antigona Tote- Barneys
I previously wrote about buying this tote in Paris.  I highly recommend it as an every day, any where tote bag!
JNY Tote
Convertible clutch purse 
Derek Lam clutch
Rebecca Minkoff
Chanel sunglasses 2
I own and love these sunglasses!
DKNY Sunglasses
Sermoneta gloves
Grandoe gloves
Winter scarf
Burberry scarf
LL Bean scarf
If you buy this version, you won’t need to buy a pair of black leather gloves!
Patterned silk scarf
Hermes scarf
Lauren Ralph Lauren Scarf
Cartier tank
Pearl necklace
Mikimoto pearl necklace
 Tiffany necklace
For the past 10 years, this necklace has been one of my most loved and worn pieces.
Nordstrom pyramid earrings
Cartier Juste Un Clou
Jennifer Fisher Nail Cuff
Need Supply
The grand total for the Luxe items is $42,920.  The grand total for the Less items is $925.90 (when the “Even Less” pearl necklace and bracelet are used in the calculation) or $2,205.90.
What do you think of my selection of accessories?  Which accessories do you find essential?  Which items do you believe justify a Luxe price tag?

Farewell, Lilly

Lilly's first store

I sadly learned today that fashion icon Lilly Pulitzer died yesterday at the age of 81.

Lillian Pulitzer Rousseau (New York Times Obituary) accidentally created her iconic patterned shift dresses while running a juice stand in Palm Beach.  Lilly found a practical solution to a problem and the idea turned into something bigger than she could have anticipated. Her story is proof of the momentum that a small but brilliant creative idea can gather.  In need of something that would disguise juice stands, she created a patterned shift dress that quickly became a coveted item among the Palm Beach elite. 

Jacqueline Kennedy, an old schoolmate of Lilly’s, also helped the brand garner attention after she was photographed wearing Lilly on vacation, and later, in a Life magazine photo spread.  The simple shift dress blossomed into a full blown company, which today also sells clothing for men and children, accessories, and home goods. The 1980 “Official Preppy Handbook,” cited a Lilly dress as a must-have.


Jackie in Lilly

Jackie in Lilly 2

Jackie in Lilly 3

I purchased my first Lilly Pulitzer piece in college, in Kennebunkport, Maine, after receiving an introduction to the brand by the Lilly loving ladies at my liberal arts college.   I still have that shift dress today.  While my style has evolved since then, I still enjoy the whimsical prints evocative of beachy locales like Palm Beach.  My wardrobe contains several other Lilly dresses, cardigans, polos, accessories, and even a pink winter coat which has received more compliments than any other piece of clothing I have ever owned.  I purchased a white Lilly dress with the last money that my paternal grandfather gave me before he died.  I wore it to the law school graduation of my boyfriend at the time, my own law school graduation one year later, and even out for celebratory drinks on my wedding night after changing out of my wedding dress.  I will wear it yet again this summer.

Lilly post photo

Part of Lilly’s legacy is that she created clothing that countless women have chosen to wear for the special occasions in life and items comfortable enough to be worn every day.

Whenever I think of summer, I think of Lilly.  Whenever I pack for destinations like Florida, Hawaii, and Washington, D.C. in the summer, I always pack Lilly.  A piece of Lilly is a reminder to keep life bright and colorful and not to take oneself too seriously. 

Lilly 2


If you have any personal stories about wearing Lilly, please share them.  The Lilly website is also accepting personal submissions. 

Links to Photos:  1, 2, 3, 4, 6