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Playing with proportions in this black and white outfit

There’s something I totally love about this outfit that I’ve been excited to share with you and it’s proportion.

I wanted to wear this t-shirt by Chico’s from their great campaign to free women from the bondage of ageism by being proud to announce one’s age.

That’s me! I’m 65 and proud of it!

I could have worn this t-shirt with white jeans and white sneakers and a casual jacket. Maybe I still will. But I knew from the start that I wanted to dress it up the first time I wore it.

I don’t own many t-shirts. I guess I shy away from them because they can look too casual on me. I look more like a city girl than a farm girl although I’ve been both. But I also have lust in my heart for that rock star look of t-shirts with messages on women with guitars and gravelly voices wearing torn jeans, super pointy boots, and fringed leather jackets. LOVE that look…but probably couldn’t pull it off…ever.

So I’ll have to style it in a way that suits me.

Love the sleek look of the three pieces in this outfit

Starting with the skirt

I started with the skirt. I haven’t worn this skirt all winter. It’s a Peter Cohen long skirt in a great fabric that has stretch. I ADORE it and it makes me feel so great when I wear it. It’s longer in the back than it is in the front but I like to twist the waistband over until the longest part is along the side seam. I love that asymmetry. I’ve worn this skirt as it was meant to be worn but by twisting it a bit, it feels more flirty than formal.

The jacket I’m wearing is by BCBG. It’s got a sheen and fits like a bolero jacket. It too is so comfortable and snuggly. Both the jacket and the skirt have been in my wardrobe for ten years I’m sure and I think I got them from a consignment store when my daughter Erin spotted them and thought of me. Good girl!

When I put this outfit together, I was delighted by the proportions. The jacket was cropped, the skirt was long and the part of the t-shirt that hangs below the jacket is narrow compared to the swath of black from the jacket and the long swath of black from the skirt. Can you see that?

Playing with proportions

When putting together an outfit you want to avoid a proportion that is 1/2 and 1/2. It’s boring, unappealing. As an example, if the length of a shirt is the same as the length of the skirt, you’re hovering at ho-hum. Something has to be adjusted to make it more interesting. It’s more flattering to wear pieces that have a 1/3 to 2/3s proportion. Or a 1/8 to 7/8s proportion.

Here’s an exercise for you: Flip through fashion magazines and look for outfits that use 1/2 and 1/2 proportions. I bet you won’t find them. It’s a fun exercise and a great way to train your eye!

Accessorizing my black and white outfit

The lettering on this t-shirt is big and bold. YES! So I choose a bold modern looking earring. This steel hoop earring is from Artful Home and the artist is Maia Leppo. It’s striking like the t-shirt.

Maia Leppo steel earring

Steel hoop earring finishes off the outfit

You know I can’t wear heels so that wouldn’t have been a possibility, but I think my Office of Angela Scott patent Chelsea boots work well. They help downplay what normally would be a dressy skirt and makes it look more urban instead.

Modern, feminine and striking

This feels like a perfect outfit for me. I’m more comfortable in my second skin than my first.

It’s modern, feminine (the jacket and the skirt) and striking (black and white color combo).

In fact, I love those words as style words: modern, feminine, striking.

So there’s my story. I really wanted to share with you the delight of using short things, long things, and medium-sized things in the same outfit.

How do you play with proportions? Can you give me ideas about how you vary the lengths of pieces you wear together?

The post Anatomy of a long skirt outfit that plays with proportions appeared first on Brenda Kinsel.

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Happiest moments find their way into my Happiest Moment journal

I opened the doors to my Chinese painted cabinet that I use as my nightstand. I was looking for my copy of Slowing Down to the Speed of Life by Richard Carlson and Joseph Bailey. It’s a gem of a book. I remember it being most helpful and somehow that title was calling to me again. I probably read it not long after it came out in 2009. Here, I’ve got a link for you.

It would have been on one of the two shelves in that nightstand but it wasn’t. At least it wasn’t that night! Maybe I’ll look tonight and it’ll be there.

I was so attracted to this beautiful silk two-tone journal

What I pulled out instead was a silk two-toned journal that I hadn’t written in since June 18, 2016. It’s my Happiest Moment journal. I first wrote in it on October 5, 2007. The entries are regular for a while and then there are gaps. The largest gap is over five years. There was nothing written in it between March 15, 2010, and July 12, 2015.

I’m sure I had plenty of happy moments between those years but I never recorded them.

While I didn’t find the book I was looking for, I found the perfect piece of reading

I realized how great this idea is to record happiest moments before going to bed. It’s a really nice thing to close my eyes to after a busy day. The other choices? I could stew over something or worry about someone or feel regret for not finishing a project I’d planned to finish that day and then close my eyes with all of that on my mind. Or, I could recognize gratitude or satisfaction and write it down. Seems like a no-brainer, right?

Filling pages with happiest moments

One thing I recognized was that it’s the right time to put this journal on top of my nightstand and start writing.

Reading past postings was insightful and tender

Being curious about the gaps, I started reading my entries. It’s funny how those moments can jump right into my head as if they’d just happened last week. There are patterns, I’m sure. I don’t know what they are but I’m having fun reading over my own shoulder.

I’ll share examples. Some entries aren’t dated but I know this was in the 2007 batch.

Russ is sitting in the rocking chair and I’m at the kitchen table cutting out a section of a picture from a design magazine. I’m pasting it on a 3X5 index card and planning to add a Sarah Ban Breathnach quote on top of the picture. When I go to put glue on the back of the cutout I realize the back side is prettier and I’m only vaguely aware of the grin on my face. I’m delighted by this discovery (and this new sport of creating quotes on parts of beautiful pages of a decorator magazine which I just invented this morning) and when I look up Russ is staring at me, eavesdropping on my joy. He really got how happy I was. He said something about the grin and how happy I am cutting up magazines. So true! So not only was it a pure pleasure activity but I was happy to be “discovered” having so much fun by Russ who often sees me busy and hard-w0rking.

My 3X5 beauty cards

Great quote by Sarah Ban Breathnach

I still have those index cards. I call them my beauty cards. Sometimes I take them with me when I travel. They’re just lovely to look at. The quotes came from a desk calendar based on Sarah Ban Breathnach’s runaway best-seller, Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy. Here’s the link if you want to visit her work.

Does this one speak to you?

Other entries are short and not dated.

A moment during restorative yoga where I felt utterly soft and relaxed.

When everyone went home and the house was quiet.

Looking in my office and seeing order.

Being on a walk with Russ when a year ago he was in a wheelchair.

Listening to an interview with singer/songwriter Joe Henry on the On Being podcast.

(Must be the next day) Finding out Joe Henry went to high school with Phil! And married Madonna’s sister!

My adorkable brother, Kirk

And family stuff

Hearing that the procedure was successful for Kirk. OMG!

Running into Erin today when I was with my friends and seeing her so radiant and smiley and personable and pretty!

Bella got on Erin’s Town and Country magazine and wouldn’t get off. Erin kept pulling the magazine across the floor and Bella didn’t budge. Erin even twirled the magazine in circles and she still didn’t move. Too funny!

Caitlin calling me for no reason.

Driving down to San Luis Obispo with Caitlin and her playing all her great music. It was all fabulous read trip music. All of it!

Sitting in the audience watching Trevor play his standup bass, his long red hair down his back, how intent he is and how gosh darn talented he is. Amazing!

Talking to Dad on the phone. When we were hanging up I said, I love you Daddy-o. He said I love you too. I said I brag to my friends about you and he chuckled. It sounded like a 13-year-old boys chuckle — loose and tumbling. “You tell other lies too, I imagine,” he said laughing. What a guy!

My daddy-o

I am blessed, Caitlin

It’s fun having grown up kids like this one, Erin

I adore these three: Erin, Caitlin, Trevor

Contemplating her next adventure, Bella

A blurry selfie commemorating Russ’ birthday this week

I think the thing that has stood out the most is that the happiest moments aren’t the milestone things I’ve experienced like being on the Oprah Winfrey Show or winning awards or getting paid the big bucks for speaking engagements. It’s all the little stuff. It’s the family and friend stuff; the giggles, shared tears, singing to loud music, communicating without words. It’s noticing beauty. It’s enjoying one single day or maybe just fifteen minutes of a single day. It all counts. It all adds up.

My friends, do you keep journals like this? If you had a happiest moment to record, what would it be? I’m so looking forward to hearing your responses!


The post Finding my Happiest Moment journal and reflecting on what makes me happy appeared first on Brenda Kinsel.

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My large beaded necklace gets top accessory billing

A reader left a comment on my blog wanting to know more about pairing necklaces and earrings in an outfit. Let’s start this discussion with statement necklaces.

What’s a statement necklace? It’s a necklace that’s characteristically bold, large-scale, and does the heavy lifting in an outfit. It can have personality and make a statement.

You can buy a necklace that’s a statement necklace or you can create a DIY statement necklace by doubling or tripling smaller necklaces to create more visual volume.

In music terms, your statement necklace is either a solo artist like Adele or a dynamic duo like Sonny and Cher, or an awesome trio like Maurice, Robin, and Barry from the Bee Gees. They’re all outstanding.

I also call these necklaces a something necklace. (That description will make more sense in a minute.) It’s really something. It’s not standing in the shadows. It wants attention. It speaks in ALL CAPS, large fonts or exclamation points. Its message is:

See me now

Let me entertain you

Notice me first

It may or may not be striving to be complimented but it’s earning them. You can interchange those terms: statement necklace/something necklace.

Statement/something necklaces in action

My non-dainty, non-demure big honking crystal necklaces are a statement or a something necklace. They get noticed.

My crystal necklace gets plenty of attention

My crystal pendant gets compliments

My large-scale crystal pendant is a star like Adele

So what kind of earrings do I wear with them? With the largest crystal on the brass chain above, I wear this delicate mesh earring by Ajna Designs Jewelry. It’s outlined in 14k gold fill and the inside crystals are a smokey-taupe color. They have a hint of a color connection to the necklace.

Earring from ajnadesignsjewelry.com

I call an earring that takes on this supporting role to strong necklaces a nothing earring. I don’t use the word ‘nothing’ in a disparaging way AT ALL. (That point requires all caps.) If I come up to you and say, “Oh, what a beautiful nothing earring,” take it as a compliment.

When you don’t have an earring that plays this role, you may never wear that spectacular necklace you have because you can’t figure out what kind of earring to wear with it. A nothing earring is a perfect earring. Often I take clients shopping for the sole purpose of finding those special nothing earrings that they’ll wear with their something necklaces.

If you’d ever want to see me lose my stylish mind, creep into the house at night and steal my crown jewel of nothing earrings, these gray faceted beauties that probably cost me $30 about 10 or 15 years ago.

I couldn’t wear many of my necklaces without these earrings

They were my earring of choice when I decided to wear this large-scale chunky necklace over my red sweater. See what I mean? They relate…enough…without getting in the way of the solo necklace.

Bringing out my crown jewel of nothing earrings

The large beaded necklace needs a nothing earring

Creating a DIY statement/something necklace

Here’s my friend Marj. She was wearing a Bee Gees type necklace combo for brunch at one of our get-togethers. She’s wearing a barely there earring as she’d gotten her ears re-pierced and had to wear studs for awhile. Her cluster of necklaces is definitely getting compliments.

Marj wears layered necklaces and small posts

Here’s one of my dynamic necklaces. I’m a crazy-jumping-up-and-down-screaming fan of it. I’m wearing my crown jewel of nothing earrings with this one. There’s such ease in getting dressed when you don’t have to think hard about which earrings to wear. Just grab your nothing earring and you’re out the door.

My Chico’s necklace takes the spotlight

When nothing earrings get bigger

I’m been trying to think about how I would discuss the accessories my friend, fellow blogger and Instagram buddy is wearing. Meet Elizabeth. She’s the Vintage Contessa. Her Instagram feed is @antiquegoddess. Elizabeth is 5’11”.

The necklace she’s wearing here is resin and by Stella McCartney. She tells me the black earrings are junk and made of plastic. Elizabeth is a trailblazer, not a follower of rules. She can do whatever she wants. But I’m going to suggest that her black earrings are her nothing earrings in this outfit.

Elizabeth wears large-scale accessories

The resin necklace is about triple the scale or more of the earrings. The black earring relates to the trim in the caftan she’s wearing. Even though black can steal the show when it’s up against a honey-color, the necklace wins out.

On me, I’d probably wear these earrings alone, but on Elizabeth, they’re playing a backup role.

I have a similar example from my wardrobe. See that whole lotta pearls at my neck? Well, actually, it’s a duo. This is a Sonny and Cher necklace.

Choosing a large but subdued earring to wear with pearls

Double the pearls for great impact

I felt this colorful, lustrous Etro jacket could do well with a necklace with a lot of presence. To get that presence I put the two sets of pearls together. The petal pearl necklace came from TJMaxx. The bauble pearl necklace came from a consignment store in Fargo on my last shopping trip with my mom.

Alexis Bittar gold edged clear earrings

And what’s the nothing earring I’m wearing with it? Well, it’s a jumbo-sized crystal earring with gold trim by Alexis Bittar (a TJMaxx purchase). With a plain white shirt and jeans, the earring could stand alone. But with the pearl combo necklace, it blends in, relates in color and scale, but doesn’t take anything away from the necklaces.

More doubling up of necklaces

This is Veronica. She’s a big fan, as am I, of necklaces by the Sol Sisters. What you’re looking at are two two-part necklaces. The light colored one is made from jasper beads and the rust/orange one is made from carnelian beads. They are both doubles. I decided to use both of them in this outfit which is a chambray blue linen dress (Eileen Fisher), a soft black linen jacket (Eileen Fisher), and an ombre carnelian colored scarf from her collection. The jasper beads relate to her hair color and the carnelian beads relate to the scarf and the darker red tones in her hair. I love these together.

Doubling doubled necklaces wins an accessory Grammy

We added a nothing earring to this. I don’t have a picture of it but it’s a button ear with gold on the outside and a moonstone in the center. It’s a very important nothing earring that gets used all the time (priceless).

This ends the visual part of the lesson. Have I made this subject as clear as mud or as clear as a spring stream in the mountains?

I hope you realize if you have necklaces that you’re not wearing that it would be important to get out there and find nothing earrings. You’ll look for earrings that have a hint of something that relates to your necklaces. As you see, I have only a few choice nothing earrings that I wear with lots of something necklaces.

Okay, my friends. I’m ready to take questions and/or hear your marvelous comments. Who wants to start?


The post How to choose the right earring for statement necklaces appeared first on Brenda Kinsel.

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Appreciating every year that’s gotten me to this one

I was very excited to present the workshop A Conversation on Aging at the recent MMB Retreat here in Sonoma. It’s been nearly a year since I opened up this discussion to women who are in this chapter of life. I’m forever fascinated by what women are thinking about aging. I love hearing their experiences and I especially love when they get loud about it. They’re pretty adamant about what they don’t like. For instance, no one enjoys feeling pushed aside or invisible. Women want the world to know that they’re determined, they believe in themselves, they’ve done great things in their lives and they’re showing up for all the world to see. Yes, yes, and yes!

Right around the time of our retreat, I was speaking with a lovely woman named Michelle at Chico’s in their New York offices. She’s the Director of Social Marketing and Brand Public Relations. She reached out to me to discuss women and how they see themselves and how they want to be seen. My style and wardrobe consulting business certainly puts me in earshot of women’s views and issues. I told her about A Conversation on Aging and how excited women were to speak with other women about this subject.

Wearing what I want how I want at this age

I shared with Michelle that in women are experiencing much more of themselves as they age. They’re trying new things. They’re going back in time and remembering interests they had before but got buried under pressing responsibilities. Now those desires to paint, sculpt, learn Tai Chi or pick up a language are getting their focus. Those interests are like four-year-olds running wild at a birthday party. They won’t be contained or told to be quiet. They’re coming out for examination and exploration.

While Michelle used the word bold to describe women, in my head, I was using the word freedom. I think freedom abounds as we get older. Oh, I know there are also limitations for some people. But let’s look at our convictions.

We’re not afraid to say no. We’re choosing how to use our time. We’re getting more sleep, not less sleep because it feels good. We’re not racing everywhere. We’re taking our time and enjoying the view.

I’ve been in my sixties for a relatively short time and with each new year, my heart is saying yes to more joy.

Do you like the image of women our age in the media?

I shared what I’m observing about women and she shared with me the research that Chico’s has done about women and what they want and where they’re at. I could have chatted the day away with Michelle. I loved what I was hearing in terms of how they were using their brand to reach out, connect, and open the conversation about women and visibility and possibilities. She asked me if I’d like to participate in a small way in the launch of their message and I said yes.

A couple of weeks later a package came in the mail for me. Inside was my white t-shirt with black lettering that said I’m 65 years bold. I love this t-shirt; it has writing on it and letters and words are my thing. I’m happy to be photographed wearing this t-shirt and sharing it with you here. But what I’m most excited about sharing is the letter that came with the t-shirt. It’s from Diane Ellis, the President of Chico’s. I’ve excerpted it here.

These days, women can be almost anything. They can be curvy, curly, scientific, athletic, CEO’s, politicians, mothers, mechanics, and marines.

But there’s one thing women still can’t be:

49, or 52, or 65


Well- that’s what we wondered. After all, we are a company that celebrates women. Being bold is in our DNA. Our mission is to support women with fabulous style in all that they do. So why were we hesitate to say our age out loud?

It’s time for that to change.

It’s time to GROW BOLDER.

By wearing this t-shirt with pride and sharing it on social media using #HowBoldAreYou it will inspire women everywhere to embrace their own unique personal style no matter their age. Yeah, it’s great to be 20, but it’s also great to be 52 and 43 and 61.

Let’s decide together that we’re not growing older, we’re growing bolder. And let’s shout it from the rooftops.

Following life’s curves in the third chapter of life

My feeling about being 65

I’m all about embracing personal style for women of all ages. My career has spanned over thirty years and personal style has always been at the heart of all I do.

I’m proud to be 65. At 65 I’m not worrying as much about what other people think. Is that bold? Yup, probably!

I’m 65 and brave. I’ve had to be. I’ve had challenges that pushed me to the ground but I’m not staying there for long. I’ll get upright and look at my scuffed up knees with confidence that those hurts will heal and I’ll be here for tomorrow’s rich experiences.

My mother modeled that.

My 92-year-old father models it now.

Do you feel bold?

I can hear my ancestors saying…

Go for it, Brenda!

You can do it!

Don’t back down now!

Another Conversation on Aging

A Conversation on Aging at the MMB Retreat

In A Conversation on Aging in February I had women in the Monthly Marketing Bundle retreat think about where their life was emotionally, physically, and spiritually a decade or two back and then compare that to where it is right now.

I asked them to fill in the blanks in this sentence: I used to ________ but now I _________.

Here are some of the answers.

I used to be upset if people didn’t like me but now I think it’s their loss.

I used to feel like I was on the outside looking in but now I feel part of the whole.

I used to really care about what people thought about me but now I don’t.

I used to feel I needed a man to be happy but now I know I don’t.

I used to be cool but now I’m hot.

I used to be a drama queen but now I’m calmer.

I used to do things I didn’t want to do because I thought I should but now I do what makes me happy.

I used to feel I had to explain why I can’t do something but now I just say, “It won’t work into my schedule.”

I used to think if I’m not making money or working sixteen hours a day I’m not doing the right thing or I’m lazy but now I do what I can and test my motives to make certain I’m in my “joy” place.

I used to try to please other people but now I try to please myself first.

I used to keep some passions on the back burner putting work first but now I’m exploring my creative passions like art and painting.

Free to express style at any age

Can you relate? Do you see yourself in their responses? Is it a stretch to say you’re feeling bold? Is there another word that fits better? Do you have a completely different point of view? Let’s open up the discussion, okay? We’d all love to hear your thoughts.


P.S. I sure am glad you’re in my life! It makes experiencing it so much better.

The post My Conversation on Aging Meets Chico’s New PR Campaign appeared first on Brenda Kinsel.

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Scarves make an outfit memorable

My girlfriend, Joan, sent me a text one night last week. She said, “OMG. Just finished watching The Bodyguard for the 1000 time. I’m crying my eyes out. See you tomorrow. To friendship, to us! Cuz…I will always love youuuuuuu.” She followed up with microphone and music page emojis.

It got me thinking about that movie. What a classic chick flick. And the music, amazing! It had it all: Whitney, Kevin, glamour, intrigue, romance but most importantly, the most memorable scene with a zebra print scarf that I’ve ever witnessed in a movie.

Let me refresh your memory: It’s the final scene on the tarmac. Everyone is out of imminent danger. Whitney is heading out to her next gig in a helicopter or was it a small plane? It must have been a small plane. The propellors were making it super windy. Kevin has his tan trench coat on and he’s wearing the earpiece that he’s had on nearly all of the two hours he’s been on screen. He’s all official and she’s back to being all over the place. The music swells. She comes out of the plane and down the stairs and her zebra print scarf loosely wrapped around her whole head starts billowing fiercely in the propeller-induced wind. It’s SO SEXY!

Wait, wait, wait. I’ll stop right there. I just pulled out a story I wrote twenty-five years ago, the same year this film was being considered for the Oscars in various categories including best original song. I wrote it in a weekend writing class at UC Santa Cruz. On day two of the workshop, I had to read my story to the rest of the class. This was 1993 long before my first book was published or the idea even conceived. The teacher and I ended up in a campus restroom at the same time during a break and she took me aside. “Brenda, you have talent. You must keep writing.” Her name was Mel Walsh and I’m forever grateful for her encouragement.

She liked this story so much so in light of Sunday night’s Academy Awards ceremony hosted by Jimmy Kimmel, I will share with you why I think there should be a category in the Oscar’s for Best Accessory.

So, put yourself back in 1993 in the week prior to Academy Awards night. And I’ll take it from there.

Raspberry scarf is a winner

The Academy Awards will be announced March 29th. Once again, despite all my campaigning, there is still no award for Best Accessory. Come on! There are awards for best makeup, best caterer, best comma in a screenplay…where’s that category for accessories?

Don’t try to appease me with the Best Costume category. That’s about cavemen outfits or nineteenth-century garden dresses or leather flaps for Mohicans. I demand a category for the true star of a film, that accessory that says it all. Like Mercedes Ruehl, winner of best supporting actress last year for her role in The Fisher King. I close my eyes and I can still see those big, shiny gold hoop earrings she wore.

We’ve needed this category for a long time. Consider the great accessories from movies past: Grace Kelly’s chiffon scarf in To Catch a Thief, Marilyn Monroe’s long, black sparkly gloves in The Seven Year Itch, Audrey Hepburn’s black oversized sunglasses in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. They’re standouts!

I bet the French award accessories in movies.They study accessories in grammar school. They teach basic urban survival skills from birth: how to have three pieces of clothing, five pieces of jewelry and make a different outfit for every day of the year. They can take an Hermes scarf and turn it into a halter top, a sarong skirt, or an arm sling. Tres chic!

Raspberry scarf is great with black and white

I bet the French would approve of my choice for this year’s Best Accessory. Here it is on Oscar night: All eyes are on Billy Crystal who says, “And now to present the Oscar for this year’s Best Accessory, please welcome Sharon Stone from last year’s thriller, Basic Instinct, and Jeremy Irons whose latest movie Damage is hotter than mustard on a Polish dog.”

Sharon and Jeremy appear hand in hand and descend a golden spiral staircase to the podium. Jeremy looks at the cue cards and reads, “Well, Sharon, that was some belt you wore in Instinct…the scene at the beach house? That buckle was in the shape of, what…fish?”

For reference and in case you want to buy this belt buckle for yourself!

“Alligators, Jer,” she purrs. “B…I…G alligators…on a big alligator strap.” She leans toward him. Her chin tilts up and she snaps her teeth together twice, real fast. He winches.

She continues, “This accessory isn’t too shabby either.” She strokes his silk paisley scarf from the nape of his neck, down the front of his tux and fusses with the black fringe dangling at the end.

What works around the neck works around handbag handles as well

Jeremy says, “Would you like to read this year’s nominees?”

Sharon reads them one by one. Then he hands her the envelope and asks her if she’d like to read the winner.

She slips her clear, polished fingernails under the gummed red sticker, flips it open, and smooths out the envelope against the lucite podium. She takes a short breath and says, “Oh my gosh, it’s the black and white zebra print scarf worn by Whitney Houston in The Bodyguard!”

Whitney Houston’s voice comes over the speakers singing the chorus of the movie’s hit song. “And eye-eye-eye will all-wayzzz love you…oo…oo…00. Yes, I will always love you.”

Alma Thoren*, the Accessories Director for Bodyguard pops out of the audience. She’s in a short red cocktail dress with seven strands of pearls around her neck. While she scrunches past everyone in her row to get to the Oscar, the cameras go to the big screen on stage and show a clip from the movie.

Striking a pose wearing my raspberry scarf

It’s near the end where Miss Houston’s character-a young, headstrong superstar-demands her pilot stop her plane. The door swings open. She’s down the metal steps. There’s Keven Costner as her bodyguard waiting on the airstrip. She races to Kevin in her men’s drapey black trousers and crisp white shirt. Her black gabardine trench coat flaps in the propellor wind. Covering her head is the winning accessory: the large square zebra print silk scarf.

The camera moves in close and follows Whitney as Keven twirls her around in his arms. While she’s hugging and kissing him for a million years we see the scarf in great close-ups, from every angle, as the camera spins over the tops of their heads.

Oh, to have a scarf like that.

I try to imagine kissing Kevin Costner without that scarf on. It just doesn’t work.

For the love of scarves

*Alma Thoren, the costume designer which I made up is a combination of my mother’s first name and her father’s first name. Just had to bring in the relatives!

Would you agree that accessories deserve their own category? Do you have any nominations for this year’s films?

Just a little note, you can use the Oscar Night for your personal fashion undercover work. Check out this past post, What Can the Oscars Teach Us and see how.

So my friends, are you using scarves for impact, pleasure, sensuality, exclamation points, delight, enticement? Do share your experience with scarves and if they involve a little romance, we can all take it!

Enjoy the Oscars!


The post I’m making my case for Best Accessory in a Movie appeared first on Brenda Kinsel.

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Can this top work three ways?

I’m a three-way girl. In my fashion book, there have to be three ways of styling one single item.

Three ways or three solutions is ingrained in me. When I was in high school worrying about this, that, or the other thing my dad would intervene. “Brenda, if you’re thinking there’s only one way to do something, you’re not thinking hard enough. There are at least three ways to solve this problem.”

He was right. I got so much relief from broadening my mind to come up with multiple solutions.

I took this lesson into how I work with clothes. Call me prudent, but I believe any new item should work three ways at a minimum in order to earn that little piece of real estate it’s going to take up in your closet.

Styling the Renzo top three ways

Case in point: My recent acquisition from Artful Home, a charcoal gray Renzo crepe top by Lisa Bayne. I chose it from an image in the Artful Home catalog. I was very attracted to the color. As you well know, shades of gray are great on me. This top has 3/4 sleeves and is hip-length. I’ve been looking for tops that aren’t too huggy around my tummy.

A non-huggy top wins in my fashion book

When it arrived in the mail, I said, “Okay, pretty crepe top, let’s see if you pass the three-way test!”

Wearing the Renzo crepe top with jeans

I had a date with my girlfriends to grab a bite to eat and solve world problems at Farm House Local in Larkspur. (I recommend the Huevos Rancheros.) I put the Renzo top on over a black tank that hung lower than the top. I wanted the tank for warmth. That layering piece blended into my dark indigo flared Kut from the Kloth jeans.

Adding a scarf with gray tones to my charcoal gray Renzo top

I wore my trusty cowgirl boots. Since it’s been chilly, I looked through my scarves to help me keep my neck warm. I felt a strong need to wear this wool gray and black leopard print one. Isn’t it fun?

By having that luscious wad of fabric near my face, it actually made me look taller!                                                                                                                              That’s because the scarf extends the line of my outfit. I bet you didn’t know a scarf could make you taller, right? 

See the clever stitching detail and the pretty neckline? Not too high, not too low.

I enjoyed feeling snuggly with the scarf around my neck. When I pull it away you can see the great detailing in the top.

I accessorized by adding interesting bracelets to my wrist. One of them is a horn bracelet with two bands of tiny diamonds to anchor it. The other one is by Pat Flynn. It’s his iron cuff with diamonds from Artful Home.  The two bracelets are both elegant and organic. I love the color of them with the charcoal top. I added my arty ring to the mix. I loved every chance I had to gaze at these two bracelets while not being able to solve world problems over lunch.

Adding deep charcoal bracelets to my wrist

Wearing the Renzo crepe top to work

Warning: Baby pictures ahead which means I need you to remember to come back to this post and finish reading it to the end. Although I too wanted to spend the day staring at Baby Owen, you need to see how I’m styling this top for a different lifestyle activity: working with my precious clients whose grown-up children (also my clients) become parents for the first time.

Meet two-week old Baby Owen.

I was warned but Baby Owen didn’t spit up on my Renzo top!

How’s a style and wardrobe consultant going to help Gramma get into some transition outfits for spring with Baby Owen in my arms? This is one of the perks of having a long career working with the same clients.

Oh, joy! Meeting my third generation client for the first time!

Okay, baby gazing time is over. Now let me show you how I worked this charcoal top into a work outfit.

I like to have a polished look when working with my clients for home closet visits or when I’m out shopping with them.

So that morning I started putting my professional look together using the Renzo top. I started with my black Theory ankle pants. I wanted to see if I could layer the charcoal top over a high/low white blouse. I love the classic color combo of black, gray, and white.

I scored this blouse at my daughters’ consignment store, SAX Consignment. It’s by Brunello Cucinelli.

I added charcoal earrings and my crystal pendant with light colored stones (homemade). I added a thin charcoal bangle and my arty ring. I put on some tightly woven black fishnet knee-his and my black patent boots by The Office of Angela Scott.

A two-part appointment with my client

When this day started, I actually wasn’t expecting to be shopping with my client. Erin and I were there in her home to style new outfits for this sliver of fashion transition time between winter and spring. Remember my 5 lightening and brightening tips? That’s what we were up to. But while we were in the closet working with her wardrobe it became apparent that she needed more than jean jackets to help her transition her wardrobe. We decided to run to the mall and check on a couple of jackets she could start wearing soon.

Sending the right message with my professional stylish outfit

I love the detail of the keyhole closure in the back.

I love the way the white shirt hangs below the Renzo top

Wearing the Renzo crepe top for dress up

Okay, I’ve worn the Renzo crepe top to lunch with my gal pals, to work with my precious clients, but could I dress it up for a lovely date night with Russ and enjoy looking at his brown eyes over candlelight at a corner table in a nice restaurant? Well, let’s just see.

In dressing up the Renzo top I didn’t want a collar, too formal. I did need another layer (chilly, still). I looked in my closet for other gray things. Gray on gray is elegant. When I spotted this gray Echo shawl I knew I had a big piece of the outfit completed already.

Excited to go out with Russ on date night

The shawl extends the length of the top and flows into the wide-leg Rag & Bone pants I chose to wear. I added my Pat Flynn iron cuff with diamonds to keep the elegant theme going. So the diamonds in the cuff could have a playmate while Russ and I were cooing with each other, I added this simply elegant tassel necklace with sparkles. This outfit called for my pointy-toed patent AGL flats with big velvet bows.

Wearing a full cut pant helps dress up this outfit

I love when perfect mating happens spontaneously in your closet. The texture and flat weave of my shawl is only perfect with the texture and flat weave of my top. The fact that they’re so close to the same is what gives this an elegant look.

I’m adding a different texture for added interest with the iron cuff and the sheen of my framed charcoal gray artistic handbag.

I really love the way this came together. How I feel in this outfit is exactly how I want to feel on date night.

Shades of gray in top, shawl, and accessories

Dad would be proud! I did indeed come up with three ways to wear this top. I think I get extra points for the fact that I managed to wear it for three different parts of my life.

What do you think about my prudent three-way styling rule? Do you have a different formula that works for you? Do share, my friends!


This post is sponsored by Artful Home. You can find the Renzo crepe top by Lisa Bayne in charcoal or Jasper in the winter collection right now. Thank you Artful Home and Lisa Bayne for gifting me this top and letting me use it to demonstrate my three-way fashion styling tip.

The post Styling the same top for three different lifestyle activities appeared first on Brenda Kinsel.

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My coat with letters, my favorite things!

When the Bellas got together three months ago or so we were in Sonoma having magnificent French toast at El Dorado Kitchen with promises of shopping on the Square afterward. Maybe it’s because I live here and can go shopping on the Square anytime I want, but I was really dragging my feet on the shopping part. Don’t we often think the best things aren’t going to be right under our noses, that we have to travel to find the good stuff? Maybe that was going on or it could have been that I was feeling sluggish after the yummy French toast, butter, and maple syrup.

Marj and Mariann were eager to check out one of their favorite stores, Artifax. That store is not really my thing. I’ve walked in and walked out because it’s overwhelming for me. It’s packed floor to ceiling with merchandise. You can hardly move between the stuffed rounders of clothes. I prefer less-cluttered spaces. Knowing this about myself I gave the heartier shoppers a headstart. I didn’t want to be like the two-year-old tugging on their sleeves saying, “Can we go now? Can we go?” I hung back at Reader’s Books.

By the time I wandered up First Street and walked into the store, they’d already found treasures. I oohed and ahhed and started thinking about the ice cream store next door that makes homemade ice cream and yummy chocolate malts.

I tried to get my inner two-year-old under control. I walked around without really focusing on anything.

The Heydari coat had an asymmetrical bottom

Then it happened. I saw an arty, shiny black and gray coat with block letters all over it. Letters! Vowels like A, E, O, and U. “I” was missing, but it had Y which acts as a vowel sometimes. And there were oodles of consonants! J, D, C, X, B, N, K, P, H, T, R, Z.

Mariann spotted me in the corner gazing at the letter jacket. Marj followed. “Try it on,” they said.

I did. They oohed and ahhed.

“Oh, you must have that,” they said.

I had to get over the itchy problem first. It had scratchy metallic threads that bothered my neck and arms. Even though I found it appealing, it was awfully shiny…and did I say bold? Could I pull that off?

Look at all those consonants!

“But where would I wear this?” I said.

“Oh, I can see you standing in front of an audience in this coat,” Marj said.

“And I can see you wearing it when you’re talking about fashion or your books,” Mariann said.

“You could wear it at the MMB* Retreat,” Marj said. While I was fussing over the solution for the scratchiness (looking for a way out because it pushed against my comfort zone) they were trying to get me all in.

A coat that does all the talking

“I am going to be presenting A Conversation on Aging at the retreat,” I said softly, mostly to myself.

They heard me.

“Wear it to that!” my chorus of nice, lovely, non-bratty friends said.

I didn’t tell them what popped into my head. It was a memory of being at Glide Memorial United Methodist Church in San Francisco. Before I moved to Sonoma I’d drive into the City nearly every Sunday and listen to Rev. Cecil Williams’ sermon and the live band and big chorus led by Donell who played the grand piano. I loved sitting close to the choir director, watching his black fingers with pink fingernails fly up and down the keyboard.

When the choir was done singing the morning gospel songs Donell would get ready to leave the stage as Reverand Cecil came up to the podium to give the sermon. I’d watch Donell slide off the piano bench so smoothly and lean over to pick up his bag. It was a black leather bag with a zipper across the top. It was a perfect shape for holding sheet music. Across the bottom of the bag were black and white piano keys. What a perfect bag for him, I thought.

The following week I was back in church in my favorite pew but Donell wasn’t there. Someone else was at the piano and members of the choir were wiping away tears. Rev. Cecil told us what happened. Donell had died at 7:30 a.m. that morning. I don’t know the details. I wasn’t part of his inner circle. My memory of his music lives alongside that bag that I’ll never forget.

Wearing my gunmetal disk necklace

As I looked at every letter in this text coat (by Heydari), I knew it was mine. Just like that leather bag with the piano keys on it was Donell’s, this coat was mine. The way he loved keys is the way I love words. Wearing this coat pays tribute to the words I get to work with every day.

So, my friends, I did figure out the solution for this coat. I wear my Babette black long-sleeved microfiber t-shirt under it and don’t feel any itchiness. I wore my Lisa Bayne Crepe Barefoot Pant from Artful Home catalog as my pant. I loved how this non-traditional pant suited the jacket perfectly.

Wearing my Lisa Bayne Crepe Barefoot Pant

Adding fishnets and suede pointy-toed booties

I wore my disk collared gunmetal necklace and arty ring. I added fishnet stockings and my pointy-toed Aquatalia suede boots.

I did wear it at the MMB Retreat on Thursday morning when I presented A Conversation on Aging. My letter coat felt like a cocoon. It was perfect!

I shared with you the practice we had of Style Study at our MMB retreat with all the style and image consultants (there’s another post about it for you here, too). Well, when I did Style Study about my outfit, explaining what I was wearing and why, I brought up my beautiful Bellas to give them credit for helping me put on my big girl panties and buy this piece from Artifax.

Mariann and Marj were my better shopping halves at Artifax (thirds?)

And now you know the whole story about how I was remembering Donell and his bag that day.

Have you worn something that had a deep connection to you, a passion of yours, or an interest? I’m so eager to hear all about it!


*Monthly Marketing Bundle program (MMB)

The post Anatomy of an Outfit: Wearing something that has deep meaning appeared first on Brenda Kinsel.

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Caitlin’s outfit had me back in college falling in love

Caitlin walked into the house on Office Tuesday. She’s my bookkeeper, MMB manager, strategic planning partner, and my daughter. I don’t know if I even greeted her before I said, “Oh my gosh, you look just like me when I was in college.” I called for Russ. “Honey if you want to know what I looked like in 1971, this is it.”

“Like what specifically?” he asked.

“It’s the flared jeans, the boots, the tweed jacket, the hobo bag, the hair past the shoulders and parted nearly in the middle, the eyebrows, the long eyelashes, the round bootie. This was me,” I said.

Every time I turned to look at her I saw myself. Except for one thing. She doesn’t have a crooked nose. For all the softball she played in grade school, including pitching seven extra innings in a championship game that left the palms of my hands black and blue (I didn’t know hard clapping could bruise your palms), not one ball landed on her nose. (Yes, they won.)

Caitlin’s tweed jacket looks like one I wore in college

I wasn’t as lucky. I also wasn’t an athlete.

Growing up in the spring months in Hastings, North Dakota we’d play softball during recess. I think we were around nine-years-old. My twin brother Brent was a hot shot player so he got the good positions like first baseman and pitcher. Me? I was way out in center field, just me and the crickets. I remember the blue skies the most. I guess I spent a lot of time looking up. One time I was pulled out of my reverie when I heard shouting.

“Brenda, Brenda, Brenda! Ball coming!”

I saw that fat softball heading my way. I froze. I didn’t run for the ball. I didn’t have the glove in front of my face. When it hit my nose I fell to the ground. I was dizzy with pain. Blood was getting all over my dress. Someone ran to get Mrs. Foster who came onto the field with a wet towel in her hands. The game ended and my mom was called.

There was no rushing to the hospital. It was far away. We were farm kids. It was probably just a nosebleed.

My pride was bruised and my nose was crooked

My nose wasn’t shattered but after a few days when the pain subsided, what I saw when I looked in the bathroom mirror was a crooked nose.

I had that same hair part!

I didn’t talk about it, but I did obsess over it. I hardly understood what plastic surgery was but I started saving my pennies (literally) so when I got older I could have surgery to make my nose straight again. Whenever I looked in the mirror, I only saw a crooked nose. I didn’t see brown eyes, wavy hair, lips, ears, or eyebrows.

So I had two problems. I was terrified of softball and wouldn’t join the other kids when they played. Instead, I’d run to the monkey bars and play by myself. My other problem was that I was sure no boy would ever pay attention to me because I had a crooked nose.

My twin brother cured one of my problems

We were in high school when we were living in West Fargo. We had a huge front yard there on Sheyenne Street. It was perfect for playing co-ed softball or touch football games. I so wanted to play. Brent felt confident that he could cure me of my softball phobia.

He spent hours pitching softballs to me in the yard.

I couldn’t hit a single ball. With every easy pitch he tossed, I kept wanting to duck. Finally, he said, “Switch the bat to your left hand. Try hitting it with your left.”

He tossed the next underhand pitch. I hit it. “Yay!!!” he said, waving his arms in the air. He tossed the next pitch. I hit it again, hard.

He tossed me eighteen more pitches and I hit every single one. I was practically cured!

Those jeans? Those boots? Had them too!

But I still felt bad about my nose.

I got a new perspective in college

I started college in the winter semester. Imagine me dressed exactly like Caitlin and I’m trying to find the math building for the first time on the North Dakota State University campus. I’m signed up for Advanced Allegra. I get up to the second floor, walk into room 210, and the class is nearly full. I find a seat in the fourth row back near the tall wood-framed windows looking out over the walking paths that lead to the science, humanities, and language arts buildings.

Every day I take the same seat in the fourth row. And every day the same young man sits to my right. Sometimes we talk. Sometimes we don’t. I’m aware of every detail about him; his soft-looking honey-brown hair, his blue eyes that seem to twinkle, and his steady voice–not too loud, not too soft, just right.

One day he asks me if I know about this coffee shop that’s opened in the basement of a building in Moorhead. He offers to take me there. The tables are made from empty wooden spools that once held wire that utility companies use. Peanut shells are all over the floor. Young people with guitars come up to the front and sing folk songs. It’s pretty far out!

Over the coming weeks, we see each other in class, go listen to music on occasion, and hang out at the cafeteria on campus as study partners when big tests come rolling around. We’re great math students. We hardly need to study but it’s wonderful having an excuse to look into his blue eyes.

I had a hobo bag just like that!

Our math teacher surprises us on the last day of the semester. Gary and I have our test scores in our hands when the teacher looks at us, smiles and says, “I think I’ve watched two people fall in love in this class. I wish the best for you two.”

We keep seeing each other once the class is over. We sit in his truck and he puts in a cassette and says, “Have you heard of this guy Elton John? I think you’re going to like this!” I do. I pretty much like everything that involves being with him.

I ask him over to my parent’s house. I want him to meet them. As he’s leaving we stand outside under the light of the front porch. His face is close to mine when he reminds me that he loves me. And then he says, “And I really love your nose.”

Tears come stinging into my eyes. Is he being cruel? Is he making fun of me? My feelings about my nose are so tender, so private. He doesn’t know how I’ve saved money to get it fixed one day.

I feel raw and exposed.

I had a round derriere for a few decades; now it’s pretty flat!

But when I look at him I can tell my reaction has hurt him. He means no harm.

“But it’s crooked!” I protest.

“But I love it. It’s different. It makes you unique and I love that about you,” he says. “It’s perfect!”

Reflecting on self-acceptance and where it can come from

Suddenly it’s okay, it’s all okay. I have a crooked nose. Someone loves me in spite of this flaw. I can stop saving for surgery.

Through my adult eyes, I see things more clearly

Gary and I were romantic for a couple of years and then I left North Dakota and moved to California. I’m not one to stay friends with past boyfriends. Several years ago when he started sending me friend requests on Facebook, I ignored them.

One day an online greeting card came into my email inbox. It was from Gary. My heart fluttered. I opened it. It had hearts on it. Flower, too. He wanted me to know that he’d followed my career and was so proud of me and especially the books I wrote about fashion. He said, “I remember walking past a store window with you in Fargo and seeing a scarf on a mannequin. You liked it so much. I wish I had bought it for you.” He wished me continued success and that was it.

I accepted his friend request.

What Gary doesn’t realize (and maybe I should tell him) is that he gave me a gift much bigger than a pretty scarf, although it was awfully sweet to hear that story.

He showed me how to bring love to something I’d disliked for so long. He helped me find beauty in imperfection…in my imperfection.

It’s a gift that’s kept giving my whole career. I love when I can bring another view to someone who is disliking, even hating, a part of their body.

Caitlin’s got a softball game to get to

Caitlin’s got a championship softball game to get to tonight. She’s in a co-ed league in San Francisco. If her team wins tonight, it’ll be their sixth championship win in a row!

I think we’d all be champions if we found ways to love the parts of ourselves that we’ve been harsh with. Have you had hard feelings about yourself? I think it’s time we get those stories out in the open and bring love and light to what needs healing. It’s never too late!

Have you had transformative experiences that led to self-acceptance? We could all benefit from hearing your story. Please share!


The post I had a nose I hated until someone showed me how to love it appeared first on Brenda Kinsel.

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Come be flawsome with me

I promised more news and views from the Nearly Annual MMB Retreat held last week here in Sonoma. If you missed some of the action, you can get caught up here, The MMB Retreat in Sonoma brings in stylish professionals. I cannot tell you how much joy it has brought me to go through my phone and choose these pictures to share with you. If you could see me now at the computer screen (don’t look at my hair!), my grin is matching those of my colleagues below.

See all those smiling faces? Those are style and image consultants taking photos from our meeting room at the Fairmont’s Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa during Style Study. Style Study was when each person had a chance to stand up and share with everyone what they were wearing and why. We’re always advising our clients on what to wear and why so it was fun to share what goes into our own minds when we put outfits together.

The MMBers are taking pics of their style study buddies

We heard about a necklace that hadn’t been worn in forty years that came out to play this week in an outfit. One colleague was wearing a bracelet that had come from her mother’s pen pal in New Zealand when her mother was in grade school. Some savvy shoppers shared items they’d found at thrift stores, consignment stores or discount chains. Cardigan sweaters were worn backward, coats were turned into dresses, dresses turned into tunics, layering pieces turned upside down and belted. It was fun, wild, and I can’t wait to share more.

Style Study details

Before I share more examples of Style Study I want to share a term Suzanne (@airofdistinction) introduced us to on Tuesday in her Master Style Class: Breaking the Rules. The term is Flawsome. It’s an adjective and refers to an individual who embraces her “flaws” and knows they’re awesome regardless. 

Is that awesome or what? We played around with that word all week. I don’t want to stop. Let’s be flawsome together, okay?

Back to the retreat: On Wednesday afternoon we scheduled some free time so people could go shopping if they wanted to. Or they could head back to the spa for a massage.

Ginger went shopping with buddies and found this coat at Angelique, a boutique just off the square. It’s trench coat by Samuel Dong, a Canadian designer she knew about already. It has a bubble hem and resonates with one of her style words: exquisite.

Ginger from Boston wears a trench coat by Samuel Dong as a dress

She borrowed earrings from Suzanne which came from an artist in Australia. The belt was in her suitcase already. So with just a tiny tweak, she turned her shimmery coat into a belted dress with leggings and heels she had with her.

I love the repeat of the lines in the earrings and the lines in her belt.

Borrowed earrings from an MMBer and her own belt

I should have taken pictures of every single necklace worn last week. There were so many! Here are two I captured. This is Mariann on the left and Bernie on the right. Their necklaces are so kinetic! I love how they take up some much space on the chest. It’s far from a thin gold chain!

Loving the shades of white and pretty necklaces on Mariann and Bernie

Here’s Traci from Cleveland. She explained that she has a full suit in the pattern of her pants. The fabric is fabulous! She often splits the jacket and pants up. They’re by Ouliu. I’m pretty sure I’ve got that right. There’s a list coming of plus-size resources that I’ll share with you as soon as I get it.

The tank T-shirt she’s wearing is white on the top and black on the bottom. She LOVES this T-shirt from Macy’s because it gives the illusion of a waist with the way the white ends and the black begins. The black part covers her fullest area. How clever! She likes using her shimmery scarf to create a longer line. Her blue knit jacket has flattering 3/4 length sleeves. Her glasses are blue too. I love this color palette!

Traci in shades of blue

I had to call up the Bellas to join me when I explained my outfit. They were with me when we were in Sonoma in November. I spotted this jacket by Heydari in the Sonoma shop called Artifax. I fell in love with the letters. “But where would I wear this?” I said. Practically in unison, they said, “You could wear it at the MMB Retreat!” And I did! I’ll be sharing more about this outfit another time.

The Bellas made me buy this jacket!

Here’s our Master Style teacher, Suzanne. We’d had a class on taking photos so I’m doing my best to catch of shot of Suzanne on this great picnic table at El Molino Central in Boyes Hot Springs where the group had lunch on Thursday.

Practicing photography skills with Suzanne

A luscious mix of black and red and patterns in this personal style

She’s wearing (as she teaches) mixed patterns! She is wearing tartan jeans from the men’s department in a store in Melbourne. Her vintage black kimono is belted at the waist with an obi type belt. She’s wearing a turban on her head (bad hair day, she said) in an animal print which she sees as a neutral. Balancing the design weight on her head are her very lightweight red pom pom earrings. I love her sheer dot hosiery with her patent heeled oxfords. She doesn’t want to look like anyone else. We just adore how much she looks like our style guru, Suzanne!

Details of Suzanne’s mix of patterns and accessories

Sara is so elegant and refined. I loved looking at her neutral palette every day. Here she’s mixing prints in a subtle way with her plaid fitted long jacket, her scarf and then take a close look at her bracelet.

Sara in her fitted jacket

I love her suede gray booties. I could see those in my wardrobe! Love her ring and even her nail polish is refined.

Catch the details of her ring, bracelet, and patterned jacket

Here’s Carrie who never saw anything glittery that she didn’t like. Her personality is like glitter too! Light, delightful…she just brings joy to every room.

I love how she’s created this column of blue with her knit duster and her cuffed jeans and her blue-gray sandals. Yum!

Carrie wears her column of blue but it has to sparkle!

And how’s this for a color mix? Marj loves navy (it loves her) and this mustard gold. I like how she’s layered this lace top on top of her long-sleeved T-shirt. Remember that when you look at your summer tees or tanks. You could wear one as a layering piece over something long-sleeved right now in February.

Marjory wears a lace knit top over a long-sleeved T-shirt

Do you want to meet someone who has rollerbladed in every state in the USA except three? That would be Jill! She’s from Minnesota and was soaking up the sun last week. She’s wearing a tunic knit colorful top over leggings. She has the most amazing leather jacket collection in colors that aren’t black, gray, or navy. Try orange, turquoise, and blush pink. She told us an unforgettable story about how she got her husband’s eyebrows tweezed. He was reluctant but he isn’t anymore. I don’t think I can share it here but if we meet for coffee, remind me and I’ll tell you!

Jill wears a flowy tunic over leggings

The retreat comes to a (tearful) close

Oh no, it’s getting close to the end of the retreat. Okay, now I’m looking at the pictures that have me crying…again. I knew by Tuesday at noon that saying goodbye on Thursday night was going to be tough. Here are Traci and Leigh and me and Marjory toasting to a wonderful time together.

Celebrating a great week together with the MMBers

Here’s Danean who is one of my style heroes. I’ve asked if I can write about her and she’s said yes. I love these glorious simple lines on her. That knit top has those fabulous bell sleeves. And take a look at her shoes!

Danean demonstrates how simplicity can be divine

And here’s the bunch of us! The fact that I write content for them to use in their newsletters, social media, presentations and such doesn’t sound too sexy, does it? But it’s what has brought us together: the Monthly Marketing Bundle program. We share a desire to grow this industry and make our clients happy. I’m so glad I can use my writing to help make that happen. (Would you please hand me a tissue?)

Have you seen a more flawsome, awesome group lately?

A most wonderful group of women celebrating and expressing style

This is the image of what’s possible after a few days of spending time in one place together enjoying beauty, style, fashion, and personal expression. It’s what it looks like when we’re supporting and mentoring each other in our businesses and growing and deepening friendships. And it’s love, lots and lots of love.

#Iamsolucky  #wearesolucky #MMBsforever #untilnextyear #iloveyouguys

There! Has anything or anyone inspired you? I’d love to hear!


The post Style and image consultants share tips and inspiration from Sonoma appeared first on Brenda Kinsel.

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Appreciating all I learned in Suzanne Dekyvere’s Style Mastery Class: Breaking the Rules

The wait is over! After months of planning the Nearly Annual MMB Retreat, we had our official first day yesterday and it surpassed all expectations. Women attending this Sonoma retreat took time away from their jobs to come together and learn from each other. It’s all not for profit and most of the speakers come from within the Monthly Marketing Bundle program membership.

Everyone who is here this year is involved in the style and image business but we all do it differently and in different places: Cleveland, Boston, Minnesota, Central California, the Bay Area, Oregon, and Melbourne Australia. Some of us do more corporate work while others have more one-on-one clients like I do. Everyone has different strengths and skills and we’re here to share.

How do these fashion, style, and image consultants happen to all be together?

You might be interested to know how this all started. Marion Gellatly, one of the speakers in our opening session on Careers in Motion, put an idea in my head about ten years ago at an AICI (Association of Image Consultants International) Conference. She came up to me after a session and said, “Brenda, this is what we need from you. Image consultants need your writing because most of us don’t want to write. You write professional articles for us that we can use in our business and we’ll pay you for it.”

I had no clue what she was talking about. None. My face was blank. She walked away and I forgot all about it.

Two or three months later an idea came to me. Why don’t I stop writing fashion articles for the Pacific Sun Newspaper and write for professionals instead? (Visualize the palm of my hand hitting my forehead.) Oh! That’s what Marion was talking about!

And that’s how in January of 2009, the Monthly Marketing Bundle program was launched.

Meet Marion, the woman who started it all

Marion was one of the five speakers in our Careers in Motion panel on opening day. Her career has had several chapters and now she’s focusing on online membership programs. She loves education and she’s going to continue to educate by reaching and teaching people online. She outlined how she did it and encouraged us all to take our passion and invest in the time and money to give our dreams a go. “Surround yourself with people who know how to do the parts you don’t know how to do. Don’t wait until you’ve figured out all the technology. Let someone else do that part.”

Marion, one of our five professionals, talks about her Career in Motion

On a style note, I love Marion’s glasses. I would recommend frames like this for anyone who does presentations. Isn’t it great how they bring attention to her eyes?

Ideas were captured on Post-Its (cute ones) from our morning session

Style Study

Sprinkled throughout our first day was an exercise I call Style Study. Who better to hear from than other image and style professionals about what they’re wearing and why? You learn a lot about people when they discuss their clothes and accessories. I was so excited about this feature of our MMB Retreat and wasn’t sure if the group would be as forthcoming but they were.

Some mentioned the way they repurposed a garment and turned it into something else. There were some camouflage tips shared. We heard about the style words they use to guide them into outfits that really resonate with them. And we learned about some of the sentimental pieces they wear and why. It was fascinating, spirited, and tender.

Here’s Carolyn Woodworth. Can you see how vibrant she is? She’s having fun with stripes and creative asymmetry. She brings in a fun pop of red with her handbag and her fingernail polish.

Carolyn shares what she’s wearing and why in Style Study

Here’s Marjory DeRoeck. She’s a creative dresser. She loves the necklace she’s wearing partly because of its movement. It’s not static. She’s turned to shades of gray recently as a neutral base. She’s sharing a comfortable shoe brand with us: Eileen Fisher. A former dancer and dance teacher, she’s not wearing heels anymore and is finding stylish flats to be happy in.

Marjory gives us her shoe tip in Style Study

Elena Daciuk is the queen of vintage. I think she said that half of her wardrobe is vintage. She has a lot of vintage jackets in her wardrobe and this is an example. Her vintage T-shirt has sparkles and she’s wearing a vintage bracelet. The necklace is a designer who created some jewelry for actress Elizabeth Taylor. Her black frayed jeans add to the 50s flare she has going on. Her shoes, purchased at Saks Fifth Avenue, will be mine too if they’re still available. She praised them for their comfort and I’m praising them for their style.

Elena shares her outfit details and it’s all about vintage!

Next up is Suzanne Dekyvere from Australia and Ginger Burr from Boston. They’re wearing similar outfits. Don’t believe me? Let me break it down!

They are both wearing dresses as tunics. Suzanne’s fox patterned dress is very whimsical; Ginger’s navy dress is sleek and elegant. Both of them are wearing patterned leggings. Suzanne’s is a bold animal print and Ginger’s is a subtle shimmery print in navy.

Suzanne made the tartan sash that she wears at the waist and Ginger’s dress had its own built-in adornment at the waist, a sleek narrow shiny gold metal buckle. They both wear heels comfortably. Suzanne’s heels are a wonderful orchid color and Ginger’s are a pretty navy patent.

Suzanne and Ginger turned their dresses into tunics

Next up is Bernie Burson. She has been on an exercise and healthy eating program and has lost 45 pounds. She shared about how she’s having to relearn how to dress her body. She said, “In my head, I still want to buy big clothes.” This is the first time she’s worn leggings and they’re a size small. Her top and leggings are from J.Jill. Her lightweight necklace and shiny bracelet came from a shop in Eugene, Oregon where she lives.

She told us that although the leggings feel out of her comfort zone they fit the “why” of her outfit. That evening she did a comedy routine for us! She mentioned earlier how this outfit made her feel like a court jester. She had us in stitches when she talked about wanting a panty line, one that would remind her of where her butt starts. We were roaring as she nailed the things we’re all thinking about in this chapter of our lives but not saying out loud.

Bernie’s style had a hint of jester which fit with her comedy routine

She performed her routine after we had dinner and dessert in the Sonoma Square at the Swiss Hotel in our own private room.

Enjoying dinner together at the Swiss Hotel

All that was left to do was go back to the Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa, get a good night’s sleep and get ready for another inspiring day together!

Buddies Elena, Carrie, and Danean are figuring out which photos to post on Facebook

To be continued: Suzanne’s Style Master Class on Breaking Rules

Suzanne taught us how to mix patterns and so much more

You got a taste of the morning session with Careers in Motion. Suzanne’s afternoon session was about breaking rules and mixing patterns. She had some very thought-provoking ideas for women of a certain age. I’ll be sure to share my notes with you. My head was nodding up and down the whole afternoon. I know you’ll be interested!

You probably have groups of people that you like to hang out within your field. I know my nursing friend Joan loves being with her nursing buddies. Who do you hang with who gets you and provides great ideas? Do share!


The post The MMB Retreat in Sonoma brings in stylish professionals appeared first on Brenda Kinsel.

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