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Discovering these jeans in a glorious orchid color

Ooh, look at those jeans. Aren’t they so happy? Orchid or lavender or lilac colored anythings bring an instant smile to my face.

Really, you have no idea how much I love this color.

On my first visit to Stockholm (2003?) when I did makeovers on women over 40 for the magazine, Tara, I had some walking around time. Being a paper freak I went into a store full of notebooks of every size and color and bought this one in lavender. The gold color of my office walls is maybe blowing this image out but believe me, every blessed page is lavender.

This color lifts my spirits

To flip me into a better mood if I’m in a rough one, all I have to do is pull out this notebook and inhale the color. Calms me right down.

This Mother’s Day my girls gave me that orchid colored bud vase by Heath Ceramics. I keep it at my bedside. It sends me off into pleasant dreams at night.

And what about those pieces of orchid colored fabric that are sitting on the notebook? Oh darlings, that question will be answered. All you have to know now is that this is a story about love, lust, unrequited love, separation, desperation, heroic efforts, battles nearly lost, but through it all comes redemption. It doesn’t have a perfect ending, but it has the right ending.

Our (s)heroes journey begins

Last February 26th, we were on a shopping trip with my client Sue and we were in J.Jill. Erin and I do what we always do, comb the store for what we think will work and then head to the dressing room. If a client needs a different size I step back out on the floor and pick it up. Somehow the moment when my eyes spotted a pile of orchid jeans was caught on camera. It wasn’t until the client left that I actually let myself go back to that table edge and take in the full orchid experience.

The very moment when the relationship began

Love at first glance? Oh yes. Did I snatch them up and bring them home that very day? Oh no. I admired them but left them in the store. I’m an indigo denim girl. Would I really wear orchid jeans?

And then I thought of them…and thought of them…night after night. I posted a pic of them on Facebook and asked you guys for advice. “Should I buy them?” Readers said yes, readers said no, one reader said, “I’d cut off the hem” and another reader said, “I’d buy them and bring them home and never wear them.”

Two weeks later, I bought them, brought them home, and never wore them.

Why? Je ne sais pas! My mind tried to come up with answers.

Maybe they’re too bright.

The weather we’re having isn’t in synch with orchid jeans.

If I put a color with them I’ll be a walking carnival.

Do I want everyone staring at my bottom half because the color’s so eye-catching?

How will I bring attention to my face?

The orchid jeans go back

Every day that goes by that I haven’t had an urge to wear a new purchase makes me less and less committed to it. In time I folded them up and put them in the black bin in the trunk of my car. It’s a bin for emergency reading and writing materials, a first aid kit, and anything that requires an errand. Returning these jeans would be an errand I’d tackle one day when I was in Marin.

The orchid jeans are now in the errand pile in my trunk

It’s amazing how many days and weeks went by with no time to stop by J.Jill to return orchid jeans. The one day I did have time I realized I didn’t have the receipt with me. I found it at home and added it to the pocket of the jeans for next time.

The car carrying the orchid jeans faces potential disaster

Another few weeks went by and near-disaster showed up. I was heading out of Sonoma on Highway 121, which has one lane in each direction and winds through vineyards. It was raining. My windshield wipers were going as fast as they could trying to keep up. All of my attention was on the road. A large white van headed toward me in the opposite lane. Our headlamps were six feet from each other when two things happened simultaneously. The driver swerved to the right in front of me flying down the ditch. My car and windshield got pelted with gravel from the shoulder of the road as he flew through a vineyard going 55 miles per hour. For a moment the rain and the gravel blocked my view. There was nowhere for me pull over and stop.

I looked in my rear-view mirror and watched the van speeding like a bullet before turning over on its side. Two cars going in the van’s direction pulled over. Thank God, there was help.

With the force and suddenness of everything that happened, I knew in my heart of living hearts that if the van had veered left instead of right, I’d most likely be dead on impact.

Did I need to tell you that dramatic part? Well, yes, because then you’ll understand what must have happened next to the orchid jeans.

My car headed to the body shop a couple of weeks later for repairs. For eight days those jeans were in the trunk. (Or were they?) When I got my car back I knew I had to take care of this return pronto. Thank goodness for J.Jill’s generous return policy.

If you’re not completely satisfied with your J.Jill purchase, we’ll gladly accept returns of merchandise that is unworn, unwashed, undamaged or does not meet your quality expectations within 90 days of the original purchase.

Returning the orchid jeans, finally

At last, I’m returning the jeans at the Village Shopping Center. I popped the trunk and pulled them out and gasped. They were riddled with black marks. It looked like the orchid jeans had been on the Sonoma Raceway track and a race car had done wheelies on them. It had to have happened while my car was in the shop. It wasn’t a little bit of damage; it was a lotta bit of damage. I folded them back into the tattered black bin (yes, it was damaged too) and headed home.

The redemption part

These jeans were never going back to J.Jill. They weren’t going into a landfill either. We’d come too far for that.

I pulled out the OxiClean.

OxiClean to the almost-rescue

I did what I’ve successfully done with stains. I dissolved some Oxi into warm water and let them soak, for hours. I had every confidence that the stains would be out soon. That night I pulled them out of the water. The stains were still there. I decided to let them soak overnight.

The next morning I pulled them out of the water and there were the stains. I scrubbed at them with my knuckles and they got a little fainter. I stopped before my knuckles were bloody.

I called for Russ. “Honey, when you’d get stains on your clothes from bike chains, how would you get them out?” “I don’t know how to tell you this Brenda, but they didn’t come out,” he said.

That only gave me more fire in my belly. I was Lady Macbeth. Out damned spots. OUT!

I decided to rinse the pants and start over with a new batch of OxiClean. There wasn’t much left in the box after I measure it out. Russ said, “You might as well add the rest.” So I did.

I went another round. When I pulled them out twelve hours later the stains weren’t all gone but I decided it was good enough. Actually, the color seemed softer, dustier, more like my notebook. I reread the directions. “Some stains require repeated or longer treatments. Adding more OxiClean powder than directed increases the risk of color loss.”

Orchid jeans get their hems trimmed off

The happily-ever-after

I do believe my frantic efforts to save the orchid jeans resulted in color change. I washed and dried them and then followed the advice of one that Facebook friend. I cut off the hem on each leg and let them fray. They were softer, more faded, and more relaxed. Now I was (seriously) wearing them five days in a row and getting compliments every day.

People are saying, “Oh my gosh, your jeans are so cute!” and “Brenda, I just want to run out and buy orchid jeans!” and “You’re going to single handedly bring purple back wearing those jeans.”

Orchid jeans enjoying a hot day in Sonoma

Single handedly bringing orchid back

We were back in the closet with our client Sue last week putting together summer outfits when I wore my orchid jeans again. Erin spotted the faint stains down near my ankles. She said, “Mom, you have a little something on your jeans.” My heart expanded. I have so much love and appreciation for these imperfect, I-did-my-best jeans. Those little marks that I couldn’t get out? They are evidence of a meaningful relationship where I worked bloody hard to save a pair of jeans I’d decided to let go off. Some things are just meant to be!

Orchid jeans go to work

Dear friends, what items of clothing have you worked hard to save? Was it worth it? Do share!


The post The orchid jeans that just about bit the dust appeared first on Brenda Kinsel.

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New year, new styling of the Tribal Jacket

There was something about this particular Saturday when I woke up in the mood to wear rolled jeans and a cotton white shirt and a small cluster of narrow bangles. It had to be those bangles, and it had to be that J.Crew white shirt. There’s something about the rhythmic sound that the J.Crew shirt makes as I move through my every moment that comforts me. It’s like listening to Buddhist monks and their rhythmic chanting. Now to be honest, on certain days that rustling fabric might drive me nuts just like a day of chanting in the background could make me want to run into an action-filled superhero movie to try and drown it out. That’s why waking up desiring the sound of cotton rubbing against itself was a clear order I could not and would not deny. I needed that sound, that shirt, that day.

I might have been happy wearing just the shirt, bangles, jeans, and my buff-colored sandals but I wanted to add just a little somethin’ before heading out to have brunch with Russ at Della Fattoria in Petaluma. So I looked into the jacket section of the closet, which is on the far left, and saw my Chico’s tribal jacket. Hmm, I haven’t worn this all season, I thought. Not in spring and not so far in summer. I pulled it out, slipped it on, and b-o-o-m that was it. It had to be the tribal jacket. The fabric is a cotton piqué canvas. It doesn’t make sound but makes me happy.

There’s a textile artist in me. I used to make wearable art clothing back in the late ’70s and ’80s using a variety of techniques including quilting, appliqué, beading and trapunto. So anything that’s got creative stitching or rows of things or fanciful placement of buttons, sequins or beads has my complete attention. It’s a soul connection.

I have to show you some close-ups of this jacket. I think you’ll understand.

Varied rows of decorative stitching

Heavier stitching on the bottom

See the sequins and beads?

The rest of the outfit

See the thin bangles? Maybe I liked the jacket with the bangles because the thinness of them is repeated in the thin vertical rows of stitching.

I added something that would bring texture to the outfit but not a lot of color. It’s the crystal pendant that I created months back. I like how it ties the jacket to the white shirt.

I love the repetition in the edging along the cuffs, hem, and center of the jacket

My pendant adds just enough and not too much

See the woven bag I’m wearing? It reminds me of patterns I’d make in piecework. This is shaping up to be an artsy-fartsy outfit but in a subtle, kind of sophisticated, understated way. There are no bright colors. The only bright parts are my glasses (Uber Optics, my friends) and my lipstick, Power by Laura Mercier.

Loving the subtle but dynamic patterns

How cool is it that the shoes relate to the handbag? I had denim blue sandals that I could have worn, but that felt too matchy-matchy with the jeans. Better to keep the eye moving up the body; from sandals to handbag to jacket. I love getting the action to land up at my face and as quickly as possible. Denim-colored sandals would have seemed like dead weight at the bottom.

Feeling my textile artist roots in this outfit

A couple of general styling tips to try at home

White shirts brighten. I love how a white shirt can brighten a look instantly. They’re like a breath of fresh air. Even though you only see the color on the collar, sleeves and a bit of the middle, it lifts energy up. I feel light and bright in this outfit, and it’s due to that shirt. Now some of you might think that the cream and the white don’t go together. I don’t want them to necessarily go-together. Just relating to one another is good enough for me. They can flirt, but no kissing; you know what I mean? That wall behind me is pretty perfect for demonstrating how colors hang out together, relating without looking matchy.

Finding shoes to relate to handbags. I’m absolutely amazed at how much I’m wearing my woven leather handbag this year after not wearing it once last year. And I give credit for that to my buff-colored Campers platform sandal, new this year. Usually I make Beauty Bundles with three or more items but I consider these platform sandals and woven bag to be a Beauty Bundle. No matter what clothing pieces I put on, this mini-bundle pulls a look together. Oh, joyousness! I wish there were a hymn about how colors and fabrics work together in concert. I’d be humming it all day.

Styling old things new ways

I confess I was not intending to write this post up as an Anatomy of an Outfit. What I meant to do was show you three examples of different pieces in my wardrobe and how I’ve styled them differently this year. I’ve decided not to even show you pics of how I styled the tribal jacket last year. They are so off my radar right now. Last year those versions were the cat’s meow. This year I’m turning away from them like a picky mature cat turns away from a bowl of dry food when what she wants is wet food.

If you want to see it, I won’t deny you. You’ll have to click here to see last year’s styling of this jacket. Or, a slightly different version (the accessories changed) is in this post from my Where I Shop Series which features Chico’s jackets including the tribal one.

This appreciation for how things can change so dramatically in a year came about last week when Erin and I styled summer outfits for a client I’ve had for years. Without buying anything new, I created a brand new summer wardrobe for her. The outfits were so grand that I woke up the next morning still thinking of them. I texted her: “Can you believe you never bought a single thing this summer but got all those new clothes?” She was so happy about that!

Sometimes when I’m restyling outfits, a client will say, “I can show you what you did with it last year.” She’ll hold up the Wardrobe Chart I filled out last year. “No thanks,” I’ll say. I don’t want to be influenced by last year. I’m about this year. I don’t create a single outfit that’s the same as a year or two ago. You probably remember this about me-I have a rule about ditching all the wardrobe charts that are older than two years. Right now I feel like I need to pull in the reins and insist anything that’s older than 12 months needs to be shredded.

Style and fashion changes. People change. New lifestyle activities enter into the picture. Often shoes and accessories have been added to the wardrobe in the last year even if no new clothes have been purchased. I’ll definitely want to work with those newer additions. Or sometimes in the current year, I lean on the client’s heirloom accessories to change things up. That’s been happening a lot!

Keep this idea of creating new looks out of older clothes in your styling tool chest. It may be time to look at that jacket, pant, skirt or dress with new eyes, with this year’s eyes. A little tweaking could bring beaucoup joy to you! I’m all for that.

Have you had some styling adventures so far this season? We’re eager to hear all about them; do share!


The post Styling an “old jacket” in a fresh, new way appeared first on Brenda Kinsel.

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June is my birthday month

There’s something wonderful about having a birthday. Well, several things. There’s the benefit of still being on this planet. I’m happy about that. But there’s also that feeling of, “It’s my birthday! I’ll do what I want!”

And I did that.

I took extra days off and played like I was lazy. I went for walks, wrote in my journal, gave myself plenty of time to stare out the window in my office in the morning.

I saw three movies. Yes, three, in movie theaters! Movies are one of my favorite things.

Russ, Erin, Brent, and I saw The Rider. Oh my gosh. The next day I was telling Dad all about it over the phone. “Do you suppose it will come here?” he asked. “Well, it should being so close to South Dakota and all that.” So I looked it up. It’s playing in Fargo at the Fargo Theater on Broadway. And then my 92-year-0ld dad said, “That’s pretty far to drive but I’d really like to see it.”

“Dad, you are not driving to Fargo to see that movie! If it’s still playing when I get there this summer, I’ll take you.”

“Well, that’s going to be a few weeks. Maybe I can find someone to drive me.” Gotta love his gumption.

It takes place on the Pine Ridge Reservation. I’ve been there before. But you don’t need to relate to the sense of place to appreciate this movie. It’s a story about what happens when the thing you saw yourself doing is suddenly taken from you. Those dreams are shattered.

Being a bit lazy on my birthday

I was talking to Dad again on the phone Sunday night. We talked about dreams. I told him how being in my 60’s has me thinking about my dreams, the ones that haven’t been realized. And maybe they won’t be. I told Dad that I had a talk with myself a couple of years back about those dreams. I asked myself, If you don’t realize them, is that okay? And it is. I’ve had a good life with highs and lows, challenges and the overcoming of challenges. I look forward to the next chapters.

When I got home from the movie, I got on my iPad and started reading everything I could about this movie. I’m going to share a few of the links here in case you find it as fascinating as I do.

When Every Rodeo May be Your Last

The Rider, One of the Best Films of 2018

Chloe Zhao’s, The Rider, Is a Beautiful, Longing Look at the Transforming American West 

How ‘The Rider’ Became the Breakout Movie of 2018

Okay, I’ve said enough!

Relaxing between matinee movies

A Girl Flick Weekend

I didn’t think I could see another film for three months after seeing The Rider but two days later when it was hovering near 100 degrees in Sonoma, it seemed like an excellent day for a movie, in fact, maybe two movies!

Russ and I sat in air conditioning and watched Book Club. My friend Marj said, “Finally!” And maybe you’re saying that too.

You know what? I delayed going to this movie because I was worried they’d be cheesy about the subject of older women. You know, over the top. But I related to a lot of things and laughed along with the characters. It was fun seeing grownups in a film about grownups.

I took notes in the theater.

When the friends were dressing Diane Keaton for her date with the pilot played by Andy Garcia, she came out in an oversized jacket. One of them piped in with, “I can take that to Goodwill for you!”

These lines, from one friend to another, cracked me up:

We’re not spring flowers.

No, we’re more like potpourri.

I thought the ladies were a great study in style.

Lauren Hutton’s style was very traditional.

Jane Fonda was sexy, alluring.

Mary Steenburgen was kind of an elegant natural.

Diane Keaton was Diane Keaton of course but I realized with all her polka dots, gingham checks, trousers, linen suit, and Oxfords that I might call her a tailored creative.

Wasn’t it fun following their outfits?

And I liked this line which was near the end: Don’t be afraid to be happy. 

I took it personally, as a birthday message.

What I Want

In my own journal at my writing table the day after my birthday, I wrote at the top of a page, “What Do I Want for Myself.”

Dreaming my dreams, living my dreams

Here’s what I answered.

Move in the direction of my wishes and dreams.

Be more available to myself and less involved in other people’s business.

Accept it all.

Go at my own pace. I’m not behind.

When I don’t know what to do, choose something I love.

Oh, I forgot to mention Ocean’s 8! Fashion candy, but not a lot of substance, in my humble opinion.

And I must speak about birthday cards! Paper and art on the front of a card … well, that’s nearly as fun as fashion. Here’s one of my favorites.

A bird perches on heels

I decided birds of a feather must flock together so I placed it next to the other bird that you know so much about.

Birds of a feather flock together

When I count my blessings, and I did, you are one of them. This kind community that’s flocked together brings me so much joy. Your shared experiences of love and compassion and dressing and changing and rejoicing is a constant inspiration to me. Thank you for making my year!

Your turn. Want to share movies? Mottos? Style notes? Begin!


The post The Blessings of Another Birthday-Yay! appeared first on Brenda Kinsel.

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Looking up to my big brother

It’s my twin brother’s birthday today. We’re going to a matinee movie, which if you knew my brother, is quite something. Loud noises really bother him. Dunkirk, the movie, nearly did him in. We’re seeing The Rider about a rodeo rider from the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota who suffers an accident and is advised not to ride again. It’s an Indie film that’s won lots of awards. Because we’re from North Dakota, I’m sure he’ll take a special interest in it. I can’t wait for the credits to roll at the end. I always love hearing what he thinks about things like movies, books, music, and sports.

Let me tell you about him.

Brent and Brenda at five months

The way I heard it Mom loved the name Brent and so she chose the name Brenda because it went with Brent. Brent and Brenda. Brent claims she loved the name Brenda and named him Brent because it went with Brenda. It really didn’t matter. In the early years growing up on a North Dakota farm, we were called Butch and Babe after a team of horses Grandpa had.

He’s a bachelor. He’s had relationships with women. Each time he was the new man in a woman’s life after she’d left her husband and her children pretty much didn’t like him much…until they got to know him for who he is. He’s funny, very funny. He’s fairly anti-social but when he’s social, everyone flocks around him. He has the attention of everyone in the room. And deservedly so; he’s irreverent, says things that others wouldn’t; he’s a great storyteller with a quick wit and a phenomenal memory. I love being in his audience whether that’s around the living room at the lake in Minnesota, at the kitchen table when we’re playing cards, or in the audience of packed rooms at one of the book readings he used to do. And if you want to know anything about Texas songwriters, he’s the guy to talk to.

Brent standing on our parent’s dock at Dead Lake, Minnesota

He’s a poet. He published a book called Transient Sex in 1989. It got a far amount of attention from the poetry part of the world. But when he brought a copy home for Mom and Dad, Mom hid it in her room so no one else would read the title. It could be referenced in California but not in North Dakota around the relatives.

I can say whatever I want about him because he’ll never see this. We coerced him into buying a computer but he quickly threw the towel in. He did all his writing on a word processor which is now extinct. He doesn’t have email. No Facebook or Instagram. He was given a relic of a cell phone maybe three years ago for “just in case” but has no interest in a smartphone.

We travel a lot together. The ‘twins’ always go back for the summers in Minnesota to be with family. Our trips became more frequent when Todd died, and then Mother fell. We were at her side for a month one January. Then back again in March for her funeral. Since then we get back to see Dad sometimes in springtime and summer. I go back in January but he hates the cold so he stays here.

Dad and Brent on Palm Sunday in Minnesota last year

He lives 35 minutes away. When I moved to Los Angeles, California to live in the 1970’s, not visit, he followed. In the 80’s we were both in Marin County. When we’re on those flights home, I love listening to him talk to strangers. He’s so very kind and interested in them. He’s quirky and kind, two fine qualities.

He’s Uncle Brentie

When the kids call on him, he’s there. Erin was asking my advice for her apartment this spring. I’d helped her with the living room, dining room, and bedroom. Then one morning when I was there she said, “What do you think about the kitchen? I said, “It needs paint.” She had to go to work but she wondered if Uncle Brentie would come and paint her kitchen while she was away. “Call him up,” I said. “Sure,” was his answer. He just needed to be home in time for a 5 o’clock NBA basketball game.

So I pulled out the Benjamin Moore paint color fan (I always have one handy) and Brent came to the City and we picked out a color together. We got lost finding the paint store on Fillmore Street. Once we got the paint it was time to grab lunch. We walked up and down Fillmore. People in their yoga clothes and their dogs on leashes were passing us left and right. “Do you feel like a country bumpkin from North Dakota right now?” I said. I know I sure did! We were a long ways from the farm!

Erin got home in time to help Brent paint while I watched. He and I make an excellent team.

Brent gets ready to paint Erin and Mike’s kitchen in Pacific Heights

I wish I could really help you see who my twin brother is. I’m going to get my kids to help. At Christmas 2002 we didn’t buy Christmas presents. We made Christmas presents. My art project was inspired by these hand made accordion bound 5″X7″ notebooks I found in an art store. I took family pictures of each of my kids and then interviewed family members about each of them. I interviewed the kids about each other; I interviewed Mom and Dad; I interviewed Brent and then I added my own thoughts.

Homemade books for the kids, Christmas 2002

Here you’ll get a glimpse of Brent and the relationship with his nieces and nephew.

About Erin he said:

About Caitlin he said:

About Trevor he said:

You can see that he’s known for being fun and silly. He plays with them and they play with him.

It made it especially hard on the kids when he and I went through a 6-year period when we didn’t speak to one another. It was hard on me, my parents, my kids. My other brothers were baffled, but there were very clear reasons. It’s hard to imagine not having a relationship with him when he was the most important person to me. To hear the rather bizarre circumstances that got us back together, read One Shining Moment.

I love my brother Brent. People sometimes ask what it’s like to have a twin. I really don’t know. It’s just our situation. I know I’m very glad we weren’t twin girls because Mom planned to name girls Colleen and Colita. Colita? It’s a rare name for a baby girl, not even in the top 1000 baby names for girls.

Oh, you probably want to know who’s oldest. He is, by 14 minutes.

Last time we flew together I tried to get him to take a selfie with me. This is at the SF International Airport. In August we’ll be flying to Fargo to visit friends and family. I’m glad I’m not going alone. I like it best when he’s there. Everyone does!

After the movie we’ll be joining the kids and their mates for dinner, a reservation for nine. It’s a good day. Happy Birthday, Brent!

Welcome to selfies, Brent!

I have many more stories about this guy, but those are for another day. Do you have a brother or sister story to share with us? Maybe a special bond? Please share! I love your family stories. Blessings to you all today.


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Bringing the mesh Peacock dress into summer

Do you by chance remember when I first styled this Peacock mesh dress (by Giselle Sheraton and gifted to me from Artful Home) last winter? I wrote about it in this Anatomy of an Outfit chapter back at the beginning of January. I pulled out all kinds of tricks. First I layered a long-sleeved mesh t-shirt under it to add warmth. I used a leather shoulder strap from a Calleen Cordero bag, turned it into a belt and used it to belt the dress. Back in winter I wore brown fishnet stockings and tall suede brown boots. I layered it with a jean jacket and a shawl for a relatively mild day in Sonoma. I wore gray glasses frames and a brown cross-body bag in leather and fur. I got it just so and loved it!

(Need to see the January styling version of the dress? Here you go.)

My winterized Peacock dress from Artful Home

Needing warming layers for the Peacock dress

When an outfit feels like a beloved blankey

Does this happen to you? You style something and love all the elements of the outfit so much that you wear it the same way for a dozen times or more? You don’t want to change a thing. With each repeated wearing, it feels more and more familiar and nurturing. I call this the blankey phenomenon. That’s how I felt in my January version of the Peacock dress. It was my cozy blankey.

I knew this dress would work in multiple seasons. The time has come. Those suede boots have been packed away and I’m reaching for sandals. Time to style this dress in a new way!

I had the perfect occasion to wear my Peacock dress this last weekend.

My artist friend Ayris and her husband Kip have a ranch near Sebastopol. It’s been mostly a weekend home. They’ve put their creative heads together as they’ve turned their Scenic Knoll Ranch into a haven of beauty and nourishment. Ayris claimed the small barn on the property (for small animals) and envisioned it as her art studio and a gallery. I’d been hearing progress reports and now it was time to share it with others. She had the opening reception of Art in the Barn on Saturday introducing “The Ladies and more” show. You can see her art on www.AyrisHatton.com.

This sign was at the beginning of the windy driveway up to the ranch

This space affords her the opportunity to show life size work.

Hanging from the rafters is ‘Moon Levitation’

My daughters Erin and Caitlin with my friend Debra in the barn

Ayris’ art hung in each stall

My kind, generous, loving friend Ayris

The Peacock dress gets a change of accessories

The first big change from winter to summer was that I had no desire to belt the dress. It felt heavenly just falling the way it does. I like exactly where it lands, just below my knee. I went with brighter glasses frames. I love using my blue l.a.Eyeworks frames from Uber Optics and to pull out the blues in the dress. I wore my Camper tan sandals to keep my feet neutral so all the attention would bounce up to the dress and my face.

This outfit feels like a favorite blankey to me

I did wear a jean jacket, although this one is lighter blue than my winter one. I like wearing this jacket more as a bolero style than an actual jacket. As it turned out the fog rolled in soon after we arrived so I was wearing the jacket and the cashmere scarf I’d thrown in the car just in case.

Jewels and the jean jacket

I doubled up necklaces. I seem to be wearing this combo a lot! My heart and crystal pendant feel just right. My jean jacket has a beautiful bee pin on it that was given to me by a client. And the delicate one was a gift from my daughter, Erin. Together these jewels make me feel feminine and present, grounded. I feel like me.

When I wasn’t wearing my plaid scarf, I wrapped it around the neck of this lovely piece.

Sharing my cashmere scarf

I wore three small mixed metal bangles plus this stacked button bracelet that I made years back. I loved layering these vintage buttons one on top of the other. I felt like I was creating mini button skyscrapers. I adore these shades and it was perfect with the colors in the Peacock dress.

Bird wearing a button bracelet

I didn’t want any kind of bulky bag so I carried this vintage python bag. It was another layer of texture to play against the dress. It’s the perfect size for a car key, lipstick, phone, handkerchief, pen and small notepad.

Small vintage bag

Just another day at the ranch!

And I have to close with a couple of pictures of the Kinsel girls. I had a hunch my daughters would arrive in dresses. Caitlin’s black leather jacket is gathered in the back and at the sides so it comes in against her defined waist. Erin’s skirt is vintage and like her mother, she adds a jean jacket.

My daughters Caitlin and Erin

I always love when we’re at the same events. Friends and family mean everything!

Loving time spent with family and friends

So now I feel like I’ve got my summer blankey Peacock dress outfit. I know I’ll wear this just like I’ve styled it for twelve times in a row.

Do you have pieces that you can style from one season to the next? What are your favorite blankey outfits? Do share!


P.S. The designer Giselle Shepatin has other dresses at Artful Home. Oh, I just checked and the Peacock dress is on sale! You can check her work out here. Ciao for now, Bellas!

P.P.S. Ayris’ show is up through July 15th on Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday from 1-5. If you want to visit at that time call 707.795.2007.

The post How I took the Peacock dress from winter into summer appeared first on Brenda Kinsel.

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Arty blogging friends who met and fell in love

I think you’ve already met my blogging friends. This picture of us was taken near the end of May. Oh, seeing them again in this photo makes me want to give them all a hug! Anyway, yesterday I called Sandra (in black and white polka dots) and Cindy (in turmeric linen over all black) and quizzed them about style and how they styled the outfits they wore that day so I could tell you all about it. Sandra Sallin, is an artist extraordinaire from Beverly Hills, CA and my buddy Cindy Hattersley from Monterey County is an interior designer.

They both have must-read blogs.

Sandra’s blog is Apart from My Art, obsessions of an artist obsessed. Cindy’s blog is Rough Luxe Lifestyle.

Our other buddies, Elizabeth Kirkpatrick (Miss Tall in green) and Mary Ann Pickett (who had to dash before this photo was taken as Paris was calling her) are from the Bay Area. Unfortunately we don’t get to see each other often as a group because of the physical distance between us. It’s amazing how I met them all for the first time a year ago and feel today like I could count on them for anything! That’s how friends are.

Elizabeth, Cindy, Me, Sandra, Mary Ann last year when I first met them

Staying with our “lunch at Neiman Marcus” theme we met for lunch but in Walnut Creek. Both Mary Ann and Elizabeth had to leave early but I got to hang out with Sandra and Cindy a little longer.

Love the style of Cindy and Sandra

Cindy up close

As I was talking to Cindy, we chatted first about her interior design business. I was listening and said, “Wow, you really ‘wear’ your brand.”

Here’s how her interior design work has been described: “Her layered, curated look comes from the pairing of high and low, the imperfect and the worn, and the antique and modern for a fresh take on tradition.”

She said, “I really do like to dress the same way I decorate. I like mixing in vintage pieces. I don’t do anything shiny. I like patina, tarnished metals, and lots of texture. It ties into my Rough Luxe.”

She only wears linen shirts and linen dresses in the summer. It’s very hot in her part of California. The tunic she’s wearing comes from Tancredi & Morgen, a must-visit store in Carmel.

Cindy’s personal style is much like her design business

When you listen to her talk about where she finds her fashion and accessories you can absolutely see the designer in her at work, the one who’s willing to hunt down the treasures that are just right. Tancredi & Morgan sells home decor, one of a kind pillows made from vintage fabric, and select clothes and accessories. In other words, it’s not Macy’s!

She loves vintage accessories like her horn bracelets as well as contemporary pieces like her necklace. This bracelet bundle includes vintage pieces she purchased from eBay except for the black wooden orbit bracelet that came from Cost Plus. (High/low, vintage/new.) She also buys clothes and jewelry from Etsy. Talk about a savvy shopper! Her style is very organic, artistic, and luxe. “Texture is what I love in design. I’ll always choose texture over pattern.”

A mix of high and low, vintage and contemporary

She only started wearing glasses full-time a year ago. Her tortoise frames are by Warby Parker.

One more thing about Cindy. Her hair has been going gray for about six or seven years. It was really dark brown, almost black. She’d be at the hairdressers every three weeks getting a color fix. One day her daughter said, “Your hair looks like a frizzled mess.” Against every hairdressers advice (they thought it would be an awful shade of gray), she did stopped coloring it. Can you believe that beautiful head of hair? Oh my gosh! She’s 63. She gets oodles of compliments. Indeed!

Sandra up close

Sitting next to Sandra at lunch, I kept studying how she accessorized her polka dot tunic. It was unexpected and I was coming up with why I thought it worked so well.

I loved the juxtaposition of the warm-toned brooch with the cool black and white dots. The colors in her brooch make the polka dots pop and vice versa. I loved how the colors in her tortoise-framed glasses and the colors in her brooch were talking to each other. And I particularly swooned over her nothing earrings. I talk about how necessary nothing earrings are when wearing something necklaces. In my mind Sandra’s wearing a something brooch and her nothing earrings are beautiful on their own but don’t take attention away from the brilliance of the brooch. They just slide right in there, completing her look without being demanding.

Sandra charms with her sparkly vintage brooch

I explained my theory to Sandra and she said, “I didn’t even think about it! I dress by the seat of my pants. It’s all about trying it on and saying oh that looks good. It was an intuitive decision.”

Well of course! She’s an artist!

You’re going to love the story of her brooch. Her husband is a filmmaker and producer. In fact, Sandra met him when she was a Hollywood actress. She writes a lot about those years and her family and how her mother played cards with a woman whose son, Dustin Hoffman, was a fledgling young actor. She writes breezily about her friends like Carol Brunett and being on set with Steven Spielberg and George Lucas. You know, stuff like that!

So you’ll understand that she and her husband were cleaning out a room in their home getting ready to turn it into a room to show films. In a giveaway pile in a corner she found boxes containing this brooch and others. She’d set them aside to give to grandkids when she adopted the idea that wearing brooches would make her look older.

An unexpected pairing that hits the mark

She told me, “What was I thinking that this gray-haired woman was going to look old if she wore brooches? Who am I fooling? I’m 77. Screw it, I am old.”

We had a giggle.

She said, “I’m kind of shocked that I’m 77. I have friends in their 30s, 40s, and 50s. I don’t think of myself as being invisible. I think I’m bolder now and freer. I want to look good as opposed to young.”

Blogging friends are the best friends

She’s a big fan of the Tokyo tunic-dress. (Just type in Tokyo tunic into Google and they’ll pop up.) She said she’s constantly doing a search for them. She has them in different colors and prints and enjoys wearing them over leggings. It’s almost like her uniform. “I put it on and it looks good. It’s always fun to wear. It’s like a man wearing a different colored polo shirt every day.” Simple.

She said, “I think I’m going to get more brooches and crazy frames.” She can easily pull off a dynamic, unexpected look.

I wanted to know about her nothing earring. She didn’t call it that. She just knew she “needed an earring that’s there but doesn’t draw attention to itself.” These earrings are by Ted Muehling. His work is at August in Los Angeles. She said, “They mean something to me but no one says, Oh I love those earrings, I have to have them. The artist actually worked with his hands to make these. They aren’t machine made. They are hand sanded, hand carved, hand worked.” Can’t you just feel the love from one artist to another?

Both Cindy and Sandra have a clear sense of what works well on them. They have a love affair with their carefully chosen accessories. They do such a beautiful job of just being themselves. They’re comfortable in their own skin and in the clothes they wear. How divine is that?

There will be another post or two when you’ll hear more about Mary Ann Pickett, interior designer from San Francisco, whose blog is called Classic Casual Home. And my friend Elizabeth Kirkpatrick who is La Contessa and blogs about fashion, gardens, Italians, antiques, food and so much more on her website called the Vintage Contessa.

Like my arty friends, do you have certain styles or combos that are your uniform? Do you have a curated jewelry collection that spells out Y-O-U? How do you put it together? Can’t wait to hear your secrets.


The post Up close: Two arty friends and their effortless style appeared first on Brenda Kinsel.

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My fantasy life tells me this is a Fortuny skirt

See that pleated skirt I’m wearing? It’s by Anthropologie but when I look at it all I can think about is Mariano Fortuny, a Spanish-born designer who came onto the fashion scene after World War I with his exquisite and romantic pleated fabrics. Fashion writer Suzy Menkes has this great article that tells you a fair amount about his legacy and shows you examples of his work. I’m not including photos as I don’t know which ones I can use and which ones will land me in jail for infringing on copyright laws. Just think of all the outfits I wouldn’t be writing about if I was in jail!

Any hoo, at that time Fortuny’s pleated fashions were quite the revolution. Guess who was the experienced dressmaker who helped him create his sensations? His wife, Henriette Negrin. I’m thinking she’d been bugging him about making fashion that would look good on any sized woman. With his unique fabrics and simple designs, his drop-dead gorgeous gowns did look great on women of all shapes and sizes. Here’s a history of his life.

So that’s why when I saw the romantic fabric in this skirt, Fortuny was flashing before my eyes.

It’s a fluke that I even saw it at all. I was online researching the latest in jean styles, washes, and other jean details. I went to Anthropologie; I could count on them to have examples of the latest jean trends. I’m generally not an online shopper but one thing led to another and I came across this skirt on sale. I’ve been yearning for a fine pleated skirt for a long while. I had one countless years ago. It was black and below my knee and so incredibly romantic looking. I wanted to ask myself out on a date whenever I wore it.

A high low blouse adds a little street style to this romantic skirt

One day I was wearing that skirt to work. The fabric in it made me glide into rooms. I glided into my client’s closet to make new outfits from what she had. She commented on my skirt immediately. She expressed a need for a skirt as elegant as mine for an upcoming event so I gave it to her. I thought for sure I could just go back to the store and pick up another one but when I did, it was sold out. SOLD OUT!

I was crushed. I felt like Cinderella at 12:05 a.m.

Easy breezy summer style

My heart swelled as I looked at this Fortuny-like skirt online. I viewed the views of it. I had some guessing to do. I couldn’t touch it or tell for sure what the true in-person color would be. The only size left was a large. I wasn’t sure how their sizes ran. But everything in me pushed me toward the Buy Now button. I pressed it.

Once purchased and delivered, it’s time for styling

When I played around with it the other day, I decided to wear this high/low super comfortable cotton blouse by Brunelli Cucinelli from way back. It gave me that easy breezy look that went well with this light-colored skirt. This outfit felt June 21st to me like summer is here, let’s dine outside, drink wine, have dessert and watch the stars come out. Do I hear Julie Andrews serenading our table? “I feel pretty, oh so pretty. I feel pretty and witty and bright.”

Accessorizing the top half of the outfit

Accessorizing my pretty skirt outfit

Since I’m wearing two-pieces, I decided to pump up the accessories. I’ve had these rosy-blush shimmery beads for the last umpteen years. I felt a need to start with them as my accessory first course. They feel like an anchor. The color is darker than the skirt color, but they’re in that same blush family.

The next course was my heart necklace. It suits nearly any outfit but I like using it to punctuate the romance of the skirt. Next course was my crystal necklace. I like the light feel it brings to this triple deck of necklaces. The crystal has design weight to it without feeling heavy.

When you look at the three necklaces together, starting at the top, they’re each a different scale: small to medium to nearly large. The interest is building.

Three lengths of necklaces add interest

I added my wide Calleen Cordero blond leather and sliver cuff and my arty ring to one wrist. I’m wearing my white Tag Heuer watch, a summer month staple, and my Jennifer Moore ring that never leaves my finger on the other wrist.

I LOVE adding my woven leather bag by Caterina Lucchi in these light colors. This bag that I love and never once wore last year is one I’m wearing ALL THE TIME now. What’s terrific is that this year I’ve added the Camper sandals to my shoe wardrobe. That caramel color relates so well to the bag. That’s a big part of why it’s so easy to use this handbag this year.

If you’re interested in this sandal style and color, I just found this exact pair online at Nordstrom for 20% off. It’s a great color shoe to wear with jeans that have that same colored top-stitching.

Handbag and platform sandals share a color

I wasn’t sure if I would wear my red glasses from Uber Optics with this outfit but I figured I needed a little somethin’-somethin’ to bring attention to my face.

Let’s play!

As if this skirt isn’t dreamy enough, I get a kick out of the fact that I could roll it, fold it, or crumple it up and stuff it into my bag. It still comes out looking exactly as it is on my body. No wrinkles at all. So maybe I wear rolled up jeans for the day and then pull my skirt out of my handbag and go to that romantic dinner in the evening. Oh yes, I’m planning it now!

Handbag stuffed with sweet skirt

I just checked online for you and this skirt isn’t available in this color, but it is available in sky blue on sale for $29.95 in size large only. They call it a Plisse Metallic skirt. When you look at it the color is going to look faint. I don’t think it’s anywhere close to a true sky blue. It’s more of a powder silver. But I’m only surmising based on how my skirt looked outside of the plastic bag it came in versus how it looked on the screen.

My dear friends! I have a bunch of questions! Do you wear skirts? Do you have some romantic dinners planned and where? Do you have fashion in your closet that reminds you of designers in our fashion history books? I want to know it all!

Love you!

The post Anatomy of a Fortuny-inspired blush skirt appeared first on Brenda Kinsel.

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Coming from Sonoma to deliver this public pro-beauty service announcement

This is Brenda Kinsel coming to you live from WNB, Why-Not-Beauty, here in sunny Sonoma, California. Today’s Why-Not-Beauty Report is a public service announcement to alert you, the public, about something that’s so not beautiful.

I know most days I’m bringing you reports of beauty in clothing, accessories, and style expressions, but today we must deal with this issue that’s as pesky as a live mosquito buzzing around your head while you’re trying to sleep.

Sizing labels can be removed

I’m talking about labels sewn inside clothing that are visible through sheer fabrics. What a way to destroy the line of a perfectly grand piece of clothing. Who wants to see that unbecoming label? Nobody!

They’re easy to locate. They’re always at the back of the neck and in the left side seam of the garment. That side seam tag can be as long as the receipt from Staples Office Supplies when you purchase a pack of pens. It goes on forever!

Label? What label? Oh, that white thing?

What to do with the unsightly label

We’re heading toward summer. Our weatherwoman, Regina, is a little wishy-washy about it but she’s been suggesting we may not need our cashmere sweaters much this week except for the evenings. I know what she’s implying. She thinks you’re going to be in and out of layers over the next many weeks, taking sweaters on and then taking them off, on/off, on/off. I think she’s right.

That puts us right in the middle of white label season.

There’s nothing to fear, folks. There’s no sneezing, coughing, or itchy eyes attached to white label season. And it’s easy to treat. There’s a small surgical procedure that will only take a couple of minutes to perform. No doctor’s office, no waiting rooms, no anesthesia; however, it involves a sharp object so don’t do it near children, pets, or mates.

All that’s required is a small tool called a seam ripper. You purchase this tool at a fabric store or your local drugstore, maybe even the grocery store (but not Whole Foods). Or shop for it in the Cloud and it’ll be delivered in a box on your doorstep tomorrow.

A handy dandy seam ripper is a beauty cure for labels

Just to be fair, manufacturers aren’t trying to be annoying. It’s just that their government-imposed regulations require them to let you know how to care for a garment once it’s home and in your possession. They also tell you where it was made and everything you’d ever want to know about the fibers used to make it. The store takes care responsibility while it’s under their roof but once you walk out with it, the responsibility falls on your shoulders.

Care instructions and fabric content info

“But Brenda,” you ask. “What about those care instructions? How will I know how to take care of my clothes if I take the labels off?”

I hear you, dear friends of beauty. We can’t just have beauty without function and those labels are functional. So here’s what I do. As soon as I remove the white labels I staple the care instructions to the hang tag description of the garment. This way I remember what it goes with. If there isn’t a hang tag I’ll write on the label, in permanent ink, the name of the garment.

Staple the label to the hang tag to remind you

Then I file the white label in my white label bird dish. When I need a reminder, I pull off the lid of the bird dish, find the appropriate tag and follow the instructions.

A place for everything and everything in its place

Then I put the lid back on the bird dish and enjoy its beauty.

My bird dish is my secret label container

There you have it! A cure for white label season.

I’ve enjoyed our time together here at Why-Not-Beauty and look forward to speaking with you again soon!

Enjoying my sheer Chico’s cardigan, sans labels

A final post-production note: I carry a seam ripper with me to every client closet appointment because there’s always a tag or two to dispose of. My clients love that service! What do you do with your labels? Pretend they’re not there? I know it’s tempting. Do you have your own technique for addressing care instructions? Do share!!


The post Wardrobe Wellness: Let’s get rid of those labels! appeared first on Brenda Kinsel.

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Out of the blue I’ve had a fashion epiphany. It happened with an innocent enough request from Chico’s.

It went roughly like this: Chico’s writes me and says something like, “Hey, Brenda, we’re debuting a new Comfort Waist Collection. Would you be interested in choosing one of our comfort waist bottoms and a coordinating top and accessories (your choice) and styling it for a social media post? In exchange we’ll gift you the outfit.”

Well, hey, Chico’s, you had me at Comfort Waist. Yes, I’ll do it!

I signed on to create an outfit that had Brenda stamped all over it using Chico’s products.

I like Chico’s. I already own and wear pieces from Chico’s. I’ve got this!

(Sharing some past Chico’s love in my Where I Shop Series.)

After the pieces arrived and I tried them on, I nearly called them back and said, “I can’t do it!” This was forcing me to challenge two styling narratives I participate in every day both personally and professionally.

1. Get a put together look by designing an outfit that has three pieces

Chico’s had been straight with me all along. They hadn’t said, “Choose three pieces and put a look together.” No, they said choose a pant and a coordinated top. One plus one equals two. Two pieces. That’s generous by all standards but I’d forgotten to take into account how I rely on three pieces to look put together.

Me looking not too scared in my “coordinated top”

Let’s talk pieces. If you’ve been around me, either as a reader or a client, you know that I’m a three-piece girl. I’m an expert at taking the same 3-piece formula for dressing that we used in the 1980s and applying it to current fashion.

You remember that 3-piece formula. A skirt, silk blouse, and jacket. 1-2-3. A pant, knit shell, and jacket. 1-2-3. Three pieces completed your fashion sentence. Two pieces in a fashion sentence would have been like dangling participles, an incomplete look that didn’t exude confidence or style finesse.

While three-piece suiting is pretty much a thing of the past, I can still keep the formula alive. I’m fashionably altruistic like that.

I just wrote about this in a recent blog post: The power of the third piece to finish an outfit. I live by this formula and here I was about to create an outfit using two pieces instead of three and I felt nearly naked.

All smiles in my gray linen sweater, the third piece that completes this outfit

In a reverie about the wondrousness of wearing three pieces 

Could I still be me in two pieces?

Playing with the tassels on my boho shirt and my life hasn’t fallen apart

2. Mix and match pieces in your wardrobe and make dozens of new outfits

I’ve been called the Iron Chef of Fashion. When someone calls me that, like a client after I’ve put together twenty new outfits out of the clothes she already owns, I don’t protest. I don’t even pretend to protest. I so own this title that you could put it on my tombstone and I’d be fine: Here lies Brenda Kinsel, the Iron Chef of Fashion.

When I pull out my iron chef fashion tools, I’m generally not working with coordinated pieces. That would be too easy. The top chefs I’m thinking about are into the razzle-dazzle moves. I have some of those moves myself. I make stylish outfits out of stragglers, neglected items at the back of the closet, has-beens headed for Goodwill, clothes purchased three years ago with tags still attached. I can throw disparate ingredients together and come up with delectable combos my client will wear over the next four weeks while earning compliments. Then I get up the next morning and do it all over again at someone else’s house. I’m consistent like that.

BK wondering, Can I admit to my readers that I’d digging this coordinated look?

Chico’s said choose a bottom and a coordinating top

With that Iron Chef of Fashion reputation, would wearing a coordinated top with a pant destroy my rasion d’être?

These are the pieces I chose: Tonga navy comfort waist pants, a coordinated embroidered boho shirt, a blue stone pendant on a tan leather cord, and blue bauble earrings. I prepared for the big day when I’d debut this outfit.

I started with the easy part. I slipped into the pant. Besides being comfortable (that hidden waist thing really works) they are my favorite shape. They make me look long and lean. If you didn’t know I was 5’5″, you might think I was 5’6″.

My boho-ish bag picks up the color of the leather cord

I put on the boho shirt. Gosh I love the contrast of the white and blue together! I thought I’d feel naked without a third piece but I didn’t! I mean it’s not a crop top, it’s a long top. Why was I so afraid?

I added my boho-ish woven leather bag to my outfit. I like the way the caramel color in the bag relates to the color of the cord on my necklace. And I like how the necklace just adds texture to the top. There’s something very relaxed going on here!

One foot in front of the other in my coordinated outfit

Wearing two pieces felt good

I’ve been telling myself that I want to slow down to the speed of life. I got an inkling of what that felt like while wearing this easy, breezy, coordinated non-three-piece outfit. It seemed like the outfit was bringing out my wishes.

I’ve been thinking about getting out my sheet music and playing piano again. Seeing that piano in Petaluma was a nice reminder! I feel lucky to have enjoyed every minute of lunch that Tuesday with my daughter Caitlin at Della Fattoria. How glorious is it that? I love how strong and spritely I feel walking around town in pants that make moving around feel effortless. Moving around feels so right!

Finding the right fit with life

So Chico’s, thanks. I didn’t realize I was going to have an epiphany but I did! I’ve always focused on how the right clothes can help people reach their goals. Being in this outfit helped me realize a softer type of goal I have in this chapter of my life. It’s about chilling and having time on my hands to fill with willy nilly things. They aren’t those grand, big goals that are perhaps easier to measure.

Yet I can consciously dress for these softer goals. Two piece dressing may be one way to do that.

So my friends, two pieces or three? Do certain combos make you feel a certain way? Are you trying new things and getting new results? Let’s hear about it!


The post How a Chico’s blue coordinated outfit blew my mind appeared first on Brenda Kinsel.

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The Sandrine linen dress in spring/summer outfits

Working with women over the ages (decades if we’re really counting) I find women have definite opinions about linen. Put simply, they love it or they hate it.

When I come across people who hate linen, it’s definitive and absolute…although I’m hoping to influence that passionate response right now.

My mother would have been in that I-hate-linen category. We could have been shopping together at Herberger’s in Fergus Falls, MN and I could have picked out a marigold linen top for her (she LOVED that color). She’d have looked at the fabric, her smile would have turned upside down and she’d have said, “No, Honey. It wrinkles.” She was from the Midwest so that’s the nicest way someone could express their disapproval. A non-Midwestern response could be, “Linen? Are you kidding? It wRiNkLeS. Never!!”

As if wrinkles make the garment defective from the start.

For the people who love it (I’m in that category), there’s no uproar. In fact, nothing has to be said. It’s like linen lovers share a secret wink, handshake, or a hug that makes you know how much they love and appreciate linen, too. Like loving weekday movie matinees, soft serve ice cream or watching a British detective series on Netflix, it just goes without saying.

Now if you study women who wear linen, I think you’ll see an air of confidence or je ne sais quoi. It’s an intangible quality but you recognize it when you see it. I have a theory on why that’s so and it starts with wrinkles.

Poolside in Creekside in lovable linen

News flash: Linen is supposed to wrinkle

Clients have said, “I don’t like wearing linen because I have to press it every time I wear it and then it’s wrinkled in five minutes. I don’t have time for the upkeep.”

Trying to keep linen from wrinkling is futile. It shouldn’t even be attempted. When you accept the fact that linen is supposed to wrinkle, there’s a freedom that comes over you.

What I notice is that when I put linen on my body or put it on a client’s body, fashion fairy dust starts falling all around. There’s an excitement in the air, a sizzle. If one could bottle it, it would be similar to the excitement that takes over the moment you tell the kids, “We’re going to Disneyland!” Remember that feeling?

Wearing a linen dress over frayed jeans

Linen is practical. When the weather is warm-to-hot, linen is the coolest fabric you can put on. I like mixing it with other fabrics too. I took this Sandrine linen dress designed by Lisa Bayne from Artful Home and wore it over my frayed cotton creamy-colored ankle jeans. The Sandrine dress comes in three colors: ink (the one I’m in), poppy, and marigold.

Linen calls for expression. There’s an uncontrollable urge to adorn linen with your favorite things. And maybe for those of you who are skeptical about linen, think of it this way: Linen naturally calls for accessories and the pulled together look you create is going to draw the eye away from the wrinkles anyway. Win/win! You’ll feel cool and relaxed while looking glamorous or chic.

Linen brings out creativity in accessories

When I wore the Sandrine dress over my frayed jeans, I reached for my beaded necklace from my friends the Sol Sisters. Look at those colors; they stand out beautifully against the ink dress.

This dress made me reach for a scarf to weave into my hair. That’s what happens when you wear linen! I added my Wendy Stauffer earrings from Artful Home (here’s one of hers that is similar) and my Pat Flynn Iron Moonlight Cuff. It’s also from Artful Home.

Now tell me, are you going to say no to the linen dress when it looks as great as it does all put together? I didn’t think so!

Removing the jeans and wearing the linen dress alone

Sandrine linen dress and pearls

Like I said, linen makes me do things that I wouldn’t think to do with another fabric. At least the ideas wouldn’t come as fast as they do with linen.

Here I decided to go crazy with my pearls. I created a focal point at the base of my neck by grouping two chunky pearl necklaces together. I’ve done that before here in a jean outfit. I added my Alexis Bittar lucite earrings, my Lanvin vintage bangle, one of my button bracelets and my Victor Sanz owl ring. I put on my patent leather blush platform sandals by Prada. I felt ready to for the next social event on my calendar where I wanted to be on the dressy side.

Dressing up linen is easy because it’s so versatile

Can you see how open linen is to accessories? And it very well could be the wrinkles that are enticing that action. With that little bit of rumpled feeling with the fabric, more accessories is more better. If this was a fine silk dress, more wouldn’t be better. It could be overpowering.

A simple jean jacket is a perfect wrap for linen

I pulled out my denim jacket as a quick wrap for the Sandrine dress. Aren’t those blues great together? My jacket had a cluster of pins on it already and I left them all on. Mostly they are pearl pins, plus a bee pin and one that has Mother’s initial: A for Alma. I want to bring her along in this outfit. She may not be ready to embrace linen but when she saw how cute this outfit is, it could have opened the door a tad.

Linen is sublime, don’t you think?

One last thing to share about linen: I rarely if ever press it. I’ll take it off after wearing it for a day, hang it on a hanger. Some of the wrinkles will relax, but really, I don’t care if they don’t. I accept and embrace the properties of linen.

In closing let me just say that you are a free woman. I LOVE that about you! You can choose to wear whatever you want. You can also change long-held beliefs about things if you care to. And you can try new things with baby steps. Maybe you’re not ready to wear a linen dress but maybe you could wear a linen jean jacket or a linen shirt that you wear open like a jacket over a smooth T-shirt. I just want you to know that if you decide to join the linen loving club, you’ll be met with open arms. We really are a friendly bunch. You’ll like us.

So my friends, I’m ready to open the door to your comments. Love? Hate? Might consider? Open to trying it now that you know it’s meant to wrinkle? Have been wearing it for years; what’s the big deal? Let’s get this linen conversation going!


This post was sponsored by my friends at Artful Home. Thanks for letting me use the Sandrine dress to share my ideas about linen!

Say hello to my friend Cindy Hattersley, a fellow linen lover!

P.S. Here’s my friend, Cindy Hattersley from her Rough Luxe Lifestyle Blog. We just had lunch last week with three other blogging buddies. She’s a fabulous interior designer and loves linen too! Click here to read about her happy linen stories!

The post Anatomy of an Outfit: Styling a linen dress two ways appeared first on Brenda Kinsel.

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