“If you put something together and it doesn’t look so good, the fashion police are not going to come and take you away. And if they do, you might have some fun in jail.”
I don’t know about you, but I am totally in back-to-school mode. I haven’t felt this way in years! Let me explain.
Cindy on the left, Mary Ann on the right
I met with two blogging buddies last week. They’re both interior designers. Our gathering spot was Mary Ann Pickett’s apartment in San Francisco. You’d easily find peeks at her home in her blog, Classic Casual Home. My friend Cindy Hattersley is from the Carmel Valley area and you’ll want to enjoy her pictures and advice on her blog, Rough Luxe Lifestyle. I marvel at their combined talent! Boy, would I like to get them to visit me in Sonoma! (Hint, hint.) You may recognize Cindy from a blog post I wrote about two arty friends and their style.
So what brought us together in Mary Ann’s lovely home? Friendship, sharing our blogging life, and learning new things. They are so ahead of me in terms of technical knowledge. When I reached out by email with a question I had, they offered to get together and teach me a few of their tips and tricks. I went home with a head full of encouragement and a heart bursting with appreciation.
We all shook our heads at one time in the afternoon with the question every blogger asks herself from time to time: Why am I doing this? We had a giggle. Mary Ann said, “Sometimes when I’m working on my blog and incorporating new techniques, I realize I’m having fun!” And Cindy followed up with, “I’m really proud to staying up with the digital age.” Amen! It's not easy, but it keeps our brains healthy.
I think we keep our brains happy when we focus on our style as well. In my work with clients, I’m always thinking about helping them stay current with the times. That doesn’t mean I have them in every trend of the season. Not at all. Most of my work is in their closets where I create new outfit combinations from clothes they already have. I always aim to put a modern spin on their look. I love when they share feedback with me like, “My daughter told me how happy she is about how I’m expressing myself in clothes.”
We bring our style expression with us through every year and every decade, and it changes. How do you want to express yourself right now?
Speaking of digital age and style expression, I’ve been working on a comprehensive personal style guide. I’m particularly fascinated about style at this age. There is so much opportunity to be expressing ourselves in exciting new ways.
I have this style project front and center. I try working on it a little bit each day. I'll be sure to let you know when it's viewable!
What projects are engaging you this fall? One of my friends has a new project called Being a New Hands-on Grandma. Another friend, recently retired, has a project called Doing Nothing as Often as Possible.
While you’re busy doing what you’re doing, I’m going to be here supplying you with styling tips to suit your lifestyle. Twice a week I publish a styling blog post. Do you want to receive these posts in your email inbox? I’d love to have you join this great community of women. I learn so much from comments. It’s nice to have traveling companions in this chapter of life.
You can sign up at the bottom of my latest blog post here.
In the meantime, let’s talk fall styling tips! I’ve been seeing double and loving it. In this issue of Tips & Teasers I’m talking about items that pair well together. Get ready to double the fun this fall!
“You always make me feel really good ,” Kate M. after a rambunctious closet session of purging
clothes that don’t serve her anymore.
Get a tasting of multiple style topics from my recent blog posts. Drink it up and enjoy!
I’ve been having fun working in closets this busy fall. I never style the same pieces twice, which is what makes my clients feel excited about a new season even when we haven't shopped in stores. You can feel excited too! By incorporating these "double" tips, you'll make your outfits come together with ease and look fresh and modern.
DOUBLE LEOPARD PRINT
While discussing whether or not a black dress should exit a client's closet because she hadn’t worn it in two years, I decided to try something new and it involved double leopard prints that she already owned. The dress had come with a matching blazer. The dress and blazer paired together looked boring this time and not at all current with her lifestyle. So I pulled a black cardigan sweater from her closet and paired it with the black sheath dress. I wanted accessories that would make the outfit look fun, not formal. Leopard print was the obvious choice. She slipped into these leopard slingbacks which hadn’t been worn nearly enough. I added a crossbody leopard print bag she’d purchased a year or two back and the result was darling!
Key Styling Tip
The scale of the leopard print in the bag and the shoes are not exactly the same. One is slightly bigger than the other. It helps that the handbag and the shoes are far enough away from each other, too. This same bag and shoe combo would be super fun with jeans. If you try this, stand back and look at yourself in the mirror. Your eye will tell you whether or not it’s a go.
DOUBLE THE CHESTNUT SUEDE
When fall arrives I’m wearing lots of jean outfits—jeans with sweaters, tops, or jackets. One thing I always want at this time of year is a chestnut colored boot. I like getting a boot color that relates to the top stitching in jeans. This year I went for a handbag that’s a similar tone as the boot. I like the way the two pieces draw the eye up the body. I’m not usually a matchy-matchy person but when it comes to styling casual outfits with jeans, I do like finding ways to make connections within the outfit so it looks more polished.
Key Styling Tip
I noticed years back how much I enjoyed having a boot the color of the stitching on jeans. It gave the casual look more punch. Of course, you can wear any color on your feet when you’re wearing jeans, but this could be a nice option. I like the way the suede small crossbody bag and the boots speak to each other. It makes an impact. Would this help you style jeans?
DOUBLE THE MENSWEAR LINED PRINTS
When I spotted this grid sweater I knew I had to see what it would look like with this modern version of a plaid jacket that my daughter Erin handed down to me. I love that these pieces share the same neutral color palette. The additional similarity of angled lines makes me deliriously happy. I’ve mixed checks and plaids together before. Below is a combo of mixed menswear fabrics that I created nearly three years ago. This black and white version feels fresh and fun.
An outfit from three years ago
Key Styling Tip
Take a look at your plaid, checked, or striped clothing pieces. Start playing around, mixing pieces together. Again, look at scale. Your outfit will be far more interesting if the scale is different. Mix large with small, medium with large. Avoid small with small or large with large. Those combos tend to compete with each other.
If the combo you create looks a little odd to you, go for it. Nature is full of juxtapositions in design. Something a little off kilter can result in the most pleasure.
DOUBLE THE BURGUNDY
Berry shades and burgundy have been on repeat for fall fashion the last few seasons. I love the punch that happens when there’s more than one item in an ensemble in the same color. It makes the outfit more dynamic and the color more memorable. I’d been looking at the burgundy bag in my closet and couldn’t get excited about it. But when I went to look at corduroys and saw this color, I knew this pairing would. Now I'm excited about wearing the bag again.
Key Styling Tip
Whatever color you’re favoring this season, double the cool factor by adding more items in the same or similar color in the same outfit. Loving navy, forest green, or red? Search for color doubles. Your look will be stronger, bolder, and more impactful when doubled.
DOUBLE THE DENIM
Lately I’m been pairing denim pieces together—jean jackets and jeans—for both myself and my clients and barely paying any attention to how the washes combine. I always used to say that it’s okay to wear denim pieces together as long as one is lighter than the other. You know what? I don’t think this is a rule worth fretting over. More and more I see denim combos that are similar in color and I like the look. It’s very casual. As long as you don’t expect a sophisticated look out of your double denim, you’re free to roam your closet and pair as you go.
Key Styling Tip
Mix your denim and don't worry if they do or don't match. I know if you gave me 100 images of paired denim, there would be a small percentage of combos that I’d advise against, but not enough to worry about. You know that saying in Al-Anon—Take what you like and leave the rest—that’s what I’d say about denim mixing. Do what you like and let it be what it'll be. There are no fashion police anywhere around.
What I wish for you this fall season is double the fun! Get in your closet and put a few pieces together. You’ll feel energized and refreshed by the mix of colors, texture, and patterns. And you'll want to get out there and enjoy the season with friends and family.
All together now, let’s say it loud and proud: We will wear what we love and love what we wear. Go team.
BRENDA AND ERIN'S INSIDER SHOPPING TIP
Today I’m going to share a tip from a client of ours who had problems in her closet with pesky moths eating away at her good clothes. It’s called a Mosquito Killer Trap. Here’s the one she got. I also looked on Amazon and saw one by Kiamiter for about $20. What amazed me about hers was that it was so quiet, like silent. Although it’s advertised primarily for mosquitoes, it works on anything that flies around. This family had been through two bouts with moths and had to have all clothes taken out and cleaned, as well as having pest control experts come in and spray. Big hassle. If this little electronic device could save anyone from that experience, it would be worth it, right? I haven’t purchased one yet, but plan to as I pull out my woolens for fall/winter. Has anyone had experience with this?
WHAT WAS SHE THINKING?!?!
I had the joy of spending time over the weekend with my daughter Caitlin and three of her friends up here in Sonoma. Just as I was parting, one of them volunteered a story that fits perfectly in this slot. Mary told me that she spotted me one day in West Elm, a home decorating store in Marin. She said she’d barely rolled out of bed, threw her hair in a ponytail and decided to run out to purchase some pillows. When she saw me she thought, ‘I can’t have Brenda seeing me like this!’ In a panic, she turned the opposite direction to avoid my glance.
Who did she run right into instead? Her ex-boyfriend and his new girlfriend. They were there buying furniture for their new apartment. Mary gave up on the pillows and headed right back home. “Mary, that just shows you that you should never fear running into me. I’d have been so happy to see you, plus you wouldn’t have had to run into your ex-boyfriend.” We had a great laugh. If you see me in public, PLEASE come say hi. I see you with my heart and you always look great to me!
IS FASHION YOUR PASSION?
Is fashion near and dear to your heart? Explore a career as an image consultant or professional stylist at www.brendakinseletc.com and join us on the Brenda Kinsel ETC Facebook page devoted to this great industry.
About Brenda: Brenda Kinsel has been matching people's clothes to their looks, personalities, passions and lifestyles for over 30 years. She is the owner of Inside Out, A Style and Wardrobe Consulting Company, based in the San Francisco Bay Area. Brenda's the author of 5 books on fashion including 40 Over 40 and Brenda Kinsel's Fashion Makeover: 30 Days to Diva Style! Her tips and expertise have been featured in such magazines as In Style, Real Simple, Shape and AARP The Magazine and newspapers including the San Francisco Chronicle, the Wall Street Journal, Detroit Free Press, Denver Post, Chicago Tribune and many more. Brenda has appeared nationally on radio and television, most notably on The Oprah Winfrey Show, HGTV, Canada AM and on NPR. She is a regularly featured guest on the syndicated radio show, The Richard Stevens Show.