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17 In Getting Dressed/ Series

Anatomy of an Outfit: Styling a fancy casual outfit with gobs of pearls

Styling an Etro jacket on

Styling a casual outfit using this Etro jacket required more than I thought!


My big splurge for the summer was buying this colorful, radiant Etro jacket on triple markdown at Nordstrom. The first time I tried it on in the dressing room I felt like a queen! Etro is known for its prints, and boy, this one was right up my alley: the color, the luster, the easy shape…oh my! The fiber content reads silk, viscose and 17% metallic. It sparkles, shimmers, and gleams. The entire jacket is edged in a quieter print. The lining of the jacket is a vibrant purple silk.

In my long ago past, I designed one-of-a-kind jackets using different piecework techniques like Seminole patchwork, trapunto, and quilting. I always wanted the inside of the garment to be as beautiful as the outside. The esthetics of this Etro jacket had me in a reverie about those rich, wearable art years.

When I tried it on, I thought this would be great to wear for art openings, fancy affairs, maybe even a wedding. I had those kind of activities coming up. I could see myself waltzing into each of them wearing this jacket and feeling totally appropriate. It’s a look-at-me type of jacket (at least it makes ME look at it over and over and over again!) and would make a lovely grand entrance.

I wanted another opinion. I showed it to my friend and fashion muse, Mariam, and asked her what she thought.

“Oh darling, you’ll have this jacket forever. It’s a collector’s piece. It’s so Asian and unique. You can even wear it with jeans,” she said.

I was sold. If I could wear it with jeans, that meant I could wear it tomorrow!


Styling the jacket for its first outing

Even though fashion life has gotten more casual, I’ve shared with you that I like adding something fancy to casual outfits. Personally it suits my style; in the big picture it’s right in line with my campaign for visibility for women over 50, 60, 70 and beyond; and really, no one knows how much time they get to grace this world so why not use the best stuff now rather than save it for some day that may not arrive. I’m not saying that in a morbid way; it just makes sense in a practical way. Love what you wear; wear what you love!


Doubled pearl necklaces on

Doubling up chunky pearl necklaces



Etro outfit closeup on Brenda

Adding big earrings and bold bangle to the mix


The support pieces for this outfit are my ruched ivory tank (from TJ Maxx, a thousand years ago) and the So Slimming Girlfriend Ankle jean by Chico’s. I’m wearing a sand collared wedged sandal by Gabor. So far we have denim jeans, a textured tank, and a practically nude sandal, almost a blank canvas.

I slipped the jacket on and started working out the accessories. The jacket demanded big time wattage to go with it. Probably those great gemstone necklaces from Rodeo Drive, the ones that actresses borrow for the red carpet. But I don’t have any of those.

Wattage…okay, I said said to myself, let’s add the pearl baubles I bought on that last shopping trip with Mom, okay? (They’re the ones in the top right photo of the photo collage above.) I’ve never seen this happen before but that thick strand of pearls didn’t make a dent in the wattage department. I was surprised! Usually it goes the opposite way: I have to take them off and try something else on because they’re too much for an outfit.

Well, maybe it just needs double the baubles, I thought. I added the vintage looking Alexis Bittar (another TJ Maxx find) oversized pearls. That did it! The necklaces together held enough design weight to balance out the jacket. All I added after that was my chunky Lanvin bangle and large gold edged crystal drop earrings (also Alexis Bittar).

Off to work we go


Wearing my fancy jacket in a casual chic outfit on

BK and EK at the end of a client appointment


Erin and I were working the whole day with a client. We started the morning with some shopping at the Village Shopping Center in Corte Madera and then went to our client’s home where we put together new outfits and documented them on wardrobe charts so our client could go to her summer home and have outfits for the whole season.

Truly, I think this jacket infused with me extra energy because at the end of the day Erin asked me if I’d go back with her to the Village and look at a dress she wanted me to see. I said yes! I think I just wanted to prance around some more in my outfit before heading home. There’s a bumpersticker I’ve seen that says: Too cute to go home. That’s how I was feeling!

I’m so grateful to Mariam for suggesting I could wear this jacket with jeans. Now that I’ve styled it in a “fancy casual” way, I bet I find a lot more opportunities to wear it in my normal, everyday life: for work, on weekends here in the wine country, even to a lecture.

And now there is that wedding coming up this weekend. I could go back to my original thought and style it for that!

Have you had surprises when you’ve purchased an item? Maybe you thought it was going to look one way but when you started working with it, it transformed into something else? Do share!