34 In Anatomy of an Outfit/ Styling Tips

Accessorizing a patterned velvet tunic for dress up

Olivia Velvet Tunic

Wearing the Olivia Velvet Tunic from Artful Home


One of the themes of Artful Home’s holiday apparel is velvet—luscious, sensual, feel-so-good velvet. Artful Home gifted me the Olivia Velvet Tunic designed by Lisa Bayne, and said, “Hey, Brenda, we saw how you styled the red plaid Ainslie Dress. Now let’s see what you can do with a tunic.” (Not exactly those words, but something sorta close.)

I was ready for the challenge. First of all, I’d been lusting over this tunic in antique peony when I first saw it in the catalog. And I was excited to be working with this proportion again. It’s been a while since I’ve worn a tunic.

The only thing I knew for sure was that I wanted to pair it with my leather pant-slash-legging. Velvet and leather? Oh, yeah! That’s a classic fabric duo. But now I needed to get to work and accessorize this outfit.


Dressy outfit

Finding my personal style in this dressed up outfit

Let’s work out the mechanics, first

The Olivia Velvet Tunic’s silhouette is straight with deep side slits. It’s semi-sheer, which is so pretty, but it does need a layer of modesty underneath. That’s no problem for me. I have black, full-length slips in different lengths. My shortest one was perfect.

Style Note: I’m not sure why there are so many people adverse to owning full-length slips. They’re so comfortable to wear! Clothes glide over them. Nothing sticks to the slip, so you get a nice clean line. I didn’t want to just wear a tank: You’d still be able to see through the tunic to the crotch of my pants. Give me full coverage, and then I’m not being self-conscious about clothes when I should be having fun.

If you aren’t fussy about modesty, just wear a camisole and you’ll be fine. If you want more of a black-out background behind the tunic and don’t have a full-slip, wear a black camisole and a short black half-slip. My father always said, “If you can only think of one solution, you’re not thinking hard enough.” You’re right, Dad.


So many necklaces; which one will be right?

There are two reasons why I want to add a necklace to the Olivia Velvet Tunic.

1. The patterned velvet is gorgeous. I fear someone will get mesmerized by the fabric and not get around to seeing my eyes. Adding a focal point at the neck will help lead people’s eyes up to my face.

As a mature woman, I want to be sure someone’s glance is making its way to my face. I’d probably feel the same way if I was an immature woman. Necklaces are strategic tools for pointing direction.

2. Adding a necklace from my collection is an opportunity to bring my personal touch to the garment and really own it.


Putting an outfit together

Working this outfit until it felt like me

I tried six necklaces before discovering the one I wanted to wear

I thought I’d choose my necklace by channeling Supreme Court Justice, Ruth Bader Ginsberg. Well-known for the decorative collars she wears when she’s presiding on the Supreme Court, I pulled out a necklace that was collar-like. It’s gunmetal with round disks. I tried it the front way first. Nope. Then I tried it backwards, which I’ve done in the past. Both were negatory—too urban for this pattern.


Urban necklace

This urban collared necklace was no good for the tunic


Next, I decided to try a long necklace.

Ouch, the black beaded one nearly hurt my eyes when I looked at it. Too stark and dark. The knotted Lagos-like rope necklace receded into the print. I wanted some presence, not a disappearing act.


Long necklaces

One necklace is too flashy while the other one blends in too much


Pearls, I thought. What about pearls?

I started with a chunky pearl necklace. Actually, I have two of them and thought together they could be the one. But I discovered the latch is broken on one of them, so I tried the single strand. No excitement there. I tried layering two long sets of pearls. They looked cheap—and not at all gracefulagainst the Olivia Velvet Tunic.


Pearl necklaces

Cheap pearls looked really cheap against the Olivia Velvet Tunic


Wow! I was striking out! This antique peony tunic deserved so much more from me.

That’s when I considered Mother’s pearls. They aren’t Mother’s pearls, but I was with her on a shopping trip in Fargo when I spotted them. They were in a consignment store owned by Mom’s next door neighbor at the lake. I’m guessing it’s a vintage piece. These bulbous pearls hold heartfelt value to me, because I never got to shop with Mother again. She unexpectedly passed away a few months later from complications that started with a fall in her master bathroom. Tragic.


Vintage costume pearls

This necklace works aesthetically and emotionally


I know that’s very sad, but this necklace is a bundle of joy. It’s all love. When I put it on, it was perfect. I was as tickled as could be.


Should I add a shawl or a scarf to the Olivia Velvet Tunic?

My focal point was fixed with Mother’s pearls, but then I started wondering if I needed more adornment. Maybe a shawl? Something to drape over my shoulders? Something soft, graceful, and womanly?

I like having the back of my neck covered in wintertime. It keeps drafts away. I pursued shawls, but couldn’t find one that really connected to Miss Olivia Velvet Tunic.

Think, Brenda, think. I remembered a large, fluid square scarf I have that I’ve always turned into a triangle, then wrapped the outer edges toward the center to create a long, oblong scarf. I reached for it, and knew it would work.

It has a black background just like in the patterned velvet tunic. The beige droplet shapes on the scarf related to the round pearls in the necklace. Together, it was unexpected.

Suddenly I felt like myself: a little quirky, creative, put together, happy.


Turning a square scarf into an oblong scarf

The print scarf against the patterned velvet looks creative


I centered the silk scarf at the back of my neck and let the ends be loose. I love how those ends go beyond the hem of the tunic. It looks so luxurious this way. Can I just tell you how sensual this makes me feel with the combo of velvet, pearls, and silk scarf?

I finished the outfit by adding my silver lunch bag, my large sparkly ring, and a favorite iron and stone cuff by Pat Flynn, shown here, from Artful Home. The Olivia Velvet Tunic’s bracelet-length sleeve makes it perfect to adorn your wrists with cuffs or bangles. Everything was working together.


Wearing a silver bag

Adding my silver lunch bag


I added my patent leather Mary Janes by Paul Green for some shine.


Patent leather Mary Janes

Wearing Paul Green patent leather Mary Janes


And there it is, my friends. This outfit reflects my style and is easy-to-wear, head-to-toe. I feel like a princess.

When an outfit feels right, we can go anywhere and do anything, because we’re confident in our own skin. How great is that!



Thrilled to be head-to-toe me


Thanks to Artful Home for giving me this opportunity to style the Olivia Velvet Tunic. Thanks to Lisa Bayne for designing it!

So tell me: How would you style this tunic? How would you make it your own? Are there accessories you lean on to help tell your personal story? Do share!



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  • Reply
    November 20, 2018 at 4:38 am

    I’m not sure why there are so many STORES adverse to SELLING full-length slips :). I have found it very difficult to buy a slip, half or full, that isn’t skin tight shapewear.
    This outfit and the building of it are great. I notice that for a big or broad chested girl, the vertical lines of a scarf, worn like yours, are very flattering. This pretty tunic could give a girl that broad chested look so the vertical scarf is a great look. I love how you put things together and teach us.

    • Reply
      Thea Jacobs
      November 20, 2018 at 11:53 am

      Yes! Yes! Yes! I hear you, Lizette, finding a slip is of any type, especially for us plus sized gals, is a trial.
      Love this instructional post. I, too would not have considered adding the scarf but it works wonders. Beautiful outfit, Brenda.

      • Reply
        November 27, 2018 at 10:03 am

        Thanks, Thea. I love when those surprises come in and make something just right, like that scarf did.

    • Reply
      November 27, 2018 at 10:10 am

      I’m having a private chuckle over here. First of all, you’re right, that scarf is a great way to break up the space. I just got fitted for bras this week. I went from a 34D to a 34DD. So I’m using your tip more often!

  • Reply
    November 20, 2018 at 4:56 am

    Wowee! What an amazing outfit! I agree with Lizette as we learn so much from how you “step-by-step” put your outfits together.

    • Reply
      November 27, 2018 at 10:08 am

      It’s always fun to break it down. I’m so glad it’s helpful!
      hugs, me

  • Reply
    November 20, 2018 at 5:25 am

    I love this! It’s so beautiful and I love how you styled it! Thank you for your tips!

    • Reply
      November 27, 2018 at 10:08 am

      You bet, Ramona. It’s my pleasure! xo

  • Reply
    November 20, 2018 at 5:47 am

    Love the look. I would have added rose gold earrings or bracelet.

    • Reply
      November 27, 2018 at 10:07 am

      LOVE that idea, Linda!

  • Reply
    Cara in S. FL
    November 20, 2018 at 5:50 am

    Lovely, Brenda! I think it’s even more “holiday” than the red plaid dress!

    • Reply
      November 27, 2018 at 10:07 am

      Lucky me, I have two choices now!

  • Reply
    jodie filogomo
    November 20, 2018 at 6:44 am

    It’s nice to see how the different necklaces looked, Brenda. In fact, I have a post in the works about contrasting necklaces. I know my mom always thinks to match her necklace to her shirt, but then many times you don’t see it that way!!

    • Reply
      November 27, 2018 at 10:06 am

      So very true, Jodie! xo

  • Reply
    November 20, 2018 at 7:22 am

    Love everything about this look!! I have two half slips…think I’ll go shopping for a full….

    • Reply
      November 27, 2018 at 10:06 am

      I wouldn’t hurt to have a full one. You never know when you’ll need it!

  • Reply
    November 20, 2018 at 10:12 am

    Love the tunic. It radiates luxury and comfort at the same time. I really must go searching for that dark long slip, as I already have a nude one. It would be perfect for the long sweaters over velvet leggings. Always been a problem with sticking. Genius Brenda, genius. Guess I am not alone with changing the necklace many times before heading out. Thanks for sharing.

    • Reply
      November 27, 2018 at 10:06 am

      Diane, good point about using a slip for the long sweaters over velvet. Great call! And I love those words: luxury and comfort. What a great vision for a wardrobe that really works.

  • Reply
    November 20, 2018 at 11:13 am

    I like everything you did with this tunic–I admit I thought when I started your post “would I add a necklace to this?” and wondered, but kept reading. Love the choices and the final decision is great. But the piece de resistance for me was adding that silk scarf. I just about fell out of my chair at how perfect that looks. Thanks for showing me the way to accessorize something I wasn’t sure needed it…..and Happy Thanksgiving to all!

    • Reply
      November 27, 2018 at 10:04 am

      Ann, just loved reading your comment. I saw you almost falling out of your chair and I wanted to catch you before you did! Yes, I keep working at it until the outfit says, YES!

  • Reply
    Stormy Smith
    November 20, 2018 at 11:38 am

    Full slips are so wonderful and hard to find! I have a couple vintage ones that I bought on Poshmark. Brenda – you accessorized beautifully and the outfit is gorgeous on you.

    • Reply
      November 27, 2018 at 10:03 am

      Thanks, Stormy. And thanks for the idea of finding them on Poshmark!

  • Reply
    Cindy Scurry
    November 20, 2018 at 3:20 pm

    Your story about this outfit is so intriguing to me. I read it like its my favorite novel. Since I met you I find myself just smiling at your pictures and words. I love your blog – your outfit is beautiful and each piece is perfect alone and even more perfect together! Thank you! xo Cindy

    • Reply
      November 27, 2018 at 10:02 am

      So appreciate your comments. I’m glad it reads like a novel. Clothes tell stories, lots of them! xo

  • Reply
    November 21, 2018 at 9:20 am

    What a great idea about using a full slip. I have two that I bought about 10 years ago. Does anyone remember the chemise? It was like a very short full slip that came down almost mid thigh. That would be perfect for tunics.

    • Reply
      November 27, 2018 at 10:01 am

      SO perfect! Thanks for sharing!

  • Reply
    Elaine @ Following Augustine
    November 22, 2018 at 8:45 pm

    I LOVE this outfit on you, Brenda, and I appreciate your step by step explanation of how and why you put it together the way you did.

    • Reply
      November 27, 2018 at 10:01 am

      Thanks, Elaine. It was a fun piece to work with!

  • Reply
    marlene alves
    November 23, 2018 at 8:02 pm

    Yes, very good choices, Brenda, from top to bottom!

    • Reply
      November 27, 2018 at 10:00 am

      Thanks, Marlene!

  • Reply
    style spotlight: versatile elegance with cindy hattersley of rough luxe lifestyle – Artful Home blog
    December 4, 2018 at 1:25 pm

    […] fabric. It looks great with leggings. My pal Brenda Kinsel wrote a post on her personal site here, if you want to see what it looks like on […]

  • Reply
    Elizabeth Gosse
    March 26, 2019 at 2:27 am

    Oh my gosh! I love this outfit! I’m so glad that you didn’t give up on it! The chunky Mother’s pearls are spot on(love the story behind them.) ! And that scarf! Such an elegant touch! Love the sheer, velvet texture of this tunic. What a prize staple in any wardrobe. Looks classic and lovely on you!
    Liz G

  • Reply
    Nora Jones
    August 6, 2019 at 8:36 am

    Miss Brenda,

    What a great idea of using a full slip! It answers my query of how to modestly pull off sheer garments!

    Thank you! Nora Elizabeth

    • Reply
      August 6, 2019 at 2:54 pm

      I know! They offer us such freedom. I love my slips!

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