22 In Anatomy of an Outfit/ Styling Tips/ Women Now

Anatomy of a holiday outfit

Holiday outfit

I had the Bella’s Holiday Tea date on my calendar for weeks but waited until the last minute to pull together an outfit for it. When I opened my closet to put a holiday outfit together my first response was panic.

I should have started thinking about this last weekend. A dress would have solved everything. If I just had some lighter colored sweaters or tops, I could wear them with my fancy skirts. That’s out of the question. Wah, wah, wah!

What to wear to tea

For inspiration, I looked back to see what I’d worn when the three of us went to see the movie Downton Abbey last summer.

I remember thinking at the time that I’d created a perfect holiday outfit that would work in December.

velvet tunic
How I wore this tunic last summer

But when I looked at the pictures from that day, I was not moved. It was a perfect outfit to wear to that movie but it needed an update.

There was one thing I felt sure about

I got control of my panic and thought about what I’d really like to wear. What came to mind was my Badgley Mischka coat purchased when I was loving all things leather and lace. The collar is leather and there’s an overlay of lace panels that runs down the front of it. I’ve been determined to pull it out and wear it, especially since I overlooked it all last year. Even with pouring down rain, I would reject a raincoat and wear this coat no matter what.

holiday coats

What to wear under my coat

With the outer layer as my inspiration, I worked on the rest of the outfit from the outside in.

The tunic top was definitely in the running. I liked how it related to the coat. Velvet, lace, and leather live together so nicely and the colors were in the same general family.

I have a pair of not-tight leggings by Eileen Fisher that have leather on the front and knit on the back. Maybe they’d work under the tunic instead of the wide-legged pants I’d worn before. Looking in the mirror I realized they weren’t so pretty around the crotch area–kind of bunchy and reminding me that I am in a sixty-year-old body, not a thirty-year-old body.

Holiday outfits
Reshaping a billowy tunic

The tunic was the perfect coverage

I put on the Lisa Bayne, Artful Home tunic. It definitely covered the crotch area, but I wasn’t wild about the fullness of it. The tunic’s shape made my already slim legs look spindly.

Hmm. What if I belted it? I pulled out a hearty two-inch-wide belt that I purchased from the Carlisle Collection when I was in my late 40s. It feels like a wintery belt because it’s mostly fur with black leather. It got a lot of use out of it back then, but it hadn’t seen the light of day in several years.

Belting the tunic helped big time

I had some ’80s styling muscle memory in me. Remember when tops were big and we belted everything two wear with stirrup pants and boots? Putting the belt around my waist, I pulled the tunic up a bit so it was relaxed. I loved how it dipped longer in front and got higher around my hips.

belting a tunic
A belt is a shapeshifter

The belt with the leather leggings was giving me a groovy vibe that was even a little sexy. The tunic is a bit see-through. Every time I’ve worn it in the past I had a full slip underneath it. I did layer a tank under the top this time so you wouldn’t see my bra or midriff. Without the full slip, the hint of sheerness exposed the shape of my legs, but not the bunchy crotch part. I liked how it gave me longer-looking legs.

Does this holiday outfit need a necklace?

When I wore this tunic last year during the holidays, I absolutely wanted a necklace. It took me a while to settle on the pearls but that’s what felt right at the time. Here’s more about how I styled it then.

Holiday outfits
How I styled this tunic last year

I remember adding that Sonia Rykiel dot scarf to the tunic. I loved the pattern mixing and how the long scarf repeated the line of the long tunic.

But you know what? I was just not in the mood for a necklace. Weird, because I’m usually always in the mood for wearing one, two, or three of them at once.

I eyed the scarf and pulled it out of my closet. I wrapped the scarf around and around my neck and tied it off to the side.

Accessorizing outfits
A silky scarf is a perfect accessory

It felt so good to wear the scarf this way that I didn’t consider a second option at all. The scarf and the belt broke up the space of the tunic nicely. I’d gotten the proportion I needed.

The next finishing steps were easy

I wore my simple beaded earrings and my slim black velvet Prada bag, a consignment store find by my daughters. On my feet were black suede Aquatlia pointy-toed booties. I’ve had them for a spell. Isn’t it wild that suede booties can be waterproof? That’s Aquatalia’s promise and I was surely going to be giving them the test that day.

But wait! There was one more very special accessory to add. Another find at my daughters’ consignment store, this hair ornament had my name written all over it.

Holiday hair ornaments

Holiday outfits

Add a secret accessory that could go unnoticed

You’ve heard me say this before, but I love how there can be a detail about my outfit that is visible to me even if it’s not visible to anyone else.

This hair ornament fits against my head so closely and blends into my hair color so well that it would be easy to not even see it.

But it’s my secret treasure and delights me all day whether anyone notices it. Do you have some secret accessories that bring you delight?

Holiday tea, here I come!

Holiday tea outfit
Tea with my Bella friends, Mariann and Marj

My updated holiday outfit put me in such a great mood. It’s hard to recall the panic I put myself in for those few minutes before I got down to business and built this outfit I felt great in.

Do you have some holiday pieces that you can update to suit you right now? I always tell my clients that I want to help them be the best version of themselves this month, this year. Last year has come and gone. It’s time to press refresh and style an outfit in a new way.

How about you? Did you buy yourself something new to wear over the holidays? Could you restyle something you already have? I hope you’re having fun with your special outfits. And, please, do share your ideas. We’d all love to hear what brings you delight this time of year.


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  • Reply
    Linda Lennon
    December 10, 2019 at 7:29 am

    I’ve been invited to a milestone birthday party for a new friend I met here in the desert of California. The guest of honor asked that we all wear our pearls and black/white attire. I’ve been mulling over what to wear since I received the invite and now you have just inspired me!! It would have been easy peasy to take a black dress and add a strand of pearls but I own 2 very pretty white Chanel inspired jackets and I’ll start there. As for the hair ornament; brilliant solution to tame my all white, growing out a pixie style I’ve been dealing with. Out here in the valley we have what it called the Desert fair on the campus of one of the university’s held every weekend; the hat man, as I call him, sells beautiful derby style hats as well as fasteners and you have spurred me on to go purchase one! Thanks for your inspiration and help in guiding me from east coast professional to SoCal desert retiree!

    • Reply
      December 10, 2019 at 8:34 pm

      Your comment put a big smile on my face. I’m so excited about you wearing one of the white Chanel inspired jackets. I LOVE white at this time of year. It’s so fresh. I bet your whole outfit will be just grand. Happy adventures in your SoCal retired life!

  • Reply
    December 10, 2019 at 8:23 am

    I tend to buy one festive piece each year, and then remix with what else I have. Last year I bought a teal sweater with sparkle collar and mixed it with a pleated silver lame skirt from the year before. Last night for husband’s business casual dinner—70 degrees—I wore 20 year old gray pinstripe trousers, a 10 year old Chico white lace top, and a pale purple CAbi cardigan that I hadn’t worn for several years. Thanks for the great remixing ideas, Brenda. Your fabulous eye is always an inspiration.

    • Reply
      December 10, 2019 at 8:32 pm

      Thanks so much Jules. I love how you are remixing. The color combo you wore sounds so attractive. Thanks for letting us “see” it!

  • Reply
    Donna E.
    December 10, 2019 at 9:02 am

    I’ve often not worn a hair accessory because “no one would see it” in my darkish hair. But with your “secret accessory” idea, and thinking that it’s okay that NOT everyone sees it, just a delightful select few (and some that notice but don’t reveal it to you), I’ll be rockin’ a few more well-loved accessories from here on. I love how you let us in on your whole thinking process as you make your decisions. Thanks.

    • Reply
      December 10, 2019 at 8:31 pm

      Donna, I’m so glad I mentioned my secret accessory. I think it’s perfect to enjoy parts of your outfit that may not get seen. It gives a double dose of joy to wear what you love. I’m excited about what you’ll be secretly wearing moving forward! Thanks for writing!

  • Reply
    Keira Williams
    December 10, 2019 at 2:57 pm

    To my supper club’s holiday party on Sunday, I threw together a monochromatic ensemble of sleeveless red semi-flowy poly crepe top, red Gap jeggings with a cute embroidered ankle detail, and cute patent red pumps–all acquired via thrift or clothing swap–accessorized with my late mom’s rhinestone Rudolf pin. It was a great outfit! 🙂

    • Reply
      December 10, 2019 at 8:29 pm

      Your outfit sounds so festive! I can well imagine it being a big hit at your supper club’s party. Thanks for sharing!

  • Reply
    Elaine @ Following Augustine
    December 10, 2019 at 3:03 pm

    I decided not to buy anything new this Christmas season, but to create new outfits from what was already in my closet. Here’s what I wore to our first Christmas event… https://edebock.wordpress.com/2019/12/06/tis-the-season/.

    • Reply
      December 10, 2019 at 8:28 pm

      Elaine, I LOVE that outfit. That sparkly green top is such a pretty color and looks great on you. I spent more time reading about you and your blog. You are so fascinating! And I appreciate where you are with your health project. Sending hugs!

  • Reply
    Nancy Karpen
    December 10, 2019 at 3:28 pm

    You never seem to have issues dressing your clients, but you’ve had several posts where you panic about dressing yourself, especially for dressy events. Just like a lot of us. I do not have the depth of dressy pieces that you have and there’s no way I’d be able to just pick out things for a dressy event. Admittedly I don’t have a lot of dressy events to go to so it’s not really a priority in my wardrobe. But then when I do have an event I have nothing to wear! I love your style; it’s appropriate for older women while you still manage to also be a bit edgy and fun and just a little different. Just because we are in our 60’s it doesn’t mean we can’t dress well and have a little fun.

    • Reply
      December 10, 2019 at 8:25 pm

      I love your last sentence. It’s like a rallying cry for those of us in our 60’s! I actually don’t have many dressy pieces to work with, which is probably why I panic when I wait until the last minute. Everybody’s wardrobe is different. I was just with a client last week who has a wardrobe that’s about 50% dressy–VERY dressy. Her husband buys her those pieces. We’re working at balancing out her wardrobe.
      What my clients get from me is my styling outfits for them before they actually need them. I’m always thinking about what’s coming up for them so they don’t have to worry. I need to treat myself like I treat my clients! Thanks for your comment, Nancy. I really love what you said about style.

  • Reply
    December 10, 2019 at 5:16 pm

    I love this outfit Brenda! I also love that you belted the Lisa Bayne top. You are always so creative with your outfits and are always so inspiring!

    • Reply
      December 10, 2019 at 8:17 pm

      Thanks, Cindy. You have this top too, right? It’s so pretty. I’m happy to be wearing it again. xx

  • Reply
    December 11, 2019 at 4:23 am

    The way you put an outfit together really helps me think through the process when I get dressed. Right now I’m struggling with what to wear to dinner ever evening on the ship wear it’s fine dining nightly. I may just have to throw my velvet blazer in the suitcase. That definitely would take an outfit up a notch.

  • Reply
    Sue Lewellen
    December 11, 2019 at 7:49 am

    I like that you belted the tunic. It was more flattering. And what a beautiful jacket!! You looked wonderful—and the food looks scrumptious!

  • Reply
    Tricia D.
    December 11, 2019 at 9:17 am

    Thanks for the inspiration of pulling old things out of the closet. I tend to say goodbye to things. Have a hard time with too much stuff. This blog reminds me to save the quality things for future use. Thanks!

  • Reply
    Tricia D.
    December 11, 2019 at 2:49 pm

    Thanks for the inspiration of pulling old things out of the closet. I tend to say goodbye to things. Have a hard time when I have too much stuff. This blog reminds me to save the quality things for future use. And I agree with Sandi, this helps me understand the process of finding and choosing. Thanks!

  • Reply
    Sandra Sallin - Apart From My Art
    December 12, 2019 at 11:18 am

    Dearest Brenda, You need nothing special for the holiday look. I just looked at your smiling face, with red lips and glasses and that smile said holiday to me! Really you shine and isn’t that what the holidays are all about? Just went to a holiday party and what made it special was that everyone was dressed up in some way. So different from the usual jeans and or tights. I added a bunch of sparkle in wearing 2 necklaces ( yes I word 2 of them together) earrings and my bright red nails. Interestingly a man saw my jewelry and was intrigued because he wants to start designing jewelry. Bottom line a beautiful smile and sparkling eyes go a long way. But you of all people know that.

  • Reply
    Katherine Cramer
    December 12, 2019 at 10:02 pm

    What a yummy color (Iced lilac?)–very regal! I have a few new tops for the holidays. I was having a green desire since the retailers were showing it. I bought a cosy cabled turtleneck sweater tunic in green and am considering a ‘slutty’ green top with asymmetrical open shoulder. Not sure I want to be showing one shoulder. At least the top has long sleeves. I often
    default to black and gold for the holidays. I added an Alfani tunic top with modern burn-out velvet pattern this Season. I was happy to use a multi-strand black and gold beaded necklace and matching cuff that had languished a few years unworn.

  • Reply
    December 15, 2019 at 10:21 am

    You totally nailed it, Brenda, just like we would expect from a professional image consultant! I pick up pieces now and again when I find a deal on something amazing. That happens a lot since I’ve become a fashion and lifestyle blogger for women over 60. I just wore an emerald green velvet top that I got from Express with a deep teal burnout velvet kimono (that looks more like forest green) that has black fringe. After googling all the popular outfits with a velvet top, my eyes fell upon this kimono in my wardrobe and I saw that they combined perfectly in texture and color. Then I added silky black pants and pointed-toe faux suede booties and a statement necklace, too, since I was going to an Christmas Wigilia feast. Any day now, I’m going to receive in the mail a three-piece navy velvet suit. I’ll be wearing that, or elements of it, to my family Christmas Eve dinner at the lake. I love your fun-loving spirit! – Angie, http://www.yourtrueselfblog.com

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