18 In Anatomy of an Outfit

Anatomy of a professional retreat outfit in warmer weather

Cornerstone in Sonoma

Scouting Cornerstone where the MMBers will have lunch, shop and visit gardens


So here’s what’s happening in my Sonoma life this week. I’m hosting the Nearly Annual MMB Professional Retreat where nearly twenty image, style, wardrobe, and fashion consultants will be gathered for three full days of learning, experiencing, and sharing with friends and soon-to-be-friends in our profession. The MMBs is short for the Monthly Marketing Bundle program, a program I began in 2009 to support the growth and success of our industry.

How do I do that? I’m a content provider of articles, tip sheets, and speech outlines delivered monthly to our members who would rather spend time with their lovely clients than sit at the keyboard hammering out feature articles for their newsletter, blog, or social media content throughout the month. If they’re going to be giving a presentation or workshop, they get a whole outline complete with a marketing blurb and everything in each delivery. I provide the written materials so they don’t have to think. They take it, run with it, and make it their own. They’re so creative!


Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn and Spa

Sonoma Mission Inn is going to be hosting some very stylish professional women this week!


More of a professional conference than an actual retreat

I call our gathering a retreat and it is retreat-ish in that it’s being held at the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa, an iconic resort destination right here in town. But the truth is, it’s more of an educational conference. I’ve packed the three full days with rich professional sessions led by mostly MMB members. Topics we’re covering include creating online campaigns and membership programs, marketing on a shoestring budget, learning how to use systems and recordkeeping to stay in the black, a master style class promising to show us how to break fashion rules, a writing class to inspire authorship, photography for social media, my A Conversation on Aging program, and a panel of local Wine Country women entrepreneurs sharing how they’ve turned their passion into action and created women-friendly products for sale.

Luckily I’ve had a great team who’s been helping me all along the way. This wouldn’t exist without them. (Thank you Marjory, Carolyn, Adena, and Elena!)

I promise to provide you pics and share adventures from the week. Right now my stomach is full of butterflies because I’m so excited!! When I press “publish” I’ll be changing clothes and heading over to the hotel to meet everyone before we officially start at 9 a.m. Tuesday morning.


Floral print top

My warmer weather outfit starts with this Vince Camuto bold print top


Yesterday Russ and I went out to Cornerstone. It’s this arty complex of great shops, wine tasting rooms, beautiful gardens and a restaurant where we’re having Wednesday’s luncheon. They’re seating us in the barn that’s on the property. We’ll have just come out of our Photography for Social Media session and one of the teachers, Marjory, is giving us photo assignments for the afternoon. I thought I’d check out some backgrounds with good lighting.

I also wanted to test out this outfit because it I may wear it during the retreat. The unusually warm weather has set in!


Vince Camuto bold floral print

Busting out a bold abstract floral print


My three key pieces: bold print, bold earrings, and magnificent cuff

Because of the weather change, I knew I couldn’t be in my layered cashmere pieces! I did a little quick shopping at Nordstrom to pick up a top that was more springlike. In my heart of hearts, I’ve wanted to add prints to my wardrobe, preferably large scale floral prints. This one by Vince Camuto was a good start. The print has that shade of blue I just love, the color white that always makes me feel elegant, and that grassy green that I lust after. Just last week I saw someone wearing a solid-colored jacket in that shade and wished I could wear it too. I don’t think I could do a two-piece suit in it but wear it in a print? You betcha!


Cornterstone in Sonoma

Texting my team members #cantwaittoseeyouinsonoma


I’ve also been hungry to wear my earrings and cuff from Artful Home where I’m so lucky to be one of their Brand Ambassadors. Earlier in January, I’d ordered these two pieces because I had a hunch they’d be great as a pair. I’ve been waiting (impatiently) to wear the Teardrop Earrings by artist Maia Leppo. They’re made of steel and have an industrial look that reads modern and a little edgy to me. They need neck space to be truly appreciated. With weather in the 70s, I can unwind the wool scarves from my neck and give these earrings the space they deserve! Besides, this bold print needs a bold earring.


Artful Home jewelry

Iron and stone cuff and steel earrings from Artful Home


What pairs well with steel earrings? An iron cuff exclusively from Artful Home. It’s called the Moonlight Cuff and the artist is Pat Flynn. I love the clean, simple design. I love its tough and tender bits. The tough part is the super strong iron component. This cuff comes in three sizes. Mine is small and fits beautifully. I don’t want to take it off. The tender part is the strip of diamonds right in the center. So sweet!


Cornerstone Barn will host the MMBers for lunch

Going with a breezy outfit with bold elements


I finished off this outfit by adding my delicate tassel necklace. I know it’s hard to see it hanging over the bold print. That’s how I wanted it. I wanted just a tiny hint of something else going on in this two-piece outfit. The tassel necklace doesn’t block the print of the top but it does add a little more sparkle near the cuff. I wanted something sparkly to play with the diamonds in the iron cuff. Boy, do they like each other! They’re happy together and that makes me happy!

I’m wearing Wellfeet sneakers from a couple of years back. The store where I got them has closed. The drawstring pants are by Theory. The gray shawl that came on and off throughout the afternoon is by Echo and came from Nordstrom. I’d say this outfit is a strong contender for wearing with my professional peeps this week, don’t you?


Sonoma hosts the MMBers for a professional retreat

Thinking about my MMB buddies just hours from Sonoma!


Welcome to Sonoma!

I’m ready for you MMBers! Sonoma is anticipating your arrival with open arms. Let the good times roll!

Since I’m going to be with my consultant buddies all week, is there a question you’d like me to ask them? I will be interviewing a couple of them on plus-size fashion as per your prior requests. Anything else? Let me know!



This post is sponsored by Artful Home. Their winter collection is out right now. My ideas of how to wear these jewelry pieces from Artful Home comes from my heart and mind. Thank you!

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  • Reply
    February 5, 2018 at 9:23 pm

    Brenda, you are just amazing! I was both intrigued and inspired as I read about your creative work. I’m so happy for those who are blessed to know you in person. Wishing you all good things with the retreat!

    • Reply
      February 11, 2018 at 6:58 pm

      Gosh, you inspire me to come up with a top 10 or 20 things that happened at the retreat. It truly was awesome!!! Thanks for your good wishes!

  • Reply
    February 6, 2018 at 1:06 am

    Brenda, you look fantastic as always. I love the cuff and earrings. Hope you have a great time. I’d just like to point out that it’s snowing here, and there you are in a floral T shirt!

    • Reply
      February 11, 2018 at 6:59 pm

      Well, after the retreat the temperatures dropped by 15 degrees Fahrenheit. I’ve been in sweaters, coats and stocking caps the last two days! Guess the floral prints will have to wait for a bit.

  • Reply
    Trinnie Q
    February 6, 2018 at 2:02 am

    Wow, Brenda, is there no end to your amazing energy, and incredible work ethic ! All the above mentioned you do, as well as see clients and communicate with us all through your various blogs etc !! And Mum, Partner, friend , daughter, and the list goes on !! You are truly inspiring, and I feel privileged to have found you. may blessings, laughter , success, and joy, be yours in these coming days ! Oh yes, and you also look fab, and fresh ! You go girl ! Sending love from Oz

    • Reply
      February 11, 2018 at 7:00 pm

      Thanks, Trinnie! I feel so very blessed! There was an awful lot of laughing, sharing, fun times, and very poignant and tearful ones too. Gosh, it’s great to be with dynamic women from all over! Love from Sonoma.

  • Reply
    February 6, 2018 at 3:56 am

    Love your new cuff and ear rings! Fab finds! How lucky are you to have such wonderful weather! It is snowing here…again…still. I am sending wishes that your event goes well!

    • Reply
      February 11, 2018 at 7:01 pm

      Thanks, Kathy! You’re a gem!

  • Reply
    Sandi Mcdougall
    February 6, 2018 at 6:25 am

    Looking gorgeous as usual. Have fun! I’ll check out the website for the earrings & cuff Ms. Ambassador 😉

    • Reply
      February 11, 2018 at 7:01 pm

      Great, Sandi. And I love how Ms. Ambassador rolls off your lips! Hugs to you and Paul.

  • Reply
    Sandra Sallin-Apart From My Art
    February 6, 2018 at 2:42 pm

    Oh, I’d love to attend your retreat. What fun. Maybe you can do one for people who aren’t style mavens? You’re a wonderful Brand Ambassador. I’m always so involved with your posts.What came first? The writing or the styling?

    • Reply
      February 11, 2018 at 8:09 pm

      That’s a good question, Sandra. I wrote political stuff in high school for an underground newspaper. In college I was protesting things through letters to the editor of magazines and newspapers. And then the styling came and then the writing about the styling. They’ve gone together since my 40s. I’m a lucky girl!

  • Reply
    February 6, 2018 at 11:47 pm

    Love the tshirt. I like patterns on a black background unfortunately I have not had much luck lately in Australia. It is summer and everything appears to be in light colours which I never wear. Enjoy the retreat.

    • Reply
      February 11, 2018 at 8:07 pm

      Thanks for your wishes! Yes, this is probably the window here for dark backgrounds before spring really strikes. I do like it very much!

  • Reply
    February 7, 2018 at 1:51 pm

    ENJOY………YOUR ALMOST DONE and it will be time to say GOOD-BYE!

    • Reply
      February 11, 2018 at 8:07 pm

      It was probably D for Danger by MAC. Very sad saying goodbye. Golly, I love these women so much!

  • Reply
    February 23, 2018 at 1:44 pm

    have to ask… Shoes, what brand, model? Love them!
    With that said, do you think they can be carried off by someone who is 5’2″ with big feet (size 10)

    • Reply
      February 25, 2018 at 11:01 am

      The store is closed. The brand is Wellfeet. I doubt whether they are available as I’ve had them for years. I hate to give advice without actually seeing them. I will say I have a client the same height as you and the same shoe size as you and I know they’d have been great on her…if that helps!

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