40 In Anatomy of an Outfit/ Getting Dressed

Anatomy of an Outfit: Breaking one rule but following another

Two piece dressing on BrendaKinsel.com

Two piece dressing

 

Let’s start this post with full disclosure and complete transparency: I really like this outfit. No, I think I love this outfit. Even more than how it looks, the way it feels on my body is dreamy and luxurious. I love the light colors and how uplifted I feel in them. From the inside I feel like a feminine goddess walking around gracefully and confidently in that loose top with golden metallic threads. The unbelted, untucked blouse moves freely this way and that; the full pant legs brush against my thighs and calves like sweet nuzzling or soft kisses from a tender lover.

A goddess might be a bit of a stretch; maybe a personal assistant to a goddess.

I wore this outfit for nine hours straight which included a morning closet appointment with one client and a shopping appointment in the afternoon with another client. Every one of those 10,000 steps was dreamy and full of satisfaction.

Now back to the mortal me, the me here on the pavement of the Northgate Shopping Center, the me who likes to figure out what works about an outfit and why, the one who pulled her head out of the clouds and said, “Wow, Brenda, this is so unlike you! Two pieces of clothing, hardly any accessories. What’s going on here? Do you feel naked without your bangles, your layers, your belts?” Well, yes, sort of!

I was confused. You guys were on my mind. I wondered how I could explain this outfit (because I couldn’t wait to share it with you) when though I didn’t understand what was going on. What was the formula to this ensemble? That night I went to bed puzzled. I was coming up with possible blog titles like, “Can you explain this fashion moment to me?” I slipped my fashion queries under my pillow, fell asleep, and in the morning I said, “Eureka! By gosh, I think I’ve figured it out!”

The inception of this mystery outfit

I rarely put together an outfit the night before. I love to throw my fashion fate into the night sky, wake up the next morning, slide open the mirrored closet doors, and invite inspiration to guide me. Mostly, that works.

On this particular morning, I decided I wanted to wear my full-leg ivory linen pants. They’re pretty classic, no fanfare. When I talk about having a star pieces and support pieces in your outfit, I’d consider these pants to be a strong support piece. If outfits were movies and clothing pieces were actors, Ivory Classique Linen Pant wouldn’t be on the theater marquee. As a support piece the linen pant is happy to provide the opportunity for a blouse, dress, or jacket to get the attention of the fans and the paparazzi. Gosh, as I write this, I just want to go hug those pants! They’re so humble and yet so very essential. Thank you, pants! I couldn’t have done this without you!

I don’t know that they spark joy when I look at them the way Marie Kondo and her KonMari Method would measure whether they should stay or go from the closet, but they spark deep respect. They are keepers, year after year.

 

Etro blouse steals the show

Loving the easy shape of this blouse

Adding the star piece to this outfit

On this morning when I invited inspiration, my eye moved to this pretty Etro blouse hanging in the closet with a dry cleaner bag over it. I wore it in July to a wedding where it was victim to a near clothing disaster involving two other people. To explain how a glass of red wine splashed across the front of this blouse would be like trying to explain an elaborate high wire circus act. In case you missed a detail there, it was a GLASS of RED wine, not a couple of drops.

That blouse was back and forth to the dry cleaners three times before it came back nearly perfect. It was so traumatizing that I haven’t worn it since. Too scared. But besides being gifted inspiration that morning, I think God threw in a splash of courage as well because I reached for the blouse, slipped off the plastic, took a deep breath, and said, “Okay Girl, we’re going for it.”

I layered a white camisole under the sheer Etro blouse star piece. Why is it a star piece? Well, the gold metallic stripes grab your attention. The line of the blouse has a sloping thing going on at the sides. It’s sheer. It has that sweet bow tie at the neck that adds a little extra something to it detail wise. And against the ivory linen pants, it definitely stands out and gets noticed.

 

Star pieces in dressing

This blouse is the star piece in this outfit

 

I added a pair of earrings I got this summer from Banana Republic. They add sparkle that relates to the sparkle in the blouse. The earrings also have these white cones that hang down. The white relates to the ivory pants. I wore my bee watch and my gold owl ring and felt complete. I slipped into my blush Prada patent platform sandals. I liked the shine of the patent leather with the shine of the stripes in the top. And I liked how the platform sandals gave me a lift.

 

Working a star piece into an outfit

The Etro blouse is the star piece in this outfit

 

Am I breaking my own rule?

So here’s the thing I knew I’d have to admit to you: I think I’m breaking one of my cardinal rules! You know how I always talk about the 50/50 formula for when it comes to wearing baggy clothing? I say if you’re wearing something loose on one part of your body, wear something more form-fitting on the other part. Why this outfit feels a bit foreign to me is that I’m wearing two loose things at the same time. Granted, the blouse is more loose and flowy than the pant but there’s no real definition–no defined waist or hips. I’m just floating, unconstrained, letting it all hang out.

Much of fashion’s direction is moving toward more volume and maybe this is my of of leaning into that silhouette; trying something new; feeling it out.

But because I like rules and formulas for dressing (even though I eagerly break them) I think this outfit may be as simple as this: it’s an example of creating fashion wattage by wearing a star piece (the Etro blouse) and a support piece (the linen pant) and jewelry that stays out of the way resulting in a simple elegant walk down the red carpet gray sidewalk.

What do you think? Am I breaking rules here? I invite your analysis, my friends.

 

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40 Comments

  • Reply
    Trinnie Q
    September 13, 2017 at 11:47 pm

    Hi Brenda, Even though this outfit combination is perhaps not so familiar to you, It is very beautiful. What i notice is its clear simplicity like early morning sunrise at the sea. Also, the white tank, or cami underneath is fitted, and adds an element of balance. But probably best of all is how it made you feel. Comfortable, can never be underestimated in my book. Comfy, yet quietly glamorous. Thanks for your wonderful generous sharing. I so look forward to my newly found sparkle, on reading your posts, and the replies from your lovely community. Thanks for enabling me to be part of a previously , hidden love , of life and fashion, and the joy that brings. Sending love from Oz

    • Reply
      Brenda
      September 14, 2017 at 9:53 am

      Wow, do I ever love that next-to-the-last sentence of yours. (And the last one too!!!) I think for many women, there is so much to appreciate about life and love via fashion and style. Love how you said that.
      I think my new style words could be “comfy, quietly glamorous.” Sounds good!

  • Reply
    spags
    September 14, 2017 at 12:54 am

    You’re a goddess, Brenda. Never doubt it.

    • Reply
      Brenda
      September 14, 2017 at 9:51 am

      Thank you, my sweet!

  • Reply
    Kathy
    September 14, 2017 at 3:54 am

    I applied for the goddess assistant position but did not snag the job!!! If I had worn your outfit they may have given me the position! It looks lovely on you! Don’t underestimate the power of the cloth or the woman.! It’s definitely you Brenda just another facet to your personality.

    • Reply
      Brenda
      September 14, 2017 at 9:50 am

      Hey, Kathy. Do you want to be the assistant to the goddess assistant? I’ll hire you!!! I think you are right, it is another facet of my personality. Maybe I want to bring this part out more. Maybe I’m ready to. Maybe!

  • Reply
    Colleen
    September 14, 2017 at 5:17 am

    It is a beautiful thing to look so lovely and feel so comfy.

    • Reply
      Brenda
      September 14, 2017 at 9:49 am

      Oh boy, you said it!

  • Reply
    Diane
    September 14, 2017 at 5:44 am

    Well, you certainly look the goddess part. Perhaps the two flowy items work so well because you can still get the impression of your slim torso under the blouse, and the pants fall against the outline of your legs. This way we can still see how slim you are underneath. The length of the pants is perfect to my eyes as it makes your legs go on and on. I can understand how you could work for 9 hours with nothing constricting, and that beautiful top making you smile. Keep strutting that red carpet and letting us in on it. ( perfect shoes for the job )

    • Reply
      Brenda
      September 14, 2017 at 9:49 am

      Love your analysis here, Diane! Yes, it’s not volume in a clown way. And I was thinking that the pants do still show my form even though they aren’t in the skinny jean type of department! Love getting your take on it!

  • Reply
    Bess
    September 14, 2017 at 6:17 am

    Beautiful, BK! You look so great in whites. Very inspiring!

    • Reply
      Brenda
      September 14, 2017 at 9:47 am

      Thank you, Bess!

  • Reply
    Pat
    September 14, 2017 at 6:20 am

    You rock this look, girl!! Your show stopping top has strong verticle lines, does not flounce, hangs in a body flattering way. Love it!
    Faithful fan,
    Pat

    • Reply
      Brenda
      September 14, 2017 at 9:47 am

      You’re right, those vertical lines are very direct, strong yet the look itself is rather soft. I like how it hangs too. Thanks for your thoughts on it!
      Faithfully yours,
      Brenda

  • Reply
    Susan B.
    September 14, 2017 at 7:10 am

    Simply beautiful!! What I think works here is that the volume is light and floaty. And the soles of the shoes balance and ground the volume of the outfit. I don’t think this would have worked as well with flats.

    • Reply
      Brenda
      September 14, 2017 at 9:46 am

      In my mind I see what you mean. You’re right. I think the top is too weighty (in a design sense) to have worn flat shoes. It is light and floaty. I think that’s what I liked about it so much! It’s nice to FEEL light and floaty when life isn’t always light and floaty around you (me!).

  • Reply
    Eva Popovich
    September 14, 2017 at 10:19 am

    I’m new to your blog, having been introduced by a friend because she reminded her of me. I am not only very like you in size, but also I think in style. I often am drawn to outfits such as this one, but being somewhat petite, have been told this sort of thing could be too much for me. You look great in this ensemble, and I was loving it immediately, but the first thing that came to mind for me was, should the top be just a little shorter? You are the expert, but I wonder your opinion about that. Until I have your opinion, I will probably continue to wear things like this, flowing along (sometimes with skinny pants below the flow top, but also loving the feeling I have when I wear something like this.

    • Reply
      Brenda
      September 14, 2017 at 10:24 am

      My mind can definitely change on this but for the moment I think this top is just fine the length it is. If I shortened it it would lose the drama and grace. However, I do tuck this blouse into other outfits. I have belted it as well when that proportion was better. With the volume of the pants, I think it works this time. So fun to have met you, Eva! Maybe we are soul style sisters!

  • Reply
    Nancy Karpen
    September 14, 2017 at 11:06 am

    Glass of red wine? Shudder! You must have a great cleaners! But getting to why this works The loose blouse over narrow pants looks dated and neither of these pieces are truly voluminous. I love the long wide pant with platform shoe. The light colors, stripes and long pants give a pleasing long line. It’s also not fussy, which I like.

    • Reply
      Brenda
      September 14, 2017 at 6:40 pm

      I love how you’ve described the “why” of this outfit. True, they aren’t truly voluminous. Oh, my heart stopped when this happened. I’ve never paid as much money for a blouse as I did this one. I was thinking, “Did I only get a handful of wearings out of this top?” Plus, the fiber content is full of things you don’t want to be messing with. Yes, the cleaners worked and then worked some more to get it right.

  • Reply
    Karin Beamer
    September 14, 2017 at 11:16 am

    I think it looks good on you , primarily because you are doing a column of white underneath the blouse. Plus the platform shoes make you taller, so it works, and yes, it would be very comfy and cool.

    • Reply
      Brenda
      September 14, 2017 at 6:41 pm

      Thanks, Karin, for weighing in!

  • Reply
    Cheryl Ann
    September 14, 2017 at 2:48 pm

    This outfit is stunning and it works because it is on a fabulous fashion icon…who wears her clothes, they don’t wear her.

    • Reply
      Brenda
      September 14, 2017 at 6:38 pm

      Cheryl Ann! That is so sweet! Well, when I think about what you said, it’s true, that is my goal!

  • Reply
    Sue Scott
    September 14, 2017 at 3:27 pm

    Brenda, The outfit is gorgeous in its simplicity and sparkle!
    The secret to 2 flowy items, in this case, may be the transparency as the form of your body underneath is visible so the added fullness disappears.
    Definitely a keeper

    • Reply
      Brenda
      September 14, 2017 at 6:38 pm

      Thanks for your vote and for your thought on why it works. Yes, it’s a keeper! I only wish I’d thought to put these pieces together earlier. I won’t be wearing those linen pants too much longer!

  • Reply
    Ann
    September 14, 2017 at 3:46 pm

    I also have one of those two-loosey-pieces outfits that I love. And, shocker!, one of those pieces is linen trousers. My linen trousers are cream / navy / lighter blue stripes. And the top piece is a VERY loose, long, long-sleeved, boat-neck cotton sweater. Both from Talbot’s.

    The outfit makes me feel a little like “Katherine Hepburn Goes to the Beach.” When wearing it, I want to throw one leg up in the air, Kat-style, and say, “If you obey all the rules, you miss all the fun.” Yes, she really said that. 🙂

  • Reply
    Sandi Mcdougall
    September 14, 2017 at 5:02 pm

    I didn’t want to be a stocker but I think I was one of the first to read this article as no one had commented and then I got your message. I love this outfit and it looks amazing and comfortable. Every little detail like the earrings and watch and the fabulous shoes! And more than anything I love your honesty when you write. You write from your heart and that’s what I love the most about reading everything you write. Keep up the amazing outfits and unbelievable waiting.

    • Reply
      Brenda
      September 14, 2017 at 6:34 pm

      Thanks so much, Sandi!! I so appreciate your readership and your comments!!

  • Reply
    Sandi Mcdougall
    September 14, 2017 at 5:04 pm

    Unbelievable writing not waiting. Your guy will think I think you’ve been waiting for something ;)))) Yikes, must re-read, re-read, re-read everything before I hit POST.

    • Reply
      Brenda
      September 14, 2017 at 6:37 pm

      You’re giving me a giggle! I wonder how many times I’m not catching things I write. But I understood! xx

  • Reply
    Imogen Lamport
    September 14, 2017 at 5:56 pm

    Love this outfit and your “rule breaking” as it’s such an important thing to teach (rules are great as guidelines but then we need to stretch and bend and have fun). One of the reasons it works even though the top is voluminous as is the bottom, is that the shirt is sheer and the cami underneath provides that feeling of a more fitted piece. That lightweight sheer fabric of the shirt doesn’t make it feel as voluminous as it would be if it was heavier and more solid.

    • Reply
      Brenda
      September 14, 2017 at 6:33 pm

      So true! Thanks for weighing in, Imogen! I think it also works best for me in these light colors. It might be a bit too much if it was in black or charcoal.

      • Reply
        Imogen Lamport
        September 14, 2017 at 10:30 pm

        True – the light colours make if feel light and floaty in a way that dark colours never would!

  • Reply
    Lisa
    September 14, 2017 at 7:30 pm

    What Imogen said! And the blouse also reminds me, in a good way, of clothes I wore in the 80s. So there’s an extra thrill of nostalgia, for me;).

  • Reply
    Vicki W Grant
    September 14, 2017 at 9:08 pm

    I think my big takeaway from this post is to be curious about incorporating more sheers into my wardrobe. Less seen leaves more to the imagination! I’ve made one black print sheer silk big shirt (https://voguepatterns.mccall.com/v1246) that wraps and ties, giving an illusion of waist with an asymmetric hem. I don’t like wearing it because the pointy sleeve hems dip into food when I eat.

    A duh reminder! I made the darn thing so I could change the darn sleeve hems, too, don’t you think? (yes)

    Speaking of sheers, I spotted a Diva at the Pleasanton Scottish Games last week. A woman of a certain age wearing a floor length white floral sleeveless dress under a light gold open knit /lace floor length Cape with hood. Absolutely breathtaking. I started taking sneak photos but finally broke down and walked over and told her she won “Diva of the Day” award from me and I really needed a front and back photo of the garment! We both beamed smiles, back and forth. Me appreciating that she dressed that way on purpose. She basking in the recognition of someone else noticing her “look well done”.

  • Reply
    Cara
    September 15, 2017 at 4:51 am

    The process you go through to select an outfit is so interesting, and edifying!
    As always, thank you for taking the time to write this blog.

  • Reply
    LA CONTESSA
    September 15, 2017 at 6:41 pm

    First off NORTHGATE SHOPPING CENTER I GREW UP GOING THERE!
    Second, you can be my ASSISTANT ANY DAY says the ANTIQUEGODDESS from INSTAGRAM!
    Yes, I too wear long flowing things TOP and BOTTOM………….it;s a LIFESTYLE for me!
    WELCOME TO MY CLUB!
    XX

  • Reply
    Nanette
    September 15, 2017 at 7:45 pm

    The outfit is lovely on you but I shuddered when I read that the blouse had been in a dry cleaning bag for months! The bags can cause yellowing of fabrics and delicate ones are particularly susceptible. Here is a good article for reference: https://www.thespruce.com/problems-with-dry-cleaning-plastic-bags-2145941

    • Reply
      Brenda
      September 15, 2017 at 8:19 pm

      You’re right, my bad. With all the back and forth with the dry cleaners it was more like six weeks but still. Thanks for sharing the resource. Much appreciated!

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