15 In Getting Dressed/ Series/ Style

Anatomy of an Outfit: Layering techniques and style expression

Suzanne in St. Helena on Brenda Kinsel website

Suzanne demonstrates her style in St. Helena


Suzanne Dekyvere is a friend and colleague from Melbourne, Australia. She flew to Sonoma in June to be part of the retreat I’d planned for members of the Monthly Marketing Bundle program, a program I developed to help support other image consultants. Whether it’s live or on social media, I always enjoy her joy filled outfits. (See her Instagram feed: @airofdistinction.)

I cornered her one morning when we were waiting for our coffee drinks in St. Helena and asked her to tell me about her outfit. It was so harmonious in an active, playful, feminine way. She told me it was simply about wearing neutrals and layering. I told her she had some ‘splaining to do!

Layering with light pieces


Suzanne gives me layering tips on Brenda Kinsel website

Peeling back the layers of Suzanne’s outfit


First of all we talked about layering. She said, “People get scared of layering. The trick is to layer without adding bulk. Keep all the layers light, airy, and flowy.”

Her tunic is a sleeveless one piece long top with a split. Suzanne says, “Without the split it would have the potential to make me look frumpy but the split elongates. The color is light taupe and is a neutral in my wardrobe. As I wear a lot of color, it is an easy piece to throw over anything to change the look.”

Her pants are made from a fine fabric. They have a nice flow and are straight and narrow. She pointed out the neutral colors of her pant. It’s the same light vanilla/taupe as in her tunic and the blue repeats her eye color. Her jean jacket is soft blue and embellished with great ribbons and trim. Her hat is in the same blue as her jacket and pant. Her shoes and her tote are both soft white shades in smooth leather.


Thin pant layers on Brenda Kinsel website

Suzanne wears thin fabrics when layering


Layering jewelry

Suzanne has layered two necklaces together. One necklace matches the earrings. The other is a plaited leather with white feathers. I loved the solid geometric shapes in the necklace and earrings. Because there’s a lot of activity in the print of her pants and her jean jacket, it gives a place for the eye to rest.

She bought both necklaces while on vacations. She says, “I tend to buy accessories when I travel. They are my mementos of wonderful places and fun holidays. The tan color is flattering on me as it picks up my hair color. I see the necklaces as being complimentary but not matchy-matchy.”



Suzanne's hat on Brenda Kinsel website

Suzanne’s necklaces compliment each other


Suzanne's earrings on Brenda Kinsel website

Suzanne’s earrings are smooth like her beautiful skin



So she convinced me: It’s a simple outfit of neutrals! Although she’s got embellishment in her jacket and she’s mixing two prints – stripes in the hat and an Indian print in the pant – there’s still a lot of quiet in her outfit. Sublime meets joy.


“What’s your style?”

I asked Suzanne how she would describe her style. She’s gotten a few suggestions from outside sources. One source labeled her style Eclectic Dramatic. Another used the words Glamorous, Creative.

When I asked her to search her soul and tell me what she thought, she said, “Dramatic, Creative, Authentic. When you ask what connects to my soul I’d quote Lynn Dell: ‘Dress everyday for the theatre of your life.’ When I first read that quote I almost squealed out loud, ‘It’s me!’ I’d say I wear what makes my heart sing, what makes me happy. I love the creativity of putting together ensembles. I never worry about what others think of my style. That’s their issue, not mine. Having said that I am mindful and respectful of unspoken dress codes and aim to meet my client’s visual expectation. For example, when I am in the corporate world as I often am, I do my version of corporate dress.

Every evening I plan my outfit for tomorrow with the thought “What do I want to have achieved at the end of tomorrow and how can I dress to best help that?” Sometimes I will plan an outfit around a pair of shoes; other times around a piece of jewelry; others around something that tugs at my heart strings.


Jean jacket details on Brenda Kinsel website

Suzanne’s denim jacket details


When I look at this outfit and take in Suzanne’s radiance, I think of her style as Understated Goddess. She is such a well-rounded person. She has exuberance, wisdom, compassion, and generosity. I can see her holding the world in her arms and guiding us all to a better place. I hope she inspires you like she inspires me!

Suzanne’s website is An Air of Distinction.


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  • Reply
    Lisa White
    August 16, 2016 at 6:35 pm

    What a fabulous post! I enjoyed reading about Suzanne’s layering choices and incredible style. This is so well written and very inspiring. I am thinking of possible combinations, now. Thank you so much for sharing this Brenda!

    • Reply
      August 16, 2016 at 6:50 pm

      Thanks, Lisa! It’s exciting to think of you coming up with new combinations given how creative you are. It will be amazing! Xx

      • Reply
        Lisa White
        August 16, 2016 at 7:34 pm

        Thanks….I am looking at a long, light silk, sleeveless, asymmetrical Eileen Fisher tunic in my closet….will start pulling interesting silk pants…or silk-like. This will be fun! Thanks again for this inspiring post!

        • Reply
          August 18, 2016 at 9:17 am

          I love it!

  • Reply
    Jaymie Ashcraft
    August 18, 2016 at 5:03 pm

    Love this!!

    • Reply
      August 18, 2016 at 6:49 pm

      Thanks, Jaymie!

  • Reply
    August 19, 2016 at 3:30 am

    You summed up Suzanne so beautifully in that last paragraph. It takes a great soul to recognise one.

    • Reply
      August 19, 2016 at 4:15 pm

      Oh, I really appreciate your comment, Debbie. Thanks for sharing!

  • Reply
    Julie Capuano
    August 19, 2016 at 3:37 am

    Suzanne is a precious friend & I love that you are “getting” her style which always blows me away She has this amazing “eye” for putting pieces together…my ‘style’ is a little more elegant corporate through my working career but Suzanne has gently guided me & now I have a wardrobe full of “expressive ensembles'” which I love to parade when I have the opportunity. Suzanne is the most amazingly creative, elegant, joyfully passionate person I have ever met. You go girl

    • Reply
      August 19, 2016 at 4:14 pm

      It’s so great to hear “I got her” from a precious friend. Thanks so much for sharing, Julie. And how fun to have her there to help you stretch some. I also love that elegant corporate look. It’s great that we can do anything we want with clothes!

    • Reply
      Suzanne Dekyvere
      August 20, 2016 at 12:35 am

      Ohhhh Julie, thank you for your beautiful words….. you are an absolute treasure and I am blessed your are in my life xxx

  • Reply
    Stephanie Quick
    August 25, 2016 at 9:05 am

    oh, i love these type of outfit analyses! And i agree: “So she convinced me: It’s a simple outfit of neutrals! ”

    While this look has a ton of detail and embellishment there is also quite a bit of restraint. The overall silhouette is dead simple – pure column. Save the jacket, the colors are neutral, subdued, and the range is low contrast. This allows the jacket to shine, and to bring attention to the face. Really stunning, and so approachable. Style-magic at it’s height!!!

    I like to look at outfits thru these parameters: color, silhouette, details (3-d things like buttons, lace, pin tucks), texture, drape, pattern (printed or woven design), style references (1920’s, nautical) and accessories. Wearable, stylish looks usually keep the interest in one or two of these areas and keep the rest simple.

    blog post i wrote on this topic years ago for the truly obsessed 😉 : http://dashingeccentric.blogspot.com/2011/04/intro-to-my-outfit-analysis-checklist.html

    Great article and fascinating lady!!! Thank you!!

    • Reply
      August 29, 2016 at 4:34 pm

      Yippee! A fellow fashion geek! I love your comments about Suzanne’s outfit. Yes, I also see the restraint you talk about. Thanks for sharing your blog post with us truly obsessed ones (I think there are lots of us out there!!!). I love your list of elements that you refer to. It makes dressing much more than a visual act, doesn’t it? We’re using art principles and social sciences as well. There’s a book you may love. It’s called The Lost Art of Dress: The Women Who Once Made America Stylish by Linda Przybyszewski. Your mind will be blown, I guarantee it! Thanks again, Stephanie!

  • Reply
    Suzanne Dekyvere
    August 26, 2016 at 4:02 am

    Thank you Stephanie, I love the name of your blog – the dashing eccentric! x

    • Reply
      August 29, 2016 at 4:34 pm

      Love this circle of fashion friends!

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