8 In Getting Dressed/ Women Now

Anatomy of an Outfit: What to wear to meet young people

Anatomy of an outfit on BrendaKinsel.com

Thinking about how to dress to meet young people


It doesn’t sound like a huge wardrobe challenge: getting dressed to spend time with a friend and her two daughters in Napa on a Saturday. But I was nervous.

The day would include having lunch somewhere with Julia and her daughters and then going to visit my friend Valerie who lives art and beauty in everything she does.

I hadn’t met Katia (21 years old) or Zoe (16 years old) before. Julia was pregnant with Zoe when I first met her. One of Julia’s talents is in Feng Shui and I’d called her to come to my home and feng shui it seventeen years ago. (Is Feng Shui both a noun and a verb?)

I remember when Erin, one of my daughters, came home from college in San Diego that fall, a few weeks after Julia had been there. She walked into the house, stopped, looked around and said, “What’s changed? It feels so sparkly and good in here!” All the credit went to Julia. She went on to feng shui my apartment in Larkspur and our home here in Sonoma. I love the subject and read books about it from time to time. One of my favorites is Feng Shui Your Life by Jayme Barrett (Sterling Publishing Co., 2003). There’s now a second edition version of it.

Julia met my daughters at Sax Consignment in September

My daughters, Caitlin and Erin, met Julia last September after they purchased Sax Consignment on San Anselmo Avenue in San Anselmo. I’d asked my girls if there was anything I could do to help them with the store. The answer? “Come feng shui the store, Mom,” Caitlin said. I only dabble at this so I called in Julia.

The day she came, I hung in the corner; quiet, letting them do their thing while taking notes. Julia was so steady and calm with them. She did a ritual near the end. She asked both girls to wrap their hands around a crystal and start describing the energy they wanted to have for the store.

Erin said, “Fun.”

Caitlin added, “Funner.”

This was fascinating to watch. Julia kept guiding them to see and speak their vision and to commit to one another in a supportive way. It felt like a swoosh of wind came into the door and revitalized everything. Where there had been doubt and confusion between them, now there was a clear shared vision. Whew! Thank you, Julia! I said to myself.

Now it was my turn to meet Julia’s daughters


Dressing for young people on BrendaKinsel.com

Orange and jeans seemed like a good idea.


Maybe because Julia had been so amazing with my girls, I found myself worrying about how her girls would view me. It was practically a high school feeling: would I fit in? Would they like me? I’m basically just taking a stab at trying to explain this to myself and I can’t. I was nervous about choosing the right place to take them for lunch even though Julia had said everyone was easy and shared a love of good food. I was nervous about putting on the right outfit.

Anatomy of my casual outfit to meet daughters

I decided to wear orange. It was my starting point. No one can look too serious or fuddy-duddy in orange. I’ve been wanting to wear a white collared shirt under a sweater so I tried that. I liked it. I could see I needed a scarf or a necklace to better frame the face. I thought of one I wore in spring/summer. It makes me smile. That seemed like the right element to bring into my outfit. I pulled it out and did something I hadn’t done before: I wore it as long as it would go and placed it over the collar instead of inside the collar like I’d always done before.


Two ways to wear the same necklace on BrendaKinsel.com

Wearing my necklace inside the collar last sprint and outside the collar this winter

I added my medium colored denim jeans and my sand colored Lucky Boots. It was freezing cold so I wore my Birch wool coat and carried my silver colored lunch bag purse. I was ready to meet daughters!

Our blissful afternoon

We met at Oxbow Market, a lively bustling place with choices of food and kiosks of fun things to look at and shop for: exotic chocolates, spices, olive oil, kitchen supplies, and much more.

I met Katia and Zoe and wondered why I had fussed at all. They were warm and delightful from the first hello. Like, deliciously delightful.

Julia and I got in line to order some food. I told her, “I have been fretting over plans for today.”

Julia said, “I know, I could tell by your voice when we spoke earlier in the week. I am officially firing you from fretting.”

No need, I’d already resigned. “That feeling disappeared the moment I met your girls,” I said.

Even though the place was buzzing, we had an intimate conversation over lunch. It was fun to talk about things like prom, boys, basketball rivals, finals week and to listen to their plans for an upcoming family trip to Europe at spring break. They asked for packing advice and I shared a tip or two.

Then it was time to visit the gracious and lovely, Valerie. I’d wanted to get Valerie and Katia together because of their artistic talent. Valerie is a multi-talented artist and has focused in recent years on 3-D sculpture. Her subject is dolls but in a different way than you imagine dolls. You can see her dolls and her work process via her Instagram account: @valerieraven.

Katia draws, paints and collages. She mixes fashion with political messages. It’s brilliant. Her Instagram account is @kitkatnovak.

We marveled at the details of Valerie’s home and enjoyed an apple custard tart that Valerie had made for us.

We’ve already made plans for our next field trip: the Summer of Love exhibit coming this spring to the de Young Museum in San Francisco.


Katia and Valerie on BrendaKinsel.com

Katia and Valerie discuss drawing and share resources


Valerie Raven's dolls on BrendaKinsel.com

Valerie’s dolls filled the window of J.James in Sonoma in November


Checking in with Julia today

I talked to Julia today to ask her if it was okay to write about our day together. She said, “We’re still talking about how much fun we had on Saturday. For me it was a day of beauty. I sat with my feelings that evening and asked, What was it that brought me so much joy? It was the beautiful food, my beautiful friend and my daughters who also appreciate these things. It was Valerie’s exquisite home. It was basking in everyone being at the same vibration.”

Our afternoon was a strong reminder of the luxuriousness of shared friendship, love, mothers and daughters, beauty, creativity, and the process expressing oneself. Being with Valerie, Julia, Zoe and Katia reminded me of everything that’s good in the world.

A day that started with me being in a tangle of awkwardness ended in the glow of radiance. Now that’s good feng shui!


Mother and daughters together on BrendaKinsel.com

Katia, Julia, and Zoe in one of Valerie’s magical rooms.


P.S. Julia is primarily an Intuitive Consultant and Spiritual Counselor. She does readings, healings, and clearings. She’s been immensely helpful to me following the deaths of my brother and mother. I am very grateful. To learn more about her, her website is www.JuliaNovak.net.

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  • Reply
    jodie filogomo
    January 17, 2017 at 7:29 am

    It’s funny how meeting new people (or even ones you haven’t seen in ages) makes you feel on edge! It’s really nice to know that it’s not just me, Brenda!! I always pass it off as my introverted personality, but now that I read this, I bet it happens to most of us??
    I love the thought behind the orange! Besides being fun it’s a great color to stand out in too!! And I love the necklace! Did you see on Love it or List it’s ad lately, that she is wearing one like this? And it makes her look so modern!!
    Glad you had a fabulous time!

    • Reply
      January 17, 2017 at 10:52 am

      Jodie, you may have hit the nail on the head with your comment about being introverted. I definitely relate to being introverted. In fact, I was thinking how many times when I’m wearing a color like this I get lots of compliments and people saying, “You look great in bright colors!” But I think for introverts (or speaking for myself) I couldn’t do a steady diet of bright colors even if it looks good. The introvert in me loves navy and ivory and black and taupe and brown. Colors I can be introspective in. But of course, not all of life is introspective! Anyway, just adding my two cents worth to your comment about having an introverted personality. Glad you brought that up!

  • Reply
    January 17, 2017 at 7:48 am

    Love, love, love the orange focus! A breath of fresh air :). (Oh my, auto-correct tried to make “fish air”)

    • Reply
      January 17, 2017 at 10:55 am

      Oh, I much prefer fresh air to fish air. Even though it was cold yesterday I opened all the doors and windows for a breath of fresh air in the house. The orange is also an ode to spring. Bring it on!

  • Reply
    January 17, 2017 at 10:17 am

    You look chic but approachable, too. Love the necklace outside the collar–looks so yummy with the orange sweater!!

    • Reply
      January 17, 2017 at 10:58 am

      Thanks, Liz. I love those two words you used: chic and approachable. Great style words!!

  • Reply
    January 17, 2017 at 11:25 am

    Awesome look, Brenda. I do like you in orange, and I wonder if it’s partly because you don’t wear it very often. A little of a good thing… I’ve never thought of wearing a necklace inside a collar – is that a Thing I’ve somehow missed? I’ll try it next time I have a collar. I’d love to have seen your gorgeous friend Valerie’s outfit. What I can see of it with her sitting down looks tantalising. Also I have an interest in Feng Shui myself, and I definitely use it as a verb!

    • Reply
      January 17, 2017 at 6:07 pm

      You know I’ve been wearing necklaces inside of collars for a long time. I like the idea of them peeking through nonchalantly: “Who, me?” This way is more intentional, wearing it outside of the collar. A little more out there like, “Yes, I’m here. What’s up?” Sorry I don’t have more Valerie shots. I really should just start a collection of her outfits. I love her style. It’s as artistic as her art, her home, and the way she lives life. She’s a gem!

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