27 In Getting Dressed/ Series

Anatomy of my public fashion mistake

Fashion blunder on BrendaKinsel.com

Launch party clothes, right side out


If I’d hired Brenda Kinsel to help me get dressed for last week’s book launch cocktail party for Art House: The Collaboration of Chara Schreyer and Gary Hutton, a big beautiful book published by Assouline, she’d have come up with a great outfit straight out of my closet. I’d have tried it on, she’d have accessorized it, I’d be totally confident and would have gotten dressed in five minutes.

But that’s not what happened.

I failed to book that appointment with myself. I had weather to worry about. I figured I’d just throw something together last minute if I ended up going to the party at all.

The biggest rain and wind storm yet was hitting hard around 2 p.m. on Thursday, the day of the party. My phone was alarming me about flooding in Sonoma County. Schools had closed for fear of flooding. The highway I take to get to Marin and San Francisco was totally flooded and long detours were making it impossible to project arrival times anywhere.

I spoke to my daughter, Erin, Thursday morning. She was going to the party, too. “I’m so nervous about getting into the City to Chara’s party tonight, but the thought of calling her and saying I’m not coming is horrible,” I said. I was holding back tears.

Chara Schreyer's book Art House on BrendaKinsel.com

Chara’s beautiful book

Chara is a dear client of ours. We were all so excited about this big party. We’d been to her house and planned her outfit earlier in the week, when it wasn’t raining. I’d made a promise to check her outfit once I arrived at the party. The thought of now breaking that promise was making my heart ache.

Back on the phone Erin said sharply, “Mom, put your big girl panties on and get over it. It’s just rain.” I begged to differ but something about her tone made me actually stop with the back and forth indecisiveness. I decided I’m going, no matter what.

Given all the weather drama, pulling an outfit together for the night was very low on my stress meter. Besides, I’m a professional, right?

I ran into trouble

Twenty minutes before we were planning to leave, I went to my closet. The shiny black full silk pants I planned to wear were too long for my flat shoes. (Darn, should have checked that out!) The sequined knee-length skirt that I thought would look great was too big. It wasn’t even flattering since I’ve lost a few pounds. The shimmery black Carlisle jacket that I use to dress up outfits wasn’t looking right with either pants or skirts. I started to panic.

“Brenda, get a grip,” I said. “Slow down and think.” So I thought about sparkly things and my Chanel cashmere sweater with precious beaded appliqués and cut outs came to mind. It was exactly the mood I was in. Soft, pretty, and it would be warm in the cavernous space we’d be in at the Minnesota Street Project. I felt like the neckline needed something so I added a Top Shop bow pin, purchased in London, to the V in the V-neck sweater. I tried on my black fancy pleated Carlisle skirt. It’s swingy and girly. Perfect. I added my black patent AGL shoes with the velvet bows. They dress things up in a jiffy. I decided to carry my dainty black silk evening bag with the big bow on it. I thought it all looked pretty smart together and would pass for the creative environment I’d be in.


Party attire at the Minnesota Street Project

A party in SF with all kinds of creative folks

Party at the Minnesota Street Project in SF

The Minnesota Street Project in San Francisco

As soon as we got to the City and I entered the building, Chara saw us. She said, “I’ve been so worried about you, Brenda! I knew you’d be worrying about me because you said you’d check out my outfit but I was worried about you coming all the way from Sonoma in this weather!” It was nice that someone was worrying about me as my own daughter clearly hadn’t been!

We moved further into the large space. Erin said to me, “Mom, I think you have your sweater on inside out.” “No,” I said, “just look at the appliqués.”

“Mom, you can’t see the appliqués. You can see the Chanel label.”

Fashion faux pas on BrendaKinsel.com

Is this Brenda Kinsel with her sweater on inside out?


I had important people to meet and my sweater was inside out

Oh good Lord. How the heck did that happen? “But I even pinned the bow on the front!” I insisted.

“Well, you must have had it on backwards when you added the pin,” she said.

We were approached by the event photographer. “Can I take a picture of you two?” she said.

“Well, apparently I have my sweater on backwards. Would you mind if I found the powder room and fixed it first?” I said.

“You can’t even tell,” the photographer insisted. Snap, snap. Terrific.

We walked through the entire length of the space to find the ladies room tucked in the back corner.

Recovering and saving face


Pretty details on my Chanel sweater on BrendaKinsel.com

Wearing my Chanel sweater right side out

This sweater got much better looking when I turned it right side out. While I was at it, I hoisted my bra straps as well before making my bathroom exit.

As many of you know, I can be a real introvert at parties but somehow this inside out sweater was so funny to me once I got over the mortified part. I ended up talking to lots of interesting people. Chara had friends who were dying to meet me. “Oh, I finally get to meet the Brenda Kinsel,” they said. If they only knew. A couple of gin gimlets didn’t hurt the situation either.

Chara Schreyer

Chara Schreyer signing her beautiful book


We saw Chara a few days later and I confessed to my mistake. She laughed and now I have yet another funny story about messing up in public.

I’ve got a real doozy of a mishap that I’ve been getting the nerve up to tell you about. I might need more gin gimlets before I do that though. Stay tuned.

What silly thing have you done in public? Keep me company here, okay?

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  • Reply
    Ann G
    February 16, 2017 at 4:56 am

    Hahaha! At least it was Chanel! I’ve worn different colored shoes – same style, navy and black. No one seemed to notice unless they were too embarrassed to tell me. Also wore two different earrings. People thought it was on purpose.
    You looked stunning, Brenda, even inside out!

    • Reply
      February 16, 2017 at 9:23 am

      You’re making me laugh. Great job of pulling off the “I meant to do it this way” with your earrings, even though you hadn’t. That’s confidence. I can imagine being in that position!

  • Reply
    February 16, 2017 at 6:13 am

    For me it’s stains. They end up on my clothes so mysteriously and I don’t notice them until I’m out in full sunlight at a party or a job interview or talking to other parents at my kids school. So embarrassing.

    • Reply
      February 16, 2017 at 9:21 am

      Isn’t that the truth. The light of day is different then the light of our bedrooms!

  • Reply
    February 16, 2017 at 7:34 am

    Good for you for showing up. That was a very scary weather week.
    PS. That dress form is horrible…I always think it’s you and you’ve had an operation. Please cover, so I can enjoy your great outfits.

    • Reply
      February 16, 2017 at 9:27 am

      Indeed, that week of weather was far more stressful than anything especially with the flooding. That’s funny about the dress form. It probably looks a little Frankenstein. It’s antique and I’m quite fond of it but I have been thinking of getting a brand new one. For now, just know that I have not had an operation and I’m doing great! Xx

  • Reply
    February 16, 2017 at 9:36 am

    Lol…it’s because I’m scrolling down and it is slowly revealed. Maybe just some jewelry or a pin?

    • Reply
      February 17, 2017 at 7:36 pm

      Or a warning? Maybe a sign on the mannequin? Lol!!!

  • Reply
    Mary Ann Doerzbacher
    February 16, 2017 at 9:55 am

    Have done the 2 different colored but same shoes. Yikes! I was in front of a classroom of HS Seniors and of course they noticed!

    • Reply
      February 17, 2017 at 7:36 pm

      Of course they did! Like in a nano second!

  • Reply
    Sue @ A Colourful Canvas
    February 16, 2017 at 10:25 am

    LOL….too funny! Stress gets the better of us at the most unfortunate moments, doesn’t it? You recovered brilliantly by the sounds of things. Your daughter may have been the only one that noticed, but thank goodness for her eagle eye!

    • Reply
      February 17, 2017 at 7:38 pm

      What I think about are all the people who would have noticed and not said anything. Honestly, if I got home and discovered it there, I’d have probably not be laughing as hard as I was after Erin caught it! I do count on family members to watch out for me. When a long gray whisker comes falling to the floor out of the mole on my neck I get after them: You guys are supposed to tell me about this!!
      Russ always says it just grew that long in a day. Right!

  • Reply
    Katherine Cramer
    February 16, 2017 at 10:27 am

    Lipstick on teeth? Mascara that smudged on one lower eyelid à la ‘A Clockwork Orange’ make-up? A snagged hem. Forgetting a half slip in a sunny environment. A button that comes undone at the bustline. Even the unspeakable (blood spot). Yes, I’ve been there. Sometimes I wonder about the olden days when having a Ladies Maid might have been offered. I most likely would have been the maid and grateful for the job. Clothing mishaps happen and we may even have photographs to remind us. I find that being in a rush is usually the culprit. Self-forgiveness and a chuckle mark the blip. Stepping out again with panache–refreshes.

    • Reply
      February 17, 2017 at 7:40 pm

      Oh, yes. Isn’t it fun to bring it all to light? I love so very much making outfits for my clients and being sure everything is just right. When they say, “Would you just come and live with me?” I always want to say yes because I love being the caretaker of the clothes and my client. I watch Downton Abbey and relish the roles of the ladies watching over the ladies.

  • Reply
    elena daciuk
    February 16, 2017 at 3:33 pm

    too funny…but hello…at least the tag was screaming chanel! and can we talk about that adorable bag? swooning over here…it is funny…for the times i’ve been in similar situations…stressing over what to wear…i hear myself saying…elena…why don’t you do for you…what you do for clients…les sigh…

    • Reply
      February 17, 2017 at 7:43 pm

      Oh yes, and if you could have seen/heard/felt my cockiness when I responded to a text from a friend who always looks great at everything but always figures it out long before the event that “I’ve got this” you’d be roaring! Although, if no one gets hurt, this is one of the things I like the most about life: the moment you think you’re a hot shot at something is the moment you meet your next faux pas. I hear you about doing for ourselves what we do for others. Yes, les sigh.

  • Reply
    February 19, 2017 at 7:18 am

    You could start a new trend! Inside out designer sweaters.

    • Reply
      February 19, 2017 at 6:31 pm

      You have a lot of faith in me pulling that off on a regular basis! I’m blowing you a kiss!

  • Reply
    Lisa Laree
    February 21, 2017 at 8:11 pm

    Oh, I’ve mismatched shoes…twice, it was the same style, different colors…later, it was the same color, different styles. The first two were the result of getting dressed in low lighting, but the second, I was trying to decide which shoe looked better with the pants and got distracted and didn’t realize for several hours that I never made up my mind and went out with one each… life has a way of keeping us from taking ourselves too seriously, sometimes…

    • Reply
      February 23, 2017 at 8:48 am

      Oh gosh, I can just picture this, Lisa! Especially the latter. Getting distracted is a daily affair. Just this week, I have decided I absolutely need more light in our bedroom. It would help tremendously in the “too dark to see it if works” issue. I love that room. It’s great for sleeping but the best light is at 3 pm and that’s not when I’m getting dressed! Thanks for sharing. I’m loving all these stories!

  • Reply
    February 22, 2017 at 8:54 pm

    It happens, I guess its how we handle it.
    In my case, I was attending a local MBFW event and walked into the location with my skirt up on the side showing the entire world by thigh and underwear…. it took about 10 minutes until someone came up to me and told me.

    • Reply
      February 23, 2017 at 8:39 am

      Oh my goodness! I have seen this happen. And you know what? I don’t remember being the one to tell that person that she was all tangled up. Your comment has put me on alert. Best to help a sister out! Thanks for sharing!

    • Reply
      February 23, 2017 at 8:39 am

      One more thing: How DID you handle it, Lorena?

  • Reply
    March 22, 2017 at 9:24 am

    Only a sweater? Little league. I’ve been known to have the dress on either inside out or backwards (both but not at the same time), and discovered it myself in the ladies. After only about wearing to work for three hours… It’s good to have a sense of humor!

    • Reply
      March 24, 2017 at 7:04 pm

      You are a warrior! Boy oh boy, to discover it three hours later. Yes, humor is essential if you want to be wearing clothes! Anything can happen!

  • Reply
    Denise Lampron
    July 26, 2017 at 7:16 am


    Erin redeemed her caring self by noticing your inside out situation, right? You’re a cool, calm, collected one with an immediate knowledge of your wardrobe, because I would have been undone with the silk black pants being too long for flat shoes! The bow is so perfect on your sweater. You looked smashing, as always.
    Back in the day when I wore panty hose (can’t handle them anymore), in a rush I put on a floral pair that were slightly stretched out at the waist. At an office function, as I walked down the hallway, they fall off, rolling down my legs. There I was with panty hose collected at my feet. What did I do? I stepped out of the panty hose, put my shoes back on and didn’t look back. What else could I do? Horrified then, laughing now. Thank you for sharing this story.

    • Reply
      July 27, 2017 at 6:11 pm

      Oh Denise, I am having a great laugh with you!!!
      That’s hilarious!
      Yes, watching a cool calm person come undone was probably pretty fun in and of itself. But yes, Erin to the rescue!

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