33 In Anatomy of an Outfit/ Shopping Tips/ Styling Tips

Build a Beauty Bundle and the fab jean outfit will come

Shopping trip in Perham

Inspiration for a jean outfit starts with this bootie


A few weeks ago I gave myself a shopping challenge: Walk into a boutique, create a Beauty Bundle, make two different outfits using the same Beauty Bundle, and do it out-of-state in a store I’ve never been in before.

To refresh, a Beauty Bundle is three or more items that go together, but it’s not a Beauty Bundle until those three or more exact items are used in two or more outfits. A Beauty Bundle is the thread that ties an outfit together. Most importantly, a Beauty Bundle is a shortcut to getting dressed.


Brenda Kinsel shops Perham

Let’s go shopping in Perham, MN


Build an outfit in Perham, MN

From the fitting room area of 125 Apparel in Perham, MN, I’m going to build the Beauty Bundle, and then I’ll show you how I used it to pull together a pretty jean outfit. What makes this challenging is that I’m working backwards. Normally I build an outfit, and then I look for the pieces that will tie it together. If those three or more pieces I use to complete the outfit can work as a team and transfer to another outfit, it’s officially a Beauty Bundle. (Coming soon will be a post showing you the same Beauty Bundle with a dress outfit I put together on the same day.)

All the while I was constructing the outfits, I had you in mind. I was so eager to show you the process. Now that I look back on the pictures that Perham photographer Kristen McMartin took of the process, it’s dawned on me that I should have purchased this outfit; I’d be wearing it today!


Beauty Bundle inspiration came from the shoe department

125 Apparel is a new store in town. It’s a big space and it used to be a Thrifty White Drugstore. Mom and I could spend an hour in there easily while Dad would wait patiently in the car, reading Tolstoy, as he’d like to tease us. The drugstore had great cards, home accessories, holiday decorations, cosmetics, gifts, and more. Mom and I would be spending much more than an hour in 125 Apparel if she was here today. She’d have loved all the “pretties”.

I wasn’t sure where to begin, but my style eyes led me to the shoe department where I spotted these nubuck leather booties by Seychelles. Notice the ruffled detail in the back. Aren’t they  sensual?


Nubuck booties

Nubuck booties


Spotting a necklace with a similar flavor as the bootie

The vibe I got from the bootie, both in the details and the fair color, was soft, sensual, lovely. My mission was to find playmates that were also soft, sensual, and lovely. I wandered over to the jewelry counter looking for a necklace that had a similar flavor.


Tassel necklace

Blush tassel necklace


I found one. It was a long, beaded necklace with a pretty tassel pendant. The soft blush color of the tassel led me to imagine the woman wearing it. She’d be sure of herself. She would enter a room gracefully. She had thoughtful opinions and was receptive to others. She listened more than she spoke.


This Beauty Bundle needs a handbag

I was starting to feel pretty confident about bundle making. I went from the jewelry department to a table devoted to handbags. Wanting to stick with the theme of feminine assurance, I decided I wanted something light in color, but really, what were the chances?


White handbag

Light colored, nicely shaped handbag


But there it was: a soft chalky white shoulder bag with minimal details. Groovy!


Beauty Bundle? Check! Now let’s build a jean outfit!

As you know if you’ve been shopping, there are a crazy number of jean styles out there to choose from. This Hudson straight-leg jean was my first choice.


Hudson jean

Hudson jean at 125 Apparel in Perham


The jean hem is hitting near the ankle. I wouldn’t want the jean to touch the top of the bootie, because I want everyone to see the bootie details. I also want the booties to be protected from any indigo dye in the jean that could rub against that soft leather. Nubuck leather would just soak up that indigo dye. Even though these jeans aren’t so dark, I don’t want to take the risk. I’ve been through this. You can never get indigo out of leather once it’s there.


straight cut Hudson jean

Straight cut, ankle length Hudson jean


Next came my most challenging part of the shopping trip. Remember, I’m thinking lovely, pretty. A lot of the tops I was seeing on the floor weren’t looking like the top I imagined. But then I found a creamy silky T-shirt. This would work, but I looked at the wide-necked, low V-neck and knew I needed to layer something underneath it. On its own, that neckline can be tough to wear. I wanted a tank or a sleeveless tee to layer under it.

I searched the store and found it: a mystery-colored soft tee. What would you call this color? Taupe, clay, cement?


Sleeveless tee as a layering piece

Sleeveless tee in mystery color is a layering piece


Look how beautiful they are together.


layering tees

Fabrics and colors blend beautifully in these layered tees


It was perfect!


Layered tees

Layering two lightweight tees


Hunting down the third piece

Next up: the third piece. I want something that will have presence. This oversized cable knit ivory cardigan does just that. It brings style to this outfit. After the smooth texture of the layered tees, it’s fun to contrast that with a textured knit. However, it’s still in that light color palette. It’s dreamy!


Ivory cable knit cardigan

Adding a cable knit cardigan with lots of texture


Time to add the Beauty Bundle

I’m liking this! How are we going to finish this outfit? Well, if you remember, we’ve got that covered with the Beauty Bundle. Let’s start with the necklace and the booties.


Beauty Bundle pulls the outfit together

Beauty Bundle pieces pull the outfit together


Something was going on out of sight of the fitting rooms. There was an angora fringed plaid scarf that had been whispering, Brenda, Brenda, Brenda every time I left the fitting room to pull in another piece for this outfit.

That scarf was hanging about five feet from the rack. I grabbed it. What a lovely collection of textures. You almost want to cuddle up in the cardigan and the scarf and stay home.


Adding scarves to jean outfits

This angora big scarf brings magic to this jean outfit


But the gold beads and gold wrap on the tassel necklace say, No, no, no, we’re going out. When I look at this Perham, MN outfit, I realize it would be perfect to wear to my favorite restaurants in Sonoma, CA.


Tassel necklace in jean outfit

The tassel necklace brings punch to this feminine jean outfit


We can’t forget the shoulder bag!


Hobo handbag

Shoulder bag brings structure to balance the soft outfit


Counting the takeaways from doing this backwards

My takeaway from building this backwards—Beauty Bundle first and then the outfit—is that you need all your senses when you go shopping. You use your visual sense, for sure, but intuition comes into play. You can’t go wrong staring with something you love. Your imagination and intuition help you find the next thing and then the next thing. It takes listening and trying.

I look at this outfit and feel like it’s my pet. I miss it! Using one’s heart, mind, and feelings to put an outfit together makes you appreciate it all the more.

For more examples of working with Beauty Bundles, check out this and this.


Building a pretty jean outfit

This outfit could be worn in Sonoma


Many thanks

I want to thank everyone at 125 Apparel for being so gracious with me, a perfect stranger who walked into their store and said, “Would you mind if I build some outfits and bring a photographer in to document them?” Thanks to Kristen McMartin, my photographer. She was so fun to work with. And a big thank you to my sister-in-law, Wendy, who texted me that morning and said, “I’m coming to your shoot.” She was helpful in about 100 ways. Thank you, Wendalyn.

And thank you for coming with me to Perham, MN. Didn’t we have fun?

Stay tuned for the sister post, which will show you quite a different outfit using this same Beauty Bundle, scarf included.

I always love hearing your thoughts. Is there something about this outfit that speaks to you? Where do you start when you’re building an outfit? Do you shop for things you love? Can’t wait for you to weigh in!



You can visit my new friends in Perham by checking out their websites and social media.

125 Apparel where you can shop online, 125 Apparel on Instagram @125apparel

Kristen McMartin Photography, #kmphoto #kmseniors #kmsports






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  • Reply
    November 13, 2018 at 4:22 am

    I love this! It’s exactly what you said, soft, sensual and feminine!

    • Reply
      November 27, 2018 at 10:40 am

      I’d like to make outfits using those words for my own Sonoma wardrobe. It really appeals to me!

  • Reply
    Betty (SC)
    November 13, 2018 at 4:39 am

    Love it! Love IT! LOVE IT!! Love the soft complementary colors! My kinda look!…and from the toes up! Way to go, Brenda! Two thumbs up!! …now where’s my ivory cardigan??!

    • Reply
      November 27, 2018 at 10:39 am

      I’m getting a chuckle out of your enthusiasm. I love soft colors too. Hope you find your ivory cardigan–maybe during these holiday sales!

  • Reply
    jodie filogomo
    November 13, 2018 at 6:30 am

    I always love hearing your though processes, Brenda.
    It’s so interesting to see it done this way. I have to admit that I usually decide on my accessories last…

    • Reply
      November 27, 2018 at 10:38 am

      Whatever works, right? I usually think accessories last as well. This was a fun experiment for me to do it all backwards.

  • Reply
    November 13, 2018 at 6:31 am

    My favorite bit came when you layered the two lightweight tees. The outfit becomes modest and wearable with interest in those layers.

    • Reply
      November 27, 2018 at 10:37 am

      I’m glad you appreciated that part. I probably loved that part the most as well. I let out a lovely, long sigh when I found that tee that I put under the ivory one. It makes a great difference and I’m with you, I appreciate some modesty!

  • Reply
    November 13, 2018 at 6:43 am

    I brought home new chunky cardigan on Friday and thought of you when I made the time to build a beauty bundle for it! Although I loved the texture, the light olive color of the cardigan was new for me — I decided I needed to *know* how I’d wear it before committing to keeping it. It was fun shopping in my own accessories to figure it all out. #beautybundlealltheway

    PS: Yep, I have a lovely red handbag with indigo jean dye permanently smudged on the back. Sigh.

    • Reply
      November 27, 2018 at 10:36 am

      So sad for your red handbag but happy you shopped your accessories to put your look together. I’m LOVING that hashtag!!

  • Reply
    Susan Buccino
    November 13, 2018 at 7:10 am

    Love reading how you work Brenda, thank you for sharing.
    On another note, I have had some luck removing indigo dye from a light Burberry check crossbody bag using a “magic eraser”. Not completely gone but faded considerably.

    • Reply
      November 27, 2018 at 10:35 am

      Susan, bless you for sharing this tip! I’ve lost a few things to indigo and to my favorite blue ink pens. Slowly, I’m learning to take precautions.

  • Reply
    November 13, 2018 at 7:47 am

    Who knew that Perham had such a store? I’ve been through there a million times while visiting Battle Lake and never stopped!

    • Reply
      November 27, 2018 at 10:34 am

      You must stop! And have some coffee or tea afterwards at The Nest. I’m such a fan of Perham!

  • Reply
    Cathy D.
    November 13, 2018 at 10:30 am

    Brenda, this is my favorite kind of post. I’m terrible at putting outfits together and need all the help I can get. Understanding how to think about the process helps greatly. I’ve loved all your posts on beauty bundles. Please keep up the inspiring work!

    • Reply
      November 27, 2018 at 10:33 am

      Well, I love your encouragement. Thanks, Cathy. I’m glad you enjoy hearing about the process!

  • Reply
    Tammy G.
    November 13, 2018 at 11:09 am

    Absolutely gorgeous – I want the entire outfit! Especially enjoyed reading how you put it all together. Thank you!!

    • Reply
      November 27, 2018 at 10:33 am

      You’re welcome Tammy!

  • Reply
    Tracy Webster
    November 13, 2018 at 12:12 pm

    I wish you had bought that outfit Brenda – it is gorgeous and I really want to see those booties on!

    • Reply
      November 27, 2018 at 10:32 am

      Believe me, I’m wishing I had too!

  • Reply
    Elaine @ Following Augustine
    November 13, 2018 at 3:30 pm

    Love this post! I spotted that scarf in one of the early photos and fell in love with it. As the post progressed, I kept waiting for you to bring it in and toward the end, I began to fear that you weren’t going to! It really finished an already lovely outfit. I would never have thought to begin with footwear. Like Jodie, I tend to think of accessories last. I also don’t know if I’ve ever shopped for an entire outfit all at once this way, but I’d love to create some new outfits using what’s already in my closet and I think understanding your thought processes will help with that.

    • Reply
      November 27, 2018 at 10:32 am

      Oh yes, the more you work with this concept of Beauty Bundles, the more you’re going to put outfits together and love everything you wear. I’m just sure of it! Thanks for sharing, Elaine. Always enjoy your shares.

  • Reply
    Trinnie q
    November 13, 2018 at 9:40 pm

    How simply gorgeous ! You are a genius! And beautiful as well! Sending love from Oz

    • Reply
      November 27, 2018 at 10:29 am

      You’re so sweet! Thanks, Trinnie! Love from Sonoma to Oz!

  • Reply
    November 14, 2018 at 3:46 am

    I wasn’t crazy about the sweater with the outfit. Large bulky cardigans look dumpy on me. Love everything else. Enjoy your posts. I used your technique with charts to plan my outfits for a trip to Europe last spring. For once I didn’t overpack.

    • Reply
      November 27, 2018 at 10:29 am

      Packing success! I always love to hear about that! You could easily substitute a finer knit cardigan for the bulky one. It would give the outfit a more refined look.

  • Reply
    November 14, 2018 at 5:10 pm

    I love the silk tee and how the band (brown) echoes the taupe-not matchy but complimentary. I usually start my outfits with the pivotal piece and build the support pieces around that. Can’t wait for the sister post

  • Reply
    Beverly the Inspired
    November 14, 2018 at 5:40 pm

    Oh my, that outfit is quite lovely. You certainly curate some fine ones! A lot of times, I start with the accessories & create an outfit around them. Keeps my creative muscles exercised. Now I want to create some “beauty bundles”.

    • Reply
      November 27, 2018 at 10:28 am

      Oh, if you start with accessories to build outfits, I bet you’ll love working with Beauty Bundles, for sure!

  • Reply
    Cindy Scurry
    November 16, 2018 at 3:11 pm

    What a fun idea! I may have to try doing this! Thank you for the inspiration!

    • Reply
      November 27, 2018 at 10:27 am

      It’s a great new way to look at your wardrobe pieces, Cindy. xo

  • Reply
    vicki Maiorano
    November 17, 2018 at 3:23 pm

    That was fun. How could you walk away from that fun outfit?

    • Reply
      November 17, 2018 at 4:27 pm

      I was running late to meet Dad and didn’t want him to wait. I should have gone back the next day while he was napping with his cat Libby on his lap!

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