2 In Getting Dressed/ Women Now

Changing our belief system about what we wear


My wardrobe coach hat goes to work

I put my Wardrobe Coach hat on when I work with clients


Eleanor Roosevelt was a great coach. She said, “You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” I’m sure she wasn’t speaking about fashion at the time but that line works for everything, doesn’t it? It’s especially applicable in my professional life. I am always helping my clients do things they never thought they could do.


I never thought I could wear that!

It’s a line I hear at nearly every appointment and I love it: I never thought I could wear that!

Here’s an example.

My client stands in front of the dressing room mirror and says, “When you picked out this red dress for me to try, I never would have believed I’d look good in it. But you’re right! This color is wonderful on me!”

Another client says on a shopping trip, “I can’t wear skinny jeans! They’ll make my butt look big!”

Over time she becomes completely desensitized to her perceived body flaw.

This month she said, “I can’t believe I made such a fuss over skinny jeans. Now I can’t imagine living without them!”



wearing hats has gotten easier on Brenda Kinsel website

Hats on the person who never thought she could wear hats


I’m not immune

Even though I work with clients every day to help them expand their view of themselves, I have fallen prey to my own limited thinking.

Here’s something I told myself for decades: You can’t wear hats. Your face is too wide. Other people look good in hats, but not you.

One day a client showed me a box of hats her recently deceased mother had worn decades earlier. She was planning to send her mother’s “vintage” hats to Goodwill. “No! You can’t do that! They are so beautiful! Someone should be wearing these,” I said.

“Well, let’s put them in your car then,” she said.

I took them home with me. I hate having anything in the house that’s not being used so I bucked up and wore a satin and velvet pill box hat to work one day.

When Erin and I were finished working she said, “You should dress like this more often, Mom.”

“Like what?” I said.

“Dress to be seen,” she said.


Gulp, that was the thing I thought I could not do.

I know this is my profession. I know I’ve been championing women to be seen for over 30 years. I’ll keep doing it until the day I die. But when Erin said that to me–about being seen–all I could think about was the training I had growing up in rural North Dakota where I was told never to bring attention to myself.  “People will think you’re conceited,” my parents would say.

I grew up and I could handle looking nice, but hats? They are so attention-getting.

I wore one again.

I got compliments.

I did it again.

Gradually I was able to tolerate the attention that came my way.

Then I discovered fascinators. That was a real test! I remember being with colleagues when I bought my first fascinator in St. Helena. They were encouraging. “You could wear that during the holidays,” one of them said. I thought to myself, I’m not waiting that long! It’s that thing again about feeling compelled to wear what I own.

I wore it the next week. I survived the attention I got. Maybe being seen wasn’t such a bad thing after all.


Life is fascinating

I wore one of my black fascinators to a gala at the end of May at the Ritz-Carlton. Some young women ambushed me near the restroom and said, “We just love your look! We had to tell you.” Another woman said, “Your fascinator is so fun. It becomes you.”

Here’s my new truth: I LOVE wearing hats and fascinators!

Another truth is that the first time we do anything we didn’t think we could do, we may feel uneasy. I often tell my clients to wear whatever makes them nervous for 30 minutes. “Just be willing to be uncomfortable for 30 minutes and the uneasiness will most likely go away,” I say. It works!

You have my word on this: I will be your secret cheerleader supporting you to do the thing that scares you. I’ll be right there on your shoulder cheering you on. Just have a listen. I promise you’ll hear my encouraging words.


EK and BK having fun at the Ritz on Brenda Kinsel website

My daughter Erin coaches me to dress to be seen.


What have you recently done that you didn’t think you could do? Please share!


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  • Reply
    Denise Alden
    July 28, 2016 at 11:37 am

    Oh-oh: caught! I think I’m not immune to the “I could never . . .” but you made me think. And you know what? I never wear my hair parted in the middle because I have a round face. So last Friday I pulled a 70s look with a psychedelic maxi, blue eye shadow, and center-parted hair with soft waves. And, of course, I got complemented by not one, but two, strangers! Just goes to show ya!

    • Reply
      July 28, 2016 at 3:39 pm

      Oh I love stories like this one. Did you have yourself a good chuckle? That’s adorable! Thanks for sharing, Denise! I hope you’ll rock this look again soon!

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