4 In Getting Dressed/ Women Now

Dressing up for Thanksgiving

Brenda waiting for Thanksgiving guests to arrive on Brenda Kinsel website

The meal’s as together as it’s going to be and now it’s time for guests to arrive.


This week as I’m meeting with clients one thing we’re doing for sure is planning their Thanksgiving outfits. One couple will be celebrating in France (not Paris); another one will be dining with family members at a restaurant; one is having family members to her house for the big day (four members of the guests are our clients) and some are traveling to be with family out of town.

Some gatherings are fairly casual. To those, my clients will be wearing slacks and pretty blouses. Some of my younger clients are wearing shorter dresses with booties and adding pretty jewelry. I have yet to come across anyone who’s just grabbing any old thing from their closet and putting it on. That’s exciting to me! People I know are showing their respect for this special day and dressing with thought.


Holiday punch on Brenda Kinsel website

Erin makes the best Martha Stewart punch and it’s all gone!


Our family started dressing up once the Swedes started joining us for Thanksgiving. The Swedes are Maggan and Anders who come from Stockholm via Los Angeles where they spend a solid month or more every fall. For the last ten years they’ve been joining us. It could be more than ten by now; we keep trying to remember them all!

They’re sharp dressers. Anders always wears a suit and a white shirt. Maggan is always in a dress (usually sparkly) with great heels and sparkly handbags that we lust after.

It’s kind of funny that our guests have trained us, the host family, to step it up a notch … or two or three. Last week Caitlin and I took a break from Office Tuesday tasks and reviewed the fit of a hand-me-down dress Erin had offered her sister.

Checking out the fit of a hand-me-down dress on Caitlin

Checking out the fit of a hand-me-down dress on Caitlin


“Wowzers,” I said. “That’s incredible on you!”

It needed hemming (you can see the office supplies came in handy to mark the length) and I promised to go with her to see our favorite alterations person to get her approval as well.

“But where would I wear it?” Caitlin said.

“How about to Thanksgiving?” I said. Yes, that’s how high the standards have gotten! You could wear a gorgeous dress that mimics a Valentino design to our Thanksgiving dinner just because the Swedes will be there. If they weren’t going to be there, our standards might slip, and I’d be telling her she could wear it to the next Black Tie wedding she was invited to.

I love how the Swedes have influenced our dress code. How often do we get to dress up these days? Even holiday parties seem to be getting more and more casual.

I feel different when I’m dressed up. It lifts the mood of the evening, it creates special memories. Let’s face it, pumps are more beautiful than Uggs. I still remember a pump Maggan wore one year that mimicked the color combo on our leather couch.

I’m not dissing Uggs. I’m sure there may be Uggs involved on Friday morning when the final cleanup happens. But for those few hours with dear friends and family, we’re dressing up, not down.


Brenda Kinsel on dressed for Thanksgiving on Brenda Kinsel website

Smiling and content!


Last year I wore my soft vintage Chanel sweater with tiny crystal beaded appliquéd flowers spread all over it. It has a sheer panel in front so of course I wore a tank underneath it. I also wore one of my favorite skirts of all time–an Ann Taylor black bouclé skirt with sequins sewn in so it glistens. It’s a classic pencil skirt but has a bit of a flounce in the back. I feel so sleek and sexy in that skirt while the sweater makes me feel soft and sophisticated. I wore my black quilted suede pumps that I purchased in New York City at Diane B.’s on Lexington Ave. I added sparkly jewels and felt yummy.


thanksgiving pies on Brenda Kinsel website

The pie buffet. Oh my!


The only trouble with the pencil skirt was facing the pie buffet after the dinner dishes were cleared. Caitlin had prepared a classic apple pie, a pecan pie, and an apple-cranberry-currant pie. Erin brought the two persimmon cream pies. Oh my, where to begin! Here’s how I handled it. I had dainty tastes of everything but the pecan pie (not my favorite) that night. In the morning, when I was wearing my relaxed fit jeans and my Ugg boots, I made myself a cup of coffee and had some of that persimmon cream pie. What’s better than pie for breakfast?


Brenda and daughters the day after Thanksgiving on Brenda Kinsel website

The day after Thanksgiving, we take the Swedes to nearby places in Sonoma in our casual clothes.


Our tradition is to meet the Swedes in the afternoon spend time together messing around in Sonoma or nearby towns. We hit a winery or two, do some Sonoma shopping where I will say hats, scarves, and jewelry have been purchased by nearly every female in the group. Then we meet the guys for espressos. We’re in our Sonoma casual outfits. Then in the evening, we go out to dinner–lately it’s been to Central Market in Petaluma–and we try to sneak into dresses again but not as fancy. It’s nice after all the work of Thanksgiving to go out and have someone else do the cooking and serving while we get to visit and catch up on a year’s worth of personal stories.

I’m so looking forward to being together next week with precious friends and family and sharing all that the last year has brought us: the good and the challenging. We’ll laugh, we’ll cry, and we’ll miss each other before it’s even time to say goodbye. Stockholm is so far away, but our friendship makes us so close.

I’d love to hear about your holiday traditions and, of course, what you plan to wear. Please share!


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  • Reply
    November 18, 2015 at 6:39 am

    Love dressing up for Thanksgiving – your oufit is gorgeous (and aren’t Diane B shoes the best?!) Have a great one holiday!

    • Reply
      Marjory DeRoeck
      November 18, 2015 at 1:31 pm

      I love the fact that the Swedes, as your guests, influence you to dress up. What a concept! Maybe that’s a tradition all of us should begin. Usually, the tendency is to dress too casually when we visit friends for the holidays. I’m definitely going to keep this in mind this holiday season! Say “hi” to the Swedes!

      • Reply
        November 20, 2015 at 5:50 pm

        I will definitely say hi to the Swedes! I also love the lesson they teach that I like to pass on to clients. I tell my clients that even though others may be dressed down, if they feel like dressing up, do it! One client has changed the way her friends dress for things just because she’s dressing better. Now they all want to do it. Maybe as individuals we have more influence than we think! Happy Thanksgiving, Marj!

    • Reply
      November 20, 2015 at 5:52 pm

      Yes, I do love Diane B shoes! We’ll have to compare notes. Since I wore that outfit last year, I’m now going to have to settle on what I’m wearing this year. I saw a dress the other day in Petaluma and I may have to visit that store and see if it’s still there! Or else I’ll be playing in my closet this weekend coming up with something! Have a wonderful dressed up Thanksgiving, Adena!

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