2 In Getting Dressed/ Series

Dressing with intention whether you’re the First Lady or Florence from Sweden

Oscar dresses at the de Young Museum on Brenda Kinsel website

Oscar de la Renta exhibit in San Francisco


Thirteen years ago I was in Stockholm, Sweden doing makeovers on four lovely women for the Swedish magazine, Tara, a magazine geared to women over 40. Tara was celebrating its third anniversary by holding a contest. Women all over Sweden wrote in explaining why they should be picked to work with the image consultant and author, Brenda Kinsel, who was flying over from California.

When I arrived to work with the four women I started where I always start–the style interview.

One of my questions was: “Imagine you are walking into a room. How do you want to be perceived? What do you want people to say about you?”

Without hesitation, Florence, 57, said, “I’m walking into a party. My husband sees me from across the room and says to himself, ‘I’m so glad she’s mine.'”

I had chills. I couldn’t wait to get her into a dress that conveyed that message.


A Swedish makeover on Brenda Kinsel website

Florence gets a makeover in Stockholm, Sweden


The dress I chose for her was a Max Mara silk tie-dye sleeveless dress with a lot of flirty action at the hem. I knew I’d picked the right one when she came waltzing out of the dressing room with a big smile on her face. Where she’d been timid before, this dress seemed to bring out her sensual, sassy side. She was exuberant!


Oscar de la Renta dresses on Brenda Kinsel website

Oscar de la Renta dreamy dresses


So last week when I went to see the Oscar de la Renta show at the de Young Museum in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, I heard a statement in the video that runs with the show that made me think immediately of Florence.

Oscar de la Renta was creating a dress for Hilary Clinton to wear to the Inaugural Ball after her husband, Bill, had been sworn in as president for the second time.

(Google the dress. It’s her 1997 gown. I’m afraid to post the picture because it could be subject to copyrights.)

Prior to designing the dress Oscar de la Renta asked Hilary, “What do you want to achieve in this dress?”

Hilary said, “I want Bill to see me and say, ‘You look great in that dress.'”

President Clinton talks to the camera, recalling that event. He loved what Oscar had created for her. He loved how his wife looked that evening. He graciously thanked Oscar for making that moment so memorable for the two of them.

What does Hilary Clinton have in common with Florence from Sweden? They knew exactly what they wanted from their outfits.

You may not be dressing to get a reaction from a husband, but you can be dressing with intention.

When you got up this morning and got dressed, did you think about what you wanted to achieve with your outfit?

This is something I think about every day because I know the power clothes have to influence how we feel. I mostly dress to please myself or entertain myself. It makes me happy.

What motivates you to dress the way you do?


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  • Reply
    Lisa White
    April 6, 2016 at 6:25 am

    Another heartwarming story! Thank you for sharing it.

    I dress for myself and the fun of it. Once I retired and it would be so easy to stay in “relaxed” wear all day, but once I dress I want to go out and explore. I head downtown (Chicago) to the museums, go out to tea (even in alone), head to the opera house for a dress rehearsal (I have season passes), take a stroll to the Alliance Francaise to see what is being offered, walk along Michigan Avenue. Dressing means fun…fun styling and fun putting my day’s outfit into action. Of course, there are “reading” days, painting days, quiet time in a comfortable chair listening to a favorite opera, and….. “Closet Play Days”. I am my canvas and my clothing the tools and palette and I love to create…my vision. I dress for the fun…the creative process… and then see where it takes me!

    • Reply
      April 6, 2016 at 8:00 am

      What you describe sounds like ultimate joy. I wonder how many people would have a similar response to getting dressed (when you wouldn’t have to because your time is open in retirement) and it motivates them to go out and explore. I think it would. Sounds like your outfit building and your Closet Play Days are at the heart of you enjoying a wonderful quality of life. Thanks for sharing, Lisa!

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