28 In Getting Dressed/ Series

Styling dresses in a modern, new way

Enjoying wearing a dress on BrendaKinsel.com

Enjoying wearing a dress


I’m in clients’ closets all the time and whenever I work with dresses I marvel at how effortless they are. One thing! You put one thing on and you’re dressed!

I can go for days and weeks, maybe even a month or two or six, before I wear a dress and then that big light bulb goes off: dresses are so easy!

So this week on Office Tuesday in Sonoma, I put on a dress. I spent time with Caitlin, my admin/everything person, in my home office, then out to lunch in town, then to Peet’s where Caitlin and I worked on writing projects to be delivered next week to image consultants who are members of my Monthly Marketing Bundle program. After being in this dress all day I thought to myself, Maybe I should wear only dresses this summer.

This dress has been around for a decade or so

I’ve had this dress for years. When I first bought it I was wearing it in a dressy way: black pumps, dressy jewelry, fancy jacket. This year I’m bringing it down to the level of casual chic wear. It’ll be so much easier to wear with sneakers or platform sandals like these Dr. Scholl’s sandals. I throw on my Eileen Fisher linen jean jacket for an extra layer and I’m good to go.

I do this with my clients all of the time: take something they wore for good and make it more accessible. The first year of owning a garment is when I’ll style it the most formal or dressy way. As the years go by, I always find a way to drop it down a level so the client gets to keep wearing it but in new, more relaxed ways.

Even though times have changed and casual clothes are de riguer, my clients don’t have to give up the joy of wearing their “special” clothes.

So here are the reasons I love this Kate Spade dress and give it my Brenda Kinsel Award of Excellence. I hope these will inspire you to think about your dresses in a new way.
1. This dress style doesn’t care if I had a hazelnut waffle with butter, maple syrup, and berries for lunch at Sunflower Caffe.


BK's dress with pockets on BrendaKinsel.com

Gotta love a dress with pockets


2. This dress has POCKETS!
3. It’s an animal print. Need I say more?
4. It’s an animal print in black and white, a color combination that’s classic and always in style. It fits well with my personal desire to wear casual things that have some fancy in them.


Kate Spade dress has back details on BrendaKinsel.com

Who can resist a peekaboo back?


5. There’s a surprise in the back!! A flat bow at the top with hidden snaps is the closure. When I bought this dress, the bow wasn’t my favorite part. But now I am so bow-happy that it gets extra points this year. There’s a big peekaboo in the back if you feel like playing peekaboo.


Kate Spade dress for summer on BrendaKinsel.com

This Kate Spade dress is the perfect length for me


6. It’s not too short. I don’t have to wear pants under it…but maybe I could try that for variety.
7. It’s a sturdy silk, not a wimpy silk and it’s lined. It’s not see-through.
8. It doesn’t cling to anything. It’s not too tight, not too baggy; it’s just right.


Easy dressing with a dress on BrendaKinsel.com

Playing peekaboo in my peekaboo dress


9. I feel kicky in it, not to be mistaken with kinky. It’s a girly dress and makes me feel like being silly. That way I can make my daughter, Caitlin, groan and say, “M-O-M!” No mother tires of the opportunity to embarrass her kids.
10. I already own it. I didn’t have to go shopping or searching. It was in my closet!


Easy accessorizing for this dress on BrendaKinsel.com

Simple accessories for a pretty dress


11. A simple straw hat, earrings and a Sol Sister necklace are all the accessories I need.
12. It’s so current (even though it’s not a recent purchase at all) when I wear platform sandals with it or chunky sneakers.


Wearing platform sandals with dresses on BrendaKinsel.com

Platform sandals are perfect for this made-to-be casual dress outfit


13. It demands NO attention from me. No waistbands, no zippers, no tucking in. Nothing complicated. All I do is put it over my head and snap the bow snaps.
14. I’d feel selfish asking it to be more perfect than it is but it also doesn’t wrinkle. Dress, I love you so! For these sweet hours that you adorn my body, life is just peachy!

A smart and chic way for a woman over 60 to get dressed

I challenge you to look at any clothes that you’ve saved for good and pull them out for a styling session. You could have some new outfits just waiting to hit the streets. And if you’re on the streets of Sonoma, let me know. I know where the best coffee is in town. (And waffles.)

Share with us what you’re doing with dresses this year, okay?



Tips for dresses on BrendaKinsel.com

Love my no-fuss dress

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  • Reply
    Joni james
    June 7, 2017 at 10:09 pm

    Hi Brenda! Newbie follower by the way. I am 57 and in to dresses for the first time in my life! I was always a tomboy in school and in younger years and the feminine thing never really suited me. Not as far as dresses go anyway. But, I’ve recently moved from tunics into the added length and ease of a dress and I’m amazed at how easy it is to get dressed, and how comfortable it is. I still like to wear leggings or cropped skinny pants underneath, but my hemlines are definitely getting longer. I’ve recently donated out all of my tops that were hip length as they just didn’t work for my pear shape. I honestly feel like I finally found my wardrobe and I can stick to what works best on me without so much confusion. Yes to the dress!

    • Reply
      June 13, 2017 at 4:23 pm

      Isn’t the lack of confusion a dream? It’s like whipped cream on your favorite dessert. It makes it all so much better. I love hearing about what you’re discovering. My mother often said, “I wish I’d had a girl” as I was growing up because I was such a tomboy. But things can change, right? And do! I’m loving the sound of your look. I say keep on with the dresses!

  • Reply
    June 8, 2017 at 3:29 am

    Brenda!!! You made my day!! I LOVE this outfit! It’s so you! I’m so used to wearing pantyhose that I’m shocked to see women my age fearlessly bare legged-sans a tan-just wearing dresses and smiling! I feel naked without covering my legs! Your post made me happy though…I smiled first thing this morning reading it! I have a gray linen dress with side ruffles that I bought for $5.00 (at an amazing sale). The price means it’s not precious I’m going to wear it bare legged this weekend!! I swear! No matter how. Old Ohio may be I’m stepping out of my comfort zone! Keep writing! You never will know how many lives your word touch and how many mature women you help! Best to you!

    • Reply
      June 13, 2017 at 4:21 pm

      Kathy, I love your fearlessness to go bare legged in your dress. You know, I’ll be honest. When I put this dress on and knew I wasn’t wearing hose with it (I’ve worn it in the winter with opaque tights) I thought I better get some tanning product on my legs. I fashion friend showed me what to buy and encouraged me to try it. I pulled out the packet, looked at it, and said, “Not today. I’m going just as I am. I’m Scandinavian white and I’m not going to start trying to fool anybody at nearly 65.” Maybe I’ll change my mind in the coming weeks but for now, I can’t be bothered. Thanks ever so much for your encouraging words. That kind of comment means so much to me. I’m happy to serve our age group. They are underserved, I do believe. Let’s unite and make a lot of noise!

  • Reply
    La semaine d'une gourmette
    June 8, 2017 at 5:27 am

    “No mother tires of the opportunity to embarrass her kids”: OMG, I’m so with you on this one! (I have two sons, 22 and 18) 🙂
    I live in dresses in summertime, and still wear lots the rest of the year (with warm thick matte pantyhose in the Swiss winters). Yes, they’re easy to wear, accessorize and they’re so stylish! Today I have on a soft blue knee-length A-line dress (cotton jersey, very comfy) over a very boho, light taupe “petticoat” of wrinkled cotton, a fancy long green and taupe necklace that just begged to be worn with it, and green opalized earrings. I feel great! I will however get rid of the shoes I’m wearing, cute pointy high beige slingbacks that are definitely not my style anymore (I decided, after 3 years of not wearing them, to try a day in them today and I really don’t love them anymore).

    • Reply
      June 13, 2017 at 4:17 pm

      I love this description! I can just see it. I’m standing here typing to you in a crinkled navy sleeveless dress. I had a cotton gingham shirt under it earlier as it was chilly but now in my office, I’d getting the hot afternoon sun so I took it off. I love how you made that decision about the slingbacks. You just had to give them one last try. I get it! Now let’s get out there and figure out more ways to embarrass our grown kids.

  • Reply
    June 8, 2017 at 5:44 am

    Brenda, you look adorable! I’ts the shoes that complete the look! As you know, I love wearing dresses when we travel and at home 9 months of the year. Again, you’ve inspired me to bring my darker colored dresses into spring/summer worthiness. Will try the light colored jacket you mentioned here…maybe a light hat as well!!!!

    You are the best friend ever.
    A faithful fan,

    • Reply
      June 13, 2017 at 4:15 pm

      Pat, you’re so darn adorable! We have to meet in person one day, okay? Love the light hat idea!
      Yours forever,

  • Reply
    jodie filogomo
    June 8, 2017 at 8:03 am

    I love doing this too, Brenda! Although you realize when I have my mom (the 70+ model on my blog) style something this way, I usually get the eye roll!! Ha ha!! But I think I’m wearing her down—in fact, I’m going to send her this post to prove that I’m not crazy!!

  • Reply
    Malone Guthrie
    June 8, 2017 at 9:07 am

    Hi Brenda
    Love your blog! I am 142lbs (say it quick) and 5’1. I LOVE dresses for all the reasons you mention, but trying to buy any that look nice on me is a nightmare. Added to that, I am not comfortable with sleeveless anymore. Do you have any suggestions for styles or brands that might work for someone like me? A whole blog with links would be much appreciated.

    • Reply
      June 13, 2017 at 4:10 pm

      Gosh, my main bit of advice is to go someplace where you can try dresses on. I’ve always been surprised and delighted when I do this for myself and of course, my clients are delighted when I do it for them. If you go in with an open mind, you’ll start to see what works. In our youth we were less afraid to be experimental. I think as we age, it’s essential that we’re experimental.

  • Reply
    June 8, 2017 at 9:53 am

    Brenda, what do you recommend under summer dresses to keep the inner thigh area from chafing?

    • Reply
      June 8, 2017 at 5:05 pm

      I know women who wear bicycle shorts (or equivalent) under dresses.

    • Reply
      June 13, 2017 at 4:03 pm

      A little late, Leslie, but this dress measures 37 inches from shoulder to bottom of the hem.

    • Reply
      Katherine Cramer
      August 15, 2017 at 4:10 pm

      Hi Leslie, As Brenda notes, bicycle short style (not actual bike shorts since they often have padded rear ends–and who needs that in a dress.) Jockey Skimmies Slipshorts undergarment are very thin and surprisingly not that much added warmth in hot weather. I like the longer length since they seem to stay in place a bit better. The shorter ones might roll up a bit. I don’t like brands with the gel bands on the inside that are there to keep legs in place. Minimal and soft, feels better to me in warm weather. Other brands are fine as well. I look for thin and soft versions.

      • Reply
        August 16, 2017 at 7:40 pm

        GREAT tips!!!

  • Reply
    June 8, 2017 at 10:50 am

    Hi Brenda –
    I wonder what is the shoulder-to-hem length of your dress? It is adorable, and I was delighted to find one for sale online, but am concerned it is too short. The online sale ends in three hours, so I hope you are near a tape measure!!
    Thank you for this and every post,

    • Reply
      June 8, 2017 at 5:05 pm

      Oh no, I’m not! Out with girlfriends celebrating a birthday. I’ll let you know when I get home for future reference.

  • Reply
    June 9, 2017 at 3:31 am

    Brenda, will you do a post on hat styles? I love this hat and this dress together. It can be hard to find stylish hats such as this one. Thanks.

    • Reply
      June 13, 2017 at 4:02 pm

      I feel like I’m still a beginner in the hat department but I was thinking about that! I expounded for decades about how I was not a hat person. And then, well, I started wearing hats! Let me see what I can come up with, okay? Thanks, Linda!

    • Reply
      Katherine Cramer
      August 15, 2017 at 4:34 pm

      Hi Linda, I have to chime-in about a woven black hat I wore during a recent trip to NYC and Washington DC. Bailey of Hollywood, style #81670 called Billy. I bought mine at the Berkeley Hat Company for around $56. It might be older stock. This hat can be softly stuffed in a tote and springs back. I wear it more frequently with the front brim turned down like you see on Brenda. Printed on inside brim, “What’s on your mind?” (Love that!) Bailey Website lists $60. They are made in lots of colors.

      • Reply
        August 16, 2017 at 7:41 pm

        More great resources! Fabulous! Thanks for sharing, Katherine.

  • Reply
    June 13, 2017 at 5:11 pm

    I am wearing CAFTANS this summer EVERY DAY…….or at least THAT is MY GOAL!With or without leggings………….
    I ADORE THEM and HAVE A FEW TOO MANY so I need to put them FRONT and CENTER!

    • Reply
      June 13, 2017 at 5:42 pm

      One day soon I’d like to interview you for a blog post about your style. Maybe after I get back from Santa Fe. Will you reveal your secrets? You’ll never guess what I went out to CVS for today: the original black chapstick! I’m trying your non-bleeding trick with the lipstick. XX to you too!!!

      • Reply
        June 14, 2017 at 12:16 am

        We moved to Alamogordo last year so if you head this far south of Santa Fe let me know, please!

        • Reply
          June 14, 2017 at 9:46 pm

          How far south is it? Probably mostly going to be in Santa Fe and north. But wouldn’t that be fun?

      • Reply
        Debbie Klausing
        August 19, 2017 at 5:14 pm

        Is the non-bleeding tip simply using the original chapstick? I sure do enjoy all the tips and your fun blog!
        So many questions that I could pose….

        • Reply
          August 19, 2017 at 7:45 pm

          Yes, Elizabeth said to apply chapstick first and then put your lipstick on top of it. Make sense?

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