16 In Getting Dressed

How to bring a new color into your wardrobe

Bobbi Brown lip crayon on Brenda Kinsel website

Being introduced to orange through a lip color

I went into Nordstrom one day itching for a new lipstick. When you want to change things up, choosing a new lipstick color is the least expensive way to experiment with something new. I thought this would be easy.

After Elina, my favorite Beauty Stylist in Nordstrom, Corte Madera (now the manager of the whole department), peered at me for a good ten minutes (okay, it just felt like ten minutes), she uttered one word: orange.

ORANGE? She reached for Hot Orange, a Bobbi Brown color crayon, and applied it.

HOT ORANGE? Are you kidding me? I nearly lost my balance. I certainly lost my sense of self for a minute. I’d never imagined that a woman my age (or me at any age) would wear a color that strong, that bright. I protested. She said definitively, “It suits you.”

Introducing a color through lipstick on Brenda Kinsel website

Wearing my Hot Orange lip crayon

I always do what Elina tells me to do but it took me a couple of weeks to get used to it. Getting compliments helped me steady myself. It was turning into a pleasant surprise.

I think this happens to many of us: we march along doing our thing, our same old thing, and then inspiration hits, or someone else’s inspiration hits like Elina’s, and we do something different. I went from color shock to signature color. I’ve worn this shade for months and months.

I wanted more

And then orange came onto my radar. Months later I walked into Ann Taylor and saw a Hot Orange sweater. I’d already warmed up to the shade so it didn’t seem so weird to try it on. The salesperson said, “Wow, you wear that color well!” I could see it myself. This woman, me, who was comfortable in gray, black, white, and navy was looking at herself in the mirror wearing solid, bright orange and it wasn’t scary! Well, maybe a tiny bit.

Orange sweater by Ann Taylor on Brenda Kinsel website

Adding an orange sweater

A few weeks later I was back in Ann Taylor and a Hot Orange cotton trench coat was on the racks. Could I dare? My daughter Erin was with me and said, “Wait a couple of weeks. I bet it goes on sale.” I did, and it did. Sold to Brenda Kinsel.

Have you surprised yourself with something out of your comfort range?

What have you done that is so outside your comfort range? Think of that and then realize that I was feeling just like you were. A whole coat is a lot of clothing real estate. Surprise, surprise: I found myself wanting to wear it as much as I could.

Orange coat by Ann Taylor on Brenda Kinsel website

Next came the orange coat

What followed? Cotton Hot Orange pants by Vince Camuto for summer! They make me feel so spicy!

Orange cotton pants by Vince Camuto on Brenda Kinsel website

Orange pants get added

And not far behind came this orange BCBG dress, so ladylike. I wear it as a tunic. Suddenly orange is creeping closer to being a signature color for me. I dipped my toe in and now I’m into it up to my neck.

Granted, I’m only talking about five pieces of orange here, including the lipstick, but it has been impactful.

Orange BCBG dress on Brenda Kinsel website

Finding a dress in orange

Will you discover something new?

There are beautiful hues coming out for fall. Will you experiment with something new? You can start small with a lipstick color, a scarf, handbag or shoe.

Then work up to bigger pieces like sweaters, dresses, coats, blazers, or pants. Just adding items one by one will help you decide if this color is bringing you joy beyond measure.

Please share what you’ve done in your wardrobe that’s surprised you and brought joy!


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  • Reply
    Lisa White
    August 22, 2016 at 11:17 am

    Brenda….I LOVE orange and it loves me! I see it loves you, too. Fabulous color on you. I was in Nordstrom recently looking for a new red shade of lipstick…one that is not coral..but leans a little orange. I need a warm red. I purchased Burberry’s, “Military” red.

    As to the answer to your question…yes… I have tried something recently outside of my comfort zone and I am going full out with styling it. For decades, I have avoided florals. I always felt like I was wearing my grandmother’s wallpaper….and then it happened. A fashionista friend…who love florals….chose a dark floral for an inspiration post. She chose Kate Moss as her inspiration and her interpretation was magical…partly due to the dark floral she chose to use in her outfit. It hit me like a ton of bricks! It was how I could embrace florals. Fortunately, by the time I discovered this new love the Alice & Olivia Spring collection was on sale…deeply discounted…and it was full of gorgeous dark floral pieces. I have been having fun styling these pieces ever since!

    • Reply
      August 23, 2016 at 9:37 am

      You have amazing luck when it comes to finding your pieces that you work with! I love what you’ve shared here. It’s funny and fun to see what happens when a barrier we thought existed is suddenly lifted! Go florals! I love it! Yesterday I thought of you when we were working with a client. One of our favorite buys about three years ago was a floral dress for her. Large roses. And during the fall sale at Nordstrom we picked up a jacket in a raspberry tone that works beautifully together with the dress. How things come together is so delightful. Enjoy your florals!

  • Reply
    Sue @ A Colourful Canvas
    August 22, 2016 at 1:51 pm

    WOW! Each and every look is stunning! I particularly like the dress over pants ensemble.

    • Reply
      August 23, 2016 at 9:34 am

      Thanks, Sue!

  • Reply
    elena daciuk
    August 23, 2016 at 8:59 am

    i have always loved orange…and love wearing it…why? because it is such a happy color! i love it on you as well…makes me want to go and pull out my orange lipstick! love every piece you got…little orange building blocks…

    • Reply
      August 23, 2016 at 9:38 am

      Oh, that is such a great image: orange building blocks. YES!!! Thanks, Elena! And happy orange days ahead for us!

  • Reply
    August 24, 2016 at 6:07 am

    Brenda, you look fabulous in orange!! I especially like your orange and olive combinations. Thank you for giving me the courage to try a new, brighter, lipstick. We’ll be traveling for a month and I would love to find a lipstick that lasts longer than a cup of coffee. Today, I’ll try out the long wear Chanel brand, not in an orange, but a brighter pink than I am used to (salmon is the usual pink choice). I’ll let you know how it goes…any suggestions for a long wear lipstick would be appreciated.

    You always inspire me, thank you for the much needed nudge.

    A faithful fan,

    • Reply
      August 29, 2016 at 4:30 pm

      Hi Pat,
      You may have sailed off already and I’m sure you made a great lipstick choice in the Chanel line. I also like Estee Lauder’s Pure Color Envy Sculpting Lipstick and the Bobbi Brown color pencils. Please check in and tell us about the fashion inspiration you experience on your trip!
      Yours always, Brenda

  • Reply
    MaryAnn Grantham
    August 26, 2016 at 9:10 am

    That orange is truly excellent on you and reflects your creative spirit – I cannot decide which of your orange pieces is my favorite. Lovely post to brighten my day, literally and figuratively.

    • Reply
      August 29, 2016 at 4:35 pm

      Ah, thanks, MaryAnn! Your response brightens my day! Go orange!

  • Reply
    The Clutterdoc
    October 16, 2017 at 5:45 am

    Hi Brenda,
    I’m new here but I think you “struck gold” with your orange! Pardon the pun.
    The coat is especially stunning against the black backdrop. While I like the orange sweater, a different color jacket (maybe navy or hunter green?) might make it pop more.
    Cheers in your brave new world.

    • Reply
      October 17, 2017 at 11:02 am

      I like the way you think! I’ll have to try that this year when I start wearing that skirt again!

  • Reply
    Kelly McMurry
    August 30, 2018 at 12:22 pm

    Love your style and I LOVE the shoes you are wearing in these pictures, particularly the black wedge sandals and grey wedge sandals. Can you tell me the brand names for these? Thanks so much

    • Reply
      September 4, 2018 at 11:11 am

      Kelly, they are most likely Camper if they’re from this summer. The gray wedge sandal is most likely Gabor. They make some great, stylish, but comfortable shoes.

  • Reply
    November 4, 2018 at 5:52 pm

    I fell in love w chartreuse a few yrs ago. Got an infinity scarf first, from Calvin Klein, it was light beige flowing into chartreuse and I found myself wearing it a lot! Next I saw and got a summer top in this color, then another…. Then saw a great raincoat @Talbot and had to have it! Latest addition is a patent leather crossbody w cognac trim. Chartreuse is now my go to accent color, it is amazing w navy, black, white, beige… It breathes new life in to everything I wear and I love it so much!

    • Reply
      November 6, 2018 at 4:22 pm

      Gosh, I love hearing how this color found its way in your closet. Perfect!

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