8 In Getting Dressed/ Series

How to create a suited look for modern times

A modern suit on Brenda Kinsel website

Mixing the new and the old to create a modern suit look


I mourn the fact that suits are no longer the go to wardrobe staple they once were. Oh yes, I love mixing prints, wearing dressed up jean outfits  and all that, but the formula of a suit is so endearing! Why? Because it’s classic and easy and always give you a pulled together look. You don’t have to think or ponder or try a dozen things on in the morning. It’s just three easy pieces.

Remember the formula for a suit? Here it is in case you’ve forgotten:


A matching pant and jacket with a blouse in a contrasting color, or

a matching skirt and jacket and a patterned blouse, plus

a necklace or a scarf for flair

and shoes.


Tell me, can anything be simpler than that?


Creating a suit in modern times

So what if I told you you could build an outfit that was simple, classic, comfortable and MODERN while following the suit formula?

In fact, you may already be doing it without realizing it. It wasn’t until I put this whole outfit together that I realized it resembled one of my favorite things: A SUIT!

Check it out:

I’m wearing navy blue pants and a navy blue high/low cardigan. The pieces weren’t purchased together but if you squint, it quite resembles a softer version of a navy blue suit. I’m wearing a solid-colored top in a contrasting color, ivory. I added a necklace (actually two but I’ll get to that), a bracelet, shoes and a handbag and off to work I went!

I didn’t have to think, there was no fuss. I had a long day ahead of me seeing two different clients. I felt as fresh at the end of the day as I did at the beginning.


What I love about this work outfit

The color combo of navy and ivory makes me feel calm and strong and efficient. Maybe that’s why navy suits were worn so much!

The comfort level is off the charts fabulous.

My modern navy suit doesn’t feel heavy at all even though it’s a dark color because of the lightness and brightness that comes from my handbag, necklace, and shoes. It’s perfect for summer.

I adore how I feel plenty businessy but still very soft and feminine.

I got a compliment bump when I was in Nordstrom shopping with one of my two clients and the store manager recognized me. “Weren’t you here for the Eileen Fisher fashion show? I remember you! You always look so great!” she said. Why thank you, Ms. Store Manager!



A dazzling necklace near my face on Brenda Kinsel website

Sporting my new necklace


Creating a unique necklace using two at once on Brenda Kinsel website

Two necklaces made to look like one


My necklace secret: When I tried on the pink and green necklace it just didn’t seem like enough. So I added another glitzy necklace that lays on top of the green and pink one. They merge to become one!


A neutral modern suit for work on Brenda Kinsel website

A relaxed suit in neutral colors


I love how this outfit mixes old pieces with new ones, bargain items and not so bargain items. If you’d like the rundown of my outfit pieces, here they are.

Newly purchased relaxed Chico pant with pleats and pockets in navy polyester purchased in Sonoma

Revived navy cardigan, low in the front, high in the back from Jigsaw on Filmore Street in SF a few years back

Ancient double layer ivory t-shirt, stretchy cotton with a second layer of mesh with ruched detail from TJMaxx

Double necklaces, bottom one from Brass Plum department at Nordstrom, top one from TJMaxx (one is from this year the other from last year)

The debut of my Caterina Lucchi woven handbag purchased from Robindra Unsworth in Petaluma

Yummy cuff, a birthday gift from a dear friend

Large ring by Alexis Bittar is mushroom in color with glitz that echoes the necklaces, purchased at a Nordstrom Anniversary sale about three years ago

Stone colored suede wide strap platform sandal by Gabor from Sole Desire in Sonoma

Cat eye glasses are Fiction by L.A. Eyeworks from Uber Optics in Petaluma


Is there a suit waiting for you in your closet?



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  • Reply
    Barbara Kraus
    July 29, 2016 at 5:59 pm

    You look fresh and professional.
    I wore navy pants and a long navy sweater the other day and had the same realization regarding it looking like a suit-but so much more comfortable.
    I am so sad that Nordstrom isn’t carrying Alexis Bittar anymore. I’ve only been shopping NAS for three years, but each year I looked forward to seeing the new Alexis Bittar choices at NAS prices.
    I’ve been using your doubling up on necklaces idea. Thanks Brenda.

    • Reply
      August 1, 2016 at 8:00 am

      Barbara, I miss Alexis Bitter at Nordstrom too! I thought it was a big mistake to drop it. So glad you’re doubling necklaces. You’re so creative. I’m sure you’re having lots of fun!

  • Reply
    August 1, 2016 at 6:11 am

    I love the blingy look of your necklaces. I’m always hesitant to wear costume-jewlery bling during the day because I don’t want to look too over the top. Thoughts on daytime bling? (Since you’re wearing it, it makes me feel better. I just want to get your take on how to wear it so it looks fun but not too much.) Thanks!

    • Reply
      August 1, 2016 at 8:08 am

      Ruth, that’s a great question. Of course because I’m working in fashion I could be expected to wear bling. However, in the last few years we’ve seen this whole migration of things we’d usually just see at nighttime slide over into daytime use. And I’ve embraced that migration. I think it depends on your profession or where you’re wearing it to. My double bling necklaces (one on top of the other) wouldn’t be great for banking in my opinion. Otherwise I adore the look of a pair of jeans, tennis shoes, a white shirt and a bling necklace. That to me reads “fun” and who doesn’t enjoy fun? It can also be a surprise element which could charmingly catch people off guard and they’d want to know more about you. It adds polish to casual wear and I wouldn’t have any qualms about adding it there. Hope this helps!

  • Reply
    November 23, 2016 at 11:36 am

    Hi. New here. I am so enjoying your style of fashion. I love this idea of creating a modern suit!! I grew up way back when suits were the thing to go to for a polished look. In today’s world, the old ones look stuffy but the ease of getting ready as you talked about in this post is missed. I will be creating a few of these for myself by adding pieces to my wardrobe. This is especially great for us shorties, one line of color. Also, when hubby says last minute, “Let’s go out to eat” I will know what to throw on and still look all together. Thank you for sharing your ideas. Also, I am madly in love with those shoes. I have seen them on you before. I can’t find that exact shoe, but Nordstrom has one very similar in that brand. Will put it on my wishlist for Spring.

    • Reply
      November 27, 2016 at 1:15 pm

      Hi Diane! So glad to have you here. Yes, I am a champion of what a “suit” offers and still use that concept a lot in my dressing. I’m excited about what you will be creating! Yes, that shoe was a summer winner for me, big time. I hope you find a great replica!! Thanks for sharing, Diane, and welcome!

  • Reply
    November 28, 2016 at 8:30 pm

    Enjoying your blogs, how do I join it? Please advise. Thank you.

    • Reply
      November 29, 2016 at 6:53 pm

      You can sign up to receive them in your email inbox. Look for the form on BrendaKinsel.com off on the right.

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