24 In Anatomy of an Outfit/ Getting Dressed

Hugging Sonoma in my Double Denim Outfit

Sonoma Plaza

Getting a whiff of the Sonoma we all love


When I went into my late Friday afternoon acupuncture appointment with Phil, I was dragging. He said, “How are you doing?” I told him, “I’m exhausted and I have low self-esteem.” For two days I’d been saying things to myself that I didn’t quite believe but they were in my consciousness! How the heck did they get there? I was hoping there was a specific acupuncture point in my ear or on my foot where he could place a needle and make those feelings go away.

True to His Philness, he made just the right points before I even got on the table. He said, “Brenda, everyone feels dragged down. We were in survival mode not knowing which direction the fires were going to go. There was so much unrelenting stress and uncertainty. That doesn’t just go away. We’re going to be feeling this for a while.”

Mighty Phil is mighty smart. I instantly opened my heart to greater compassion for myself. And then we were on to our usual topics: sports talk, family stories, and what’s on Netflix. He told me about having dinner at Jon Miller’s house (the Hall of Fame Broadcaster for the SF Giants) and watching baseball with him in his TV room while Phil and his family were evacuated. Being a big Jon Miller fan, I insisted he’d hit a pinnacle in sports fandom. He asked about my Dad in Minnesota and I told him the latest thing he said that I had to write down. Dad was certain of his imminent death last week (at least for 30 minutes or so) but he told me, “This morning I was ready to throw in the towel but then the Fargo Forum came so that was helpful.” Phil was gleeful that a newspaper had the power to save a life. It wasn’t long before we were filling the treatment room with laughter. He said, “Oh Brenda, we have so much fun.” And it’s true. With Phil I get emotional, physical, and spiritual support all wrapped in one.


Double denim

Creating an outfit mixing blues


Heading back to my true self

Maybe it was the treatment (and a nap on Saturday) that lured me back to my true self, the one that appreciates nature and routines, weekend puttering and decluttering, and fashion and beauty. My zest for creative outfit building for myself has been masked since the fires but it showed itself again when I got the idea to put together a monochromatic double denim outfit. There’s something quite calming about an outfit that shares pieces in the same or nearly the same hue. That’s how I felt in my cuffed denim jeans, my silk watery print dress and my lighter colored jean jacket.

The silk dress made me feel feminine. When you’ve been on high alert, it’s nice to feel calmer, softer; open to the moment, not fearful of it. That dress was a soothing tonic.


Sonoma City Hall

Standing in front of City Hall


Bringing on the double pendants to go with the double denim


Double gold pendants

Double gold colored pendants shine bright


I wasn’t sure if the quartz gold-colored pendant I put together with Erin’s help would work on my dress without crushing it in front but it didn’t. I had a slip under the dress which helped give it some weight. That pendant alone was too heavy looking for the outfit though so I added the heart pendant. It seems appropriate, right?!

Something about wearing those two pendants sent my brain the message that I’m coming back! Back to myself! I added a bee pin to my jean jacket next to the pearl pin. A lovely client surprised me with the gift of this pin. She’s moving out of state and we had our last appointments, for now, last week. I fell to pieces when I opened the ribboned box. That’s another thing that happens: tears flow easily and sometimes fiercely right now. The tears were of appreciation and adoration for her and the simple pleasure of getting to do what I do for so long. It was emotional!


Sonoma Strong



To finish the ensemble I added a couple of thin bronze bangles and my Lanvin vintage ivory bangle. I love how the Lanvin bangle echoes the color of the pearls in the pin. It’s just kind of sweet, don’t you think? I had my mustard-gold plaid scarf with me which was handy when it started to get chilly. I like how it chimes right in with the gold-colored pendants: one big happy, bright family.


Finding our footing when so much was taken away

Part of the recovery from this catastrophic event is the pure joy of seeing people you love, people you haven’t seen since all this happened. Russ and I were sitting at the bar in El Dorado Kitchen getting a bite to eat when I saw my heartthrob, Kay. I met her through my daughter Erin who’s crazy about her too. Anyway, she works at EDK.

“Hey Gorgeous,” I shouted out when I saw her at the end of the bar picking up a drink order for her customers. She stopped what she was doing and raced over to where I was sitting. I got out of my bar stool in time to fall into her outstretched arms. We Were So Happy! We held on tight packing every ounce of love into that hug. I kissed her cheeks and then kissed them again. “The last time I saw you was on Facebook with your mask over your face,” I said. “I spent five days in Petaluma eating and drinking. I’m so happy to be back in Sonoma!” she said. One day it would be interesting to get an accounting of different people’s evacuation destinations.

I hated to let her go but she had customers to serve. I turned back in my seat and there were two glasses of champagne in front of us. “Where did these come from?” I asked our bartender. “It’s from Kay,” he said. I don’t know which split second she used to make that happen but that champagne never tasted so good.

We sat there as the restaurant got more and more packed. Russ asked the bartender, who had the brightest smile ever, how business had been. “This is the first night it’s come back strong,” he said.

Russ and I soaked it all in. It felt wonderful being in this familiar place with conversations happening at every table. I’m sure many of those conversations were about the fires but people were together again, not scattered all over the surrounding areas or even in other states, trying to find safety.

I’m so happy that people are coming back. I had the feeling in the middle of it all that once the fires were over that people would flock back to this wonderful valley. I think it’s happening. And if I have the privilege of seeing you on the street, expect a big long hug from me!


How do you feel about monochromatic dressing? Does it make you feel calmer or more sophisticated? Tell me how you really feel!



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  • Reply
    November 1, 2017 at 3:59 am

    So happy to see you and others are able to come back — to Sonoma and your true selves! May it continue!

    I also like to dress monochromatically. It does feel sophisticated and safe (the good, self-care kind of safe). And jeans are a classic foundation for daily dressing — they can swing casual or dressier.

    BTW, your beautiful silk dress goes so well with your denim.

    • Reply
      November 3, 2017 at 11:05 am

      Yes, I hope we continue to move toward are community and our true selves. It’s easier some days and some days it’s still hard. I appreciate your well wishes! I like how you clarified the the word safe, as in self-care. You nailed it! It really does feel like self-care to me when I wear monochromatic colors. Love the nuance you added, Ann! Thanks!

  • Reply
    Trinnie Q
    November 1, 2017 at 4:37 am

    you look beautiful Brenda. Tones of one colour in an outfit, yet sprinkled through with your rich, yet peaceful jewellery, looks just right, and fitting to me. It fits the shy joy that you seem to be rediscover ing, you and your brave community. I am so so pleased that glimpses of healing, like buds appearing, are beginning to be felt. Your outfit somehow, really reflects this perfectly. I can’t imagine the seesaw of emotion you have all been through.. ! I sometimes love the safeness or simplcity of dressing in tones of the same colour. somehow adding an anchor, but with glimmers of suprise, with your lovely accessories, and of course your beautiful smile. Sending much love from Oz to you and yours. x

    • Reply
      November 3, 2017 at 11:07 am

      Thanks, Trinnie, for your clarifying words. I think it’s hard to talk about what’s going on here when it’s so personal so getting the view from outside that circle is so healing. I really appreciate that! Yes, looking for an anchor through this most chaotic time. Thanks for putting words to that! Sending Sonoma love your way!

  • Reply
    Cindy L
    November 1, 2017 at 5:26 am

    I Enjoy monochromatic dressing too, but mostly I enjoyed reading your post this morning, Brenda. Your writing about recovering from the fires is so heartwarming, and I feel as if I know the folks you’re writing about. I love your sense of community as much as your style!

    • Reply
      November 3, 2017 at 11:08 am

      Thanks so much, Cindy! I think it helps to put words to it from the little speck that is me in this situation. There are so many different experiences!

  • Reply
    Maggie Fieger
    November 1, 2017 at 6:01 am

    You look beautiful in an outfit that I would never think to put together! Your joy in so many things is an inspiration!

    • Reply
      November 3, 2017 at 11:08 am

      Thanks so much, Maggie!

  • Reply
    November 1, 2017 at 6:42 am

    Lovely post, thank you Brenda! And lovely outfit! So glad Sonoma is getting back to normal, I love your wine country. Reading post to the end made me cry, perhaps we are all a bit in “survival mode”.

    • Reply
      November 3, 2017 at 11:09 am

      Wow, you stopped me in my tracks with your last sentence. I bet you’re right. I bet many of us are experiencing being in survival mode of one sort or another. As my kids would say, True dat!

  • Reply
    Cindy Berge
    November 1, 2017 at 6:43 am

    I never thought of wearing a silk dress over jeans. Doesn’t the dress cling to the denim ? This is a very electric outfit. I wish I could see it in person.

    • Reply
      November 3, 2017 at 11:10 am

      I wish you could see it in person, too! The dress doesn’t cling because I’m wearing a full slip underneath it. It’s not a long one. It stops about 8 inches from the hem of the dress but that’s the secret!

  • Reply
    November 1, 2017 at 7:21 am

    As I have matured, I have come to appreciate the depth that monochromatic dressing offers…the various shades of a single color keeps it from being boring or too flat. I find it calming and reassuring. I love your dress and jean combo and find your gentle nug to try this look tempting! So glad your soul is healing!

    • Reply
      November 3, 2017 at 11:13 am

      Thanks so much, Kathy! “Calming and reassuring”. I think those are great words (yours!) to use as a roadmap for outfits. Who couldn’t use more of that?

  • Reply
    November 1, 2017 at 8:07 am

    You look lovely! I love monochrome! It always makes me feel pulled together rather than “patchy”??? So thankful you are aware of your health needs and have a good acupuncturist. I actually wore double denim (not matchy) today with a blue print shirt underneath. I thought of your wisdom as I tried it. Continuing prayers for your family and Sonoma area.

    • Reply
      November 3, 2017 at 11:15 am

      Thank you Kay. Loved “seeing” your double denim outfit in my mind’s eye when I read this. And believe me, I really appreciate your prayers for families here in Sonoma County.

  • Reply
    November 1, 2017 at 9:16 am

    Cool pendant. Did you make this one too? You’re getting into crystals!

    Glad all’s returning to normal.

    Thanks for posting!


    • Reply
      November 3, 2017 at 11:17 am

      Yes, Cara, Erin helped me with it but yes, I made this one too. I love the scale of it and the gold tone on top of the crystal. I friend thought it looked very renaissance. Works for me!

  • Reply
    November 1, 2017 at 12:05 pm

    I’m 61, and constantly trying to find a comfortable spot between trendy hipster and frumpy matron in terms of my wardrobe. You, my dear, consistently hit that sweet spot I’m looking for. I’m so happy to have found you. Thank you for being such an inspiration and role model in both fashion and life!

    • Reply
      November 3, 2017 at 11:18 am

      Nancy, my heart is full. Thank you for your kind words and I’m thrilled to be a reference for that sweet spot you speak of. Woohoo!

  • Reply
    November 1, 2017 at 12:59 pm

    Brenda, I fixated on your nail polish in the first picture…maybe a lavender gray. What shade and brand is it, please?

    • Reply
      November 3, 2017 at 11:20 am

      Denise, it’s by Chanel and it’s called…checking, checking, hold one moment…it’s called Horizon Line, #576. Imagine that! I do love shades of gray polish and this one felt more fall/winter to me than others I wear.

  • Reply
    November 1, 2017 at 6:14 pm

    I do not think I have EVER dressed ALL IN ONE COLOR!!!!!!!?
    Could that possibly BE?
    You look YOUNG and YOUTHFUL.
    Your news is ALL GOOD………….XX

    • Reply
      November 3, 2017 at 11:21 am

      Thank you, Contessa of many colors! It’s all that height you have. You probably enjoy breaking up all that real estate with multiple colors. XX

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