22 In Anatomy of an Outfit

Is it a dress? Is it a coat? This Griffin Coat from Artful Home is both!


When I received the small box from Artful Home that had my gifted Griffin Coat by Spirithouse in it, I pulled it out and immediately thought, “Oh, I hope I can wear this coat as a dress!” It took me about five minutes to get it over my head and pull on some tights. The biggest decision was whether to wear my almond toe patent ankle boot or my pointy-toed suede ankle boot. The patent boot won by a hair. Boom, boom, boom. Done, done, done.


You have to admit, wearing a dress is so easy! No moving pieces. Just one item, a few accessories perhaps and you’re out the door. All I wanted to do in this relaxed but shaped coat dress was twirl, dance, and play. In my body, I felt like I was running in the hills of Austria with Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music or scooting around Rome with Audrey Hepburn in Roman Holiday or dancing in the streets of NYC with Natalie Wood in West Side Story. I felt free!

I also felt like that sixteen-year-old growing up in North Dakota doing something on the sly and getting away with it…well, until the principal found out and suspended me from school. But wearing a coat as a dress isn’t going to get me in trouble like writing for an underground newspaper did. If someone stops me and asks if that dress I’m wearing is a coat, I won’t deny it. In fact, I’ll probably take it off and say, “Here, you try it!”

It’s always fun to discover that one piece of clothing can transform into two pieces of clothing. It’s like buying one and getting the second one for free.

Let me share with you how I styled both the dress version of the Griffin Coat and the coat version of the Griffin Coat.


Wearing my Griffin coat as a dress

The charcoal, olive, and ivory plaid fabric is definitely cut in the shape of a coat. It has buttons down the front and great pleated detail in the back. Although it’s a relaxed, easy fit, it’s not boxy; it’s shaped in the waist and has open pockets. The knit fabric drapes beautifully.



Yesterday I wore it as a dress while making fabulous holiday outfits for our client. By the time we finished with that appointment I was reaching for my “real” coat to wear over my coat-as-dress because temperatures had dropped.

But yesterday when I wore it for photographs, it was mild in Sonoma. I added my taupe muffler to my neck and my leopard print fuzzy tam cap on my head and that was all the warmth I needed for the outdoors.



Layering underneath the dress

Like I said, dresses are easy. But I did have some layering going on underneath. I wore a full-length black slip and over the slip, I added an elbow-length mesh Sleevey Wonder in black. Remember, Sleevey Wonders give you sleeves for when you want to add sleeves to a sleeveless top or dress. The reason I wanted to add a sleeve was really just for some warmth. I could have worn a T-shirt but I didn’t want to add the bulk. Remember, Sleevey Wonders fasten in front under your bra. This is the model I wore.

I kept the jewels simple. I’m wearing my Victor Sanz ring, my Dotted Pebble Dangle Earrings by Wendy Stauffer and my Diamond Autus bracelet by Christine Mackellar. (The earrings, bracelet, and the Griffin Coat are from Artful Home.) And I pulled out a slim crossbody bag in a warm taupe/sort of olive color. I felt put together and sophisticated in a kicky, I’m-breaking-rules kind of way.

By all accounts, this is a dress, a special occasion dress. What’s the special occasion? Enjoying life!

Wearing my Griffin coat as a coat

Next up, the opportunity for the Griffin Coat to be worn as a coat! Because of the weight of this fabric, it would be a great coat to wear in Arizona, Southern California, Texas, and Florida right now. Or, if you live in the Bay Area like I do, you can wear this coat open, more like a duster, so it’s part of your ensemble. (Oh, I love that word! I think we should all be wearing more ensembles!) And when it’s cold, you add a coat over this one.

To use the Griffin Coat in this ensemble outfit, I started with a black knit pant that’s a basic in my wardrobe. Mine is a pull-on pant by Stella Carakasi and has jodhpur details. I bet you have something similar to it in your closet already. I wanted to pull out the ivory part of the charcoal, olive, and ivory plaid. I didn’t want to match the color exactly so I grabbed my Etro blouse with the metallic gold stripes and high/low hem. I LOVED the result. The blouse had an alchemical reaction to the coat. They look better together than they do apart! I don’t know if you can tell by my sublime smile but this outfit feels so good! 



When worn open as a duster, the Griffin Coat has a grace that’s confidence building. Do you experience that feeling with fabrics that move with you? I feel like I’m exuding a feminine, smart allure in the way Rosalind Russell did playing against Cary Grant in His Girl Friday. I think of the assurance Catherine Denueve has in, well, clothes!



In the sunlight, you can see how well this goldy-colored, sheer blouse plays with the plaid coat. Isn’t it divine? They’re two fabrics that engage with each other but hold their own as well, like Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn.



Finishing this outfit was really easy. I wore my tall L.K.Bennett boots and carried my charcoal gray frame handbag. I used the same ring, bracelet, and earrings with this outfit as I did with the dress version.



It’s amazing how wearing fabrics that feel good and aren’t restricting make us feel like we can do anything! Both of these outfits make me feel that way.

Do you have certain clothes that make you feel delicious from the inside out? I’m all ears! Please share your delights!



This post was sponsored by Artful Home. All the reported joy from wearing the Griffin Coat by Spirithouse in these two outfits is mine, mine, mine.

You Might Also Like


  • Reply
    December 7, 2017 at 3:19 am

    Well done Brenda! You look very chic, very French, very happy! You are the master at re-mixing outfits! I have a lovely vintage silk trench coat that I’ve worn as a dress..it’s olive green and feels so wonderful on my skin. Tightly belted with a black lace slip underneath, I feel powerful and truly beautiful!!! Isn’t it divine when something so simple can bolster your confidence? Have a great rest of your week!

    • Reply
      December 7, 2017 at 2:26 pm

      Wow, Kathy, I totally followed the mental image of you using that silk trench as a dress. And I agree exactly with you feel: “powerful and truly beautiful.” Yes, yes, yes! I thought of saying that I felt French but shied away from it. I’m glad you said it! Thanks, Kathy!

  • Reply
    Trinnie Q
    December 7, 2017 at 4:05 am

    Hello Brenda, did the principal really suspend you from school for that? what a hoot ! Good on you, for wearing it as a dress! I would never have thought of that! I loved both outfits, especially the second, with the gold threads and taupe muffler. with the leopard print hat ! Delicous ! ilove the feel of my linen shirts, and a newish purchase of a soft silk turquoise blouse worn with simple black jeans and camel boots. Also light cotton blouses,in the Australian summer. You look gorgeous. Thanks Brenda, sending love from Oz x

    • Reply
      December 7, 2017 at 2:24 pm

      Yes, he did suspend me. And I was a Goody Two Shoes. In order to get back to school, I had to bring my dad with me and the three of us met in the Principal’s office. When the Mr. Leidel brought it up to Dad what I’d done my dad told me, “Yes, I know about that and I’m proud of her for it.” And that was the end of the conversation! My dad is all for freedom of speech! I’m visiting him at the end of the month. He’ll be 92 next month and is still very political! Thanks for sharing the things you’re feeling good in during these summer days in Australia! Love from Sonoma!

      • Reply
        December 10, 2017 at 2:43 am

        Sigh! I’m in love with your dad for that. Please tell him so for me. 🙂

        • Reply
          Trinnie q
          December 10, 2017 at 1:46 pm

          Yes, what a beautiful Dad x

  • Reply
    December 7, 2017 at 4:53 am

    Hello Brenda! I receive Artful Home catalogs and I am in love with their clothing. The pieces are unique but also look very comfortable. However, I have not ordered anything from them yet because they do not carry petite sizes. You appear to look like a petite and on the smaller end of the clothing sizing scale in your pictures. As a way for me to judge sizing, would you share your height and possibly your dress/pant size? I know that is a lot to ask, so if you would rather not, I understand. I love your style and enjoy your blog.

    • Reply
      December 7, 2017 at 2:20 pm

      Hi Diane, I’m happy to share! My pant size is around a 4 to 6. The Crepe Barefoot Pant from Artful Home that I styled is a size XS. The Griffin Coat I got is a size small. I have to be careful about sizing the upper part of me because I’m bigger there. So I’d probably start at an 8 in a dress, depending. I’m 5’5″ and around 136 pounds. Hope that helps! And we shared the same thought: the other day I was thinking, “It would be great if they carried petites!” Like minds, right?

      • Reply
        December 7, 2017 at 3:02 pm

        Thank you that helps so much. We should start a campaign for them to carry petites. Ha!! You are taller than me. I’m 5″1′ if I stand up very straight. I’m a munchkin as my husband says. Clothes can easily drown me. I hesitate to order from them because their price point is slightly higher than I usually allow myself. But I might be tempted for something really special! Again, I love your casual, edgy, unique style. Thanks for blogging.

  • Reply
    December 7, 2017 at 5:43 am

    Dear Brenda, once again you have taught me something! Yay!!!
    I love this coat/dress and it looks divine on you. So now I’m off to my closet to see what I can restyle à la Brenda… again many thanks.

    • Reply
      December 7, 2017 at 2:15 pm

      I get so excited when you say you’re going to go to your closet and restyle something. Yay!!!!!

  • Reply
    December 7, 2017 at 7:20 am

    Girl, you’ve got great gams! Please show those off more often.

    • Reply
      December 7, 2017 at 2:09 pm

      Well, thank you, Christine!

  • Reply
    Katrin Noon
    December 7, 2017 at 10:54 am

    WOW! What a pleasure it was to see the photos of our Griffin Coat and read your comments. I love how you merchandised the Coat with your wonderful accessories, and so ingenious to wear it as a Dress. You are an inspiration. Thank you! I will have you in my minds eye as I design our next season, Fall 2018.

    • Reply
      December 7, 2017 at 2:27 pm

      Wow to you, Katrin! I feel honored to hear from you! I actually sort of wondered if I’d get suspended for wearing it as a dress if “the designer” found out! Now I get to scratch that worry off my list! Can’t wait to see what you’ll be creating for next year! Thanks so much!

  • Reply
    December 7, 2017 at 3:07 pm

    A PLUS!

  • Reply
    December 11, 2017 at 10:02 am

    Hi Brenda, What a cute–and fun!–outfit. I’m also in love it’s those patent booties. From an earlier post, think they’re the Angela Scott ‘Mr Noone’ ones that are on sale. I’m Either an 8 1/2 or 9 depending on the brand and the cut, and this is a new brand for me. On you, did it run short, long, wide, narrow, etc? Thx for your continuing style inspirations and insights!

    • Reply
      December 12, 2017 at 8:31 am

      Hi Mary, this shoe is amazing. I’ve complained considerably about how my feet are unhappy in most shoes. I did buy this one on sale from The Office of Angela Scott. I’m an 8 1/2 or 9 like you. I bought the 8 1/2, put it on, and it was comfortable on my foot from the very start. I’m going to an event this afternoon with this designer. Her store is in Los Angeles but she’s doing an event at a boutique up here in Mill Valley. Can’t wait to try other shoes on. I don’t usually buy shoes online because of those picky feet. So this is my chance to check on other styles. I am not a shoe hound, never have been, but to have a few that work makes me happy!

  • Reply
    cindy hattersley
    January 22, 2018 at 7:11 am

    I LOVE this Brenda. It works beautifully as a dress and love it with those patent bootw!!

    • Reply
      January 23, 2018 at 1:51 pm

      I love this too! I’m grabbing it right now. Wouldn’t you look good in it too?

  • Reply
    Kathleen Adams
    December 6, 2019 at 8:08 am

    Thank you, Brenda! Yesterday I bought a wonderful lighter weight little bit of wool sweater coat/dress that buttons up the front and has great details. TJMaxx, of course, could not pass it up! And as usual, you have come thru, because I was trying to figure out just how to style it! I will be following your suggestions.

    • Reply
      December 10, 2019 at 8:36 pm

      Oh, fun!! Glad to help!

    Leave a Reply