25 In Styling Tips/ Women Now

I’ve got my stress-free holiday dress and it fits!

Plaid Ainslie dress from Artful Home

Finding a holiday dress just got easier with this Artful Home A-line frock


When Artful Home asked me to showcase a look from their holiday apparel collection, I thought: Hey, count me in!

The Ainslie dress, designed by Lisa Bayne, has everything I love in a holiday dress: it’s bright, bold, and encourages feelings of happiness!

When it arrived in the mail, I pulled it out of the packaging, held it against my body, and looked in the mirror—I felt buoyant. I couldn’t wait to take off my jeans, T-shirt, and cardigan and slip it on over my head. In an instant, I knew that my body and this dress were a match made in heaven.


Ainslie knee length dress

A dress to the knees is my delight


Confessing my heartache over dresses

There’s something you should know: I secretly pout about not being able to wear dresses. I can’t find a dress that hits my waist where it should. In so many dresses I try, the waist wants to creep closer to my midriff, and after wearing one for ten just an hour, I can’t wait to get home to take it off. That’s not how you want to feel in a holiday dress!

I have this idea that party dresses would look like the ones soap opera stars wear in workday office scenes.  (Example: Phyllis in the Young and the Restless.) Maybe you’ve seen it: slinky, backless, leg slit, or with wide, deep plunges in the neckline. I marvel at the dresses, but this body of mine isn’t going to recreate that look anytime soon.

So, boo-hoo me. I’ve got it hard.

(I’m not alone: Other image consultants have their challenges too!)


A great guest dress

I’ll wear this holiday dress when I’m a guest


The Ainslie Dress destroys the notion that I can’t wear dresses

I looked at myself in the Ainslie Dress and realized—I can wear a dress! I can be happy in a dress, especially a holiday dress that has all my favorite things in it: plaid; red; crinkle fabric (oh my gosh, do I ever love crinkle fabric); three-quarter (on me) sleeves, so I can decorate my wrists and others will enjoy the bangle action just like I do; and a pretty neck detail. It has an A-line silhouette, so my waist feels respected just as it is. It’s okay exactly where it is. It’s great when I can wear a dress that feels like it was made for me instead of struggling to get into someone else’s dress.


Adding more shine to a party outfit

Adding shine to my holiday dress with my silver lunch bag and a few mixed metal bangles


Waistline Wisdom from Lisa Bayne, CEO for Artful Home

Here’s more waistline wisdom from the Ainslie Dress’s designer, Lisa Bayne. She says, “I believe that clothes have to feel great on our bodies and make us feel like a million bucks. Just because some of us have lost our waistlines does not mean we have lost our sense of style.” Preach!

Lisa also gives women what they demand: pockets! The side on-seam pockets means I can stow a lipstick, handkerchief, or room key and leave a purse behind if I want to. Or I’ll add sparkle by wearing my silver lunch bag.


Shades of red for the holidays

Tripling the fun of red plaid by adding red frames and red lipstick



Woow red frames

Red frames from Uber Optics love being paired with the Ainslie Dress

A dress that celebrates the neck

I love the neck detail on the Ainslie Dress. I love that this lightweight fabric is crisp and has body, so the neck stands up all by itself. While my neck has lost some of its elasticity, this collar makes up for it. Author Nora Eprhon claimed to hate her neck—I don’t feel the same way about mine. I’m okay with it; in fact I quite like how it keeps my head up. But I must admit: I feel like my neck is in great hands with this stand-up, wide-banded collar.


Lucky in my holiday Ainslie dress

How did I get this lucky with this holiday dress?


Dressing up the dress

A big part of my personal style is fun elegance. Even when I’m wearing jeans and a sweater, I want to add some sparkle and shine. This dress has a subtle, built-in sheen, and the bold plaid is very playful. I’m adding fishnets (fun) and some low-heeled patent leather Mary Janes by Paul Green (elegant for me). This dress would also be pretty with a fancy flat, but for holiday events, it’s a special treat for me to wear shoes with a little lift.


Paul Green patent Mary Janes

This year I’ll wear the Ainslie Dress with fishnets and patent leather Mary Janes


I kept my jewelry pretty simple. I chose to wear the Dotted Pebble Dangle Earrings by artist Wendy Stauffer. You can also find her work at Artful Home. Then I added a few thin bangles in mixed metals and my gold ring with tiny diamonds in it.


simple jewelry for holiday dress

Holiday dress likes simple jewelry


Next year I may bring the Ainslie Dress down a notch and wear it with black leather leggings and booties. But not this year.


Party dress from Artful Home

Me wearing my plaid holiday dress on the rooftop

Where I’ll wear my holiday Ainslie Dress

I’ve always told my clients that they can wear their special occasion pieces the whole month of December with no apologies or explanations. It’s the holidays! It doesn’t matter if their friends are less dressed than they are—December is the season of light. Let’s celebrate all month long.

I’ll wear this dress to client appointments in December. I’ll wear it to my friend Joan’s annual holiday dinner party at her house. The guests are all women who met in a breast cancer support group in 2004, as well as their partners or a plus-one. It’s a beautiful, festive evening. The ladies finish the evening off with a holiday ornament exchange while the men cheer them on.

I’ll wear this holiday dress when we go to Grace Cathedral in San Francisco for the annual holiday concert.

I’ll wear it on Christmas Eve when I cook dinner for the family and we do our holiday readings.

I’ll wear it on December 25 when we go to my cousin’s house for dinner.


Ainslie plaid dress from Artful Home

Feeling merry and bright in my holiday dress from Artful Home


A final observation about being in the right clothes

I see this with my clients, that when I find them clothes that feel right to them, right from the start, they relax, and their bodies express ease. Any struggle or grievance they had with their bodies disappears. They relax into themselves.

When we’re relaxed, stress seems to fall away. We’re here in the moment enjoying the splendor of life. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to feel worry-free in your clothes? I think when we feel good in our clothes, we manage all things with more clarity and sharpness. The holiday season can become a stressful blur, but when you’re happy about how you look, problems don’t seem so great. Joy comes into the picture.

The holidays are about peace, love, and acceptance. I want to carry those feelings into the season, and I’ve got a jump start knowing I’m going to be wearing the Ainslie Dress.


the message of Peace

Wishing you and yours peace beyond measure


Thank you, Artful Home, for taking me on as a brand ambassador, for all you do to support women, and to  Lisa Bayne, for understanding that we want to enjoy style at every stage of our lives.

Have you had a minute to think about what you’ll be wearing this holiday season? Toss out some ideas for all of us, okay? Let’s spread some love around!




P.S. Thank you Perham photographer, Kristen McMartin, for taking these great photos! And thanks Lexy Ziemann from 125 Apparel in Perham, MN for paving the way for us to shoot some photos at Karvonen’s Furniture across the street.


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  • Reply
    November 17, 2018 at 12:50 am

    Oh Brenda I love love love that dress and you look fantastic. I struggle with dresses too, the waist is never in the right place for me and I look either matronly (not a good look) or like a small child playing dress-up. Yours is a shining example of a comfortable yet smart dress and I love the fabric and the neckline. Have lovely holidays.

    • Reply
      November 27, 2018 at 10:19 am

      Thanks so much! I agree about shopping for dresses. It takes the right one. What’s great about this dress is I felt instantly playful, just like a child, only grownup at the same time. It makes me want to go out and have fun, fun, fun!

  • Reply
    Cindy L
    November 17, 2018 at 5:32 am

    That’s a wonderful dress, Brenda — great for the holidays and it looks so nice on you. I’m a fan of the Artful Home catalog — have been getting it for a couple of years and love all the things I’ve ordered from it. I got my holiday dress from it last year too.

    • Reply
      November 27, 2018 at 10:27 am

      Yay! Another Artful Home lover! I’m finding more and more that the clothes I keep wearing are from there. Style with comfort and easy to wear. Can’t beat that. Enjoy your holiday dresses this year!

  • Reply
    November 17, 2018 at 8:05 am

    You look so beautiful Brenda in that dress. I have a couple dresses in that style and I love them. Love the fishnet tights and the Mary Janes too.

    • Reply
      November 27, 2018 at 10:20 am

      Thanks, Sandi!
      hugs, me

  • Reply
    November 17, 2018 at 8:37 am

    I love how the dress looks on you, and with the fishnet, (love the pumps), and glasses…it’s all quite perfect! You pull off the crinkle fabric but I feel like that would be the thing that would make me fidget in the dress. I’d keep trying to smooth it out. I want your style confidence 🙂

    • Reply
      November 27, 2018 at 10:23 am

      While you’re trying to smooth out the fabric, I’m just so thrilled it’s crinkled from the beginning. I want to give you a hug. Mom would be trying to straighten it out too. Crinkle fabric is something I search out. It’s so forgiving. No wrinkles to worry about and the texture it creates adds interest to the fabric, which matches how interesting we as women are as we get older. How’d you like that connection? Ha!

  • Reply
    Jan Fawke
    November 17, 2018 at 11:22 am

    Lovely! I particularly love the neckline/collar….I bought a very nice top in Zara with just that type of neckline…so flattering. Enjoy your holidays, Brenda

    • Reply
      November 27, 2018 at 10:24 am

      Thanks, Jan! I hope they’ll use that neckline/collar again on something else. It is SO flattering!

  • Reply
    November 17, 2018 at 1:39 pm

    I love this, Brenda! It looks a lot like my dress from Joseph Ribkoff that I wear everywhere, with heels, booties, tights, leggings… and it rolls up for travel, dries overnight! So I know what a perfect dress feels like. Enjoy in joy!

    • Reply
      November 27, 2018 at 10:25 am

      I’ll think about you when I wear it! It’s fun to share those same feelings about a most useful, comfortable, suitable dress!

  • Reply
    LT Holmes
    November 17, 2018 at 5:26 pm

    The crinkle would be a deal-killer for me, and on me the shape of this particular dress simply wouldn’t work. Nor would I wear the fishnets or the pumps…but…that’s not the point, as you amply make clear. Appreciating the reminder that what feels good IS good, for each of us. Thanks!

    • Reply
      November 27, 2018 at 10:18 am

      You nailed it, LT!! The most important thing is that everyone finds what works for them. Love, love, love your comment.

  • Reply
    La semaine d'une gourmette
    November 19, 2018 at 3:56 am

    I love that dress on you, Brenda! And you’ve got the loveliest legs, you should show them more often – that length is just perfect for you.

    • Reply
      November 27, 2018 at 10:16 am

      I listen when you speak! I’m going to try to show more legs. In dresses like this one, it’s easy!

  • Reply
    Sandra Sallin - Apart From My Art
    November 19, 2018 at 1:00 pm

    Love you in this dress. So fresh and festive. Just delightful. Lisa Bayne is a marvelous designer. She created a winner with this one. I do believe Artful Home does have us on their radar. Love your styling also. I can see you wearing this all through the holidays and beyond.

    • Reply
      November 27, 2018 at 10:16 am

      I agree with you about Artful Home and Lisa Baynes designs. I’ve got my clients wearing things from Artful now and they’re loving it too! Winner!

  • Reply
    Sandra Sallin - Apart From My Art
    November 19, 2018 at 1:02 pm

    Me again. I love the photographs. Boy, it’s nice to have a professional. Great shots. Also which lipstick are you wearing now?

    • Reply
      November 27, 2018 at 10:15 am

      My collection of reds and red-berry just keeps growing! I think this one is Pat McGrath Labs and the color is called Sedition 422.
      And yes, kudos to my Perham photographer, Kristen McMartin!

  • Reply
    November 19, 2018 at 1:39 pm

    o Phyllis for Y and R, one of my favorites!!!!!

    • Reply
      November 27, 2018 at 10:11 am

      Isn’t she something? Her outfits! To work! Glad I found another Phyllis fan.

  • Reply
    November 19, 2018 at 9:19 pm

    This dress was MADE for you! You look spectacular!

    • Reply
      November 27, 2018 at 10:10 am

      Thanks, Melissa!

  • Reply
    Outfit Formula: Casual Holiday Dress | Katsington
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    […] and Bob’s your uncle. Add bling, a clutch, lippie, and possibly fingernail polish. Brenda Kinsel wears this dress with grace and panache. I love her dressier additions of fishnet hosiery, matching specs, […]

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