32 In Anatomy of an Outfit/ Getting Dressed

Putting together a wedding outfit in 5 minutes

What I wore to a wine country wedding.

We’d been hearing exquisite details for months about the upcoming wedding of our friends’ granddaughter. This left me with plenty of time to get an outfit.

We got our ‘save the date’ card in spring, the invitation in summer, and now it was autumn. I had pretty much decided what I’d wear, but I’d make the final decision on the day of the wedding, which started at 5 p.m.

Double necklaces needed for this jacket
Would I wear the Etro colorful jacket?

The outfit I’d planned on wearing was my Etro jacket purchased two years ago with a pair of black silk Prada trousers. At 3 p.m., I decided against it. I didn’t want to wear the Prada silk pants because they’re a little tight in the waist. I thought it would be great to wear my colorful silk Etro jacket, but suddenly it seemed too showy.

A dress was a wedding outfit option

I could wear different pants and jackets, but I’d shaved my legs recently, which gave me the option of wearing a dress. I looked in my dress section, the smallest section of my wardrobe.

I spied my navy crinkle dress, a real workhorse in my wardrobe. I’ve worn it to work often with the long jacket that I bought with it. But the coat has gotten lots of use in casual jean outfits.

wearing a long blue jacket over jeans on Brenda Kinsel website
How I wore the crinkle jacket four years ago

I felt a little funny about wearing pieces that have been worn so often already. It seemed like I ‘should be’ pulling out something from my special occasion section. (What special occasion section?) Would I get busted? There’s that Lutheran guilt again!

“Accessorize the dress, Brenda.”

Anyhoo, I snapped out of it when I realized I’d do this for a client and tell her she’s so savvy to wear the same pieces in such different ways. I’d encourage her to save her money and buy things that will give her better cost-per-wear. I also remembered what I’ve been doing my entire life, which is accessorizing!

How can I make this simple ensemble look like it’s a wedding outfit? I wanted to add pieces that would be light and bright, standing out from the navy.

Moonstone earrings make any occasion special.

Right away, I thought of my moonstone earrings. I never have paid as much for earrings as I paid for these. Wine was involved in the purchase, yet I’ve never regretted buying them. They make everything look special, and they make me feel special.

I felt better already. My beaded feather necklace came next because I love the way the colors in it relate to the earrings.

Wedding outfit accessories
Bangles running up the wrist added wedding flavor to my outfit.

But this wasn’t enough. My large silk pin had come out to play recently when I pretended it was a button on a jacket along with its feathery pin in taupe. I pulled it out again. What if I plop this right at my shoulder line? That way, it can play with the earrings and communicate with the feather pendant just a little bit away?

I pinned it to my shoulder, looked in the mirror, backed away, and called for Russ. “Does this look corny or weddingy to you?” I said.

“It looks nice,” he said. I trusted him. The clock was ticking, and I still needed to do my nails!

Limited options in the shoe and handbag departments

Then came the shoes. I eliminated my slip-ons and sneakers, a category that dominates my shoe space. My choices were a pair of kitten-heeled Mary Janes, which have gone to festive events that required a lot of sitting down, or my patent AGL flats with the velvet ribbons which I can wear for hours.

I didn’t trust the kitten heels. These AGL flats bought several years back, have stepped in and helped me with dress-up outfits when heels failed to be an option. They’re fancy and a bit whimsical. I look down at them, gracing my feet, and they always make me smile.

These fancy flats are great with my sort of fancy outfits.

The last detail was the handbag. My allergies have had their way with me, so I definitely needed a place for a couple of throat lozenges, my handkerchief, a lipstick, and my silenced phone.

I looked through all my small clutches and got worried. (Can you still believe this is taking me only 5 minutes? I worry fast and follow up with action even faster.)

wedding outfit bag
A small and thin crossbody bag is perfect.

Then I spied my funny-colored-blue crossbody bag. It’s not navy blue or teal blue; it’s a funny-colored blue. I held it against my dress, and it was just fine. I changed into my blue eye frames from Uber Optics.

I love how narrow it is. It only works for an occasion like this, though. It’s minimal.

Nails, lipstick and then the entrance

With my outfit put together, I calmed down and did my nails (OPI 164 Closing Night). Before walking out the door, I applied my Chanel Bright Raspberry ultra wear lip color. I didn’t want to be getting into that little bag for multiple lipstick applications, so I used the one that would stay all night.

a wedding lipstick that stays on

Enjoying the wedding in wine country

When we arrived at the wedding destination (5 minutes from home), I took Russ’ hand, and we walked down the trail to the grassy area, looking out into the rows and rows of grapes. We found seats, and I felt every bit wedding-outfit-ready in my repurposed, recycled clothes.

It was lovely. Perfect weather, darling couple, great toasts, excellent food catered by Ramekins, and great company over at our table, which was a collection of people old enough to be grandparents. Many of us were.

After the dinner and the toasts came the dancing. I was glad to be wearing my patent flats. Russ and I surprised ourselves, got out on the dance floor and stayed there for a good while. We kept thinking our knees would give out but they didn’t. There were no 9-1-1 calls.

Appreciating this wedding moment

I’ve been hearing stories of Lauren via her grandparents for years. Now that I’m a grandmother, those stories mean even more to me. They’ve had lots of time to cherish their grandchildren. I’m just a beginner.

One of my favorite parts of the wedding was when Lauren, the bride, had a dance with her granddad, Richard. I know these pictures are blurry, but you can’t miss the connection between them.

I had watched them intently. Their faces were gleaming bright. Lauren laid her head into Richard’s strong shoulder, and he held her even closer. You could feel the love.

Richard told me afterward that he didn’t know anything about Lauren’s decision to have a special dance alone with him. He was moved that she’d chosen his favorite song, Desperado.

The bride’s dance with her grandfather.

I was happy for them, and a little wistful myself. Our friends, Richard and Pat, started a lot earlier than I did in their grandparenting roles. I did the math: If Viv gets married when she’s 30, I’ll be 97. I will most likely not have this wedding day moment with my granddaughter, but I’m reminded to cherish her in all ways possible for as long as I’m given.

Congrats Lauren and Kevin!

Now tell me about you? Do you have a special occasion section in your closet where you’d go to find a wedding outfit? If you were going to a wedding next week, do you know what you’d wear? Have you been to a wedding recently? What stood out? Do share!


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  • Reply
    Trinnie Q
    October 8, 2019 at 10:55 pm

    Oh what a beautiful story that was Brenda. I laughed when you explained your worrying moments, of shoes, bags, jewellery etc… and how quickly you sorted through all the ‘ problems ‘ … I think the outfit you put together was lovely, just enough whimsy, sensible, but polished… I very rarely go to weddings , the last one was my brothers 12 years ago or so …But I could probably think of two outfits I could ensemble , one a black lace dress, that I could trizz up with sparkly shoes and handbag..adding a colourful silk scarf … the other a more outdoor style with tencel teal/ navy l silky trousers, a simple white linen tee , with a beautiful sandy coloured jacket with a frill down the open neckline…sounds weird, but is a lovely combo … The photos of Lauren and her grandad were beautiful….. Made me miss my gorgeous grandfather….long gone now … The stuff of life and love !!! Thanks as always Brenda. For your soulful story…… Sending love from Oz

    • Reply
      October 17, 2019 at 10:54 am

      Trinnie, your words are so lovely. I love how you captured the flavor of that outfit: whimsy, sensible, polished. Thanks for that! I’m glad it made you think about what you’d wear to a wedding. Both outfits sound great. That moment of Lauren dancing with her granddad was just priceless. It sure was a roadmap for how a grandparent can be there for a granddaughter or grandson, throughout their lives. You could tell that was a loving relationship that went way back. I hope to have that with Viv! Thanks, dear friend. Sending love from Sonoma

  • Reply
    October 9, 2019 at 3:57 am

    My daughters best friend got married last weekend. She has been a part of our lives since the girls were in kindergarten. I didn’t expect to have a virus for the wedding but I did. The outfit for the church was easy peasy….a new fall Loft dress I had snagged on sale at the end of season last year but never worn. The fabric and colors (mustard and brown with a touch of plum) are gorgeous. For the reception I tried on my intended outfit and 3 others only to discover they were no longer my friends. I finally selected an outfit I’ve worn for more holiday events in the last 10 years than I can remember. Black satin pants, black/silver metallic shell and matching long jacket. I added a black ribbon belt with a rhinestone clasp to the jacket. Chandelier ear rings and a black satin evening bag rounded it out. I was sweating for a few moments but I felt fabulous even with a respiratory infection with 3 days of antibiotics in going to the reception! The party was fun, the bride was beautiful and I felt attractive. My daughter was the my aid of honor and next September will be her day!!! I am so excited!!!!

    • Reply
      October 17, 2019 at 10:57 am

      Oh! I’m thinking of you at your daughter’s wedding next year. How special that will be! The colors in the dress you purchased last year sound perfect for this time of year. I bet anyone looking at you in either outfit couldn’t see your respiratory problems. Thanks for all the details. I love “seeing” these outfits in my mind! Hope you’re way better by now.

  • Reply
    October 9, 2019 at 4:15 am

    I love seeing your thought process as the outfit evolves! It inspires me to try for those little extra touches like taking a moment to do your nails.

    • Reply
      October 17, 2019 at 10:40 am

      Those nails were pretty bad so getting those done was not optional. Thanks for sharing, Tini!

  • Reply
    October 9, 2019 at 5:00 am

    Love this story and you look lovely. That crinkle dress and coat are just super. And I loved reading how you put it all together. We haven’t had a wedding to attend in a while, and when they come up, I’m usually panicked, but now I’ll just see what is in my closet and how I can pull off a festive look.

    The grandfather/granddaughter dance! What a nice touch. Sorry August was hard for you, but the wedding appears to have been uplifting, and you and Russ both look great!

    • Reply
      October 17, 2019 at 10:39 am

      Thanks so much, Laurel. That dance with the bride and her grandfather was a real high point. So sweet! I appreciate your thoughtfulness. Things are closer to “normal”. Patience and acceptance help! Thanks.

  • Reply
    October 9, 2019 at 5:11 am

    I think your smile makes your outfit. It’s delightful! I’ve got 2 dresses set for my nieces wedding in Nov. – both are navy and one (my favorite #1 choice) I bought 3 years ago from Boden because I LOVED it! 10 pounds more and it’s snug, but I LUCKILY found a facsimile dress for a super markdown that will be my backup…I have a nice supply of clutches and jewelry to choose from…it’s always the footwear that is the issue…I’m slowly donating long loved 3 inch heels for a more stable chunky, danceable shoe. Safety first! Thanks for showing your m.o. for getting out the door with style!!

    • Reply
      October 17, 2019 at 10:27 am

      You’re so welcome Tea. And I love your plan for the upcoming weddings in your family. How smart of you to find a facsimile of your favorite dress. BRILLIANT!!! Have fun on the dance floor in those chunky, danceable shoes.

  • Reply
    Nelda M Pattillo
    October 9, 2019 at 6:30 am

    What a beautiful outfit!! It is encouraging to know what can be done in a very short time period!!

    • Reply
      Dessie Irvin
      October 10, 2019 at 8:32 am

      Your outfit is lovely! And, I, too, enjoy wearing what I already have and feeling good in it. I adore dressing up for those fancy occassions that call for it. And I am quite dissappointed in what seems to be a trend toward “less dressed”. I attended a formal wedding held in a sanctuary last summer and the majority of women had on casual shoes, pants and tops. Not glittery tops! Just something you might wear to church. And this was in the South where tradition is big! I refuse to dress down, Brenda!

      • Reply
        October 17, 2019 at 10:17 am

        Dessie, hold your ground. I’m with you on this. A sanctuary is such a sacred space. In my opinion, we need to honor that with a well-thought-out outfit. I’m guessing you were inspiring. Keep it up!

    • Reply
      October 17, 2019 at 10:26 am

      Thanks, Nelda! It can be a little dangerous waiting that long to put an outfit together but this one worked out. Cheers!

  • Reply
    October 9, 2019 at 8:55 am

    Loved the Lutheran comment! You and Russ look amazing & I loved the outfit you put together.

    • Reply
      October 17, 2019 at 10:25 am

      Thanks, Sandi! Catholics aren’t the only ones raised with guilt! Hope you’re doing well. Miss you!

  • Reply
    Sandy B.
    October 9, 2019 at 11:10 am

    I may not have a big fashion budget, but I adore looking and listening for tips and tricks. Many of my friends don’t seem to care, like we shouldn’t mind what we wear at our age. My son is out of the house, and I feel like I’m just getting started! Keep up the chatter, Ladies. It is so encouraging to me. If I had to go to a wedding this fall, I have a beautiful knee length black and royal blue dress with purple trim. I bought it more than 25 years ago for a special occasion. It’s one of two things I own from that time, but It still fits!

    • Reply
      October 17, 2019 at 10:24 am

      I hope you get a chance to wear that dress in the near future, Sandy! And I’m with you: I love hearing the fashion chatter from trusting folks. I find it encouraging as well!

  • Reply
    October 9, 2019 at 12:13 pm

    You forgot to mention how well Russ goes with your outfit!!
    I have two navy n black dresses that I love, but are a bit dark for my coloring. You have inspired me to work on them a bit with different accessories to make it work!

    • Reply
      October 17, 2019 at 10:22 am

      Yes, you’re right, Russ goes well with my outfit! Good luck and fiddling with your navy and black dresses. You’ve got potential there!

  • Reply
    October 9, 2019 at 2:29 pm

    What a smashing outfit! I especially love the flower pin!

    • Reply
      October 17, 2019 at 10:21 am

      Thanks, Keira. I agree with you. I think the pin really made it and it was the thing I was a little doubtful about. Russ’ comment gave me the boost I needed. Once I was there, I felt totally fine about it.

  • Reply
    Nancy Molstad
    October 9, 2019 at 4:51 pm

    Your bright smile and genuinely happy demeanor was well-accessorized by your beautiful outfit!

    • Reply
      October 17, 2019 at 10:20 am

      Nancy, that makes me feel so good! Thank you! You really turned that upside down.

  • Reply
    October 9, 2019 at 8:50 pm

    I don’t have a special occasion section in my closet and mostly I don’t need it. I do have pieces that can be accessorized to glam them up a bit as you did. I can’t where heels and with a wide foot I have a hard time finding a dressy shoe that I can afford, is comfortable and has that little extra. I have admired those shoes every time you wear them. I did buy a comfortable black ballet flat that has a simple but slightly different cut that will have to do. I do like them. I like your Etro jacket but you looked lovely in what you chose to wear. We had an afternoon fundraiser to attend, dressy but not too. I wore a new animal print dress with a deep back over black jacquard slightly cropped pants I’ve had at least 4 years and my new shoes. I layered on some jewelry a statement bracelet and earrings. I got a lot of compliments and felt great.

    • Reply
      October 17, 2019 at 10:19 am

      Oh my gosh, I bet you got compliments all afternoon! That sounds incredible! About feet: I feel we just have to do the best we can. If we glam pieces up with other accessories, no one is going to be looking at our shoes anyway. Thanks for sharing!

  • Reply
    La semaine d'une gourmette
    October 10, 2019 at 8:35 am

    It’s a lovely outfit you put together, Brenda! I love love love the shoes.
    I have a beautiful wrap shantung dress with a flared skirt, bright red, that I bought in Venice from a shop which sells what the female inmates of the local prison make, and I wore it to one of the recent weddings I went to, with assorted bright red shoes :-). Not too many accessories IIRC, the dress is enough by itself!
    And for my eldest son’s wedding last year (a small affair, just family, it was lovely), I wore a purple silk Gianfranco Ferre bias dress with gold jewelry, a purple handcrafted leather bag with a bamboo handle bought in Puglia last year – and I can’t remember the shoes!

  • Reply
    October 14, 2019 at 2:00 pm

    You look smashing in that outfit. You are the master at accessorizing. I am constantly trying to channel you! We need to get together!!

    • Reply
      October 17, 2019 at 10:07 am

      We totally need to get together! Sonoma? Walnut Creek? SF? I’ve been wondering lately, “What’s Cindy wearing?” You know how much I love your style!

  • Reply
    November 6, 2019 at 2:01 pm

    Beautiful outfit, beautiful photos, beautiful writing – as always. I’ve been following your blog for about a year now and what finally inspires me to comment? “I had shaved my legs recently, so a dress was an option.” What a hoot! Glad to know I’m not alone in hiding hairy legs under pants! Thanks for the inspiration, humor and upper Midwestern, Lutheran sensibilities! (I’m a MN expat.)

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