1 In Getting Dressed/ Series

Real Life Hot Fashion

fashion for women over 50


This weather! This week we’ve seen triple digits for several days in a row. Yes, triple. And before that I spent most of Labor Day weekend outdoors in the sun in the high 90s. Not complainin’, just sayin’.

But we’ve had days of this now and I figure I’ve tolerated this ferocious heat long enough. I may be what my family members call Grumpy with a capital G. Yes, it’s the cranky, blue, wilted version of myself that I try to hide from you.

At this point there’s not even a cute-outfit-fix to take my mind off of it–not in my closet, not this morning. I can usually fix any mood with the right outfit but when I got dressed on Wednesday I even chose minimal jewelry because the lightest weight link chain felt too hot to wear.

I had a dental appointment scheduled in the morning before heading to a client’s closet to pack her for a week-long trip to New York City. It wasn’t close to noon yet and the temperatures were already high. My walk from the parking lot to the dental office gave me more momentum to my internal I-hate-this-heat rant going on in my head. By the time I got to the doctor’s office, I was steaming.

I checked in with the receptionist. I was nice, you guys. No spillage of grumpiness came out, I’m pretty sure. I sat and waited for my turn with the dental hygienist. I checked my watch and then the door swung open and a lovely woman walked past me to grab a magazine from the waiting room.

She looked the exact opposite of how I felt. My frown turned upside down. The vision of her had the power to snap me out of my funk.



Dressed for heat

Dressed for heat



Suddenly I heard myself talking, out loud.

I said, “Wow, you look great!”

I think I startled her. Heck, I startled myself. No meditating could have changed my mood, no mantras either. But this lovely woman and the pleasure of her outfit changed everything for me. She didn’t look grumpy; she looked effervescent, pleasant, like hot days are no reason to frown.

“On the hottest day ever, you are really dressed for it! You look great!” I said.

“Gosh, I don’t get that many compliments at my age,” she said.

“Well I think you’ve done a great job of dressing for this heat wave. Any tips about how you happened to put this outfit together the way you did?”


The secret


She said, “I really didn’t think about it. I never do. I just threw it together. I find that whatever you have in the closet goes together when you have colors that you wear well. I just pull-and-go.”

I asked her about her necklace. Nothing special, she said, it was just in her stash.

I found out her name is Mary Ann. Because she’d mentioned not getting many compliments at “her age” I had to ask.

“Do you mind me asking your age?”

“I’m seventy-three,” she said.

Besides getting dressed in an outfit (which you don’t see people doing every day) she showed a fashion solution to heat that was so pleasant.


Here’s what I loved:

1. The light, soft colors she was wearing complimented her fair coloring. What you’re not seeing is her silver/white hair pulled back into a low short ponytail in back. Very chic.

2. I enjoyed her beige/tan patent shoes which I think is a great choice with fair skin, especially with the linen skirt she was wearing. A darker shoe would have been too clunky for the outfit.

3. Her necklace and her shoes added sheen to her outfit which made it feel light and lively.

4. Her print blouse was sheer (she wore a camisole underneath it) but in a dense pattern. It had movement while at the same time it was very lightweight. There was design interest in her outfit. She wasn’t head to toe in wrinkled linen.

5. Her linen skirt had a cute ruffle detail at the bottom which was flirty and fun. I think wearing one linen piece per outfit is often a great response to dressing for heat, especially for people who are allergic to wrinkles. I happen to be a fan of linen and the wrinkles that go along with that fabric. Still, I often pair a linen top with a non-linen pant.

6. The necklace had the largest scale of anything she was wearing. It made a great focal point, bringing attention to her face. It was pearls mixed with those white enamel daisy shaped pieces. The pearls added a classic elegance and the daisy detail on the necklace added charm.

7. The straw hat–well isn’t it perfect! The detail near the brim brings attention to her bright eyes. What’s not to love?


I told her that I write a fashion blog and would like to take pictures of her if that was okay. She let me do that and then asked if she could hug me. Well, of course!

We shared a hug and then it was my turn to go into the first office while she headed down to another office to see our dentist, Dr. Roni Dawn Douglass.

I thought maybe I should leave my card so she could find my website if she wanted to. I put my things down on a chair, found a card in my purse and left it on the counter.


And then this happened


Now I’m settled into the dentist’s chair and the hygienist lays the seat way back and I think about what a brave girl I am. I’m not fussing or anything. She begins. Scrape, scrape, polish, polish. And then there’s a flurry of conversation in the hall that I’m overhearing. “Brenda Kinsel?” someone is saying. And then I hear the receptionist say something about, yes, Brenda Kinsel is here and it was fashion week in the dentist’s office, that I’d been talking to another patient about her outfit and was going to write about her in my blog.

“Brenda Kinsel? I’m a big fan! I read everything she writes!” I hear from the hallway.

Turns out another patient was leaving the office, saw my card on the table, recognized my name and the earlier encounter was retold.

I met that patient too when she popped her head in the door. I turned around to greet her.

“You don’t know me but I know your writing. My name is Judy. I’m so glad you write for women like us, thank you!” she said.

I told her I was so glad she was reading it. We were all smiles. My goodness! This dentist’s visit had pushed my mood into a whole new territory, like Antarctica or something. I laid back down and soon my teeth were all sparkly, just like my new and improved mood.


high temps


All of this happened nearly 48 hours ago. I’m preparing myself for one more day of triple digits and then there’s supposed to be a break in this weather pattern we’re in.

I hope so; my family hopes so. I’m still thinking about Mary Ann and hoping to follow her lead and find some fashion inspiration to meet the heat today.

I think there’s a moral to this story but my keyboard is burning up and my brain is shutting down so I don’t have it at the moment. Will you please tell me what it is? I’ll steer you in the general direction. I think it has something to do with outfits, getting dressed, and changing the world one outfit at a time. Am I close?





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1 Comment

  • Reply
    September 11, 2015 at 6:19 am

    Good morning, Brenda,
    Your experience at the Dentist’s office reminds me so much of a lovely place in Bonsall. Ca it’s a special place where beautiful people with many different types of medical issues, show up, dressed in their best, always with a smile on their faces, ready to ride their favorite horse, the joy of their day.

    It’s a reminder to be grateful, live each day with joy in our hearts and put a smile on our face even when we don’t feel like it. Your lovely new friend has many issues but she’s not going to show them to the world.

    What a girl!!

    Thanks for sharing. I would love to meet you at the dentists office.

    A faithful fan,

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