2 In Series/ Style

Real Life: Summer Couple Style

couple style

Couple style in Sonoma


There’s no better place to people watch than sitting outside at one of the copper top tables at Sunflower Caffe on a Sunday in Sonoma. Order an iced latte and nurse it to the last drop while watching tourists and locals come and go in both directions. It’s a perfect activity for an introvert. For you people watching hobbyists out there, this is a prime location, I promise.

That’s what I was doing when I saw this handsome couple stroll into Sunflower. Russ and I were weeding through the Sunday New York Times but my mind lingered on them.

Fifteen minutes went by and I needed more ice for my latte. I’d been silently, up in my head, roaming around trying to locate some courage. I would LOVE to talk to them and ask them about their style but that’s not what a shy person does!

You’d never believe I was Donnie and Alma’s daughter. My parents have master’s degrees in talking to strangers. They could teach a course at your community college.

I went in for ice and to see if, just in case, I might spot them again. There they were–the stylish couple–having lunch at one of the high tops. Before I could convince myself of all the reasons why I shouldn’t disturb them, I disturbed them. “I just have to tell you, you are the most stylish couple on the square today,” I said.

Did that sound lame?

That’s how I met Julian and Daphne from Berkeley. And now I’m prepared to tell you everything I learned about them. (They gave me permission!)


head to toe style

Style from head to toe


My first question for this couple–because I was dying to know, and you probably are, too–was: “Do you dress yourselves or does one dress the other?”

The strongest personal experience I have with couples looking great at the same time is my parents. As many of you know, my Mom loved clothes. When it came to getting dressed to go somewhere, she always dressed my dad. He was the best-dressed on every occasion but I knew the secret: he didn’t do it himself! In fact, when she passed this spring, that was a big worry for him: How would he dress himself without her? Putting an outfit together was a complete mystery to him.


No worries here

But I suspected this was not the case with this couple. There was a lot of confidence in their aura!

I was right. They are on their own. They appreciate similar style notes from fashion history but they do their own thing.

Daphne said, “I’ve never seen a man who can dress like he does. He’s very good with colors and how he puts his clothes together.”

It turns out, Julian, 55, rallied to get GQ magazine into his high school library at Berkeley High. When you find his picture in the yearbook, the caption reads, “Mr. GQ.”


So what’s up, Julian?

“I’m an old spirit,” he said. “I like clothes from the 30s and 40s like in the old movies. The materials are better, they were made well. Even when men were casually dressed, they looked great.”

At golf tournaments where they have best-dressed contests, he wins.

“I’m not afraid to be a trendsetter,” he said.


men's summer style

Mixing colors, having fun


I loved his whole head-to-toe look: The white Ralph Lauren polo sweatshirt with the orange logo, the minty-green pulled out collar of the knit shirt underneath, and the seersucker pants. So fresh and summery. You’ve just gotta love a man who wears seersucker pants in the summer!

His shoes were just…cool. It was easy to see he’d be that kid in class who always wore the best shoes. I asked him how many pairs of shoes he has in his closet. He said something about Imelda Marcos. I got the picture.


mixed prints

Mixing prints, making magic


So tell me about your style, Daphne

Daphne and I have something in common when it comes to fashion inspiration: Turner Classic Movies. She’s crazy about the old MGM movies with the big dance scenes and the lavish costumes. I adore the attention to detail.

“How do you go about putting an outfit together?” I asked Daphne who is 50.

“I start with comfort and then colors. I try to show off my attributes.” She took her right hand and slid it across her left shoulder and down her arm. You’ve gotta love a woman who loves her arms! Her dress was the perfect cut for highlighting them.

“We like to look nice when we go places,” she added.

I loved her feather earrings. The shade of green was heavenly. Her indigo print dress flowed easily over her cuffed blue jeans. Her patent and bowed thong sandals were so girly and pretty like her face. The cowrie shell ankle accessories tied into the tribal print in her dress. Her supple leather patchwork print shoulder bag made me smile. Here was a print mixologist, someone who made mixing prints look effortless. Her lipstick color picks up one of the shades in the squares of her bag. Nice detail!


What about the closet?

Daphne edits her wardrobe regularly. If she hasn’t worn something in a year, she recycles it. Not so with her vintage pieces, however. She hangs on to those.

Does Julian edit his closet? No, not so much. He’s a collector. He buys quality pieces and holds onto them.


Conscious Styling

There is not always conscious styling within a couple.

Julian and Daphne don’t know about the many complaints I’ve heard from women clients over the years. I help them look and feel great and they’ll often say, “Oh, my husband needs you so badly but he just doesn’t care!” Sometimes it’s the reverse, but not often. Or one of my clients will report back to me after attending a social event and tell me about how great the women looked but the men looked like they were dressed to play kickball in the alley. Things have gotten a little too casual, I think.

As Julian and Daphne ride off into the sunset, back across the Richmond Bridge to Berkeley, I’m left with the radiance of their style expression. And now you are, too!



A teaching story

Heading off into the sunset, thanks Julian and Daphne!





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  • Reply
    Nancy Madlin
    August 7, 2015 at 10:11 am

    What I really like about this couple is how they coordinate but, as you say, it’s so clear that they define and enjoy their own individual styles. I have experienced this, too, and found it really a positive part of couple-ship — like sharing both a hobby and aesthetic values. My ex was French, and we did share that. I think we also learned a lot from each other — of course, I learned so much about style from him, and I’m pretty sure he learned a bit about practicality from me. Thanks, Brenda, for sharing this — and thanks Julian and Daphne, too!

    • Reply
      August 7, 2015 at 1:10 pm

      Nancy, thanks for writing and sharing some of you, too! Something that was so sweet about Daphne and Julian that I didn’t mention in the post was how they responded to each other as I was asking them questions. While Julian was talking about Daphne, she was glowing. He looked at her, surprised a little, and said, “But I love you!” And when she was talking about him, it was like he hadn’t heard her say all those complimentary things at one time…maybe especially to a stranger. He was moved. They were adorable inside and out!

      We do learn from each other, for sure!! Have a great weekend. Maybe you’ll spot a couple like this one and tell me about it!

      We probably don’t

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