19 In Shopping Tips

Shopping tips to help you find romance … or just plain shopping tips

Russ and Brenda on BrendaKinsel.com

I found my sweetheart the old fashioned way


My guy, Russ, is my everything. I’m so happy I met him fifteen years ago at the party of a mutual friend. I’m so happy that he didn’t hang up the first time he called me.

Here’s what happened.

I was writing in my studio which was in a separate building behind the house. The home line rang inside the main house and one of my daughters answered. The back door opened and I heard, “M-o-m, phone for you!” When I walked into the house my teenaged girls were fighting. Evidently someone had taken a piece of clothing without asking and very bad words were being said at very high decibels.

I walked toward the phone in the kitchen. It was Russ on the other end. I. Was. Mortified. A very deep voice replied to my hello with, “I think I just met your darling daughters.” He chuckled and I barely chuckled while giving the girls the evil eye. He asked me out for our first date.

Well, who couldn’t fall in love with that guy!

Erin and Caitlin at the Oscar de la Renta exhibit

Darling daughters nearly ruined my chance at romance


Can shopping tips help you find romance?

Before Russ there were other love interests. I remember breaking it off with one guy and my friend Toni saying, “Time to shop for a new boyfriend, Bren.”


For a boyfriend.

I knew how to shop, that’s for darn sure! It was my profession! I created a plan to shop for a boyfriend using my shopping tips and gave myself a week to accomplish it.

Monday’s Romance Shopping Tip: Focus on what you want

I tell my clients prior to a shopping trip to go through magazines and rip out pictures of things they love. Anything. It can be a $14,000 bracelet; it doesn’t matter. You just have to love it.

So I went through magazines at the time and saw actor Matthew Modine in an A/X Armani Exchange ad. He looked self-assured, honest, and steamy in a plaid jacket. He looked like someone I could go camping with and I hate camping. I wanted someone like him.

Go through magazines and pick out pictures of things you love on BrendaKinsel.com

Shopping Tip: Rip out pics of things you love.


Tuesday’s Romance Shopping Tip: Identify what works

“When you discover what works for you, you can repeat it and have clothes in your closet that you’re happy with forever,” I say to clients as we embark on a shopping trip.

I thought about a favorite suit I had. It was a beautiful silk-wool blend in a shade of teal. It was sharp and smart without any fluff. It stood on its own. I could use more individual pieces like that.

With men, I knew exactly what had worked in the past. Charles, a former chef, could make beans, rice, and a pinch of cilantro look like dinner at a fancy restaurant. Buzz always kept me laughing. Tom was a music aficionado and turned me on to singer/songwriters that I loved. So how about a guy who’s funny, loves music like I do, and makes great dinners? I want that guy.

Wednesday’s Romance Shopping Tip: Get out there and try new things

I tell my audiences, “Leave your credit cards at home and go to stores and try on new looks. Some things will work, some things won’t. Just be willing to see yourself in a new way.”

That day a fast talking newspaper man from Pittsburgh asked me out for dinner. He seemed different from guys I dated. He was alright, but I missed the slow, wading-through-mud-kind-of way my old boyfriend used to talk.

Thursday’s Romance Shopping Tip: Never shop when you’re hungry, tired, lonely or depressed

I’ve been in client closets when I saw evidence of clothes bought under duress. They’re the ones that still have the price tag on them and look like they belong to someone else.

That day I was standing in a long line at the coffee shop. I was hungry and decaffeinated. By the time it was my turn to order I’d given “Rudy” my phone number. My real phone number. I got my food, sat down and from the coffee shop window I watched “Rudy” drive away in a giant pick up truck with a gun rack in the back window and a bumper sticker that said, “Protected by Smith and Wesson.” He left rubber marks on the street from peeling out.

I tried to calm myself down. He won’t call, I told myself. He’s not interested in me.

He left a message two hours later. I paid my assistant extra to call and make excuses for me.

Friday’s Romance Shopping Tip: Don’t settle

There are a lot of white blouses out there. There’s one that kinda works, one that sorta fits, one that might do in a pinch. Then there’s the one that makes you so happy! That’s the blouse to hold out for. Don’t settle!

My former mother-in-law had it right. She was in a dance hall in Detroit during World War 11 when a group of men in uniform walked through the door. She had her eye on one of them. She poked her friend, Rita, and said, “You see that tall, handsome man with the square jaw over there?” Rita nodded yes. “I’m going to marry that man.” She said no to every soldier that asked her to dance that night and held out for the man named Charley, the one that made her insides go, “Yes, yes, yes.” They were happily married for forty years before Charley passed away.

Do shopping tips help in the romance department?

Well, you’d have to say no based on my effort that week. But when I think about it, although I wasn’t looking for anyone at the time I met Russ, my shopping tips did apply to him. He fit the things I knew worked for me: he’s funny, a music aficionado with the bad hearing to prove he was at all those epic concerts in San Francisco, and although he’s not a chef, he does cook dinner for us at most nights.

He certainly fell into the category of “try new things” as he was so not my type. He was stable, down-to-earth, responsible, and not threatened by my passionate career. And he had a job.

Most importantly I never settled. He was that perfect “white blouse” that I adored and held out for. So there, maybe that shopping training did help!

Romance footnote

Mom and Dad are the King and Queen of Romance. They met at a train station in Hastings, North Dakota when Dad was in his Navy uniform and heading off into service. Mother was in her teens at the time. They never forgot each other and when Dad came home, they started dating. They married and were together for sixty-four years until Mother passed away in 2015.

I remember romance advice that Dad gave me once. He said, “Brenda, find someone you want to sit on the porch with, someone you can talk to every day.” That would be Russ. Maybe you want to follow Dad’s advice too if you’re looking for someone!


Celebrating romance on BrendaKinsel.com

The King and Queen of Romance, Mom and Dad


Daughter footnote

What happened to those fighting teenagers? They turned into lovely young adults. They still wear each other’s clothes but they negotiate. Now they own a store together, SAX Consignment in San Anselmo. Erin told me the other day, “You know what Mom? Since buying the store together we haven’t had a single fight!” Who’d of thunk?

What shopping tips do you think would work (or have worked!) in the romance department? Let’s open the floor for advice giving!


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  • Reply
    March 2, 2017 at 6:54 am

    This is so fun, Brenda! Reading this reminds me of the days when I was husband shopping. After a failed marriage and raising three beautiful daughters on my own, the time came to start thinking about sharing my life with someone again. Ha, I particularly liked a local exercise park with great biking, walking and running paths. All you single girls out there, this is a great place to comparison shop. Spending time with someone without ever getting in their car for a date eliminates lots of ill-fitting life traits (just like fitting rooms at the mall). My eventual sweetie and I ran together several times a week for eight months before ever going on a date….a year later, we married. Thanks for bringing up old, wonderful, memories. We were in our early forties when we met and celebrated our 32nd anniversary last year,

    The picture of your parents resonates love, joy and happiness. What a wonderful legacy.

    Your faithful fan,

    • Reply
      March 3, 2017 at 8:55 am

      What a wonderful story you share here Pat. I love it! We had similar situations. I was divorced with three kids too. It took me thirteen years to find Russ. Congrats to you and your husband.
      Yours faithfully,

  • Reply
    Penelope Chandra- Shekar
    March 2, 2017 at 10:08 am

    What a fun and charming article! I tend to the artistic boho type of clothing myself And looked for the same kind of guy for years. Trouble is they tended to be broke, depressed , addicted or all three. Fortunately in my late 50’s I figured it out, set my intentions and found my Beloved online. He is the right mix of exotic and stable. Not to mention handsome, adventurous, brilliant and sophisticated .On one of our first dates, he timidly inquired if I didn’t have ” a proper suit”. I gently informed him that I dress to express myself and that didn’t include suit dressing. Now he understands and embraces my boho style and independent spirit. Happy Valentine’s Day!

    • Reply
      March 3, 2017 at 8:56 am

      Love this story! I’m chuckling because I can relate to the types of guys you were dating. I think I dated some of them too! A great, great story. Thanks for sharing!

  • Reply
    Katherine Cramer
    March 2, 2017 at 11:22 am

    As with so many of your tips, I see parallels in other Helping professions. Doing reconnaissance to try things on– works for so many Seekers. It’s also said that you may find something precious when you are not specifically looking for that jewel. One dating tip I remember is to ‘have your green light on’. That means that you smile at people and are open to engagement for all people you encounter. Due to the dangers of attracting a “Rudy”, we all tend to navigate with our red light on that protects and filters. Trying on fashions that you don’t know will delight, until you actually try them–can yield new found territory. Does this work for dating? I’m not sure. I do know that listening attentively and asking questions is a proven guideline for a first date. A similar effort for shopping, helps to be Mindful of purchases that will live for a long time in your closet. Brenda, your stories warm my heart and remind me of my closet full of Dear Ones–*people* of course. Thanks for venturing out of the closet.

    • Reply
      March 3, 2017 at 9:00 am

      You bring up many great points for dating as well as for shopping for clothes. I’m inspired to go shopping as soon as possible and try on those items that may be jewels but I overlooked them. I’ll have my green light on! Yesterday I went into a shop to see if they’d have dresses for a client of mine whose daughter is getting married. All the colors were navy, gray, or black. Nothing really appealed to me. This morning in my morning pages I wrote at the top, Red, Orange, Green, Turquoise, Blue, Yellow. I’m ready to find jewels in new colors. I’m going jewel shopping! Thanks, Katherine!

  • Reply
    March 2, 2017 at 3:13 pm

    Great article. I have forwarded it to my daughter who is both (currently) single and a costumier. Men (or women, either in her case) and clothing – what’s not to like when combining them?

    • Reply
      March 3, 2017 at 9:01 am

      Oh so true! Love it!

  • Reply
    March 2, 2017 at 4:23 pm

    Hi Brenda,
    Thank you for another great post!

    • Reply
      March 3, 2017 at 9:01 am

      You’re so welcome, Jayne!

  • Reply
    March 2, 2017 at 6:26 pm

    I’ve been reading your work for a while, and this is definitely one of my favorite posts of yours ever. Thursday’s tip alone is worth its weight in gold!

    • Reply
      March 3, 2017 at 9:02 am

      I am so delighted!! Thanks, JoDi. I guess maybe Thursday’s tip could work for every day of the week! Cheers!

  • Reply
    April 23, 2017 at 9:20 am

    You are such a good storyteller. Trust me. I know. 😉

  • Reply
    July 22, 2018 at 3:44 pm

    Wow! Just started following you on Pinterest. Love love this story and it does make sense. Look forward to more stories and tips. Take care

    • Reply
      August 1, 2018 at 11:15 am

      Thanks so much, Shelley.

  • Reply
    September 29, 2018 at 6:02 am

    I’m new to reading this blog only having just discovered it and i also realised that i bought a book of yours many years ago on overseas trip to Montreal – small world.
    But what a beautiful love story. Your parents shared a wonderful long-lasting love sigh! And so great to read of your own romantic love.
    Lol I am still style challenged- vertically, horizontally and visually (no fault of anyone but me).

    • Reply
      October 3, 2018 at 7:31 am

      I’m so glad you’re here, Maria, welcome! And funny that you had a book of mine. Now we’re meeting in virtual-person. Yay!

  • Reply
    Sue Land
    September 20, 2019 at 5:30 am

    Do you know how when you are not looking for anything in particular you find the perfect dress? That’s how I met my wonderful husband of 45 years! I’ve been smiling ever since!

    • Reply
      September 20, 2019 at 12:22 pm

      Oh Sue, what a wonderful story! Love it!

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