26 In Anatomy of an Outfit/ Getting Dressed

Styling the same top for three different lifestyle activities

Renzo crepe top by Lisa Bayne

Can this top work three ways?


I’m a three-way girl. In my fashion book, there have to be three ways of styling one single item.

Three ways or three solutions is ingrained in me. When I was in high school worrying about this, that, or the other thing my dad would intervene. “Brenda, if you’re thinking there’s only one way to do something, you’re not thinking hard enough. There are at least three ways to solve this problem.”

He was right. I got so much relief from broadening my mind to come up with multiple solutions.

I took this lesson into how I work with clothes. Call me prudent, but I believe any new item should work three ways at a minimum in order to earn that little piece of real estate it’s going to take up in your closet.

Styling the Renzo top three ways

Case in point: My recent acquisition from Artful Home, a charcoal gray Renzo crepe top by Lisa Bayne. I chose it from an image in the Artful Home catalog. I was very attracted to the color. As you well know, shades of gray are great on me. This top has 3/4 sleeves and is hip-length. I’ve been looking for tops that aren’t too huggy around my tummy.


Fluid shape to the Renzo top

A non-huggy top wins in my fashion book


When it arrived in the mail, I said, “Okay, pretty crepe top, let’s see if you pass the three-way test!”

Wearing the Renzo crepe top with jeans

I had a date with my girlfriends to grab a bite to eat and solve world problems at Farm House Local in Larkspur. (I recommend the Huevos Rancheros.) I put the Renzo top on over a black tank that hung lower than the top. I wanted the tank for warmth. That layering piece blended into my dark indigo flared Kut from the Kloth jeans.


Charcoal gray Renzo top

Adding a scarf with gray tones to my charcoal gray Renzo top


I wore my trusty cowgirl boots. Since it’s been chilly, I looked through my scarves to help me keep my neck warm. I felt a strong need to wear this wool gray and black leopard print one. Isn’t it fun?

By having that luscious wad of fabric near my face, it actually made me look taller!                                                                                                                              That’s because the scarf extends the line of my outfit. I bet you didn’t know a scarf could make you taller, right? 


Renzo crepe top details

See the clever stitching detail and the pretty neckline? Not too high, not too low.


I enjoyed feeling snuggly with the scarf around my neck. When I pull it away you can see the great detailing in the top.

I accessorized by adding interesting bracelets to my wrist. One of them is a horn bracelet with two bands of tiny diamonds to anchor it. The other one is by Pat Flynn. It’s his iron cuff with diamonds from Artful Home.  The two bracelets are both elegant and organic. I love the color of them with the charcoal top. I added my arty ring to the mix. I loved every chance I had to gaze at these two bracelets while not being able to solve world problems over lunch.


Deep charcoal bracelets at the wrist

Adding deep charcoal bracelets to my wrist


Wearing the Renzo crepe top to work

Warning: Baby pictures ahead which means I need you to remember to come back to this post and finish reading it to the end. Although I too wanted to spend the day staring at Baby Owen, you need to see how I’m styling this top for a different lifestyle activity: working with my precious clients whose grown-up children (also my clients) become parents for the first time.

Meet two-week old Baby Owen.


Wearing the Renzo crepe top to work

I was warned but Baby Owen didn’t spit up on my Renzo top!


How’s a style and wardrobe consultant going to help Gramma get into some transition outfits for spring with Baby Owen in my arms? This is one of the perks of having a long career working with the same clients.


Meeting Baby Owen

Oh, joy! Meeting my third generation client for the first time!


Okay, baby gazing time is over. Now let me show you how I worked this charcoal top into a work outfit.

I like to have a polished look when working with my clients for home closet visits or when I’m out shopping with them.

So that morning I started putting my professional look together using the Renzo top. I started with my black Theory ankle pants. I wanted to see if I could layer the charcoal top over a high/low white blouse. I love the classic color combo of black, gray, and white.

I scored this blouse at my daughters’ consignment store, SAX Consignment. It’s by Brunello Cucinelli.

I added charcoal earrings and my crystal pendant with light colored stones (homemade). I added a thin charcoal bangle and my arty ring. I put on some tightly woven black fishnet knee-his and my black patent boots by The Office of Angela Scott.


Stylish work outfits

A two-part appointment with my client


When this day started, I actually wasn’t expecting to be shopping with my client. Erin and I were there in her home to style new outfits for this sliver of fashion transition time between winter and spring. Remember my 5 lightening and brightening tips? That’s what we were up to. But while we were in the closet working with her wardrobe it became apparent that she needed more than jean jackets to help her transition her wardrobe. We decided to run to the mall and check on a couple of jackets she could start wearing soon.


Wearing the Renzo top to work

Sending the right message with my professional stylish outfit


I love the detail of the keyhole closure in the back.


Closure details on the Renzo top

I love the way the white shirt hangs below the Renzo top


Wearing the Renzo crepe top for dress up

Okay, I’ve worn the Renzo crepe top to lunch with my gal pals, to work with my precious clients, but could I dress it up for a lovely date night with Russ and enjoy looking at his brown eyes over candlelight at a corner table in a nice restaurant? Well, let’s just see.

In dressing up the Renzo top I didn’t want a collar, too formal. I did need another layer (chilly, still). I looked in my closet for other gray things. Gray on gray is elegant. When I spotted this gray Echo shawl I knew I had a big piece of the outfit completed already.


Dressing up the Renzo top

Excited to go out with Russ on date night


The shawl extends the length of the top and flows into the wide-leg Rag & Bone pants I chose to wear. I added my Pat Flynn iron cuff with diamonds to keep the elegant theme going. So the diamonds in the cuff could have a playmate while Russ and I were cooing with each other, I added this simply elegant tassel necklace with sparkles. This outfit called for my pointy-toed patent AGL flats with big velvet bows.


Rag and Bone full pant

Wearing a full cut pant helps dress up this outfit


I love when perfect mating happens spontaneously in your closet. The texture and flat weave of my shawl is only perfect with the texture and flat weave of my top. The fact that they’re so close to the same is what gives this an elegant look.

I’m adding a different texture for added interest with the iron cuff and the sheen of my framed charcoal gray artistic handbag.

I really love the way this came together. How I feel in this outfit is exactly how I want to feel on date night.


Shades of gray worn together

Shades of gray in top, shawl, and accessories


Dad would be proud! I did indeed come up with three ways to wear this top. I think I get extra points for the fact that I managed to wear it for three different parts of my life.

What do you think about my prudent three-way styling rule? Do you have a different formula that works for you? Do share, my friends!


This post is sponsored by Artful Home. You can find the Renzo crepe top by Lisa Bayne in charcoal or Jasper in the winter collection right now. Thank you Artful Home and Lisa Bayne for gifting me this top and letting me use it to demonstrate my three-way fashion styling tip.

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  • Reply
    February 26, 2018 at 9:26 pm

    Don’t know if you noticed, but the manican in the background of the store shots for outfit #2 seems to have been inspired by you! 😉

    • Reply
      February 27, 2018 at 8:41 am

      Funny! Thanks for pointing that out!

  • Reply
    February 27, 2018 at 3:30 am

    Lately I’ve been tossing rules out. Probably why I own too many things that don’t get worn and now I’ve outgrown! I’ve been gazing at how to change things up looking at spring outfits. I have a hard time seeing possibilities and am hoping to get more creative with my clothing. At soon to be 62, I want to be more flexible and open! I do like the top and kudos fog being so creative! I especially like that baby! How much fun…smelling the scent of youth and newness at work! Everyone needs that!

    • Reply
      February 27, 2018 at 8:42 am

      Yes, Kathy, I may have to insist that every time I go to that client’s house she arranges to have the baby there! “Flexible and open” are two great things to be looking at in our 60s! And those qualities really change how we look at clothes.

  • Reply
    Ramona Puckett
    February 27, 2018 at 4:28 am

    Love this!

    • Reply
      February 27, 2018 at 8:43 am


  • Reply
    February 27, 2018 at 4:36 am

    Great post ! I’ve been thinking about my spring wardrobe. I recently lost weight so I’ll be needing a lot of new items. I will use the three way idea when looking for new pieces.

    • Reply
      February 27, 2018 at 8:43 am

      That’s an excellent tool to use while you’re shopping. Have fun!

  • Reply
    February 27, 2018 at 5:50 am

    Inspired! As always. Many thanks, Brenda.

    • Reply
      February 27, 2018 at 8:44 am

      Thanks, Lea!

  • Reply
    February 27, 2018 at 1:41 pm

    Thanks Brenda. I have a knitted top that I haven’t worn much and is a similar style. I am inspired to use your ideas to style it.

    • Reply
      February 27, 2018 at 2:39 pm

      Fabulous, Maryann! Good luck!

  • Reply
    Elaine @ Following Augustine
    February 27, 2018 at 2:09 pm

    That baby is adorable! Just look at those teeny, tiny feet. And your mannequin twin is quite hilarious. I wouldn’t have noticed that if Melissa hadn’t pointed it out. But now about fashion, I love your three-way styling rule. I’m going to look at the contents of my closet with that in mind and perhaps find some new ways to wear old favourites!

    • Reply
      February 27, 2018 at 2:39 pm

      Sounds like a great plan, Elaine!

  • Reply
    Cathy D.
    February 27, 2018 at 5:37 pm

    I love the picture of “Brenda at work”. Why was my job never that much fun?

    Brenda, this is a very useful post and it has made me realize that I don’t get enough flexibility from my clothes. Once I find a way to mix pieces that I like, I always wear them that way until they wear out. This spring I am really going to try to find at least 2 ways to wear everything (not 3, since I don’t want to become discouraged). If I’m successful, I’ll try for 3 ways later.

    Not that you ever seem to need suggestions, but if you would consider a similar post (1 item worn 3 ways) sometime soon, it would be helpful.

    Thanks for putting so much effort into this blog. It is greatly appreciated.

    • Reply
      February 28, 2018 at 5:51 pm

      Thanks, Cathy. And I really appreciate your “ask” for another piece on this subject. As soon as you said that I thought, Wow, what a great idea! So my brain is collecting ideas. Happy to serve!! And so happy to have you as a reader!

  • Reply
    Tangerine Meg
    February 27, 2018 at 7:10 pm

    What a practical rule – and very permaculture! I so enjoy your writing and your all-seasons grooviness! M x o

    • Reply
      February 28, 2018 at 5:50 pm

      Nice to be considered groovy! You put a big smile on my face!! XX

  • Reply
    Lisa Goetz
    February 28, 2018 at 6:44 am

    Wondering if you could share where to purchase the Theory ankle pant? Thank you

    • Reply
      February 28, 2018 at 5:38 pm

      I got this one at Nordstrom but lots of stores would carry it too: Bloomingdale’s, Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue. All the major stores for sure.

  • Reply
    February 28, 2018 at 1:06 pm

    You are so clever ! I love how you styled this!! I love all the accessories . You are the master of accessories!!

    • Reply
      February 28, 2018 at 5:48 pm

      Thanks, Cindy! I was wishing I could channel you as I helped Erin with her apartment this last week. She asked for my help and it was fun to spend her money. Hugs to you!

  • Reply
    La Contessa
    February 28, 2018 at 5:31 pm

    Yes!I read it thanks to Instagram reminding me!

    • Reply
      February 28, 2018 at 5:39 pm

      Instagram is great that way!

  • Reply
    March 10, 2018 at 6:10 am

    Brerda, what I love about your fashion blog and pictures……..you are always smiling and looking like life is such a pleasure. Most fashion pics are far too serious in my opinion. The best accesory is a smile! Thanks for always looking so wonderful!

    • Reply
      March 15, 2018 at 7:52 pm

      That’s very kind, Marie. Yes, that serious pics won’t be mine. I’m usually getting someone to snap pics in five minutes but that’s life and I’m just glad it all comes across the way it does. Life is a pleasure. Sure, I get into funks from time to time but mostly I appreciate each day.

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