14 In Getting Dressed/ Series

The Making of a Beauty Bundle to Go with My New Duster

Wearing pretty Nature colors on BrendaKinsel.com

Wearing my sage duster and blending into Nature


When I created this outfit several days ago using the duster I’d purchased nine months earlier, I thought I had met my fashion challenge when I figured out the right pieces to wear with the duster.

The biggest “wow” about this outfit so far was the fact that I’d broken my Cardinal Shopping Rule of not making a purchase unless I could answer yes to the question Can I wear it tomorrow? That answer the day I bought it would have been truthfully, no. I had no idea how to wear it!

I didn’t know it would take months, but it did.

I was busy patting myself on the back when I realized the outfit wasn’t ready yet. I needed shoes, a bag, and accessories.

The shoes and bag were pretty easy. I’d wear variations on taupe to keep it looking soft and natural. I wanted really clean lines that wouldn’t take attention away from the duster.


Missy, a Beauty Bundle would be great right about now!

The jewelry was all that was left. The hard part was done.

(Those lessons learned can be read in the Part One version of the Anatomy of this Outfit.)

I had the mood of the outfit: dreamy, floaty, serene, and graceful.

I figured I’d just slip on a necklace and it would be complete.

I tried one thing and then another and then another and another. It took me a bit of time (thankfully, not nine months) to figure it out but in the end I’d created a new Beauty Bundle. Woo hoo!


Beauty Bundle creation on BrendaKinsel.com

Creating a glamorous, organic Beauty Bundle


What I tell my clients about styling

Before I give you a slide show of how I came to the decisions I did, let me tell you this first: You may love one of the combos I rejected. And that’s cool.

When I’m working with clients, styling outfits in their closets, coming up with “just right” combos, I nearly always say, “This is how I see it today. I may work it a completely different way three months from now.” Because it happens. With the evolution of time and style, another idea may top my last best idea.

My task in the moment is to find what pleases TODAY.

Here’s what I tried before I got the look I love.


First try: Beaded necklaces from my friends, the Sol Sisters

I love these necklaces and wear them a lot. Perhaps one day I’ll choose one of these one-of-a-kind beaded necklaces for this outfit but they felt too attention getting against the sheer fabrics and floaty duster. For this outfit’s premiere, I wanted all of the attention on the beauty and grace of the duster.

To see how I’ve worn these necklaces before read this and this.


Trying necklaces to wear with a duster on BrendaKinsel.com

Sol Sister necklaces could work with the duster



Second try: Mixing chains

I liked the different shades of gray in the chains on the left, below. When I added the one with multiple colored beads and gold fringe (on the right) it didn’t seem smart enough. Both chain combos seemed boring and weren’t adding anything to the outfit.

Chain necklaces seem too boring with the duster on BrendaKinsel.com

Trying to wear chains with the duster but it doesn’t work

Third try: Adding a pendant

Maybe the outfit needs a pendant, I thought. The lava pendant on the left, below, had an organic feel to it but it seemed too high. I added the chains to see if they’d add balance but I wasn’t satisfied.

Then I introduced the cross. This was a big step as I’d never felt comfortable wearing a cross but I loved it.

Since confessing my wanna be Catholic fantasies in a post last month, I was looking at my rustic cross and thinking maybe I could wear it after all these decades.

It wasn’t a store bought piece. It was something I acquired from a different chapter in my life when my ex-husband-antique-dealer came across it.

It seems like folk art to me: imperfect, uneven edges, handcrafted. It captivates me.

I tried it out (on the right, below). Again, I didn’t like it alone so I added the chains.

I didn’t like the distance between the cross and the chains. It was disjointed and unsettling. I had to try something else!

(Side note: Do visit the Museum of International Folk Art in Santa Fe if you ever get a chance.)



Considering pendants with my duster on BrendaKinsel.com

Trying out pendants with the duster



Fourth try: The winner!

I decided that having necklaces end where the shawl collar ended was the goal. Why not gather all of the attention to the grace of the shawl collar?

The cross was too heavy to put on a single long chain so I checked to see if it would go over the mixed bead/mixed metal chain and it did! I knew I was close (below left)!

I went back and added the chains I’d been working with. When I looked at all three pieces together it seemed oh so right. The chains added texture and supported the cross which was now perfectly placed.

Finding the right necklaces for my duster on BrendaKinsel.com

Introducing a cross to the duster outfit


Cross necklace is the right mix for the duster on BrendaKinsel.com

Settling on the cross as the focal point

Fifth Step: Adding earrings and ring

This was the easiest part of all and took five seconds. I went for my rutilated quartz and diamond earrings. I added this fabulous ring that’s in the shape of a leaf. The ring and earrings felt so organic together: glamorous organic. They blended into the colors and the feel of the whole outfit.

Finishing touches to the duster outfit on BrendaKinsel.com

Adding in the ring and earrings to make the Beauty Bundle

A winning Beauty Bundle

In the end, I didn’t just have a necklace combination: I had a whole new Beauty Bundle that is quietly, elegantly gracious. Now that the Beauty Bundle has been created I can put it together in sixty seconds next time and make another outfit look grand. I can’t wait to try it with something else and show you!

Whew! This outfit was a workout. Now I’m ready to open some bubbly and celebrate. Anyone care to join me?

Me and trees and a great Beauty Bundle on BrendaKinsel.com

Loving my new outfit with my new Beauty Bundle


Share your styling thoughts. I’d love to know what you think!


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  • Reply
    November 17, 2016 at 6:21 am

    I just love this look! Thank you for analyzing the thoughts that went into it. That has helped me a great deal to put some of my own pieces together.
    I will be in Santa Fe at the end of February and will be sure to visit the museum. If there are any boutiques there that you can recommend, please do so.
    Enjoy the day!

    • Reply
      November 17, 2016 at 8:59 am

      Oh my goodness, so excited about you going to Santa Fe. I’m out of touch about the boutiques. I remember one that existed down an alley off the square but I don’t even know if it’s there anymore. I will tell you where I go every day in Santa Fe to do my morning writing: Downtown Subscription. It’s not on the square but worth finding. What’s so cool about it is that it’s got three full walls of magazines on every subject, from different countries. It’s just so cool if you’re a magazine reader. The place is always full of regulars. It’s been a few years. I am hoping it’s still like that.

      And happy too that by explaining the process it helps you use your pieces. Yay!!! Enjoy your day too, Ann. Thanks for sharing.

      • Reply
        November 17, 2016 at 3:32 pm

        Thank you! The cafe sounds interesting. I’ll let you know if it’s still there.

  • Reply
    November 17, 2016 at 6:45 am

    I just love how your outfit came together. Just gorgeous.

    • Reply
      November 17, 2016 at 8:50 am

      Thanks, Irene! It was a process but well worth the effort. I always learn new things. Thanks for sharing!!

  • Reply
    November 17, 2016 at 7:22 am

    Stunning mixture of sleek modern, texture, expert layering with monochromatic use of neutrals. Colored jewellery would have been a distraction in this ensemble. I LOVE it!
    I am working very hard to incorporate more color into my wardrobe, thanks to you, Brenda, but there is nothing more chic and pleasing than a mixture of caramel, tan, cream, touch of leopard with cognac.

    Thank you so much for the anatomy of your beauty bundle. It helps!

    Happy Thanksgiving from a faithful fan,

    By the way, I’ve been. Catholic my whole life and love it! I think you would too.

    • Reply
      November 17, 2016 at 8:49 am

      Thanks, Pat. I too want to incorporate more color into my wardrobe but then I slip into these dreamy soft neutrals and I’m so happy. I guess one can have both experiences!!
      “Anatomy of a Beauty Bundle”–now that’s what I should have titled this piece!
      Thanks for the Catholic support as well.
      Happy Thanksgiving to you, Pat!
      Faithfully yours, Brenda

  • Reply
    Cathy D.
    November 17, 2016 at 7:52 pm

    The thing I love about your outfits is they all suit you so perfectly. This one is so well put together that it’s difficult to imagine how a single component could be changed, just like a work of art. I love it when you take the time to explain your outfit creation process. Thank you for sharing.

    • Reply
      November 20, 2016 at 7:51 pm

      Thanks so much, Cathy! I love explaining the “why” of an outfit so I’m very happy you enjoy it!

  • Reply
    November 18, 2016 at 3:27 am

    I echo others; the analysis of your process is so interesting. The duster is gorgeous and you have accessorized it perfectly. Brenda, if you don’t mind my asking, how tall are you? This is a long coat for me at 5′ 2-ish.

    • Reply
      November 20, 2016 at 7:52 pm

      Linda, I am five feet five inches. This duster is on the long side. I even wondered if I should make it shorter but didn’t/haven’t. I’d adjust for your height and wear one too!

  • Reply
    November 23, 2016 at 8:58 am

    I love you style. What kind of shoe would you recommend to wear with skinny jeans when you can no longer wear heels?

    • Reply
      November 23, 2016 at 8:48 pm

      I wear ankle booties or cute flats or oxfords. Hope that helps!!

  • Reply
    Betty Sumners
    November 1, 2019 at 11:06 am

    Found U tdy & LOVE your advice ! So much more interesting than Nordstrom’s outfits or Date nite outfits. Info we can actually use to plan our wardrobe choices. I am a new fan & will read ever article U have, both past & current. Love the Beauty Bundle story on this pg. I”m an artist living in Napa, Ca. Not overly social except when family or friends visit, then I will take your advice very seriously. Thank You!
    I’ll sign up for your news letter asap. B Sumners

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