32 In Style/ Women Now

The MMB Retreat in Sonoma brings in stylish professionals

Brenda and Suzuanne

Appreciating all I learned in Suzanne Dekyvere’s Style Mastery Class: Breaking the Rules


The wait is over! After months of planning the Nearly Annual MMB Retreat, we had our official first day yesterday and it surpassed all expectations. Women attending this Sonoma retreat took time away from their jobs to come together and learn from each other. It’s all not for profit and most of the speakers come from within the Monthly Marketing Bundle program membership.


Everyone who is here this year is involved in the style and image business but we all do it differently and in different places: Cleveland, Boston, Minnesota, Central California, the Bay Area, Oregon, and Melbourne Australia. Some of us do more corporate work while others have more one-on-one clients like I do. Everyone has different strengths and skills and we’re here to share.


How do these fashion, style, and image consultants happen to all be together?

You might be interested to know how this all started. Marion Gellatly, one of the speakers in our opening session on Careers in Motion, put an idea in my head about ten years ago at an AICI (Association of Image Consultants International) Conference. She came up to me after a session and said, “Brenda, this is what we need from you. Image consultants need your writing because most of us don’t want to write. You write professional articles for us that we can use in our business and we’ll pay you for it.”

I had no clue what she was talking about. None. My face was blank. She walked away and I forgot all about it.

Two or three months later an idea came to me. Why don’t I stop writing fashion articles for the Pacific Sun Newspaper and write for professionals instead? (Visualize the palm of my hand hitting my forehead.) Oh! That’s what Marion was talking about!

And that’s how in January of 2009, the Monthly Marketing Bundle program was launched.


Meet Marion, the woman who started it all

Marion was one of the five speakers in our Careers in Motion panel on opening day. Her career has had several chapters and now she’s focusing on online membership programs. She loves education and she’s going to continue to educate by reaching and teaching people online. She outlined how she did it and encouraged us all to take our passion and invest in the time and money to give our dreams a go. “Surround yourself with people who know how to do the parts you don’t know how to do. Don’t wait until you’ve figured out all the technology. Let someone else do that part.”


Marion Gellatly

Marion, one of our five professionals, talks about her Career in Motion


On a style note, I love Marion’s glasses. I would recommend frames like this for anyone who does presentations. Isn’t it great how they bring attention to her eyes?


Careers in Motion MMB

Ideas were captured on Post-Its (cute ones) from our morning session

Style Study

Sprinkled throughout our first day was an exercise I call Style Study. Who better to hear from than other image and style professionals about what they’re wearing and why? You learn a lot about people when they discuss their clothes and accessories. I was so excited about this feature of our MMB Retreat and wasn’t sure if the group would be as forthcoming but they were.

Some mentioned the way they repurposed a garment and turned it into something else. There were some camouflage tips shared. We heard about the style words they use to guide them into outfits that really resonate with them. And we learned about some of the sentimental pieces they wear and why. It was fascinating, spirited, and tender.

Here’s Carolyn Woodworth. Can you see how vibrant she is? She’s having fun with stripes and creative asymmetry. She brings in a fun pop of red with her handbag and her fingernail polish.


Black and white stripes and a pop of red

Carolyn shares what she’s wearing and why in Style Study


Here’s Marjory DeRoeck. She’s a creative dresser. She loves the necklace she’s wearing partly because of its movement. It’s not static. She’s turned to shades of gray recently as a neutral base. She’s sharing a comfortable shoe brand with us: Eileen Fisher. A former dancer and dance teacher, she’s not wearing heels anymore and is finding stylish flats to be happy in.


Style Study at MMB Retreat

Marjory gives us her shoe tip in Style Study


Elena Daciuk is the queen of vintage. I think she said that half of her wardrobe is vintage. She has a lot of vintage jackets in her wardrobe and this is an example. Her vintage T-shirt has sparkles and she’s wearing a vintage bracelet. The necklace is a designer who created some jewelry for actress Elizabeth Taylor. Her black frayed jeans add to the 50s flare she has going on. Her shoes, purchased at Saks Fifth Avenue, will be mine too if they’re still available. She praised them for their comfort and I’m praising them for their style.


Elena and Style Study

Elena shares her outfit details and it’s all about vintage!


Next up is Suzanne Dekyvere from Australia and Ginger Burr from Boston. They’re wearing similar outfits. Don’t believe me? Let me break it down!

They are both wearing dresses as tunics. Suzanne’s fox patterned dress is very whimsical; Ginger’s navy dress is sleek and elegant. Both of them are wearing patterned leggings. Suzanne’s is a bold animal print and Ginger’s is a subtle shimmery print in navy.

Suzanne made the tartan sash that she wears at the waist and Ginger’s dress had its own built-in adornment at the waist, a sleek narrow shiny gold metal buckle. They both wear heels comfortably. Suzanne’s heels are a wonderful orchid color and Ginger’s are a pretty navy patent.


Style Study at MMB Retreat

Suzanne and Ginger turned their dresses into tunics


Next up is Bernie Burson. She has been on an exercise and healthy eating program and has lost 45 pounds. She shared about how she’s having to relearn how to dress her body. She said, “In my head, I still want to buy big clothes.” This is the first time she’s worn leggings and they’re a size small. Her top and leggings are from J.Jill. Her lightweight necklace and shiny bracelet came from a shop in Eugene, Oregon where she lives.

She told us that although the leggings feel out of her comfort zone they fit the “why” of her outfit. That evening she did a comedy routine for us! She mentioned earlier how this outfit made her feel like a court jester. She had us in stitches when she talked about wanting a panty line, one that would remind her of where her butt starts. We were roaring as she nailed the things we’re all thinking about in this chapter of our lives but not saying out loud.


Bernie Burson and Style Study

Bernie’s style had a hint of jester which fit with her comedy routine


She performed her routine after we had dinner and dessert in the Sonoma Square at the Swiss Hotel in our own private room.


Swiss Hotel in Sonoma

Enjoying dinner together at the Swiss Hotel


All that was left to do was go back to the Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa, get a good night’s sleep and get ready for another inspiring day together!


Ladies in prints

Buddies Elena, Carrie, and Danean are figuring out which photos to post on Facebook


To be continued: Suzanne’s Style Master Class on Breaking Rules


Mixing patterns

Suzanne taught us how to mix patterns and so much more


You got a taste of the morning session with Careers in Motion. Suzanne’s afternoon session was about breaking rules and mixing patterns. She had some very thought-provoking ideas for women of a certain age. I’ll be sure to share my notes with you. My head was nodding up and down the whole afternoon. I know you’ll be interested!

You probably have groups of people that you like to hang out within your field. I know my nursing friend Joan loves being with her nursing buddies. Who do you hang with who gets you and provides great ideas? Do share!


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  • Reply
    February 7, 2018 at 6:25 pm

    What a special group of women! I can just imagine the energy at the venue.

    • Reply
      February 11, 2018 at 8:05 pm

      We were getting comments wherever we went, including the bathroom! “You ladies all look so great!” That’s something we often heard. I think Sonoma just got kind of drab since they’ve left!

  • Reply
    Trinnie q
    February 8, 2018 at 12:22 am

    Ohh Brenda and friends/ colleagues, how precious and wonderful!! Thanks so much for the glimpses into your Retreat! You all look delicious and wonderful! Being a nurse of many years, I love work shops and learning opportunities, but especially less formal meetings with my fellow nurses! Needless to say , it is usually quite riotous! Lots of ‘ remember when stories from the good/ bad old days! Lots of black humour !!! Just laughing thinking about it ! Sending love from Oz

    • Reply
      February 11, 2018 at 8:06 pm

      Oh yes, you nailed it! Some of us have known each other for nearly 30 years while others are brand new friends. It’s so fun to have colleagues to share with, tell stories, and laugh. Love to you and your nurses in Oz!

  • Reply
    February 8, 2018 at 3:35 am

    I am also a nurse with 40+ years of experience. I meet my friends weekly for some sort of adventure and they inspire me and always make me laugh! Shared profession, shared memories and a genuine love for one another makes me feel better no matter how the week has gone. You all look like you are having great fun while being totally stylish! Such fun and what a joyous blessing! Enjoy and thank you for sharing.

    • Reply
      February 11, 2018 at 8:04 pm

      Kathy, that’s exactly the same sort of deep connection we have. We are so spread apart-cities, countries, and states that it’s especially special when we can see each other in person. #weareblessed

  • Reply
    Robin LaMonte
    February 8, 2018 at 4:03 am

    What a wonderful way to connect with other stylemakers!!
    I enjoyed seeing the women with different styles and Sonoma is one of my favorite places.
    You look great brenda and I am sure it was a very successful retreat!


    • Reply
      February 11, 2018 at 8:03 pm

      Thanks, Robin. Sonoma seems awfully quiet since they’ve all gone back to their homes in other states and countries. It was wonderful! I think we’ll do it again next year at this time.

  • Reply
    Sandi Mcdougall
    February 8, 2018 at 5:28 am

    Wow does that look like fun & an amazing learning experience. You all look amazing. I am especially loving the navy dress with the navy leggings. And I am so jealous, Brenda, that you get to spend time with these creative women. 🙂

    • Reply
      February 11, 2018 at 7:04 pm

      You know, you’d LOVE THIS GROUP!! I am busy planning an event in my head where these lovely ladies caravan from city to city spreading their knowledge. Of course, I haven’t told them yet!

  • Reply
    Stephanie Davidson
    February 8, 2018 at 6:03 am

    Can you give more information about those black shoes from Saks. I just might need a pair too!

  • Reply
    February 8, 2018 at 6:49 am

    Ooh! Love this! I started wearing dresses over leggings 3 years ago, encouraged by a saleslady in Iceland… I’m glad I listened because that dress became a staple in my wardrobe and I have since added 3 more. I always set aside a few hours for clothes shopping in Europe and not at the “brands”. One of my favourites was in Vilnius, the designer with 2 seamstresses in a strip mall, everything in linen… and not expensive!

    • Reply
      February 11, 2018 at 7:06 pm

      Wow! Who’s organizing the field trip to Vilnius!! What fun!

  • Reply
    Lisa White
    February 8, 2018 at 6:57 am

    What a wonderful post, Brenda! I really enjoyed reading it and only wished I could have had my ear to the door to hear all the little side conversations as well. What a meeting of incredible style talents gathered in one location. I met (cyber-meeting) Suzanne through you in a post highlighting another gathering similar to this one a year or so back….maybe longer. I searched her out on IG and have enjoyed her incredible style posts ever since….and her creative skills in making her own pieces and how she searches vintage and how she up-cycles….well you get the idea! I am a big fan! BYW…have you seen her fab new bag? Thank you so much, Brenda. I have gained so much insight from you into style…your books, your blog, your connections! Enjoy this fabulous gathering!

    • Reply
      February 11, 2018 at 7:07 pm

      Thanks, Lisa. You wouldn’t have had to have your ear at the door–we would have invited you in! Yes, it was glorious and I’m so happy to call Suzanne a dear friend. We decided we have lived other lives together. We have such fondness for each other. She’s as precious as you could ever imagine!

  • Reply
    Harmony Designed
    February 8, 2018 at 8:15 am

    Brenda – the day/retreat looks amazing with all of those wonderfully stylish women. Here’s a thought. Instead of only a retreat for you professionals, how about adding a day and inviting “regular” women to join for a variety of sessions and workshops???? Please!!!!!

    • Reply
      February 11, 2018 at 7:08 pm

      Harmony!!! Oh my gosh, I have to bring this to the group! What a fantastic idea. Well, I think we’ll be doing it again next February so let’s see what transpires. I’m rushing over to our private Facebook group to share your idea!

  • Reply
    February 8, 2018 at 9:53 am

    Every participant you featured in the Style Study looks fabulous and has something that I can take away or agree with heartily. Thank you so much for this peek into your retreat. Looking forward to more, more, more!

    • Reply
      February 11, 2018 at 7:56 pm

      Great, Jacqueline! I guess I better get busy writing!

  • Reply
    Elaine @ Following Augustine
    February 8, 2018 at 10:40 am

    I love the way you shared each woman’s outfit with us! Can’t wait for the next instalment!

    • Reply
      February 11, 2018 at 7:57 pm

      Okay! I hope I got enough great pictures. That will be tomorrow’s project!

  • Reply
    February 8, 2018 at 1:40 pm

    Love Marion’s glasses! I’m a life-long glasses wearer, but it’s only in the last few years I’ve come to realize they can be an asset not a fashion liability. It’s always great to see new ideas for glasses frames, especially those that brighten the eye area.
    Looks like you all have been having a lot of fun!

    • Reply
      Carol S
      February 9, 2018 at 3:02 pm

      Yes Marion’s glasses are gorgeous. I am a life-long glasses wearer and tried and rejected contact lenses. I make sure I have nice glasses (in my case – ‘barely there’ as I have light colouring) as they are part of me. Quick jump on soap box: I really deplore before and after pics of makeovers and viola! the glasses have disappeared. Nothing wrong with wearing glasses. Thanks for great post.

      • Reply
        February 11, 2018 at 8:00 pm

        Carol, I’ll join you on the soapbox on that one. It’s really true! Who are they kidding? When they do that they should know we’re on to them.

    • Reply
      February 11, 2018 at 7:58 pm

      We had a wonderful time! The ladies even helped me pick out my next glasses frames. I brought three of them to vote on and the red ones got the most vote. That’s going to be a stretch for me but I’m up to the challenge!

  • Reply
    Laurice Gilbert
    February 8, 2018 at 3:49 pm

    I love this post so much I want to squee (and I usually only do that for baby animals). Suzanne might very well be my new role model – leopard leggings with a print dress! My childhood dress rules are screaming at me – nooooooo – but my shut-up-I’m-not-a-kid-anymore self is dancing with joy. What a wonderful bunch of women, all doing exactly what you encourage us to do – being themselves in style.

    • Reply
      February 11, 2018 at 7:59 pm

      Laurice, that’s beautiful: being ourselves in style. Yes, and they all do it so well!

  • Reply
    Penny Geers
    February 10, 2018 at 5:14 am

    What an amazing group! I love to see a group of amazing women together learning, sharing and building each other up!

    • Reply
      February 11, 2018 at 8:00 pm

      Yes, Penny, that’s exactly it. This is such a supportive, caring group. We’re all so lucky!

  • Reply
    February 10, 2018 at 9:30 am

    WHO JUST BROKE HER ANKLE I MIGHT ADD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    I told her I am going to LOCK HER UP!
    PS. LOVED THIS!!!!!!!!LOVED!

    • Reply
      February 11, 2018 at 8:01 pm

      Glad you loved this, Elizabeth. Oh no, what was Sandra up to this time???

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