30 In Anatomy of an Outfit/ Styling Tips/ Wardrobe Wellness

The summer outfit review reveals surprising hits

Camper sandals in black

Camper black sandals go to work


I’m getting ready to exhale into fall fashion, or at least into transition fashion, but before I do, I’m taking a look back at what worked about summer outfits. This is really fun to do. Want to join me?

The look back isn’t a critical one; it’s about being curious. It’s not finger wagging like, Why didn’t you wear that perfectly great cobalt blue pant?????!!!! It’s more like, Hmm, the skirt that was your favorite last year didn’t get any action this year. Interesting.

You don’t even have to figure out why things happened as they did. Just observe. If a “why” pops out naturally, fine. If not, that’s okay.

Sometimes there are surprises. Items may be in constant rotation this year that you never wore once last year. Or a purchase you made this year with some hesitancy ends up being the hit of the summer.

Both things happened to me.


Tan Camper with woven bag in SF

Loving these shades together


Reviewing summer hits

The beauty of posting outfits to Instagram is that I have a visual record of things I wore. Visual aids help as I may not remember what happened yesterday! The next best thing is to go into your closet and take note. What got touched a lot? What didn’t get touched at all?

When I did this two things popped out immediately. I ended up using two handbags the most: my black vintage raffia frame bag and my soft woven leather crossbody bag in creamsicle colors. The black bag got lots of use last year. The woven light-colored bag? I love it to pieces and didn’t use it once last year. This summer I wore it tons.

I do remember putting it away last fall and finding it fascinating that I never wore it. I do not adhere to the rule “If you haven’t worn it in a year (or six months) let it go.” If I continue to love the piece, I’ll give items a second or third year chance before considering passing them forward.


Black Camper sandals are comfy for travel

Traveling with my Camper sandals and raffia bag


The newest acquisition landed in my closet with no effort on my part

At the beginning of the summer I had to face the biggest challenge I have: shoes. Most sandals don’t have enough support for me. Flip flops are out of the question. They are pain inducing because of being so flat and close to the ground. Many summer brands that are famous for their comfort, no matter the price range, spell p-a-i-n to me. “Comfort” often translates into being too cushy. My feet cry out within six steps of trying them. I need support and firm bottoms. Platform sandals have worked well for me in the past, but the ones I owned were getting pretty tired looking. I wasn’t looking forward to trying to find replacements.

But alas and alack, Camper sandals in a neutral tan shade appeared in my bedroom one day. Yes, they were actually dropped in front of my closet by my eldest daughter who owns SAX Consignment store along with her sister.

Erin took them into the store from a consignee, a pair of barely used sandals in almost her size. She liked them and I’ll be she even considered them for herself. We used to wear the same size shoe but I’ve managed to inch up half a size. I’ve donated many of my 8-1/2s to her as more and more I’m in size 9.

I tried the Camper sandal on in front of her and she said, “They look great, Mom!” I said, “Really?” I wasn’t too sure about them.

She gave me a week to decide. They were comfortable. I didn’t need a whole week. No pain…my gain.


Tan Camper sandal goes to work

The bag and sandals pull this outfit together


They were so comfortable that I decided to order another pair of them from www.camper.com in black. They arrived and worked. No need to look for a replacement for my other black platforms. Yahoo! With this success I decided to go online again and order anything on the website that looked like it might suit me. Shoe boxes arrived in bigger boxes. With high expectations I tried them all on. None of them worked. I sent them all back. I’d hit the bullseye the first time and I was more than satisfied.

In blog posts and in Instagram, I was asked time and again, “Love your shoes, what brand are they?” Camper, Camper, Camper I’d answer repeatedly. In fact, an anonymous fan of the shoes left me a phone message one day. She said, “I just got off the phone with Helen in customer service at Camper. I ordered your shoes and told her that it was all because of you and she should look at your website.” I never heard from Helen but I saved the phone message. That was the sweetest thing ever!

But wait, I’m not even at the best part! The light-colored sandals were perfect with my never-used-last-year handbag. See how well the handbag talks to the sandals? They’re just chit chatting all day long!


Tan Camper sandals work all summer long

Looking down at the sandals that saved summer


As I recap my summer outfits, I see how the tan Camper sandal and my creamsicle colored soft handbag brought so many outfits together. My black Camper sandal with my framed raffia black bag did the same thing. Those two sets of bags and shoes brought an effortlessness to summer that was dreamy. I couldn’t have hoped for more. Well, I could have but I felt satisfied.


Black Camper sandals to work

Black Camper sandals and summer work outfits



Mick Jagger wraps it up in these song lyrics.

You can’t always get what you want, no

But if you try sometimes, you might find

You get what you need!


Thank you Erin, thank you Camper. Thank you raffia vintage bag for holding it together another year. Thank you creamsicle woven bag for being patient with me.

How about you? Did you get what you needed from summer fashion? Were there things you wore a lot and then items you didn’t wear at all? I’d love to hear. We all would!


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  • Reply
    jodie filogomo
    September 6, 2018 at 5:40 am

    I am just like you Brenda!! At least in the fact of how I love to look back and see how the season, month or even yet went in outfits. In fact, I copy all of our outfits into a file and review them at times. I think it’s helped realize how proportion makes a difference and how some pieces just look better on each of us!!
    Now if only I could learn to write so fascinatingly like you….

    • Reply
      September 12, 2018 at 8:04 pm

      Oh, we are alike! I love the idea of having that easy way to review your outfits. Of course, as you’re writing for three people it probably makes it even more interesting. Thanks, Jodie!

  • Reply
    September 6, 2018 at 7:21 am

    That’s a great idea! I’m going to go thru my summer hits and losses.
    Do you always coordinate handbags and shoes? Can you do a post on that?

    • Reply
      September 12, 2018 at 8:03 pm

      Actually I don’t always coordinate handbags and shoes. But this summer, it just seemed to be that way nearly every day! I’ll definitely start thinking about writing for that topic. Thanks for the suggestion!

  • Reply
    September 6, 2018 at 8:08 am

    I’m with you on not getting rid of things just because you haven’t worn them in a while, but I will go years keeping something I love. Sometimes I just start wearing things I haven’t felt like wearing and then I wear them over & over.

    Brenda, have you heard of the Project 333 challenge? You choose 33 items for 3 months. The premise is because you wear 20% of your clothes 80% of the time, you can drastically cut down. I just put most of my closet contents into a box and figure with the rotation, I can go a long time not getting tired of my clothes. Also, when I take the things out, it will be clearer to me what needs to find new homes.

    I have to tell you, it’s great having my tiny closet not filled to bursting and not having to think too much about what to wear!

    Have you tried Birkenstocks? They aren’t soft at all. At this point in my life, I will only wear foot-shaped shoes (those that are wider at the toes–our natural foot shape like a baby’s feet, before slow-motion foot-binding that deforms so the toes compress).
    Thanks for your posts

    • Reply
      September 12, 2018 at 8:01 pm

      Cara, I hadn’t heard of that particular challenge. That sounds fun to do. I actually share part of my one closet. I feel guilty if I don’t wear things in it so I’m pretty good about having a much higher percentage than 80/20 or rather 20/80. I hadn’t thought of limited space as an advantage but it does really make you wear what you own. I haven’t tried Birkenstocks. I’ll give them a look. I used to wear them in my 20s!

  • Reply
    September 6, 2018 at 9:54 am

    Ha, ha, yes! Last winter I lost a lot of weight, so started over with clothing. With handbags, however, I find my Patricia Nash florals/prints are real workhorses. The first one I bought a couple of years ago, I was considering letting go of. However, I pulled it out and used it like crazy this year b/c it had a blush colored flower in it that coordinated with my new blush shoes and other items. Personally, I enjoy your “creamsicle” handbag every time I see you with it ;).

    • Reply
      September 12, 2018 at 7:58 pm

      Kim, that’s so cool. Isn’t it fun how pieces can just come together because of one little detail that that blush-colored flower? Love it! Thanks for sharing!

  • Reply
    September 6, 2018 at 11:03 am

    First I must say, you ended your article with Paul’s theme song. I think it must have something to do with me :). And my favorite summer item was my red, cotton knit blazer I purchased at a consignment store in TN last February. It’s so comfortable and makes any outfit look more polished. The older I get, the less clothing I wear or need. And yes, comfortable, amazing looking shoes are hard to find.

    • Reply
      September 12, 2018 at 7:57 pm

      How fun! Tennessee meets North Dakota. I always love hearing Paul’s comments as well. You guys are the best! So happy about the red jacket.

  • Reply
    Mary Butigan
    September 6, 2018 at 12:02 pm

    First, I follow a few blogs but none of them I enjoy or look forward to as much as yours. I so enjoy your viewpoint and outlook on clothing and life. Thank you.

    My favorite purchase this summer was a kitchy pair of pineapple earrings from J Crew. I just had to have them. They oddly go with almost everything. Every time I wear them I get compliments and smiles abound. Just makes me Happy!


    • Reply
      September 12, 2018 at 7:56 pm

      You struck gold! I love when that special item shows up and brings such happiness! Glad you had so much fun with them, Mary!

  • Reply
    September 6, 2018 at 1:36 pm

    Thank you, thank you, thank you, Brenda, for saying (and proving) it’s all right to hold on to clothes that haven’t been worn during the past year.
    Virtually every other fashion writer/stylist says the opposite.
    I don’t own many clothes but most of them are classic styles in colors that suit me very well (and as we know, sometimes it isn’t easy in any given year to find preferred colors). Although I may not wear them all in the course of a year I hang on to them as long as they are in good condition and don’t look tired and out-of-date. Eventually they reenter the rotation and usually I’m very happy to be reunited with them!
    It seems so wrong to me to get rid of perfectly good, good-looking clothes just on the basis of some arbitrary schedule. Thanks for reminding us we can hang on to those oldies-but-goodies and be creative with them.

    • Reply
      September 12, 2018 at 7:55 pm

      I’m so happy to reinforce what you know in your heart to be true for you! Really, those rules are archaic and support practices that encourage consumption which isn’t making our planet happy. Thanks for sharing your system with us, Liz!

  • Reply
    September 6, 2018 at 5:30 pm

    Great Brenda. I had a favorite aunt that passed away and when we had to go through her clothes, she had rooms full, it was like a walk back in time. If you have room for them elsewhere why not. I have clothes racks in the basement for the stuff that is out of season and alternate sizes . I have a medical condition that means my weight fluctuates wildly at times. If I know that I will at some point get back into them, it makes me feel good just to go look at them sometimes. When I do get to that size I know I will have friends to revisit. Although……you could say I really don’t need them all. I really don’t have many other vices. Goes back to the old ‘love being a girl’.

    • Reply
      September 12, 2018 at 7:52 pm

      Diane, thanks for sharing how you do clothes. It’s always different for everyone and as long as it brings pleasure, wonderful. I had a client tell me just this week that she loves a piece that she owns even though she doesn’t wear it (it really isn’t suited to her body shape). So if she opens her closet doors every day and sees the beauty of that garment, it’s serving her well. Yay you for honoring your “love being a girl” genes!

  • Reply
    Carol S
    September 6, 2018 at 9:42 pm

    Ahh! The BK Mini Beauty Bundle of shoes and bag in action – they are definitely dancing together.
    Also agree about not getting rid of clothes too rashly. Six months means you haven’t even gone round a full year (and 12 months is still the same logic). Waiting 15/18 months at least means you get the next season to see if you are still going to wear something. I am currently ‘Shopping My Wardrobe” as much as I can with the exception of buying bases/neutrals. I have lots of very casual clothes and think it is more sustainable for me to wear them out and not buy more. I also have little clusters of better ‘Appointment’ clothes. Thanks again.

    • Reply
      September 12, 2018 at 7:50 pm

      You’re so welcome, Carol! Yes, I was thinking of those as mini Beauty Bundles as well. They were such great teammates! Isn’t it amazing how much shopping we can actually do in our closets? Good for you!

  • Reply
    Barbara Kraus
    September 7, 2018 at 12:13 am

    I wore completely different things at different times this summer, especially as the weather varied significantly. My new favorite is a navy maxi skirt with a bold larger scale geometric pattern in mint green. I never would have ordered it online, but as I was in a store I tried it on. The fact that I picked it up shocked me. I loved it on hot summer days. I also pulled out my old SAS sandals to take walks when wearing maxis.

    • Reply
      September 12, 2018 at 7:48 pm

      What a fun summer surprise! Good for you for trying something new!

  • Reply
    Trinnie Q
    September 7, 2018 at 12:16 am

    I agree, sometimes I don’t wear an item all season, here being winter, talking about you, white and black, wool coat; and the next winter you wear it all the time! We Ste curious beings! Finding much inspiration in your blog as usual Brenda. I am so grateful for You . Sending much love from Oz

    • Reply
      September 12, 2018 at 7:48 pm

      Thanks, Trinnie. I find that so interesting always how an item that wasn’t being used is suddenly the hit of your wardrobe! Your white and black wool coat must be very happy! Love from Sonoma!

  • Reply
    September 7, 2018 at 9:53 am

    YES AND YES!!!!!!
    I think I may have a pair of CAMPER BOOTIES FOR YOU OR YOUR DAUGHTER!!!!!!I BOUGHT IN PARIR and wore maybe three times!!!!!!!They have a wedge heel and are black with a yellow heel…….I’m an 8.5.I don’t do heels anymore!They might be a nine I will check…………..YOUR LUCKY DAY!

    • Reply
      September 12, 2018 at 7:46 pm

      Well, look forward to that!
      I’m seeing more and more of Johnny Was. In fact, my daughter Erin was wearing a top yesterday by Johnny Was. Fun! You always look great, my dear! xo

  • Reply
    September 7, 2018 at 1:11 pm

    Hi Brenda. I’m new to your blog and your Instagram and I love both. So glad I stumbled upon you (by way of Pinterest, I think). I am curious about this: who takes the photos of you in your many outfits. They are splendid. I don’t see a selfie remote clicker in your hands and your expressions are always genuine and you look like you like the photographer very much. You are photogenic and comfortable in front of the camera. Can you share a little about who’s behind the camera, please? Thank you.

    • Reply
      September 12, 2018 at 7:45 pm

      I will definitely have to share your comment with my loved ones who don’t always love it when I say, “Can you just take a picture or two for me in this outfit?” Of course, it’s never one or two. It takes many to get a good one, just the nature of the beast. The photographers are my daughters Erin and Caitlin because I see them a lot, and my sweetheart Russ. What a very sweet compliment, Melissa!

  • Reply
    September 11, 2018 at 4:53 pm

    Am trying to fit in clothing that stare at me, point a finger and yell “I never got to go anywhere this summer!” when I open my closet. It’s alittle nasty sometimes with everyone begging for attention. So I’m trying to incorporate more summer items into the early fall rotation. Just so everyone will stay on their hangers and behave.

    • Reply
      September 12, 2018 at 7:42 pm

      Well, Kathy, I hope they will behave for you. I have had a similar experience with clothing wagging fingers! Pretty funny.

  • Reply
    September 17, 2018 at 5:12 am

    Brenda, the Camper sandals are a revelation! I’ve been looking for a similar style, and these look perfect. Would you mind sharing what style Camper calls these? Thank you! Your blog is an inspiration and always a pleasure.

    • Reply
      September 17, 2018 at 6:41 pm

      I went online to look and I don’t see them there. They are probably fully into fall now. Best to look next spring!

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