I love stories about clothes and redemption. I confess—I also delight in a story about a know-it-all who soon learns she’s not. It appears this style story has all those elements.
It’s about waking up one morning feeling like a junkie who needs a hit of hot orange and burgundy N-O-W and how that craving gets satisfied.
It’s a redemptive story about a large scarf purchased in NYC in 2003, which becomes a table runner when all along it wanted to be outside keeping a neck warm, receiving compliments…and finally gets that chance.
And it’s a story of an arrogant know-it-all, AKA yours truly from North Dakota, who thought she was the authority on snow. More about that later.
Putting an outfit together around hot orange and burgundy
It was chilly the morning when I awoke with a burning desire to wear hot orange and burgundy together. I slipped into my burgundy thin-wale, velvety corduroys by Kut from the Cloth and added my double layered thin hot orange sweaters—a longtime staple from Ann Taylor. (Why am I wearing two layers of the same sweater? Find out here!)
My outfit needed something more, something wow, something engaging, and I needed to keep my neck warm. I looked through my folded scarves for one that had style and function. There was the scarf I’d purchased in New York City in 2003 at the Museum of Modern Art Store in Rockefeller Plaza. It was partly a present to myself, an acknowledgment of a job well-done—writing my third book. I knew at the time that it would be a styling stretch for me. I don’t think I had anything in my wardrobe that was this vibrant or eye-catching. It would take courage to wear it—or I could just use it as a table runner. I had a Plan A and a Plan B. Call me prudent.
Looking at it now, I wondered: would it, could it, might it work with my cords and double sweaters?
It’s a b-i-g scarf
From fringed edge to fringed edge it measures seven feet in length. When I did my simple wrap around the neck and then my usual single knot, I looked in the mirror. It ticked off all the boxes. It tied colors together, brought attention to my face, and would surely keep my neck warm.
Beautiful scarf, I love you!
I added my ankle Chelsea suede booties and my easy cognac bag. I wore beaded earrings that were small enough to not get hung up on the scarf. They were made for me by Cheryl Rowe. We met in person at the Uber Optics event in December. You can see her pieces on her Instagram account: @bellacarisma.
We’ve gotten to know each other a little bit on my Tips & Teasers Facebook page. How fun it was to meet her!
This was turning into a most delightful outfit.
Some backstory about the scarf
Of course, I can’t think about this scarf without vividly remembering the circumstances around purchasing it. We buy some things and months or years later we have no idea where it came from. That wouldn’t be true of my 7-foot scarf from NYC. I was in NYC the first week of December in 2003 to promote my third book, Brenda’s Wardrobe Companion and Russ was with me. However, things did not go as planned. Yes, you’ve arrived at the Miss Know-it-All portion of this style story.
My publishers flew me to NYC for a big book weekend where book reps learn about the latest titles so they can sell oodles of copies to their accounts. It’s sort of like Fashion Week for the book publishing industry. I was going to be talking to book reps from all over the country. They’d meet me and be all excited to sell, sell, sell.
We must have flown in on Thursday. Russ and I were somewhere in Midtown Manhattan. He peered out the window from several stories up and noticed these small flecks of something coming from the sky. “Brenda, look! It’s snowing!” he said. I went to the window. “Honey, that’s not really snow. It’s just snow flurries. It could be over in fifteen minutes.”
What I didn’t say was, ‘Don’t get your panties in a twist. Listen, when it comes to snow, I’m the expert. You’re from San Francisco where there is no weather. If it’s not 65 degrees and foggy in San Francisco, then it may—if you’re lucky—be 65 degrees with fog lifting at noon, whether that’s summer, winter, spring or fall. I’m from North Dakota where we have actual weather—like many times a day.’
I didn’t need to say that part out loud; I’m sure it was implied by my demeanor.
As the snow got heavier, my mood got lighter
With each hour, the “snow flurries” got thicker and thicker, heavier and heavier. The wind started blowing, and it didn’t take long before we couldn’t even see the windows across the street. “Still snow flurries?” he asked, and I don’t even think he was being sarcastic. “No, we’ve passed the snow flurry stage, Hon,” I said.
This was 2003. No one had a smartphone super-glued to the palm of their hand. There was no weather channel app for minute-to-minute updates. There were special reports on TV, or you could go outside and experience weather for yourself.
Once the TV announced airport closures, I said, “Let’s go outside.” We walked and walked. Everything, everywhere, was white and gorgeous. Suddenly I felt like a seven-year-old, and I was remembering how winter was always my favorite season. We were in a winter wonderland, I was in New York City with the love of my life, and we were playing in the snow.
The book events were canceled as people couldn’t get into the city. Between the airport closures and the snow-clogged streets, I would never meet the big Mucky Mucks. That gave us more time for fun. We didn’t need taxies. We had our legs to get us around. That weekend we went to an excellent restaurant for dinner with my book publisher, browsed Rizzoli Bookstore, went to Bergdorf Goodman, Barneys, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Bloomingdale’s. And we made it to the Museum of Modern Art Store in Rockefeller Plaza, where I fell in love with that rich-colored scarf and brought it back home.
It’s so satisfying to be wearing it now, fifteen years later. It’s just perfect. This scarf will not be a table runner anytime soon. Regarding my miscalculation with the snow reporting, I must say that sometimes it feels so good to have been so wrong.
(If this coat is familiar to you it’s because you read about how it passed the YES shopping test and went home with me the day I wore hot orange and burgundy together. Missed it? Here’s that YES test post.)
Now it’s time to hear from you! Do you have a clear memory of something you purchased years ago? Please tell us the story!