12 In Series/ Style

Vests are transforming in Lisa’s hands

Real life fashion on Brenda Kinsel website


The conversation started after I posted about vests on my Tips & Teasers Facebook page. A week or so later, an email appeared in my inbox from Lisa White. She said, “I follow your blog and have 2 of your fabulous books. Not long ago you posted about vests on Facebook. I find the vest to be one of the most important pieces in my styling arsenal. I realize you are busy, but I wanted to share some of my photos to show how they can really transform a look. I’m 60 and it’s difficult to see pieces on younger, very thin models and imagine it on someone like me, petite with a rectangular figure. The vest provides the ‘smoke and mirrors’ to give me an illusion of a possible waistline. I enjoy style and the challenge of my changing figure.”


showcasing vests on Facebook on Brenda Kinsel website

It all started with a Facebook post


When I looked at the photos I was blown away by Lisa’s creativity and the explosion of flair she demonstrates with the vest (this is not your L.L. Bean quilted vest, my friends).

About this combo below, she said, “This is the same silk vest worn right-side-up and then upside down. I belt it or wear it unbelted.  I show it with a white Zara kimono and a Black Blessed polka dot top. The vest was purchased at the Chicago One-of-a-Kind Show last December. I am having all sorts of fun with it and it is so versatile.”


wearing a vest upside down

One vest worn three ways including upside down


I wrote her back and asked if I could share them with you here on the blog. Thankfully she said yes. Then I asked her three things: “Can you also give a little info about your personal life like your name, where you’re from, and what you’re passionate about? That would help readers ‘see’ you!”

When she wrote back I appreciated her skill and her style even more. Let’s start with her fashion muses: Frida Kahlo, Loulou de la Falaise, and the unnamed star of the blog Accidental Icon. And then there’s her background which also explains her style direction.

Well, I’ll let Lisa tell you.


vest flair on Brenda Kinsel website

Style galore with the use of vests–Lisa’s way

Lisa’s background


I live in Chicago. I married for the first time at 49. It was the first marriage for my husband as well. He was 57. We are both retired Chicago Public School teachers.

I was born September 19th, 1955. My father was a jazz musician in the ’30s and ’40s. He transitioned to classical music and was the Principal Percussionist for Lyric Opera of Chicago. It seems I grew up in that opera house and have so many precious memories. I love opera (big passion of mine) and attend most of the performances each season. My mother is alive and well. She was a TWA stewardess before jets. Mother is still glamorous, but she was a knock out and target of many photographers as she strolled down 5th Avenue in NYC in the late ’40s.

My mother has impeccable style, but more classic than my creative approach. I was a Boho girl and love Frieda Kahlo for many reasons, her style included. Her creative spirit seems to ride with the warm breezes of summer and inspired my Frida-like outfits. I have a “Frida Kahlo collection” that I add to every summer. Loulou de la Falaise is another muse. I also love the Japanese aesthetic as well and follow the Accidental Icon blog. Although I love color, there is much to inspire me in her posts. My mother’s classic style does pop up from time to time. Mom is 86 years young and spent a few months in Italy a couple of years back. She went mountain climbing and most of her younger friends could not keep up with her. She is still going strong.

My undergraduate work was in art, but my graduate degree was in Mathematics. Go figure. I am reconnecting with my artful side now that I am retired. A lot of watercolors, journaling, drawing, and woodcut work has occupied me these past fun-filled few years. My husband and I love to travel and just came back from a European trip last November.

I have always been interested in fashion and enjoy playing with style. Your books were recommended to me as the Beauty Bundle concept kept showing up whenever this friend (from Great Britain) mentioned the ones she created.


A Commes de Garcon vest on Brenda Kinsel website

Lisa uses her artistic talents to makeover this Commes des Garcons vest


My mother was organizing her closet and found a box with several items of clothing of mine from over a decade ago. I had stored several boxes at her home and this Commes des Garcons vest [above] was in one of them. I styled it with a pair of new Raquel Allegra silk pants I picked up at Barney’s for $119 at the final clearance in January. These pants have an attached sash in the shape of shirt sleeves. I turned the sash ‘shirt sleeves’ into a belted rose belt for the pants. The old/new vest has big 3D roses all across it. The turtleneck has these new bell sleeves, which I like. They make my upper arms look thinner.



Fashion vest flair on Brenda Kinsel website

Is a vest about to be your new best fashion friend?


Lisa loves creating a monochromatic look with a wool “waffle weave” vest (above left) to add a layer and depth. She adds as much texture as she can with vests (check out the embroidery on the right). She loves playing with faux fur vests as well (center).

How can we begin to thank you, Lisa, for all your vestpertise! Thank you so much for sharing. I know I’ll never look at a vest again without thinking about you!


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  • Reply
    Lisa White
    March 7, 2016 at 9:55 am

    Thank you, Brenda for sharing my style ideas. XXXX

    • Reply
      March 7, 2016 at 11:21 am

      I am honored!!

  • Reply
    March 7, 2016 at 10:58 am

    I have been following LIsa on Instagram and I am always amazed at how she is able to create a complete outfit that can be transformed into several styles. I love her accessories too. Lisa definitely makes 60 look amazing. So proud of her style.

    • Reply
      March 7, 2016 at 11:22 am

      wow, I completely forgot to ask Lisa about an Instagram account! I’ll check it out!! Yes, she looks like she’s having a ball at 60, I agree!

  • Reply
    March 7, 2016 at 3:35 pm

    Lisa is fabulous and I believe I first heard of her on Imogen Lamport’s wonderful blog “Inside Out Style”. She has some unbelievable pieces of clothing and
    puts them together in a very unique way. Thanks for featuring Lisa!

    • Reply
      March 7, 2016 at 7:23 pm

      My absolute pleasure, Rebecca! I think she has rock star status for her creativity!

  • Reply
    Imogen Lamport
    March 7, 2016 at 8:17 pm

    Lisa is gorgeous. I’m always admiring her style and met her in Chicago a couple of years ago.

    • Reply
      March 7, 2016 at 9:50 pm

      I want to make a trip to Chicago to meet her! How terrific, Imogen! And terrific for Lisa!

  • Reply
    March 8, 2016 at 9:27 am

    What a fabulous, beautiful, creative lady! I love her style. You can really see her style influences, but every outfit is uniquely “her.” The Commes de Garcons outfit is so luxurious, and the red and black outfit is a stunner! So glad she reached out to you by email and you shared her pictures and story here.

    • Reply
      March 8, 2016 at 9:31 am

      I’m so happy to hear this response about Lisa and her style. I was so excited to share her with you and I’m glad you are impressed like I am!

  • Reply
    March 9, 2016 at 11:52 am

    Given my life consists mostly of walking the dog and gardening, I think I’ll stick with the L.L. Bean quilted vest thanks 😉

    • Reply
      March 13, 2016 at 9:59 am

      Absolutely! They sound perfect for you! Happy walking.

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