26 In Anatomy of an Outfit

Wearing a wrap vest over a dress over flared jeans

Navy blue polka dot Donna Morgan dress

Does this polka dot dress look like a crinkle dress to you?


This polka dot navy dress worn over jeans isn’t what I planned to wear. What I planned to wear was a long crinkle navy dress, tights and ankle booties. I thought I’d put a sweater under the crinkle dress because it was chilly outside. But what happened is I went into my closet and hastily grabbed what I thought was the crinkle dress and proceeded with my plan. The J.Crew navy Tippi 3/4 sleeved sweater went on first and then the crinkle dress.

(Note the look of the actual crinkle dress worn two years ago in the summer with sandals.)


Navy blue crinkle dress

This is the mid-calf crinkle dress! (Someone tell Brenda)


Once I got the crinkle dress on over my head and over my sweater, it didn’t feel right. ‘Wow, I don’t remember it fitting this way,’ I said to myself. I was puzzled.


Wearing a sweater under a sleeveless dress

Wearing a Tippi sweater under my sleeveless dress


Wow, this dress is a lot shorter than I remembered. Short booties and tights are going to be awkward with this length. It’s above the knee! Okay, quick change of plan. I’ll wear my flared jeans under the dress instead. Then the dress length won’t matter.

Yes, I was still thinking I was dealing with a dress malfunction. It must have shrunk in my closet. That would explain why it was suddenly six inches shorter than I recalled.


Pinstripe wrap by Valerie Raven

The back view of Valerie’s creation


I had the dress on over my flares but I was grabbling now with proportions and a third piece. I liked the flares with the dress but I needed some kind of jacket or wrap. I tried a jean jacket on. That was awful! I went back to the navy section of my closet, peered in and grabbed my navy pin-striped Valerie wrap vest. I call it my Valerie wrap vest because my friend Valerie made it. It’s a brilliant garment. It makes a statement while functioning as a terrific layering piece. It comes in one size. Valerie loves hunting for unique fabrics from Italian silks to Irish linens so her pieces are all one-of-a-kind.

Here she is wearing one of her warps. It really finishes an outfit in a fashionable way. I love Valerie, all her art, and have always lusted over her wraps which she used to make and sell and is now just starting to make them again. If you want to contact Valerie about her wraps you can email her at vraven@sbcglobal.net.


Artist and designer, Valerie Raven

Artist and designer, Valerie Raven wearing one of her wraps


I knew I was on the right fashion track when I put Valerie’s wrap vest over my navy dress. I LOVED the layering effect. It made the dress over jeans feel so graceful, even sexy!

Ah, isn’t that nice. Pin-stripes with polka dots!

I was starting to calm down a little bit.

Wait! Pinstripes and polka dots? Where did the polka dots come from?

I kid you not. It was just now starting to make sense. I wasn’t in the crinkle dress; I was in the polka dot dress! That explained a lot!


A trio of navy garments worn together

Loving the layering of my navy pieces


Holy moly! In my defense, I’d just come to the final day of being with my high school bestie, Patricia from Duluth, Minnesota. I was getting her to the airport to head home and then going to work with a client in the city right afterward. We’d had a marathon of activities in our ten days together. We shopped for couches, shopped for chairs, went to Santa Rosa and hunted some more. We found chairs and a couch (oh my!) and arranged delivery for a leather chair and ottoman that we found in a different store. The couch and chair won’t come until the end of May.


Patricia does research

Patricia test drives a leather chair


We’d shopped for new bedding for the master bedroom, moved paintings, framed paintings, hung paintings. We moved my copper Carl Dern table from the living room into the bedroom and moved Russ’ one-hundred-year-old beautiful secretary into the living room. It has glass shelves so we spent some time making everything look pretty on the inside because now everyone would be seeing it.

That led us to culling through books and finding different storage for my I-have-hundreds-more-books-than-I-have-clothes collection. We had family dinners, friend luncheons, cocktail hour with Erin, girl talk, and oh, we attended four days and nights of our annual Sonoma International Film Festival. We did not paint the outside of the house or redo the backyard patio area but I think our hands touched every other part of the house!

As Erin told her boyfriend, “That’s what they do when they get together.”

So with everything that had passed through my brain during her visit, I do believe I just didn’t have the bandwidth to realize I was in the polka dot dress and not the crinkle one. Do I get a pass?


Changing the neckline of the wrap

This wrap can do all sorts of tricks!


Now that I had my wits about me, I was able to accessorize. I went with a long circle chain, mimicking the long lines I had going on with the flared jeans, the dress, and Valerie’s wrap. To bring some attention to the face I added my sparkly bee necklace. I wore my iron Moonlight Cuff from Artful Home. It was all just simple and pretty as can be.


Silver accessories with column of navy

Accessorizing my dot dress with circle linked long necklace


I’ve worn Valerie’s wrap other ways. It has a snap closure and I use it sometimes. Other times I just improvise. I can pull it across my shoulders or closer up to the neck. I can leave one side fastened and let the other side swing about. When it’s navy on navy like this is, it’s all textural fun anyway. There would be no wrong way to wear it.


Valerie Raven's wrap design

This wrap is so fun to play with!


Oh, and I wore those nothing earrings I told you about! Because I was wearing the wrap closer to my neck rather than down at my shoulders I didn’t want my earrings to run into the collar.


Nothing earrings to wear with high collars

My valuable nothing earrings


The jewelry lesson on why everyone needs a nothing earring is right here!

So who do you see? A happy person. Happy because I found my mind again. Happy because life is rich. It’s creative and it’s got great people in it, special people like my long time friend, Patricia. It’s got blooming wisteria, amazing films to see right here in my town. It’s really special. And if I temporarily lose my mind from time to time, the good news is I do find my way back to center in short time.


Delighted to learn the truth about this dress

Happy to be in polka dots; happy to be


So there you have it. The day I thought I was wearing my crinkle dress but I was actually wearing my polka dot dress. It all worked out in the wash!

Do you lose your mind from time to time? Do you put hair cream on your face thinking it was moisturizer? (Someone in my house did that.) Tell me about the little tricks your mind is playing on you these days!


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  • Reply
    April 18, 2018 at 11:34 am

    Where did you shop for sofas and chairs? I’m in the market, also!

    • Reply
      April 19, 2018 at 8:45 pm

      I went local to Marin and Santa Rosa. I’ve been needing them so badly that with Patricia’s help, we just made it happen. I bought a leather gorgeous recliner that doesn’t look like a recliner and an ottoman from Scandinavian Designs in Santa Rosa. I looked for couches there as well as Macy’s Furniture and West Elm and another place that I don’t remember the name of but wouldn’t recommend anyway. The pieces we ordered were from Macy’s. I’m going for a mid-century look. Everything else in the house is different so it will be a creative mix.

  • Reply
    La Contessa
    April 18, 2018 at 6:51 pm

    Well I can not comment on Blogger!Who knows Why certainly NOT ME!Other than that fiasco I’m doing GREAT!
    Looking Good in all your layers!

    • Reply
      April 19, 2018 at 8:40 pm

      So glad you’re doing great! I’m loving “catching up” with you on Instagram. Sending big hugs!

  • Reply
    April 18, 2018 at 7:37 pm

    This is a GREAT outfit. You have such wonderful, creative style, and I always appreciate learning from your “anatomy” posts. A “lost” mind is s creative mind! Unlike some folks I purposely avoid putting two items of the same color next to each other (though all shirts are together, slacks, etc.) for just this reason. I have a VERY small closet and would easily confuse one item for another if I put items of like colors next to each other. Plus, mixing the colors in my closet helps keep me from falling into a color rut with what I’m wearing. Thanks for all share and for all you teach. <3

    • Reply
      April 19, 2018 at 8:41 pm

      Wow, Melissa, thanks for what you taught me and us today with your comment! I never thought of it that way. I can see how mixing it all up would definitely let you know if you were getting into a color rut. Love your share!

  • Reply
    Karen Winfield
    April 18, 2018 at 8:23 pm

    Dear Brenda, I recently discovered you on Pinterest and I am now subscribed and follow you on Instagram. I forwarded a beautiful post you recently wrote about your late mother to a friend who was grieving and it was of great comfort to her. I so appreciate the kindness, humour and compassion which is woven into your original, practical and creative content. I have been seeing myself and my clothes so differently since I began reading your posts here in Sydney, Australia. Thank you! Warmest regards, Karen

    • Reply
      April 19, 2018 at 8:39 pm

      How lovely, Karen! So glad you found the blog. And thank you for sharing that post with your friend. Grief in our country, don’t know about Australia, is such a private, behind-closed-doors topic. When it happened to me, I sure wanted a “friend” who would understand. And I’m so glad you’re seeing your clothes differently! It’s endless fun to play around and discover new combos and new feelings that different outfits bring to us. It opens up life! I’m so glad you’re here!

  • Reply
    April 19, 2018 at 7:49 am

    Since you asked – one morning I was in a hurry and obviously my mind was elsewhere. I grabbed what I thought was the hairspray from the top shelf of the bathroom cabinet. After the first squirt it became apparent it was Lysol. I think there were shrieks. Love your blog – it’s a must-read.

    • Reply
      April 19, 2018 at 8:37 pm

      Oh Janie, I am giggling!!!! Oh dear, I can’t imagine that moment when you realized what you’d done. I love stories like yours! They make me feel normal! Thanks for sharing, what fun.

  • Reply
    April 19, 2018 at 8:06 am

    I love the longer vest. I bought a charcoal gray cashmere vest at the Nordstrom prefall sale and I’ve been wearing it all winter here in Southern California. It goes with jeans, black pants and any color top underneath AND it feels so luxurious!

    • Reply
      April 19, 2018 at 8:35 pm

      Gotta love that feeling of luxuriousness! I think this length, the longer vest, adds so very much to outfits. Glad you found your gray cashmere one!

  • Reply
    Cindy Scurry
    April 19, 2018 at 8:26 am

    Love this dress with your jeans. My sisters and I are the same you and your friend! We move mountains when we get together! ha!

    You are so inspiring! Thank you.

    • Reply
      April 19, 2018 at 8:34 pm

      I can just see you moving mountains, Cindy! You’re lucky to have sisters and I’m lucky to have found a sister. Every time we’re together people ask us if we’re sisters and we say yes.

  • Reply
    April 19, 2018 at 9:04 am

    The outfit is very attractive! I live in Florida so my choices are always easier! Layering is something that can be done, comfortably, for a very short time here. As a mature lady, I enjoy seeing your handiwork and style!!

    • Reply
      April 19, 2018 at 8:33 pm

      Thanks, Nelda! Isn’t if fun being mature?

  • Reply
    Kathleen O'Brien
    April 19, 2018 at 11:59 am

    Love this outfit. Sometimes, making a “mistake” lead to the best combinations. I’ve recently taken to writing down some of my outfits as later, I can’t seem to remember that great combination from a month ago. This is a keeper for rotation. I also love that wrap – I’d be wearing way too much, so classy and sassy! That polka dot top is also so wonderful – where did that come from, so cool?

    • Reply
      April 19, 2018 at 8:33 pm

      The polka dot “top” is actually a dress. It had a full lining but I knew I’d be wearing it as a top instead so I cut most of the lining out to make it more sheer. I like it so much better that way. Thanks for your keeper vote of an outfit that may have never hatched!

  • Reply
    Elaine @ Following Augustine
    April 19, 2018 at 10:27 pm

    AMAZING! It would never have crossed my mind to put those four items together and yet, it looks fantastic! You’re inspiring me to experiment with some new combinations from my own closet and see what I come up with.

    • Reply
      May 1, 2018 at 8:26 pm

      I love the sound of that. Getting into your closet and playing always yields fun results in my humble opinion. It’s easy to do nothing so doing something sparks an idea and then another. Have fun!

  • Reply
    jodie filogomo
    April 22, 2018 at 6:10 pm

    Your creativity never ceases to amaze me, Brenda!!
    The 3 of us tried a dress over jeans once, but it didn’t go so well. Which, of course, makes me want to try it again, especially if I could get it looking half as good as you just did!!

    • Reply
      May 1, 2018 at 8:24 pm

      It’s not a natural thing for me to do. I have a colleague who wears her clothes like this all the time. But I really liked how it turned out so maybe I’ll do more of it. It’ll be interesting to see how it goes for you a second time around! Thanks, Jodie!

  • Reply
    Susan Young
    April 23, 2018 at 8:18 am

    Hilarious! I had a similar incident, and didn’t realize until I got to work that I had the wrong piece on–it was NOT the colour I thought it was, but another colour altogether. Luckily, since I work in fashion retail, and felt REALLY awkward being matched up the way I was (my excuse is that it was winter, and dark, and it’s TOUGH to distinguish dark neutrals in the closet, even when the closet has some lighting), I was able to purchase something that made the entire thing work just fine. Improvise, improvise is right.

    • Reply
      May 1, 2018 at 8:21 pm

      I’m giggling with you. I had the experience of pairing two colors together that when I was in a big mall in San Francisco shopping with a client I realized they were horrible together. I felt like crawling out of my skin. Instead I had to keep myself a professional and stick with it the whole day without saying anything. Uff da!

  • Reply
    April 27, 2018 at 6:30 am

    Wonderful outfit, and it just goes to show that if you hadn’t got mixed up it would never have happened. Everyone needs some randomness in their world. Thank you again Brenda!

    • Reply
      May 1, 2018 at 6:38 pm

      Oh, you make me laugh. I love the word randomness. Better than absent minded! And you’re right, it turned into a happy mistake that never would have been otherwise.

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