Today’s post is written by the incomparable Brenda Kinsel, an award winning Image Consultant and successful author. I had the pleasure of speaking to Brenda last month and it was delightful! She is charming, wise, very friendly and fun to talk to. We both agreed that anyone can buy fashion, but style you have to own. It’s not just about the individual items in an outfit, but HOW you put them together in your own special way that makes the difference.

I recently walked into a store that just opened on the Square in my hometown. The woman behind the counter was dressed in such an inspiring way, I tried my best not to stare at her. I pretended to check out the merchandise but what I was really checking out was her whole look.

What was so compelling about her? Everything she had on flattered her natural coloring. She looked like the fairy tale character of Snow White from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs – only this Snow White was all grownup and in her 50s. She had shiny, nearly black hair pulled back smoothly into a low ponytail. She’d added black hairclips in the front which created more texture and interest to this great feature of hers. Her lips were a shade of scarlet red. Her pale skin had a hint of blush at her cheekbones – or was it from the cold winter air?

There was plenty to enjoy about her clothes. She wore a gathered black skirt that came just below her knees. The fabric had a luxurious sheen to it. She wore patterned hosiery with chunky heeled oxfords that had ribbon laces. She wore a white blouse with tucks. The high contrast of her clothing colors mirrored that of her porcelain skin and dark hair and eyes. She didn’t look trendy. She looked like she clearly enjoyed fashion and dressing to express herself. I lingered as long as I could and then vowed to come back soon for my next hit of fashion inspiration!

I know we’ve all had the opposite experience where instead of being drawn in to enjoy someone’s style, we felt compelled to look away. We’ve been around someone whose clothes created a dissonance with their god-given gifts of color, texture and design that comes from the color, texture and pattern of their skin, hair, eyes, and lips. When that happens, it’s as if that dissonance pushes us backward out the door we came in. Nothing about that person’s presence makes us want to be around her or linger.

I didn’t want to wear the pieces this sales associate was wearing and I certainly don’t have her coloring so what she was wearing wouldn’t have looked the same on me. Her selections were just right for her. But I was inspired to make my expression of style more pleasing to myself and more intentional. I know that when I wear my sparkly silver earrings that have a soft organic shape and I add my unusual knotted necklace that seems to have glistening nuggets captured in the center of it, and I add my thin metal bracelets that make a lovely sound when they make contact with each other, I feel alive and present. This jewelry “beauty bundle” added to even just skinny jeans, a cashmere sweater and boots makes me feel happy. My jewelry glistens and my spirit does too. I feel open to the gift of life. Isn’t it remarkable how just getting dressed – with intention – can be so pleasing to ourselves and others? Isn’t it a gift you want to give yourself every day?

I feel so grateful to everyone who pays attention to what pleases them and has the courage to share those pleasures in public places. This year I vow to do a better job of saying those few words that sound so good: “Gosh, you look great!”

Never give up on yourself! You can look great at any age when you focus on style. Visit my website and receive your free e-Book, Brenda’s Fashion Essentials: Look Fantastic in Your 40s, 50s and Beyond.