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The past couple of days I’ve watched the moving funeral services for the late President George H.W. Bush. Almost every woman wore black, and I saw how many different looks you can put together with a simple black dress. Over the holidays I hope you don’t have anything as somber as a funeral to attend, but black would look great on New Years Eve. Whether you wear a dress or a sweater and pants, don’t forget to add your own special touch. I like to pair my old things in new ways.

Electric guitars are optional.

Jennifer and I shot these photos in my living room. I’ve promised you a better look at the living and dining room, but things are still missing, like a dining room rug… details, I know, but I wanted the rooms to be finished. Also Lulu peed on the living room rug, so it’s at the rug cleaners, and I have yet to find the right pillows for the sofa. Behind me is a photograph of Keith Richards taken in 1984, by the wonderful Albert Watson, for the cover of Rolling Stones magazine. Sandy Linter told me she did Keith’s makeup for this shoot. This photograph is the focal point for most of the house. You can see it from the kitchen, DR, LR, my office and the courtyard outside. The sconces on either side of Keith are coiled, black, iron snakes with their tongues darting our of their mouths. They’re edgy, like the man. I didn’t plan it this way, but “the tongue” is the Rolling Stones’s logo. LOL! The red shades are Fortuny fabric. The Spanish chairs are late 1700’s or early 1800’s, and the leather seats are cracked. I’ve had them forever. The round table on the left was on the back porch of the Little House at the ranch. It’s unsealed Texas limestone with hand chipped edges and a cool iron base.

Back to wearing black… Not everyone is crazy about all black, and I understand. My Texas fashionista girlfriend, Kathy Gutierrez, is not a fan of all black. If you haven’t read our “Midlife Girlfriends Talk Sex and Men,” it’s a must. When her youngest daughter went off to college back East, Kathy told her she better not come home wearing all black unless she had on lots of turquoise.

There’s a lot to be said for black. It’s slimming, elegant, and it allows your accessories to standout. The black, knit midi dress I’m wearing is Diane von Furstenberg. It’s long-sleeved with a mock turtleneck, so it covers a multitude of sins. Wear it with a Spanx bodysuit underneath that runs from your bra to your hips, lower thighs, or choose one below your knees, and you’ve got all your nasty bits reigned in. Over my shoulder is part of a clerical vestment from the 1800’s I bought at the Paris flea market. Esther (Essie) Zimmer was with me. It’s red velvet, trimmed in gold thread, and you can see where it’s been mended over the centuries. I may make it into a pillow for the couch or continue to wear it over my shoulder or drape it over the back of a chair.

My silver drop earrings I wore with my wedding dress when James and I married in 1996. The silver cuff bracelet I bought in Santa Fe in my early 20’s. It was my first major… Who am I kidding? Except for the earrings, it was my only jewelry purchase until I was in my 50’s. An appreciation for jewelry is something new for me.

What ever you wear this holiday season I hope you wear it with joy and gratitude and celebrate the season with music, food and friends. One of my best girlfriends just found out her breast cancer IS NOT Stage IV after all. Talk about grateful… We’re over the moon! Thank you, God! Blessings to all of you!

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Hi Girlfriends,

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  1. Have you tried wearing the dress with a slip like back in the 1950s? I find a silk slip helps a dress fall straight and keeps it from clinging to the wrong things, and it’s so much more comfortable than squeezing into Spanx.
    I tend to wear black all the time. It’s easy to find pieces in black, and they all go together. Keeps my wardrobe small. Scarves and jewelry can bring in the color.
    Great photos. The top one with the candles is really lovely.

    • TOF, I sometimes wear a long slip like you’re talking about, but this dress is meant to hug all the way down the body, so a slip would bunch and make the column look lumpy. I tried it. Black goes together and with almost everything else, so it’s a great way to keep your wardrobe small. I’m glad you like the photos! xoxo, Brenda

  2. Brenda,

    I just posted my little black dress!
    Great dress for any occasion.
    I laughed when I read about the East peeps wearing all black but I find San Francisco comes in a close second!
    Artsy people love wearing black everywhere.
    Glad to hear your friend doesn’t have stage IV breast cancer. That is a blessing!

    Happy holidays!

  3. If you go to an event & you want to stand out you might choose to wear a color other than black. Otherwise make sure your statement jewelry is unique – gold, silver, pearls are classic but not necessarily unique. Wearable art jewelry is or one-of-a-kind pieces. As a mother daughter team, we create jewelry inspired by nature to enhance a woman natural beauty.

    • Great points, Roslyn! Since I was at home in these photos, I chose to go a little more understated. Usually I wear this dress out with a fabulous statement necklace. I’m glad to see you here. Please stop by again, Brenda

    • MH, wear a red lipstick or chiffon scarf in your favourite colour. The nice thing about black is it goes with every colour, so dress it up to fit your own styling and/or colouring. I find a column of black with a colourful jacket overtop let’s the jacket shine. It’s also slimming and we all like that fact.

    • Hi MH, Have you had a “color analysis?” It may be that black isn’t the most flattering color for your skin, eyes and hair coloring. For instance, even if you and three other women all have the same hair color, it doesn’t mean your skin tones are the same or you can wear the same colors. You might go online and google “color analysis” and see if you can determine whether you have warm or cool skin tones and what colors look best on you. Let me know if you figure it out. Brenda

  4. I love an all black outfit with extraordinary jewelry! You look beautiful. I love your hair. And your decor sounds positively two thumbsup! Mr. Menace and I have some unusual things also.
    🙂 gwingal

    • Hi Nikki, Thank you for the compliments. I appreciate them. I’m a minimalist with clothes and decor, but I like at least one WOW factor in each room, plus I have a touch of red in every room even if it’s a pillow or one of the colors in a dust ruffle on the bed. Brenda

  5. Hurray for no Stage IV cancer! Today is the 8th anniversary of the date that we found out my niece had Acute Myelogenous Leukemia. It’s a really tough time of year for her parents…but then, any day after losing a child is difficult.

    You look gorgeous!

    • Hi Val, Yes! We’re overjoyed about that. The pain of losing a child… I can’t imagine. This is not my finest time of year, either… losing James on Christmas. Thank you for the sweet compliment. I hope you’re having a wonderful December. Will your daughter be home for Christmas? xoxo, Brenda

  6. I wear black all of the time. Everything I buy will go with black. lol It is awesome that friend is not stage iv. I think my husband is stage 4 but we don’t discuss staging.

    • Victoria… Talking about staging with spouses, relatives or best friends is often difficult. There can be denial and many people think if you “don’t put it out there in the universe,” there aren’t a lot of people who are focusing on it and “making it real.” I understand that but I also know how difficult it is. I also know… from first hand experience… that if your husband is Stage IV… you need to know so you can “plan… ” I’ve been widowed twice and can tell you each time had it’s own set of circumstances that were difficult to deal with. If you’re looking at life without him… You need to be as prepared and knowledgeable as you can be. Even things like his passwords to bank accounts, any bills he pays… You must know these!!! Before!!!! Planning is different for everyone, but it generally involves whether you’ll be alright financially which may involve talking to a financial planner, your accountant or making sure he has a Will and medical directives in order and a Will that minimizes taxes and what your husband’s wishes are for the family and his service. Don’t be afraid to ask him. xoxox, Brenda

  7. You look positively fabulous!! I love black, too, and hsve found that I need bold jewelry and richer eye and lip colors now. What fun!

    As far as black washing a woman out, I used to tell my clients to try Navy, Charcoal, or Aubergine, all dark and elegant.

    • Thank you, Donna! You’re right in that all black needs bold jewelry, richer eye and lip color. Don’t be afraid to kick it up a notch or two! If it doesn’t work, you can always wipe it off with a tissue until you feel more comfortable with the colors or wipe it all off and start all over again. No big deal! xoxox, Brenda

  8. Brenda, I absolutely adore this all black look on you. I have tried to steer away from black in years past but I realize that I just love the drama of black way too much and always end up with nearly every outfit rooted in black or entirely black. It is chic, sophisticated, sexy, and dramatic when done right. And you have done it right, my friend! Just gorgeous. And I think the electric guitar should be a must!


    • Hi Shelbee! Would you believe I’m relatively new to all black? Only since the last three or four years. It was then I started spending time in NYC every month, and the chicest women… the most fabulous outfits were all black, accented with a scarf, jewelry, shoes… in a contrasting color… or all black. It changed my way of looking at how I dressed. I’ve always worn mainly solids and steered clear of prints… Too busy for my taste. I adore your comment, so THANK YOU! Now I just need to learn to play the guitar! See you, again! Brenda

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