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Brenda Coffee Photographs by Jennifer Denton

Today I’m joining two of my over 50 friends in California to talk about elevated casual. My favorite way to dress. It’s amazing how little it takes to dress up a casual pair of leggings and turn them into something we’d be comfortable wearing to a party with friends, or out to dinner. 

You know you’ve chosen a great pair of leggings when Jennifer Lopez wears them in her new movie, Marry Me.

My favorite pair of leggings are from Spanx. I’ve had them for three years and love them so much, I ordered a second pair. They’re high-waisted and like everything from Spanx, they hold you in all the right places. They also have a sheen that’s begging for you to dress them up, and since Covid’s held me captive for two years, I’m ready to step out in style, even if I’m wearing leggings.

Here, I’ve elevated leggings beyond something I’d wear to walk Annie in the neighborhood. I’ve switched out regular sneakers and a sweatshirt for a pair of comfortable black slip-ons, an eye-catching sweater that covers my bum, and a pretty necklace. My advice is always cover your bum when you go out, because I don’t know about you, but there aren’t many I want to see.

My sweater is five years old and from Comme des Garçons. My shoes are from Vince and are four years old… I later bought a second pair. I do that sometimes when I really like a pair of shoes, but I know I’ll be sad when they don’t look nice anymore, and I start wearing them to work in the yard.

My simulated diamond moon necklace is new and has a connection to the memoir I’ve written. (I’ll save that for another time.) The necklace is from Melinda Maria, and it’s delicate and catches the light like the real thing.

(In case you’re wondering, my house does have rugs, floor lamps and things on the wall, but in order to take these photographs, Jennifer Denton and I had to move everything around… except for the beast in the lower right corner of this photo. It’s a thick limestone coffee table on an iron base in the middle of the living room, and it’s not going anywhere.)

In this look, I took the same shoes and leggings and paired them with a white blouse, a kimono—you could also wear a long open sweater, or a duster— and a statement necklace. My antique cameo mounted on a leather necklace. The right accessories can dress up or down almost any outfit. Don’t you love the unexpected pink silk lining in the kimono?

Longsleeve Knit Duster Coat

Long Maxi Knit Sweater

Lightweight Maxi Longsleeve Duster

I’m dreaming of traveling again, and the same leggings and shoes will be the basis for multiple hi/low outfits in my suitcase.

Here are two simple tricks for taking a white blouse to the next level:

  • If the blouse has long sleeves, turn the cuffs back over your sweater or jacket. It underscores the contrast in the color and fabric of both pieces, thereby making each one more special. Turning the pink cuffs back on my kimono does the same thing.
  • You can also pop the collar on your blouse. It frames your face, or the earrings and necklace you’re wearing.

Please pop over to my friend’s blogs, Cindy Hattersley and Jennifer Connally, and see what they’ve chosen to elevate. I’ve spent time with both women and while their style is different from mine, and from one another, it’s fun to see how each of us style what we’ve chosen to wear.

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Hi Girlfriends,

I’m proud to say that 1010ParkPlace™ has been voted one of the Top Ten Blogs for women over 50: the best-educated, wealthiest, most powerful demographic in history.

Here you will get a glimpse into the lives of other women, learn how they handled things life put in their path like divorce, the death of a spouse, serious health issues, low self-esteem, addiction and how to reinvent yourself after a major life change. You will find like-minded women and relevant conversations about finances, fashion, sex, books, music, films and food. We feature interviews with inspiring women along with straight-talk and bold conversations to reawaken your passions and make life count.

Brenda’s Blog has between a 58.4% and a 68.7% click thru rate, which is unheard of. My readers tell me it’s because I’m sassy and transparent, they trust me and no topic is off limits.

Tell your girlfriends, sisters and coworkers about 1010ParkPlace. We have lots of exciting interviews planned and stay tuned for updates about my memoir! 

#WhereStyleIsAgeless   #MakeLifeCount   #WhatAreYouWaitingFor


  1. From the orthopedic surgeon, cuz there is an angle when it comes to tunics! You made an important point…to cover the bum! We look different from the front, when we see ourselves in the mirror, and many of us look pretty cute when we smile and cock our hip. Rarely do we take the time to turn around and survey the backside, and why would we?

    But here are the medical facts about the older bum. As we age our spine shortens. There are two reasons for that. The discs between every single vertebra squish to flatness, and sometimes our bones begin to flatten due to osteoporosis. You might be able to stop the bone loss, but not the flattening of the discs. It’s the main reason we get shorter! At the lower end of the spine, some of our discs are trapezoidal and not rectangular, so as they flatten, the spine loses its cute little curve and our butt flattens out. Add to that the loss of gluteal muscle mass, and our butt becomes relatively wider and flatter, even if we don’t gain an ounce of weight. There is absolutely nothing we can do about it. No, you can’t do a bunch of squats cuz you’ll ruin your aging knees! Butt flattening happens to the men too, but their pelvis is narrower, so it’s not quite as profound. But this is the reason to “cover the bum!”

    • Barbara, Thank you for this wonderful explanation of what happens to our spine and our butts! We can’t fight gravity and aging, but we must keep trying. Even though our butt and the little curve in our back will never be quite the same, exercise and the mere act of getting up and seizing life everyday keeps us in better shape, mentally and physically, than if we did nothing. Brilliant dissertation, Dr. Bergin! Brilliant. xoxox, Brenda

    • I love this real talk! Thank you for the facts on physical changes.

      And covering the bum? Yes please! Teehee!

      Great post. And heyyyyy Keith! Looking good!

      Love, Ann Wimmer

  2. YAY, already my go to outfit !!!

    Oddly, invented as way to stay warm in my ca. 1900 home, 11′ ceilings, 62f setting. Which means it’s 50’s in portions of the house. Later learned it is beneficial to our health to be cold in winter.

    My leggings come from WoolX, bought their turtlenecks too. This pair, under wool/cashmere sweaters with dusters, blazers, tweed jackets. Most often black mink boots lined with wool. Topped with wool beanie.

    Something you didn’t mention, BELTING a blazer/duster/shirt/sweater. Decided to copy pics of Leo Tolstoy and his belted tunics. Discovered it keeps you WARMER than unbelted. A man in Church complimented me last month, “I like the way you dress.”. Go Clothing Choices !

    You did show off your CAMEO ON LEATHER. THANK YOU. A new ‘must’. On the hunt, leather/fastener, make it happen. Have other brooches this will work with too. Fab idea.

    Collagen between bones an issue, and fact. Exercise, for strengthening muscles to help support our frame, with diet, and vit/mineral supplements. Collagen, Bone broth in meals, silica, more. Getting a healthy gut biome, helps every layer of our health. Time restricted eating, various types of fasts, caretaking the acidity of our body….more side effects of this include reducing inflammation based health problems, dementia, cardiovascular, diabetes, autoimmune diseases and and and.

    I weigh what I did in college, now 61, take zero prescriptions, and don’t give a fig about my arse. Aside from its tight strong good health and strength keeping me on my 5 acres as sole caretaker of lawns, meadows, ornamental garden, woodland, pond, century old tiny pecan grove, gravel terraces, and out-buildings. Snake boots for obvious reason, and dad’s straw Stetson deflecting ticks from upper canopy. Dad’s creases/wrinkles carried proudly on my face. Wish he could see me now, looking More like him. Head’s up, I still work for a living, never want to stop.

    Several women at Church, in their 80’s still mow their lawns! Hope to join that tribe.

    “As you age, the collagen in your skin and connective tissues weakens and loses strength, leading to increased skin creasing and sagging. By age 40, your production is reduced to about half of youthful levels –

    Poor gut health, hormone imbalances, excess carbs and sugar, and other factors may contribute to this loss.

    Fortunately, supplemental collagen allows you to slow declining collagen levels and even helps you build them back up, providing structure and support for your:

    Bones and joint cartilage
    Muscles and tendons
    Blood vessels and organs, including your entire digestive system
    Skin, hair and nails
    Sourced from cows, pigs, chicken or fish, Type I is the most abundant type of collagen, found in connective tissue, tendons and bones, as well as the skin of all vertebrates. However, if you wish to avoid or minimize your consumption of mammal-derived ingredients, Wild Caught Marine Collagen is an outstanding alternative to traditional sources of Type I collagen.

    Marine Collagen is made from the collagen-rich skin of wild-caught, deep-sea cod (Gadus morhua), harvested from the sparkling clear waters of the North Atlantic Ocean in Norway by sustainable fisheries. To ensure quality, traceability and sustainability, our product is certified by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC).”

    Did you have someone make your leather ‘necklace’, cut/stitch? Send me pic of close-up, please. Does it have a special ‘something’ for the brooch to pin on? Will take it to seamstress for quality. Cameo I have is not nearly your magnificent piece. But it’s quite old. And dear.

    BTW, you look fabulous ! Cannot imagine your arse not fabulous too. If we can stand behind much younger women, at check out counters, in quite thrilling shirts/shorts, abundant typical American processed food diets, and see their latest tattoo choices stretched across back of neck, shoulders, arms, back, thighs, calves, ankles in quite stunning color combinations, scale to body, fonts, skill of artist, wondering what the narrative/s is/are, and imagining how it will all arrange itself after decades of changing weight/skin. Our arse?

    A parable of sorts here. It’s obvious I’ve chosen to tattoo my land. In return, my land tattoos me.

    Garden & Be Well, Tara

    • Tara, What a wide array of topics and you’re always so well informed. I must look into collagen as I don’t know if the supplements and drinkables are the trend of the day, or if they’re based on solid science and can really help us. Sometimes I get suspicious when every celebrity starts jumping on the “gut health” or “CBD” bandwagon. About cameos… Initially I wrote a piece for this blog about my cameo necklace, but decided everyone was tired of hearing about them. You must visit my dear friend, Anna Porcu’s, website. Do watch the video at the top of the site. It will give you some ideas of how they’re mounted. Her pieces are collected by heads of state and celebrities all over the world. I have a necklace and a cameo bracelet. xoxox, Brenda

  3. I love leggings but know what you mean about covering your backside. especially mine and to Tara’s point about tattoos… What’s with all these women, young and old, covered in tattoos? They must desperately want to be noticed and don’t know any other way but it’s not a good look. Love your home. Rugs or no rugs and you’re rocking both looks.

    • Hello Arlo, I haven’t seen you here before. Welcome! I wish I understood the tattoo thing, but I don’t. For the most part, I think they look like cartoons, and why would any grownup want cartoons on their bodies? And men with tattoos… I draw the line when they start creeping up the neckline. Like Keith Urban. He’s a gorgeous guy, but those tattoos up the neck. Hope to see you again! Brenda

  4. Brenda – You look so casual/glam in these photos. Fashion has been creative and fun for me since I was a child. My little grandson referred to me as fancy. The truth is I’m obsessed with fashion and style.

    • Casual/glam. I like that, Colleen. Thank you. That’s elevated for sure. I’d love to see pictures of your “fancy.” Love that term. Since you love fashion and style, what would you like to see me talk about? I’d really like your ideas and interests. xoxox, Brenda

  5. You look simply amazing Brenda! That duster is magnificent. I couldn’t agree with you more about leggings and covering your bum. It’s mandatory. Please do tell how you styled the cameo on a leather strap. I’ve got one languishing in my jewelry box that I’d love to style in a more modern way.
    Thanks for joining us. xo

    • Thanks, again, Jennifer for inviting me! I always enjoy joining you and Cindy. I can’t take credit for the cameo. It’s my dear friend, Anna Porcu. Take a look at her website. Her designs and her work are exquisite. Until I met Anna, I wasn’t interested in cameos, but her pieces are extraordinary. xoxox, Brenda

  6. Hi Brenda

    Amen to covering the bum! I adore those Spanx leggings. They are the best, and I love how you have accessorized them. That silver kimono…I need that! I am going to be on the hunt for one. Always love a crisp white shirt, especially with the silver hair. Thank you so much for joining us. You always bring so much to the plate!

    • Cindy, My thanks to you and Jennifer for inviting me again! It’s always such a treat. The silver kimono would look fabulous on you with your hair and a white shirt. A friend of mine in Italy made it. You’re good at finding things online, so you may come up with something equally as fabulous. Your collection of Native American jewelry would be awesome with it. xoxox, Brenda

  7. Shorter women, no matter their age, look adorable in leggings. Once you get 5’4” or over and of a certain age, it takes a much longer top, practically a dress. I’m sure lots of people disagree. This opinion comes from my hobby of people watching while flying too often.

    • Hi Nancy, I’ve always had the opposite problem. I’m 5’8″ and pants are usually too short for me. Obviously you’ve made a study of what looks good on you. Brava! I think most people just buy what they like without a thought about whether it’s flattering on them or not. Airports… Aren’t they the BEST place for people watching? I usually take a book when I’m traveling, but I windup watching my fellow travelers instead of reading. It’s so entertaining! xoxox, Brenda

  8. I ordered a pair of your Spanx leggings. I like the little bit of sheen and glam. A great choice for elevating leggings and yes, I don’t want to see anyone’s bum! You inspire me to dress better. Thank you! Xo Barb

  9. I HAVE NEVER EMBRACED THE LEGGINGS………..especially the faux leather.
    But then again I’m not the typical dresser!
    I find the leggings on the older women outline their knees which isNOT A GOOD LOOK either.
    I totally agree about cover the BACKSIDE……..some of these women in the grocery store need a photo of themselves as to ALL THAT IS SHOWiNG!
    HAPPY to see TARA here……………hope she is doing well.
    Lets chat soon!

    • Elizabeth, No. You are the opposite of the typical dresser. You have a style that is no one else’s, and we love you for it. These are the only leggings I own, and they’re not faux leather, but they’ve turned out to be a good base from which to build many different outfits. Yes. Talk soon! Love, Brenda

    • You’re sweet, Sandy! Thank you! You always do a great job of adding a crisp white shirt and some fabulous jewelry when you wear leggings. Don’t know what prompted me to buy these particular leggings, but they’re the only ones I own, and I don’t often wear them to work out. xoxox, Brenda

  10. Our kinship continues! From the dusters to the exact same black slip ons …. Vince replaced by Vionics for comfort … and a fabulous inexpensive white linen shirt is a great cover up dog walking in the summer heat and humidity …. a supply from Amazon each summer. May I say your lady friends are fabulous writers too! Kisses to your Annie! ❤️

    • Yes? You have the Vince slip-ons? Just took a look at Vionics. Love the patent leather loafers they feature on their home page. Thanks for the tip! I used to have an endless supply of oversized, white linen shirts I wore with blue jeans and a camisole underneath. Think I have one left. So happy you liked Jennifer and Cindy’s offerings. I’ll tell them! Kisses to you and your Annie! xoxo, Brenda

  11. As as general rule I don’t wear leggings except to yoga so I’ve never thought of dressing them up until now. Great job Brenda! I’m going to see how I can add something, maybe even the Spanx leggings to my wardrobe because they’re comfortable. I don’t wear jeans a lot anymore. Don’t know why. They just don’t look good on me anymore. I weigh about the same but things have shifted if you know what I mean.

    • LOL! Linda, I do know what you mean. The real estate’s not in the same neighborhood anymore. It’s two houses down! Makeup artist, Sandy Linter, once told me she didn’t wear blue jeans much any more because they didn’t look as good on her as they did when she was younger. I don’t wear them much anymore because now I order everything online, and blue jeans and bathing suits are hard enough to find when you’re going from store to store. Can’t imagine finding the right ones online. xoxox, Brenda

  12. You look so elegant and the unexpected pink silk lining in the Kimono is a nice surprise. You and Jennifer Denton even moved everything around for your
    photo shoot. Your home is lovely, even without your area rugs. Yes, always cover your touche when wearing leggings. So many ladies do not, and it’s not
    so nice. I made that miss step once and I was told by a loving family member because a relative was coming over that afternoon I should cover my bum. I was so happy that I was told. Live and learn, I’ve never made that mistake again.
    Your white shirt looks classic, I like that on you.

    • Katherine, If I had to guess, I think we’ve all been cautioned by a family member or a friend about something that’s not as flattering on us as we might think. If it’s done with love, I welcome this input. I’m crazy about white blouses and white t-shirts, but I can’t find the good old 100% cotton ones the Gap used to sell for $29. It’s hard to find an all cotton t-shirt that doesn’t look wrinkled or is so thin you can see the details on the bra you’re wearing. I’ve managed to take good care of two old Gap t-shirts. They’re still white, but my dryer has a malfunction and is making brown streaks across them. Grrrr…. Loved your comment! Love seeing you here! xoxox, Brenda

  13. Hi Brenda,
    So sorry to hear what your dryer is doing, time for a new one or service call? I don’t know if you like crew neck, I purchased many colors I think it was last year from Talbot’s long sleeve. 100% cotton. My hubby accidently put one in the low or no heat or tumble dry and it did shrink, now not so comfortable in it. I’ve heard that Land’s End has nice cotton tees. I am like you I was raised on 100% cotton, so hard to fine. It’s too bad Gap no longer carries the tees that you love.
    Yes the family member is more like a daughter to me (I’ve never had children) however helped raise my husband’s two boys. My niece is always coming from LOVE, and I so appreciated her telling me that many years ago.

    • Katherine, Dryers can be dangerous to the lifespan of our clothes! I’ve never had children, either. You’re blessed that you have two young women who love and care about you. xoxox, B

  14. C O R R E C T I O N: First mistake I’ve ever made in my life! I meant to say LL Bean has pima cotton tee’s they are supposed to be good. I have never purchased one yet.

  15. Brenda! Love the duster and your links to others, thank you! You look lovely and a popped collar is so flattering and fun. So interesting to learn how gravity and spine compression changes the shape of the bum! That explains it! Need to learn more about collagen – is liquid or powder best absorbed/utilized? I’m with you that I prefer leggings over jeans because jeans just don’t fit like they used too. And yes to a great fitting white T!

    • Ginger, We agree on everything! I’ve asked Dr. Barbara Bergin (she left the comment about spine compression and the shape of our bum) to resume her blog here on 1010ParkPlace. She has a list of things we all want to know, including collagen. Everyone says we need collagen, but I want to know if putting in on my body or ingesting it does any good. Stay tuned, Ginger! Thanks for your comment. xoxox, Brenda

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