May 11, 2021

Brenda Kinsel – a Tribute

Brenda Kinsel – a Tribute


It is with an incredibly heavy heart that I write this post.  The news earlier this week that a beloved colleague, friend and mentor, author Brenda Kinsel had passed away shocked me and the whole image consulting world along with her devoted fans.  It is hard to believe such a vibrant soul with such a zest for life and style is no longer with us.

Here is an extra from a message from her beloved daughters Erin and Caitlin:

“This past Sunday we said goodbye to our beautiful, courageous, creative, ambitious, and, of course, stylish mother, Brenda. Her last moments were surrounded with the deepest love from her partner Russ, her three children Trevor, Erin and Caitlin, and her brothers Brent and Kirk. She passed peacefully and with grace.

Her passing was unexpected, the result of a new medication that had a devastating side effect. We are in total disbelief, as I’m sure all of you are also. Suddenly dealing with the grief of losing our mother has been a tremendous shock.”

If you’re not familiar with Brenda’s work, I highly recommend you check out her blog and read her books.

Brenda’s Fashion Makeover

40 over 40

Brenda’s Wardrobe Companion

In the Dressing Room with Brenda

Brenda’s Bible

Brenda Kinsel has had a profound impact on my image consulting journey and  I know she also had a positive impact on many of you too.

Brenda Kinsel 2009 AICI Conference California

At my very international AICI image conference in California back in 2009, I’d devoured Brenda’s books and was delighted on the first evening of the event to discover whilst waiting for the lift to my room, that a woman who looked uncannily like the aforementioned author was standing next to me waiting for the same lift.   Pushing aside fear of embarrassment and my natural introvert nature I decided to introduce myself, and basically “fan girled” all over her, and by the time we’d hit the 6th floor I had an agreement with her that she’d come to Australia to one of our conferences and present there (which happened a few years later).  

Brenda Kinsel a the AICI conference in Australia

Brenda Kinsel 2011 at AICI Conference in Sydney

I interviewed her at that conference and her tips stand the test of time.

I remember listening to Brenda sharing her pearls of wisdom and thinking “I want to be like Brenda when I grow up”.  She always shared her knowledge so generously and had an authentic desire for everyone to succeed, never feeling that if someone else succeeds, then that means you fail.    I  hope that I can be half as good an image consultant as Brenda was and give those who train with me as much support and knowledge so that they too can succeed in this wonderful career. 

Every time I went to the US I got to reconnect with her and it was always such a delight to do so.  She had a brilliant sense of humour, always kind, supportive and empowering and was authentically genuine to her core and oozed loveliness.   

Brenda Kinsel was the bomb!

From Brenda, I learned the value of Style Recipes, which I ‘ve written about here many times, as they are such an incredible tool to help you get out of decision paralysis which can happen to you with the overwhelming number of style options available to you in our global marketplace.  She recently wrote about updating her own style recipe to include LOVELY, which she was to her core).

In fact, I put the volume of information on my blog I would attribute in part to Brenda as before I started it I listened to her talk about writing her books, her method was to set aside time a little bit every day for her writing.  And even though I’m not writing a book, that approach over time has meant I’ve produced this enormous body of work.  As they say, you underestimate about how a small amount of regular effort turns into something huge over time.

with Brenda Kinsel at the AICI Conference in Chicago

Of course I have also shared Brenda’s Beauty Bundle concept here many times (and use it all the time myself) as it makes accessorising so easy.

I’m so glad that I got to spend some quality time with her last year in Chicago, we managed to sneak off to lunch, just the two of us where she’d ask me questions as if I were the expert and her the student and we got so engrossed in our conversation we never got round to eating our food.

She sat beside me at the AICI Gala dinner table before my Jane Segerstrom Award was announced, reached out and held my hand and said “It’s you!  It’s you!” before I even realised it was me.  That she made everyone feel important and valuable was one of her brilliant strengths which is why it does not surprise me at all that I was not the only one she touched in this positive way.  

Brenda Kinsel 2019 Chicago AICI Conference

I asked some of my readers to share how Brenda has impacted on their life and style, and wanted to share these thoughts with you as a tribute to her body of work and the legacy she leaves behind.

Brenda’s Legacy

She shared her HEART.  Her posts and blogs and books were real down to earth – full of human emotion – one minute you could be giggling with her and the next welling up with tears…
She will be missed by me and many others… :'( Suzy

She was an awesome, generous, wise and wonderful lady who was a friend and mentor to so many. Mary Anne

I loved reading her blog and through them, feel like I knew her although we never met. Several pieces in my wardrobe are there because she shared a way to style them that inspired me. My heart hurts for her family, friends and those of us who felt we knew her from her warm & wonderful posts. Gwen

She was such a lovely person and though we’d never met I really liked ‘talking’ to her. Jane

She was my style inspiration! She was so supportive to me too Ruth

Brenda was such a gracious and generous soul who devoted her life to making women (especially older women) feel beautiful and stylish so they could go out into world with confidence and take on any challenges coming their way. I was lucky enough to spend a few hours with her in 2008 when she visited NYC. We had coffees, discussed life and fashion and then saw a book signing in Saks Fifth Avenue with Christian Louboutin. She was so delightful and charming and I am so sad for her loss and for her beloved family and fiancé Russ. Rebecca

I loved her zest for life and colour and style for everyone. Kind and uplifting. Her blog was written so I felt I knew her. Julie

Brenda’s warm, kind, heartfelt writing created a generous and inspiring place for her readers. Her love for her family, her work, and life shone through and is such an inspiration to me. She has left a legacy in the style world not only of a beautiful, stylish woman, but also a loving, gracious woman who shared her zest for life with us all.  Joanne

I loved reading Brenda’s blog and learned something new every time I did. Her posts always gave me a boost of confidence. Robin

I loved everything about her. She was sincere, caring, genuinely interested in us, eloquent, grounded and one of the shiniest women I’ve met. She’s how I found you Imogen. She was my hero. My heart is truly broken. Le Anne

 I liked hearing about her family roots in the upper Midwest USA. She showed us how to keep those connections while caring for ourselves and our style. Elaine

She was a true original and had so many useful tools, such as the travel wardrobe worksheet that I almost always use. I loved the style exercises she would sometimes include in her newsletter/blog. One that I recall concerned evolving your style. The exercise involved picking out one item in your closet that really spoke to you at that moment in time and describing it. I asked my husband if he would do the activity with me and surprisingly he said “yes.” I have no idea what I picked out, but I remember he picked a pink and orange bicycle jersey, which–of course–he had to define as bright and colorful. This from a man convinced that he really liked to wear khaki pants and a colorless shirt! Eye opening! Patricia

She inspired me when I had no inspiration. She made me feel great about addressing the dressing needs of those of us a tad bit older. Patty

 I have Brenda’s books and have followed her for years. She was ever evolving but grounded at the same time. Such an encouraging and thoughtful soul. I’ll miss you, Brenda Janet

She inspired me to be adventurous in pattern mixing and colors Jen

I have never met Brenda Kinsel in person, but her books have accompanied me for decades and still do.
I bought two of her books in the German translations when I was still in my early twenties. They were written for women 40+ and I did not fully understand them then, but I loved to read them because the stories she told and the advice she gave were written so warm-heartedly and seemed to come directly from real life.
Later, when I was in my late thirties and returned to work after having two children, not knowing how to dress anymore, sentences from the foreword of one of her books came back to my memory and I read them again.
But my favourite is still the chapter in which she describes how she went shopping with her daughters when they were still little and – after a minor breakdown – decided to treat them like clients and let them choose overalls even though she did not like them. Now I have two little daughters and I bought them a lot of clothes I liked. But at some point I decided to follow Brendas lead and to give away everything they do not like, because they will not wear it anyway. I learned a lot about my daughters and there preferences since I started to listen to them and my inspiration to do so was this anecdote.
I am sure that her death must be a huge loss to everybody who knew her personally, but also that everyone who knew her must have memories of her full of warmth and love and her sense of humor. Silke

Brenda’s rules “love, common sense, kindness – something every woman needs to bathe herself in everyday” these words and every word I read from Brenda had a huge impact on me and stopped me from beating myself up when I was facing the mirror in the changing room. I am so sad to hear she is no longer with us but her words will be with me always. Isobel

Though I didn’t know her personally, her books were so inspirational and helpful that they were the catalyst to starting my style journey. Ellen

I enjoyed so many of her books. I’m glad you got to meet her. Her legacy lives on through those she touched in style and beyond. Tracey

 I will miss her always honest and uplifting Instagram posts. Debbie

I’ve been a fan of hers for years. Following her on social media and subscribing to her newsletter. She seemed like such a genuine warm person Sara

I love her books and follow her closely on social media. She will always be an inspiration  Rebecca

Her books got me started on the style path. Sarah

She was a true inspiration for many. Diane

I have been following her for the last few years and always enjoyed her writing and the warmth that came from it. Rawinia

With Brenda Kinsel, Sarah Brummit, and Sue Donnelly in Chicago 2019

Dearest Brenda, we will miss you forever.   You have touched all our hearts.  Vale!

To her partner Russ, her children Erin, Caitlin and Trevor and all her family I know that I along with all my Inside Out Style readers send their deepest condolences.


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