Meet A Gem! Linda’s Style + How Figuring It Out Is Helping Her Leave A Legacy

Hey lady!

I hope you’re having the best day!

We’re so excited to introduce you to Linda! We got to know her better during last year’s Piece of Cake Closet Challenge, and were so inspired by her style, we asked her to share it with you!

Linda is such a doll, and has so many gems to share about:

  • Why she felt at home in some looks and self-conscious in others (+ how she changed that!);
  • Tips + tricks for women with long legs + a shorter torso;
  • And how figuring her style out helped her focus less on herself and more on others!

Here’s a little bit about Linda!

I grew up in Iowa, Minnesota, and western Nebraska—a real midwestern girl! I met my husband, Bruce, my sophomore year in college. We got married at the age of 20, and I like to joke that “then we grew up!”

We spent five years working with a college campus ministry in Alabama, California, and Ohio; and then spent 4 1/2 years in seminary in Dallas. For three years he was an associate with a church in Kansas and then we were part of starting a church in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where we served for almost 33 years.

During the course of these adventures, I taught school for ten years (junior high and high school English, speech, and developmental reading), and then supplemented our income working for a secretarial service, doing inside sales for a pump company, working as a travel agent, and doing billing and collections for a counseling service and a dental office…all while raising two children!

Bruce now works half time for Dallas Theological Seminary as a special assistant to the president/alumni relations. We travel visiting alumni couples keeping them in touch with the seminary, coaching and encouraging them. In the process we get to make new friends and take them to lunch or dinner…dream job!

Our son, Kip, is a successful automobile engineer who has spent the majority of his career with Ford Motor Company and now is chief engineer with Karma Automotive. Our daughter, Sheila McCarter (an interior architect), is a senior project manager/designer with lauckgroup in Dallas. We have four beautiful grandchildren (an “almost 13 year-old” grandson in Detroit; and 13 year-old granddaughter, 15 and 16 year-old grandsons in Dallas).

How would you describe your style?

My personal style definitely leans toward the classics (with a bit of Oklahoma thrown in here and there I suppose.)

I’d love a wardrobe that channelled the sophistication of Grace Kelly and the casual ease of Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy…but I’d probably be happy with Carolina Herrera’s white blouses and a pair of black pants with boots! 

A fun little fact: I copied a Jackie Kennedy dress for my bridesmaids and was beyond thrilled when that dress became the cover for Jackie: the Clothes of Camelot!

How did you figure out your style?

It took me a lot of years, but now I pay attention to the fact that I am so “at home” in some looks and so self-conscious and uncomfortable in others.

I made lots of mistakes because I could “make do” or something was a “bargain” that was too good to pass up. Because I didn’t have a plan, my closet was full of pieces that only went with one other thing. 

Now, I’m making a concerted effort to shop with a specific list, and to be intentional so I don’t continue buying because something is “good enough.”

And I have given myself permission to pay full price for something that is really special that I know I will love and keep, like:

  • A long braided leather belt;
  • A fringed suede wrap;
  • And my Frye boots.

The pieces I’m drawn to the most are simple cuts made with great fabric. I’ve also discovered that I gravitate to solid colors rather than prints. For some reason, prints make me feel “matronly,” and I want to avoid that at all costs!

How do you make a look feel like you? Is there anything you add or look for?

Necklaces and shoes!

I have a few necklaces that are my “go to” pieces. One is a vintage necklace that looks like the 1930’s and came from my husband’s grandmother. Another is made of amber beads my sister brought from Soviet Georgia with a pewter cross from a New Mexico artist, and the most recent is a gold vermeil chain with green chalcedony stones from a Colorado resale shop! They are all long because I’m tall, and I feel like small pieces “get lost” on me.

In the winter, I always wear boots, and mix it up between cowboy boots, riding boots, and booties. They make me feel like I’ve put some effort into the outfit! In the summer, white canvas shoes are my go-to!

What’s your favorite go-to outfit for a quick polished look?

My white jeans- I’ve gone through multiple pairs! 

In the winter, I pair them with a simple sweater or a chambray (denim) shirt, add one of my favorite necklaces, and finish the look with riding boots.

In the summer, I top off my white jeans and top with a long organic linen sweater or duster. 

What’s your favorite style trick?

The front tuck has become my favorite. I always wished I could tuck a shirt in; however, I am short waisted (maybe just “normal” in that area) but I have long legs—so a tucked in blouse or shirt always makes me look so out of proportion. I’ve discovered that I can do the front tuck and highlight a belt buckle, but leaving the rest untucked keeps the overall proportion good.

Where’s your favorite place to shop?

  1. My “pants place” is  J. Crew, because they have tall sizes that have a 35-37” inseam, and I know their pants fit me! The “tall girl” companies produce garments for women who are “tall” all over—longer torsos, longer in the stride; and I’m pretty average everywhere else.
  2. Dillard’s department stores carry a good selection of Ellen Tracy and Eileen Fisher, and I really like their classic and organic linen pieces. I definitely can not buy the brand at full price, but this store has great sales- 50% off usually, and on special days, an additional 65%. I have had to learn to take a deep breath and stick to my plan so I don’t just snap something up because it’s a “good deal.”
  3. I also love anything  Michael Kors, but again…it takes a sale!

What are your three favorite pieces and why?

  1. Have you guessed it? :) White jeans! I wear them almost year round and have several types of styles: boyfriend fit, skinnies, and straight legs + white cords for when it’s REALLY cold. 
  2. A vintage knit dress with matching sweater with a tag that says “Paris/Montecarlo”—either one is fine with me! I “inherited” it, and it is season-less and elegant!
  3. My black leather skirt. It’s slightly flared and has leather leaves appliquéd on a mesh background with a nude underskirt. I got it in a re-sale shop in Michigan and will wear it for the rest of my life!

What pieces are tricky for you to find and how do you get around that?

Pants that are long enough! It took lots of trial and error until I found J. Crew! 

I love dresses, but most are way too short for me and way too “young.” So unfortunately, the only solution has been to keep buying separates!

What are you passionate about making happen?

I have the advantage of seeing life from the perspective of writing the “final chapters” (and I hope there are lots of them).

I’ve been married for 54 years, 52 of them spent in some form of Christian ministry. I’m more passionate than ever about leaving a legacy that has eternal significance and influencing people in ways that go beyond the material.

Even though I’ve always been conscious of spending, I look at my home and closet and wish I had placed less importance on acquiring and more on influencing.

Greater Than Rubies has given me a framework for getting control of my closet, and giving me the freedom to give away the things I don’t love or never wear.

Has having your style figured out made it easier to make what matters to you happen? How?

Perhaps we all struggle with insecurities in one area or another or are merciless in the way we compare ourselves with others. Having my style clarified has helped me become much less “self” conscious and free to be more “others” conscious.

I don’t want to walk into a situation fretting about whether I’m wearing the “right” thing, worrying that I stand out for the wrong reason, focused on myself.

Figuring out my style and decluttering my closet is giving me such freedom to relax and really see someone besides myself! Caitlin, you really can “teach an old dog new tricks!

Follow along with Linda on her new blog!

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