2018 Styling Missteps

Bloggers often do a review of their favorite ensembles for the past year. Today I want to share my least favorite looks for 2018 and explain why the way I combined those pieces did nothing for my shape. As a reader pointed out, “I also learn from your mistakes.” Not everything looks good on my inverted triangle busty shape, as I am about to show you.

On the right is a top that a busty woman should never wear. The same top would look great on a tall woman with an apple shape. Our busts create a tent effect when we wear a top that is boxy and long. Instead, we need to wear looks more like the one on the left. A slim-fitting column of one color with a contrasting jacket, cardigan, or vest creates a much more flattering silhouette for us busty gals.

A hairstyle that is long enough to pull down those puffs of hair around the sides of my face is infinitely more flattering for my roundish face. Bright sunlight on the left was filtered through silk window shades, making it much more flattering. Natural light can be very harsh outside at noon.

These similar summer looks show examples of some things I need to avoid. A neckline that that is open too wide exposes too much of my aging neck and décolletage. The look on the left is much more appropriate. Smaller and repeating geometric print such as dots or stripes is more versatile and flattering. The pants on the right are much too tight on my wide calves. Both shoes are good options for me. Women with large calves and thick ankles should avoid delicate-looking shoes with totally flat soles.

Long shapeless garments layered and worn together, as in the center photo, are not flattering to the female form. The garments on their own are lovely, but when I wore them together, I created a large rectangle. My shape looks better when I create the illusion of a waistline with a short fitted jacket or slim-fitting pants. A belt peeking out from an open jacket is also flattering.

I hope this exercise has helped you see how making small changes in the way we style our hair and clothing can help us look our best. Thank you for blogging reader Cheryl, for the suggestion to do this post.

  1. Amen, Amen, Amen to never showing a wide expanse of our neck and shoulders. I almost always move the eye up with scarves or statement collar necklaces.

    Also as our bodies change shape, the soft tunic styles with the open necklines make us look more washer woman than stylish women

  2. Your generosity in sharing your own self critiques is a learning experience that does help. I love the tank dress looks though I can see the downside with your example. Amazingly instructive. Thank you for time and effort.

  3. Great post and very helpful. Being busty as well I know I look better when I can layer with a jacket, however, that is not always possible due to weather. That is often when I get in trouble!

  4. My hair type is exactly like yours. Thanks to your example I am wearing it similar to yours. I love my hair for the first time in my life!

  5. Do you know of a mascara that doesn’t clump or get “stiff”? My lashes are blonde at the tip . So I need mascara.


  6. Helpful. I’d enjoy seeing more comparison photos, even if it’s a look you did not actually wear out in public, haha. It helps.

  7. Loved these examples. Now that I’ve seen this post, I’d like to see a post about all the things you do with jackets like the denim one. Now I know why I love my denim jacket. The length creates a waist, the collar minimizes my throat area. It’s just the right length for my proportions. But sometimes I want to dress up the denim jacket(or similar jackets) to give them some pizzaz.
    So thank you for showing these looks.

  8. This is one of my favorite posts of yours. You always look so polished and put together, but this shows that we can all continue to learn what works best for us. Thank you for sharing!

  9. I love how you show what ‘doesn’t’ work as well as what does. It allows us to see the effect of something that does not work with our proportions. The clothes are lovely, they just don’t look lovely on everyone! Your blog is wonderful.

  10. Susan, loved this blog. I am the same height and weight as you, busty as well and was wondering …what do you think of flare leg pants for our size/shape?

  11. Susan,
    I had reached out recently and had not heard back from you, and now I cant find the shirt I was inquiring about. Its a white button down from Everlane. I wanted to ask you about the sizing and if you had any issues with the size. I love that style shirt (white button down) but find that since I am large busted the shirts look too baggy to accommodate. What is your feedback? Do you also remember which post you presented that shirt?

    Thank you,

    1. I’m sorry you didn’t get my answer last time. I will email it to you as well this time. I bought the relaxed fit Everlane shirts in white on white, gray on white and also blue and white. I have enjoyed wearing all of them very much. They are great to layer over in cooler weather and breezy in summer. I bought as size 10 and I am happy with the fit.

  12. As a busty woman, I have worn my fair share of “tents” thinking to camouflage my sins and regretted it because it only made me look worse. I am heavy, though, so it is interesting to me to see that even a tiny person such as yourself can be sabotaged by the same piece of clothing! Body shape is a challenge no matter what size one may be. Thank you for all the trouble you go to in order to help us. It is greatly appreciated.

  13. For informative. Love this idea of sharing mistakes with us all. It makes you very real and one of us! Love your blog; learn so much. Getting compliments when I style my look like yours! I have similar body style and height as you (large bust, apple shape, thick calves and ankles) but I weigh more. Your styling tips still work for me.

  14. Thanks for this information! Seeing the pictures, along with the narrative is so helpful! I have Checked out other blogs for women over 50 or 60, and I find often their suggestions are not in keeping with what I would ever wear ( leggings and tunics – no, no, no). So I’m very thankful for your very classic sense of style. God bless!

  15. Thanks for sharing ideas that I hadn’t thought of, and thanks for caring about how we put ourselves together. You have made such a difference in my thinking.

  16. Susan, as an inverted triangle about your age, I really appreciate your tips WITH pictures! The way you tell us and show us is SO great!!! Keep these coming.

  17. Thank you Susan! I have learned more from you in my 63 yrs than any fashion magazine or blog. I loved the way you showed us why certain clothes look good, but not together. You have given me so many ideas. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and Mr. Mickey.

  18. Sorry Susan,

    You may not like the first photo, top right, but I think that you look fabulous in those bright colors!

    Katie Thomas

  19. Very helpful, as usual. I discovered taking a photo of myself makes it easier to critique than looking in the mirror. Not quite sure why but it helps me. Glad to see I’m not the only one who doesn’t look good in the very popular tents. I’m never comfortable with a belt. I think it draws attention to my thick middle. Even tho I’m big busted my middle is competing. Can you show us different ways to wear belts and maybe different styles of belts you wear?

  20. This is like a more sophisticated version of Glamour Magazine does and don’ts! Do you have a pear shaped friend and/or an apple shaped friend who would let you dress and photograph them like this? You have changed how I look at clothes.

  21. Hello!

    Admire your courage! As an introvert I’m probably never going to write a blog, but enjoy hearing your down-to-earth and practical advice on how to dress better (sensibly)! I’m learning and especially enjoyed your advice on selfies! It is true that the mirror does lie.

    Also would suggest that you incorporate a blog on how useful it is to see yourself FROM THE BACK. Our recent bath renovation gave me a ‘rear view mirror’ and THAT was an education.

    All the best!

  22. Thank you for all your tips to help us look our best. It really boosts our confidence when we know we are well put together. People notice and the compliments keep flowing. My outfits have certainly benefited from your sage advice. I don’t miss a post. Thanks to you I also learned about Eat to Live by Dr. Joel Fuhrman. I have purchased the book and am about to launch the new year with some superior nutrition. I cannot thank you enough.

  23. I really enjoyed this post. It gives me much to think about with my rectangular shape. Question for different topic: do you know of any places that sell nice jewelry similar to French Kande but a little less expensive?

    1. I’m sorry for the delay in answering you. I have been searching for similar jewelry. Judith Ripka and David Yurman make somewhat the same styles, but they are even more expensive. Take a look around on Etsy. Perhaps you can find a young designer who charges less for similar looks.

  24. You are so generous to share these looks. It’s easy to share the winners, but you are kind to share the losers and explain them. I am grateful.

  25. Susan, it is a work in progress to keep up with the styles, and what works best for our body shape. We make mistakes and learn from them. Thanks for sharing yours. Pat

  26. this is so generous of you and spot on ! I’m learning a lot ! I think you look great! ladylike, not stodgy. classy and not staid
    you make me want to be around you- you look curious about the world yet confident. everything in perfect proportion.

  27. Thank you Susan for this informative article. When shown together the ‘better’ look is obvious. Close fitting pants can be difficult and I tend to go for those that skim the widest part of the leg where possible even if you have to go up a size.

  28. This was a fantastic read and so helpful. I have found the yes and no photos so informative and helpful. The hair cut photos were super helpful too. Happy Christmas, and every wish for a healthy, fun filled and exciting 2019

  29. I need to take a photo of your hair to my hairdresser! I always seem to have those “wings” either side. It’s so annoying, I don’t know how to get away from it as my hair is a little wavy and not very thick.

  30. Do you find yourself wearing more pants and/or pant suits/ separates than skirts and dresses? I do in my 60’s and why is that? It seems looking at your pictures you’ve done the same.

  31. Another useful and informative post, Susan. Brave, also, to show less flattering styles. Love the way you use jackets, although they are not always practical in our hot (Australian) climate.

  32. That was such a great post. Those things are so subtle, but I will definitely be more aware of those points. I am quite new to your blog but I feel that I have learned so much. Thank you.

  33. I get what you are trying to teach us,I personally didn’t see anything wrong with any of your outfits,until you pointed some things out side by side.
    You look lovely in them all.
    Merry Christmas,

  34. This was so helpful. I am really starting to pay attention to how I look, hair, glasses and jewelry and clothing. It’s amazing how little things can change your appearance! I have a picture from this past summer, I look like sponge bob square pants, I am a big square! That’s all I can focus on when I see the picture. It takes effort to look nice. Thank you!

  35. I love this post! As another busty inverted triangle I know it’s so hard to get that balance. What I see from your pictures is that at least one part of the outfit needs to be slimming for balance.

  36. Thank you so much Susan. Your blogs are always so helpful, I just wish I had the same body shape as you so I could just copy your wonderful eye for fashion.

  37. What a great review. I work in a boutique and help so many women with their “looks” your article really pointed out some things I hadn’t thought of. Thank you

  38. Thank you for the helpful photos. Could I wear a black tank and slim black pants with a brown blazer? How would you style it? how with jeans? Thanks and Merry Christmas!

  39. Except for the first tent-like top, which I think you originally presented as something not to wear, I think even your “don’t” look pretty good. Yes, they could be more flattering, but you’re always well groomed and thought out.
    For one reason or another we can’t always assemble outfits that are perfectly flattering -something things are in the laundry- but we an always assemble a look that is neat, clean, and not slobby. You always meet those critiera!

  40. Susan, I just found your website and I am enjoying it immensely. I will be 75 in March and consider myself fashion dysfunctional.

    I have been watching a lot of YouTube videos on fashion and wonder what your thoughts are on that half tucked in half tucked out look. I am 5’7″ and wear a size 10 so weight is not a problem but is this too youthful a look for a 75 year old.

    Same thing with cuffing my jeans. I can’t remember seeing if you cuff your jeans (have to recheck). Does this look cut you visually and make you look shorter and possibly heavier.

    Another thing I notice (Chico’s, J Jill, Talbot’s) are how popular ankle jeans are. Don’t those also cut you visually and make you look shorter.

    I would love you take on these fashion looks.

    1. In the summer, I do wear ankle jeans often, but I pair them with nude shoes. They are cooler since I do not wear shorts. When I wear a pair of short booties, I often pair them with ankle jeans so that the pants don’t interfere with the top of the boot. I don’t cuff my jeans because my legs are short and a cuff makes them look even shorter. I like straight leg jeans because flares make us look wider. I have half-tucked my shirts in the past, but don’t plan to continue doing that. That look only works with a perfectly flat tummy. Thanks for reading my blog!

  41. This is *so* helpful! Thank you. Especially the info for minimizing a busty appearance. Sometimes I feel like my bust precedes me into a room.

  42. I have really enjoyed your honest statements about age, style and life. I will go to my grave wearing makeup, good jewelry and some kind of fashion statement. It is a constant irritation to see women younger than me (I am 73) who have “given up” and just throw on any old thing, go for months without a haircut, and wear no makeup or even just moisturizer. This is not about economics–or it doesn’t have to be–it is about attitude!

    I have especially appreciated your discoveries about what really looks best n you. I struggle with this as I’ve had to forgo high heels, exposed necklines, and very thinning hair. You have helped me make better choices that have, in turn, given me back some of the confidence I’d lost due to not quite feeling right (or enduring my daughters-in-law eye rolls)! Thank you so much.

    It has been hard to donate my expensive wool or cashmere sweaters but two of me could fit in most of them because I always bought expansive, long, tunic styles to “hide” my expansive bustling. My real size is about a Petite Medium to Large, but for years I only bought XL or even 1x sizes to avoid any “cling”. I’ve felt so much better now that I’ve begun to wear things that actually fit me.

    Maybe you might address this in a future blog? Thanks for being an inspiration.

    Memory Blodgett

  43. I really like the tops you show from Covered Perfectly. I would like to order some but need to know if they hug ones body. I don’t want a baggy top but also don’t want clingy.

    Pleased to hear your response.

  44. I enjoy your posts. You have so many great suggestions that resonate with me. Different styles I do not feel good wearing and you define why that is. Thank you. You are lovely.

  45. Dear Susan, December 26, 2020
    I, think you look stunning in every single outfit—above! ‘Variety, is the spice of life‘! If, anyone said differently they were, just, extremely jealous! The, amazing navy and white outfit—in, the center photo—was the classy one, that, caught my eye—leading, ME, to read the article! I, was trying to find out where to purchase something exactly like it! I, love flowing lines! What, a, free-feeling to wear; and, for others to look upon! Please, forgive, my, impertinence—at disagreeing with you—or, whomever, was…. but; I, truly feel fashion is often a matter of opinion!
    What, a, beautiful model, you are! With, such a gorgeous face, hair and figure, it, pains, ME, to read derogatory words about you—or, your outfits! If, everyone could put together style with just half of your talent, this world would be a much more lovely place! Again; please, forgive, me—for speaking out—and, owning, my-voice; but, I, just have to interject, that, you would make any outfit look fabulous!
    Very, sincerely,
    Jan Hansen

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I share tips and inspiration for using what you already have in contemporary ways. Defining words include effortless, classic, refined, discreet, and elegant. My style is chic, minimal, and timeless with a bit of edge.