An Icon

Some confusion ensued when I mentioned my stylist. That would be my hairstylist. I do not have nor have I ever had a personal stylist or shopper.

A practice that helped me develop my style and determine what works best for me was finding a personal icon. A person who has a similar shape is about the same age, or someone who has a look that almost always resonates with you is an excellent starting place. I suggest a famous person because there will be many pictures of them on the internet for reference.

A few years ago, I was intrigued by pictures of Emmanuelle Alt, editor-in-chief of Vogue Paris. She is younger and taller than I, with much thinner legs, but her comfortable casual style struck a chord. I used her examples to learn how to put together basics in a way that flatters my shape. This practice has saved me thousands of dollars and countless hours of trying to figure out what to wear every day.

That’s Ms. Alt above, striding confidently down the street in Milan. I found this image on Pinterest. There was no mention of the photographer.

A famous person often has an equally renowned stylist making sure they always step out in an ensemble that is flattering on them and of the moment. I don’t care about trends, but it helped me figure out what looks best on my shape by studying my icon. The trick is not to try to copy the looks exactly but to follow along until it becomes a natural selection process for you. Whether I am deciding what to wear or buy, I now know almost immediately what will or will not work with my shape and style. I no longer need an icon. The training wheels are off!

The Marc Fisher shoes I am wearing here are from last year. There is a similar style here. I bought the no-name bag in a gift shop earlier this year.

  1. Well, I guess you are my style icon…….we have similar body shapes. I went shopping yesterday & tried on several things, but did not purchase. That little voice in my head……what would Susan do?……..kept playing over & over. I love your blog…….& your suggestions!

  2. Susan, I did know right away that you were referring to your hair stylist. As for finding a style icon, in the few years I have been reading your blog, you have become that for me. I am older and heavier than you, but my thoughts about dressing have long been similar to yours, and you have helped me refine my thoughts and my wardrobe–with no shortage of handy photos to refer to!

    On another subject: in the photo of Emmanuelle Alt, she is casually carrying gear in both hands. I am always astonished to see women on city streets carrying their phones and other important and costly gear in a negligent manner, as little kids tend to do. You never appear that way in your photos, and I think that is one of the subtle strengths of your presentation.

  3. Lovely look as always, Susan. I gave away my last blue jean jacket this week. I have never been happy with any of them down through the years but always thought it was a “must have.” Well, at almost 71, I decided it certainly was no longer a “must have” for me. Who comes up with these lists anyway? Blue jeans jackets just weren’t my style, and I hate any pockets over my boobs, not to mention the horizontal line it creates on my petite frame. Found an Eileen Fisher twill jacket with simple lines that looks so much better on me. A win!

  4. I need advice desperately. I am 64 and I am a W14 on the bottom and a Medium on the top. My waist is at least 10 inches smaller then my hips. I love your style and need help developing a personal style for myself. Can you suggest any style icons for my figure shape?

    1. America Ferrera is a famous woman with a pear-shaped figure. A-line dresses nicely conceal your thighs and hips while the fitted bodice accentuates your narrow shoulder and torso to create a visually balanced look. I recommend boat, halter, and Bardot necklines.

  5. I often see you wearing the single color column look, understand your reason and think it works for you. Whenever I try, something in me says No, it seems too much uninterrupted color. I instinctively gravitate towards a jacket or sweater and pants of one color with a contrasting color tank or shirt or even three neutral colors. I’m guessing it’s because I’m 5’9”, slim to medium build—any good advice for tallish women?

    1. I am only 5’6″ tall with a medium build, so I aim to look taller and thinner. Since you are 5’9″ (lucky you!), your instincts are correct. You can comfortably wear blocks of color.

  6. I love your style and read your blog religiously every time you post, but I just can’t wear pants like you do. Sigh……. Still looking for a blog with a petite over 60 PEAR shaped person. LOL! My best look is a fit and flare dress that emphasizes my waist and flows over my hips and thighs. We’re the same age, but I just wish I could look like you in pants.

      1. I also enjoy reading her blog. I’ve never thought of her as pear shaped although I do know she’s petite. I guess I’m just a lot more pear shaped. LOL! Thanks for the response! I do love reading your blog!

  7. Well Ms Susan, You are one of my icons! However, I’m 55 yrs old, 5 ft tall, an apple shape and need to lose 50 lbs! When I look at your before & after pictures, I see me in your before picture (including my health situation—I have “advanced fibromyalgia” diagnosed in 1999. I recently retired early because of my health). My coloring is fair complexion, strawberry blond hair…warm to bright spring colors. I love your style of simple elegance such as Grace Kelly or Jackie O Kennedy (that’s how I describe it). I do have difficulty finding clothes for my coloring. I would love to see more of your basic/ essential pieces in colors suitable for me for sale in your shop. I truly appreciate your blog and the sharing of pieces of your life. I hope you keep it up for years to come. Oh, and I love seeing Mr Mickey in your posts!

  8. For Debra and other “triangles”, look for clothing stores that sell “curvy fit” pants made just for us. There are only two such stores where I live, and I have to order from their online sites because my size sells out. These pants usually have a higher waistline, due to us triangles generally having higher waistlines…it comes with the shape. And there are petites to plus size with the triangle body shape. Unfortunately, zippers are needed, due to the contoured shaping, so band-free waistbands are very difficult to find.

    Midrise waistbands are my nemesis.

    I follow Susan, but often reverse her thinking, because she’s the opposite shape, the inverted triangle. I can’t ever emulate her looks exactly on my shape, but classy, classic style is always a good thing.

  9. You always look fabulous, Susan, and very true to yourself. I’m also an admirer of Emmanuelle Alt’s relaxed-but-put-together style. And I like the shorter haircut, it’s very fresh!

  10. I love your hair in todays pictures! And as always, thank you Susan for being your authentic self each and every post. You are an amazing woman and my style icon.

  11. Susan, you are my stylist! I have been following your advice for quite some time now and am so much happier with the results. However, I am starting to wonder if I’m delusional. I am much shorter than you – 5 feet. I am not carrying too much excess weight but don’t think I am as slender as you (although I am working on it… :)). Am I still OK following your style? I sincerely do hope so…

    1. If you are happy with the way you look, that’s all that matters. Dressing in a classic style with a few modern twists can work for anyone. Try to choose wardrobe pieces that complement your shape.

  12. Ines de la Fressange is a similar shape to me and always looks marvelous. My clothing budget isn’t quite as expansive as hers, but I do like to try and pick up styling tips from her look.

  13. I always think you look so good but I know that the shoes you wear also top off your outfit. Unfortunately I just cannot wear heels these days with the feet problems I have. I don’t think some of the outfits would look as good with runners or flatish sandals. Do you wear such shoes sometimes?

    1. I have done closet videos and posts about storage in the past. I purchased shoe racks from Bed Bath & Beyond for shoes, and there are built-in shelves in my closet for bags.

  14. How in the world does one stride across cobblestones in spike heels while not looking down at the same time? Remarkable!

  15. Hi Susan, I love the way you look wearing this outfit here! It is chic and timeless!
    One style I do not wear is asymmetrical tops as to me it appears “untidy” for lack of a word.
    With dress up pants I also think good quality leather heeled pumps are more elegant footwear and conveys an elongated leg unlike fussy, multi strapped/detailed shoes!

  16. I watch all of your blogs. Feedback — the chunky shoes in this one (Marc Fisher shoes I am wearing here are from last year. ) heavily ground you and, to my eye. make your legs look fuller particularly in white pants.

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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.