Beneath The Surface

The most crucial element for our health and wellbeing is nourishment. First, you must adequately nourish your body and mind. Clean water, food from nature (not from a factory), some exercise each day, and a closet stocked with a few neutral classics can get you off to a great start in life.

A proper bra is another fundamental element in our attempts to look our best. Smoothing and lifting foundations mean that my clothes look their best. Bra styles change with technology, bodies change with age, and as little as a five-pound weight gain or loss. I wear the Ultimate style longline bra from every day. Panty lines don’t show when I wear these. (Note: I am not compensated for this post in any way. I share this information because so many readers have asked.)

For most of my adult life, warm weather has brought a bit of wardrobe anxiety because that means I have to give up my jackets. Tops with scoop or V-necklines and styles that flow smoothly across my body with uneven hemlines are my current favorites. I wear them with slim-fitting pants and add accessories to give the looks personality.

The top I am wearing is by IC Collection, and the pants are from last year by Lior Paris (“Lize” is similar) both via here.

The shoes are from last year by Thalia & Sadi. The bag is from a couple of years ago by Tahari via T.J.Maxx. The Thistle & Bee cuff was a gift from Mr. Mickey. When it is too warm to wear scarves around my neck, I drape them across my arm or my handbag to have them while dining in cold restaurants. Shivering throughout my meal is genuinely unpleasant.

A bit of history about the setting for these photos: my first retail job was as a visual merchandiser for Parks Belk, which once existed in this building. There used to be display windows to the right and left of the doors. I spent whole days in those windows creating displays to lure shoppers into the store. I once built a window display showing a beautiful dining room complete with candles in crystal holders. When it came time to change the window out, I discovered that the candles had melted from the heat of the afternoon sun. The building is once again home to a Belk store, but the display windows have been removed.

  1. I have issues with finding jeans and pants that don’t “grow” throughout the day and this leads to issues with needing a belt but wanting to wear a top “outside” or tunic style and having the “belt bump” issue. Can you either talk about this problem or suggest brands that don’t grow while wearing throughout the day? I have a pair of chico khaki skinnies that I found at a resale and thought it would be the perfect way to try the brand….the size was 0 but with the stretch they fit perfectly …. until I tried to wear with a cute tunic and over the course of the evening the got looser and so I determined I might need a 00 but haven’t gone that route yet cause it was mean paying full price and still not knowing if they’d do the same thing.

    1. Look at the spandex content in jeans. That will tell you how much or if they are going to stretch. I have some Jag jeans with a smooth wide waistband which stretch the least of any of the others I own. I got them at in a couple of different styles and colors.

  2. Talking about the display windows in stores brings back memories of the stores on our city square. All the stores had these display windows that were fabulously decorated all year. But they outdid themselves on holidays. July 4 had picnic scenes with red white and blue. Thanksgiving had the dining table laid out for family dinner. And at Christmas….well they were fabulous. Nothing a mall has these days can begin to match. I think some of the big stores in NYC still do their windows but the disappearance of these downtown stores definitely signaled the end of an era.

    Due to surgery for breast cancer I have a very difficult time finding bras that fit so I’ll definitely take a look at Soma. And Susan, don’t worry about how you look in the summer… You look fabulous in every season. I love the cobalt blue with white pants.

  3. Oh my gosh, I absolutely love this outfit! I especially love that red handbag. I have an obsession with handbags and red is a color I’ve never thought to carry. I will now be searching for a good red bag!
    Thanks for the info on the bras, too. I struggle with finding proper fitting bras because I am petite with a generous bust. 5’3″ 115 lbs and a 34DD. I’m always looking for ways to “hide” my assets.
    I really look forward to your blog posts each day. Thank you!

  4. As always, some great advice Susan. I love these vibrant colors on you. One of my hobbies is reading and collecting books (both current and vintage)on fashion, etiquette and department stores. Living in NYC, we continue to have stores that go all out with window displays, particularly around the holidays. Bergdorf Goodman, Lord & Taylor and Barneys are tops for this. We also have some beautiful buildings along a stretch of lower Fifth, Sixth and Broadway that were known as “Ladies Mile” for their exquisite stores.

  5. As a redhead I don’t wear red, but I love this look with a red handbag and trim on the scarf!! Thanks to you I switched to Soma bras and love them!!

  6. Thank you for another lovely uplifting post. Reading your blog is my treat during my work break. You have a wonderful outlook on life!

  7. Could you explain more about the spandex content? I want a white linen button down short sleeve shirt. Do you know where to find those? If I wore a white linen shirt would you wear a white tank or contrasting like smoky blue? Thanks so much I
    look forward to all of your posts. I just saw that Soma has a back smoothing bra.

    1. Levi’s 314 Shaping Straight-Leg Jeans are known as one of the best jeans for not stretching out. Elastane or Spandex makes the pants stretchy and comfortable to wear, but it also means they will sag and lose their shape after a while. I would wear a white tank with a white blouse.

  8. A newbie to your site. Just wondering how tall you are. I am a petite and wondered if you had any tips for us shorter gals.
    Janet from Ohio

    1. I am 5’6″.
      Proportion is key for petite women. Never wear tops that are boxy. Smaller bags will look much better than large ones. Never wear a top or tunic that comes past your fingertips. Straight verticle lines and V-Necks are good for you. Wear the same color or tone of a color from head to toe. Steer clear of bulky garments. Straight leg pants will likely look best on you.

  9. Such a beautifully put together outfit you have on today. I fondly remember display windows decorated so beautifully in Chicago. As a young girl my mother and I would often go “window shopping” on Saturday afternoons. I always thought that would be a dream job to have. Much later I read an article about a lady that did just that at Marshall Fields. I discovered it was very hard work and somewhat stressful to meet the deadlines for each new window display since they changed so frequently. Thanks for reminding me of a very fond and pleasant memory. Thank you also for the tips on the undergarments. I will check them out as soon as I can.

  10. I love the colors blue and white on you and the combination with the scarf and the grey hair Most of all I love the red bag.
    Every paragraph of this post is a lesson for me (life philosophy ,some very useful practical information and a little history) I have not much time but it is the only blog I always read .

  11. Great look on you! I haven’t been keeping up with purchasing your latest underwear suggestions; however when I found your blog about a yr and a half ago, I eventually read thru all the older posts. So last summer I bought two of you older suggestions. Vanity Fair back smoothing bras found at Stein Mart & the Maidenform top slimmer. Wow, big improvement over what I had been wearing! Thanks much for all the details & look forward to eventually trying the newer models.

  12. Susan,
    Love your style.
    Received scarves from you this week. They both go perfectly with my cardigans from Cali and York that arrived today. Thank you for your suggestions…..they look beautiful! Everything arrived in time…..leaving for a Mediterranean cruise tomorrow.
    Would love to see you do a topic on scarves and how to wear them.
    Have a great weekend!


    1. Have a wonderful time! Fold the scarves into a triangle, drape across your shoulders, tie the ends, then switch the knot to your shoulder for now. I will try to do a video for you on this soon. Thank you for the feedback!

  13. Susan,
    I’m getting ready to order my first time from Clara Sunwoo. Are there any discount codes that I can apply? I tried April17 and it did not work.
    Love love your blog and all your great fashion advice.
    thanks, Stella

  14. I love this top. Is it still available? Does it come in other colors? I haven’t been able to find it on their website.

  15. Hi Susan,
    Thank you for all the effort you put into sharing this wonderful information. I did have one request — if possible, could you offer ideas on styles that would flatter women with larger hips? Perhaps you have done this already, and I just missed it or forgot (that seems to happen more often these days!). The swingy blue top you show here is very attractive, but I am unsure how it would look on a mature “hourglass” figure. Thank you.

    1. If my hips were larger than my top half, I would wear dark slim-fitting slacks or straight skirts. (Not tight just no extra fabric at all.) I would wear tops that were lighter in color that show the shape of the upper body (not loose). The goal should always be to bring the eyes up to your face. I hope this helps.

  16. Love the clothes you style. I am a petite 5’2″ and I would like to know how tall you are. Sometimes you look petite in the pictures and other times you look tall.

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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.