Beyond The Basics

We can inject interest into minimalist staple basics by pairing them with a bold statement piece. Whether luxurious fabrics or dramatic details, an eye-catching updated piece can breathe new life into an otherwise staid combination.

The bodysuit and flare-leg jeans (here) provide the base of the look. The strapless bra is here. My basic look is okay; however, it can be improved by a third piece. Why not a Moto-style denim jacket?

After spending the past few seasons assembling a wardrobe of varied basics, I’m ready to add a few statement items. These elements introduce modernity and fun. While not crucial, statement items can give a predictable ensemble personality. You may already have dramatic pieces you love in your collection.

The oversized, fully lined, cropped denim jacket makes me feel like a rock star. I’ve been eyeing it since early last fall, so when it went on sale here, I could no longer resist.

My skincare routine is here, and the makeup routine is detailed here. My lip color is often a combination of three or more colors. The lip pencil in the color Caprice is here.

If less obvious touches of “wild child” are more to your taste, fishnet tights add a subtle, daring surprise to a basic look. Similar heels are here. The small bag is from By Far and is a couple of years old.

Wine glass socks showcase Mr. Mickey’s wild side.

After we paused to take these photos, my handsome gentleman friend and I enjoyed a delightful evening at Gourmet and Company. We rarely go out to dinner now, so it was a special event.

My adventure partner enjoyed the grouper special very much.

My delectable entree was the Jilton Vegetarian (named after Mr. Mickey).

We also tried the local apple hand pie with housemade ice cream.

Shopping links may allow me to earn a small commission, but I do not accept gifts or do paid product reviews. I’m never being paid to sell you something, so please consider this website a visit from a friend.

  1. You are both Rock Stars!
    This is a beautiful look, amazing how good the black looks from the front and from behind!!! The belt gives it so much class, then the jacket makes an entirely new statement!
    Thank you again for great suggestions, always enjoy seeing the delicious looking food.

  2. This just shows what we can do with the basics if we get creative and try to bring some creativity into the outfit. Very nice! You both look great. And thanks for the lip color information you do know how to mix colors nicely.

  3. I love your blog but am always mystified by the tiny handbags. Why so tiny. Next to your cool bulky denim Moto jacket it looks almost comical. My guess is there is no sunglass case or wallet in the tiny bag. It looks big enough for just a driver’s license, credit card, cash, cellphone (maybe), & a lipstick which, I guess, is really all you need but my prescription sunglasses are expensive and need a sturdy case which would never fit into a bag so small. I’d love to see you with a bag that can hold a few more of life’s necessities.

  4. Well, Susan…as always you nailed it and look great! And as is seeming to happen more frequently someone decided to offer some “constructive criticism” which you didn’t ask for. Not sure why but somehow some people assume it’s ok to do so. I’m sorry that you’re being subjected to others bad manners. I’m very grateful for your blog and all that you give of yourself. Thank you. And congratulations that you got the jacket you were eyeing and that you were able to get it on sale. Blessings to you and Mr Mickey!

  5. Susan, you have been such an inspiration in enhancing my traditional, classic style. I’ve followed you for at least five years and I’ve benefited so much from your store recommendations for particular items. I’ve prayed for your and Mr Mickey’s complete recovery, as a sister breast cancer survivor of nearly 40years!
    For some reason, your posts go straight to my junk folder despite my attempts to share my email with you. I just attempted to post my email again and I hope this time I’m successful. Thank you so very much for your generous assistance to making women feel better about their style. ❤️

  6. As a blogger, one opens herself up to comments from the readers. That being said, it is a sad attestation of the general public that individuals (primarily women, in this case) deem it so necessary to unload their thoughts without any filter!

  7. Your lip color is perfect! I am ordering the lip pencil, but would mind sharing what you layered with it? You both look fabulous!

  8. I love your outfit, your top with the low scoop back, and your slacks are divine. Your stockings and heels and your makeup. look awesome.
    For me this is a formal look, and I love formal., so much more than casual.
    You looked wonderful in this attire.

  9. Fantastic look on both of you! Thank you for all your wonderful ideas on dressing and accessorizing. You are my favorite.

  10. Susan, great post, so interesting how you put that look together! You look just beautiful but I have to say, your Mr. Mickey just about steals the show this time, looking so elegant, handsome and sharp!
    I always enjoy and look forward to your posts. You are inspiring!

  11. I’ll bet you & Mr Mickey sure turned a few heads during your evening out – handsome couple! Your fishnet tights gave his snazzy socks a run for their money this time! I used to wear fishnet tights fairly often when I was younger, I might have to start again! Take care!

    1. Mr. Mickey has mobility issues at almost 90, so we are very cautious about getting out in the bad weather. Additionally, a late afternoon meal is a better choice since we prefer not to eat anything at night.

  12. Strikingly gorgeous. Love the outfit and the fishnet stocking are outstanding! Perfect accent! What a perfectly matched beautiful couple. Keep smiling and thank you again for your posts and the time you take to share ideas!

  13. Seeing you and Mr. Mickey always brings a glow to my heart. You both look marvelous. Your skin is beautiful and I love that lip color. I hope you had a wonderful evening; thanks for sharing it.

  14. I didn’t leave the negative comment, but perhaps can understand their rationale in posting them. I think of them as one might if a group of girlfriends were with a friend shopping who’s trying on various outfits. All echo their opinions, and one or two happen to feel like their attractive friend has looked better in other things, so they might voice a word of caution on getting caught up in the accolades and ignoring a thought about some aspect of the outfit. So don’t be so harsh on someone who perhaps is trying to be the “honest” friend. If everyone is bullied into only accolades, how do you know they’re truly giving honest opinions?

  15. Love your new jacket; you wear it well.
    You two look like you stepped out of T & C.
    Would love a post or a refresh on your beauty routine. Do you get regular facials, Botox or ?
    Cheers to you both as you exude happiness.
    Thanks for sharing a slice of your life.

  16. Just want to compliment you on your hairstyle. It really suits you and is so elegant. You grow more beautiful with the passing of time!

  17. The constant in this blog is that you always look your vey best, Susan, and want us to have the tools to achieve our own beauty and health. But 100 comments that say, “You look great – how beautiful “ is very boring. An open and honest exchange of opinions about trends, skirt length, pocketbooks, etc. is fascinating and ultimately a lot more beneficial.

    1. Questions are always welcome. However, critical comments from people who have no manners and nothing more than keyboard courage without accountability aren’t adding anything beneficial to our conversation.

  18. Hi Susan—although the handbag is nice, I’m wondering would a nice cross body bag have complimented the outfit (especially the jacket) as well or would that have been too much bulk around the middle/hip area

    1. Knowing the small table for two would only allow me a little space for a bag; I chose one small enough to place in my lap under the napkin. A crossbody bag is great if you are shopping and need hands-free, but I prefer something else for the evening. I never place my bag on the floor and always avoid a large daytime bag when out to brunch or dinner.

  19. Translating this look for a large-busted petite, would you say a jacket without epaulets and large open flaps would be better? The oversized look seems hard to pull off.

    1. Yes, you are correct. A slim-fitting jacket without the extra details is a better choice for the petite with a large bust. I am sure you remember some of my more sedate denim jackets, so I gave my inner rebel free rein with this new one.

  20. Hi Susan, you look lovely, as always. Comment and question: your recent posts show you in flare pants. . .are skinny and straight leg pants totally out? Thanks!

    1. Skinny jeans aren’t as popular now as they were for the past twenty years. Straight legs are classic and suit most shapes, but flares, wide-legs, barrel, and tailored styles are very popular at the moment. Since the flare style is more comfortable and flattering on me, I’ve taken advantage of the availability and purchased a few new pairs. I could never get skinny jeans over my thick calves, so I had to skip that trend.

  21. I believe that Susan F’s comment above is ‘spot on’ and eloquently written. Each reader should feel welcome and valued to post her honest opinion. Such interaction will enhance the open dialogue! In this manner, as Susan F stated, the interaction generated will be far more meaningful! I suggest that ‘constructive criticism’ be reread by the poster to ensure that it is not offensive in its word usage and is merely constructive.

  22. Susan, you are a true lady, through and through. It shows in your wardrobe, your demeanor and your words. Writing a blog post would put you “out there” and subject to all kinds of comments, some not so pleasant. Kudos to Mr. Mickey for the wine glass socks!

  23. Dear Susan,
    I always love your classic style tips. I happen to use the skin care line you use, and it certainly works very well for you. So happy Sunday and thank you.

  24. Susan,
    A bit off of today’s topic but do you or have you used the Beauty Counter All Bright C Serum ? I currently use the All Bright Facial Oil and wonder if the C serum would really make a further difference ?
    Your thoughts ?

  25. Susan, you look so fresh and beautiful! Love the classics with the additional bits of unique fun touches!
    Mr. Mickey is extremely well put together, quite handsome! I too, always go to dinner with either a small bag or a clutch that is very tasteful. I always save the medium size handbags for shopping! Nothing drags an outfit down more, than a cumbersome, larger size handbag for an evening dinner.

  26. Hi there, I love the tiny bag. When My husband takes me out to dinner, I always choose one of the smallest bags I own. All I take is my cell phone, a tiny pack of tissues, my driver’s license, and lip gloss. I keep my prescription reading glasses perched on my head. Often, tables for two are so small that the food barely fits! I like my evening bags to be like little works of art that I sometimes sit on the edge of the table, or like you said, in my lap. I prefer evenings bags like yours, that can stand up, instead of having to be layer on their side. They take up less space that way. I absolutely never sit my bag on the floor! you both look absolutely lovely. I agree that Mr. Mickey looks especially handsome in this post!

  27. That jacket has such style! You and Mr. Mickey look stunning.

    Fishnet stockings for you, wine socks for Mr. Mickey. Such a fun and good-looking way to add a subtle touch of pizazz!

  28. Look forward to your blog posts and have replicated your outfits many times with positive comments. Thank you for choosing classic pieces that are adaptable. Would you share where your “partner in dress and dining” buys his imaginative socks? I especially like the wineglass ones (not for me) and would like to buy a pair for my son. I like that they’re understated but still visible. Thank you so much. Trish

    1. Mr. Fun says he can’t remember where he bought those socks. (He has a whole drawer full of wild socks.) I found similar wine socks here, but he buys his at Dillard’s, Nordstrom, Jos. A Banks and Brooks Brothers.

  29. The comments posted by Susan F and Gale concerning ‘criticism’ are extremely well-written and I totally support their opinions.

    1. Let me make sure I understand. I’ve spent thousands of dollars to build and maintain this website to share the lessons, tips, and examples I also paid to learn. I spend countless hours photographing, shopping for products and clothing, writing content, and searching for referral links for similar items. All the information is presented to you for free and without any advertising, and your priority is that you want to be able to complain and criticize my choices. Do I have that right?

  30. Hi Susan, In some of your previous posts you have mentioned your facial age/sun spots. What have you used to eliminate them? Thank you.

  31. Susan,

    That denim jacket is worthy of a “Wow”. It is so stylish with just enough edge to make a modern look. The blue color is perfect for you. Thank you for showing that we can wear what we like at any age.

    I don’t understand the negative comments. You have helped so many women with your blog and put so much time into each post. “If you don’t have anything nice to say don’t say anything.” Lesson when I was a child

    Your outings and wonderful food choices are such a delight.

    Thank you!

  32. Wow! How sharp you both look! Mr. Mickey looks fit and trim, and quite dashing! I love your ensemble, from head to toe! The jacket is so cool, looks very 90’s! Love❤

  33. It seems all the criticism and negativity are on the increase recently. I just don’t understand why women feel the need to be so unpleasant. I’m sorry you have to deal with it.

  34. You look lovely and I always enjoy seeing Mr. Mickey-he’s such a stylish man!! We recently moved to SW Florida and I’m really struggling to look pulled together without the use of a third layering piece. Do you have any suggestions on how to elevate one’s look when it is HOT outside?

  35. I love the petite bag, it is like beautiful jewelry. After much shoulder and neck pain treatment I only take large purse bags and suitcases on an overnight trip. What all can one pack for a meal in a local restaurant?

  36. He is still a dapper gentleman! I don’t see where he has changed a bit since the last time, maybe 6 years ago, when you were having a fashion show in North Carolina at Chicos. I went up there from South Carolina and you asked me to be in a photo with you and the other models.
    A fun memory!

  37. Susan, I’m sorry I must get this off my chest, if you do not choose to post it I will think that was the best decision for all.

    I have read with disappointment and sadness the few posters that have such miserable lives they must try to spread it around. They do not need to make miserable the 99.9% of Susan after sixty viewers that love, admire, appreciate, learn from and look forward to Susan’s posts. I am not opening Susan’s website each week to get advice and unwanted opinions from the viewers but from Susan. I enjoy many shared tips from viewers, questions and comments that we learn from on the topic but don’t need their criticism and nasty opinions. If that is what you are desiring get together and open your own websites.
    I do not think many friends appreciate criticism no matter what you think you are improving about them. Doubtful how many friends one has to shop with with those attitudes. Negativity breeds Negativity, that is obvious in this last post.

  38. I, for one, appreciate everything you do, Susan, and I am sure most of your followers do also. I know that you have certainly improved my clothing choices! I wonder sometimes if people fully realize that these are your own clothing choices for which you have PAID. They are not gifted or sponsored posts now. Therefore, we should be polite and not criticize another lady’s wardrobe choices. I loved the idea of your “inner rebel” coming through!

  39. What bothers me about the negative comments is that they can be interpreted as judging Susan’s choices. I don’t think that’s the purpose of this blog! With all the problems going on in the world today, can’t we lighten up a bit—fashion should be fun, not stress inducing. Susan certainly deserves our gratitude for her efforts.

  40. Happy 2024 Susan to you and Mr. Mickey! So wonderful to see you out and about, and looking so wonderful and feeling great. As always thank you for studying the trends and sharing those with us. Thank you for your impeccable taste and recommendations. We are so grateful for your time and investment in this community. As I’ve said before, and truly believe, criticism says much more about those who criticize than those being criticized. In this world, we need positive, optimistic and confident women who empower each other and boost each other up. You do this for us, and the majority of your followers do that for you too. Love the recent outfits. Love all the choices and balance in your outfit in this post. We appreciate you educating us! And, you are a rock star for sure! Rock on!

  41. Susan’s uplifting and inspiring blog has no room for vicious attacks under the guise of constructive criticism. Subscribing to this blog is a choice. Go elsewhere if you can only bring negativity. We readers would strongly suggest that negative people find another way to vent their unhappiness and cattiness, and unsubscribe from Hopefully Susan, with strong support from her readers, can block these individuals from her site. No one wants to read their comments. Susan, we appreciate all of your hard work.

  42. Dear Susan, I am in my early 70s and also a breast cancer survivor. Several years ago, I witnessed my husband’s suicide. By chance—or not—I came upon your blog at the same time I was beginning therapy for PTSD. With very fine therapy, my church and yes, this blog I began to see the world in color, again—in no small way because of clothes, purses big and small, nutrition, beauty hints and the positive interchange of ideas on your site I began full recovery. My therapy appointments became easier to go to because I was again taking greater care in my appearance; I could leave the house, feeling more confident. There were days I didn’t even want to go to church and putting together an attractive outfit got me there and further involved in organizations. In recent months, I have been diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis. My routines of self-care and taking joyous pride in my appearance is making this road easier. I have lovely canes! This group of ladies is incredible—usually the high road. I count on their sweetness with each of your posts. Those who are continuing to be the low road sound very discouraged about more than purses. They should feel free to leave. Your own story over the decades is inspirational. Perhaps, the crabby ones aren’t familiar with it. They might be humbled. Susan, thank you for helping me (and I am sure others) recapture a life that God means for me to have; to value myself and others and go out into the world with kindness and being of good use. Countless blessings for you and Mr. Mickey, Janette

    1. Thank you for sharing a little about your inspiring journey, Janette. You’ve shown us that gratitude indeed changes the attitude.

      I hope you have many happy years of looking fabulous ahead of you. You certainly deserve it!

  43. Susan, you look fabulous as always, and thank you for sharing your knowledge and tips.
    You have proven you know fashion and style, and I read your blog, especially for your advice.
    Some commenters seem to think this is a FB group to banter back and forth, but it is not. Sorry, this happened.

  44. I am sorry about your rough week. Is something else going on besides this animosity here? Please excuse me if that is too personal or forward. I feel like I know and care about you even if we have never met.

  45. Susan, I already made a comment above but I also check back and read some comments after I post one. I like to read what others are saying and also get some good tips from them. I was stunned by the negative comments and felt I had to tell you how much I like your posts. I do look forward to reading what ideas you have for us. I have also taken your ideas and have used them. I do know you own these items and sometimes they work for you but might not work for everyone. We have to decide what will work for us. Please keep up your hard work because there are some of us who find it valuable. Thanks for all the time you put in.

  46. Dear Susan, Your journey, and willingness to share it with us, has been so inspiring not only to me, but thousands of
    women over the years. I’ve learned so much and wish I found your blog sooner as I could have not only saved myself tons of money from poor clothing choices, but, dressed more confidently in the process. I don’t have to ask my husband “if this looks good” – haha – I know it does. Thanks, again, for all you and Mr. Mickey do on our behalf. Have a great week and I look forward to your next post. Peace and blessings!

  47. I think your bag is so cute. Your whole look is different and interesting. Thank you for sharing your ideas and wishing you both much continued good health

  48. Mr Mickey looks very well has he lost a little weight? How are you sorry if this is a little forward but in some of the photos you look a little frail. I’m hoping it’s just winter lighting or that you haven’t been able to get your normal level of exercise and that your recovery is going well

    1. We are both well now. Cold weather is brutal, so I’m not as active in winter. We have both lost a few pounds by eating less since neither of us has much appetite in winter.

  49. Dear Susan, I’m glad to see the ranks closing and so many coming to your defense. In both character and appearance, as well as what you freely give to those who keep up with your website, you’re an outstanding woman, and that’s exactly what makes you a target. In other words, try and take the critiques as backhanded compliments! Just keep on doing what you’re doing – it’s great. Your critics aren’t listening when you tell your readers, over and over again, to find what works for THEM and to wear what makes THEM happy. The most important thing I have learned from you is not what YOU are wearing, but having a plan and buying clothes purposefully for my own lifestyle. By example, you’re showing how well that works for you and how it can work for others if they create their own plans. Bravo Susan!

    1. Thank you, Karen. You are correct; no one look works for every person. It is gratifying to figure out what makes you feel confident and happy when you get dressed. I want everyone to have that feeling.

  50. Love your blog, especially Beyond the Basics.
    Would you please comment on the strapless bra you mentioned in this post?

  51. I love your blog. I was wondering if you would comment on the strapless bra you mentioned. I wear a 36 DD bra & haven’t been able to find a strapless bra that worked. I enjoy all your posts & have learned so much.

    1. We are the same size, and this is the first time I’ve found a strapless bra that stays in place. It doesn’t smooth the back like my Shapeez Ultimate, but the bra in the link stays up when you need strapless.

  52. You look stunning in this close-up! Love the hair and makeup. Als love your wisdom in putting outfits together. So Thank you.

  53. Oh, yum to the food and oh boy to the wild side of Mr. Mickey. Looks like a wonderful time together. Thanks for your tips and for sharing your joy.

  54. Hi Susan! I have been looking to replace two knit tops I had with a scoop back like the bodysuit you wear in the post. I love it! However it seems to be sold out. Have you seen anything similar? I will do some searching but just checking.

    Also love the fishnets… will have to get some again.


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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.