Collecting Accessories

The comments section allows me to hear from you, and I always read each one. Jan wrote to say, “I’ve been following you for a while but never commented until now. I must be a slow learner because I finally realize that I don’t need more clothes. I simply need more/different accessories. I’m stuck in a rut with lots of shoes and purses but mostly black. Regardless of what I wear, I look the same.”

Jan also wrote to ask, “Would you please consider posts on how to build a collection of jewelry/scarves/purses/shoes (I realize this would be multiple posts)? Thank you for your blog and for being the voice of reason in a world of fashion blogs where most push the new and trendy.”

Thank you for the great question Jan. I hope this post helps guide those who want to add to or start collecting accessories to fit their needs.

I wore the look above without accessories while relaxing at home today. The soft cotton cardigan, tank top, and comfortable sneakers give the look a relaxed vibe. I thought it might be helpful to style the same garments in a couple of different ways using accessories.

Similar cardigans here – Tank here – Pants here – Sneakers here.

Note that I folded up and then pushed up the sleeves and turned the hemline of the tank under so that it wasn’t so long. Styling your clothes on your body can play tricks with proportion to make them more flattering.

It isn’t necessary to match your handbag with your shoes. The shoes above are metallic pewter, and the bag is gray tweed, but they relate to each other in attitude. Both are dressy rather than relaxed and casual.

Wearing shoes in the same tone as my pants (or my skin) and bringing a bit of attention to the waistline keeps my legs from looking short. Adding a necklace, watch, bracelet, and small stud earrings, finish the look with a bit of polish.

The Dramatic Heart Necklace is here. It comes in two chain style choices and lengths. My necklace is the 22″ short oval-link style. (Use the code SAS10 For $10 off any one item at Beauty in Stone Jewelry.)

The jewelry I wear most often looks like fine jewelry instead of dramatic, colorful costume jewelry. Understated pieces that you can wear to complete various looks without being memorable are the most useful.

Similar items are in the following links. ShoesBagWatchRingBraceletEarringsNo-show Socks

Before I make any purchase, I always ask myself, “Do I already have something similar?”


Shop for accessories that fit your lifestyle, your personality, and your coloring. For example, your best nude pump will be the color of your skin. Your scarves should include the colors that look best near your face. Your handbags should be large enough to hold all your necessities.

Shopping links may allow me to earn a small commission at no additional cost to you.

  1. You have shown how accessories can totally change an outfit before but I always enjoy these posts. I have a variety of vintage handbags…yes or no for carrying?

  2. Love how you show the same outfit in 3 different styles by just changing the accessories! And each is perfect!

  3. I always appreciate when you do different options side by side Susan! Thank you for that. I have a question. I’ve always preferred leather bags and never cared for fabric unless really unusual. Also don’t like faux leather. Leather is now too heavy for me except in small crossbody bags. Do you feel like the higher end nylon bags (ie Dooney and Bourke) have a look that is dressy enough or would a quality vegan leather (still just means faux in my mind!) be better? Or are they equal?
    Love your random posting schedule! Thanks.

  4. Thank you, Susan, for showing 3 different looks by changing out accessories. In switching out clothing from winter to spring, I realize I have a LOT of clothes. I have appreciated your videos and posts that use the same clothing items to create different looks. In planning to downsize our home, I realize I can also downsize my number of clothing items and be more deliberate about accessories. Thank you for helping us look our best.

  5. I wear glasses 24/7 (not while I sleep, of course). Could you add that topic along with other accessory advice? Topics such as eyeglasses color, style and coordinating with other jewelry around the face. I’m thinking you might keep it subtle with stud earrings.

    1. You are correct. When I wear a hat or my glasses, I tone down everything else around my face. I also no longer buy anything black to wear near my face, including sunglasses.

  6. Love this post! Very informative. Especially like your beautiful scarf and the way you styled it. Do you have a preferred vendor for scarves, and what are your favorite scarf dimensions?
    I still look for you every day…always good to find a new post. Hope you’re enjoying a more relaxed schedule!

    1. Hi Terri. Thank you for the comment. I used to sell scarves on my now closed shopping site. Those are the 51-inch square silk twill scarves that I wear most often in cool weather. I have also purchased a few nice light-weight and smaller scarves from Talbots, Ann Taylor, Saks Off 5th, and Nordstrom.

  7. Always a joy to read your blog and this one is a good one. I have really learned so much from you over the years. I have lived in Florida for over 40 years where the weather is so warm almost all year long. I find that most people dress very casual even at nice restaurants and church. This past year I noticed when places started opening back up which in FL was early summer for most churches that even Pastors are dressing more casual. I blame it on the masks. I find that I myself don’t want to wear my nicer clothes with the masks. Just an observation that I noticed around here. I have a question about donating clothes. I lost about 65 pounds about 3 yrs ago and I have many items from stores like Chico’s, Talbots, and White House Black Market that still have tags on them. I have donated many items over the years but my Daughter In Law has had some success with Poshmark. Do you have an recommendations on their selling platform and if so do you think it’s worth the time to try to sell items on their App? I just thought you might be familiar with them. Thanks again for all you share.

  8. Love the side by side examples. I am a fan of accessorizing with scarves and love the vivid colors in your example. Appreciate your posts Ms. Susan!

  9. Amazing the difference the accessories and the shoes make. I Tried to find the suede block heel shoes but it lead me to a leather kitten heel shoe. I’m getting more like you with my shoes and prefer a more stable base. Thanks for all your suggestions, you have helped me choose items out of my closet when deciding what to wear.

  10. I love this post. Thank you Jan for your question & to Susan for your answer and pictures. It’s amazing how a scarf can give a whole new look. I’ll look forward to addition information on your styling tips.

  11. Loving your new hairstyle. You looked refreshed and younger with the shorter style. I get my hair cut today after waiting 3 months for salons to reopen and my stylist to recover from Covid. I love all of your posts and always look forward to your advice.

  12. This was really helpful. Thank you for the tips. I don’ t usually ware jewelry but I do wear scarfs. I usually bought scarfs that matched the coloring in the outfit I was wearing. But colors that look good next to my face is a better choice.

  13. Great idea for some posts! Would love to see more. Also, I’d like some information on how you put together a capsule wardrobe like for a trip or vacation. Love your blog!

  14. Very clever styling Susan. Each look is appropriate for different activities a person might do in a day. And they won’t have to change clothes. I like that. Great looks on you!

  15. Hi Susan,
    I love your blog and appreciate all the work that goes into it!!Thanks for sharing all your great tips.Less is definitely more with some imagination.

  16. Hello Susan. I wanted to thank you for introducing me to Beauty Counter skincare. I am turning 67 this year and my skin has never been in better shape and softer than it is now! Even as sensitive as it is and with my Rosacea I don’t have any issues using the products. Wish I would have discovered this years ago! Thank you!!

  17. These visual tutorials are so much help, Susan! Thanks for answering Jan’s great question. I love how you look elegant and put together no matter what you’re showing us. Inspirational!

  18. Love your blog, Susan. I look forward to your accessorizing ideas, and I think scarves are the loveliest accessories of all. But…I have a very short neck. So scarves really don’t work for me, even very thin ones. My neck literally disappears! Longer necklaces are fine but just don’t have the personality of a great scarf. I’m also very short (5 ft.) so am I forever confined to wearing one color only, top and bottom, to create a longer, taller look? I would love to hear if you have any “out-of-the-box” ideas for me. Also, how do you dress for housecleaning? Maybe you have a cleaning service, but I do a little cleaning almost every day and don’t like to wear nice clothes since I inevitably ruin something. So if I do have to leave the house or a friend stops by (not so much now with COVID) I am faced with a whole change the clothes & try to get presentable routine. I would appreciate any tips you have and again thanks for the blog. It always makes my day!

    1. Hi Nancy. I don’t have a cleaning service, so I just wear what I am wearing for the day. I clean something every day so that I don’t have to devote a whole day to cleaning.

      You can wear all one color and then wear a short jacket or cardigan over the two pieces and leave the front open. Proportion is key for you. Don’t wear anything too long or too large.

  19. I’m trying to do what you’re teaching us. It’s easier now that most of my favorite stores have closed. I’ve ordered a couple of pants from TAlbots sale. Got a pair of high waisted, wide bottom jeans for a little more than $20. Now they’re back on the site for almost a hundred. Keep repeating the basics. I’m older and need to be told more than once.

  20. Great blog, thank you. How do you decide if you want to wear shoes in the same color as your pants or shoes that are nude or light tan with dark pants? I get confused by this and often end up wearing black shoes with almost all pants.

  21. This will be a wonderful series of posts … I so look forward to learning how to pare down my (former work) wardrobe and use, and add, accessories!!

  22. Really find the 3 looks, side by side, so helpful, Susan. Just finished a 2.5 hour Zoom meeting and decided to use some of your styling advice: a colourful silk scarf tied around my neck to spruce up the navy linen blazer & white/navy striped top, and adjusted the blazer sleeves to .75 length & added a wider bracelet. It looked much more polished on-screen. Thanks for all of your tips. You are so photogenic!

  23. Love these ideas. I noticed when I went to the linked sweater that the model in Talbots is wearing a sweater that is a much smaller/tighter fit than yours. Did you size up? Thanks!

  24. You are always so helpful, Susan. I’ve learned many useful tips from you and am happy that you are returning to giving great advice. The road trip pictures are nice, but not what I’m looking for.

  25. What a great question! And thank you for showing one outfit three ways! I think you’ve done this before and it helps immensely, especially now that I’m retired and don’t need a closet full of clothes. Always beautiful.

  26. Accessories bane of my existence, well, not quite. I live in a tiny rural city on north west coast of Tasmania, & although I aim to purchase locally, there are few shops which stock accessories that aren’t tacky &/or overly trendy. I buy via the ‘net’, but must build in postal costs, which from overseas are pricey indeed. Thank you for your sensible suggestions here. Ideas to use basics often already in the wardrobe to add oomph to a simple classic outfit. Now to practise.

  27. You’ve done it again. I like the side by side pictures. Thank you for helping me to make better decisions with my clothes.

  28. I found you right after retiring. I always knew I needed to purge my wardrobe but had alot of money and shopping time invested. I had work clothes with matching shoes and jewelry for each outfit; Yes , EACH outfit ! not much cross matching. Once retired i donated ALL work clothing, then the jewelry, finally all footwear that wasn’t 100% comfortable. I purged two more times and about to go again . I have your coloring , age and simple casual style to copy . Your blog has been a very needed group of lessons of self awareness to details to reform myself in my retirement.

  29. You have given me so much good information since I found your blog. I’m putting things together with being short and petite that make me look taller. Thanks for all of your good advice.

  30. I was taught as a young Southern woman to match my shoes to my purse. Now I am well over 60 and prefer 1 neutral purse (usually black with tan accents) so I don’t have to move all the contents every time I change purses. Could you explain why you see purses as such an important part of your wardrobe? And are there ways to streamline to an everyday bag + a couple of dressier bags?

    1. Bags are a matter of taste. The modern way to wear them is as an accent to your look and then wear the shoes to complement your pants or bare legs. The most important thing is that the bag is large enough to hold what you need to take with you. I have donated many cute day bags that weren’t large enough to hold a phone, wallet, sunglasses, and keys. I keep the contents in small zippered bags to organize but also to make switching easier.

  31. Thank you Susan! I’m the Jan you quoted 🙂 What a great visual of the power of accessories. You have done so much to help us see how we can do so much with so little simply by changing our accessories.

    I shop differently, and smarter now. Keep up the good work, you do more than you know! I love your blog and your sense of style and grace.

    Many blessings to you Susan!

  32. What a difference a few accessories make! You’ve gone from casual and comfy to stylish with just a few small changes. Thanks for the lesson.

  33. Thank you a really helpful post.
    The side by side photos really show what a difference accessories can make.

    To make my bag lighter I no longer carry a wallet – just a small credit card holder. I make most payments on my phone and the cards are there just in case.

  34. This was great. I have so many accessories but not quite good at putting it together. So watching you gives me ideas. I’m 72 six foot and I’m forever making my clothes because I’m so tall and pants never fit. Love the Talbot brand. You always look so put together. Thank you

  35. As someone else commented, I too found Susan sometime just before I retired, when I had already realized I needed a more age appropriate look. She has given me such great inspiration, ideas, and product suggestions over the last 4 years. Love this post, as I have increasingly been embracing accessories as a way to brighten up the basics and it certainly makes for a lighter suitcase when you travel! BUT, the pandemic with no place to go has left so many of my purses, shoes, jewelry, and scarves suffocating in the closets and drawers! I have embraced great workout clothes, sweaters, and ballet flats or slippers most days, with only a watch, my wedding band and understated earrings if I am going out for a walk or someone is coming by. We do go out for dinner each week (with safe practice & now vaccinated) but it is only for an hour or two. I look forward to springtime and the better days ahead, with hopefully once again–places to go, people to meet and things to do! And of course “dressing up”. Thank you Susan for keeping us going!

  36. DEar Susan,

    it is very nice to read your posts and look at your photos. Especially, useful for me was your photo in a purle shirt, where you drew attention to the lines of bust.
    I removed such shirts from my closet.
    Have I ever asked for skirts , only for Valentine ‘s Day?
    I watch you form Poland I have grey hairs as you, and I still work a lot.
    I like to watch Christine Legarde style, as you too.
    I have to try white sneakers , I dont have them in my closet.
    You often wear white pants, not only in the summer tome.

    Have a very nice weekend,

    P.S. By us is stil cold only 35,6 F.

  37. This is exactly what I need, because I, too, have plenty of clothes in neutral shades but I am lacking in how to look pulled together using the right accessories. I look forward to hear more from you on this subject. Susan, you never disappoint.

  38. It is such a pleasure to open my laptop and begin my day to find a post from you. You always bring a smile to my lips, and, as an admirer, I always learn something about feminine attire from reading your words and viewing your photos. I send you best wishes. Thank you for the posts and the uplift you provide both to women and men.

  39. I love those Talbots pants, and own several colors of them. So classic. Question: I like wearing my walking shoes when I go to the indoor mall in cold weather because I combine a power walk through the open spaces after shopping/browsing. But I always feel wearing sneakers with those pants make me look short and heavy. Is it the width of the pant leg doing that? Do you ever wear sneakers with a narrower pant leg? Looking at your three pictures the dressier shoes look better with those pants than the sneakers. I am 5’4″ 125# Thank you for your excellent blog!

  40. Your website is one of the most pleasant and restful places on the internet. I cannot thank you enough for staying focused on living well and for avoiding other topics.

    My son and daughter-in-law are moving the Johnson City next month and can’t wait to get to your lovely town. I am looking forward to being a regular visitor and you can bet Gourmet and Company will get a visit from me!

    Belinda Stevens

  41. I have been following your blog for a couple of years now. I have enjoyed your simple classic style. I have found your accessory bog very helpful. Over the last few years I have noticed that you wear a lot of pearls. I would like to build my collection of pearl accessories. Would you consider a blog on the selection of pearls that would work with your style, and how to wear pearls also including the best lengths.. And of course not break the bank.

  42. The side-by-side photos were a perfect idea of how one can change up an outfit. The scarf sets off your hair so beautifully.
    I’ve cleaned out my closet numerous times since retiring. . What an uplifting feeling it is to donate these items to my local thrift store that gives their profits to a food pantry and woman’s shelter. I now volunteer there 2 days a week so it’s a win.
    I could use some suggestions on beige/nude shoes for everyday wear.

  43. Excellent post. I recently retired due to the pandemic and you have shown me how to style my newly casual lifestyle using my career wardrobe. Thanks for breaking it down for us.

  44. Great blog! I love how you took the same clothes and added accessories, giving the same clothing/outfit a new and unique look. The three pictures side by side are excellent for seeing the transformation accessories can make.

    The pewter shoes and gray tweed bag are just lovely together.

    Did anybody ever tell you you’re really good at this stuff? : )

  45. What an interesting and useful post, thank you, Susan, for your suggestions and thanks to the person who posted the question. I, too, need to focus on accessories rather than clothes.
    I look forward to more similar posts in the future

  46. Love your blog Susan! I’m fairly new to it, but I’m always excited to see what you have to say, and see what’s new!
    I love your fashion style too!

  47. Loved this post. Really shows how with different accessories a person can change up an outfit. I wouldn’t have thought the beige shoe would look as nice as it does with the dark slacks but it looks fantastic. The scarf & purse help to tie it all together. Like others have mentioned, you look great in red with your silver hair & coloring.

  48. Could you help us by walking us through one of your sessions of purging? Help us. Is it an on going thing? What do you purge? Do you purge items if you haven’t worn them say in the last year? If something needs a repair, do you purge instead of fixing? How often do you purge your jeans? When the knees look stretched out? Where do these items go? A look into how, what, when and why of ‘purging’ would be helpful. Thank you, Susan.

  49. This is most helpful, I too look always the same. I buy very basic plain colors which are mostly in the blacks and greys. I’m short, 5’1” and am over weight, so keeping my colors dark with no patterns seem to work best for me. Please post more ideas on how to change our looks without looking the same as usual.thanks you have been so awesome ❤️

  50. I agree with Jan. You have been so helpful, I have been trying to get away from long tops & your style has helped. I am 10 years older than you. Love your classic look, Sheila

  51. This is going straight to my files. I learn so much from you. I guess like Jan, I’m a slow learner but it clicked today. Thank you for helping to improve women’s lives. Being confident in our clothes translates into feeling better about ourselves.

  52. Thank you, thank you, thank you! And thank you, Jan for asking that question. I am slowly learning so much from you, dear Susan; I’m so happy I “met” you.

  53. Thank you Susan. I love it when you place all the pictures side by side. It really is helpful. I have a feeling I will be purging more from my closet as the temps warm up, lol.

  54. It is extraordinary to me how three pieces of clothing can be made to look different by the turn of a hem or the addition of a scarf or necklace. Thank you for this very useful article. I’m learning that I don’t need more clothes; I just need to know to increase the versatility of the clothes that I own.

  55. Thank you. This was very helpful for I have been on your site for the past two years and have acquired quite a few pieces of clothing. Seeing how to use them casually to dressy was indeed something I needed to see. Please do more like these examples.

  56. Love these tips! Can you please help with how to purge the unwanted clothing that no longer flatters? I have so many clothes and feel so guilty getting rid of them. Thank you!

  57. Even though my hair isn’t gray/silver/white, I did lighten it a few years ago. What I found is I do really like Red! There is a shade for everyone. Even better than when I had dark brown hair. And this year, bright Pink!

  58. We are doing a remodel of part of our home. Would you mind saying what kind of wood floors you have in your home? Thank you.

  59. I just found your blog and I will be following along from now on! I have been reading old posts and this one really spoke to me. Having lost a lot of weight in the last year, and still loosing, I will be having a lot of fun with new clothes but until I am the size I want to be, I will be relying on my accessories even more to get a polished look. When I was much heavier, I started collecting cute shoes, scarves and fun jewelry because I could not fit in the clothes I wanted to buy. Now I realize that they will continue to serve me well even with a new wardrobe. Thank you for showing so many ways to change the look with just different accessories.

  60. Absolutely. I’m the same way. Please show me various options. I am currently a video producer who is preparing for early retirement. I would
    Like to go back to my ladylike look. I have an hourglass figure but I have increasingly gained weight over the years since gaining weight resulting from
    Anxiety and depression, I can’t wear many of my favorite dresses or Slacks. Please recommend ways I
    Can enjoy accessories until I can get back to doing
    My favorite things again like Lunch with friends. Thanks!

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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.