Dressed for Dinner

We all have those times when we must dress outside our comfort zone. The questions I get most often address the dilemma of what to wear to a wedding, graduation, reunion, retirement, or another special event. However, putting together outfits for special occasions doesn’t have to be a stressful endeavor. Long ago, I learned a trick that might be helpful to you as well.

For the past couple of decades, I’ve invested in pieces that could be elevated as needed. When an item is simple, elegant, timeless, and suits you perfectly, it can be worn in various ways. I almost always think in terms of a cohesive wardrobe that works together. Those pieces can be purchased at a yard sale, a thrift shop, or most department stores. But vintage can be even more compelling!

For example, the lace tee I’m wearing beneath the red jacket can just as easily be worn with faded jeans and a cardigan. The jeans I am wearing are made not from denim but in a smooth fabric with a bit of sheen, making them perfect for more formal occasions.

My years-long search for a strapless bra for a fuller bust is over. This bra supports and stays in place.

I’ve worn these pointed-toe heels with jeans, a silk slip dress, and black slacks. You’ve seen that small handbag several times. Finally, the sheer hose are here.

I’ve had the earrings and domed ring for so many years I no longer remember where I got them. When I need to elevate my look, they are the pieces I often reach for.

I’ve linked to the items I am wearing, even though they may no longer be available. You may be able to find something similar or the same thing on a resale site such as eBay. These ideas and examples may help you find pieces you can use in various ways, or perhaps those items are already in your closet.

When I asked Mr. Mickey if I could take his picture for the blog, he said, “But I’m just wearing regular black socks!” He looked so elegant that a young man in his forties complimented his outfit as we left. We enjoyed another stellar meal at Gourmet and Company.

A most excellent pasta appetizer with ramp pesto. Ramps are in season now, so it is the week’s featured ingredient. We even have a festival dedicated to Ramps!

The Jilton vegetarian was excellent, as always.

The delicate Virgina flounder was delicious, also.

We hope you have a delightful week ahead. Thank you for joining us on our journey through life. A summary of recent looks is here. As always, some of the links on this site allow me to earn a small commission without cost to you.

  1. I had to laugh at Mr. Mickey’s lament about his socks. He’s allowed black socks once in a while .

  2. Thank you Susan for reminding us that we can dress up the items we already own. I love your look and Mr Mickey is stunning even in Black socks ! You both are so much fun, thank you for sharing your life with us.

  3. Susan, I so appreciate you for all your advice, recommendations and illustrations. Also for your generosity in letting us share our favorite authors on your site. I have been a reader since a young child, beginning with Nancy Drew mysteries. Just when I start to fear I have exhausted all the wonderful authors a new one comes to my attention. I’m waiting on Jacqueline Winspears “The White Lady” now, my biggest problem is I can’t slow down my reading so I’m always caught up on the authors list of books. A good 4 hour book is finished in a couple of days because I can’t put it down!
    My contribution today is to give your readers a couple of authors you possibly may not have read. Patricia Wentworth is wonderful, an older author from the early 20th century. I have read all of her books numbering in the 30’s. The latest writer I’m caught up and waiting for his next book to come out is Charles Todd. If you like “Maisie” you will enjoy these. I enjoy the British authors with no trash stories, no vulgar language. I love a good murder mystery.
    Also, I’ve discovered that most local libraries have a site that you can check out their books online for free. The library may need to set you up but it is so worth it. It is a “free” service.

  4. Miss Kathy, I just finished reading “The White Lady”. Jacqueline Winspear is a top-notch author. The book did not disappoint. Patricia Wentworth is on my list now and I will check out Charles Todd. Filthy language and questionable situations mean that the book is summarily returned.

  5. Miss Susan, your blog posts never disappoint! Love the picture of Mr. Mickey and his comment about the socks. He knows his fans look forward to his sock selection.

    The food all looks fabulous. The Jilton vegetarian dish as well as the flounder look yummy.

    Flawless grooming and an understated fragrance go hand in hand with a classic (and classy) outfit. I can always count on you to steer me in the right direction regarding personal appearance.

  6. My question to you is do you find a molded bra makes you look bigger? I’m always looking for some type of bra that makes me look smaller than I am. Wishful thinking on my part maybe….

    You look terrific as always and of course Mr. Mickey looks so dapper.

  7. I had never heard of ramps! Thanks for the link. Also, thoroughly enjoying Winspear Maisie Dobbs Series thanks to you!

  8. Another good post with some good ideas on how to use what we have in our closets. I wanted to tell you I looked at each picture from your vacation and went to my closet and have most of those items so I put outfits together for Spring( if it ever gets here). I then put them all on hangers and they are hanging in my closet. I just have to reach for them. It makes thinking about what to wear or what to pack for a short trip easy!!
    I loved what one of your readers said about what she is reading. I have been reading Jacqueline Wi spear’s The Messenger of Truth and love it!! I’ll have to check on the other suggestions mentioned.

  9. Kate Morton is another excellent author. She’s Australian but her books are very much in the vein of British mysteries. In my opinion The Lake House is her best so far.

  10. This outfit is nice for a graduation or retirement party, but I don’t see it for a formal wedding. You have some nice dresses. Wear one of them. I especially like your Tuckernuk dress once the weather is nice.

  11. I love cooking with ramps. I live in Indiana and just dug some myself. I freeze ramp pesto to use all year round.

  12. I laughed about Mr Mickeys black socks. Great tips and outfits. Also great to learn about different authors to look for. This is definitely the best blog.

  13. Always enjoy your tips Susan thank you! You are so right we don’t need to buy something new every time we go to an Event. I’m from the UK and your friends on this comment page may also enjoy the Miss Marple series of murder mysteries by Agatha Christie or for a gentler village life series try the Miss Read stories. Based on a school teachers life in the Cotswolds (Middle England) I just love them.

  14. Such a pretty Lady in Red! Mr. Mickey looks very handsome even in black socks! A charming fun couple , you’re very generous giving us fun and informative information. Thanks for sharing! Love that a younger gentleman gave a compliment too. It’s always fun to be complimented when least expected! Make someone’s day!

  15. Another wonderful post! I learned something new when reading about Ramps. The food pictures look scrumptious.
    I wish someone would have been able to take a picture of the two of you together. I admire and appreciate a man in a suit, especially a three-piece suit. Quite a compliment from a younger man who noticed Mr. M’s attire.

    I’ll add a possible read of interest to be released June 13, 2023. “The Spectacular” by Fiona Davis.
    We’ll be transported back to the 1950’s Manhattan and the glamorous Radio City Music Hall.
    It’s also the 20th anniversary of the Maisie Dobbs novels. We may see a new addition this year or 2024.
    Have a lovely week!

  16. Dear Susan, This is not a fashion question, but can you tell me: What are Ramps! I am intrigued. Thank you for your blog, I do enjoy hearing from you. You keep me in touch with a gentle America which is reassuring. I especially enjoy your trips to the many beautiful and historic sites in your State.

    Every best wish to you and to Mr. Mickey,

    Thelma Ferris

    1. Ramps–a cousin of onions, leeks, scallions, and shallots–grow in low mountain altitudes from South Carolina to Canada. They’re considered a spring delicacy and a reason for celebration in many areas. Harvesting ramps has a long tradition in the Appalachian region of the United States, with West Virginia particularly well known for its many festivals and events. Ramp festivals are also held in Tennessee, Virginia, and North Carolina. There are many ways to enjoy ramps: raw, sautéed, roasted, grilled, and pickled too. You can read more about them here.

  17. Lovely outfit! I’m still working on reducing my clothing. I don’t know why it’s so difficult. You inspire an ideal wardrobe for women, that knocks it out of the park! It’s shameful all the fashion influencers that promote new clothes several times a week! Mr. Mickey looked so classic, what a renaissance man! Thanks for sharing this post!

    1. That’s why I don’t accept free clothing and other gifts. It is overwhelming and unrealistic for me to show you a new wardrobe each month. So instead, I shop by adding an occasional new item to update my look and share the results. Thank you for your comment.

  18. What on earth are Ramps ? Thanks to Thelma for asking and your explanation. I live in Wales a principality country of its own in U.K.
    Now we have a delicacy in Wales, and it’s very Welsh and very horrible . It’s considered best fried with bacon yuk! It’s sold fresh in markets
    every day and it’s called Laverbread. I will leave you and your readers to find out what it is. Do other readers in the World have local delicacies?
    It would be interesting to hear readers local specialities.
    Re fashion what is your take on the oversized look? Personally I am not a fan, I remember it during 1980s and being petite overly baggy look completely
    drowns me . Even if I was tall I won’t wear it this time around, I think it looks ‘sloppy ‘ baggy sleeves down to knuckles , shoulder seams way off the
    normal line of our shoulder. Of course as I always say each to their own. The TIMELESS classic look is hard to beat without it looking fuddy.
    Best wishes ,
    Pamela, Wales UK .

  19. I meant to add in my last comment, as far as dome rings and pretty cocktail type rings, Swarovski Crystal has beautiful ones!

  20. Love your inspiration look and thank you to Mr. Mickey – who looks really sharp – for my morning giggle about his socks.!
    Enjoy your week you two too!

  21. Ramps? Rate with Rutabaga in my ignorance. Thank you for sharing them along with the always delightful photos of you both. Culinary education increases as well as sartorial. Black with red & a touch of charcoal/grey in bag; perfection to me.

  22. You started off your blog question of what to wear to a wedding or graduation or other event. I sure hope you are not wearing that outfit to a wedding or graduation.

    1. No, I wore this look out to dinner. My point was that you should have things in your wardrobe that you can use to elevate a look for events. Unfortunately, one can rarely find what you need for such events on short notice. However, the weddings and graduations I’ve attended in the past ten years were much more casual than in the past.

  23. Hi Susan! Love this outfit – red and black are one of my favorite color combinations. I have a quick question . Do you find the strapless bra mentioned runs true to size? Thanks in advance!

  24. Hi Susan, what a great look, and as you say it can be built up from existing items we own. Thanks again. Gail (N.Z)

  25. As always, an excellent post. You’ve mentioned sleeve garters in past blogs, but of course now I can’t find which blogs they were. Do you have a favorite brand or type? Thanks for your continued work sharing ideas of dressing well for any occasion with what’s in the closet. And I so enjoy sharing your journey with your stylish, sweet companion. Best wishes and good health to you both. Keep enjoying the journey!

  26. Looking good Susan! I have always loved the combination of red and black. The red looks so pretty with your hair and coloring. Mr. Mickey is lookin’ sharp! Wow! People must look up when you two walk in!
    Your tips are great as always!

  27. I love the positivity you provide and I enjoy reading the comments left by your followers—however, there have been a couple of times when I’ve been shocked by their negativity and judgement. If someone would like to wear this outfit to a graduation or a wedding, they would look as lovely as you did going out to dinner. As you commented, so many events today are far more casual—so are different parts of the country. Fashion is such a personal expression—confidence is found when you feel good in what you wear.

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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.