Effortless Dressing

The sun was shining, and it was about forty-five degrees as I dressed to go to the bank, my storage unit, and the grocery store. Unlike how I used to get dressed, today I reached for a top, pants, and a jacket, and they worked together seamlessly. After putting on some makeup, I was dressed and ready to go in five minutes.

A few years ago, getting dressed meant trying on five or more outfit combinations. The frustration of a new top I bought on sale not going with any of my pants was a regular occurrence. After changing my strategy, I buy only items in my color palette and the silhouettes I know work for me. I save lots of money, and getting dressed is so much easier. If I have to buy something else to go with the item I am considering, I pass on it.

For example, when I saw this bag, I knew the size, color, and structure were perfect for me. The bag’s color will work with nearly everything I own. I didn’t have to think about it for more than a minute. The leather is slightly distressed, which means it will look great dressed up or down. The top handle feature is one I was searching for. (It also has a detachable shoulder strap.) The bag is on sale here.

The mixed media moto-style jacket is at least six years old, and I’ll probably wear it for another six. The tee is here. The trouser-style jeans are here. The belt is here, and similar boots are here.

I changed to the look below later in the day when I went to my friend’s house to walk her dog. The garment colors work for me and with each other, and I styled them to suit my frame (tucked in the shirt).

The pants with pockets are here. A similar style of pants (without pockets) is here – Tee here – Similar hoodie here.

I’ll share my style strategy again for those of you who are new here.

1- Your body shape and your coloring are the first consideration. Knowing which colors and silhouettes look best on you is a priority. You can spend a thousand dollars on a blazer, but it will hang in your closet unworn if it doesn’t suit your coloring and frame. (The same blazer will help me explain the other key points.)

2- Your lifestyle is the next thing to consider. If that blazer is too fancy and you have a casual lifestyle, you may never wear it.

3- Build around your style code. If the blazer is too conservative, your style is edgier; you will never reach for it.

Keep your style intact, even if you are staying home. (Do it for you!) Many have asked me about loungewear. Years ago, I ditched the flannel gowns I once wore and threw away the stained tees and leggings. I always feel much more comfortable in soft, pretty pajamas like these.

So now you have a full day of effortless examples.

Effortless dressing starts when you make purchases. There are a few things to consider if you are rebuilding your wardrobe or adding new items for spring. I hope that sharing what I’ve learned and showing you my examples helps you map out a plan for your wardrobe so that you can have the same effortless style.

If you want to sign up for the newsletters to learn when I publish a new post, you may do so here. Recent outfits are summarized here. I purchased all the products I show since I no longer accept gifts or products to review. However, referral links on this site may allow me to earn a small commission without cost to you.

  1. Susan, it seems that you have found this wonderful silhouette or style that works so fantastically for you in the last year. In keeping true to this new style discovery, did you eliminate all the straighter legged pants that you wore even just last year? How did you make the transition? Was a whole new pant wardrobe acquired?

    1. I still have some of the shorter straight leg jeans and pants but they are in storage for now. In summer I will likely wear them with sandals and sneakers. I gave away any pants or jeans that were tight on my calves.

  2. I have been following you for many years and know your style evolved through trial and error. I use to enjoy your What was I thinking? Posts. This post certainly shows you have nailed it. You look stylish and appropriate no matter what you’re doing. Inspirational!

  3. Your formula for dressing is brilliant in its simplicity. Find what works on your body, the colors that flatter your skin and Bob’s your uncle, no more buying anything that doesn’t enhance your day. I am a firm believer in dressing the best (not necessarily expensively) you can. So glad you pointed out pyjamas. Let’s carry through with dressing well.

  4. I know your personal style has evolved through the years through trial and error. I’ve been following you many years and remember those What Was I Thinking! posts from long ago. This post proves you have nailed it. You look stylish and appropriate no matter what you do these days. Inspirational for us who are still learning who we are fashion wise. Thank you for your blog.

  5. Your fashion strategy makes a lot of sense. Now I know why some things just sit in my closet, some even with the tags on them. I probably bought them on sale but the article didn’t go with anything else. It was either the wrong color or something that I just didn’t feel comfortable wearing. You did make a comment about buying only what you need and not something just because it’s on sale makes sense. I tend to look for cheaper items but they might not be right for me. That is a waist of money. I would have been better off buying something that costs more but it fits well and I can wear it with everything else in my closet.
    I really like your style and get may ideas for outfits from seeing your pictures.

  6. Susan, on the side of your article you have a favorite listed. It’s straight leg Banana Republic jeans. They are perfect for me, straight leg, darker color, high waist. My problem is I’m big is the waist and stomach so havetrouble with things fitting the waist. Slimmer legs and have trouble with pants looking droopy in rear.
    Do you know if there is stretch in waist? I hate to order online and hassle of returns. I love your style but can’t seem to get started on basics, so hard to fit. Thank you

    1. The Banana Republic jeans tend to run large and have a bit of stretch, but not so much that they lose their shape in a few hours. I have returned things to them before, and it was only a matter of dropping off the package at the UPS counter. Open the parcel carefully to reuse it should you need to return it. They provide a return label.

  7. I was watching a couple of YouTube videos today on the topic of “333 outfits”….not the 333 capsule clothing concept made well-known by Courtney Carver about a decade ago; but rather, the concept of taking 3 pants, 3 tops and 3 shoes, and styling them into multiple outfits.
    Apparently, it was a TikTok trend a few months ago.
    Anyway, I chuckled and said to myself that Susan after 60 has been doing that for years!!! And doing it beautifully, I might add!!!

  8. Susan,
    Those black knit pants from Chico’s are great — so versatile, and I love the bootcut too. Casual but polished!

  9. Susan, are you saying that they do lose their stretch and gag out? Thanks, think I will try to order if they don’t. Thanks.

  10. Thanks very much Susan for all your great tips. I have made every mistake in the book when it comes to buying clothes (am in my 50s) but feel I have finally seen the light and am much more critical of items before I buy them now. It now has to be really great when I try it on for me to buy it now. I used to buy “good enough” then not wear it. Ilove all your looks on this post.

  11. Dearest Susan, I so love your posts. And thanks to you an a couple of other bloggers that I follow, I now have a closet of mix and match that works so well for me, the colors and the fit make me feel great whether I’m out running errands, cleaning house or having lunch with friends.
    Please continue to post, can’t wait for the next one.

  12. I’m with everyone else in that I love your inspiration. I’ve narrowed down my color palette thanks to you. I don’t look good in black and white, so mine is more of a navy and cream theme. It’s taken me a while to get that. Thanks a bumch!

  13. Thanks again for your excellent advice, Although I can not find most of the brands you mention in Ontario, Canada, the criteria for selection is very helpful.

    You mention one version of pants with pockets. I am 80 now and much more conscious of safety, especially when I am walking or out alone. I prefer pants with pockets so that I can keep my id securely attached to myself in case of emergency or of losing or misplacing my purse! I have also started carrying a cell phone in a vest or jacket as well.

    Nancy from Burlington, Ontario

  14. I’m looking forward to some hot weather ideas. I’m 66, short, plump, and seems nothing looks good on me anymore. I don’t dress up and have a retired casual life style now. I tried the flowy dresses but I looked like my old granny, help!

    1. Try loose-fitting tops that end at a point just below your tummy and worn with straight-leg full-length pants in the same color or tone, both in a lightweight fabric. Match the style to your sandals and push up the sleeves, or opt for shorter sleeves. Avoid extra material and two wide garments. Make sure one always fits a little closer to the body.

  15. I have these Shapeez PJs and love the feminine style. Also, the 3/4 sleeves are just the right length for my petite size.

  16. Love all your tips and advice. Can you please send a link for the red bag it is exactly what I have been searching for? My link in the newsletter doesn’t work. Thank you!

  17. As always, I love these looks & how everything coordinates. Do you iron/ steam all of your clothes after washing or wait until you are ready to wear it? I feel like I have things to wear but need to stop & iron.

    Also, is there a book that you recommend regarding proportions? I am short waisted with long legs & tops that hit at the hip emphasize my build.

    Thank you!

    1. I iron everything before putting it away, but leave it hanging on a rolling rack to cool before I do so. You can wear longer length tops with great success. Cropped length jeans and cuffs on your pants are also not a problem for you. I don’t know of any particular books that address body proportions.

  18. Great post! I appreciate your suggestions listed at the end. They make so much sense! My question: how do we know our own style/color choices based on build and coloring? I think I know but can get swayed in a store trying things on. For example, I’m long waisted so short jackets often feel too short for me, but yet I like the current trend and have a couple short jean jackets. I find that I gravitate to hip-length jackets that are light weight (I live in Florida), but my legs are short. The pants you’re wearing are 32″ length and my inseam is 28 or 29″– so I buy ankle pants for regular length.
    I can figure style better for others than myself. Is that often the case?

    1. That is indeed sometimes the case. However, I’ve learned from the hundreds of pictures of myself I’ve edited. Specific dressing formulas serve me much better than others.

  19. Susan,
    We could be sisters we look so much alike. One difference that throws me is I carry my weight in my hips and thighs, and my legs are are bit long. In spite of this most of your style suites me beautifully.
    I am a retired dental hygienist and like to think on top of my health. Unfortunately cancer does not discriminate. I am home recovering from breast cancer surgery, the same diagnosis as yours…..any tips as my journey continues?

    1. Concentrate on eating healthy meals and exercising as much as you feel comfortable. Keep moving, take lots of baths with Epson’s salt, and enjoy every day. Soon, it will be another memory and part of your history. I hope you have many happy, healthy years ahead of you.

  20. Thank you, Susan!! I love all the selections & tips re: Effortless Dressing!! Also, you look great in all the photos, too!! Thanks for your continued very helpful & informative tips, ideas, & photos!!

  21. Thank you so much for these posts. You always look so beautiful and elegant, and the classic simplicity of your style is just lovely. I learn so much from you!

  22. Hi Susan: what do you like to wear on a plane flight that will take you through most of the day after landing? I love your newsletters!

    1. Smart-looking and comfortable dark colored layers are always the right choice for traveling. Having the option of removing a jacket or sweater once you arrive at a warm destination is the goal.

  23. Susan, the link for the red handbag did not work; states “invalid “. Could you send that again?

  24. I really love your new handbag. It seems to check all the boxes.

    Somehow I cannot imagine how you keep up with all your shoes, scarves and handbags with your smaller closet. You must have a terrific memory of what you keep at your storage unit.

    I need to do a brutal Spring edit like you did a few years back.

    Appreciate all your columns, Susan.

  25. Always a good day when I see a new blog post from you. Several years ago, you often featured scarves in your posts. Now not so much. Do you feel they are no longer in style?

    Thanks for all you do to keep all of us looking our best.

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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.