Effortless Neutrals

Getting dressed quickly has become a necessity for me. I may get a call in the wee morning hours or late at night asking for assistance. Caring for elderly loved ones who want to remain independent for as long as possible means that help is often needed.

I am surprised how often I’ve thrown on these pieces to run out the door. I feel presentable enough even with messy bed hair and not wearing makeup. I also reach for this combo when I’m not in a hurry. A great fitting and smartly tailored blazer can make even yoga leggings and a tee look put together.

This blazer similar to mine is here.

The key to choosing your effortless neutral pieces is tone. For example, if the light-colored blazer and tank are both cool, they will be more harmonious. It is always jarring when one item has a warm hue, and another has a cool tone. Finding the right shade to complement your skin tone will make the garments even more flattering.

This often-worn tank is here.

Denim is my all-time favorite neutral pant, but you could wear the same tank and blazer with nearly any color bottom. That is the magic inherent in good neutrals. They go with each other and anything you pair them with.

The jeans are here.

This combo also works well for a lunch date, as I styled it in these photos taken last week. I’ve owned my grayish-white blazer for at least a year. I’ve been wearing the same style of the tank for many years. The cut and style of jeans can make them feel updated and stylish. Skinny never worked for me; crops make my legs look too short, and I feel overwhelmed by the wide-leg styles. So I mostly reach for high-waist flare or boot-cut pants.

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  1. I love your outfit, it looks so fresh and modern. Please take good care of yourself, being a care giver can be demanding both physically and emotionally ❤️

  2. I remember well all those ER visits, first for my mother, then stepfather, then father in law. It is sobering to see our parents decline and to think about the same thing happening to us, who may or may not have the same support system. We talk about it often when we are thinking of downsizing and letting go of things.
    Take good care, Susan. It’s stressful. But we were always happy to be the ones in town, the ones our parents needed and depended on. We miss them always.

  3. I like high-waisted straight pants but I have fit issues. Depending on the brand to get the waist-hip that’s most flattering the thighs are baggy. I have found that I can easily take jeans in through the thigh without impacting the fit through the panty area.
    I’ve done this on a few pairs and it’s surprising how much trimmer I look.

  4. Your family is fortunate to have you near by. I hope all is well and any health issues are resolved soon. Your outfit is stylish and attractive. I have learned to pull a similar look together for any quick trips too. Take Care!

  5. Bless you as you minister to your family. On a side note, I seemed to find that I got more cooperation from medical personnel when I was better dressed—and it may have just been that I felt more confident.

  6. Caring for those who once cared for us. Such a beautiful act of love.

    Separately, awhile ago you showed pictures of summer straw clutches, handbags, totes, etc. that are in your closet. Please share them again as I need a straw handbag or two this year.. Many thanks and bless you.

  7. Smart casual sounds perfectly Susan! So pretty in gray too. Nice to be able to help our parents, a gift of love!

  8. I don’t wear higher heels or even much of a heel on booties. Love the jeans, but would they look right if worn with flats or sandals… I’m 5’ 5” Thank you!

  9. While I continue to enjoy your wardrobe suggestions, I am finding that I also appreciate your sharing lifestyle experiences like dinner out, sight seeing and ,like today, some of the challenges of caring for elderly loved ones.

  10. I remember running off when there was an incident with my father, my mother in law – you just get up and go. That’s love for your people. Keep it up. It will bring you peace later on.

    When I put on a blazer with jeans I feel sometimes as if it is too structured or ” something”. Does a pastel soften it up? When I see your picture I see the effect, it looks calming. Again, thanks for your inspiration.

  11. I’m happy to see your take on the jeans, and it’s the same for me. After trying the skinnies, wide-legs and cropped, I’m back to the flare/bootcut, and feel so much better in them. Wearing all low heel booties and loafers now, and I find they look good with either. Thank you for all you do.

  12. Thank you, Susan for all that you share. I also felt fortunate to be able to care for my parents … but those feelings hardly make it easier. Wishing you strength (and more uninterrupted sleep) as you handle all these challenges.

    Those jeans are ideal on you. Looking at the hem length online (30.5 or 33″), I wonder which you choose and if they are hemmed? I struggle with length and proportion.

    Thank you again.

  13. Love your style choices. I have a similar build so the boot cut looks better on me too. I really appreciate your blog and budget-conscious wardrobe choices. Also, you’ve encouraged me to gravitate back to more of the classics, which makes dressing so much easier. Thank you! Please keep your posts coming! Have a wonderful Tuesday.

  14. Bless you for taking care of your elderly parents, I know how demanding it can be. As always you look very stylish ❤️

  15. Your effortless looks are indeed not effortless. You put time, thought and care into creating a working wardrobe Your hard works pays off so you can be effortless when you are short on time. I know that’s what you meant but girl you work hard for that effortless wardrobe! I’m working on mine. . . love the inspiration. I try to convert your looks to my warmer coloring.

  16. As Joan remarked..Medical personnel treat you better when dressed appropriately. So do sales reps in any field. So..Always look your best. ; )

  17. Always love your blog posts and the inspiration they supply as I work to upgrade my wardrobe. But today, I want to send you strength & peace & positive thoughts as you care for your parents. Having walked that path (& maybe stumbled a few times), I know it’s really stressful. As an “only”, how fortunate you are to have a sibling to share the care! Be sure to take care of yourself, it’s so important!

  18. Hello Susan-
    I am a fan of neutrals and will be shopping for a light blazer. I love the fresh look that neutrals provide. My husband and I also helped parents stay in their home and made many unexpected trips at all hours. Just knowing your help means so much at a time when the pleasure of their own comfortable surroundings is key to their feeling of safety and contentment makes it so worthwhile. Blessings to you and your loved ones. And….I am looking forward to Mr. Mickey’ s Easter socks!!)

  19. I love this look, and have tried to emulate it for many years — jeans and a white top of some sort and some type of jacket/third piece. I like the crispness of a white top with jeans. The big problem for me is that I do not look good in white! Sometimes I use black instead, but black is a bit harsh (but better than white). I have cool coloring, with ashy gray hair and green eyes. What do you suggest instead of white for a similar look?

  20. Hi Susan, I love a good blazer too! I usually get mine at Talbots because I am short wasted and they offer petite sizes, plus most have some stretch, and I have broad shoulders. Your look featured today looks so polished for jeans a tank and blazer! Love that wide belt! I am surprised the jeans are from Banana Republic. Do you have a store close to you, where you can try them on, or did you just take your chances and order online? Do you still wear Levis jeans? You used to feature them a lot, but I haven’t seen them in your posts for a while. I think you shows the classic straight leg often. Have you tried any of the levi’s boot cut or flared bottom jeans? Thanks for the posts. I check for them all the time, and really enjoy reading them. I even reread them. I even still look at the fifty not frumpy site from time to time too. Such good advise!

    1. I ordered the Banana Republic jeans online since we don’t have a store nearby. However, the Levis jeans are too big in the hip area, so I’ve recently given my sister all of them. I’ve found that the whole look is off if the pants bag at the backside. Pants fit has always been a challenge for me. I wore jeans from the boy’s department when I was younger since I’ve never had hips or a booty.

  21. Your loved ones are blessed to have you in their lives.
    I would like to know more about the warm hues and cool tones not going together. Will you share some photos of dos and don’t when putting together an outfit with this in mind? I think that’s part of my problem. I mix them and look disjointed.
    Thank you for sharing yourself with us.

    1. The idea is that warm goes better with gold tones, and cool looks better with blue undertones. When we wear our best tones of colors, we look well-rested and healthy. On the other hand, the wrong colors bring attention to dark circles and shadows in our skin tones. Here is a video that shows you more about that in detail.

  22. Thank you, Susan, for your updates and pictures, they are always a welcome email during the week! I am 67 and just this year got tired of denim. I know, it is the fabric of life in the US! But as I age, I am trying to find an alternative. I found some soft kaki colored jean-like pants at Macy’s that are good. But it is hard to find what to substitute jeans with. I don’t want to look like an old lady but I am getting tired of jeans. Plus in hot Houston summer, they are less practical. I would love to hear or see your take on alternatives. Bless you for helping take care of your parents. I know they appreciate it.

  23. Hi Susan,
    Love the look of the jeans but when I went to the website and saw the rear view of them, I knew I couldn’t wear them. The yolk is placed too low and the pockets extend down to the upper thigh. This has become a problem with jeans in recent years and it looks horrible on most bottoms but especially mine, because I’m petite. I prefer my bottom to appear lifted, with longer appearing legs and not lower with shorter legs. When I wear a blouse or jacket over my jeans, the pockets show well below the hem of the top and it just looks weird and sloppy to me. I’ve been shopping vintage jeans ( prior to 2015) on ebay and etsy because I just can’t find any new ones made without the low yolk and pockets. Does anyone else notice this?
    Another thing I’ve had to do to counter this issue is to find pants that have no pockets or have welt pockets. Some women have been able to successfully remove the pockets but that only works if there isn’t any fading.
    Glad to see you’re doing well. I like your longer hair style. I was so fed up with paying for bad cuts that I grew mine out and keep it in a French twist or bun now.

  24. Thanks Susan! Yes, I love the 11 inch rise as well. I ordered a pair in the Quinn color as I’m hoping there won’t be glaring racoon stripes across the pelvis. Much better for me and the back pockets are much shorter and tilted up toward the hip which makes for a much more flattering bottom. Like you, I always wore the Levis boys jeans growing up because I’m a straight figured woman except now I have the post menopausal pooch that won’t go away. Thanks again…fingers crossed that with a little hemming these will work. If so, I’ll be buying many more to keep on hand.

  25. Thank you. I am tired of going to sites that cater to sites that give dressing examples that are not relatable. This site has helped me create appropriate looks that I feel very good in.

  26. I enjoy seeing your photos and reading about your date nights out. My husband passed away a few years ago and I miss our date nights terribly. It’s so sweet to see you enjoying each other. Love to you both. Lyn

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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.