Hero Pieces

Rather than shopping all the time for sport, I narrow my purchases to a select few pieces per year. Then, at the start of a new season, I invest in a couple of well-thought-out hero pieces. This strategy keeps me from buying things I never use or wear.

When I focus on something I need to upgrade or replace in my wardrobe, I look for high quality in a specific style that suits my needs. A cashmere sweater, for example, will not only look better, but it will also keep you warmer and last longer compared to something synthetic. Likewise, a jewel neckline and sleek fitted style in a darker color will look better and be more wearable since I am larger on the top.

For the past three years, I have been looking for the perfect summer clutch. So when I saw this coral/orange bag by Rafe, I knew it was the one for me. Unfortunately, this color is now sold out, but a yellow version is here.

One of my most worn combinations for summer is a navy top with white pants, so orange is the perfect punch of color to finish the look. While I would never wear orange clothing, it is a favorite summer bag color.

We were on our way to a casual Sunday brunch when I wore the look in these photos. The white jeans are from Talbots a couple of years ago. The navy top is here. The Vince Camuto shoes are a couple of years old. Similar shoes are here. I added the silver and gold combo pieces from my jewelry collection.

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  1. Navy and white is a favorite summer color combination of mine too. The coral/orange is an unexpected punch of color but very pretty.

  2. After following you for many years, I’m beginning to realize that sometimes my problem with wardrobing is that I’m in denial about my age, haha! I am roughly the same age as you are…I’m 61.
    You look casual and dignified in this outfit, which is how I want to look…seeing how beautiful you look here encourages me to let go of my short-sleeved tee shirts and capris!

  3. Hello Susan, You look lovely in this outfit. Can you please tell me where the tee is from? Also, do you have suggestions for shorter tees? I’m 5’4 and many tees are way too long on me.

    1. The tee is here. (I couldn’t find it when I checked before.) I also have a difficult time finding tops that are not tunic length. I much prefer tops that are about fifteen inches long when measured under from the armhole. I’ve noticed that most tops are way too long to be flattering for us ladies with short legs or else are petite.

  4. Always classy, Susan.

    Online shopping is a challenge now more than ever. Quality control at factories overseas seems to have fallen by the wayside, so sizing at the same retailer can be wildly different from garment to garment. Sometimes I get orangutan sleeves, or sleeves that are too narrow for my arms. Now averaging a 25 percent success rate. Maybe next year?

  5. You mention cashmere often, however, I am very sensitive to wool. I have tried numerous times to wear it but just the thought of wool against my skin makes me cringe.
    Do you have an alternative suggestion? I agree investing in higher quality pieces is it’s own reward over time.
    I notice your look is the same most of the time. Understated elegance. Which is timeless. At 77 I’m ready to pitch most of my wardrobe & attempt to mirror your style.
    I am 5’3, weight 130, I am smaller on top & carry more weight in my hips & thighs. My size usually runs in an 8 or a less generous cut 10.

    1. I always thought cashmere would be itchy, but it is very soft and comfortable on my skin. (Nothing like the wool sweaters I tried before and couldn’t tolerate.) You might enjoy cotton sweaters. Here is one that my friend has and she loves it.

  6. Very polished look. LOVE the pocketbook but it is a lot over my budget but I am sure that I can find something similar in the budget. Thanks for you inspiration.

  7. I love your new bag, Susan! I’ve noticed in the past how much difference an orange handbag makes in your outfits, and you’re right— while we might not wear orange clothing, the pop of color with the bag elevates the entire outfit. As a ginger I’ve avoided orange like the plague (which hasn’t been entirely possible since our son did his undergrad at Clemson-lol), but think I may be able to pull off a clutch. The next Clemson game we attend I’ll wear their second color, purple, with an orange clutch!

    I’m also a believer in purchasing classic styles in the best quality one can afford. The concept of ‘hero pieces’ is new to me (love it!!).

    Thank you for sharing your lovely style as well as healthy living tips. It’s often your advice that keeps me on track with my meal choices and snack attacks.

    I’m having shoulder surgery on my dominant arm on Wednesday and will be immobilized for a time, so I might not be able to type comments for a bit. I’m looking forward to a smooth and speedy recovery and coming back to visiting your blog soon.

  8. In reply to finding shorter length tees, I have found the petite pima cotton long-sleeve crewneck tee from L. L. Bean to be the perfect length for me (about 22.5 inches after washing, 14 inches long when measured under armhole to hem). I don’t know about regular misses length. I am 5’1″ so I take a petite. It is hard to find tops that are not so long! I hope this helps someone.

  9. Hello Susan!
    I have signed up to receive your posts in my email and it was working fine, but I am no longer receiving them. I love reading your blog, it’s so enjoyable. Thank you!

  10. Hi Susan,
    Do you have a specific brand/s of cashmere that you recommend? Thank you so much for your inspirational blog. I love the scenery, the food, the tips for healthy living, the glimpses of your personal life, as well as the fashion, of course! You bring the gift of beauty in many forms into the lives of your readers, and that is a contribution of high value. Bless you!

  11. I lost everything that I owned in the black summer bush fire, here in Australia. My favourite pieces of attire collected over a number of years, went up in smoke. Tragic circumstances have forced me to purchase cheap pieces of clothing to ‘make do’ until I can find articles that truly represent who I am. To date, the challenge has been overwhelming. Especially at age 68yrs. old. So, I invested in a well cut, non creasing, black light weight jeans. And am slowly and carefully selecting flexible, sophisticated, stylish pieces to dress up and to dress down. I now have a quilted jacket, a crushed velvet cardigan and for a cooler season. It’s a slow journey……but an exciting one.

  12. Adorable orange clutch….I do have a “bag” passion. LOL. Love the hero idea! I always admire your outfits and I think I will copy today wear white jeans and a navy top to take our little great 3 year old niece to library! Have a nice day!

  13. Good morning Susan as usual I love your casual but classy outfit. I am just wondering which style of the Clara son will talk you are wearing?

  14. You look like you are 40 years old in the navy top and white pants combination!!!!! It is my favorite also. I must have 30 navy shirts. BUT, I also like black with the white pants. The nice thing about these shirts is that as soon as they look a little washed out you can wear them for everyday and look very sharp in the kitchen and in the yard as well. I have some favorites from Chicos that come to the elbow from last year. They are really sharp. Elbow length, loose at the belly–loose fitting but yet fitting in the right places. I kept buying them until they were $14.99, $9.99, and finally $4.99. Incredible! I love Chicos. I do not shop anywhere else. I look, but I find it hard to buy at other stores. I always know that my size is going to fit me perfectly. Just got some jeans there for $14.99 and I love, love, love them. I will wear them in the fall. When they are bottom price you cannot return them, but I have found that I never have a problem with my size.

  15. Love, love, love your style Susan. I originally found your blog years ago when I googled Eat to Live. I just enjoy your content so much!
    I feel like I end up wearing my white pants for a season due to getting stains that I can’t remove: ink, red wine, chocolate. If you have any tips on keeping your whites really white & stain free, I would appreciate it. Thank you for all that you do!

    1. I am careful where I sit, and I eat slowly and carefully so that I am not as likely to spill food or drink. I still have little mishaps, so I use Shout to remove most stains.

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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.