Lessons From A Photo Shoot

Mr. Mickey and I had a professional portrait done in 2011. David J. Clap, the artist/photographer, required that we meet with him for a consultation a few days before the shoot. He talked about what to wear and what to expect, and why. The photographer’s words are still fresh in my mind. “Don’t wear more than one color, and don’t do anything different with your hair or makeup.” He also said, “When you look at this portrait in twenty years, you don’t want to see the current trends because it will seem dated, and you want the portrait to be timeless. You want to present your best version of your daily self.”

That conversation took place after I had lost about twenty pounds, and it helped me rethink everything about my look and wardrobe. It was the perfect time for me to hear this message because I lost another twenty-five pounds, which required buying a whole new wardrobe. I started wearing more classic pieces, stopped buying prints and patterns, and cut back on makeup and jewelry. The number of colors in my outfit is almost always less than three. I use one or two fabulous accessories to make the look my own and pull it all together. If I wear a hat, I don’t wear earrings or a necklace. Scarves are, by far, my favorite accessory.

This evolution took a few years because I had to overcome my peers’ influence and the onslaught of style messages meant to sell fashion on a regular rotation. I spent twenty years working in retail management and buying, so it was drilled into my mind to wear only the latest and greatest thing. We were billboards for the stores. We had to show what we were selling at that moment. So we didn’t wear them in the stores when the items got marked down. The latest “thing” changes every six weeks in the fashion industry, which means you do a lot of shopping.

Humans naturally take on the styles and speech patterns of those around us. Regional influence is evident as we travel across the country, and international travel presents even more cultural differences in style and tastes. This influence begins in childhood, but I know women in their forties and fifties are still guilty of buying something because it looks good on someone else. In each blog post, I try to share information or tips to help you rediscover the styles and colors that look best on you and work well with the life you live now.

When I make a purchase, I have done my research, and there is a need for it in my wardrobe. If I wouldn’t buy something at the full price, I certainly will not buy it just because it is marked down. My recent purchases have included jeans because I want to wear longer styles and a wider leg with lower-heeled shoes.

I searched for a versatile gray wool jacket to layer over sweaters and tops with jeans in the colder months. I can wear it as a blazer or outerwear because it is oversized. I half-tucked the long sleeve tee from Chico’s, which is about three years old. The shoes are basic oxfords from Nordstrom. If you purchase these shoes, go up a half size. They do run small. The belt is a few years old. I think I bought it at T.J.Maxx.

We chose different frames, but this portrait on canvas is displayed in each of our homes.

  1. Just loverly! You have inspired SO many of us with your good sense wisdom. I started looking at “older woman” fashion blogs/Pinterest a few years ago for inspiration, as I approached 60. Yours is the only one I regularly follow and is by far the best. I retired from medicine a year ago and I now spend my days being more physically active and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Thank you Susan. We woman are like the amazing female elephants and need to stick together for comfort!

  2. Great advice as always! I especially like the advice that you don’t buy on impulse but rather if you need something to “add” to what you have. I see so much waste with the latest fads…now that I’m 62, I’m pretty proud that I don’t buy on impulse….and I’m comfortable in my own skin. That’s the first goal….to be comfortable in your body. I always enjoy your posts and advice! Great job!!!

  3. Pictures do say 1000 words. Your photos are always classy and elegant. Thank you for blogging and sharing each day.

  4. That is a beautiful portrait of a beautiful couple. I’m always amazed and inspired to hear bits of your life’s journey. You are an icon for women who, like me, are on the other side of sixty. You look healthy, happy, and very confident. Your outfit today is just perfect!!! You are blowing up the stereotyped image of what an older woman should wear and how she should look! Bravo!

  5. Thank you so much for your article. I love all of your advice and it certainly gives me new ideas. Love your Blog.

  6. The simplicity of your outfits make the portrait so classic. The two of you look so right together. Thanks for sharing.

  7. I love this outfit on you, casual but still classy. And your hair looks amazing as always, current yet age appropriate. Thank you for sharing all your great tips, I look forward to every new post.

  8. Susan, thank you so much for this article. Good ideas and advice. Have to say, what a portrait. Quite a difference seeing you with short hair.

  9. The portrait is stunning, and you certainly hit the brief for “timeless”. I really love your hair in the other photos, I think they are current?

  10. Please tell us again exactly how you lost that much weight. I think I am familiar with the doctor’s diet but did you exercise, walk, weights, etc. I personally need to lose 40 pounds and it seems so difficult. I am 68 years old. LOVE LOVE LOVE yourblog.
    Many thanks, Susan
    Sheryl Kimbrough

    1. The most important thing I did is to stop eating anything with High Fructose Corn Syrup. Most processed convenience foods are loaded with it. I never eat pork or beef and rarely eat fish or chicken. Food is the essential element in the chain of good health. I try to consume beans, grains, and greens along with a couple of pieces of fresh fruit and lots of filtered water each day. Using a smaller plate and only eating one portion can make a significant difference. Exercise should be built into your daily life. (Cleaning house with gusto, climbing stairs many times a day, parking far away from the store you are going to enter, and going for a brisk walk every day that the weather allows, are all things I work into each day.)

      1. Susan, I would also add balance training and some resistance (weight) training to your suggestions. Strong bones and good balance are essential for our long-term good health!

  11. For months I have been following you. I am on the same page with a lot of the subjects you discuss (despite being 70!) and have downsized my wardrobe in ways you have eluded to along with some other tips. My reason for writing is this – A person’s style is normally reflected in their home as well as the way they dress and I see décor and beautiful things in your photos that I just LOVE. EG: Marble, statuary, Window valances and mirrored side tables. We’ve seen your closet but is there a chance that we would ever get to see photos of the interior of your home?

    1. Thank you for your comments, Lynn. I posted about updates to my decor a couple of years ago. You can read that post and see more photos here. Since those photos were taken, I have sold almost all of the furniture and accessories in the guest room and sitting room so that I could add a studio for photographing products for my online store and have storage space for all of the inventory.

  12. Dear Susan
    I have read with great interest this latest
    Posting. I am in total agreement with You on all your thoughts regarding aging
    and styles.

    I worked at Talbots for 8 years. Loved their clothes and helping others to look their best!

    Just want you to know that I do love your
    Portrait.. however, you are far more
    beautiful today than on the day you and
    Mr Mickey posed for the portrait!

    Best wishes in 2018

  13. Hi Susan! Your advice is right on! Thanks for the message. The portrait is very nice, and I love the natural smiles you and Mr. Mickey are wearing!
    Susan, I love your hair long, but it looks very nice cut shorter too. I’ve gone back & forth with hairstyles, and I believe (for now, anyway), I am going to settle for a short ‘do. I’m partial to the ease of care!
    Thanks again for sharing your fashion sense!
    (When my husband & I reach our weight goals, I’m thinking we should get a celebratory portrait. It may be a good incentive to continue being slim & healthy). 🙂

  14. Wow what a great portrait. Great advice from the photographer. You look amazing! Thanks for the advise.
    Best to you and Me. Mickey for a blessed 2018

  15. I love your blog. The portrait of you and Mr. Mickey is stunning. I would like to know, for a future blog post, how long you should keep makeup? I don’t use much makeup so I have a lot of old products +3-4 years. Thanks. Your fan.

  16. Hey Susan,

    Love the first picture of you. You smile, x slightly turnned head, hands in your pocket —you look casual but playful and so fun!

  17. You are a classy lady Susan. I admire your style and very conservative yet classy way of dress. I need advice; i am from Wisconsin…cold and wintry styles of dress. Boots and sweaters are the common dress, over jeeggings or leggings. I will be spending time in Florida and do not know how to dress or what kind of clothes to purchase. I, like you do not wear anything shorter than capri length, and only 3/4 length arm sleeves. What should I purchase/pack for spending February in Florida? Thanks Susan, I look forward to your response. Sandy of Sheboyga, WI.

    1. I will be in Florida soon also. I am planning to take warm weather separates which I already know I like to wear. This is not the time to try out something new. I will take black pants, two white jeans, two blue jeans, tank tops, a cardigan and a blazer, a couple of blouses and some scarves. I will also take a navy tank dress, a bathing suit, and my jean jacket. Three pairs of shoes that are comfortable to walk in but different in style (sandals, loafers, and slip-on canvas). My travel wardrobe always includes three colors that go together so that I can dress up or down without taking a tremendous amount of clothing. I will fit all this in rolling carry-on bag and then wear the bulkiest items on the plane.

  18. The advice from your photographer are principles I had never thought about but will always remember. I just began following your Blog and am enjoying learning new things! Thank you! I was confused about different frames and the same portrait being hung in Mr Mickey’s home. I must have missed something?

    1. Mr. Mickey has the same portrait on canvas but his house is more modern, so he had his framed in a sleek black simple frame. I love old world and anything French so I choose a much more opulent large black frame for the portrait that hangs in my home. We have been dating for almost twelve years but we are not married, nor do we live together.

  19. What a lovely portrait. Your photos are always amazing and your style is too. I love reading your blog and advice. It’s inspirational.

  20. Just a quick comment, you both looked fabulous then and still do! You make over 60 look sexy! All the best!

  21. Hi Susan, I must say that I have a dislike for jeans, though I wore them in my younger years. I feel I’m too old to wear them, but you’ve given me a new perspective on jeans–you and another fabulous fashion icon, Jane Fonda, who wears them well, like you. The way you dress reminds me of the way she dresses on Grace and Frankie. Always stylish but classic pieces. Jane had one sweater I scoured the internet for, and what I really liked is she wore it in several episodes. That’s realistic when you have a fabulous neutral cashmere piece that goes with everything.

    So, one (rather silly) question, please. If you were flying to Europe in First Class, would you feel comfortable wearing a pair of blue jeans?

    You and Mr. Mickey are such a glamorous couple, that picture of you two is stunning.

    1. I would wear dark wash great fitting jeans on my way to Europe with a sleek pair of black boots and a beautifully tailored blazer, silk scarf and of course a well made, structured handbag. Denim is timeless, ageless and appropriate for many functions. Darkwash tailored jeans that fit well can be more flattering than trousers that lose their shape and sag after an hour. The fit is crucial no matter what type of pants you wear. Extra fabric equals extra girth.

    2. For a 10 hour flight, you are going to want to want be comfortable, nap, etc. I would wear a nice knit pant and a cardigan. Stiff jeans and a tailored blazer sound miserable.

  22. Love the jeans with the belt, simple black tee, necklace and the gray jacket is perfect and do versatile to wear with other pieces in your closet. Just perfect!! Thanks for all your inspiration. Now I shop for basics and colors that add to my wardrobe, not current trends. I need the gray jacket in my closet.

  23. Thank you, Susan! Your writings/blog have inspired me for over a year now. Your style points are so valuable, and the sensible tips about how to navigate fashion and style are so well explained. I appreciate both the written and visual aids you use. Both Mr. Mickey and you put a lot of work into this effort, and I so appreciate it. Finally, that is a stunning portrait. Thanks again and Happy New Year!

  24. Hi Susan, What a lovely photograph of the two of you!……I always smile when seeing you two together you seem very happy & both look lovely!……actually your Mr. Mickey reminds me of my husband he too has lovely whitle silver hair & a beard!!!……& he is a marvellous life partner!, we have been married for 25 years on the 27th March (our second marriage)…….my husband still works part-time so if he has a day off I think we will got out for a nice lunch!!!…….i was reading on one of your blogs about your hair thinning? mine is doing the same! so I have also started taking B12’s……..my hair is still a darkish colour not a lovely silver like yours! I have stopped dyeing my hair now & i suspect by the end of the year I shall have all silver & white in the front hair-line!…..looking forward to seeing that one! but I have done with dyeing my hair now i shall be 62 in September & it is definitely ‘time’ to stop that one!!…..Cheers Susan…..
    Kind regards, Margaret from South Australia!!

  25. You make a very handsome couple! I will send you another email but I wanted this primarily on your picture! Very very nice!

  26. It’s a lovely picture but with all in black .. your ( newer slim body) doesn’t show … your body could go or stop anywhere. I just see a larger section of black . Not any definition of all your hard work ! Sorry! . I assume you paid a great deal for the photograph .. it seems unnatural that your fellow is crouched or seated on a very low stool perhaps … and you on the floor…? I suppose I should just keep my mouth shut .. just an honest assessment . I do like your style and other postings.

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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.