Light, Medium, and Dark

Since I was twelve, white jeans have been in my wardrobe, and I wear them all year round on sunny days. However, I’ve learned not to wear suede shoes or light-colored pants on days with a threat of rain. The splashback stains are nearly impossible to remove. White jeans are as warm as faded-out blue jeans on a cold day, but they look so much more polished.

Adding a few accessories can make comfortable staying-at-home attire look a bit more presentable when I need to run an errand. Simple lines and slightly structured pieces in neutral colors make up my wardrobe, and most are interchangeable across seasons. But, of course, I can easily layer on a scarf, cardigan, or jacket if my other garments are simple and a bit fitted so that they skim the body.

White jeans suit my inverted triangle shape well, and the fabric is more forgiving. As I age, soft knits and jersey fabrics are less flattering, but denim smooths and conceals. I own black, shades of blue, and several pairs of white jeans, and they are almost a daily uniform.

If white isn’t a color you can wear, try a different light color that suits you. When the shades in your capsule wardrobe include light, medium and dark colors, you will find that you have a more comprehensive range of mix and match possibilities. These can be all the same color but in different tones. Cream, camel, and khaki is an example of a warm tonal wardrobe. If you add accent colors such as maroon or coral, you will always have variety in your combos. (Maroon is a warm color, and burgundy is cool.) Warm colors have a golden hue. Cool colors have a blue tint.

Similar if not the same items are linked: TopJeansLoafersBagScarfSneakersNo-Show SocksSkincare.

Someone asked if I planted the elephant ears I mentioned last year. I have thoroughly enjoyed having them in my yard again. A tiny tree frog was living between the leaves of one of the plants for most of the summer. Hopefully, he found a place to hibernate because I haven’t seen him in a few days.

My passion for nature and being outdoors mean that I always hope to see something unusual on my daily walks. So here are some amazing critters we sometimes have in the neighborhood. That’s a wood duck in the first photo and a red-tail hawk beneath it. These images are small because I took them with my cell phone.

I hope that this series on building a retirement capsule wardrobe has been helpful to you. Some of the shopping links on this site allow me to earn a small commission at no additional cost to you.

  1. Your elephant ears have done great and are so pretty! Will they come back next year in your zone? Sadly, mine that were 8 – 10 yrs old didn’t survive our brutal winter storm.

    1. I found this info when searching for how to save them over the winter.
      After the first frost, cut the stems to about 6 inches tall.
      Put the tubers in a grocery bag, plastic pot, or bulb rate and cover with a mix of peat moss and soil.
      Add water to the container and store it in a cool, dark place to ensure the tuber stays dormant throughout the winter.

  2. This series has helped me so much. I am more organized and although I don’t wear many tee shirts without a third layer, it’s easy to substitute simple cotton, linen or silk tops in other fabrics. Like you, I prefer 3/4 to long sleeve tops. It’s neater to layer.

  3. Thank you for these posts. I tend toward prints and patterns but I believe your suggestion to focus on solids is wise advice. I’m going to try it

  4. Hi Susan, This is helpful information, thank you. Beautiful Elephant Ears! Susan, it looks like your hair is growing out a bit. Are you liking your cut better as it has grown out, since it was much shorter than you originally wanted?
    Have a great day!

  5. WOW love your critters. Those wood ducks are beautiful. I like to hike tool! But I don’t get as dressed up as you do. I usually wear columbia hiking pants and performance fabric tops. I have to be careful of insects too. Maybe I should wear pearls to ride my bike and hike even though they don’t really go with hiking gear. 🙂 Love your blog.

  6. You make casual look so classy! Always appreciate your style tips Maybe none more than “Don’t wear your crossbody on your hip“. How many times was I guilty of that before you made me aware. Thank you Susan!

  7. Interesting about denim being more smoothing and concealing than knits! I think I was vaguely aware that knits and leggings weren’t feeling quite right, but I hadn’t pinpointed it. I sometimes felt that I was out in my pajamas…Thanks for your advice.

  8. yes love those blogs with usable information on wardrobes, thank you. the wood duck is beautiful! ann lee s

  9. Great post, thank you. Please would you show us how your hair is cut in the back. Thank you. I too have found that L.L.Bean make good tee shirts that hold up well wash after wash.

  10. Hello Susan, I was wondering if you ever have an issue with getting tiny holes in the lower front of your cotton tshirts from rubbing against thicker jean zipper area since you wear jeans quite often and if so, how do you avoid. I typically buy Madewell, Everlane, Chico’s and Talbot’s shirts.

    1. I have noticed the small holes in shirts in the past, but not lately. I recall that it happened more often with the Chico’s jeans since they sit lower on the hip. However, the higher-rise jeans don’t seem to cause the same issue.

  11. I just love your post as many others do. So very helpful and so positive.
    I have never seen a wood duck in nature. What a treat for you and those in your area.
    Just a thank you, for all you do on your blog.

  12. It’s interesting that you wear white jeans year round. Another blogger I follow from the southern US says the same. I’m in Canada and you don’t see that once fall arrives. It would be rare to see white jeans in the fall and winter.

  13. Thank you Susan, you have helped me immeasurably with my wardrobe and styling. I enjoy your posts so much!

  14. Wearing white jeans in winter was wonderful to read! I too have that triangle. It is amazing the difference in white jeans and dark top and dark jeans and lighter top. I look 30 pounds heavier. I believe I will explore this. Thank you so much. I live in Indiana so my problem may be finding the right shoes.

  15. You always have such good ideas, and such helpful and clear explanations. Thank you so much for all insights and guidance. This is a great blog for older women on a budget! Thanks again

  16. Good morning,
    I have been stalking your website for a while now and appreciate your advice. A little about me and then my question.
    I am 69 yo and still working. I am a provider in a Peds ED in a major hospital in Denver, so I wear scrubs…. no need for suggestions for professional attire there, it is a green bag period! Hair and make up are buried under masks, hats and gowns!
    I am 5′ average wt, red head (still) and definitely a pear shape.
    I love your suggestion of Khaki, cream, and camel. I keep trying white and wonder white it doesn’t work!
    So my question is the pear shape, you do so well with the inverted triangle, how does one dress the short triangle?

    1. Try on some nicely fitted dark jeans that reach the top of the foot, then wear a similar dark-colored shoe with a pointed or almond shape toe. Avoid tops and jackets that are longer than mid-hip since longer always calls attention to the behind. Wear bold earrings or tops with a pattern or bold color to draw the eyes up to your face. Never carry a shoulder bag or wear chunky bracelets since they add visual weight to the hip area.

  17. Susan,
    I love Elephant Ear plants because they are lush and look tropical. I live in SE Michigan zone 5 for growing plants.
    The climate here is finicky. Winters are something I don’t look forward to and you made me think of what I can do to stay active. Thank you.
    Your white jeans give such a nice clean line and still look casual. Your reader Tricia commented that she never sees white jeans in Canada during winter and it’s the same here in my area. The Detroit/Windsor Bridge is 30 minutes from me….. must it must be an outdated no-no in the north! White jeans and a thick sweater with boots would look nice. You have given me the courage to try this.

    1. When I saw the oh so fashionable Vogue editors striding through Paris in white jeans, black ankle boots, and peacoats in a snowfall, I realized how chic white jeans always look.

  18. I admire your ability to maintain such a youthful shape. Somewhere in my 60s I lost my waistline, so zip up pants/jeans with the bulge at the waist no longer work for me. I find Chico’s pull on jeans (might be called jeggings, but sizing up makes them fit more like jeans) hold in my middle better. At 5’4′”, I need ankle or short length. Do you have any recommendations for other brands of pull on jeans? Chico’s doesn’t carry them in white denim.

  19. I am so glad you think white jeans are good year ’round. I love the way they look with so many things, but have so long adhered to the “not after Labor Day” adage.

    Would you wear them in January (dead of winter) with a black cashmere sweater and black flats or flat black boots, for instance? Or do you think colorful tops and shoes–like those lovely cream-colored shoes–should be worn with white jeans in winter? I know you had on a navy cashmere sweater with white jeans in another blog, and I loved that look. Just wondering about fall versus winter for tops to wear with white jeans.

    Thank you for these excellent blogs with so many good tips.

    1. One of my favorite looks on a dry winter day is a navy cashmere sweater with white jeans and tan booties. Since I have short legs, I usually try to continue the color to my toes. Neutrals are my choice for winter, with a touch of red occasionally.

  20. ……hello – reading all the input and comments about the white jeans issue is interesting. Living in PA and spending time in New England even in winter, I have never seen “white” jeans WORN after September. I usually adhere to that since I wear so many other shades of denim and black jeans. I DO, however, have dressy winter white pants for Christmas/New Years/Winter (look great with khaki/black tops and sweaters) for holiday parties and events only. Interesting how your climate and where you live play a part in whether you are “ appropriately”dressed. Spring and summer are my pure white pants seasons….. I do not go to Paris and those beautiful women look GREAT in everything – so tall, slim – no bust line. They certainly adhere to the three-bite rule. They all Look great with their 18K (since that is the GOLD standard there-) jewelry – they do NOT wear costume jewelry (my friend who runs a boutique in Paris has told me many times). I thought about that and have my gold – yellow or white, I wear all the time. I DO not wear costume jewelry either —. If not now – when would I enjoy it????? Just a thought – all of your followers have great input and you comments are always interesting and helpful. Thank you for that……
    Anna –

  21. I love the shot of you among the elephant ears! That color green and the navy top you are wearing are one of my favorite combos.

    I recently bought a sort of tropical print blouse with a navy background and green leaves. And some pink flowers. I love it and it goes with the navy crop jeans I got at Talbots. Aside from the print blouse, I have been trying to use what I have and purchase things that will make three piece outfits which can mix and match. I am only 5 feet tall, so I probably won’t look elegant, but I can be nicely put together and color coordinated..

  22. In response to the holes in tee shirts, I have found button covers available from Amazon do the trick of preventing them. It can be the devil getting them on the jean button, but have had no holes since using them.

  23. Susan, I absolutely adore your sense of style and sophistication. At 69, I am trying to sort and build my wardrobe to be cohesive and work together. I have been professionally designated a warm, soft autumn – even with my gray and white hair coming in. Other sites indicate gray hair automatically puts me into a cool color category. I am so confused. Do you subscribe to season color analysis? Would two sets of capsule wardrobes make sense? My new test question now is “Would Susan buy this?” I aspire to your sophisticated yet friendly style.

    1. Thank you for the lovely comment, Alla. Your hair color will not affect your coloring choices. If you have a warm skin tone with gold in your eyes, you will always look best in soft, warm colors. For example, a warm ivory will always look better on you than bright white.

  24. Thank you so much for the Amazon Slim Sation pull-on pants recommendation. I’ve ordered 4 pair through Prime wardrobe. Exactly what I was searching for. Never would have found them in the Amazon maze without you.

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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.