More Styling Tips

Emails I’ve received this week asked for additional general styling tips and examples of casual combos. So today, I’ll share more information that helps me make the most of what is already in my closet.

VestJeansSweaterBagShoes

The three looks I’m showing you are what I wore today. The morning started cool, so I wore a cashmere sweater and derby shoes. The day warmed up while running my errands, so I changed to a lightweight top and short boots. (I have the top in size 1 and size 2. The smaller size for layering and the larger size if I want to wear it without another layer.) I still had one more stop to make when it started to rain.

VestJeansTopBagBoots
CoatJeansTopBagBoots

Discover your perfect outfit. Knowing the looks that suit your shape and everyday lifestyle make it easier to dress in the morning, and you’ll always feel comfortable. Then, build the rest of your outfits around your signature look.

Subtle changes in fabrics, color, and the cut of garments make them look modern or dated. Collars and necklines are the most significant recent changes in my wardrobe choices. I mainly wore V-necklines in the nineties because they flatter my face shape and minimize a large bust. However, in the past couple of years, I have fully embraced the collared shirt. They still feature a slightly V-neckline by leaving the top couple of buttons undone, but a collar is much more attractive and comfortable as I age.

Some of my shirts and blouses are five years old, but they have held up well because I wear them in rotation and take care of them. They are staples that I wear year-round.

If we dress in the style or the actual clothing from our favorite period, we can appear stuck in an era. For example, I love the minimal classic style from the nineties, but I don’t own any clothing (other than an opera coat) actually from the nineties.

Some of the questions I ask when I’m getting dressed. Is it appropriate for where I am going? Will I be warm enough? Are the fabric, cut, and color flattering? How old is this garment, shoes, bag, etc.? Sometimes when I reach for something on repeat, I don’t notice how worn or faded it has become. So I take questionable pieces out into natural light to evaluate the actual condition.

Similar if not identical items are linked. Shopping links may allow me to earn a small commission at no additional cost to you.

49 Comments
  1. Thank you so much for always sharing such valuable information! You are the best in sensible and well made clothing links.
    Was wondering, do you do a lot of dry cleaning your cloths or are you a laundry, iron every thing gal?
    Have a wonderful Thanksgiving next week!

  2. Subtle changes and beautiful looks. Those shades of red are wonderful on you!
    Like you, I don’t do dry cleaning (too toxic!) for anything. Woolens (including cashmere and down) can be easily hand washed.
    I also love to iron!
    For a beautiful ironing finish, use a 50/50 mixture of distilled water & white vinegar in a spray bottle. It will tackle any wrinkle and leave a perfectly smooth surface & military-sharp creases. The vinegar smell does NOT hold in the fabric, it disapates very quickly! A nice, non-toxic and inexpensive alternative to nasty commercial starch.
    I do historical fashion presentations and have many 100% cotton hoop skirts to iron (each sewn with 10-12 yards of fabric). This spray is an ironing dream!

  3. I love your collection of collared shirts—I think I have some of the same ones! Even in our hot Oklahoma summers, I often choose to wear a light-weight, cotton shirt with a collar, instead of the t-shirts I wore when I was younger. Thank you for all of your helpful tips about buying clothing with classic style that can be worn in a variety of ways.

  4. Loved this post. You always give me ideas to think about and reasons to find things I had forgotten about to style in a new way. Hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving. !

  5. Good morning Susan,
    I really like this post! Thank you for sharing the info.
    I love the striped shirt but because of my Spring coloring, I’d like to find one with Navy or even camel/tan/ gray stripes on white. Do you know of that being an option out there?
    I really like your red coat as well. The jeans are beautiful but I have to say I do (blush) prefer a smooth type stretchy waist without zippers, buttons, snaps… I find them too stiff and constricting (maybe I’m just too fluffy 🙂
    I love a collared shirt as well but I have a SHORT petite neck and sometimes I find that the collar in the back bothers my hair of all things LOL. I’m at the age that comfort is everything to me but I do want to look “in date” and “in style”, which you do a great job of showing examples of doing that! I need to rebuild my wardrobe slowly and you are really helping me to see how I should evaluate things and plan without all the old spontaneous purchases I used to make.
    I have a few things in my closet I have never worn over the years and it’s so hard to let them go because they are lovely and still “new”.
    I have never owned anything cashmere and you have really sparked my interest in seeking out a couple of pieces that will be timeless and last for years to come. Would you mind doing a post explaining cashmere and if there are different qualities of cashmere and such? Good places to find classic basic pieces? Thanks Susan!
    You have a great weekend!

    1. L.L.Bean offers navy and cream striped tops here. They also have cashmere sweaters here. I own a couple of old Everlane cashmere sweaters similar here. Some of my favorite sweaters for quality and fit come from J.Crew here and merino wool style here. I always size up in sweaters for a more relaxed fit.

      I hand wash them in cold water, roll them up in a towel to remove excess water, and then lay them on a rack to air dry. The sweaters get softer with each wash.

  6. THE REVIEWS ONLINE FOR THE RAINCOAT SAY THAT IT RUNS NARROW IN THE SHOULDERS. TRUE? MAY I ASK WHAT SIZE YOU ARE WEARING?

  7. I always enjoy seeing your everyday choices. It doesn’t take a lot of time to dress nicely if you have the “uniform” going for you. Ha ha! I’m still working on that! I do find I need to update it occasionally.
    I do have a question. I’m having a hard time finding a good iron. Can you point me to one that does a good job on shirts? Thank you.

  8. I have a question not related to your post. Some time ago you shared your favorite undergarments, specifically your shape wear with attached bra. I cannot find anything like that anymore with built in bra. I’m not looking for something without support for the girls. ☺️ Thanks for your help with this and for all your styling tips! Happy Thanksgiving Susan!

  9. Your blog is the only one I follow for fashion tips. I would have never thought of buying the top in two different sizes depending on how you wear it. How Smart! I learn so much from your fashion advice. My husband keeps reminding me that he’s retired now and I have to shop less often so I really need to consider everything I have learned since following you when you were still on Facebook. Thanks again for taking time to share with your faithful followers.

  10. Hi Susan, I love the casual looks you are providing. I am planning on ordering the striped tee. I am trying to decide between the size 0 or size 1. I have a medium sized bustline. Will you provide the size you like in this striped tee? Thank you! Sherry

    1. I have the striped tee in sizes 1 and 2. I like to wear a loose-fitting top by itself, but the first layer needs to fit closer to the body if I layer over it. I usually wear medium tops.

  11. Hi Susan. Thank you again for a great post. I was wondering if you are going to show things to wear on Thanksgiving and Christmas? I know you have posted that in the past but I would love to see outfits again.

    Thank you and Hi to Mr. Mickey. Happy Thanksgiving. I am thankful for your posts.

  12. I am enjoying the posts on casual, every day looks. Since being retired I seldom dress up but I always like to look pulled together when I leave the house. I’ve been trying to reach for some of those items in my closet that I seldom wear to see if they are still suitable and if not I am giving them away. I agree that I wear the same items over and over and often don’t notice that they too need to hit the road so viewing them in good light was a great suggestion. Love your blog, thanks for continuing to do it. BTW, I have enjoyed your photos of the area where you live and even included it on a recent trip to see the fall foliage. Hiking in the area was delightful, you’re lucky to live in such a pretty area. I live in Florida, which is great for walking on the beach, but I enjoy a hike in the woods – something I don’t like to do in the company of snakes! Thanks again, enjoy your weekend. Darlene

  13. For those of you who eschew dry cleaning in favor of hand washing and ironing, hats off to you! But surely you use a dry cleaner for your blazers, lined jackets and items marked “dry clean only”? Don’t see how you can totally avoid a dry cleaning establishment for years unless you never clean these items.

    1. I have machine-washed many a blazer on the delicate cycle in cold water. Then, I reshape them and hang them on a jacket hanger to air dry. Airing everything after wearing it and spot cleaning means the whole garment need not be cleaned more than once a season. On the other hand, I have had many a garment ruined by dry cleaners.

  14. Through osteoporosis I have developed the humped back and protruding abdomen. Dressing has become a challenge. I try, not always successfully, to follow your guidelines. Since this has happened in a matter of 14 months it is taking some getting used to my new image. There are few to no online sites to guide those of us with this challenge.
    I truly appreciate your articles
    Phyllis

    1. Several women in my family had osteoporosis. Here are the tips that helped my aunts and grandmothers look their best. First, wear shirts with collars that end at mid-hip or just below the behind. Never tuck in a top. If your tops, jackets, and cardigans skim the body without hugging, you can avoid attention to the middle. Thin layers are more comfortable and much more flattering than bulky or stiff fabrics.

  15. Help! Now that I am in my 80’s, I wear my grey hair in a tousled bob, dry naturally, jeggings or slim ankle jeans and collared shirts, both solid, print or plaid. How do you wear the collar if you need light jacket? Do you wear half tucked, on the outside or totally tucked in jeans? I am petite at 4’11”, 114, and live in humid, warm Houston. Know this is long, but just not sure. I love the half tucked shirt. Love. Love your style.

    1. Your look sounds very up-to-date. I do the half-tuck in warm weather. I usually pop the collar with a light jacket or blazer. Thank you for your questions and comments. I always vote for wearing what feels authentic and comfortable for you and your lifestyle.

  16. I never dreamed one could machine wash a lined wool blazer or suit jacket marked dry clean only. I must admit I would be a little afraid to try that.

  17. Another bonus of wearing a scarf around your neck with a blazer or winter coat is that it is far easier to wash the scarf than to clean the coat! My fashionable and thrifty mother taught me this years ago.

  18. Susan,
    Caring for my clothes is a priority of mine too. Ironing is something that’s fallen by the wayside. I can’t believe how many women (and men) don’t bother. Even the clothes shown on displays in stores are not steamed or pressed. A steamer is a handy little gadget to have since it can be used in any room with an outlet. Dry cleaners have ruined a few of my clothes too! The chemicals alone are toxic.
    Your advice is practical and saves in many ways.

    Have a great Thanksgiving!

  19. Hi Susan,
    As usual you have helped with style questions.

    I am planning, next August, a trip of a lifetime. Tour Ireland, Scotland and London. Then a side trip to Paris!

    I can only take a bag I can manage alone. Can you help with what would work to pack? Obviously wandering Ireland and Paris might have different clothing needs.

    Thank you!
    Kate Bushnell.

    1. I’m so happy for you that you get to go on such an incredible adventure! Take a black skirt, a black pair of casual jeans, a black pair of dressy pants, a gray cashmere sweater, a gray jacket, a white top, and a jacket to keep warm. A comfortable pair of walking shoes (and hiking socks!) are a must. A couple of shoes for in town or for going to dinner is also essential. Change up your looks with scarves and other accessories. You get the idea! All the pieces should be neutral and easily mix and match. The garments should offer the option of layering as needed to stay warm and yet be appropriate for the event. Have a delightful time. Cheers! Here‘s a post that shows photos and ideas for combos. It is an old post from a young woman who travels a lot more than I do.

  20. I ordered one of the Shapeez bras and really like it. I was wondering if you had ever tried their Silky (no form cup) bra that is supposed to be minimizing. If so, is the fit any different from the Ultimate? Thanks for all the work that you put into your articles!

  21. I thought those shoes were Derbies rather than Oxfords… The lacing is over the vamp, not under it… Am I confused about that?

  22. I envy the picture of the button front collared shirts in your closet. I’m unable to find this style locally; it seems most shirts now come with the high-low hem.
    That is my least favorite design. Where have you found so many shirts with the hem line about the same both front and back? I understand that you’ve had some of your clothes for a number of years, but if you could offer some online shops to try, I would appreciate it. Thank you for all your styling tips.

  23. I think Susan and I have the same iron. I’ll bet she uses hers more. I am making an effort to find easy care items to add to my wardrobe.

    Not too long ago I bought a very structured navy blazer with red polka dots from eBay. I believe it was from Talbots. It fits me well and I will have fun with it. I was really surprised that the label said it was machine washable. I think my blazer falls into the “highly memorable” category. It is a beautifully made garment, and my point in all this is it’s washability.

  24. Upon reading your post about washing wool clothing, I took the plunge and put my beautiful Talbots cardigan in the washer yesterday. I was very pleased how it turned out beautifully. Thank you, Susan!

  25. Susan, I have followed you since your previous blog & have loved all of your tips. You are a beautiful, intelligent woman that exudes class. I love how you know your body type/ proportions so well & dress accordingly. You really could be a professional style consultant, but I know that you must be enjoying retirement after working hard so many years.
    I am still trying to figure out my style since moving from a city to a more relaxed, coastal town. I have a hard time with proportion as I have long thin legs & a shorter, thicker waist. If you have a recommendation of any books on proportion, please let me know.

    Happy Thanksgiving to you & Mr. Mickey!

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I blogged for five years as Fifty, not Frumpy. Now that I am in my sixties, I am sharing ideas and inspiration for using and loving what you already have.

Thank you!
Susan

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