Officer Blue

Purging my wardrobe of things I rarely (if ever) wear has freed up space to purchase items I know I will wear many times in several ways.

Impulse buying and irresistible sales were the culprits that caused me to add unwise choices to my wardrobe. I once worked with several companies and merchandisers who sent items to wear on the blog, so I had lots of things that didn’t blend well with my supporting elements. (Think of a movie cast. If all the players are stars, no one is special. A wardrobe that serves you well needs to have stars and supporting pieces.) Well planned additions, purchased only after I have thought it over carefully, are proving to be much better choices.

This Officer Blue Peacoat from White House|Black Market was just such a well-planned choice. As soon as I saw it in their new arrivals, I knew it would be a good color and style for me. Even so, I waited until a couple of days later to make sure I was still passionate about it before I purchased it.

The Peacoat was my all-time favorite piece from my US Navy (enlisted) uniform. The second favorite item was those smart-looking comfortable little black leather brogues we wore.

I have worn out many pairs of Chelsea boots in my life. They are a classic style that can be smartly worn with any cool-weather casual look. It was time to replace the last pair I bought a few years ago. I did lots of online research before deciding on these Dara Chelsea boots by Frye.

The Sheri Slim black jeans are by NYDJ. The blue V-neck cashmere sweater is a couple of years old from Ann Taylor. The long fuchsia scarf is old from Target. I wrapped it around my neck a couple of times and then tucked one of the ends back through one of the loops so that the bulk of the scarf was filling in the bodice and keeping my body heat from escaping. You can’t see it, but there is also a thin knit cardigan from J.Jill worn under the Peacoat for an extra layer of warmth. I find that several thin layers keep me warmer than bulky ones do. I am also much more comfortable in thin layers.

That’s me above in 1981. I served aboard the USS L.Y. Spear, and we were on our way back into port from being out to sea for a few months. We did not wear dress blues or our covers (hats) while we were out to sea, but we had a wonderful tradition of manning the rails in our dress blues whenever we would return to port. I earned E-5 Petty Officer Second Class’s rank and added another row of ribbons before leaving the military in 1983 after serving for four years. I have always been partial to military-inspired clothing for quality and classic styling. The concept of having clothing items that all work together has stuck with me all of my adult life.

  1. You look cute & classic..these coats have really stood the test of time. Nice pop of color on you in the scarf! I remember pea coats even being popular back in high school! Such a great pic from the past, too. Your boots are very practical looking, but still stylish..are they pull on? Finally defrosting my car to run errands here today! Yay!

  2. The Navy pea coat! I grew up in a Coast Guard seacoast town, and my big desire was to have my own pea jacket after years of wearing my older sister’s hand-me-downs and other donated garments. When I was eleven, I was allowed to pick out and order a pea jacket from the Sears Roebuck catalog. Besides being exactly the right style (to my eyes at the time, anyway) it had a bright red flannel lining. I could stuff my hands into the waist-level side pockets just as the sailors did when they came ashore–at least, until my mother caught me on the street one day and whispered urgently, “Get your hands out of those pockets! You look as though you have a baby in there!” I was still so young that it took me a few moments to realize what she meant.

    Back to your pea coat, Susan: it’s beautiful. I love the way you have styled it, and look forward to seeing it in other arrangements. Your blog is a constant source of inspiration to me. It’s an essential part of my mornings.

  3. This is one of your best looks ever. I think we’re happiest in our clothes when we’re true to ourselves. The flashback shows that you’ve always been beautiful and radiating kindness from your soul.

  4. I really enjoy your blog, Susan. I am 61 and working on my closet and my style, trying to be comfortable and look good. I certainly have made many wardrobe mistakes trying to figure out what works for me. Your posts are very helpful and relatable for me. I loved this post. I love the pea coat, and thank you for sharing your Navy experience. Very interesting.

  5. I knew from a while back that you served in the Navy and am ashamed that I have not yet thanked you for your service. So now….Thank you for your service. And for this blog which is helping me make better selections in my wardrobe choice. I have several one of a kind items in my closet that I have mainly for the “just in case” event. But I’m now switching to basics. I also have a pea coat that is well loved and well worn (for 15-20 years) I love the color you are wearing today and will go to that site to try and find it. Hope it is this year’s inventory.

  6. The pea coat is fabulous…love that officer blue. Blue is one of the best (to my eyes) colors on you. You were a beautiful young sailor and are beautiful (inside and out) woman today.

  7. Thank you for sharing your fashion knowledge and life experiences. I am 57 and have found your blog so inspiring. Love the blue pea coat on you.

  8. Thank you for your service in the military and now, your service to those of us living in a different body from the 70’s and 80’s and trying to figure out how to dress it with style!

  9. I am the same type of shopper—waiting the make sure I really want an item. That
    process has cost me several items by waiting—only to return and find my size gone from the rack. Oh well, maybe it was not to be!

  10. Susan, thank you for your service when you were younger and thank you for the “service” you are giving to us now.

  11. You are full of surprises. My son is serving in the Navy and we are so proud of him.
    You should do a post on all the different hats ( and tiaras) you have worn in your lifetime.
    I love reading your blog and am in the process of purging my closets and drawers of clothes I do not wear but hang on to because I might loose 10 pounds or it might come back in style.
    Thanks for all the inspiration

  12. Susan, you look wonderful in the pea jacket and I love the fuchsia scarf. Thank you for sharing the picture of your time in the navy.

  13. I love learning new things about you. I would have never guessed you served in the United States military! Thank you for your service to our nation and thank you for sharing your style knowledge.

  14. Loving that navy pea coat! You always look so pulled together and beautiful! Thanks so much for this blog and thanks for the silver scarf I ordered from you. It is just beautiful and I am thrilled to wear it!

  15. Hi Susan,
    My Mom was in the Navy during WWII. She always said that the best clothes she ever had were the ones she wore in the service.

  16. Amazing!!! I Keep learning new things about you that keep impressing me! You are such a great role model for young girls and women. Thank you for your service. I have had the privilege of seeing my son return to port on an aircraft carrier. The disembarkation process is one of tradition and respect. Love your coat and boots. These are definitely my style also.

  17. I purged my closet on January 1. It felt great to get rid of clothing I hadn’t worn in quite some time. I categorized my Spring/ Summer clothes on one side and Fall/Winter on the other. Next was sleeve length. Now I can pull together an outfit in no time.

    Doesn’t it feel great to purge?

  18. What a gorgeous sailor you were! I feel that your personality traits of discipline, attention to detail and perseverance may have stemmed from your days of service. In any case, you are a very worthy role model for me as well as your other devoted readers.

  19. HI Susan,
    This post proves the adage that if you want to look like Audrey Hepburn at 50 you have to look like Audrey Hepburn at 20! To look like Susan Street at 60, you had to look adorable at 25! There was that unfortunate time a few years ago, but without your health issues…you would not have inspired us all! What a wonderful post…hope in our lives in a tough 2017!
    Holly Rigby
    Texas and NH

  20. Love this look! And you as a sailor..,

    My husband wore his dad’s WWII navy peacoat in college during the ’70s. The lining of the coat was ornately embroidered with a dragon and US Navy seal, and I believe his name. Unfortunately, the coat was discarded when my father in law moved to an assisted living facility.

  21. Loved your article and pics! I am 66 yrs old and you have inspired me to not give up on looking fashionable! Thank you!

  22. Your are a woman who knows the value of a uniform and for that I salute you. When I worked, I devised a uniform because I got dressed at 5:45 a.m. and had very little creativity going at that early hour. Black skirt, black tights, black shoes or boots, a sweater and a scarf. Each day every day. May I make a comment about the Frye boots? Frye boots are so cool but they have a leather sole and if you are a little unstable on your feet, you can slip. A salesperson watched me try on Frye boots one time and said, “Not for you. You will slip. Try these Merrells.”

  23. Your navy coat with the pop of color looks fab! How nice that you served the country. Would love to hear about your duties aboard the ship and what led to your joining the Navy.

  24. I love the look, I love the colors, I love the written description, and I love the pictures. Who knew you were a military girl? And as always so attractive.

  25. Thank you for sharing your old navy picture .You were a very beautiful girl like an actress. Today you are a very beautiful lady
    Is it cold weather. I used to wear thick pullover Thin layers are better. You are right.

  26. I am so very happy you have been showing more blue in your outfits. It is one of my better colors to wear and in my opinion, one of yours. The coat and scarf combination is fantastic! My son attended Annapolis and is now a Marine pilot. The uniforms they wore at the Academy were just amazing; keeping the whites white is a military strategy in itself! Always loved seeing all the Midshipmen in their peacoats at the football games! Thank you!

  27. Hi Susan: beautifully put together outfit as usual. I have a couple of questions for you regarding your choice of colours (especially pants) and some styles as they relate to the inverted triangle body shape. I have the same type of body shape(wide back, not big breasted) and colour wise I am what used to be called a ‘Winter’ . I have been told to stay away from double breasted coats and black pants(which I love) by fashion advisers. Do you mind to comment on this advice with regards to the triangle body shape and black pants? And upper body simpler lines? Thanks.

    1. I never close a double breasted coat or jacket. That would draw too much attention to that which draws enough attention already. I can’t imagine being told not to wear black pants. If you feel too imbalanced with slim fitting pants, wear fuller cuts in any color you wish.

  28. Hi Susan!
    The more i know about you, the more i admire! My man was in the Australian Navy and served in a special capacity on the USS Missouri in 1990. Thanks for serving your country! Deb.

  29. Hi Susan. It’s Lorraine from Viriginia. We have written to each other before as I lived in the Yorktown area. We have just relocated to England for 2 years with my husband’s jiob. He will serve as a consultant to the UK shipyard outside the Lake District. I am 61 and this is going to be an adventure for me. I have a beautiful fuschia scarf I bought in NYC from a vendor. I love to wear it my navy or black coats. I didn’t have people sending me clothes but I have made some unwise purchases lately. I am awaiting or goods to be shipped so only have the clothes I brought in 2 big suitcases. I have quickly discovered that I have brought things that didn’t hold up well after their first wash or are ill fitting. I am like you in that I like classic pieces. I guess impulse buying needs to be kept in check. I am looking forward to learning which stores have the merchandise I like here in the U.K. I am enjoying your posts. That is a wonderful photo of you so young and brave to be a woman in the Navy! It made me wonder though what choices you made later that causes you to be unhappy and unhealthy later. Not asking you to share but just reflecting. You are inspiration today. I am glad you are sharing your experiences with us.

  30. All beautiful then and now! I was looking back a few years in your blog and realized how your style has evolved into an elegant and classy look that suits you so well. This is another fine outfit. I love the pop of color with the scarf. Also, thank you for serving our country and sharing with us.

  31. Susan, what fun to get a glimpse into your past! I join all the others who have thanked you here for your service to our country (and at a time when that must have been even more of a challenge for a woman than it is now) and your ongoing service to help other women navigate the later decades of their lives with style and dignity. I hope you reflect on all these lovely comments from your readers the next time someone writes something unpleasant. Also, for all the many who write positive comments, there are so many more who feel the same way about each posting. I only comment occasionally but I always enjoy and get so much from each post. Many thanks!

  32. Hi Susan, loved the glimpse of your life as a sailor…and its lasting fashion impact! I do have a Q about the Frye booties (I have ordered and unfortunately had to return 3pairs of booties recently in attempt to replace my worn out ones – ugh). These look great, and I have loved Frye since high school (I recently turned 60). Based on the great shoes listed on your shopping site, looks like you wear an 8 1/2. Did you end up with that size in the Dara Chelsea boots, or did you need to go up a size? Thanks!

    1. I bought a size 8.5, but if you live where you will be wearing them in ice and snow, you will need to be extra careful with those leather soles. They can be very slippery.

  33. HI Susan,
    I love this coat and have been looking for a peacoat for awhile. I called my local store and they do not have it in stock so I will order online. Do you feel it runs true to size? I am large chested, 36DD and never close jackets like you so I usually order a size 12. I wanted your thoughts before I order. Thanks for all your wonderful articles. I have always been interested in clothes however your great ideas/advice have helped me fine tune my closet.

    1. I bought a size medium, but it depends upon if you want to wear thicker sweaters with it. I plan to wear this as a topper with jeans and a tee, so I wanted it to fit more like a blazer than an overcoat.

  34. Hi Susan, It’s interesting (to me) that we are similar yet so different. We are the same age. I went to high school in East Tennessee and my family still lives there (Maryville). Then I see you joined the Navy & I joined the Air Force! I now live in Florida & work at Kennedy Space Center. Anyway, I enjoy reading your blog and learning about your life and style.

  35. LOVE the Military blue jacket and the gorgeous scarf. You look amazing. SO…I had to go find a blue Military jack as well. YES…they had one on sale at Macys!!! Can’t wait until it gets here.

  36. Love your coat with the gorgeous color of scarf Susan! I referred your blog yesterday to a lady in the Carlsbad, CA Chicos store, in the dressing room area no less, because she complimented me on a floral scarf I was wearing when I came out of the dressing room and also on my coat, and said I looked classy so I told her I have always loved and worn colorful scarves and shawls but I was using your idea more now to only buy solid color core pieces vs. prints to get more mileage from my wardrobe basics and then add the scarves and shawls for color, and she loved the idea so I told her to read your blog to see your great outfit examples of this. I purge my wardrobe regularly and like to get rid of things that just are not working and with age comes wisdom as I don’t fret over it anymore — I just donate it and move on! There is a gal in Australia who has a nice You Tube channel on using solid core pieces like you do too and that helped me transition to my current look easier too so thanks to both of you for the wonderful tips and examples! The lady in the Chicos dressing room area said sometimes “we just need help” even though I thought she looked great too. I have always taken pride in how I looked, but we can all use a little help as we age. 🙂

  37. My gosh, here is another chapter of your life that I missed. You are full of surprises! Why did you join the service, and where were you during that time?

    1. I joined the service while living in my hometown in TN in 1979. I was working three jobs at the same time trying to put myself through school when I realized it would be much smarter to join the service. I learned self-discipline, business management skills, people management skills and life lessons that have always served me well.

  38. Thank you for serving our country Susan! I also want to thank you for all that I learn from your blog! (Love the pics – I’m a visual person!) I now shop more wisely. I have to LOVE it, be of good, multiple use and a fair American made price! Be well! Thank you for not accepting free product! Be well! Eva

  39. Love your style.First one I’ve seen that makes sense for a lady my age,which Is 77.Hope you continue to come up with lovely outfits like this.THANK 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.