One-Hit Wonder?

When I shop for a new item or pack for a trip, the first question I ask is, “How many ways can I wear this?” If the top is a bright color or the jeans have jewels on the pockets or are too distressed, they will be very limiting, so I pass on those items. I spend the bulk of my clothing budget on solid neutral colors. Neutral colors go with everything in my closet, as well as each other. They are not memorable, and most importantly, those are the colors I feel most comfortable wearing. My neutrals are navy, white, gray, and black. Your neutrals might be brown, navy, olive, camel, and cream if you have a golden undertone.

Let’s move on to the fun part! Accessories are the spice in the wardrobe recipe. Scarves, jewelry, vests, and handbags are the elements I use to create unique looks that reflect my personality. This black and white cascading vest from Covered Perfectly ticks off all the boxes. I can wear it in many ways, it is lightweight enough to wear all year round, and the colors complement my skin tone. The Covered Perfectly Cascading Vest is here.

The first look I created is one that I could wear to a cocktail party or any dressed-up event. I tied the vest up in an empire waist over both a tank dress and a three-quarter sleeve top. By layering the top over the dress, I covered my arms, and the empire waist tie keeps the proportions balanced. I always wear pantyhose with dresses. The pantyhose are here. The black suede pumps are old, similar here. Similar silver clutch here.

Above, I styled the vest as I might wear it out to lunch with friends or a business meeting. I wore it loose over the same top with a belt over the tapered leg pants.

The belt can also be worn on the outside of the vest to define the waistline. Similar belt here. The red Tahari bag is old, similar here. The flats captivated me the moment I saw them. They are by Franco Sarto here.

My go-to casual look has been a T-shirt with jeans since I was a teenager. That look isn’t as flattering on my sixty-two-year-old figure, so I have to finesse it a bit. I am wearing a very soft and comfortable Covered Perfectly Simple Comfort top in white here in these last photos. Similar jeans here.

The Covered Perfectly Cascading Vest is here. (When you buy two tops at Covered Perfectly, you get a third top for free!) This time I tied it low and carried a simple black leather tote. Similar tote here. The Keds slip-on sneakers are old, similar here. My vest was a gift. Referral and affiliate links in my posts may generate a small commission for me at no additional charge to you.

The same vest can be worn as a scarf! I created a video to show you how.
  1. Good Morning Susan—love all your variations with the vest. I have a few questions. Would the vest be overpowering on a 5’1” petite person? I’ve hesitated ordering from Covered Perfectly because they are not offered in petites. Also, love those shoes but wondering if they’re comfortable being synthetic rather than leather?

    1. I have modeled with women who are 5’2,” and the vest looked fine on them. You might like it better tied up at the waist. (I do too.) The shoes are comfortable, but I haven’t worn them for long periods yet.

  2. At my age now, 71, my shoes must be leather lined and with arch support for comfort. The price for one pair of my shoes has tripled but good shoes are worth every penny. I just don’t have a closet full anymore. I have given away nearly new shoes due to pain, probably dozens down through the years. I think comfort is foremost, and now many manufacturers make very stylish shoes that are comfortable (even with pointed toes). When I hit that sweet spot, the price is less important. Synthetic shoes are stiff and cannot mold to your foot, so if you can afford them, get leather.

      1. I never dreamed I would pay over $300 for shoes but when you get comfort, style, no pain, no foot or hip problems, it is not so expensive! I don’t wear a lot of jewelry and I only purchase shoes in basic colors (navy, black, gray). I had almost given up, but I am grateful for discovering some brands through Nordstrom that generally work. And they don’t look frumpy either. Susan is lucky that she can wear relatively inexpensive shoes with no back or foot problems.

  3. I love those flats, also! I have known of your site (FiftynotFrumpy) and looked at your videos for several years. I have the same body style (actually more straight than inverted triangle) with the broad shoulders and small rear end. I am in my mid 60’s and like how you are addressing style for our age group. I have basically the same coloring that you have – blue eyes, gray hair and cool skin tones. So, keep up the good work.

  4. Your outfits from those few pieces are impeccable as always. Packing those pieces makes each outfit/day a hit out of the park.

  5. Rose I am 5’1″ and ordered the vest. It is absolutely lovely, as much as I would have liked to keep it, I had to return it as I found it overwhelming for my small frame.

  6. Susan, That demo using the vest as a scarf is brilliant! I’m an even 5 feet and warm coloring. I’m looking into one of those vests on Covered Perfectly in a brown color.

  7. Well, your turning a top and a sleeveless dress into a dress with brilliant styling with a vest was a forehead slapper for me. Good grief. I can buy a sleeveless dress and wear it year round this way. Thank you yet again for thinking outside the box. And the vest as a scarf? I’m glad you showed us that little move. Again – brilliant. Already this last year your suggestions and ideas have saved me so much time, trouble and money.

  8. Do you wear white jeans or slacks after Labor Day? I live in Texas where summer is still in full swing! I don’t usually wear white shoes after Labor Day, but I was wondering what your opinion on white pants is.

  9. I would like to buy one of your tank dresses, a fabulous idea for dressing up and down. However, I live in Australia and have no idea what size I need from your range. Can you please provide a size chart as I cannot find one on your site.

  10. (I’m playing catch up & was glad to note that you’re not in the line of fire from Florence, btw.) Had to laugh at your post today, because while I don’t wear scarves or vests & own just 2 handbags — one for evening & my 35+ year old black leather hobo-bag that I use with everything else — sparkles on my backside are very much “me”. ( And I have to tell you, I put in a lot of hard, sweaty work every day to keep that backside in the kind of shape that can afford sparkles!) On a different note: we’re looking at real estate with a vague plan of maybe moving next year & I’ve gone straight into “declutter” mode. I cleared out a ton of clothing this past week, and all I have left is jeans (blue/black/white), V-neck tees (black/white/peacock blue/ 1 silver), 1 long black skirt, 1 pr of black pants, 2 tops (black/fuchsia), 4 camis (white/black/peacock/silver), 3 sweaters, 2 flowy jackets, some sweat shirts & hoodies & an assortment of jackets, mostly leather biker style. And I’ve decided I’m making do with these all winter unless something comes up that demands an addition. Oh, and I have tons of dramatic silver jewelry (my version of your scarf) & boots. And you were very much on my mind as I culled! As we looked at Open Houses last week, the Dude asked me about closets: how many, how big. I told him I don’t want a big walk-in closet just for me because a big closet makes buying more clothing all too easy, and my goal is “less”. He said to thank you for your good influence 🙂

  11. Wow – that vest is a workhorse for sure! The tank dress over the top is genius, as well. As usual, another fun post packed with usable tips for every day.

  12. Susan, I am in awe of how you have studied and learned what colors and shaped clothing look best on you. Especially enjoyed your sharing your “three main colors in wardrobe, the 2 neutrals, and four accent colors.” My wardrobe could be so easy if I could figure all that out. You helped me via a website to understand I am a rectangular shape. The color tone and undertones of my skin are more difficult to determine. It’s driving me nuts. My veins are blue on my wrist but there’s a case for a bit of green color there also. My eyes are blue with a hint of green, flecks of beige, and flecks of dark brown or black. People complement my eyes when I wear a deep blue teal. My hair is a deep, rich brown color. Not black by any stretch. Can’t figure out if gold or silver jewelry works best. Looks the same to me. Can’t tell the difference between a white blouse or off white looking better on me. I do burn in the sun and get freckles, but it will turn to somewhat of a tan to a point. Never that rich golden tan, I’m 5″3″ and 110 lbs. with a tummy that won’t go away after 4 babies. My skin is not porcelain white nor is it that deep rich tan, Might have golden or pinkish undertones. I don’t know! I so bad want to develop your system for my wardrobe to make life easier and look my best. Any advice for another website that’s foolproof figuring out my best colors? Or is this a “wing it” thing for people like me? You always look so put together and lovely. You clearly understand what looks gorgeous on you. How can I learn this?
    P.S. Thank you for the scarves. I purchased several for myself and did a little early holiday shopping with the lovely new scarves in.

    1. It sounds like your skin might have a neutral tone. Lucky you! That means you look good in most colors. I would suggest that you pick the same groups of colors that you like to wear. Your closet probably already holds lots of your favorite colors. Now think about how you can mix and match those colors together to create looks that you might not have thought of yet. Sometimes a scarf can guide you in pulling the best colors together. There are many websites and color specialists out. There isn’t a particular method I prefer over another, and honestly, it can become very confusing. This site here has some color swatches and information that might help you narrow down your best colors.

      1. Thank you, Susan. That website has been extremely helpful. Over the last four days I’ve spent hours studying what works for me and where I fit in for my best colors. Now onto getting rid of clothes that don’t fit or colors that don’t go well with my coloring at all. Rearranging the closet will be a new challenge, but I’ll get there thanks to your help. Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge. It’s like a whole new world opened up for me with color and style that works for my particular body and coloring. Bless you!

  13. Love that vest – much more versatile than I initially thought. Those are my neutrals as well – just added navy over the past year as it is softer, especially in summer. When I let my hair go silver/grey my wardrobe colors really changed! I had a lot of red/bronze highlights in my hair and had drifted towards gold jewelry and fall type colors. Wow – the change in hair color made those colors really off. I noticed that my makeup colors changed as well. The one thing that stayed the same is I still wear Revlon Red nail polish on short nails. I am now totally retired so no more business type meetings. Second closet purge due now that autumn is upon us.

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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.