Our Best Choices

“So much of fashion is directed toward the twenty-somethings. How do you decide on styles appropriate for women our age?” Thank you for your question, Rebecca B. I’ll share some points I consider before purchasing items. The short answer is to avoid anything that draws attention to your least favorite bits, but keep reading to learn the details.

I’ve spent the day taking my parents to do their grocery shopping and helping Mr. Mickey with a few chores. I primarily work at home, so my attire for this rainy day is casual and comfortable. The denim shirt and straight-leg black jeans are a favorite working-from-home combo since they are comfortable but acceptable in public. Similar current items are linked ShirtJeansBootiesWatchNo-Show Socks. The makeup includes my casual favorites, Twinkle eyeshadow (here), black mascara, and Dahlia gloss (here). My entire skincare routine is here.

Color is the first consideration when I shop. First, study your eye and hair coloring to discover which colors will look best on you. The various colors in your hair are your best neutrals. I wear charcoal gray, dove gray, white, and occasionally black. Next, look for the darkest strand to determine your best dark color. For example, if you have warm, dramatic autumn coloring, a deep copper brown will always be an excellent dark color in your wardrobe.

Your eye color includes all your best accent colors, which is why I often wear shades of blue. Repeating the colors found in the iris of your eyes allow for harmony in clothing and scarves. Pearls should never be whiter than your teeth.

Turquoise, eggplant, aqua, red, and teal flatter all skin tones. However, remember that all colors come in warm and cool tones. For example, if you look better in gold jewelry, you probably have warm undertones. On the other hand, I have cool blue undertones, so silver is much more flattering to me.

The silhouette is the next consideration. To learn your shape, measure your body. If your hips are the widest point and your shoulders are the smallest, you have a triangle or pear shape. The oval or apple body shape is the thickest at the waistline. We may take on an oval shape since weight tends to settle around the midsection as we age. If your bust, waist, and hips all measure about the same, you have a rectangular shape. If your bust and upper back are the thickest part of your body, you have an inverted triangle shape. Finally, you have an hourglass shape if you have an equal bust and hip measurement with a smaller waistline.

The texture is the next point to consider. Textures that add volume include tweed, corduroy, faux fur, quilted, and gauzy fabrics. Fabrics with a lot of texture add visual weight. Jersey knit and satin fabrics are on the opposite end of the spectrum. Thin, soft fabrics that cling bring attention to areas most of us would rather not showcase. The best options include natural materials that flow across the body yet stand away from it. Viscose, rayon, cotton, and denim are the most flattering choices.

Design details are the next thing I consider before making a purchase. For example, I know that ruffles, gathers, pleats, patterns, or bold horizontal lines near the bust are never the right choices for me. Likewise, boatnecks, waterfall lapels, and wide necklines are not flattering choices for those who have broad shoulders and a large bust. As another example, if your shape is oval, avoid design details that draw attention to the waistline.

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  1. Susan – Thank you for such a helpful compilation of guidelines to help us look our best. Blue definitely is your color! I now feel more confident in following my instincts to wear colors that compliment my coloring. In fact, I am headed to my closet for an “assessment” now as it is almost time to pack away the sweaters. I truly appreciate the effort you put into these posts.

    1. Place one end of a tape measure on one shoulder edge and pull it around to the other side or get a friend to help. Standing in front of a full-length mirror to study your body’s outline may help you see the shape without measuring.

  2. Susan,
    Thank you for another great post. I always learn something new from you. It’s great that you provide a link to similar items. Since some of us shop resale it would be nice to know the actual brand you are wearing because we might be able to find a duplicate online. Just a suggestion for those of us who believe in recycling. Thank you.

    1. I try to find something similar from either the same store or the same brands so that you can use the linked item as a reference. Some companies like Talbots come out with a similar classic item each year.

  3. Thanks for another thoughtful entry. I so enjoy your writing, respect your opinion and admire your style. Would love to hear more about dressing for body shape. You say tops on you need to be shorter to give your legs length. What about someone with even top and bottom measurements? I’d love to see some examples if you can find them. I get so lost on the internet with everyone’s opinions and suggestions. Thanks !!

  4. I love hearing your input on fashion and how to dress. Very enlightening. I have a very large bust and wide hips. I used to have an hourglass shape but now it’s more of an oval or maybe apple. And I am short, 5’2”. I tend to lean into country comfort more than anything. I am a retired farmer and I still live on the farm. I love blue jeans. Denim is a fantastic fabric. Button up shirts tend to make me look even bigger because my bustline holds the fabrics up and away from my body. I can’t wear heels anymore. Too painful.
    You always look fabulous.

  5. Thank you, Susan, for another great post. You’ve helped me so much and I really appreciate all the time you put into your writings.

  6. Oh dear. Gee. I read the post. I understood the measurements to be horizontal. My question was about the vertical measurements (shoulder to waist, waist to ankle), and the discussion about having a short or long trunk, short or long legs or “balanced” and your advice about clothing choices.

  7. Dear Susan my granddaughter is getting married in October, I need to find an outfit for the wedding. I’m 78 years old today but I’m a very young 78 and very slim but only 5’ 3” tall. I don’t want to look frumpy but I would like to buy something that I could possibly wear again. My granddaughter has picked fall colors for the bridal party. I have your coloring. Any suggestions?

  8. Thanks so much for your post on selecting the best for our clothing. However, I’m curious about the twinkle eye shadow you use…do you just put that one color on all of your lid? Does this liquid spread easily and does it stay put?

  9. Great guidelines! Is the twinkle eyeshadow the same as Beautycounter lid cream eyeshadow? What shade do you wear? Thus must be new! I always struggle with eyeshadows fie my hooded eyelids!

    1. The shadow I use is the Lid Glow Cream Shadow in the color Twinkle. I use a very tiny amount near the base of my upper lashes just to give a hint of color and a bit of sparkle. The color is buildable, so you can make it darker if you wish.

  10. Hi Susan!

    Can you tell your readers your height and clothing size? I am 5′ 1″ and I love your clothing choices, but I am not sure they would all look good on my short frame. I am 125 lbs and thicker in the middle.
    Thank you,
    Lisa P.

  11. Susan, loved this information. Very helpful and interesting. Thank you for taking your time and effort in putting it together for your followers.

  12. Such a helpful post. I have a large bust and broad shoulders, so I now know what to avoid and what to look for in tops. Love all your suggestions.

  13. This was a great article, all things to consider. I’m a Sewist (a modern term for someone who sews) and make all my clothing, except a few things, coats being one of them. I look to you
    For ideas and changes….I can get in a rut, and make the same things…….so you’ve helped quite a bit. Thank you.

  14. You always share great information. I do have one question – do you still wear eyeliner or just shadow and mascara? If you’re wearing eyeliner can you share the brand? I’ve noticed so many mature women with garish looking makeup, especially over done eyeliner and cheek color. Thanks! Have enjoyed both your blogs and love the way your style has evolved.

    1. When I am a bit more dressed up, I do smudge eyeliner pencil from Beautycounter into the base of my upper lashes only. I blend it well with the sponge end and then soften the line by using a dark powder eyeshadow blended over the penciled line. Stop the line at the last lash for the most natural look.

  15. Hi Susan. I’ve been following your posts for quite some time now. I always love to see them and I always learn something. I too am retired out of the beauty industry so fashion, cosmetics, skin care and fragrance are always a love of mine. I have finally at 55 figured out that I’m 5’2, short waisted, hourglass shaped, currently a size 6/8 and working my way back to my former size 2/4. I’m using some of your food tips and adjusting my eating habits and I’ve managed to drop 7 pounds in the past 3 weeks. Yeah for me. Anyway, the only issue I constantly struggle with is how to blend my clothing with my lifestyle. I am definitely a western woman ( I drive a tall pickup truck, I own horses, I live on a rural ranch, I wear denim , I wear a concealed sidearm and cowboy boots, but I also wear pearls,I’m very feminine but very tough. My struggle is how to express my style without looking like I’m playing dress up cowgirl. I should also mention that I wear all black primarily, I do have a little gray in the wardrobe. My coloring is cool with very long ( below my waist) silver ( salt and pepper) hair. My favorite color is pink but I feel that when I wear it, it brings out the pink in my cheeks which are naturally rosy to begin with. Everyone says wear pink but I feel self conscious with glowing pink cheeks. Any suggestions for my struggle?

    1. I am not as comfortable wearing pink either because my cheeks are often a bit too rosy. It is the same reason I don’t wear blush. If your wardrobe works for you and your lifestyle stick with it. Maybe add a few softer colored denim pieces in pale blue, white cotton shirts, and a soft gray tee or sweater. These pieces will coordinate with everything you already have when you want a change.

  16. Susan- this is such a helpful article. Thank you for sharing your perspective. Your blog has been a calming and inspiring place for me as my life and body continue to change.

  17. Thank you for your always wonderful advice! You have saved me many fashion mistakes and, consequently, dollars! I do have a question for you. You have mentioned that you are doing yoga at home and that is on my agenda ever morning, as well as Pilates…I was wondering what you wear when exercising at home? Usually, I do my morning workout in leggings and a tee shirt, then shower and get ready for the day with clothes suitable for what I’ll be doing. Have been following your blog for quite a while and love it!

    1. I do the same thing, Beth Ann. After a light breakfast and answering emails and comments, I get ready for exercise in whatever is stretchy and comfortable. Leggings and a sports bra are often the winners since a tee can get in the way. After I cool off, I shower and get dressed for my day.

  18. Wonderful reminders. Wear what looks best on my body and colors that enhance me, not necessarily what’s on trend or the ” color” that’s popular.
    Have a wonderful weekend.

  19. Susan, I am a follower and this post is my favorite of all time. Thank you for the details of shopping for cloths that are made just for my coloring, body shape and all the rest of your advice. I’ve never been able to put it altogether. Keep up your work. We appreciate you. All the best to. you and Mr Mickey. Bobbie

  20. This is timeless and helpful information. I’m old enough to have take one semester of home economics in high, school, a must to fill time so as not to have an extra study hall. But a practical class with information I still use when buying clothing and textiles. It, and you, have both saved me a lot of grief and mistakes. Thanks for the help and memories of Miss H.

  21. Susan,

    Your advice on wearing pearls made me remember the day I realized that tooth color matters. I was young and loved my new pearl earrings until I noticed how dingy my teeth looked. With a recent cleaning at that! A jeweler pointed me in the right direction for a better choice. So many shades of natural pearls are available

    I also noticed that my face color seems” washed out” as I age. My hairdresser went darker with color for my hair and instead of the medium blond went to a medium brown. I’m fair/cool with brown eyes and it just amazed me. More depth of color also gives a thicker appearance to my thin hair. No more “deer in the headlights” with my dark eyes! I look younger and have been told so by others.

    Again you are so accurate in saying find the right hue/tones for your coloring.

    Thank you.

  22. You hit on so many great points. There was just one area I don’t think you mentioned, and that is a woman’s height.
    Us munchkins, 5’1″ and under, have other styling issues that taller women don’t have. In the city that I live in, the stores have all eliminated their petite clothing lines. I am told to just go online, but I would really love to be able to try on clothes in the store first and not have to deal with sending things back.
    Buying regular size clothing in a small size isn’t the answer, because they are cut different then petites. Regular cut small size tops and jackets have wider shoulders and longer arm length and small regular slacks have a longer rise. I do know how to do some simple alterations, but I have to spend the big buck to have more difficult alterations done professionally. I know this is a subject for another day.
    Thank you for all your great styling suggestions. You always look beautiful!

  23. I think lace material (not trim) and shiny satin add visual weight also. At least I have found this to be true in hunting for a mother-of-the groom formal. And I do agree about the lack of choices for petites.

  24. These are such helpful suggestions. My problem is, I’m a true autumn with auburn hair and brown eyes. I’ve invested in browns over the years and feel so drab and depressed when I wear brown and most autumn shades.

    1. Add more light colors and bright colors and maybe more red near your face, but keep the colors in the golden undertones. How do you feel when you try on bright cool colors? I am all for wearing what makes you feel happy and uplifted.

  25. Susan, thank you for your blog. I am 66 and let my hair go gray 2 yrs ago during the Covid lockdown. My hair is gray with silver highlights but I have some warm tones in the ends. Do you use home products to keep the brassiness out of your hair or does your stylist use a rinse to help your color stay bright?

  26. Hi Susan.
    I’m not sure I understand what you mean by “waterfall lapels.”
    Are they wide lapels?

    1. Yes, the oversized flappy, drapey, exaggerated lapels have been popular for a few years. But, unfortunately, all that fabric adds volume where we might not need it.

  27. This is really a helpful breakdown. No “rules” such as “everyone needs these 10 items”. These constructs can be applied to individuals. Thank you!

  28. I “discovered” your blog while looking for guidelines for women after 80. My search has been lacking success. I have just continued to wear those styles from my sixties and seventies, and I hope that’s not a “no no.” I am a little less than 5’4”, and the scale is not my friend for the past few years. Grateful to still be in good health, my agility has decreased somewhat. Also what has captured my interest in your blog is your mention of some locations with which I am a little familiar…upper East Tennessee and also Asheville.

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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.