Part 5 – Special Occasion

How can a tee and black knit pants be appropriate for a wine and cheese party fundraiser? I wore the combo recently, and it was perfectly suitable. Dressing casually has become so common that I rarely see cocktail dresses at such events.

After reading the first four parts of this series, you know how to put together a look for any occasion. When I want to create a more elegant ensemble, I add details that speak to the occasion. Satin, velvet, silk, pearls, crystal earrings, shiny jewelry (but not too much!), a small clutch bag, sheer hosiery, and even a tiny heel can celebrate the fact that you are doing something special tonight.

The jacket is here. (It runs small.) The tee is here. The pants are here.

Note that I’ve repeated the soft white color of the tee in the pearls and the white background of the bag. A smaller clutch bag is essential for any special occasion, whether brunch or the symphony. Years ago, I bought two long strands of pearls and joined them together for more drama. Simple but elevated jewelry with touches of gold relates to the gold buttons on the jacket.

The jewelry and bag have been in my collection for many years, so I’ll look for similar items to link. The shoes are here. A similar pearl necklace is here. Other similar items include a bag here, a watch here, a ring here, earrings here, and a bracelet here.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this project and that you see your wardrobe with new possibilities now. As always, I aim to share what I’ve learned to take the stress out of getting dressed while using what you already have to look your best.

The first lesson in this series is here. The second one is here. The third one is here. Part four is here.

Recent posts are summarized here. I purchased all the products I show since I no longer accept gifts or products to review. However, referral links on this site may allow me to earn a small commission without cost to you.

  1. Your outfit is perfect for many occasions! Pearls are always appropriate. Back in the day, a lady always had at least one flattering cocktail dress for special events. I miss seeing the pictures of Mr. Mickey dressed as old St. Nick and giving gifts to the children.

  2. Thank you Susan, a picture is truly worth a thousand words! You look so elegant in the last two examples, it is amazing that you are still wearing the two basic pieces you started with and look so wonderfully put together. I can copy a look most times, just don’t think of everything you are showing us. Like wearing the sheer stockings making a big difference. Certainly nicer than compression socks. Thanks again for being so helpful.

  3. This has possibly been my favorite series of post you have ever done! I’m a casual girl but like to keep the look elevated. These combos are perfect for me to copy and I have the elements thanks to following your advice for years!

  4. I have really enjoyed this series as it just proves that a well thought out capsule wardrobe with a few quality pieces goes a long way to looking well groomed for any occasion. Your posts inspire me to do more with less instead of thinking I need to buy new all the time! I live in the UK but seek out your blog quite often now. Thank you for sharing and best wishes.

  5. Love it! I follow several bloggers, but the one I truly learn from is you. Thank you for always posting such good information.

  6. Thank you for this series, very helpful.

    This has made me realise I need to find some accessories to elevate a couple of my outfits.

  7. Susan, I loved this series. I have my own color combos that I use to dress an outfit up or down. I first learned from you that solid tops are much more versatile than the prints I used to favor. I still have a few prints though. You are helping me grow older with a little flair, lots of grace and dignity. I see some older ladies dress like slobs or just plain too young and don’t want to look like either one myself. Hope your holiday season is filled with joy.

  8. Susan thank you for the posts. I think the last look would also look great with your black silky dress from a post maybe 2 years ago? It was cut on the bias and was almost to your ankles. I love how you effortlessly add things or take them off for another look. Thank you again and Hi to Mr. Mickey.
    Patty V

  9. Susan this is another helpful addition to this series. It shows what we can do with just a few pieces. They go from very casual to a more dressy look. As someone said earlier I also follow other bloggers but yours is most helpful with helping us wear what we have in our closets.

  10. Just love how you put everything together. I love the red jacket-it looks better on you than it does on the model!
    Thank you for helping all of us “older” women!

  11. I must admit I never thought much about accessories until I started reading your blog. I always like the columns that include teachable moments, such as the 1/3, 2/3 rule; extra width means extra girth (something to remember with all the oversized looks now); and the food tastes the same after the first 2 or 3 bites. I never thought about the “pop of color” in a handbag, or how some items can be too memorable and will feel overdone in short order. Just thank you for the fashion teaching!

  12. I never thought about styling a t shirt and pants …this was really helpful. Thank you for showing us how a couple of small changes have such a big impact


  13. I’m rather sorry that no one dresses up anymore. While putting in the effort to look good with casual wear is very commendable it also seems to be a downgrade. I miss lovely dresses and that more feminine style.

  14. This has been an excellent series. I have been following you for awhile and adding pieces from time to time. This has given me lots of ideas for putting the items together! Thanks again for your inspiring blog. I look forward to your updates.

  15. I’m really enjoying this series, Susan. I ordered the tee because of the pretty neckline. I wish you well on your health journey.

  16. Susan, I hope you and Mr. Mickey are doing well. I’ve been reading your posts for a while now and greatly enjoy and appreciate what you share. The recent posts showing different looks for the same base top and pants was very helpful for me. Thank you

  17. This series was extremely helpful. I’m looking forward to others with different bases.
    Best wishes to you and Mr. Mickey for a lovely holiday season.

  18. Thank you, Susan for all these great tips and ideas. You look fabulous in everything you wear. You’ve obviously have years of experience in finding the exact style that works for you! Your classic look is awesome and apparently meets your lifestyle to a T! Best wishes for a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

  19. What a great series! You have given all who follow you a wonderful holiday gift that can be used for many years to come! I agree with others, I would love to see more series like this one. So much information in such an enjoyable presentation. Thank you for putting the required time, thought and energy into this. We know you have many other obligations and are still healing. Awed at your commitment to your chosen craft which benefits others. May you and Mr. Mickey have peace and joy this holiday season.❤️

  20. All jolly helpful; my accessories are going to be scrutinised carefully. Thank you for such thoughtful presentations.

  21. Very interesting! Thank you. I recently went to a wedding, semi formal and most people were dressed somewhat casual. Everyday clothing. Some women wore dresses but very casual looks. Those that did wear dresses had no hose and nude sandles. Brr they were cold. Take care!

  22. I really enjoyed this series and would love to see more like it – with different bases. I retired three years ago and I’m still working on developing a wardrobe for my more casual lifestyle. I have the everyday comfort outfits down. Thanks to your inspiration I’m adding a few accessories and third layers for elevating my basics. I appreciate the time and talent you share with us!

  23. Thsnk you for continuing to post.
    Our dress has become very casual. Your low key outfit is appropriate and festive. While clutches are elegant, I prefer shoulder bags as it is easier to hold a drink and nibble on an hors d’oeuvres with two hands.

  24. I have enjoyed this series so much, Susan! I’ve learned from every post – looking at my separates in a different way to see what types of similar looks I can put together! I love all of your posts but I know I will be referring back to this one often! Happy holidays to you & Mr Mickey!

  25. Hi Susan, I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving. I just got back from my walk on very icy roads. Thank goodness for Icebug boots! I just love your style and this 5 part (so far) series of how to put these looks together. I’m 63 but I feel like I want to be just like you when I grow up. I love your hairstyle, and want to change my hair, but I don’t know how you style it with your curly hair. I have curly hair, too, but don’t seem to be able to make it mind like you do. Wishing you a wonderful day from Alaska.

  26. Susan, this series has been very inspiring. As I begin to consider retirement in a few years, I’d like to simplify my wardrobe. Your tips are giving me great ideas. One question about the t-shirt: I love the ballet (or bateau) neckline, but do you find it difficult to hide your bra straps with the wide neckline? These necklines look great on me, but I find myself always battling to keep the bra straps hidden (unless, of course, I’m wearing a jacket). Thank you!

  27. I have thoroughly enjoyed seeing the ways to change a simple shirt and pants to all the different occasions. I used your tips to make an outfit for church today. And thought, Susan should be quite proud! And I knew how to change the pieces to attend another different event. Thank you so much for your suggestions and ideas. My closet is getting thinner, but more quality. I hope you have an enjoyable end of Thanksgiving holiday and into the Christmas season. I so appreciate all you share!!

  28. Susan,
    Thank you so much for your recent posts on building a new look using basics. I would love for you to do this repeatedly, utilizing other basics in your wardrobe. A picture speaks a thousand words and this series has really been dramatic, showing exactly how you easily convert your basics into new looks. I know other readers have greatly benefited from your examples!
    Thanks again,

  29. Thank you so much for this series. I have learned so much from it. I hope you will do more like this using other basics. I’ve only recently found you and started reading your posts and have learned so much! We are of similar size, coloring, and age which helps this fashion handicapped person. I love your polished classic style!

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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.