Plan A & Plan B

My first visit to Europe occurred while I was in my early twenties. The elegant, subtle way of dressing in classics with no flashy prints, bright colors, bling, trends, or labels appealed to me on every level. Women of all ages exuded confidence from accepting and embracing their imperfections, which made them unique. Their wardrobes flattered their shape, coloring, and lifestyle. Accessories included subdued jewelry, elegant scarves, structured bags, and well-made leather shoes. Many people wore no more than two colors in their clothing combinations. Texture held more importance than prints. I remain captivated by this aesthetic since it can serve any budget well.

Warm spring weather has remained elusive in our region, so I am never sure what to wear on a day trip. On Saturday, we visited Blowing Rock to enjoy an early dinner at our favorite out of town restaurant, Rowland’s in Westglow. We spent part of the afternoon visiting with friends in the village and going into a couple of shops. Plan A was the J Crew wool blazer shown above. Thankfully the sun was shining, and the weather was warm enough to wear the light cardigan I brought as plan B shown below.

A twill silk scarf is a layer to keep me warm and add a pop of color and pattern to my classic combos. The silver-gray tank top is from a shop in Highlands, NC, a couple of years ago. The navy cardigan is very lightweight, and I found it online at Chico’s when they had a big sale recently. The white jeans are also from Chico’s a couple of years ago. The bag is from last year by Michael Kors. The VANELi Aliz Slingback Pumps are from Nordstrom. (Women stopped me three times to ask who they were by.)

We immensely enjoy the fabulous dishes artfully prepared by James, the Chef at Rowland’s. Gary Brown is the manager and the very knowledgeable sommelier who pairs the perfect wine with each delightful course.

  1. Embrace the imperfections that make you unique. My mother used to tell me that. Thanks for the reminder.

  2. Good Morning Susan!
    Your ensemble today is lovely and brings back so many memories of my Mother. She was a model back in the 40’s & 50’s and I remember how she dressed. I also remember some of my Aunts who were always impeccably dressed no matter the occasion. I think American women are some of the most beautiful and classical women in the world.
    Unfortunately, the social media, TV and movies usually portray just the opposite. One of my “pet peeves” is the way European women are always portrayed as the most beautiful and well dressed.
    I am not saying that is what you said, and I know you were just passing on some thoughts of your observations on your trips to Europe, which are so very valid.
    I just worry about younger generations thinking that there is not much here in the US to emulate good taste and fashion.
    Thank you again for your beautiful blog and the all the charm and taste you are passing on to others.

    1. I am likely considered very outdated in my taste by both European and American women these days. My influence comes from fond memories of a different time. The women in my family still dress much the way I do. People often asked us why we are so dressed up or where we are going later.

      1. Even though you dress nicely when doing errands etc I cannot understand why anyone would ask why you are so dressed up or where you are going “later.” Seems rude

    2. P.S. Keep in mind how many of us dressed in the 80’s here in the states. That may have been why it was such a stark contrast to see the subdued looks in Europe.

  3. Funny you say that Susan, I often get asked the same question: Where are you going after this? (IE: I’m having a manicure or hair done or running errands). I’m not going anywhere else, I just feel good when dressed nicely.
    I too miss the days when everyone dressed neatly to go out anywhere. I’m not saying feather boas and sequins, just neat and well put together. But then again, I also think women in the 50s and 60s looked so elegant with their dresses, gloves and hats! Here in South Florida, it’s very casual (too casual) and most people go everywhere in “flip flops” and shorts…. Not I! 😉

  4. We traveled to Paris five years ago and I did a lot of research before the trip, so I was prepared for the way that women dress there. I noticed that even in the airport, people, both women and men, were dressed nicely. Contrast that to the way so many people here dress when traveling. It’s good to be comfortable, but not sloppy. For some reason I find myself “saving” my “good clothes” for an occasion. I’m trying to train myself to wear everything, what am I waiting for?

    On another subject, I am going to an evening wedding next month and already have my dress and shoes (peep-toe pumps). I bought very sheer toe-less pantyhose yesterday. I’ve worn them in the past. I know that pantyhose are considered passe, but at 68 my legs are not what they used to be, and I just don’t feel “dressed up” in bare legs. I’ve used the Sally Hansen Airbrush stuff and that works ok, but is kind of a pain to have to wash off later. So I am going the pantyhose route. Do you wear them?

      1. I just turned 60 and I got a very nice knit dress. I wore pantyhose with it and felt very glad that I did. Just a nude pair.

    1. The white pants elevate the other pieces you are wearing to a more sophisticated and dressy level. If you were wearing blue jeans, it would be a whole different look. For some reason I’ve always avoided white pants. But the more I’ve seen how you wear them, the more I feel I need to try a pair. They always look so great!

  5. It is such a joy to people watch in Paris. There is still a more dressed up esthetic there, I feel. Part of it is how well the clothes fit-no sloppy dressing-and part of it is the accessories. I see very trendy colors, along with gorgeous textures in clothing. Beautiful accessories. You can look in stores from Hermès to Moniprix and find really unique things in both. Many people wear jeans, but the dark wash and the good fit distinguish them from our rips and tears. I really didn’t see much of that at all last year, except on very young girls, who possibly were not French. I love to get dressed up, even to go to the hair salon. You really are treated differently, and it makes you carry yourself differently…
    And on another tack-Vin Santo! That really brings back wonderful memories of sipping that for dessert and dipping our cantucci…

  6. Your observation about how European women dress is spot on. You look fabulous you selected for your day trip. I wish I could wear jackets that length, but they hit the top of my thighs where I carry most of my weight.

  7. Appreciate this posting more than some of your most recent. The outfit is lovely throughout and I’m glad you are back to sharing photos of your dinners. I lived in Europe for eight years (in Germany) and concur in what you are saying but don’t forget the stylish Germans and Italians. Europeans seem to buy quality, not so much quantity. Where were you stationed while in the Navy?

  8. You look lovely. I like the new hair style with bangs ir “fringe” as they call it over herein the UK.

  9. You look lovely! I’ve always leaned toward a more classic, understated style too. On the subject of pantyhose, do you have a particular brand you recommend? My son is getting married next summer and I plan to wear pantyhose. Interesting you call bangs–fringe in the UK. I’ve noticed, here in Canada, my stylist always calls bangs–fringe.

        1. For summer, you may want to look into Donna Karan footless pantyhose. I’m sure other brands make them, too. They have a little piece sewn together between big and first toe to hold them on. They are perfect for straps sandals or peep toes. Your pedi shines out, but your legs are covered by the sheer hose!

  10. I know you often wear the same pieces but with their classic look and the combinations you put together, every outfit looks new to me! Your advice to stick to basics and add accessories for a pop of color works so well. Thank you for your inspiration. And I love the hairstyle today.

  11. Susan, I just love your new haircut! It gives your beautiful face a lift and the bangs are very flattering!

  12. You would fit in very well indeed here in the Pacific NW where our weather is mercurial to a fault — I find I often have to carry right through to Plan C (I keep a rain slicker & boots in both the car & truck). This afternoon it’s alternating between wind & bucketing rain & sunshine & abnormal heat for this time of year: I’ve been in & out trying to clean up the front yard & have changed clothes 3 times in as many hours (once because I was soaked to the skin). Good luck trying to plan hours ahead! Love the navy & white you’re wearing in this post, btw. I’ve never been a fan of navy (& have no idea why) but whenever I see it on someone else I’m tempted to give it a try. And I’m drooling over your scallops & (what appears to be) salmon, two of my favorites. Thanks for the reminder that we all need a break from routine now & again — it’s been too long since we treated ourselves to a date night. Your recent post about entertaining should also apply to how we entertain ourselves!

  13. Europeans also own much fewer items of clothing of better quality and wear them often and for a long time. Most Americans would be unhappy with so few choices. But the quality is so superior.

  14. Such a pretty and classic outfit for your journey and fun to see your menu of choices. Beautiful and fun to go along.

  15. Susan, your outfit is lovely. Because I am so short and more than pleasingly plump, I stick with Channel style jackets. I plan to purchase one of your silk scarves. You wore one several blogs back and I was unable to match it in your inventory. I will look again.
    I hesitate to tell you this, but I liked your hair style when it was a little longer with fluffy (for want of a better word) curls closer to your face.

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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.