Points to Consider

How do you choose what to purchase? I consider the overall shape and length of the garment, the neckline, the color(s), the texture, and the size of any prints before making a purchase. This week, I will show you pieces that may be beautiful on the hanger but not so much on me. I will also tell you why so that you can apply the same lessons to your next purchase.

This top has a dramatic, edgy design, and the lightweight layers would be comfortable on a hot, humid summer evening. However, the texture, the bold, warm undertone print, and the long boxy shape are not flattering, my inverted triangle shape, or my cool coloring. The length is also overwhelming my frame. In addition, the bulky neckline does not flatter my face shape and adds even more volume to the bodice.

This top will look great on you if you have a rectangle shape, thin and tall with narrow shoulders and a long thin face. It would also flatter a woman with warm undertones in her skin more so than a woman with cool undertones. The texture is bulky, open-weave, and dramatic. You will love this top if you have a style personality that craves texture.

My round face and ample bust require more fitted, smooth, supple fabrics and V-necklines or low scoops. The woman with an inverted triangle figure never wants to add more visual bulk to the top half. A long boxy top on a busty figure creates a tent shape. If you are petite or have short legs, a long tunic will overwhelm you and make your legs look shorter (even more so if you wear flat shoes). The heels I am wearing here are by BCBGeneration from last year.

I am very grateful to My Fair Lady for supplying garments such as this to help me with lessons and tips. This beautiful top is by IC Collection from ShopMyFairLady.com.

This side-by-side photo shows the lessons applied to a similar look that is more appropriate for my shape.

  1. This is going to be an interesting series – thanks for doing this Susan.
    This is a good example of why I don’t do well ordering online. The colours in the top look perfectly cool on my computer screen – black, charcoal, white and “winter red”.
    Your short and sassy hairstyle looks great!

  2. You look fine in Points To Consider. You look okay. You look good. I’d grade you as earning a C or as 5 points on a 10.
    And I was a bit in doubt about your premise that this was not the outfit for you.
    So I scrolled through some of last week’s photos. Yep! You looked way much better in Updated Twin Set and Healthy and Happy. Then I could see that in those photos you had an A and 10 out of 10.

  3. This is why we femmes d’un certain age have to watch wearing soft shapes. We need to be comfortable, but most of us are square-ish and soft, drapey silhouettes just make us look dumpy. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Thank you for sharing this advice. It would be nice to also see an example of what would look better with your body type so we could see the difference visually.

  5. The first thing I look at is the shoulders. For balance, petites need shoulders that fit. I see none here.

    The good news is that, if one gets lost in the woods wearing this garment, the searchers would have an easier time!

  6. Wow, Susan, your comments are spot on. My first impression when I saw the picture before reading your article was that the poncho-type garment did not flatter you at all and made you look very wide, which I knew was not the case at all. The side by side comparison is excellent at pointing out what looks cute and stylish on the rack (or another body type) may not be our best choice. Well done! I learn so much from your tips. Thanks for caring.

  7. WOW! The visuals made your point crystal clear! I would have been drawn to the top, possibly have bought it, and NEVER worn it. It would not flatter my shape. I’m learning!!

  8. WOW…obviously you have to wear what you”re comfortable in, but, I think you look younger and prettier in the sheer top!

  9. I love your willingness to be real with your readers. I, too, was surprised with the top photos thinking – OMG – that’s awful, so laughed when I got the white blazer and look on the bottom shot. Thanks for showing us what works and doesn’t but even more helpful is reminding us ‘why’ things don’t work for various bottom types. You give gifts of time and help with every post; thank you for being in our virtual lives.

  10. Susan, I love your tips on dressing a heavier topped figure. I must admit, without your tips on this top, I would have bought it and then wondered why I didn’t feel good in it! I have a question you might be able to help me with. I am trying to choose a cross body bag for sightseeing in London and the British Isles next month that is still stylish and serves traveling needs. Do you have any tips on size, weight, materials etc. to share?
    Thanks for sharing. I love your blog!

      1. Connie– I just returned from an extensive trip using a cross-body bag….may I offer a little advice? Decide on a bag, purchase it, and then *use it* for a couple of weeks before you travel. Bags with multiple compartments can be so useful, but it is also easy for things to end up hidden in the compartments, and that’s frustrating. Where is the best place for your glasses? Where will you keep metro/bus tickets? Where to store maps? You get the idea….. have a wonderful trip!

  11. When I saw the first photo, I immediately thought how awful the top looked on you! Then, as I read further, I had to laugh. You made your point very clear!! You are amazing, in that you know exactly what your style is and what is complementary to your body type. I think a lot of us struggle to get it “right”. Thanks for a fun post! P.S. I love your new hair cut!

  12. Susan, Thank you once again for the valuable lessons you teach. I’m beginning to understand why I have a closet full of garments, I wonder why I purchased. Wish I could shop with you!

  13. At first I liked you in this outfit when looking at you in the front facing picture because the center front is not overly long. I know you don’t usually do prints, so I was surprised to see you in this top. As I scrolled down and saw a picture of you from a side angle, well, I didn’t like it at all. Way too much fabric and the print is overwhelming not to mention the collar. Yes, the side by side pictures make the case that you look best in clothes that are less bulky. Great post!!

  14. The white jacket may well be better suited to your size and shape (my own is much like yours). That said, don’t your even simply crave the bright colors and bold graphics of the top on the right? Color affects so much in our lives. Personally, I may agree with your reasoning about the white jacket, but it is pretty boring. I would opt for the striking look on the right in a New York minute. (The truth is that very few people we see are going to remember what we are wearing, especially if we always dress in neutrals. But what we are wearing can drastically affect how we feel about ourselves while we are wearing it…and we will remember that.) I wear a lot of neutrals, but my soul craves COLOR, COLOR, COLOR!!!

  15. Thanks Susan, this all makes perfect sense.
    However, for a nonshopper like myself, just finding something I like is a big challenge, then trying to determine color, shape etc, is overwhelming. Which is probably why when I look in my closet I find nothing that works well together or that Looks good on me.
    Why is it that things look good on in the dressing room but after wearing them a few times I wonder what I was thinking when I bought it. Ugh!
    I would just like to have a personal stylist to take me by the arm, point out clothing that would work for me. Well I can dream!
    Thanks again.

  16. Good lesson. But I do not like the heavy bangs on you. A side swept bang is better….in my opinion.
    Love the blog. Lots of great style tips.

  17. Your last photo says it all. The white blazer so chic. I practiced the same black top and bottom with blazer for 30 years while doing newscasts. As for travel purse, I never take anything showy. I use Safepac. I see bloggers around the world with pretty purses making themselves a target. I carry little and keep it in a safepac purse if I carry anything at all. I am talking about foreign countries. Nice again Susan….you rock!!

  18. Hi Susan,
    I love, love your blogs and your fashion advice. I’m 5 feet about 114lbs. I’ve tried contacting some of the vendors as perfectly covered, my fair lady, clara sunwoo for perfectly fitting tops. The problem i’m having is that their smalls are too long and don’t fit in the shoulders. Do you have some advice as what brands to shop for in petite sizes? I do like Nic + Zoe. WHBM, Maybe in your blogs can you give a tip for us shorties?
    Thanks so Much

  19. Do you have special laundering tips you use to prevent pilling and dulling of your staples that get so much use? Summer clothes especially get a lot of wear and need washing so often.

  20. A good visual lesson and explanation. I often have to assess styles too, because I’m short gal and many outfits are attractive, just not on me. You always have interesting blogs. Thank you for taking time to share!

  21. This look is perhaps not “perfect” in some ways…but I love it, and I love it for you too, Susan !

  22. I personally think it looks lovely even after reading all your points why it’s not for you. Maybe I’m just focusing on your beautiful smile and cute, cute hair style.

  23. This was so helpful Susan! At first glance, it looked ‘OK’ but compared to the chic black outfit with white jacket the shawl type top just overwhelms you. I have been guilty of buying items with a full, boxy shape – thinking they would hide the bumps & lumps but end up leaving them hanging in my closet. Ditto with longer tunic tops. The proportions are just not flattering. This was a great lesson so thanks again!

  24. I think that the colors look great on you. However, the top looks like it is two sizes too big.
    Great to see you in a print!

  25. Very interesting! Thanks Susan. How do I decide my skin undertones? I have olive skin and greying hair.
    Thanks again

    1. Do you look best in yellow gold jewelry or do you prefer to wear silver jewelry? If the answer is gold jewelry, you might have a golden undertone. The post here might also help you figure out which undertone you have.

  26. I started taking photos of myself when I am not sure if it’s appropriate for my shape. Almost always I can see the benefits or flaws in a photo better than in the mirror.

  27. Frankly, Susan you could wear a brown paper bag & make it
    look stylish! But, I can see your “point”. Thank-you for the visual.

  28. Thanks for the tips Susan. I really appreciate them. I really like your bangs. Adds a fresh look for you.

  29. Thank you for this lesson and especially the side by side photos!!!!!! I am built similar to you and see clothing pieces I like and that look good on friends. On me they look like I’m in costume Not the look I’m trying to achieve! Please offer this lesson again to help your readers learn how to be smart shoppers.

  30. Well after the kerfuffle last week over “opinions”, I’ll just state this fact that occurred to me when I first saw & read this in the morning: there just might be some people who would think Susan looked quite lovely in this top. I see that this apparent “fact” has now been corroborated by the comments here!

  31. That is a good lesson, Susan. I have a figure similar to yours, though larger and am always tempted with ponchos to “hide” and when I wear something more fitted, people sometimes comment that they think I’ve lost weight. Seeing it on you was much more clear…thank you so much! It is so hard to see ourselves, but I am learning.

  32. I am so grateful for the “this doesn’t work and here’s why” posts! I learn so much. Yes, the side by side was a perfect way to show us the difference. Thank you!!!! PS: Jan Lockhart, you must have missed the Malibu Punch posts. Look for them! They are great!

  33. Thank you very much for this post. Would you consider writing about what you wear under white and light colored jeans and pants? I mean give specific names/brands that don’t show through or leave pantie lines.

    1. I always wear nude (the color of my skin) undergarments with light color clothes. Soma makes a vanishing edge panty that I wear all the time. The smoothing construction and design of the Ultimate or Tankee longline bras by Shapeez.com are my best bras.

  34. I often bought tops with the same shape but never worn them now I know why. I thought this style top would be great it will hide everything and make me look slimmer. Then I would look at myself in the mirror and think this top makes look wider than I really am. I would never wear them and alway end up donating them to Goodwill. At first I thought to myself not my favorite look on Susan. The more I look at the pictures my opinion change to it very loud, boxy and busy. Thank’s for the explanation of why it doesn’t work and hopefully now I will stop purchasing this style.

  35. Ok it may not be the best for your body shape but in last photo, you look stunning. Sometimes when fabric is artwork quality, you gotta wear it!!

  36. Susan, I totally get what you are saying about the top making you look even more busty and being overwhelming so much fabric and print. I have the same problem. By the way, I like your bangs. Makes you look softer and younger

  37. It’s understandable that you prefer the sleek, simple silhouettes and primary colours that suit you so well. Many of your readers have agreed with you.

    I and a few others, on the other hand, admire your red/black/white look. I think it makes you look vibrant and exciting. Yes, the lines are loose and flowing, not conventionally sophisticated, but I love the colours with your hair, and the delicious sheer fabric that frames your face.

    Our choices always seem to come back to personal preference, and whether an outfit is truly “us.” I’m glad to sacrifice elegant understatement for artistic expression of a more bohemian type. Even as I do, I realize that simple classic looks might suit me better, but they don’t express me.

    Thank you for your helpful blog.

  38. I can see your points, but I also think it’s a dramatic piece which is also your personality. So while it may not be super “flattering”, I do think it makes a wonderful statement!!!

  39. Oh my gosh, I too, thought it was a terrible look for you prior to reading the article! What a great way to present this series, can’t wait to read the next chapter.

  40. I’m an inverted triangle too, and find this kind of post so helpful. You help me to know myself, what a gift. Thank you so much.

  41. So glad you didn’t choose the flowing top, and it shows what a difference the second outfit made. I am short so cannot wear loose things. you always look very smart how tall are you.

  42. AWESOME – this is What Not To Wear for those of us in real life! I’ve got quite a few of these in my closet as well….

    You are my FAVORITE fashion blogger 🙂

  43. I love how you dress with a classic elegance and timelessness. It suits you and serves you well. When one doesn’t waste money on garments that get discarded quickly–just smart thinking. There are many blogs for the latest trends but yours is helpful in showing how to evaluate what looks good on mature ladies. I don’t need garments that make me look like the Titanic! Please don’t change that.

  44. I was totally convinced I loved it until you posted the side by side picture. In comparison, not so much. I have an hourglass with a large bust so your advice is always good for me even though our figures are different.

  45. Susan,
    Just really appreciate your clothes knowledge! Just had to comment today because I needed these points to consider. You have helped me so much from not being overwhelmed by all the choices out there. My sister and I were so happy to see your twin set suggestion

  46. I do love the beautiful way you dress on a daily basis. But maybe I’m the oddball here because I love this colorful statement piece on you! Whatever you wear, you are one of my favorite fashion bloggers.

  47. Hi Susan – I have been thinking about your post and the comments left. When I opened your post I was a little surprised given it was a print. I must say, it didn’t look awful on you (you looked as good as you possibly could with this print). As someone else said – on my terminal, the colors looked cool. But your face did look rounder and it did make you look larger on the top than you need (or want) to look.
    Do you ever wear anything along the lines of this top – perhaps filmier so it drapes better, or better colors, or longer line on you?
    Regardless – thanks for the tips using yourself as the manikin. We readers do appreciate it.

  48. Both looks are good on you, Susan. It depends on whether you’re feeling like wearing a structured or unstructured look.

  49. I see your point but l still think you look smashing in this! I love your hair in this photo. Is this a recent cut?

  50. Good points, Susan. Thank you. Actually before reading this post, I had no idea this is a “before “. The red poncho top looks pretty to my eye! It’s something different (and comfy too, I’d guess). Personally I enjoy changing things up…some days I may make better fashion choice than on other days, but variety is the spice of life. I also like the hair here too for a change up. My hair has a mind of its own, so I go with flow as far as hair styling ..lol

  51. It was very generous for Shop My Fair Lady to lend you this top, considering that no one who sees your blog will ever consider buying it. You have really driven your point hone. I have a number of voluminous tops I’ve been using to hide in, and I’m going to get rid of all of them. Thanks for this valuable lesson.

  52. Hi, Susan

    This side by side set of photos really points out what you’re saying! You look so sleek in the white blazer and black column of color. I myself would not look so good in this even though I have the same inverted triangle shape that you do. It has to do with my coloring, which is neutral and low-contrast. Maybe you would be classified as a winter season palette; I believe I am a soft summer. So I would have to wear soft neutrals such as charcoal instead of black with a blazer in the same tone instead of a contrasting color. So even though black and white are such a classic color combination, I can’t wear that combo. It would look jarring on me with my ash blonde hair and hazel eyes. Well, I could but it wouldn’t look good on me compared to a low-contrast color combination.

    Thanks for the way you show on your blog what you consider when choosing your outfits. It’s courageous, it’s helpful, and it’s good guidance…and your choices make you more beautiful because they show “your true self.”


  53. Love this post! Very educational! As much as I can be “lured” by beautiful dramatic prints, I know they are not right for me. So I stay away. To be honest, since I have retired from my professional career, I am in a slump when it comes to my wardrobe. So I find myself wearing sport/athletic type clothing because it moves well with me through my day of errands, watching a 3 year old, or chasing the neighborhood toddlers in our yard. I need to step it up, but I feel very detached from shopping. My pattern was to do a major shopping effort twice a year at a high end store investing in quality pieces. I guess I just have to face my fears and go try on clothing that is very different from what I’ve become used to. The Clara SunWoo line intriques me. Your posts help. Thank you!

  54. I understand your formula for what works. However, I’m going to say I love the red wrap on you. It softens your whole look and your hair is softer looking as well. Then when up beside the white blazer…it’s definitely a softer look. You have a very tailored look most of the time and the wrap looks like you are ready for some fun and dancing ♥️

  55. I’m not a slave to fashion, but you looked very nice in the modern, chic tunic. I understand the picture with the comparisons. The same jacket, top, slacks are too expected, and, frankly, just too much repetition for my 67 year old body. Color is an awesome contribution to a very conservative wardrobe, as is pattern. Granted, I am taller, longer legs, oval face, but live a little! You don’t have to have a jacket, pants for every occasion. You are a beautiful lady, Walk on the wild side!

  56. I really liked the red on you! All your outfits are lovely, and the red “scarf “ top in my opinion, was yet another flattering look for you!

  57. But, I do like how that top looks on you and the colour is bold and fantastic. The looseness of the top does not emphasize a triangular shaped body. The top looks like something a rich woman would wear.

  58. I’m seeing this a year later than when it was published, but it really answers so many of my issues. I am an inverted triangle, broad shoulder and busty, with slim hips. I love the flowy, tunic length tops you see on tall, thin models, but every time I purchase something like that it looks ghastly on me! My husband calls it “DTA” (Denver Tent and Awning). I have a few tops like that are still in my closet, but after reading this and understanding why it doesn’t work for me, they are going in the donate box, like you said! I wore a favorite black tunic length tank, with white capris and flats on a recent vacation and felt cute and stylish, but when I saw a photo of me in it, I was shocked at how short and heavy it made me look! It’s a good basic top that I plan to hem and continue to use, however, and I think it will look much better on me. I plan to steer clear of the tunic lengths from now on. Thank you for your style points and demonstrating the differences. You still look gorgeous in everything you wear, but it does show “looks good” vs “looks great”.

  59. I just saw this for the first time today on Pinterest and thought – oh my, you look stunning! You always do but this was a less conservative look and I thought a nice and visually exciting change. Then I read your post and what you wrote made sense. Hmmm… I’m thinking I need to look at my outfits with a keener eye. Thanks for your perspective; I’m really trying to ramp up my 68-year old style.

  60. I wish I had discovered you much sooner.I am now 5 feet tall (age shrinkage) from just under 5. Ft 2 inches.And I am twice the 95 lbs of my twenties and thirties.
    My closet has many of these tent pieces that I thought I needed to hide my bulges even though I hated them..I will now be donating them all.I have never liked fads more the classic look and will now shop with a new eye on appearance thanks to your articles.Even though I an Now 80 I still love fashion but a petite plus is almost a forgotten women in the fashion industry.Aging and surgeries do take a toll on everyone and so few are lucky enough to retain their figures of youth.
    Thank you again

  61. Actually, I thought you looked very chic and attractive in the colorful, dramatic cover up. Thank you for your blog!! You have helped me tremendously to concentrate what looks good on me and to let go of items in my closet that do not work!! You’ve also helped me “shop my own closet,” and put new ideas together of items I already own. I love your ‘site” and have enjoyed and learned from your blog and videos. Thank you for sharing your life with us readers.

  62. I just found your blog through Pinterest, and fashion is my favorite part. I’m also an inverted triangle, a little shorter than you, but we have very similar figures. I love the clean simple lines of your clothes, and first found you through your “Better on the Hanger” work. I hope you’ll do some more comparisons with trendy clothes. Since I teach elementary school, I had to switch to flats in my mid-forties. It does change some of my clothing options, and now I have an expert to help me.

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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.