Polished and Put Together

“Please, consider sharing with us how you care for the things in your wardrobe. Your clothes, shoes, and accessories always look pristine.” “Please talk about achieving a more polished appearance. I’m often underdressed.” “What style changes have you made in your sixties?” Thank you for your questions and comments. They inspire many of my posts.

I’ve adjusted my choices along with my birthdays. I now avoid black blouses for daytime, distressed clothing, marled colors, dark red lips, eyeliner or mascara on the lower lashline, higher than three-inch heels, bare legs, too low necklines and ill-fitting jeans. My iron gets used regularly. I wouldn’t dream of wearing a wrinkled shirt or pants.

I do small loads of laundry and remove the garments before they are completely dry. Then, I reshape them and hang them on my rolling rack to finish drying. If something shrinks, pills, fades, loses shape, or gets stained, I donate it to a charity shop or the local textile recycling drop. Goodwill recycles textiles.

I follow the one skin rule: only one animal print or reptile print embossed item per outfit. My veiny white legs and feet should not be on display in winter, so I wear nude (closest to my skin color) pantyhose with light-colored shoes and black stockings with dark-colored shoes.

I polish my smooth leather shoes, wallets, and bags as needed and always clean and dry items after wearing them on a rainy day. I check the weather before I get dressed so that I don’t wear white pants or suede shoes when it might rain.

I’m careful not to overdo it with jewelry. A small pair of studs with a necklace is enough, never statement earrings and a bold necklace. I try to relate the bag or belt hardware and buttons with my jewelry. Note how the burnished buttons on the jacket blend with the necklace.

When I wear a hat, I never wear a necklace and reduce clutter around the face.

My hair gets trimmed more often these days, and I make an effort to control the frizz. Well-groomed nails and all-over moisturizers are imperative. I massage oil here on my arms, legs, and feet fresh out of the shower and then put on lotion here. Otherwise, I would have embarrassing dry, flaky skin all winter.

I wear much less makeup now, but I am devoted to my skin and hair care. I have been using Beautycounter (here) for the past few years, and I am delighted with the results.

This week I’m sharing some tips on adding more color to our basic neutrals. A bright blouse, camisole, or tank can light up your face. Unfortunately, the blue tank is more than four years old. I go up to a size large in knit tanks to avoid pulling across the bust.

  1. I think it would be easy for me to read your blog every morning and just put on what you are wearing. No further decisions required. I always like your look and our wardrobes are very similar. And I love scarves, especially when traveling. Same basic outfit, different scarf . And at 70+ I no longer wear heels. For dressier occasions I wear dressy flats. I have sooo many friends with foot problems and consider myself fortunate. Thank you for your blog, if you are going to get up at 4am to do this, you should know you are appreciated!

  2. Hi Susan. I love reading your blog. If you ever run out of topics, I have a slew of questions that I would love to hear your take on.
    One, what motivated you to make the health and fashion changes you made in your 50s? Was it one event, or just an ongoing dissatisfaction with your health and clothing. Recently you mentioned changes you made due to an unhappy work situation. Was that the beginning?

    Two, once you decided to make changes how did you go about it? Were there books that you referred to, or was it careful observation about your fashion choices and food choices, or something else?

    Three, how long did it take and what method did you use to transition to a new wardrobe?

    I know this is a lot (and maybe some of it is too personal) but I would love to hear any comments you might have. Thank you!

    1. Thank you for the comments and questions, Barbara. I am a fairly open book, so I have blogged about the changes I’ve made and some of the reasons why. The shift in my wardrobe choices began about five years ago. I wanted to stop wasting money on things I rarely wore. When I am unhappy with some aspect of my life or my body, I set about altering my bag habits.

  3. Such an fabulous post. I always read your blog over twice. The first time to enjoy and the second time to compare it to my own wardrobe and lifestyle. Your suggestions have helped me greatly improve my clothing choices and everyday being.
    Susan, you have such a sense of class and elegance.
    Thank you so much.

  4. I envy your polished look and am striving to do the same. I recently made the decision to allow my hair to go gray. Did you ever color your hair and if so, how did you transition?

    1. Thank you, Kristine. I saw my first gray hair while I was still in my teens, so I did color it for many years. When I turned fifty, I stopped. I used a temporary color a few times and got frequent trims. I wore it short during that time, so it didn’t take long for the last bits of color to go.

  5. Thank you for all your insight and helpful ideas. I look forward to learning from you every time you post on your blog.

  6. Thank you for this very useful list of tips for a polished, put-together appearance. I recognize a lot of them from variables blogs but it is nice to have them all together for reference.

  7. Susan, I am so in awe of how accurately you see yourself and know what works and doesn’t work. I don’t know if I look drab in a marled sweater, or if black near my face is too harsh, or if I need a higher vamp. I just tell myself that if it works for you maybe it will work for me! You are an educator and mentor. With thanks.

  8. Thank you for all your insightful tips. I have a little different style than you, but always appreciate your information. You have encouraged me to evaluate my lifestyle and clothing/accessories to improve my appearance and health.
    I am so glad you included ironing in today’s blog. I have noticed over the years people have stopped ironing. Ironing gives such a polished look to a simple outfit. I always press my jeans and it makes a huge difference in a tee and jeans outfit.
    I have to share. I’m so excited, my closet is being lined with cedar this week. Between my husband and I, we have a lot of wool clothing and this should help care for those items.
    Have a wonderful week, Susan!

  9. Just another “thank you, Susan” for the great posts. I also enjoy reading the comments, and learning from the followers and your responses.

  10. Susan, thank you for all the great tips. One thing I have found that has been a savior for my clothes is a steamer. It is gentle on fabrics and very effective for wrinkles. I let clothes hang a day after steaming before returning to their place in the closet. Very fast and efficient way to iron clothes, and cuts down on dry cleaning bills ( for the sole purpose of getting out difficult wrinkles). Alway enjoy your blog, thank you.

  11. Yes, I too gave up the iron several years ago. Seemed like it always left this silver sheen in spots on black clothing. Maybe I wasn’t good at it because it would stick to knits or be difficult to get out hard wrinkles in jeans or cotton blouses. My standup steamer is my best friend. Far less boring than ironing for me and gently and easily removes all wrinkles. Same with sweaters. Creates a polished look in my clothing and I think less harsh on them. Susan, feel free to tell me where I’ve gone wrong with the iron. You always look so polished and elegant, very classic. Love your look in above photo, especially the shoes with a small heel. It really makes the outfit. Thank you for sharing these topics with us.

    1. If I need something dark to get out a wrinkle, I turn down the iron and turn the garment inside out. I have a steamer, too, but rarely need to use it because of the way I partially dry my laundry and then hang it on a rolling rack. I can pull out wrinkles before they set.

      1. Oh Susan, thanks for responding to my post. I also caught a comment you made on an article recently. You said you dry some things on low heat for ten minutes and then remove it and hang up to finish drying. I did try that, and wow, what a difference that made! So many things I was able to not have to steam out a few wrinkles. They dried beautifully and was able to put right on hangers the next day. Saves so much time. Thank you for sharing all of this information.

  12. How do you control the frizz? I have the same problem. Do you use a hairspray? I do wash my hair and condition my hair with Beautycounter products. Would you recommend the smooth and control hair oil? Is this the product you use?
    I enjoy reading your blog! Thank you.

    1. I slightly blow-dry the roots around my face and at the crown only. I arrange the still damp hair with my fingers and then let it air dry completely before picking it out with a vented brush. That cuts way down on the frizz.

  13. A lot of us have you to thank for looking better. You are a wonderful example of what can be done if we just apply ourselves. You always look so fresh and youthful.

  14. Does a pair of leather white loafer shoes fit easily into a wardrobe?
    They are plain on the vamp and have a decorative black leather back around the back of the shoe. Would love to know your thoughts on white shoes, especially when the world is moving towards more casual running shoe styles.
    Thank you Susan.
    Peggy Ann

    1. I would never buy a white loafers. A tan pair would be infinitely more elegant and wearable. Even though white shoes and boots are having a trendy moment, they make the foot look very large and only look acceptable when they are perfect and new.

  15. Another great blog! How do you keep scarves in place, especially square ones worn like the one pictured above! I am getting more into scarves, but only have 1 square one.

    1. I accept the fact that the scarves will move with me as I wear them. I adjust them as needed. You can use magnets, pins, or double-sided fashion tape to keep them in place.

  16. Hello Susan,
    Is the jacket black or navy?
    There are so many shades of black and navy if you don’t buy pants and jacket together, you come home with different shade and that’s not so polished and put together like you always are .
    Also how can you buy jeans or anything on line when every shop have different sizes .
    Your advice is highly appreciated.
    Thank you for all your kind sharing.

    1. My jacket is black. I don’t mind mixing tones of black as long as the textures of fabric vary. I stay with the same brands most of the time, so I know how they fit me. I rarely have to return anything.

  17. Susan, thank you for being so candid with us. I love your handbags and especially the size. I carry large bags because I think I need to have access to so much “stuff” wherever I go. But large bags are heavy and cumbersome. Would you mind sharing the contents of your handbags and how you have organized them? Thank you.

      1. Thank you so much; I enjoyed the video. I just ordered some clear, zippered purse organizer pouches.

        I have another question for you. I have noticed that you wear Everlane cashmere sweaters; pullover crewneck, I believe. I wear many of the same colors as you and I’m wondering what colors you have in these sweaters. Would you mind mentioning what size you wear? This will be my first order and I’m trying to determine my size.

        1. I wear a size medium in those sweaters. In the crewneck style, I have charcoal, heather gray, dark navy, red, and a French blue one from last year. In the V-neck style, I have dark navy and heather gray.

  18. Hi Susan,

    Yes, you do look so put together always. I love seeing your posts. Unfortunately being 5 feet 2 inches and having a round bottom mean I can’t wear some of the brands and styles you wear. I do love seeing your choices though.

    I was looking through your older posts for the information on the magnets you use to hold your scarves in place but couldn’t find that one. Would you please be able to send me that information. I have about 3 of your scarves and would like to wear them more.

    Thank you.

    Maria Mesimer

  19. I look forward to your blog! I follow 3 other women. You are the only one that deals with the reality of women in their everday lives. I so appreciate that. Most blogs show new ootd 3 to 5 times a week, it is such a waste and not doable for most of us. I appreciate your classic style and tips for aging gracefully. Thank you, Susan!

  20. I follow your posts and always read your advice. The “clutter around face” for instance is great advice! I’m 4’10” and it just drags a petite lady down. The “color” too is great advice! You have really helped me in choosing what this ‘ole retired teacher wears on a daily basis…after all, it’s easy to get lazy since I wear work-out wear daily for my exercise. Thanks for your tips.

  21. Thank you. I’ve discovered most of what you shared. The fit of the clothing is especially important to me as is the color.
    Keeping clothing in good order and donating is very big. Mix and matching is huge as I have only 3 fl of closet space.
    Jewelry I keep to a minimum. Grooming
    hair, skin, nails, a priority. Minimal make up for most days. I think I look darn good for 70.

  22. Good post. I agree – at our age bare legs are not good. Donna Karan The Nudes are really nice. They hide the flaws and make you look like your legs and feet are bare (pantyhose and knee highs)

  23. You are such a beautiful, wonderful person!
    Thank you for all your lovely thoughts and ideas! You make life so much fun!
    Love to you!

  24. Hi Susan, I love your blog not just for the clothing advice but for all of the places that you visit and nightlife from our area. We moved to Jonesborough about three years ago, but I have been reading your blog longer than that. Imagine my surprise when I realized where you live! Anyway, I was wondering if there is a local textile recycling drop in the Tri-Cities area since you mentioned it. Thanks!

  25. There are few women who blog or are on Youtube that our “our age” and do such a beautiful job. You are a shining example of how we can make adjustments at different stages of our lives and truly embrace this time of life. Thank you for sharing your wonderful tips and being so open. Like others, I, too, have learned so much from you and incorporated many of your suggestions to enhance my style, wardrobe and way of living.

  26. I have been following your blog for awhile, Susan, and appreciate your sense of style. We have very similar taste! I was wondering if you have any suggestions of what to wear on a plane. I have flown many times, but I would like to know what you would suggest to wear to a warm climate from a cold climate (flying from Canada to Cuba).
    Just wondering, and open to suggestions!
    Thank you!

  27. I am not normally a critical person but after 10 years of volunteering in a hospital thrift shop I must say that we would not thank anyone for pilled, faded, shapeless or stained donations. Thank you for thinking of the thrifters but maybe with different choices another time.

  28. I love this post! You share some great ideas. I like how you help to make women feel beautiful by trying to look our best at whatever age.
    Thank you, Susan.

  29. Hi Susan:

    I thank you for sharing your stylish tips and guidance on looking absolutely tasteful, classy and beautiful. Thank you again.

    Eunice Stokes

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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.