When I wear a longer jacket or top with flat or low-heeled shoes, I need to adjust the rest of my look to keep the proportions in balance. Proportion considers the parts in comparative relation to the whole.

“Where do you start in choosing the pieces for your outfit?” I received this great question earlier in the month, so this week, I am sharing some of the things I consider while putting together unrelated separates. The proportion should always be your focus. Your legs can look much shorter, and your bust, tummy, and hips can all look larger than they are, simply by the layers you add to your base pieces.

The tank and pants are the same color as the shoes/boots, so there is one unbroken line from my shoulders to my feet. The pieces are also relatively slim-fitting, which gives me a good starting point. I can add a topper and accessories to create a look that reflects my mood and fits the occasion. Your dark base color can be any dark neutral color. Mine happens to be black. Neutral colors work well with other colors and with each other.

The next thing to consider is attitude. The red jacket was the piece I wanted to wear, so I built a harmonious look to complement it. The IC Collection topper is a bit edgy and modern, so I kept that in mind when adding the other items. The bold hammered cuff is sculptural and clean in design without adding the bulk or fussiness that some bracelets do. The handbag also has edgy, dramatic proportions that balance with the jacket and the boots. Knowing when to back off from the accessories is critical.

I wore this look on a breezy Saturday afternoon to try out a new restaurant in town. We stopped at the Mountain Home Veteran’s Administration to shoot these photos for you along the way.

The gazebo on the Mountain Home campus is an enduring landmark for many couples. Mr. Mickey’s mother and father got engaged there in the 1920s. Fifty years later, my sister and her husband got engaged there.

The jacket is by IC Collection and was a gift from

The strappy bodice tank top was from Express last summer. The black jeans are the straight-leg Sheri Slim style from NYDJ. The bag is from Uno Alla Volta from the previous year. The short boots are by Gianni Bini from Dillard’s a couple of years ago.

  1. Simply beautiful. I honestly think you could wear a large plastic garbage bag and make it look elegant! Your attention to detail is what I love most about reading your blog. And the lovely photos are a close second.

  2. I have enjoyed your blog for several years. I may have missed a blog about your hair color, but wonder if you have discussed how you arrived at that lovely gray. I am considering going gray after years of coloring, and am looking for suggestions and inspiration.

    1. I stopped coloring my hair when I turned 50. It was only about three inches long all over back then. I used a temporary color to transition to my natural color and kept it short until all of it was natural. Some stylists are very good at using highlights and lowlights to blend your hair as it grows out. Good luck!

  3. Hello, Susan!

    Thank you for your always wise suggestions! I just received my first Shapeez Tankee Long and I am trilled with it….so comfortable. I sent them my measurements and their size suggestion was perfect (and not what I would have ordered left to my own devices!).

    I love your pictures of your area of the country. Highlands is one of our favorite places! You are blessed to be so close to such beauty. We surely missed being in the mountains this fall.

    Your style is lovely and I appreciate that you do more than model an outfit. You give us pointers, suggestions and much needed information.

    God bless you, Susan!
    Terry Fountain
    Ocean Springs, Mississippi

  4. I’m a little confused on the proportions. If you wore a higher heel or a flat shoe, what else would you change to achieve the correct proportions?
    Thank you.

    1. When I have worn long tops and jackets in the past, I have always worn high heels to add three or four inches in length. Now that I am wearing shoes with a lower heel it requires that I be more mindful of the length of layers. I try to leave jackets open and wear a belt with longer tops so that the waist is defined.

  5. Great post. I found the point that you wanted to wear the statement red jacket and built the rest of your outfit to support it, very helpful. I tend to do the opposite by putting on an outfit then trying to add a statement piece too. It always looks like way too much. Like a crazy gypsy. Thank you for sharing your expertise. Sincerely, Monet D.

  6. How old is Mr. Mickey if his parents got engaged in the twenties? You look like a professional model by the way.

  7. Enjoy reading you’re blog.. you’ve shown an apple and pear can you show a rectangle…As I’ve gotten older shorter my waist is almost gone..My 5foot 4inches has b become 5foot 2inches and I seem to be more rectangular…

  8. I really really appreciate your comments and instruction … it helps me to think thru my own choices so much more , especially regarding proportions … thank you !

    You probably have done this before , but any posts on proportions and flat shoes would be helpful !
    Thanks … I love the blog !

    1. I am also trying to learn this as I transition to wearing low heeled shoes. I am finding that the most successful looks include tops that are at least partially tucked in or stop above the top of the leg.

  9. Oh, Susan, I had trouble finding any new videos on you tube. I’m so pleased you haven’t stopped doing them. You are my morning entertainment. Is the gray ruanna still available?

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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.