Secret Sauce Revealed

What is the best style advice you ever received?

As a blogger, I never tell you what you should wear or buy, but I do show you what I wore and attempt to explain why. I hope that it might help you work out what is best for you. Over the years, I have purchased a ton of books, taken several courses, and have been photographed many hundreds of times. Seeing photos of myself in countless different looks taught me the most.

One “expert,” told me that I was a low contrast summer and that I should wear soft flowing silhouettes in dusty colors, never black. I truly hated every look I tried using that guidance because I felt frumpy and chubby. I gave away many clothes while I was going through that phase because none of it felt like me.

Wear what makes you happy. That is the best style advice I can offer you.

These side by side photos were taken about fifteen minutes apart. Being true to yourself and wearing what makes you happy shows on your face. The basics are similar, but the colors, contrast, heels, and bold accessories used in the look for today are the perfect fit for me. The look for yesterday on the right might be a much better fit for you.

The lightweight items I am wearing today would work well for a summer dinner date. The hot weather dressing series ends tomorrow with my favorite tips for special occasion summer looks.

  1. Hi Susan, first of all thanks for sharing your blog. I read it all the time and love what ya have to say! I usually don’t post my opinions but felt compelled. In the above photos of you I feel you look happiest in the photo on the right, it is more you. I look forward to your next post, have a great day.

  2. I agree completely, the bright block of orange and bright white look heaps better on you! I live in Australia. I have an olive complexion and graying hair, do you think cool tones would suit me best. I have bought several items from your recommended online sites. I think I got the sizing correct!
    Thanks again

    1. An olive complexion is often a warm tone. Which color of metal looks best on you? That is a good way to know if you have cool or warm undertones. I look much better in silver than in gold.

  3. The bolder color looks better on you. I wish I could wear the heels or the sandals. That is my biggest issue with fashion. I need to wear sneakers the majority of the day, so often I can have a stylish top, but my bottom is sad. Sometimes if I am going out for only an hour or two, I switch to cute sandals or low heels.

  4. I am also one of those people that the “experts” can’t seem to get right. I’ve been “diagnosed” as a Summer, an Autumn, a Soft Summer and now a Clear Winter ( which is closest, I believe) I always feel like nothing looks good on me–I don’t have a color palette that flatters or any color I can count on to purchase. I just pick black. I can figure out everyone else but myself – frustrating!

  5. Hi Susan, I love your Kimono’s especially this orange one! Are you wearing a large? I see that is the only size available on your site. I normally wear a size 6-8 and wondered if large might work because it is a Kimono. What would you recommend?

    1. I treat most kimonos as one size fits all. They are very loose fitting and easy to layer without worrying too much about size. I am wearing the large in these photos.

  6. Good morning, Susan. Not sure if you have already written on this or not, but, your orange top and turquoise jewelery made me think of this. I’m sure there are ladies who would love to be “daring”with colors, contrasting colors, colors across the color wheel from each other.
    I have combined orange/turquoise combos;teal/eggplant combos, etc. I realize some will shy away from the boldness of these combos. For them, a piece of contrasting colorjewelery might be as brave as can be for them. Also, getting ideas from fabric prints might help with choices.
    Just a thought.
    Enjoying your daily blogs!
    Kathryn Wells

  7. Susan, you are my hero. I can’t tell you how many pastel tops I’ve bought over the years. I always wound up giving them away because they made me “disappear” Several years ago my friend gave me a reddish orange (azalea)light weight jacket. Changed the world as I knew it.Seeing you in beautiful but wrong colors and styles over the past few days has opened my eyes even more.You have validated my style. Thank you! I have also opted to go gray and it works for me.

  8. Definitely the look on the right is the best for you. I love the way you look, but that is the
    wrong shade of “red” for me. Too much orange and brings out the redness in my skin. Your hair
    is beautiful and I am envious! Mine is thinning so much in the front. Love the necklace also.

  9. Oops! One more thing. Will you ever carry a size larger than one size fits all? I do not feel “looking
    good” when the sleeves are tight on my arms. Thanks.

  10. The orange and turquoise combo is stunning on you!It adds such a youthful lift and vibe to your face. And , as you’ve said before, the heels really do elongate your body and add a slimming effect. Thanks for the side by side photos.

  11. You are spot on with your advice! Even though I’m a warm color redhead (olive skin and brown eyes) I feel best in colors like the lovely orange kimono and bright powerful colors. I feel like death eating a cracker in olive and beige and taupe. Maybe for accessories…
    Thank you for giving me permission to wear orange!

  12. Thank you for your tips, Susan. You thoughtfully replied to my message a few weeks ago and your suggestions for dressing on a vacation in Florida with my sister were spot on. I felt very comfortable with my choices and felt good about myself. This series has been great very helpful, too. –

  13. A great example of how accessories completely change the look! I am a winter. Thanks for challenging me to purchase the bold colors to go with my white and black basics that I love so much. Barbara

  14. I have learned so much from you since following you and have tried many of the looks I like on you. My first was the black pants and top from your shop plus the black and white sleeveless cascading vest from Covered Perfectly with the necklace from French Kande. I wore it while in Paris to the Moulin Rouge dinner and felt so confident and had lots of compliments. That is where I started feeling better about myself and knew I found someone who could help me not feel old (I’m 65)as I sure don’t feel old and frumpy. Photos of myself help me too decide if it is a good look on me!!! My favorites on me and where I feel comfortable are the solid neutrals underneath a jacket, kimono or flowing cape in solid bold colors or a small print. I also learned from you that great accessories top off the look. Thank you for doing this for us older ladies!!!! Have a great day!

  15. I love this post! Seeing the photographic examples of the different colors on you made the point very clear. When you posted the first outfit yesterday I thought, “I like this look” and was wondering why you didn’t think it worked for you but now that I see the 2nd option I totally get what you are talking about!! I just wish I could figure out which colors would look better on me. My coloring is very different than yours, dark hair with pale skin. I’ve been trying to follow your ideas but the outfits are not working for me. Now I see I need to take the idea but change up the colors. Thank you, Susan, for sharing your wisdom with us.

  16. Love your blog…really look forward to it. I have learned a lot. I’m not being critical, but I was wondering why you don’t wear different colors of pants.

    1. I do wear black, navy, white, denim in all shades and sometimes olive or khaki. Other colors would limit my combinations, and I feel a bit like a clown in bright colored or patterned pants. It is just my personal preference. Neutral pants work much better for me.

  17. You’re back! Love today’s look. I have purchased so many wrongs just to have something to wear to work in my size. Now I’m retired and trying to be more stylish. Thanks your tips.

  18. Hello, Susan. I enjoy your blog immensely. You are so correct in saying that we should wear what makes us feel good about ourselves.

    In the two photos, your body language shows which outfit you feel most comfortable in.

    Thank you for the encouragement as we navigate through the changes that occur with aging. You’ve inspired so many of us. You show us that we can still look stylish and wonderful as we stay true to ourselves.

  19. What a delightful and informative blog! Enjoying the photo essays and your zest for life. I’m always perusing blogs for ideas on keeping my accessory wardrobe fresh with a nod toward seasonal trends. Even as a “Soft Gamine”, “Tone II/ Type 2”, “Summer”, I still find many take-aways.

    This side-by-side of warm vs cool was fantastic. It definitely expresses the concept. I noticed the clothing in the left picture first, rather than the woman. You stood out rather than the clothes in the picture on the right. You were the center of attention.

    Looking forward to your upcoming posts!

  20. I don’t know when you were given the recommendation to avoid black but if it was recently, that “expert” was mistaken!! You are a beautiful Cool and black is stunning on you. The turquoise and white really make that outfit pop for you. But I use a different system than most. It doesn’t really matter. I totally agree with you. Wear what you love! Confidence and a smile are the best wardrobe builders!

  21. I appreciate your blog and all the ideas you share! Since I began following you, I’ve been inspired to “shop my own closet” and found all kinds of fun outfits! I had lots of great pieces but just didn’t know how to pull it together. I love bold patterns and chunky jewelry and you’ve inspired me to not be afraid of the simplicity of solids and simpler accessories. It’s like getting a whole new wardrobe! Oh – and white jeans and wedge sandals….I’d never done that before but do it all the time now. Thank you so much for all your inspiration!

  22. One of the best pieces of style advice I’ve gotten was from a much older woman, when I was 30. She said to always keep your underwear up to date, fresh, and fitting perfectly because if you didn’t start at the bottom, nothing you put on top would look or feel right. She also said that if your undergarments don’t fit well, you will constantly fidget and adjust and pull at things and that is unladylike. She also said underwear that digs into you, after a long day, brings subtle creases to your face, because it is a gentle form of pain and that makes you look and feel rather grumpy. She was a rather grande dame type, formidable, and always very well dressed.

  23. My trip to an “expert” style consultant was as a result of losing my way after I went from brunette to blonde as a perceived easier management of grey roots. What I didn’t factor in was that my skin tone and eyes hadn’t change and the colours I changed to were far too muted instead of cool and clear. The only benficial part of the disappointing consultation was when she said I should never have gone blonde, though she then followed it with leaving it grey, something I simply cannot come to terms with. So I am now a softer brunette wearing my original jewel colour palette with more grey and navy neutrals and as a result of being a blog follower, so much more confident in my choices.

  24. Wow Susan! I thought you looked pretty in yesterday’s outfit (well – you always look pretty!) but today’s outfit is stunning! The embroidered clutch pulls it all together and is the icing on the cake I think. Questions: are the white pants the same in both photos? Is it just the higher heel that makes them look different?

  25. Shoes ?? Where to get.
    I have seen many styles the same. Just curious. Need a nude block heel like these.

  26. You look fantastic in the coral kimono. I prefer that style for an important reason for …. me. It rides high up on the back on the neck and appears to close better than the silky kimono. I find too many sweaters, kimonos, fly away sweaters to be cut too low and shows too much skin. I am getting a bit of a dowager’s hump and really prefer a more covered look. Thank you for your posts.

  27. I truly enjoy reading your blog daily. I have learned a lot and have changed my dressing– habits——-for the better. Thank you! I am 67, feeling much younger, but now dressing the way I feel comfortable with my age and looking younger. Thank you, Thank you! Please keep helping me !!!!

  28. Today’s post makes me feel more confident in my wardrobe choices. Like you Susan, I do not look good in soft, dusty colors and your example side by side confirms I need to be true to what works for me and not to give in to what’s happening now!!!


  29. I have to travel next week to a intense seminar where I will no doubt be the oldest there by decades. I am making a photo book this weekend of your looks to add to my limited wardrobe. Thanks!-Laurel

  30. I am 71, and today I had outpatient surgery, and was told to wear no makeup, hair products, perfume, deodorant, and to wear comfortable clothes. I don’t even go to the mailbox without doing my hair and makeup, so this was really going to be a challenge. I changed clothes 3 times before deciding on my outfit. If nothing else, I was going to look good from the neck down. I did feel just a little bit better about my appearance, it was the best I could do, but I still was not happy about it. When I was apologizing to one of the nurses for my appearance, she said not to worry,I was dressed for the occasion. LOL. When the gal pushing my wheel chair was putting me in the car to go home, she complimented me on my cute capris. Made my day. I guess the moral of the story is dress for the occasion, and look as good as you can no matter what. You still can get a compliment.

  31. HI Susan. I enjoy your blog and I even purchased a purse and kimono from you. I love the purse but I found the kimono did not look right on my body shape. I am more of a pear shape and short-waisted. Short jackets that fall on the hip or tops that are more contoured at the waist look best on me. Could you address some tips for us “pear shapes” on your blog? Regardless, you have inspired me to simplify my wardrobe. Thank you so much?

  32. Great comparison! It’s been very difficult to find the right length tank for me – they all are so long and clingy. What is your favorite?

    1. I like the Microfiber Contemporary tanks from Chico’s because they are the right length for me and the don’t cling so much as some of the others.

  33. Susan, I love the side by side photos. They clearly show what you are talking about. Please do more of them.

  34. I’ve been reading your blog for a very long time and decided to take the plunge and try buying something! I purchased the basic tank top with wide straps in medium (busty girl!!) and the basic black crepe pants in extra small. I am 5′ tall and weigh 118 lbs. I’m going to hem the black pants, but I’m so excited! They fit great and the fabric feels light and airy. I’m sure if I pack them for a trip, they will work beautifully. And they are so comfortable!!!

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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.