Shop Your Closet

A decade ago, I was less mindful of the environment and my finances. I went shopping way too often, and purchases were not always wise ones. I lost sight of my goal of investing in pieces to wear with what I already owned. These days, all of my purchases are well-planned elements that fit within my master plan.

I spend significantly less per year on fashion but look much more put together and confident now. That’s why I continue to blog. I want to share inspiration and the tips I’ve learned with you so that you can create a closet that is as much fun to shop as a boutique.

Inspiration allows me to create a wide variety of contemporary looks from what is already in my closet. The following tips have been helpful to me. Collect inspiration for combinations you might not have thought of on your own. One way to do this is to create a private board on Pinterest. When you see a look that appeals to you, pin the image to that board. You can also keep a folder on your computer to store your favorite shots for future reference.

Keep a record of your most successful outfits on your phone. You can snap a selfie or lay the items on the floor or your bed and take a photo to help you recall your best combinations. Refer to any of these sources on the days when inspiration is lacking.

I learned long ago to invest in classic traditional objects for my home and have the same policy in my wardrobe. Almost all the pieces are interchangeable. Nothing is for a particular room or only for a specific outfit. If something draws me in, I often find that it has a familiar design thread and is consistent with other objects I already own.

It is easy to get bored with what you have or to wear the same things in the same way on repeat. If you have fresh ideas for reference, you can combine the same pieces in new ways and add accessories more creatively.

I’ve had the V-neck cashmere sweater for more than four years, but I’ve never worn it over a blouse. To keep warm on Sunday, I layered the black sweater over a black button-front blouse and added a couple of silver necklaces to add light around my face. The bag was a gift from Teddy Blake last year. White jeans are always in my closet. The Sam Edelman loafers are from an end of the season sale.

Links to similar current items: Short NecklaceLong NecklaceBraceletEarringsWatchRingRingShoesSunglassesBagSweaterBlouseJeans

  1. Hi Susan, you look fabulous and I love your hair in these pictures! You are an inspiration xx

  2. I have a sheer floral blouse that my husband gave me years ago. I used to wear it often over a tank, but it fell out of rotation. This year, I bought a vee neck sweater in bright, happy pink from Gap thinking it would be an ideal weight for NC spring. Too itchy alone but perfect over the blouse. Win for the closet!

  3. Hi Susan, I think the shorter hair is a great look for you. I finished chemo last year and have had to find ways to deal with no hair to very short hair and its been quite liberating. I love your style and your advise is always welcome. Not being able to shop for the past months is maddening. I too wear a lot of black and white. This look is great on you.

  4. Your hair is PERFECT in these pic! Your outfit combos are always beautiful, but these photos look like you’re doing a photo shoot for a hair stylist! Very relaxed looking hair. I have pics of your hair in my phone under an album called “hair” so when I go to my stylist, I pull them out for “inspiration”. She will sometimes laugh and say, “oh, that lady again!” LOL

  5. Great ideas! I intend to steal this look and take your photo along to hairdresser, as soon as I am allowed out! Love it! Thank you for sharing. Stunning as always!

  6. The second shot of you with the sunglasses is so stunning. I really like the bangs on you. If I saw this woman (you) on the street, I would stop to take note. I don’t wear black on the top half, but the dark glasses are something I may have to try on. Mine are a silvery grey and perhaps too light.

  7. Thank you so much for the suggestion of taking a picture of an outfit you enjoy wearing and that looks good on you–As always I enjoy and look forward to your post–hope Mr. Mickey is doing well, stay safe.

  8. Great look, timeless, elegant! Thanks for giving your readers inspiration. Love your shorter hairstyle.

    Linda N

  9. I love this look on you. When I like something you have put together, I print it out and or save the picture (s) for future reference already like you suggested. Made my day to think I was already doing something you would suggest to others.
    You have given me a lot of “food for thought” with clothes, food and exercise. Nothing most people couldn’t do if they set their minds to it and such helpful advice to follow. Even though we are opposites in color choices as I have a warm skin tone and you are cool but you always remind us to choose a color that fits us.

    Clara from Iowa

  10. Susan, you look great in b & w with the animal print loafers jazzing up your outfit. Your phrase “shop your closet” caught my attention as this is something I’ve always tried to accomplish. This next idea might happen again in the future…my relaxing way of looking for new outfit ideas has been to window shop & photograph my fav looks early Sunday mornings when in Europe/UK, like in Vienna & Belfast. The styling of the clothes & shop windows over there is an art form. The closed shops give me time to really think about what I have, what I really need and if I can afford a particular item.
    Keep healthy, Susan and Mr Mickey.

  11. I continue to learn so much from your blog. My biggest mistakes through the years was to purchase clothing without considering how many other things it would pair with in my closet, whether the item was a classic piece I could wear for years, or if it was truly something I needed. At times I would make impulse purchases just because something was on sale. I now intend to only purchase items within my personal colour palette and try to purchase those items in the best quality I can afford. I no longer purchase anything I don’t require, just because it is on sale. I’m trying to build a wardrobe where most things can be paired together. My closet used to be plugged full, and when I had to pick an outfit I was exhausted because I had all these clothes, in multiple styles and colours, and it would take me a long time to pull together an item to wear. I’ve also made the decision last |October to embrace the gray, now that I’ve entered my sixties. I’m kind of in an awkward stage at the moment, but looking forward to when I can get a haircut and new style. I look forward to embracing a simpler more mindful wardrobe and beauty routine. I’m also making the same changes in my home and nutritional wise. For me less is more, and has made me feel so much more relaxed, energized and happy.

  12. Thank you for sharing such great ideas and tips to help us look our best. I love how you wrote that you added silver necklaces to light up your face. That’s the best description and idea to remember as we get dressed each day. You always look so put together and ready to face the day.

  13. Ditto to all those that said your hair looks amazing! Could you show us the back of it while wearing it in this style? I, too, love the black and white. Thank you for your inspiration!

    1. It is the same cut I got in late February this year. I have trimmed the parts around my face about half an inch, but the rest of it is the same cut as in photo near the bottom of the post here. The style has grown out about two inches since the photos.

    1. I’ve also been in quarantine for several weeks, and plan to remain so for the next few months. I get dressed each day, even if I am not going out. When I enter a building that is not my home, I wear a mask and get out as fast as possible.

  14. Dear Susan, over the last week you have inspired me to take out all my Spring/Summer clothes from last year & critically looked at my wardrobe. It has enabled me to look at the clothes I have , and have decided this year it is the one to shop in my wardrobe as I am pleasantly surprised with the classic wardrobe I have put together with your influence & help since I discovered your blog , hence I don’t have to rush out to the shops when they open here in Ireland , & do a massive retail work out & spend a lot of money I don’t need to! Instead I can donate it to a worthy cause in these very challenging times. I love your style & practicality . Stay safe and well. Ann O’Neill, Ireland.

  15. I like your hair style. Looking for a new cut if and when I can get in to my stylist. Can you take a shot of the side and back of your hair?

    1. It is the same cut I got in late February this year. I have trimmed the parts around my face about half an inch, but the rest of it is the same cut as in photo near the bottom of the post here. The style has grown out about two inches since the photos.

  16. Hi Susan,

    Your words ring so true. Shopping in my closet is better in so many ways. You recently had on a red jacket with white pants and you looked terrific! I began to think about shopping for a red blazer and lo and behold there in the back of the closet was a red linen blazer. I had forgotten all about it!

    You are a wise lady!

  17. I too used to buy anything that caught my eye, rather than considering if it went with anything. I’ve also been hooked by sales for many years. The lockdown in NZ has stopped me buying anything much for a few weeks (no stores were open and online was very limited, mostly just for essential items) and now I’ve saved money instead, I hope to keep on that track. Besides, I have a million jackets, tops, jeans, bottoms, shoes, coats, jewellery. Susan, I love your hair here too and also the handbag.

  18. I love this look and your hair cut.
    We have similar taste but I always seem to have trouble getting it all together.
    I seriously don’t have many clothes but my friends marvel that I can get dressed in so many outfits.
    I am 75.
    You are an inspiration to me.
    Hope Mr Mickey is doing well.

  19. “Shop Your Closet”, absolutely! Like others, I have also been doing this for years, and for the most part, I am happy with my closet treasures. I also save pics of outfits that catch my eye or take pics of my favorite closet combinations & accessories. . You mentioned laying outfit combinations on the bed. When I’m packing for a trip or vacation, I try on clothes I am taking (so there are no surprises) and I either take a pic of my outfits or make a quick list of combination pieces & accessories so dressing is not a hassle when while traveling. Hope this helps someone!

  20. Dear Susan…..I wish so much I could follow your motto and not buy everything I see/want. I Do Not need another piece of clothing. I am keeping this current blog post and come back to it from time to time and try not to always purchase. I have so many nice things in my closet. Please keep this encouragement coming!

    Your trim that you did on your hair looks so cute!


  21. I think the difficult part of trying to establish a wardrobe of basics that all interchangeable is where to start. I love your idea of a Pinterest board, and also taking photos of your favorite outfits. I’m going to start doing that today! Thank you for some great ideas! As always, you look put together and polished, but in an effortless way. Love your hair!

  22. I am 64. Ten years ago I still used shopping as a way to “fix me.” Thank heaven, that period is over. Now clothing is a way to be at ease, look pulled together, and express my personality. Thanks for your words of wisdom. How do we convince the 30-year-olds of this?

  23. Staying at home has given me plenty of time to get rid of items that I rarely ever put on – the fit was never right or the color really was never a favorite. Going to look at my closet for pieces that are a comfortable fit and flattering color. Hope to use your suggestions about buying classic pieces and using what I have already.

  24. I want to compliment you on your style and your blog. I have been a loyal fan for quite a while. Your style is classic yet totally for today. I so appreciate your sharing your philosophy of how to build and maintain a wardrobe. Thank you!

  25. Susan,

    I always enjoy your emails and seeing your stylish outfits. You wear mostly silver jewelry which matches your coloring and taste. Would you consider using some gold jewelry in your posts?


  26. You have inspired me again.
    I’ve lost weight as I’ve gotten older and it has been hard for me to let go of some of my lovely Eileen Fisher pieces because I had paid so much for them. You made me realize they don’t work for me anymore. They are just taking up room. You always look so effortlessly put together. That’s what I want. Instead I look forever for clothes that work together. Then I end up always just wearing the same things. My closet is about to change. I will be ruthless. Thank you.

    1. If you return your Eileen Fisher to an Eileen Fisher store or send it to the ReNew address shown on their website, they will give you a $5.00 credit per item toward any new Eileen Fisher.

  27. Laying a sweater over a shirt has always made me uncomfortable. I just never seem to choose the right two that work together. I love this look though and wish I could pull it off. I love the grey and black shoes with a grey bag. You look beautiful.

  28. Have you tried a wardrobe app on your phone, Susan? I did, but I deleted it. Taking photos of outfits laid flat on the bed works better, and at least I don’t get terrible outfit suggestions. The silly thing kept insisting I should wear a navy casual cotton utility jacket with a dressy black skirt and white bouse. It put a casual cotton shirt with the same dressy skirt. I rejected the idea, and it kept going back to the same thing. AI cannot replace my eye. Not yet, anyways. Gone.

  29. Susan, Thank you for your inspiration. I’m 76 still have to work, appreciate guidance to remain age appropriate stylish. Where to shop on a limited budget?

    Syracuse, NY

    1. Companies such as T.J.Maxx, Nordstrom Rack, Saks Off 5th, and Ann Taylor Loft offer tailored and sophisticated elements at prices that are considerably less than boutiques. If you build your wardrobe around a few great fitting basics, you can change the look of them with accessories resulting in spending much less.

  30. Susan I enjoy your blog immensely and have been catching up on prior years via Pinterest. I find your emphasis on solid colors in neutrals and a few complimentary colors exactly the direction I want to go in. I have always relied upon prints for visual interest in warmer months but I am now beginning to see how much more I could do with more solids. Thank you for opening my eyes to that. So at almost 70 I may finally get a more flexible wardrobe!! I have purchased a rolling rack to do some sorting and staging on but I live in an old cottage and the closets are very small and I do not have option to turn a bedroom into a walk in closet permanently. I have been using the five tier hangers for shirts and tops and similar for pants but lots end up in drawers as well. No doubt I have too much stuff and I am trying to purge but I am wondering if you have any suggestions for organizing small cramped closets. For example my bedroom closet has only 64” of rod space! I live in northeast so I have basically two and a half wardrobes one for cold, one for hot and 1/2 for in between and most of off season clothing is stored when not in season. Love today’s outfit!

    1. Edit what you have with an eye toward what you actually wear, use, and enjoy most. If you haven’t worn it in a year or two, it may not deserve a place in your collection.

  31. I enjoy all your posts, especially this one. I live in an area were summer temperatures reach 102 degrees and have learned to make small changes to your suggestions and still keep the overall look. Thank you for your inspiration! Be safe — Marcy

  32. Does your shop still exist ?
    I am new to your blog and have tried several times to click on it without success
    Thank you Joan

    1. I’m sorry, but I had to close my shop a couple of years ago. I lost my main clothing supplier. Instead, I now recommend items that are similar to what I am wearing from other sources.

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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.