Statement Pieces

Perhaps you have one item in your wardrobe that is a standout piece that you love but rarely wear. Or maybe your closet is like my old one. I used to own many statement jackets, cardigans, patterned tops, and even print pants. I remember standing in that overstuffed closet that was the size of a New York City bedroom saying with dismay, “I have nothing to wear!”

I had yet to learn how to build a curated wardrobe focused on the items that reflect my style and what looks best on me. When I stopped buying all the newest things, I found getting dressed to be a snap, and I always look much more elegant now.

Thoughtfully collected items that reflect my style can be used together amazingly well. The secret sauce in my current wardrobe is basics. Over the years, I’ve helped many women build a better wardrobe. The one problem we all shared was too many statement pieces and not nearly enough basics to build on.

Basics are simple (some may say boring) items like camisoles, tank tops, simple tees, and solid pants in different silhouettes. The pieces that you put on first to create a strong foundation for your ensemble can be considered basics. They may not look like much until you add your statement jacket and accessories.

This look includes a silk ruana framed in delicate boiled wool and hand-dyed a vibrant turquoise color that instantly captivated me. Sibel Mallory created this stunning piece. You can learn more about her shop located in Lewisburg, WV, here.

Neutral accessories, a tank top in the same turquoise color, great fitting white jeans, and a necklace in similar translucent tones made this outfit a success. Most of the pieces I show you on my blog are carefully planned purchases that I know I will wear on repeat for several years.

Since my items are rarely new, I share links for the most similar current items I can find. Referral and affiliate links in my posts may result in a small commission for me at no additional cost to you.


  1. I, also, have built a wardrobe of basics and deciding what to wear is so much quicker and easier. I love scarves and jackets to pull an outfit together. I purged my closet and chest of drawers and gave away five trash bags full of items that will be most useful to someone else. I love fall/winter clothes the most so I have more of them. Love your blog, Susan, because it inspires me to try look my best wherever I go.

  2. This is one your best outfits ever! Love the cut and colour of the ruana. A beautiful break from standard colours and neutrals.

  3. I remember when that beautiful ruana first caught your eye Susan! Turquoise is your color! Basics are important (necessary!), but I still love a “statement” now & then. Love your necklace! This outfit would also look so stunning with white top/pants for a long column under that striking turquoise wrap! Blingy or strappy shoes too! Yum! This look is a true fav of mine! Enjoy making a statement!

  4. I love this look, however when I’ve tried to wear ruanas I always felt that they overpowered my petite frame and body. Any tips on how to make this look work on a shorter person? I’m 5’2”, average weight and unable to wear shoes with a heel.

  5. As a future business opportunity, I’d like to suggest some interactive way to help those among us with large closets and not much elegance to pare down the pants, shirts, and jackets to only things that fit properly and look nice. For example, I don’t have anyone nearby to help me decide if things look “right” or just a little “off” – are these jeans too big? Are these pants too short? Or too long, now that I no longer wear heels? There ought to be some way to bring the Interweb to heel in service of fashion. I’d sign up at once!

  6. You look beautiful as always and very elegant. You cannot tell in the photo that the pants are jeans. I understand you wear them because of the flattering fit. Where would you wear this outfit? Where not? Would you consider this for the theater or symphony or for fine dining or would you wear pants instead? What kind? Do you ever wear ponte pants? Love the ruana. Thanks

    1. The reason I wear jeans so often is that they can hold you in and smooth your silhouette like no other fabric. White or black jeans are acceptable in most social situations now since they can be dressed up or down. I wore this look to dinner in a fine dining restaurant, but I was overdressed compared to everyone else there. Americans are very casual in every city I visit.

  7. I have been following you for years. Turquoise looks fabulous on you. I love to wear it too . People have stopped and told me that I looked great and what was different about me. I think I felt good and more confident wearing a cheerful color. Thanks for being a great influence!

  8. Simply elegant! Stunning color for you. It seems most people dress very casually these days. I look forward to your outfits (and Mr Mickey’s).

  9. I agree with you. Every once an a while I take a morning to look through my wardrobe and divide items into seasons. And then load this endeavour with questions. Did I wear this last season……how often……was it comfortable………does the colour still suit me ………….in how many ways can I make the garment work. This exercise led to purchasing a caramel coloured medium weight, semi casual jacket, that I can dress up and down. One garment has expanded my warbrode into several new outfits. Wearing it with black and white items, navy, cream, kaki, apricot, deep purple items.
    It’s a magic process. The accent patterns in my wardrobe are stripes and polko dots in classic colours. They are collarless or have unique collars that corss-fold or tie up or are polo or open neck. A dark navy blue with white spots, works well the caramel jacket, my red jacket, my white jacket, my lemon jacket and my dusty pink jacket. It looks gret with jeans, grey, navy blue, white, caramel, kaki, black slacks, I always challenge myself to make a garment to pay it ways by enhancing 80% of the items in my wardrobe. I have found that it takes time to build up a ‘core’ warbrobe of reliables.

    1. I love this outfit and am wondering if you would consider this dressy enough for a wedding? We have an upcoming event in Florida in the evening in early November. The look is very summery but I’m thinking that it might work in Florida?

  10. Hi Susan! You look absolutely stunning! I’m so grateful to you for telling us about Sibel Mallory and her gorgeous ruanas!! I got one in the turquoise (the silk is a little lighter than yours but the wool is the same turquoise color) and I’m planning to wear it to a big college sorority reunion gala Friday night. I was going to wear a white tank but I love that you matched the tank to the ruana! Do you remember the color name of the tank you bought at Chicos? I would appreciate it so much if you would let me know — the color looks perfect! I looked on Chico’s
    website and didn’t see it–I hope it’s not gone!
    I have been following you every week for several years and I just love your blog! You are so inspiring! Thank you for what you do!
    Hoping to hear from you soon! Thanks so much!
    Judy Smith
    San Antonio, Texas

  11. Long time follower and while I’ve always gravitated towards classic looks thanks to you I’m focusing on some basics and investment pieces. You also turned me on to French Kande and I always get compliments on those pieces.

  12. Thank you Susan. I’m so glad to read this, mainly because I have thought that maybe I have too many basic pieces and not enough statement pieces. I think I know now what to look for in statement pieces.

    1. I dress for the weather. If white pants are lightweight cotton, I won’t wear them on a cold day because they wouldn’t keep me warm. I will wear heavy-weight white denim jeans in winter.

  13. Hi Susan! I am a relatively new follower of yours but have been a fan for quite awhile. I just love your style and totally agree that having good fundamental basics in neutral colors and then accessorizing is THE secret to great-looking, classy dressing. Once I transitioned away from trends and developed the concept of good-quality, well-fitting fundamentals that look good on my body style, my wardrobe became much easier to manage and WAY better looking. More affordable too! . Thank you for your terrific blog and beautiful, inspiring pictures. I hope you and Mr. Mickey have a terrific fall.

  14. Susan, I just wanted to tell you that the silk scarf I purchased from you arrived today. It is the most beautiful scarf that I have ever owned and I look forward to building a wardrobe from the colors in the scarf. Thank you so much, and hopefully I will be able to purchase another scarf later before they sell out. They are nicer than anything that I have seen in a store or online, and the silk is beautiful but sturdy. I appreciate that it arrived so quickly, and am so glad to be enjoying your blog, as well.

  15. I’ve just finished reducing my very-full walk-in closet to two suitcases, in preparation for an overseas posting. Following your guidelines helped a lot, and I now have a much smaller wardrobe, in which everything makes me feel comfortable and put-together. One request: I’d love to see more suggestions for women who are limited to a minimal number of bags or shoes. (I have room for one summer bag and one winter bag, and choosing them was the hardest part of the process.) Thanks!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

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.