Studying the Basics

Today I am sharing the first post in what will be a long-running series. Each week, I will discuss a classic basic and will show at least three ways to wear the piece. I will also share some things to look for in wearability and fit.

The basics include pieces we may already have in our wardrobes. Elements such as T-shirts, a denim jacket, jeans, a cardigan sweater, dressy slacks, and maybe a blazer can be used to create numerous good looking outfits. Accessories such as belts, scarves, and bags can pull together these pieces and make them appropriate for many occasions.

I wear a knit top (my version of a T) or a tank almost every day. The fabric is perfect for layering over and gives me a workable foundation to build on. Sometimes the top provides a pop of color; other times, it is the same color as my pants to create a column of color.

I am wearing dark denim pull-on jeans by Liverpool Jeans Co. from last year. These jeans are a great choice because the wide flat waistband looks much better under smooth tops. This relaxed, casual look is one that I enjoy wearing whenever the weather allows. Double denim can work if we vary the depth of the colors.

My core wardrobe works well with all these colors.

I wear these comfortable tops from Covered Perfectly (here) several times per week. They get high marks from me because they are the best first layer I’ve found. They are soft, supple, and not at all bulky. The feminine neckline is perfect for my face shape and so much more elegant than a T-shirt. These tops are a little longer than most Ts means that I can easily layer shorter jackets over them to give the illusion of being more slender than I am. I often add a belt to define the waist when I layer over a longer top. I am five feet six inches tall, and I mostly wear flat shoes now.

When I shop with Covered Perfectly, I always buy two tops because the third one is free. Free! Last month I bought three styles in red. The style I am wearing in these photos is here. They are available in several colors and also with other necklines. Watch for my post on Wednesday. I will show you how I wear the same top in a work-appropriate, professional look.

  1. I am looking forward to these posts very much. Will be helpful as I am continuing to revamp my wardrobe. What size do you purchase in the CP top? Does it run small?

  2. This sounds like a good series about wearing basics for versatility.
    Please can you explain in more detail what you mean by a knit top being better than a t-shirt top? What is the material made of? (I live in the UK so need to find something similar to what you are wearing.)

    1. The Covered Perfectly tops are made in MicroModal fabric which drapes and flows more elegantly than a basic cotton T-Shirt. They do not add any bulk to your shape. The owner of Covered Perfectly is from Essex, UK. She will be happy to ship to you.

  3. Susan, how wide is the belt you are wearing? Where do you ind your belts? Enjoy every post you write. Thank you for your time and efforts. My wardrobe is beginning to to change to very casual with much less and your tips are most helpful.

  4. This is a most helpful series. I looked at the Liverpool web site. Could you tell me please which of the pull on styles you like. The Chloe or????

  5. I just found your blog and am so happy to find nice, goodlooking outfits that will suit me. I will be 68 in the end of the month, from Sweden but as retired have moved to Cyprus an island in the East Mediterranian.

  6. Great series, thank you. Do you plan to get more sizes in your shop? I checked and there seem to be few pants or tops in size large. Thank you.

  7. You look great. I have been following you for several years and you look younger!
    Thank you for this series. It will be so helpful

  8. I look forward to your posts on using the basics. I remember that you wrote about the most favorable length for a top. Was it 14 inches from the underarm? Is this the length of this red top? I love the look. Thank you.

  9. Hello Susan:
    I’ve been following your blog since you were in your 50’s. It’s always refreshing and helpful.

    Concerning the Perfectly Covered tops, do you find micro modal hot to wear? I love cotton but not all cotton t’s lay as sleek to the body.

    What is your thoughts on the hot issue?


    1. I have worn these tops in L.A. when it was 105 degrees. They did not make me feel any hotter than cotton. The fabric is much sleeker and more luxurious than a cotton T.

  10. You always look great and your classic style is a perfect look for me…I love your tips and tricks and I am trying to purchase more of a core wardrobe, rather than trendy items that will not stand the test of time. My goal is to stand in my closet and find lots of outfits, rather than “ I don’t have a thing to wear!” Thanks for the inspiration!

  11. This segment about the denim jacket is great!! I am looking forward to the fashion advice the rest of this week. I like the tip about how to wear two tone of denim.

  12. I am a “young” 75 who recently started following your website and even purchased a jean jacket from Chico’s thanks to you.

    Previously I bought a white, long sleeved tee shirt from Chico’s where the salesgirl said it wasn’t too tight when I asked her. When I showed it to my 33 year old son he said it looked terrible. I took it back and another salesgirl said it was wrong because it was white and too tight and white showed every lump and bump. Thankfully the first salesgirl wasn’t there.

    I can’t remember if I ever saw you in a white tee shirt in any of your stylings but I am new to your site. I would have kept the jacket over the white tee but now am confused.

    Thanks for your input.

  13. Susan, you look terrific! Your outfit proves that a casual outfit can be comfortable as well as chic and pretty.

  14. Hi Susan! I have a shape similar to yours and so have always been mindful of your advice to avoid adding bulk at the bust. If I saw this jacket on the rack, I would probably pass it by because it has pockets at the bust. But on you, it looks GREAT! I noticed that the pocket’s flaps sit high on your bustline and that seems to draw the eye upwards. Maybe that’s why it works so well in this case? Perhaps in a future post, you can give us some dos and don’ts regarding pockets – not just at the bustline. Thanks for all your hard work on the posts! I’ve learned so much from your advice and by your example.

    1. The jacket has ample pockets, and I always leave it open. If the pockets are about four inches wide on shirt or jacket, they look more expensive, and they conceal rather than bring attention to the girls.

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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.