Style 101

The key to looking your best all the time is only to own clothing that looks good on you. Your fashions should serve you; they should be easy and comfortable. When the items aren’t suitable for you, they never will be, no matter how hard you try to style them.

For example, I never bought another when I learned why pants with pleated fronts, dirndl skirts, and cable-knit sweaters don’t work for my shape. However, it changed my life when I found that slim-fitting pants, pencil skirts, and sleek-fitting cashmere sweaters nearly always looked good on me.

When I wear a skirt or pants with pleats, darts, or gathers, I look two or three sizes larger than I am. If I also wear a bulky top or one that falls from the bustline, I look like someone I don’t recognize. Part of the magic of fashion is its ability to make us feel like the best version of ourselves; if the garment fails in its job, it isn’t your fault. In truth, the style isn’t suitable for you.

My classic silver jewelry never lets me down. Sunglasses are usually a must each time I go outside. Similar items are linked. WatchEarringsRingSunglasses. The fabulous bracelet is here. (Use the code SAS10 for $10 off any one item at Beauty in Stone Jewelry.)

The top I wore to the grocery store is at least four years old, but the fact that it is a solid color and has a simple, timeless style means it will not date. It has a crossover front detail and a V-neckline, so it will always flatter me. I have worn the slim-fitting white jeans countless times since I bought them last year. Similar jeans are here and here. A similar top is here. The sandals are also from a few summers ago. I found similar sandals here. The bag is also old, but here is a similar one. My sunscreen is here. My lip color is Plum here.

My blogging goal is to show you different ways to wear things you might already have and to make wise buying decisions in the future. Of course, if you only have clothing that suits your frame and style, you won’t need much, but all you have will get used often and well. The links I share with you sometimes allow me to earn a small commission at no additional cost to you.

  1. Excellent post. Your statement that fashion should make us feel like the best version of ourselves was an eye opener for me. Asking if an item of clothing makes me look my best is a much better question than do I like it.

  2. Hi! I love the way you style your hair. It always looks so classic. I have similar wavy hair but I always feel I struggle with it, especially in hot weather when it frizzes. Do you have any tips please.

    1. I use a blowdryer and a 1″ round vented brush to lift the roots and smooth the front and sides. Use hairspray to control frizz and unruly bits that always fall in your eyes.

  3. I, too, FINALLY have found what suits me (many thanks to you- I’m shaped like you, love jeans and tees, and prefer a minimalist wardrobe). I wore a 10 year old blouse recently and received tons of compliments.

  4. Susan, My mother always said that just because something is in style doesn’t mean that it’s for everyone.

  5. Excellent advice today! I find it easier to resist things that don’t flatter me since I have learned tips from you over the last few years. Even if it is “my color”, I can resist if the style is unflattering. I think one of the best tips I have learned is how much more flattering a V-neck is on me than crew necks. I’ve given away all of my cable knit sweaters as well when I “saw” the added bulk to my largest body portion! Keep on giving us those tips, Susan! Your tips make me look better! 🙂

  6. I agree about pleated pants. I haven’t worn those in years and love slim fitting ones. I really like a little sleeve but find so many things are sleeveless now. I do love your look.

  7. Susan, thank you for continuing to blog. I know that in past posts, you have said that you do not wear a sleeveless top without a jacket, sweater, etc. I also think you have said that you avoid wearing black close to your face. I think the top you are wearing is black. Would you please tell us what is different about this top so that you are comfortable wearing it. I think the top looks great on you. I have been avoiding sleeveless without a jacket for a couple of decades. I would appreciate your insights so that perhaps I can find a way to do so when the temps are over 90 degrees here. Thank you.

    1. I don’t wear spaghetti strap camisoles without a jacket because the bra straps would show. I don’t buy black tops anymore, but this one is old. Tops that cover the underarm area are the most flattering.

  8. It would be interesting to hear from your followers about how their mothers influenced them on how or how not to dress. I am 78 and I still think about how much my style is like hers. She was a very smart LADY and I was blessed to have been influenced by her.

  9. Good post, but could you give some examples of different shapes and what looks good on them or refer us to post that do?

    1. That would be a very long post, Louise. The simple answer is to wear clothing and accessories to accentuate the parts you like. Here is a post I did about body shapes that might be helpful to you.

  10. I often admire your silver jewelry! Do you have any tips on storing, cleaning and caring for your silver? I live in humid Florida and sterling silver tarnishes so easily…. Thanks!!

    1. To prevent scratches, each piece should be stored individually in its own case, pouch, or compartment in a dry, cool place. In hot climates, it should be kept in an air-conditioned room. (Avoid keeping jewelry boxes in bathrooms.) Store your sterling silver jewelry in a case lined with tarnish-resistant material. The best way to clean it is with a soft clean cloth. Many fine jewelry stores sell specially designed silver polishing cloths pre-treated with gentle chemicals to restore silver’s natural brilliance, but any soft cloth will do.

  11. I think the black top is striking with the lovely color of your hair! This is a very flattering and classy look for you!

  12. Such a simple concept! You have certainly found your groove! The simple outfit with the knockout bag and jewelry really makes a beautiful statement. A differently proportioned woman could do the exact thing, just changing out the style of pants and top to suit them. I read other fashion blogs. Outfits seem to be hit and miss with them. I don’t think they’ve found the “magic” that creates their own well appointed look. No one else manages a signature style like you do! Thanks for helping me on the journey to find my magic!

  13. I love the combo of black and white- always looks chic to me. And I agree with another commenter- it’s lovely with white or grey hair. I know the theory is black can wash us out as we age, but when I see mature women in black, I often think it looks great! I wonder if jewelry is what makes the difference?

  14. Hi Susan
    You look fantastic as always. I have to say I don’t see many women dressed like you in the grocery store. 🙂
    It is a shame.
    It’s the same when traveling. Not many women dress like you. This is a compliment of course.!!
    You set the bar high and it would be nice to see more of us dressing up a bit.
    I had a women once compliment me on a plane. I was wearing white jeans and a white shell with a longer sweater.
    I was thrilled to have her tell me how nice I looked.
    I think this last year has been a struggle and many are trying to find their way.
    Keep encouraging us.

  15. Love this post! I always wonder as I shop to replace or update something in my closet, “What would Susan do?”

  16. I have finally learnt not to buy something just because it is a gorgeous colour. Took me a long time though! Lol. I have never liked dress pants that have pockets in the sides. For some reason the pockets always seem to make my hips stand out, even though I am slim. I now try something on and say to myself, do I really love it. Does it look good on me or great on me?

  17. DearestSusan,
    In many pictures of you, I see you are wearing sunglasses. Could you address the “sunglass” issue? I see so many women wearing them, even in stores. BUT I wear fragile, bi-focal, wire-rimmed eyeglasses. I have tried “fit-over” sunglasses, but have not found any that don’t drag down my eyeglasses. And to remove my fragile glasses, replace them with sunglasses, and fiddle with a case for my purse, all while holding a handbag, is impossible. I did buy clip-on sunglasses to fit on my bifocals, but even they were tricky to put on & remove. (Not to mention the $600 they cost!) Yet some women look so chic in their sunglasses. I do fear the dreaded “frump.” Do you have comments, thoughts, solutions? I want to dress like you when I grow up!!!

    1. I wear sunglasses when outside to avoid squinting and protect my light-sensitive eyes and only wear prescription glasses to read. My sister has stunning prescription sunglasses, which she switches before getting out of the car to make the balancing act easier.

  18. Thank you for the reminder to stick with what looks good on me. I always learn something from reading your blog even though we have very different body types and styles. It’s so hard not to succumb to something you love and think you can make work, but find it just hangs in your closet no matter how you style it. I look forward to your fashion advice!

  19. Thank you Susan for your valuable ideas. I’m following your advice and it is very practical and clothes should make us feel comfortable and look good on us!!!!!

  20. Merci pour tous ces conseils Suzan. Moi aussi j’ai essayé les pantalons à pinces et ils ne me vont pas du tout, dedans je parais une taille plus grosse et 10 cm de moins de hauteur. J’aime beaucoup votre haut noir croisé et comme mon hobbies est la couture, je vais m’en faire un comme ça.

  21. How did you determine your style and what looks good on you? I struggle with that. I can look at someone else and see what looks good on them, but it’s hard to be objective about what looks good on me. I have taken pictures, I listen when I get compliments, but overall I have tons of clothes in many different styles.
    I don’t have girlfriends that live close by that could help, and my family is all male! So…any suggestions? I know you said you did a lot of research and got rid of many things. So what is step one? Thanks Susan.

    1. When I put something on, I have to know without a doubt that it is awesome on me. Of course, that’s a slight exaggeration, but if you have to talk yourself into buying or wearing something, it would be better to leave it in the shop or donate it. I’ve always enjoyed accessories more than clothing, so clean and simple solid colors and shapes that flatter me are what works best for my style. When companies started sending me loads of clothing to show on the blog, I got confused and overwhelmed. After purging all the one-hit wonders and statement items that overwhelmed me, my closet is now stocked with clothing I often wear, which feels authentic.

  22. Susan, you meet your blogging goals and exceed them! I love the “can do” attitude that helps all of us look our best. Although I’m in my 80’s, I enjoy using your styling tips and appreciate that you even show us where to find the items.

    Before reading your blog, I thought I was pretty well put together; I appreciate your advice of adding the finishing touches of jewelry, hats, or even subtle make up.

    Thank you, and have a blessed, glorious week-end.

  23. Beautycounter did not show the lipstick in plum. It looks good on you. Good color. Also black shirt and white pants are very sharp!!!!

  24. Thank you so much. You have helped me so much achieve the look that looks the best on this 70+body. Although you write about 60, the styles are timeless

  25. You’re right to buy only what suits you. Anything I don’t like is because it’s not a good style for me.

  26. Susan, thank you for the timely reminder to evaluate styles that work on our body types. Best advice ever!

  27. Thank you for all your posts, appreciate all your advise and am currently switching out my wardrobe to solids colour of classic style for comfort. It is difficult in Canada as we do not have as many shopping sites. I love your scarves and would like to know where you find them.

  28. Love this summertime look. A few years ago I realized (duh) that it takes the same amount of effort to put on a nice top and pair of slacks and flat shoes or sandals that it does a vacation tee shirt, cut off jeans and clunky sneakers, but the effect is so different! I now use those vacation tees as painting shirts and keep the sneakers for daily walks. Thank you for all your great tips.

  29. Excellent advice. If an item is not suitable for you today, it will not be tomorrow nor next week…Donate it.

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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.