Styling Tricks

Earlier this week, I touched on how we look in photos versus what we see in the mirror. I quickly styled the look on the left (below) for a previous post. It seemed acceptable when viewed in the mirror, but as I was editing the photos, I kept thinking, “You can do better,” so I restyled the same cardigan and scarf. The images, taken less than a week apart, show the difference. Let’s discuss why one look is more flattering than the other. (Natural light is always best.)

In the photo on the right, I have used styling tricks that are more flattering for my shape. Opening up the neckline makes me look less like I am drowning in the scarf. The scarf folded on the bias into a narrow band and draped around my neck creates long vertical lines that keep the eye moving up and down. (I look taller and thinner.) The pop of color from the magenta Portofino shirt creates contrast so that what is beneath the gray cashmere cardigan seems smaller. Pushing up the sleeves and showing the cuff of the shirt is also a favorite slimming trick. The hem of the shirt ends at the top of my thighs, which means no tummy is showing. That’s always a good thing!

The jeans on the right side by side photo coated Chico’s jeans from an earlier post. They are more slim-fitting than the slightly bootcut jeans in the image on the left, and they show the shape of the ankle. When we cover the slender parts of our bodies, we appear wider. Extra fabric equals extra girth. Using that same guide, the short, slim boots with a pointed toe make my legs look longer than my rounded toe Chelsea boots. When I buy footwear, I think sportscar… not minivan.

On Friday, I will share tips for styling flats with dressed up Holiday looks. Happy Thanksgiving!

My short pointed toe booties were by Marc Fisher last year. My tights are by White House|Black Market. The bold silk scarf is old. The Portofino shirt was from Express last year. My jeans look a bit like leather ones, but they are waxed jeans from Chico’s a few years ago. The Dooney & Bourke crossbody bag in Bordeaux is old.

  1. Susan, I just love it when you show the side by side, with the “improved” version, and explain why certain looks are better. It really helps me to “take it up a notch.” Funny, I thought that the look on the left was not your best when it was first published. You really know how to elevate your style. Sportscar indeed.

  2. Thank you! This is So helpful. I can see the improvement, but it helps so much for you to walk through it with explanations. I’m buying that cardigan, not sure which color yet. Loved your phrase re the shoes, ” shop for a sports car, not a mini van”. I think I tend toward an upscale sedan, but certainly not a mini van. That phrase will help me in editing.

  3. I always look forward to reading and learning from your styling tips. I have changed how I dress now that I have retired. I have the time to really make a effort to use what I have to be creative. I add scarfs even to do my daily walks. I think we deserve to take time to take care of ourselves to look the best we can. Thank You for sharing all that you know.

  4. Wow, such a difference and easy to do! Thank you for the simple instructions. Your tips are so wonderful.
    Happy Thanksgiving

  5. Susan, thanks so much for your styling tips. Showing the side by side photos and explaining the differences is so helpful. You are my style guru! Have a wonderful Thanksgiving with your family and Mr. Mickey!

  6. Definitely a difference! A great explanation of why and how to achieve a taller, slimmer look. It is remarkable how the scarf in the restyle manages to diminish your bustline. Bravo!! I can see how important it is to take a few moments to fold a narrow scarf and leave it open in the front. I’m a shorty and this may work well for me. Terrific post! And by the way you looked terrific too!

  7. I agree with Pam. I like the less cluttered look on the left. The look on the right appears too busy imo. Thanks for your contained inspiration! HappyThanksgiving!

  8. Great styling tips! These are some of my favorite posts when you show side-by-side and break it down for us. I know the work you put into these posts and I appreciate it! Happy Thanksgiving 🙂

  9. Both looks are very pretty.
    I did like the way the pants look on the left picture. Its just “my issue” I like a little bit looser fitting leg. I like the scarf on the outside…does give a more linear look.
    You always look beautiful…either look woul be lovely.

  10. I always read your tips … but this was especially enlightening … who would think what a few minor adjustments could do?!


  11. Although I always learn something from your wonderful posts, I think this must be the one that has taught me the most. It is PACKED with great information and I intend to apply each tip. And when I read that one of the recommended products could be shipped to Canada, it nearly brought a tear to my eye. That is always such a bonus. Thanks once again, Susan. Have a wonderful weekend!

  12. Thank you for this post as it just confirms what I was just thinking after reading your posts over the last few months. Living in the reverse season down here in New Zealand I still get ideas and the main one has been to slow down and take care with the detail to get the look right. Take an extra look and check when putting an outfit together is great advice and I think the main thing I have learned from your great blog. Love the ones like this where you show the difference. Thank you again.

  13. Happy Thanksgiving Susan. I am grateful for your blog with upbeat ideas for a casual and elegant style. I prefer the look on the right. The color makes a huge difference in the vibe of the outfit.

  14. Susan you always look so chic, but I prefer the photo on the left, less is more.The photo on the right gives me the impression of to much going on, but nevertheless still smart. I personally love an almond toe shoe or boot . a pointy toe boot I feel looks to ‘pixie ish’. An almond toe is in between to round
    and to pointy a nice choice for me.
    Just love your blog especially when you and Mr Mickey travel on your adventures, I was gently amused by the lovely photo the other day of both your feet and what struck me was how beautifully polished the leather was on your boots and Mr Ms lace ups, good basic grooming goes a long way. People forget to polish their footwear these days and scuffed shoes etc can spoil another wise smart outfit.
    Best wishes Pamela from Wales U.K. x

  15. Wow. Thanks for sharing and clearly explaining the difference. I can see why my outfit on Monday looked good in the mirror but…..

  16. I enjoyed this post and can see the differences you have highlighted. My only comment is that sometimes I am in different temperatures and would rather leave sleeves down and have something closer to my neck for warmth. At barely 5′, I am only going to look so tall! Thanks for offering such good information.

  17. I liked the look on the left so much that I printed it and hung it on the wall next to my computer for inspiration. However, the look on the right is just double “wow”. So much more relaxed but with a feeling of youthful vitality. The minute I saw it, I knew I had to order yet another one of your scarves before it was out of stock. I think I’m going to need that burgundy bag as well.

    Thank you, Susan, for walking us through your thought process.

  18. Love, the new styling. It makes such a huge difference. Excellent tips for us!! Just one of your very best posts to me.
    Susan, when is last day of Beautycounter sale?

  19. You look lovely as always. I have never seen coated jeans until you modeled them. Are the coated jeans as comfortable as regular denim jeans? Do they fit in your regular size or do you go down a size?

  20. I love your articles. The details about fit, necklines, etc. really make a difference..and you show them so clearly with comparison photos. I have learned so much from your information.

  21. Hi! I have to wear very supportive shoes due to a knee problem. Really cannot wear the tapered ,thin sole design shoes I love. Do you think a slight boot cut or even a flare might look better with chunky shoes? I have fairly long legs! Would love to hear your thoughts…
    I prefer the type of shoes you have been choosing …but cannot wear them much! Enjoy your posts!

  22. I think you always look polished. To me, the main difference in the two photos is the contrast level. The one on the right pops because you have made the scarf more visible, which raises the contrast to a level that is much more flattering. The gray cardigan is an excellent neutral for you since it matches your hair so well, but near your face it is not a stand alone player. A deeper shade of gray would be worth trying. For a simpler look or warmer weather, a statement necklace may have also worked to provide the additional contrast.

    That said, I think your analysis and fine tuning of the details was very educational, thank you for sharing that with us.

    I love your classic, elegant style and appreciate the inspiration you work so hard to provide. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.

  23. Your “show and tell” is always so enlightening! Repositing the scarf, so that the vertical pattern keeps the eye looking up and down, does indeed make you seem taller and thinner (though you’re already thin.) I appreciate all your tips in that regard!

    You said, “….and they show the shape of the ankle. When we cover the slender parts of our bodies, we appear wider.”

    I never thought of this. I have thin ankles, but I like to wear knee-high boots with leggings or slim jeans/slacks. Do you think those make the body appear wider?

    1. It was the full tailored (like menswear) trousers I was thinking of when I wrote about avoiding things that don’t show your shape or the shape of the leg. Showing your slim ankles certainly will make you look even more slender.

  24. When taking a second look, it isn’t just the natural light that makes a difference, but the contrast level between you and your ensemble AND the background.


  25. I get a lot out of your analysis of these types of issues. I have a round face and have just about eliminated all my crew neck shirts in favor of ones with a more flattering neckline.

    I think of that particular scarf arrangement as the Pastor’s Stole. I’ll often arrange it all on a hanger and pin the scarf at the back of the neck of the sweater or jacket so the fold stays put during my busy day. It’s a pain to dash into a restroom and discover your scarf isn’t hanging evenly anymore and have to try to right it, since it can involve taking the whole thing off.
    I saw one blogger who used this as an opportunity to use a brooch her Grandmother left her — it was around back and not really seen under her hair, but still added a decorative touch, and used something she might not have been comfortable pinning to her chest 🙂

    1. I cannot imagine sticking a pin through one of my beautiful scarves. Susan has posted links for an amazing scarf ring and also magnets if needed to keep our scarves in place. We should be careful that we don’t use “just any old” magnets & scarf rings because one rough surface can damage these beautiful accessories that can last a lifetime with great care.

  26. Hi, Susan
    The changes you made are so subtle. You looked fine in the first photos, but as you added a number of style tricks the upgrade is obvious (upon close scrutiny). You are so meticulous, perfectionistic and organized…which makes you superb!

  27. How do you feel about the wrinkles around your knees and the back of your knees? i would feel as if they don’t fit correctly. The pic on the left doesn’t have that.

  28. I love your comment “think sports car, not mini van” when buying shoes. I tend to buy mini vans for comfort but I recently bought a pair of sports car flats! They are beautiful. Ha!

  29. I would like to thank you for all your wonderful blogs. As a 64 year old woman I have learned so much from you on how to utilize the clothes I already have and make them look their best. Living in snowy Ontario, Canada means I have to tweak the winter outfits, because I live in a toque and parka. I look forward to each new blog and the great comments that follow.

    1. Thank you, Darlene. The comments are important to me also. (Without them, I have no way to know if I should continue.) I’m so glad that you get some good ideas from what I share.

  30. Personally, I truly like the left picture of you better than the right one…I thought you looked taller and slimmer on the left and fuller and shorter on the right. Most of your pictures are what attracted me to your site in the first place. Love your look and feel you inspire the “older” senior generation to feel and look sharper for our age. Loved the tip on how to “roll” the scarf in one of your newsletter. Thank you for sharing your comments, pictures and site with all of us women over 60. I for one am most appreciative of the hard work you put into all your sites I have read. Thank you.
    Now if only your sites had the merchandise you wear on hand to purchase. Icing on the cake…..

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.