The Basics, Four Ways

Basic wardrobe pieces in a neutral solid color allow you to create many different looks. Keep in mind that your basics can be any color. Black works best for me because of my coloring, but you could also use camel, brown, navy, or any neutral as the primary color in your wardrobe. This concept works for everyday life, but it works especially well when you are packing for a trip.

First, let’s take a look at the basics I will be wearing for today’s tutorial.

The easy casual look above could be worn in mild weather. I added a white linen jacket and a light color scarf, and flat sandals. The rattan and leather-trimmed bag has the same style attitude and is appropriate for summer.

I added a faded denim jacket, red driving moccasins, and a crossbody bag for this easy casual look. If I wanted to dress this look up a little, I could add a vintage turquoise necklace.

Let’s say you are going to a business meeting. Add a blush tone jacket and a colorful scarf along with nude heels and a more structured chain detail handbag.

For the last look, I used a dressy jacket, an evening clutch, and suede heels to create a special occasion outfit that works for any event, from going out to dinner to being a guest at a wedding.

People often comment that I must have a ton of clothes. In truth, all you need is a variety of accessories and third pieces (jackets, cardigans, scarves, vests, and ruanas) to create endless looks that take you anywhere while looking great, even on a tight budget.

You can view the video I created to go along with this post here.

I hope you have a fabulous weekend!

  1. Amazing – every outfit looks completely different. This would make it very simple to get dressed every morning instead of dithering over too much choice, as happens now. I just want to get up the courage to simplify my life a ditch most of the stuff from my 3 huge wardrobes. One day soon…!

  2. Love this post! Thank you for continuning to share. I am still in the process of paring down my closets and organizing by basics and accessories. Your posts are inspirational and have changed how I shop; rather than spur of the moment purchases I now think about how the item will work with what I already own.

  3. This is my way of dressing. You are so right how a few basic foundation pieces works to build a great wardrobe! Bravo

  4. This was a helpful reminder of how to dress well! It works for all budgets, figures, and efforts. All of your outfits would work well for me —- except for wearing heels. I cannot do it. Do you know if a good source for low heels but look as good as high heels? Like kitten heals? Hard to find.

    Thanks and keep in inspiring!

  5. Susan,

    thanks for your good advice. I have a request: As you might know I have a blog for women of 50 and over but in french. I wonder if I could use your pictures above to illustrate a text on a capsule wardrobe for my readers.

    If you disagree, I will comply and understand.

    Let it be said that I won’t use your text herewith unless you also give me permission to translate.

    Thanks so much.

    N.B.: My blog is mostly a positive one aimed to help women my age to develop an inspiring view on aging while enjoying life and it covers such diverse subject as spirituality, fashion, self-image, self- worth, health, travel, finances etc. I had this idea after observing that in Quebec, in Canada we almost have nothing directed to women over 50 that isn’t about illnesses, medication, orthopedic beds and such… It seems that after 50 we don’t exist in the eye of the publishers anymore.

    1. I agree, Denise. I also feel that there is little out there for women over 50 and if you add the fact that most women our age are not stick thin like the models there is scarcey any designer who designs clothes us. Gosh, most of them don’t design for over size 14 and they consider that XXL. There are a couple of catalogs that do have plus sizing but so many of the things are down right ugly.

      BTW like Susan suggests, I order my shoes mostly on line from Nordstroms and Online Shoes. Both have huge selection and you can filter by size, width, color, heel height etc. You should try them.

    2. I love Nordstrom’s because shipping is free – even for returns. I have shoes shipped to my office. There I can wear them inside a bit – if they don’t fit, it’s so easy to put them back in the box they came in, attach the label provided by Nordstrom, and put them by the mail box. Zappo’s does this too, I think.

  6. Happy Friday Susan! Love seeing the different looks – Can you show more business and easy casual outfits! Dressy just doesn’t fit my lifestyle anymore! Be well!

  7. Hi Susan, I have applied your column dressing concept and it works so well for me. Color in the accessories. I did this for my grandsons wedding recently. Thank you for your pointers. You are never too old to learn!

  8. I could do this base with navy or greys as black is too harsh for my colouring.
    I suit softer colours,so would you mix the following colours with navy or grey base, blues soft pink lilac and soft purple for example work back in to the base colours. Any other thoughts on other casual styling, navy base with a denim jacket or shirt ?
    Would love to see some more casual options and colours.
    Also do Covered Perfectly have an outlet in the Uk – or via Amazon ?

    1. Covered Perfectly ships worldwide, as do I. Using navy or gray as a base would work very well with any pastel colors. Take a look at casual jackets in knit or cotton twill. There are many options online.

    2. Morfudd,
      I also have light coloring (white/gray hair, fair skin, gray eyes) and only wear black on the bottom, if at all. I have found dove gray, taupe and soft white to be good basic colors for me. (Even navy is a bit harsh for me). All these mix and match beautifully together as well. I love adding blues and pinks as pops of color! Sadly, it is so difficult to build a wardrobe of basics in these base colors, Not wearing black seems to be unheard of in the fashion industry (sigh)

  9. Love all of the looks. It is so fun to see how many things can be done with one set of basics! Thanks for sharing

  10. love your blog do you have a list for your basic wardrobe i am 60 yrs old and i need a basic wardrobe i am home 90% of the time and on a fixed income thank you cyndi

    1. I would start with a comfortable close fitting top and a pair of pants in a similar if not the same color. I say close a fitting top because you wouldn’t want anything to add bulk under whatever you add on as the top layer. A classic or casual jacket and a scarf can change your look and add some warmth when you need it. Open shirts or cardigans can also add some variation.

  11. Thank you for showing how to create these very different looks beginning with the same black foundation. I have a lot of nice pieces but struggle with putting things together. This is very helpful.

  12. I have said it before and I will say it again – Susan you are a fabulous woman and needs to have a television show please!! I love the video and suggestions you have shown to change the look of the basic outfit to so many stylish and appropriate looks for us. As I once mentioned, I am recovering from a couple of knee surgeries and my style has unfortunately taken a bit of a nose dive because I can only fit into a couple of pants to accommodate my knee. However, the outfit of a solid color column with a change of tops, shoes and accessories is my favorite look and I hope to be returning to that very soon.

    You are such a pretty and fun woman and dare I say it I love you and your blog!!

  13. This is such a nice post and I especially enjoyed the video. Hope we’ll be seeing even more videos from you in the future. You’ve made me realize (among so many other things!) that I need to add a jacket or two to my wardrobe. I’ve gotten a bit lazy since retiring a few years ago and moving to my coastal hometown in North Carolina, where very casual looks prevail. You’ve inspired me to kick my look up a notch. Many thanks, Susan.

  14. I love the way you dress and put things together. I have a problem of being bigger on top than bottom. I am not busty at all just a big chest and small bust. I also am thicker through waist and smaller through hips. I have larger calves and knees too. I wear a small on top and an 8 petite on bottom. In pull on I wear a 4 and a zip up a 6. I can not find pants or jeans to fit me. Any suggestions. Thank you.

    1. Elizabeth, I would look for tops and pants that fit nicely. If they are soft and comfortable but not baggy, you can dress them up or down. Look for pieces that are classic and simple. They are the most likely to work together easily.

  15. Gosh Susan you really are the best. Thank you for making this look so easy and inspiring us ladies to always strive for the simplest but best look. I will definitely be going through my wardrobe this weekend.

  16. Love the simplicity. Question: are thr tops clingy, or do they fit loosely? I don’t need anything to accentuate my little muffin top.

  17. All look great. I really enjoy all your advice. In the dressy picture you are wearing a long necklace with a tassel. Could you please tell me who makes it and where it can be found.

    Thanks, Sara

  18. I love this! Thank you for your excellent guidance! Everyday I see something that reminds me of an accessory I already own and I can put together a similar look. I am good at copying, but, not at creating on my own.

  19. Great video, and wonderful ideas! I forget about a jean jacket with jeans! So cute! Hope you do more videos….very helpful and inspiring! Thanks!

  20. Susan,

    As always helpful and practical in your approach to style. I appreciate all your information you bring to women out age.


  21. Great post Susan – thank you !

    I will be using your advice, which is so sensible. It will be even easier when you are able to provide your basics in Navy, as I don’t wear black, Navy or Charcoal are my main basics.

    Thanks again for all you do.

    All good wishes,

  22. Very well put together, I love all 4 looks. Thank you so much. I really like that cross body bag and vintage turquoise necklace.

    1. What colors look best on you? If you look good in the color mustard, brown might be your best neutral. If you look better in bright yellow, black might be a better choice for you. If you see green in your veins on the back of your wrist, that means you are a warm skin tone and warm colors such as brown and gold look better on you. If you see blue veins, that means you are a cool skin tone and black or dark navy will be better colors for you.

  23. Wow! Really enjoyed this video & post; you are a very good quick change artist & still able to talk/teach at the same time! All were great looks & I have many similar pieces to try matching up. Definitely showed me that I need to work on changing out my handbags, as they really help polish & complete the outfits. This week’s ruana was just beautiful & so fluid..have some older ones that are more blanket like. Fabrics really make a difference, don’t they? Thanks so much for helping me with my scarf order..such a nice surprise! Have a great weekend Susan & “rock on”!! Laura

  24. Love these ideas, great winter look Florida, but most of the time it’s just too warm for the layered look. Having a figure similar to yours, I just can’t find a look without all the layers that still looks put together. Love your blog!

  25. I love the idea that you have been incorporating scarves into your dressing. They look nice and I find it helps keep your jacket neckline from getting soiled.

  26. This is one of my favorite posts. It’s fun to look at all the pretty outfits but I appreciate the tutorials. You are encouraging us by showing that “you can do this!”.

  27. Great looks! Always get such new ideas from your posts for what I have in my wardrobe already. Thanks Susan!

  28. BEST. POST. EVER. Seriously….I guess i must be a visual learner because seeing your transformation in the 4 looks made my wardrobe lightbulb finally go on in my head. Thank you so much for taking the guess work out of dressing.
    Debbie on the Cumberland Plateau

  29. I love this post and have watched the video several times. I especially like the pink toned jacket and purse. I’m going to be on the look-out for a pink jacket for me! Thank you for posting this.

  30. Love the little white jacket and blush jacket. I can’t find them at any stores like Belk or Kohl. Any help would be very appreciated. Thank you for all the great ideas. You are always so pulled together and adoreable.

  31. I love your jackets. I wish I could wear them more often but it is quite hot in Queensland, Australia.

  32. I would like to receive your emails on your fashion. I had been on your previous site but I believe you changed websites

  33. I am 5’4″… 82 years old. I have light brown hair and a fair complexion.
    I am trying to loose at least 20 pounds that i gained , that would put me at about 160 lbs.
    I like the styles you are showing and would very much like to be able to find them. I live in Edmonton, Alberta Can
    Can you advise me as to where to shop for these?
    Or, do you have better advice for me.
    Thank You

    Annette Maltais

  34. Susan, this is perfect! I’m on my way to Texas to begin a year long, paid, student IT internship for the Dept. of the Army, at age 65! Your tutorial will help me to stretch my money and expand my wardrobe at the same time. Thank you!!

  35. thank you Lady Jane from an over 70 woman. You look great. I’m passing this on to my school friends. I love hats but no longer look good in them. HOWEVER, SO WHAT! I’ll wear them anyway cause they go with a lot of things for us.

    Where did you get your purse?

  36. Great video. Love the ideas. It proves that great basics are key to looking great and then adding or changing accessories.

  37. Hi Susan….I love your outfits. However I find what is a huge part of the outfits looking so amazing are the shoes you wear. Fortunately for you, you can still strut a beautiful high heel, however many women in this age group can no longer wear the pump or any high heel at all…. do you have any suggestions what type of flat shoe can be substituted for a sleek sexy high heel?

    1. Look for slender foot flattering shoes that are about the same color and tone as your pants or in the case of dresses a nude shoe that is close to the color of your skin. Wear what is comfortable for you.

  38. The best informative blog I have seen in a long time.
    Amazing looks with a black top and pants. I have the black top and pants, white jacket and some scarves, turquoise jewelry,jean jacket, assorted bags, etc. Just need that necklace from chicos, red shoes and dressy jacket.

    Thank you for some great ideas. I have subscribed to you.

    Mary Ann Rand (age 79, but still want to look smart)

  39. The dressy jacket and red driving mPCs are on my wish list. I love the versatility of how you dress. I have purchased several of your scarves and they’re always of excellent quality.

  40. Love everything ….keep me posted !! How do I follow her, thats how I would like to dress !! She looks beautiful in ALL her wardrobes…..❤️

    1. The white one was from Stein Mart several years ago. The denim jacket is by Levis. The nude one was from White House|Black Market a few years ago. The silver and black jacket was by IC Collection several years ago. The post is from JANUARY 27, 2017.

  41. Do you have access to plus size ? Would LOVE the black pants you are wearing. Trying to get a wardrobe established like you are wearing. I am 65

  42. I enjoy your site. I’m 66 & looking good is still very important to me. My style is casual but pulled together. Since retiring, I’ve purged my closet of office wear. I did keep a pencil skirt, a dress & a pair of low-heeled pumps. High heels are no longer an option for me, because they’re so uncomfortable!

    Now my closet reflects my lifestyle. Thanks for sharing your fashion & style with your fellow 60-somethings.

  43. Wonderful looks. Love the simplicity of each outfit, yet stylish and timelesss. Thanks for great advice on styling tips.

  44. Can you still order those pants in black, size 14? I am 5′ 4″ in height. 29″ inseam.

    Love your blog. Classic, realistic and informative.

    Thank you and hope you never stop blogging.

    Clara Bulens

  45. Hi Susan. I just found your site. It is so helpful to see step by step how you layer and create the beautiful looks! I struggle with this. Love your style! Thank you!

  46. It bothers me that I have black tops and black pants but they are seldom the same shade of black or navy. Suggestions?

  47. Love this look – basic black pants and top. What s it called? I want to look for this on your site. I wear a size 14. My challenge is I am 68, silver-haired, 5 ft. 3″ but a fairly large bust (42 C) that I prefer to NOT draw attention to. Too many long tunic tops make me look pregnant!! Help!

  48. Hi that was very enlightening. Thank you . I’m a only 5”2’. How do I wear a jackets, won’t it make me look shorter. Thanks Val

  49. Love this such a big help .I am a bigger lady and wear a lot of black I wear a longer cami but these styles work with that as well,thanks

  50. This is the best set up to help us have less clothing but more and greater array of outfit choices. I am a 65 year old recently retired RN/ Nurse Educator/Clinician and have TONS of clothes I have accumulated over the years. There is so much that I can not eliminate from my closet after viewing your site. I love that the clothing choices you have flatter someone in our age range. That is so helpful to me. Out of all the sites on Pinterest I will be checking in with your site to see your updates. Your clothing choices are so clean, stylish and modern for a woman in her 60s. I’m married to a Pastor and have to look my best at all times. Your site has given me the confidence I need to get rid of excess and keep the key components of my wardrobe basics. I have tons of beautiful scarves that I will now add back in to my repetroire. THANKS so much. Love your site and will tell my friends to check your site out also. Very tasteful and classic dressing. Just so glad I found your site today…

  51. Extremely attractive thank you for sharing.
    You wouldn’t believe my closet trying to engage myself into the over 50 look. Lol !!!

  52. What brand of pants are you wearing…I love the look on you and while they are not leggings they have that fitted look. where can I purchase these pants..? Thank you you look wonderful.

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.