The Beauty of Basics

“What should I pack for my vacation?” My answer is always the same, even if your vacation is only a short weekend getaway. Classic basics in the colors and silhouettes that flatter you can be mixed and matched endlessly. With the addition of accessories, you can be well dressed for most occasions with very few pieces.

The lounging at home look.

I was relaxing with Mr. Mickey on the deck wearing white jeans and a navy tee last evening. As we discussed the next subject for the blog, he suggested I show the versatility of what I was wearing. So this is a first for me to throw some things in a tote, drive to a bank parking lot, and take a few pictures of lounging-at-home attire jazzed up for a pretend travel day. (My thanks to him for also taking these pictures.)

A large basket tote is my favorite for shopping at the farmer’s market or strolling around a beach town. Navy and white with accents of tan is my color scheme today. Prints, patterns, and trendy details make garments less mixable and more memorable, so I keep everything simple and solid.

A jewel neckline tee that stops mid-hip is ideal for my inverted triangle shape. I bought the navy tee here in a petite medium for a better length. The white ankle jeans are here. The denim jacket is here. The saddle-colored sandals are here. The tote is from MAR Y SOL, and the taupe leather bag below was from Coach. The basic sneakers were from Banana Republic Factory. I’m happy to share where my items are from and a link if still available.

Our early morning temperatures are barely in the sixties, so a jacket is a must.
Even if we are dining at a casual restaurant, I like to wear elevated pieces and carry a smaller bag.

The sandals were from Stuart Weitzman, and the bag is here. The oversized scarf is several years old.

If our weekend getaway included time by the pool or a beach, I could use the oversized scarf as a pareo over the suit. My swimsuit is here.

A summary of recent posts is here.

Thank you for being part of this community. I strive to be positive and practical and share examples instead of rules. This site will always be an ad-free space with a peaceful vibe and gentle reminders to live your best life every day. Shopping links may allow me to earn a small commission at no cost to you.

102 Comments
  1. Good morning, Susan.
    Thank you for your lovely examples of classic elegance. No matter the setting or occasion, you always set just the right tone.

  2. Simple but lovely. I continue to learn from your page. Thank you. Time and money questions– You always have just the right outfit, accessory. How much time do you spend shopping (online, I expect), on average, per week? And do you have a budget? Is there a limit to how much you would spend, for example, on a top or pants?

    1. Quality and timeless details are my priorities, and I only shop at the beginning of the season to fill a hole or replace worn items. For example, I would rather have one good pair of black pants that fit well and costs $200 and last ten years than ten cheap pairs of pants that don’t hold up. Also, now that I am retired, I spend more time and money shopping for groceries than buying clothes and accessories.

  3. Thank you Susan for your fashion tips. You always look wonderful and you help us to put things together so we can too.

  4. Thank you for keeping your blog ad free. I have stopped reading all other fashion blogs because they have turned in to commercials for whoever is sponsoring them that week. I appreciate that you give us your honest opinion and advice without influence. It’s so refreshing and helpful.

  5. Susan,
    I am learning something new each time I read your advice, especially for traveling. We have slowed down some in the past few years but knowing how to pack has really helped me take less and have more…. one of the things you do, off and on, is have pictures side by side with how you “transform” your outfits that I really appreciate very much. Those pictures make it easy to point out the difference accessories can make to change one outfit, or to go from casual to a more dressed up look..
    Clara from Iowa

  6. You are a beautiful role model and true inspiration Susan. Your timeless elegance, grace and fashion sense make this one of my favorite reads of the day when it lands in my mailbox. Your inclusion of Mr. Mickey and your adventures about town together adds something really special. Thank you!

  7. Susan, I really appreciate your posts. Love how many ways you styled the blue top and white pants! I have lost 40 lbs and am in the process of building a “new” wardrobe. As I plan and make purchases your posts are on my mind for building a classic casual elegant wardrobe for my simple lifestyle. Basic flattering pieces that work together to help me look pulled together at home or out and about. Thank you so much! I appreciate you!

  8. Thanks for this post! Whether we’re budgeting our dollars or our closet space, seems like most people I know are paring down our wardrobes. Ideas on how to take basics and dress them up or down for different occasions is very helpful

  9. Sometime would you comment on glasses. I am getting ready to select new ones and there are so many choices and colors now.
    Like the ones you are wearing in the photos.
    Thanks.

    1. The frames are by Ralph Lauren. I bought them from LensCrafters last year. I look for glasses with a top-mounted temple (arm) and a style with straight lines or squarish shape lenses. If you have a roundish face also, avoid round lenses. Instead, look for a pair that fits your face without extending beyond the sides or too low on your cheeks.

  10. You are my favorite blogger. I’m a 77 yr old woman from Marietta, GA. Please know that you inspire me as well as many others I’m sure. I always look forward to your posts!

  11. Hi, Susan. I love your style. You sure know how to make the most of a simple but tasteful outfit. I love this kind of post where you show us how to accessorize a basic outfit to make it look different for whatever occasion. I noticed your glasses right away because they were very similar to mine! I checked the label and, sure enough, mine are Ralph Lauren frames as well.

  12. Thank you once again for nailing it! I always seem to overpack no matter where I’m going and for how long…
    its always those last minute ‘just in case’ pieces that plump up my suitcase.
    You’re my positive inspiration, and thanks to Mr. Mickey’s great idea!

  13. I love these posts, as I, too, use a lot of solids with accessories as the accent when I dress. It’s fun to see how many outfits can be made with so few pieces. When I traveled in the past, I took everything but the kitchen sink, but now I can travel for 2 weeks with only a large carry-on !! I like the way you put them side by side to make the comparisons.

  14. Great outfits! I followed your advise for pear shaped bodies and also lost 7 pounds. My new outfits have received lots of compliments! Thank you so much for helping me.

  15. Susan, I thought I signed up last week to receive this newsletter when you release the information. I am technology challenged so I don’t know how to double check myself. I had thought I would be getting this notification in my email.
    I have followed you almost from your beginning blogging. I have your icon on my IPad but have to click and check to see if you have posted anything to bring it up. Thought it would be nice to have it notify me.
    I have never had a Facebook or Instagram so thoroughly enjoy my email, but I’m very particular on what I sign up for.
    Do I need to go to your last post and subscribe again.
    Thank you so much for helping ladies everywhere. I love you.

    1. You are indeed signed up to get emails. Please check if your notice landed in a spam folder. Thank you for the kind comments. I am sending you big hugs and love!

  16. Hi Susan, Love these kinds of post. I’m going to visit my daughter for five days. I love your tee., I need a few basics. One reviewer said the fabric looked very shiny. In person does it? In your photo it doesn’t look that way. I also like the bathing suit, do you have this actual one? I’m so hard to fit I rarely buy online. (Or go to stores) wardrobe is pitiful. Thanks, Judy

    1. The tee that I have is from last year. Mine isn’t shiny, but it isn’t tight fitting either.
      I have that actual bathing suit, and I like it a lot since I have to have larger cups. Go up one or two sizes for a comfortable fit.

  17. Thank you for posting this helps me to coordinate. The size about the length is perfect timing, I have T shirts which look so much like bags on me,, thanks

  18. Thank you, Susan for showing us how if we buy and keep a timeless classic wardrobe we can still show style and class in how we dress. These are timeless pieces. You are a very classy lady!

  19. These looks are just perfect! Love how you style them. I tend to overthink what I need to wear on vacation.
    Love all your posts!

  20. I love your blog! Always interested in the different ways you wear the jackets. Thanks for the inspiration on how to have a classic look!

  21. What a GREAT idea. Seeing the options of one outfit helps so much. I am a mess trying to put things together, you make it both effortless, and amazing. Thanks once again. You too Mr Mickey!

  22. Hi Susan, What a great post, and fun idea Mr. Mickey had for taking your simple outfit in different directions for different occasions. I especially like the composite photo and hope to see more of those.

  23. Such a pretty and versatile outfit. I love reading about you and Mr. Mickey and your times together. You seem very well suited to each other.

  24. Always such elegance. That was such a good post on how to ring the changes. I love that denim jacket as it is a little nipped in in the waist which I appreciate. However, it’s sold out in all sizes except XS and XXS. Afraid that’s in my dreams. Back to the drawing board and thank you for the most practical and elegant fashion blog on the airwaves.

  25. Also for your vacation, great books. My favorite Summer reads:
    Tending Roses by Lisa Wingate. I wish I could have read before my Mother and Grandmother passed away.
    The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah. Fantastic World War II resistance novel.
    Both available in paperback on Amazon.

  26. I always enjoy reading your blog! I am 62 and enjoying my best life! Thank you for the inspiration.

  27. LOVE YOU!!!! also, Like tote and scarf. Mr. Mickey is a great friend . You are indeed blessed. I hope you are enjoying your new home. I am still trying to getting accustomed to living in a condo. Really miss our old larger home. Hus. will build additional cupboars in our bedrooms. Did I really need all the stuff I thiught I couldn’t live without. Perhaps, age does bring a little wisdom. Have a SUPER WEEK!!

  28. Hi Susan,

    Gosh, you have such great style!

    During the pandemic, I received an email from Cato. I had never shopped there, so I gave it a try. I must admit they have some wonderful clothing. Also would be great for gals on a budget as I find their prices extremely reasonable for good, quality clothing.

    Just thought I would mention Cato to you – not that you need any advice from me! Have a nice day. Thank you for all the awesome posts!

    Best Regards,
    Donna Gergacz

    1. I agree with you, Donna. When I was rebuilding my wardrobe a few years ago, I bought several items from Cato, and I was pleased with my purchases. I’ll have to check them out again.

  29. I really, really appreciate that you don’t have any ads in your valuable, helpful content! When I look at Pinterest or other sites for any length of time I have to reboot my device because the ads mess it up so much. Never happens when I check in with Susan! Thanks!

  30. Thank you to Mr. Mickey & to you Susan for continuing to post your blog! I appreciate and value your thoughts and style suggestions

  31. Susan,
    I start with shoes and outer garments to make sure that they can be used multiple times. Then, I do pants/skirts of at least 2 colors, but that go with the shoes, jackets, sweaters. Finally, I add tops and accessories to mix and match, adding interest and variety. Remember to factor in the length of the trip and whether I’ll be doing laundry

    I love your posts! Thanks to Mr. Mickey for his input and photographs!!

    Cindy

  32. I have learned so much from you. I love that you give honest options instead of hacking wares. I look forward to your newsletters!!

  33. Love when you post! You are so smart and give such great style tips and know how to communicate them! What you showed today may be obvious to you, but not to me!!! Thanks so so much!

  34. This was a fun blog (many are) because I enjoyed seeing the transition of the same slacks and shirt into four different outfits, each unique and perfect for what you described.

    Question, please. I don’t wear many sandals because I don’t like my feet. Though I keep them pedicured, there are some…flaws. Besides tennis shoes, what shoes would you substitute for the sandals in three of the pictures? Flats? If so, pointed flats? Ballet Flats?

    Thank you, Susan!

  35. Susan,

    Thank you so much for your helpful blog posts/emails with helpful ideas and upbeat vibe!

    Having fewer but more flexible clothes have uncluttered my closet, and has made packing tightly and lightly a reality!

    And thank you for your how-to makeup videos! Those have helped immeasurably. Friends and family have commented recently on how good I look – and the wonderful lady from church who shared her “secret” of your blog with me has definitely noticed!

    Thank you! I have a feeling your blog has improved the lives of many women from all over!

    Cynthia near Fort Worth, Texas

  36. I love all your looks! Especially your top, from LLBean. I recognized it immediately since I purchase their supima cotton tees all the time. They are truly the best cotton tees I have found. Enjoy your week!

  37. Hi Susan, I have noticed that while people dressed casually in my area before COVID, after the lockdown, dress has become even more casual. You mentioned you’re wearing blazers less frequently, for example. I wonder if you could do a blog post showing outfits you wore pre COVID and how to make then more casual to fit in with today’s vibe?

  38. I always love your basic no nonsense approach to fashion and love how you always look so classy and put together using basic pieces and accessories. We travel overseas and cruise once or twice a year and I have really been able to eliminate a lot of “fluff” clothing items by just sticking to basic colors and accessorizing with jewelry and scarves. Thanks. Always enjoy your posts.

  39. Blue and white has always been my favourite colour combination. Thank you for this simple, yet elegant, range.
    Terri

  40. The timing of this was excellent as I am packing for a trip today. The swimsuit brand you show here is also my newest addition this year. I was so pleased with my first tankini from LandsEnd that so purchas a second. It is the first suit I have ever purchased where the bra actually works for me. (I do take the foam inserts out.) Thank you for your style tips.

  41. Thank you for your wonderful suggestions. They are so helpful! I have learned to reimagine pieces I already have, and getting dressed is so much easier and a lot more fun!

  42. Mr Mickey has some great ideas! Thanks for posting this set of outfits, shows versatility and gives me a few more ideas for a simple blue top and white bottoms. Endless possibilities.

  43. I would like to be notified when you post. I have been reading your posts for 4 years now and I really enjoy them.

  44. Thanks for a great post. As others have said, I really appreciate your honest advice and wisdom on how to dress to emphasize our best assets and camouflage the less than best assets. All this and without those dreadful ads. Love the good advice without the push to buy, buy and buy more.
    A thousand thanks !!

  45. I really like your way of changing the basic pieces to dress up and outfit or make it more casual. As for Social Media, I have never been on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook. I could be but what’s the point? I’ve done just fine without it and you will, too.

  46. Susan, thank you! This was a great blog. It’s really helpful to see how a casual outfit can turn into an appropriate dinner outfit.

  47. Thank you Susan. You give the best advice and I always appreciate you, your sensibilities and your blog. Enjoy the end of summer and a beautiful fall. All the best to you and Mr. Mickey.

  48. I saw on Instagram yesterday an article about the appropriate and inappropriate styles for older women and they hacked your picture to accompany the title. They really are thieves, aren’t they? As mentioned in another comment, I too enjoy Cato as they offer some timeless styles with decent quality. I also like Christopher & Banks. Unfortunately the store nearby closed. The online sales are available, but I need to try before I buy, especially in pants. Question: what is your opinion about capris?

    1. I don’t wear capris since they end at and draw attention to the widest part of my leg (calves). Capris proportions are also wrong for me, especially with flat shoes.

  49. I always enjoy your articles. Today’s was very useful, as I strive to limit the number of clothes that I pack for short vacations. I love how you dressed up/down, using a few pieces of clothing and accessories. Thank you!

  50. Too hot here to wear jeans and long sleeve. I want to move where you are LOLI can’t hardly wait for cooler temps. You look wonderful! Thanks for sharing!

  51. You make it look so easy; but this actually is! Probably we all have the pieces that you show, but just don’t think about how to put them together! I know that’s me!
    Great idea from Mr. Mickey for this post1
    I know I make dressing much more complicated than it has to be. Your posts and guidance has been invaluable to me.
    Thanks Susan!

  52. Hi Susan,
    How do you keep your oversized scarf across your chest and over one shoulder. I know there must be a trick which I don’t know. Loved this post.
    Regards,
    Peg

    1. I’ve been wearing this way for decades. There is no secret. Just fold a 51″ square scarf into a triangle and place it around your shoulders. Pull one corner down to about mid-hip and then toss the other corner over the opposite shoulder. It will move about and slip, so I adjust as needed.

  53. I enjoy and learn so much Susan. Thank you for sharing your expertise with us. And thank you so much for allowing your blog to remain free of annoying adds and pop ups!

  54. Loved your food shop comment. Ditto! Here Spring is trying itself out…but cool, very cool. Bought a happy colourful cotton overall. It will go with all my tops. I’ve been learning to invest in a few different bags & shoe styles thanks to the versatility you demonstrate so successfully in your helpful articles.

  55. Love the jeans jacket outfit! In the Midwest I’m sure I’ll be swapping out the white jeans for black jeans before long. It’s so helpful to see all of the outfit’s side by side. Thank you and the community for mentioning Cato Fashions. I ordered one of their Poet tops. I sent the link to my cousin who is 15 years younger than I am, asking her if I’m too “old” to wear it. She said, no not at all, it’s coastal grandmother! Too cute. Approaching 77 in early October, I wasn’t quite sure being petite and always leaned to the classic styles. If I remember correctly, I had something like the Poet top in the 1980’s. Thank you for all you do for us. It’s always a brighter day to see a new post from you.

    1. I’ve always enjoyed wearing open-front vests since they create vertical lines and make the torso look smaller without being as hot as a jacket. Keep them simple and straight without zippers, wide lapels, or patch pockets. Dark colors recede while light colors advance or make the object appear more prominent. Textures such as cable knit and furlike fabrics will also add visual weight.

  56. I just love these “show and tell” posts that feature different accessories to achieve varying looks. Your description of features to avoid on vests is most interesting. You are a very intelligent and observant woman! Mr. Mickey is an outstanding photographer!

    Just this past week I saw on Instagram the same post that Miss Sonya mentioned. I commented that they were using an image without permission, although I’m sure that won’t stop them.

  57. Hello Susan! I wish to receive your newsletters via email. Your topics are thoroughly enjoyable! Clothing choices and a healthy eating lifestyle have greatly enhanced my retirement.

  58. I have been following your blog for about 6 months now and it has been inspirational. Thanks so much for filling the clothing void for women over 60!

    It wasn’t until I looked at someone else’s fashion blog (which was loaded with ads to the point where it was all but unreadable) that I appreciated the fact that you don’t allow ads on your site.

    Many thanks!
    Gale

  59. I have followed you off and on for a long time. At 66, I just retired from working as a nurse. I wore a (rather frumpy, but functional) outfits of scrubs for the last 11 years in pre op. I love to sew, but had fallen away from making my own garments. Now I need clothes other than a work uniform and I’m back here watching your tips and hints. Thanks for taking time to share. We recently took a celebration cruise in the British Isles, and the people in Europe certainly dress nicely! It was fun to people watch and pretty inspiring.

  60. Susan,
    I’m packing for a 3-week trip to Europe, and I appreciated your blog so much. The capsule wardrobe you model illustrates how to put a few items together to make many outfits. Just what we need in this new era of travel, where most gals will be flying with only a carry-on–like me. Lest we take a chance on having our checked bags lost or thrown into a black abyss with thousands of other suitcases!

  61. I’m also an inverted triangle. I never thought of buying petite to get the better hem length. A genius tip! Thanks ka.

  62. Than you Susan and Mr Mickey
    It seems like a small thing in this crazy world but somehow you feel like good friends,
    Your practical advice has helped me to realize I do not need closets full of clothes to look good
    and not be wasteful.
    I look forward to your posts every week,
    Best Wishes
    Mary

  63. Unfortunately, some of your lovely comments were delivered to the Spam folder today and accidentally deleted along with rubbish. I apologize for the issue and look forward to reading your comments.

  64. You always look lovely have you always been nice and slim what is your secret to keeping your nice figure oh and how old are you thanks for your blogs keep me motivated and enjoy reading them keep them coming xx

    1. I have not always maintained my ideal weight, but now I eat mostly vegetables during my two meals early in the day. (I rarely eat anything in the evening.) In addition, I walk about three miles daily and do yoga or Pilates to stay flexible and strong. I’ll be sixty-six in a few days.

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I blogged for five years as Fifty, not Frumpy. Now that I am in my sixties, I am sharing ideas and inspiration for using and loving what you already have.

Thank you!
Susan

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