The Finishing Touches

In an earlier post, we explored building a strong core wardrobe of basic items. Today I am showing you my navy basic items in action. A pair of jeans and a tee, tank, or blouse are the pieces I start with about three hundred times a year. You might think I would get bored with that combo, but let me show you why this is always a success for me.

Start with two similar colors over a great fitting similarly colored bra. I am wearing a black Long Tankee by  The dark wash jeans I am wearing are old by Chico’s. The Chelsea boots are several years old by Franco Sarto. The navy top was a gift from Covered Perfectly here.

A third piece is almost always part of my look, but it may be a large scarf draped across my shoulders. A belt defines the waist and helps to take attention away from the less than taut tummy area. I draped my favorite large square scarf over my shoulders and added my new favorite classic quilted handbag with gunmetal hardware. The belt was purchased at T.J.Maxx a few years ago.

I added a moto-style black and navy jacket by BCBG Max Azria from Saks Off 5th a couple of years ago and kept the same handbag with this look.

This is a typical stay at home look for me. I misspoke in the video below; the cashmere cardigan is actually from J.Jill. I have a darker gray one in the same style from Neiman Marcus Last Call.

If I am having lunch with friends or going to a meeting, I will add a blazer, scarf and carry a bag related to either or both of them. Rather than matching the bag to the shoes, I want to lift the eyes to tie it in with something I am wearing on my body’s top half. I always try to extend the leg line by wearing dark pants with dark shoes and light shoes with light-colored pants. The jacket is a couple of years old from White House|Black Market. The brown and gray ostrich texture bag is by Dooney & Bourke from Dillard’s last year.

Another casual look might include a quilted vest and a crossbody bag. This vest is about ten years old from Dillard’s. The crossbody bag is by Patricia Nash, also from Dillard’s.

I hope that the tips and examples I share with you are helpful.

Visit Covered Perfectly, where you can buy two and get the third top for free. Susan After 60, followers can get a 20% discount on up to two items. Use the discount code FNF20 when you check out. There are several great styles to choose from, and the discount will apply on up to two items; after that, you can take advantage of the buy 2 get 1 FREE special. Only one discount will work per order. I will receive a small commission from Covered Perfectly when you shop from the links I have provided.

I want to offer my sincere thanks to Mr. Mickey, who gave up his evening to do this photo and video shoot. When we finished this project, he said, “People would never believe the amount of work that goes into creating one of these posts.” The video is below. 


  1. I have followed your blog for a few years Susan, and am constantly amazed at the fresh ideas you come up with and the amount of time you and Mr. Mickey put into this. My background is fashion and managing creative, so I have a pretty good idea at the effort needed to publish newsletters – and I had writers, graphic designers and photographers! Thank you both. Have a great weekend.

    1. I am especially grateful to Mr. Mickey because we had both worked about nine hours earlier in the day at our “real” jobs. At 83 he still inspires me to get off my duff and be a better person. Thank you, Yvonne. I always appreciate your comments as a fashion insider.

  2. Susan, I love how you took the basic pieces and created several different outfits. I am always hesitant to add a belt. While I consider myself pretty fit, my issue is the belly bulge below the belt line. I wondered your thoughts on using a belt for those of us with the belly bulge. Let Mr. Mickey know we appreciate all the help he give you in creating your videos and blog posts.

    1. A loose fitting top might be best for belting. When the fabric flows freely after the belt and then ends at the part of you that is slim, your tummy area is concealed while your waistline is defined.

  3. An absolutely wonderful blog and video. Thank you so much Susan and Mr. Mickey for putting all this together. The visualization on how simple changes made totally different looks was outstanding. Because of you, I have been refining my closet and am so much happier with fewer choices that all work together. THANK YOU!

  4. Susan, a while back you blogged about building a wardrobe around neutral colors and provided a few examples other than the black/white/blue-gray combination you use. I can’t find that post. Can you provide other color combination examples again, please?

    1. I don’t recall doing a post using other colors. Since I am just using my own clothes for these projects, I rarely have colors for other palettes. I was hoping that people could see my examples and then use what they had to do much the same thing.

  5. Well done, Susan and Mr. Mickey. I always enjoy seeing how you can create multiple outfits from the same basics. Good information!

  6. I am one of those people you have mentioned…a closet full of clothes and “nothing to wear”. My project this weekend will be to put on some jeans and a basic shirt and then “play Susan” (ha, ha!). I am determined to come up with as many great looks as you did. I can’t wait. As always…Thanks a MILLION. And Mr. Mickey gets a big thank-you also:)

  7. Hi Susan, I read your blog faithfully, but rarely comment. You are inspiring and I enjoy Mr. Mickey being in the pictures, too. He is really something, and so are you. You do achieve what you set out to do in giving us ideas, comparisons, and sharing your life with us all. THANK YOU!

  8. Great video, thanks Susan and Mr Mickey.
    Using navy as a base colour of t-shirt and jeans with a dark shoe is my go to look.
    Apart from burgundy and grey as a third piece what other colours are a good contrast?I l don’t like to wear brown and black near my face.
    Noticed your cardigans (sweater)s) are shorter these days, so as I am short in height , are these better than longer cardigans, for lengthening the leg?

    1. Navy is neutral, which means it will go with many other colors. Pink, olive, cream, turquoise, just about any color you like that looks good on you, will also work with navy. Wearing sweaters that show most of the length of your leg (at least in the front) helps to make your legs look longer. Since I am not wearing heels very often now, I have to change the way I style things to keep my legs from looking even shorter than they are.

  9. Susan,
    Your videos are always so helpful! I am in the process of paring down my wardrobe to just the basics, accessories, jackets and a few sweaters. You are so right that the basics of a tee shirt and dark wash jeans can be appropriate for most situations. My life is much more casual now that I have retired from teaching and all of your suggestions fit my life perfectly. I love navy blue and use it and black and gray as my basic colors. Let me also say that you come across in your blog and videos as such a sweet person and I’m sure if I met you I would feel the same. Blessings to you and Mr Mickey during this Christmas season!

  10. Great information & video. You never cease to both interest & amaze me with your talents. Very creative yet classic. The video was a nice surprise & a great way to kick off the weekend. Thank you Susan & Mr Mickey for the time and energy to bring us your wonderful blog!

  11. This post is very helpful. I’m always trying to find pieces that work together. This really helps with ideas of what I need to purchase. Thanks for showing the undergarment. I was wondering what exactly you were talking about when you mention Shapeez.

  12. Hi Susan, I’m fairly new to your blog and I’m loving it. We’re the same age and I was struggling a bit with dressing appropriately. I don’t want to look like I’m trying to look younger and I certainly don’t want to look frumpy so your site has been a real boone to me. Thank you so much for the videos too. For me it makes your tips and tricks easier to follow. Thanks to Mr. Mickey for doing such a splendid job!!

  13. You mentioned that you are wearing a long tankee by Shapeez. I have been looking at buying a couple of them. I would like to ask you a couple of questions about them (You are the first person who mentioned you wear them). Are they true to size and do they ride up? Also, do they really hold all the bulges in? Thank you

    1. They smooth out my back, and they are very comfortable to wear. I would not classify the Long Tankee as holding in all the bulges, but they do smooth them a lot. I tuck them into my underwear so that they stay in place, so I have never had them ride up. I bought the cup size, and the top size that I normally wear and they fit perfectly. (For example DD Medium)

  14. Thanks Susan and a big thank you to Mr. Mickey too. You are always so classy.
    Have you done any posts or videos about dressing up for a semi formal evening? My lifestyle is pretty casual but now I’m faced with attending a work event with my husband. I really don’t want to buy an outfit for this one event but I’m unsure if I will be too casual wearing pants. My husband has to wear a suit and tie. Any help will be appreciated

  15. I have been doing the same things you showed today. My lifestyle is casual for the most part and I have been wearing jeans and t-shirts with jackets, sweaters, denim shirts, and long sweat jackets over them. Thanks for all that you have taught us. Dressing is so much easier!

  16. Thank you so much for this video and post. It is so interesting to see the same base items look so very different. You are very inspiring!

  17. Hi Susan,

    another great post. I always look forward to your emails and videos arriving in my inbox! Some great tips and ideas. I am in Melbourne Australia, so your wisdom reaches far across the oceans to us!

  18. Thank you again for some great tips! Now to get my closet in shape! Kudos to Mr. Mickey for providing the great pictures and videos!

  19. great video and information. I have been slowly changing over my look. I am 64 and while i look great for my age, fit, trim and always took great care of my skin, I need to get rid of some of the more bohemian type styles, though I still want to keep some of the softer ones, as this is part of who I am.

    This video and information gave me a great place to start, with the basics, and seeing how you can change this over to so many different looks. This was something I was struggling with, how to set up the basics and have more of a capsule wardrobe.

    Thanks Susan, you give great information and actually SHOW us how to do it. As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words.


  20. Thank you, Susan, for again providing a wonderful post. I loved the video and hearing your voice. I’m slowly absorbing all your information.

  21. Susan,
    I am learning so much from your blog. I have always struggled to put outfits together and dreaded shopping, because I would come home with nothing. It has been much more difficult as I have grown older, too. You are helping me learn how to put the basic pieces together, what to look for, and where to buy.
    Thank you very much(and Mr. Mickey, too) for taking the time to share the pictures, videos, and information. It has all been so helpful.

  22. So this new look with belts is interesting, but I am petite (5’1″) and high waisted; I went from a rectangle (never had much of a waist) with ample bust to the classic apple shape, with even larger bust and a thicker middle. Belts have never been a good look for me, even when I was 20 lbs thinner–there’s just not enough room between the breasts and the waist and now, even if I were to wear a belt lower down, I have the muffin-top issue. Similarly I look too “thick” and bulky if I try to do a partial tuck in. I keep trying to lose 7 lbs, but it’s not easy as I already eat pretty healthy already and am pretty active. I just try to utilize the blazer or sweater over the top, and the rule of thirds you posted. You look great! Thanks for your blog. It always lifts me up!

    1. I have the same issues, Jackie, due to being “vertically challenged”. Wearing the belt lower would work if it weren’t for being apple shaped–the belt will simply ride up or, if loosely slung, draw attention to an area that needs no additional attention! I keep in mind that not everyone can wear the same thing and look great, like Susan! I find that a skimming top with the proper length (not too long) works fine.

  23. It is so hard for me to believe that navy blue is a neutral and goes with black! Thank you for the video as it was very informative.

  24. Thank you. I do appreciate your style, advice and tips. All of the little details you add to your suggestions are very helpful!!!

  25. Everyone of these outfits looks terrific on you. I’m so glad you are moving away from the big tops and stream-lining your style. I notice that I put an outfit together and it looks nice. But then I have another outfit that defines my waist and gives me the longer leg look and what a difference that makes. Suddenly I appear slimmer and more modern. It is so helpful to see and hear your explanations of how to do it!

  26. I love your blog, and look forward to reading it every day. Your style advice is so practical, and I enjoy seeing all the variety you can get just changing the accessories! I would like to order some of the long sleeve tees from Covered Perfectly, but not sure what size to order. I wear a size 0 in Chicos clothing, and they always fit perfectly. Since the tees are fitted, would you recommend a size small? Just wondering what size you usually wear? Thanks again for all the work you put into your blog!

  27. I hope you and Mr. Mickey know how much we appreciate you. For those of us continually fighting the urge to give up and grab the yoga pants, you are like a beacon of light saying ‘this way, this way’.

  28. This was a great post Susan. I had not thought that adding a belt would make such a difference. I dress like you do a lot but you have showed me so many “tricks” that make a difference such as wearing pointed shoes and using colors that tie into your hair color which is so flattering on you. I have been becoming conscious to do this even though my coloring is more warm than yours. I realize now that the purse I recently purchased should have been a warm color instead of the metallic grey. My hair color is light brown with blonde hi lights. I should have been following your posts for years and I would have saved a lot of money and time.

  29. Dear Susan,
    Thank You for all the wonderful tips plus the video. I Loved it! I have been trying to do your tips and today my daughter whom is in her late 30’s complimented me on my outfit. I have been working on changing my clothing to reflect my retired lifestyle. I like to dress nicely to watch even the grandchildren sporting events.
    I have wondered if you have a system to change out your handbags so easily? You make it look quite easy and it’s the one thing I dread dealing with putting my stuff back and forth between handbags. Any suggestions would be helpful.
    Please thank Mr. Mickey for all the time he helps you with the videos and pictures. We really appreciate all the efforts you both do for us ladies. Hope you both have a wonderful Christmas!

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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.