The Magic Formula

I started planning my retirement wardrobe nearly five years ago. My goal was to collect core pieces to layer, wear together or separately, and then build upon those items. Those individual components must meet three criteria:
1. Each article must flatter my coloring and my shape.
2. It must work with at least three other pieces already in my collection.
3. The quality and material must reflect my desire to wear comfortable, timeless classics repeatedly.
If you can tick off all of these boxes while considering a new item, you will eventually own a small wardrobe that fills all your needs.

Similar items are included in the links. TopJeansSneakersOrange BagHoopsWatchNo-Show SocksBracelet. (Use the code SAS10 for $10 off any one item at Beauty in Stone Jewelry.)

A few of the styling tips I use to keep looks unique are to buy primarily solid colors and limit the accessories. The clothing shapes include soft and structured pieces that work together. I stick to a palette of colors, including my base neutral colors of navy and white. I have accent pieces in black, varying shades of gray, red, and blue, but all of the colors are cohesive, and they work in nearly any combination. I can pack a carry-on bag containing minimal pieces and be prepared and well dressed for a week-long trip and any event I wish to attend.

Similar: ShoesBagJacketBraceletEarrings (Use the code SAS10 For $10 off any one item at Beauty in Stone Jewelry.)

Styling and layering can help me create an appropriate look for almost any occasion without emergency shopping. A variety of accessories, including sunglasses, jewelry, scarves, hats, shoes, and bags, are the sparingly used spices that complete my looks.

Similar: ShoesBagDenim JacketNo-Show SocksNecklace (Use the code SAS10 For $10 off any one item at Beauty in Stone Jewelry.)

A blowdry-and-go hairstyle that flatters my face shape and my frame make daily life effortless. Excellent skincare products (here) used daily mean that I no longer have to paint on a face to go out in public. I now have one tiny tray of makeup instead of several drawers full. My food choices are always the freshest plant-based options available when shopping for groceries or dining out.

My guidelines are not strict rules but rather a recipe that I can tweak as I wish. I may buy a polka-dot dress or a striped shirt, but those are extras, not part of my core collection. I may have a few bites of a decadent dessert, but not the whole thing and not every day. My time-management, financial and physical health improved exponentially after making these small changes in my daily choices a few years ago.

In the photos for today, I am wearing the same top and jeans. I wanted to show you how the most casual base pieces can be accessorized to elevate them. I blog to share all the valuable lessons I wish I had learned much earlier in my life.

A summary of recent outfits is here.

I used the timer on my Sony Alpha a5100 camera and a tripod to take these photos. Randomly published posts no longer include collaborations or sponsored products. However, referral shopping links may allow me to earn a small commission at no additional cost to you.

  1. I printed your comments to take when I go shopping or have near by when I shop online. Lots of very helpful information. I am learning it takes time to build a lasting wardrobe. Quick shopping with no planning will only waste money. Thank you.

  2. I love all three of these looks. Thanks for sharing! Would you mind telling us which color choice your pearl necklace is? Thanks!

  3. I’ve learned so much about how to dress (and how to SHOP!) since I started following you. I’m 71, and many times in the past couple of years, when I’ve been out and about, other women have come up and complimented me on how I’m dressed. That’s a new experience for me, and I know it wouldn’t be happening if I hadn’t learned from you, so thank you, Susan. I always recommend your blog to friends.

  4. Your retirement style is my inspiration as I am putting my retirement wardrobe together!
    And, I love your new haircut!

  5. Susan, Such a wonderful post. The photos clearly illustrate your point that adding a 3rd piece, changing shoes, bags, jewelry can totally change the look of the base pieces.

  6. Thank you for this style of post.
    I so enjoy the 3 different ways to change simple basics with differing accessories.

  7. Hi Susan,
    Thank you for the tips. When I follow your suggestions, I am able to do as you do, look great and mix and match pieces. Every time I decide to buy something outside of your suggestions, I end up unhappy with the results. I used to like prints and realized they do not flatter, solid tops are more versatile and flattering. Thank you.

  8. Please do a post on packing a carryon for a week. I seem to pack way too much. You are lucky to have beautiful wash and go hair

    1. If I packed the pieces shown in the post, plus a white shirt and a white pair of pants, and a blue and white striped tee, I could create more than ten different outfits.

  9. I so enjoy reading your blog. Your tips on timeless dressing are invaluable. I wish I had planned better for a retirement wardrobe. Now retired two years, I have a closet full of clothes and nowhere to wear most of them so I have decided they have to go. Hopefully there is a professional woman somewhere who can benefit from my donations.

  10. Excellent and very helpful post. I also have been paring down to a retirement wardrobe and appreciate your list of criteria. It will be very useful to me.

  11. Brilliant! So informative with photos to illustrate your points. You have such great style sense. Thank you!

  12. Great post as usual, Susan! Your looks are authentic to you and classy and flattering. Retirement will happen for me in about 6 to 10 years. I have already begun to think about my retirement wardrobe. First, I am no longer buying clothing for work as I have plenty to get me through until I retire. Now, when I am considering a purchase, I ask if it is something I would wear in retirement and/or to travel. If the answer is no, then I put it back. Then I consider if I already have something similar. If the answer is yes, I do not purchase. My goal is to have a more streamlined closet like Susan with core pieces and a few special pieces that I love and make me feel fabulous. I have already gotten my special occasion clothing down to a capsule wardrobe for any event I might need to attend (I hate to have to shop for something for a special occasion). I had some fun purchasing a few higher-end luxury bags and shoes to go with those items so I am set for any event.

    I have also been going through my closet and selling items I do not wear or no longer suit my style or body. I have found Poshmark to be a great option to sell items in good condition. So far, I sold all the shoes that were too small or uncomfortable and all my heels. I have culled my handbag collection to eliminate larger bags that make my shoulders ache. If I am not wearing something, I put it up for sale. And I have donated some work items to Dress for Success.

  13. Great post today. You look wonderful, healthy, and comfortable as well as stylish in what you pick to wear. I really enjoy your blog.

  14. Susan, this was a great blog. Thank you. What pants do you wear if jeans are too casual? By this I mean church, a funeral, day wedding, a reunion etc. I live in jeans but need to add items that are a little more dressy. You always seem perfectly dressed for any occasion be it hiking or a dinner date.

  15. I am receiving your emails and am not sure why. I haven’t done anything different. Have there been changes made on your end?no longer

  16. I still just love your new hairstyle! Thank you for showing 3 outfits, each with a different level of “dressiness” so to speak. You always give me great ideas!

  17. Love it! I wish you had found it sooner so I would have too! Thank you so much for all your expertise.

  18. You’re such a classic and your advice is so practical! I do follow a few other “older” women’s style blogs and while I enjoy their perspectives, I don’t relate to their choices and am never inspired to dress like they do.

  19. These ensembles are so attractive and perfectly put together. That top is so versatile! I clicked on the link, but the model was willowy. I am not willowy, so I can’t judge the proper size. What size would you suggest, please?

  20. I know you were hesitant about your new hair cut but I really like it! Of course, you would be beautiful with a flat top hair cut ! Just wanted you to know it really looks good on you!

  21. Susan- Great post and timely as I am planning on retiring 2-5 years so will begin to use your tips. Pat had some good idea’s as well. Your blog is my favorite to read so I always read it last to savor the info and I enjoy reading others comments as well. With your recommendation I now use Beauty Counter products (you as my consultant) and today I just ordered the shec no show socks using your coupon code.

    Thanks again for all of the wonderful tips and continuing to blog during retirement!

  22. Susan
    I am finally beginning to get it.
    Please continue the styling tips.. you have really helped me. I am starting to replace a lot of STUFF with classic well made and more expensive wardrobe pieces that I will have for a long time…and…will ALWAYS be in style.
    And never again say I have nothing to wear (with a closet full of clothes).

    Thank you

  23. I love your hair cut! Of course I have short haircut! Love seeing your posts! Hope your not retiring from your! I’ll miss you and Mr. Micky!

  24. The comment of “ making these small changes in my daily choices” is a powerful statement. We forget we have the power to choose wisely.

  25. Susan,
    I have learned so much about having a basic wardrobe that works rather than have many “impulse” purchases that hang in the closet.
    Thanks for the advice – and you always look wonderful.

  26. Your helpful hints are so appreciated, Susan. I love how you are able to mix and match these basic pieces to accomplish several wonderful ensembles. I often think of you when I’m deciding what to wear. Now, if only I could do better with choosing plant based foods and fewer carbs, desserts, etc. Thank you for helping us to be healthier!

  27. Susan,
    You are magic, sheer magic. I so look forward to your posts. Thank you for the effort you put into them. You have made my day. Have a wondefful weekend.

  28. Susan, I love your formula! I just retired and I made some purchase mistakes but reading your article made me understand that classic pieces can be versatile and look beautiful. Thank you always for your valuable advice and for sharing your ideas!

  29. You have inspired me so much! I am a 75 year old woman that has been following you for about two years. I now have my core pieces in my closet and this year I only bought two jump suits and I have enjoyed wearing them so much. I am 5’3 and weigh 113 lbs, therefore being petite is a challenge but you have helped me so much to know what to purchase.
    Thank you so much,

  30. I absolutely love today’s post. It’s perfect for me to have as a guide when I’m distracted by shiny objects. And it reinforces my leaning toward navy as it’s always been a great color for me (strawberry blonde). You look so uplifted and fresh!

  31. Great post, going to help with my closet clean-up. Hopefully will not have so many “bad buys”!!

  32. Of all the pictures I think you look best in the pink jacket with the navy pants. Pink is a good color for you!

  33. Your posts encourage me to keep with the program. I have all the basics, it is just that impulse buying. “oh, that’s cute, type” That crowds the closet.

  34. i too have been thinking and doin the same thing for my retirement. i know i wont be able to shop as before. more than ever i always want to look nice weather it’s playing pickleball, around the house, or going to lunch/dinne. as i get older i am more conscience of how i look. i want to retire happy, organized,and financially fit.

    thank you for such a great article, it really resonated with me.

  35. You briefly mention your food choices and I always enjoy hearing about that. It seems to be a core part of your wellness and wholeness and is the foundation of your beauty, in my opinion. Your clothes always look great because YOU are trim, healthy-looking and have that happy and positive demeanor.

  36. Love your articles! Thank you!

    Idea for new article perhaps – Jewelry Guidelines (that you use) for creating your long & lean look. Specifically, what types of necklaces (size, length…) should big busted ladies wear? I am also larger sized on top & struggle to decide how to balance my outfit. Also, I don’t like necklaces that bounce all over my front or don’t stay in place & one side may move to the outside of a breast. So annoying. Any tips would be great!

  37. Love your style and great tips on building a wardrobe. I no longer receive email alerts when you post. Please put me back on the list!

    1. I’m sorry that you aren’t getting the email notices. Everything is in order with your registration. Please check your Spam folder and click on Not Spam to hopefully get those notices back in your inbox.

  38. Susan,
    I love your site; great looks, great advice, practical solutions, well it’s a firm winning formula, thank you.
    I would love to follow your skincare regime but unfortunately I also wish Beauty Counter would honour their promised 20% new member discount for those of us from the “Susan “ camp.
    Apparently grouped items are a no go, and trying new skin care, even when supported by a trusted friend like Susan After 60,
    Is still a giant leap ( add the exchange rate for Canadians, and the heart palpated)….
    Can you advise on their products, how many weeks of use an anti age set will last etc. We newly retired, completely budget controlled seekers of beauty could really use some direction……
    many thanks, B

    1. Most of the skincare line lasts about three to four months. You will find that some items last longer than others. The eye cream tends to last me almost a year.

  39. Amazing how different the 3 outfits look! Great post and tips. My closet is such a rainbow of colors and all styles, and I have so much jewelry. How did you ever boil down your wardrobe? It’s overwhelming to think about. I have seen your videos of your closet and I understand the basics of what you did to get it that way. Very inspiring. I don’t know if I could get rid of so much just to have my core colors and basic style. Still trying to determine what those are! Ugh!
    But it’s fun to play and plan. I’m so glad I found your blog!

    1. You need not get rid of anything. I’ve found that the problem lies in not having the neutral solids on hand to wear with statement items. So, over a couple of years, I let go of the things I wasn’t fond of or didn’t wear very often.

  40. Dear Susan,

    I just want to tell you how much I appreciate the information you share. I have learned so much over the past two years since I found your posts on Pinterest. Even when I re-read an older post I find something that didn’t speak to me the previous time I read it.

    I hope you will continue to share your information with us as we all continue to age and our fashion needs change in the future.

    Best Wishes to you and Mr. Mickey.

  41. Thanks for some useful tips for creating a retirement wardrobe. In 12-18 months my husband and I will both be retiring so I’m working on creating the wardrobe that will be just right for our next chapter in life.

  42. Thank you for another great post. I really enjoy seeing a basic outfit 3 different ways. Really great. Your haircut fits you perfectly.

  43. I look to you for inspiration for my wardrobe choices, and I’m now faced with a dilemma, so I’m hoping you can help with some ideas. My bonus son, in his 50s, is getting married early in November, in Florida – the third wedding for him, first for his fiancee. It will be small, on a weeknight, with a reception after. My husband is going to be an usher (I think). I’m 73, and not slim, sadly – size 12-14. The dresses in the shops now are not my style at all – all that Little House on the Prairie aesthetic is not suitable for someone my size. I have some tailored pants, both blue and black, and a silver cowl-neck sweater with glitter throughout – it is more subtle than that description sounds. I can’t jazz up the shoes, sadly, since I have difficulty with my balance. If my pants and a sweater is too casual for an evening wedding, any ideas you have would be very, very welcome.

    1. Your elegant basics should be excellent to wear to an afternoon wedding. The accessories can take them up a notch or two as needed. Pearls, a metallic bag, and dainty silver earrings, an elegant silk scarf, or cashmere wrap could all work to elevate your pieces.

  44. You indicate you started planning your retirement wardrobe 5 years ago, is speaking to me these days. I just turned 60, and plan on retiring within the next 3-5 years (my partner is already retired, he’s 5 years older than I am). I have been reading your blog for a few years now, and you always look lovely. I admire your style, and am jealous of all your cute heels LOL. I’m strictly a sneaker chick myself, it’s very casual dress in San Francisco these days. Have a great weekend. Rebecca Pipes

  45. Your tips are great. Thank you for all the info, I’m 60 and have no clue where fashion is concerned. Keep it up

  46. Love this, Susan. I am working into retirement and focusing on many of these same goals. You look lovely and have such a smart, confident vibe. You’ve done well.

  47. Hi Susan, I have been following your blog for several years. I am turning 80 in several months, and
    have been giving my hairstyle, makeup, and clothing
    more thought. I like your style, hair, and you do eat well. Did the Noom online weight loss and took off 10 lbs and back in the 130’s.
    The problem I am having is just finding nicer clothing that fit and cool enough to wear year around in South Carolina. Do you order from department stores? Which ones?

    Thank you for the tips you offer. I used to model as well in my 20’s and was a finalist in the Miss Arlington beauty pageant.

    Karen Gaston

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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.