The Magic Of Basics

Owning a wardrobe that looks good on your shape and serves you well for any life event is golden. This is why I have worked so hard to find versatile basics to wear in mild weather.

Whatever your style or color preference, it is a good idea to have high-quality core pieces that you can dress up or down. A busy woman doesn’t want to waste a half-hour in her closet trying to decide what to wear each day.

Let’s start with a very casual look to wear while lounging at home. If I needed to run a quick errand, I could throw on a lightweight cardigan. This tipped hem topper in turquoise is from Cali and York last year, and the black slip-on sneakers are from Rockport. The classic quilted chain bag can be dressed up or down, which is why I am very fond of them. If I had only one bag, I would want it to be this style.

I tied a square satin scarf in bright colors to pull the look together, including turquoise, around the chain strap. My blue eyes are susceptible to light, so I have a collection of sunglasses for every look.

The top and pants I am wearing in this post are all the same, but the shoes, toppers, and accessories change with each look. If you want to look for similar pieces, they are made from a soft drapey crepe material.

My all-time favorite way to wear a large square scarf is folded in a triangle shape and draped across my shoulders. This look feels upgraded and elegant even over jeans and a tee.

The block heel shoes are by Sam Edelman. I am most comfortable in shoes with at least a bit of a heel. The sunglasses are by Oscar de la Renta. I always look for square glasses because my face is roundish.

The red cardigan below is from Chico’s last year. Shorter jackets and tops that stop at mid-hip look best on me.

A change of shoes and the addition of a glitzy black jacket by IC Collection via and a smaller clutch bag, and I am ready to attend a black-tie fundraiser or opening night at the symphony.

These oversized cat-eye glasses by Balenciaga are my all-time favorites. The minimalist dressy sandals are by Kenneth Cole Reaction. The bag is a few years old.

I am wearing the lip color, Scarlet, and eyeshadows from Beautycounter here in all these photos.

Here is a short video showing how the clothes move and flow as you walk.

I am five feet six inches tall, and I weigh one hundred-forty-three pounds with an inverted triangle shape (which means my shoulders are the widest part of my body, and I carry most of my weight above the waist). As always, I share what works for my shape and explain why it helps you figure out what will look best on your shape and size.

  1. What a great post and versatile outfits. I have a few pieces such as these, and yet, try to make it too complicated! I need to spend some time in my closet putting together outfits, and taking out items that are just too difficult to match up, such as certain prints or colors. You have shown that with a change of accessories, one basic outfit can become many.

  2. Will you ever provide Tall slacks in your shop – I’m 5’11” and would love to buy your crepe slacks, but they are too short for me. Thank you. I enjoy your blog posts very much.

  3. Susan, do you recall the size of the large square scarf you have draped around your shoulders in the third and fourth photos? 51 inches, perhaps? As always, thank you for the thoughtful tips!

    Hope you have a wonderful birthday!

  4. This is a very informational post. Thanks, Susan. Love the IC jacket!

    Not surprised that you are a Virgo. Enjoy your Birthday. Mine is tomorrow the 12th.

  5. Happy Birthday to our dear Susan! I hope these next few days are filled with joy and love. You give so much to so many. Bless you!

  6. This is one of my favorite posts yet! Very practical, useful tips with great photos of the clothes, and accessories. I read your blog often, and although I find your travel photos fun and interesting, and I am most interested in learning your fashion sense, which does not always come through when the majority of photos, comments, etc. are related to your recent hotel stay, and dining experience. So, I hope to see more postings like this, which are extremely helpful for those of us who try to dress for success!

  7. Happy Birthday, Susan! I’m still waiting for you to go with a short haircut. With your color and curl, I’ll bet you would knock it out of the park. Have a great day. I hope Mr. Mickey gets you something special for your birthday.

  8. Great tips on how to use those basics. I have basic pant colors (black, navy, brown, khaki) then I buy tops and jackets to mix and match with them. Have gotten many useful tips from you. Have a wonderful time celebrating your birthday!

  9. I have been following your blog since I retired in December 2016. It is so uplifting & inspirational! You have beautiful taste and style and your tips are so helpful for those of us of a certain age. I too recognized my body was changing in my late 50’s and needed to dress appropriately. I am 62, petite, and look forward to some of your staples being offered in petite sizes!

  10. Happy Birthday Susan,May your year be filled with love and many blessings.
    Thanks for sharing your style tips and your lovely adventures with Mr.M.

  11. Happy happy Birthday! I so enjoy your blog – its the ONLY one I follow! Love your fashion sense and value your opinions so much.

  12. I also enjoy your visits to various areas around your area and am pleased you share them with your readers. Today’s post was great.

  13. Great post Susan! I especially love the ‘glitzy’ jacket. BTW – on your “Create Different Looks…” video, I noticed the structured straw bag you’ve shown many times before and I’ve meant to ask where it is from. I think it is the perfect little summer purse and have been looking everywhere to try to find a similar one but no luck so far.
    Have a wonderful birthday and a great few days off!

  14. Have a wonderful birthday! These outfits work well! It is useful to see how you use the same pieces in different ways.

  15. Hello Susan
    I love your style
    You look amazing
    Can you please tell me where you purchased the purple jacket
    It is stunning
    Thank you so much for sharing tip and ideas

  16. Hi Susan: I am a relatively new follower so I have tried to go back and catch up with all your posts. I am 66 years old and try to stay current fashion wise for my age. You always look lovely, and I really appreciate and enjoy all your fashion and beauty tips!

  17. Happy birthday, Susan! Mine was just a few days ago. This was a great post. Showing how just two basic pieces can be dressed up or down in pictires is an invaluable tool for folks like me, who have trouble putting looks together. You make it seem effortless, and maybe i’m making it harder than it is. Love your look and I use it as my inspiration. Thanks for sharing. Denise

  18. Happy birthday Susan. Enjoy this special day. I only recently discovered your blog and this particular post is very informing for me. Have to find some real good basics here in Belgium that will do the magic.

  19. Hi Susan; I love your blogs and advise. I’ve learned so much from you. I wish you a wonderful birthday! All the best from a fan, Angela

  20. Susan, you look beautiful in that red & black outfit…and those shoes are “sports car” all the way. I love Sam Edelman for comfort and style.
    Happy Birthday, my YouTube friend…

  21. Oh, happy birthday! May you have cake & joy in abundance! I always look at pictures of women wearing scarves with mild envy. I’ve tried, and they just do not work on me at all. I think it’s because I’m on the short side (5’4″) or my neck’s not long enough or I’m just not a “scarf type”, whatever that might be, but they look awkward & I never feel comfortable with them. They do add a great look if you can get away with them, though. Purses: I’ve gone back to my old black fringed hobo bag almost exclusively. And when I say “old”, I mean I bought it in Toronto in 1978 for $350Cdn. A horrifying amount of money at the time. I’ve had it redyed once & the strap repaired at a saddle-maker’s twice but it still looks awesome. And now of course it’s wonderfully retro. People keep stopping me to ask where I bought it. LOL! Love your basic “core” of black pants/top. They really can get you through just about any situation in style with no more than a simple change of a jacket, shoes & jewelry (I wear silver pendants & necklaces in lieu of scarves). They’re sort of the LBD for those of us who live in slacks. Thanks for a great post, as always.

  22. Happy belated Birthday Wish for you. We share the same Sept 13th birthday. Out of the many blogs for older women, yours in my opinion is by far the best. Always look forward to the next one. I plan to move (from a lifetime inTexas) to Asheville within the next year, so enjoy your posts on your weekend trips throughout your area. Blowing Rock is my favorite place on earth so plan to spend as much time as I can. All 3 of my children have done their undergraduate at AS in Boone, so very familiar with that area of the state. Shopping in Blowing Rock, in my opinion, is just wonderful and so fun.

  23. I’m so excited that I found your website. I’ll be in my sixty in few months, and I’m looking for inspiration to continue my journey in a content way. You’re such a great inspiration! Thanks to be open to sharing your journey with us. Blessings forever!

  24. Happy Birthday! Wonderful post. Such beautiful basics certainly simplify wardrobe decisions. I really appreciate your ideas for dressing up basics with scarves.

  25. I love that black jacket so much! It’s a little pricey for me but I know it would be a great investment. I’m going to begin dating again, six years after the end of my 35 year marriage. As you can imagine, I’m quite nervous about it. But I have given myself a mini makeover to look and feel my best, and am now looking for clothes to wear on dates.
    Thank you so much Susan, your blog inspires me everyday and I look forward to each new post you share. And have a wonderful Birthday!

  26. That color of turquoise is just perfect for your complexion. You look amazing in that color and it goes great with the scarf.

  27. Hello Susan, I enjoyed this post on how to vary things to get more from your wardrobe. Keep them coming, especially if you can feature more navy and greys into your examples, as it is a softer combination.
    Following on from your comment on cardigans ….
    “Shorter jackets and tops that stop just below the hip look best on me. That is why I have sold most of the longer ones in the section Shop My Closet”
    Please could you explain why shorter cardigans and jackets work best , maybe show examples side by side. What are your go to favourites?
    Are all your cardigans slimline and not bulky?
    I am currently working through my wardrobe, especially as I have to pack for a road trip and need various layers for changeable weather. Thanks.

  28. Hello Susan, I live in the South of France and I would like to know if you ship orders to Europe. Love your blog, Love your style!! Gillian.

  29. Love your Pinterest site! Do you have a blog about packing for Europe trip that uses least amount of pieces for the most amount of outfits with scarves to add more variety. Also, where can we buy the pieces you use? Going on a cruise in Northern Europe in the summer but temps will be high in the 70s.

    1. Thank you, Joan. If you read the posts here on the blog, you will almost always find the links or at least a mention of where I bought the items. Follow any of my tips for a basic wardrobe and be sure to take lots of scarves with you on your trip. You will not look like a tourist in Europe if you keep it simple, classic and elegant. Not too many colors or accessories. Have fun!

  30. Love your look. Very similar to myself. Except…I have had breast cancer and chose not to have I am FLAT chested.. But cancer free..
    Please keep me updated. I follow you on Pinterest.
    Is there any other way I can follow you? Thank you
    Vickie Wheeler

    1. I wish you many healthy, happy years of life Vickie. I have entered your subscription to the newsletter. Please check your Spam folder if you do not get an email to confirm the subscription in a few minutes.

  31. Where did you purchase the pants? I would like to start with the from her plus the glitzy jacket.

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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.