The Perfect Wardrobe – Part 3

Accessories add the finishing touch and personalize looks to make them unique. They also contribute significantly to the attitude of the basic pieces. The same top and pants can be dressy or very casual by the accessories we add. Consider a white shirt with jeans. Add a blazer, heels, stunning earrings, and a fabulous bag to create a look that will take you out to dinner. The same white shirt and jeans with a hoodie and sneakers project a completely different attitude.

The accessories in my collection include structured handbags with minimal hardware or logos, a variety of shoes and boots with a visible arch, simple belts without logos, large square silk scarves, and a few high-quality fashion jewelry pieces, sunglasses, and unembellished hats. I avoid any items with bold or repeating logos and embellishment, as well as trendy colors. I have owned many of them for several years, and I display everything to be easy to see. Hats are the exception. I keep them in hatboxes at the top of my closet. You can always take a photo of shoes or hats to tape to the outside of the box.

My lifestyle and the weather where I live and plan to travel were crucial points to consider as I made well-planned purchases to take me through the next decade. I can wear all the pieces in my current wardrobe in endless combinations. Those elements allow me to put together flattering looks that are comfortable, effortless, and appropriate for any event all year-round.

Maintaining your wardrobe and accessories is as important as making the initial choices. At the end of each season, I turn a critical eye on the things I used or wore most often. If it looks worn, pilled, faded, or a bit too tired or scuffed, it goes in the donate bag. (Goodwill offers a textile recycling program.) The condition of an item becomes more important as I age. A twenty-year-old gal can get away with wearing faded jeans with holes and a worn thin tee. I am not interested in these trends. Wearing worn out, torn, or faded clothing isn’t going to work for me. It will seem that I have been wearing them for twenty years, and they have started to fall apart. It doesn’t have the same effect!

An intangible benefit of owning a well-planned wardrobe is the confidence that comes from knowing you look your best. You can almost walk into your closet, close your eyes, put on a couple of pieces and come out looking great.

The red knit top is by Clara Sunwoo from early spring. The pants are by Lior Paris here. Get 15% off your entire purchase during August with the code Splash. The light fawn bag is here. Similar shoes are here.

The gifted asymmetric freshwater pearl and Fleur De Lis necklace is here. (Use the code SAS10 For $10 off any Beauty In Stone item.) Referral and affiliate links in my posts may result in a small commission for me at no additional cost to you.

We were on our way to brunch at Café Lola when I wore this look. It was sunny and eighty-nine degrees. I hope this week’s series helped you with tweaking your wardrobe. Have a lovely weekend!

  1. I am working on paring down my closet to what works for me now. I would love to see how you display things so you can see them. I feel like I forget to wear many of the things I own, especially jewelry and accessories. You look great, as always!

      1. Love your closet organization! Perhaps one day your could show us how to organize a small closet. I don’t have a walk in closet. I live in a small house with a small closet that I share with my husband.
        Love your posts!! I look forward to reading them!

  2. I’ve searched for your kind of tops in the UK, just cannot find similar fabric with the similar shape. If anyone can send you UK links would you mind posting them please ?

  3. Hi Susan. Thank you for your wardrobe ideas and the way that you send pictures to illustrate the looks. I am also in the UK and just wanted to say that Kettlewell Colours do a good selection of tops and other pieces too Happy weekend

  4. I have a pair of Lior white Sasha pants which I like a lot. Wondering what you think about how they compare to the denim ones.
    Also, want to tell you how much the overnight resurfacing peel from beauty counter has helped my skin. Some days I have even forgotten to put on my foundation!

    1. That’s terrific news about the Resurfacing Peel. I too love the way that product performs! The denim Lior pants fit great, and they don’t stretch out too much. I love the fact that they don’t have pockets or loops. I often wear them with my knit tops that are a bit dressy.

  5. I like the reminder to remove things from the closet that are faded, worn, tired, etc. I’m sitting with my 99 year old mom in the hospital and looked down at my outfit of faded jeans, spur of the moment purchase wild patterned top and a mismatched sweater. I certainly don’t look or feel put together for a 69 year old. Removing them from my closet would certainly have kept me from putting them on today. I think I hesitate to remove too many things at once as it will leave my closet very bare and expensive to add back.


  6. Enjoyed this series, Susan! I am 69 and finally coming around to the fact that printed tops (which I’ve always loved) don’t look as good on me as I thought! Similarly to you, I almost always wear a top and jeans. White jeans in the Summer and black or dark blue in the cooler months. My lifestyle is very casual now that I am retired. So, I’ve come to the conclusion that I need to purchase more solid colored tops! Then I can gradually donate the printed ones, which don’t do me justice!

  7. Wardrobe paralysis happens. It happened to me during my childrearing days. Time came to go on a holiday, and I nothing to wear but playground clothes. Then I gained weight and had nothing to wear. The challenge comes in reassessing our wardrobes regularly for lifestyle changes, weight and wear. Thanks for the reminder.

  8. I always enjoy your posts, and frequently when i am shopping, you are with me, right on my shoulder, saving me from many mistakes! So, thank you.
    I have a question. It seems to me your style has evolved quite a lot over the past few years. Do you anticipate that it will remain pretty much as is as you go into retirement? Or do you think your current wardrobe will need updating a few years from now?

  9. Hadn’t seen your closet tour and really enjoyed that video. I would love to invest in cashmere sweaters, usually Talbot’s but have an issue with pilling and wondering how you deal with that? I too want to invest in clothes that will stand the test of time.

  10. Very informative and helpful series. Tbank you, Susan.
    Love the red top and am finding your suggestions in recent months for shoes especially helpful as I don’t like a heel under 1″ but don’t feel safe in anything over 2″ due to having vertigo. Luckily, there are nice options these days in classic loafers and sleek lace up oxfords which are my favs.
    Really appreciate you and Mr. Mickey! I wish you many more happy adventures together!!

  11. I love this series. I’m so happy with my closet now. I had a large family reunion this week and was able to put together great outfits for all four days. I would have panicked before I started reading your blog. I love that your look is a little more casual now. I don’t attend many dressy functions so the casual outfits suit me well.

  12. I know it’s early but I am in the process of finding a gray cashmere sweater with a V-neck. Do you have any sauce for that? Thank you. Enjoy your Blog.

  13. Dear Susan,
    I appreciate all the things I’ve been learning from you, it’s made a huge difference in what I buy to wear.
    Thank you for sharing what you’ve learned to help the rest of us look attractive in our mature years.
    I have one question. I know you recently lost weight, how is it that your jeans still fit that you had 3 years ago?
    One of my biggest challenges is staying one size. I always have a FAT wardrobe and another size smaller that I try to stay in.
    Thanks again for giving me inspiration to not give up on my health and how I look.
    Patricia Steed
    I live on Upper Pig Pen Rd in Green Mountain, North Carolina. I was surprised by one of your posts that revealed you were from this area. We restored an old farmhouse here and spend 6 months here and 6 months in Punta Gorda, Fl. I discovered your site while I was in Florida so it was quite interesting to learn about you being a Green Mountain girl.

  14. Great tips, I ordered the jeans for mine were to big for me and I had to wear a belt to keep them up!
    Thank you for your tips! I have a new outlook on purchasing my clothing.

  15. You are the most organized person I know! I have a beautiful walk-in closet but I’m constantly trying to fine-tune the use of space. Gradually I’m buying more solid color tops and donating lots of prints, which just don’t work for me anymore.
    Susan, you’ve been a wonderful inspiration for me. Since I am a part-time jewelry designer, I always felt I needed tons of choices in my wardrobe. I’m now realizing that too many choices can just be time-consuming & confusing. I also found that I was a very compulsive shopper.
    I believe the artist in you comes through in your great sense of design and organization. I really enjoyed your closet video, which I had not seen before. Keep up the good work!

  16. Thank you so much for your tips that I find so helpful! I enjoy your adventures and you always look lovely and so ladylike. Such an inspiration! I am taking your advice and slowly but surely giving away (or selling online) things that don’t work for me anymore and buying classics that I feel good in and I believe look best on me. I used to think a colorful printed top was more youthful, but now I see it doesn’t look right. I’m shaped like you – an inverted V – and the printed tops make me look too big on top! One thing I’m not sure about that I’ve heard from you and others – to not wear leather. I have several leather blazers that I love and wear often. I don’t think they look bad on me, but I wonder. What is the reason to not wear leather?

  17. Thanks for another informative segment on maintaining a manageable wardrobe. Loved your comment about ripped faded jeans – exactly how I feel about them – only the young can (and want to) pull off those types of fashion – on those of us who are age enhanced they just look wrong. Love your classic way of dressing.

  18. Perfect! I love the fact that you don’t like the torn & faded look . There does come a time that trends just do not work & that trend should be for 20’s only .

  19. Susan, I like your blog and get ideas from your comments and outfits. I do some second hand and thrift store shopping and it’s becoming more and more popular and needed due to the awful environmental impact of the fast fashion industry. I’ve found high quality leather, cashmere sweaters and tees, linen and silk and pima cotton clothes without wear or flaws. I like your comments for these purposes as well, to avoid impulse buying and following trends for over-consumption. The only comment I have is: please keep your worn, pilled, faded or a bit too tired or scuffed items out of the donate bag and just toss them in the trash. Gently worn items and ones without too much visible wear are a much more thoughtful choice for donation. Even if people are at thrift stores because they are poor (and I and many thrift shoppers are not) they still deserve respect. Thank you!

      1. If I have worn or piled clothes I separate them in their own clear bag – within the charity bag – and label them RAGS , so they can just be tipped straight into that section without someone having to handle them. (I’m from the UK.)

        1. The clothing in question from my wardrobe was not obviously worn out or dirty. One would have to take the garment outside in natural light to see what I mean by pilled or worn.

  20. Such great details! Will you use the light fawn color handbag throughout Fall and Winter? Maybe I missed an earlier blog, but what is the significance of the visible arch? Maybe all my ballet flats are working against me! Thanks.

  21. You made me stop and think and ponder at your quote from the other day: “. . .because I intend to wear each item at least thirty times before replacing it.” When I first read that I thought about my wardrobe. THIRTY TIMES?? What have I worn thirty times? I do have some favorites in my closet. I had to ask myself, are these favorite items Classic, down and through many seasons, wearable favorites that I plan to wear them that many times? By the time I would wear something thirty times brings me to conclude that I really do not need a whole lot of the things in my closet. Those words of yours were front and center when I was out browsing through women’s clothing stores this week, and being enticed by all the new Fall things on the racks. I kept saying to myself, “Would I wear this at least thirty times?” Over and over it was “NO” and I just moved on. . . . Great food for thought in that statement. Thank you.

  22. I so appreciate all of your posts and the past three have been no exception. One of the most useful things I learned from reading your blog for the past three years is to get dressed and take a photo of myself. A photo on my phone is so completely different from looking in the mirror. I’m not sure why but it has helped me considerably. Thank you for all your great ideas.

  23. When do you put away your white jeans and pants? I love wearing my white jeans but I wonder when they will, or if, they start to look less appropriate. Do you change to wear white in a different fabric in the winter time, such as cream color wool ?

  24. Notice that you have purchased Everlane crew cashmere. Do you have their v-neck? Which do you prefer? Trying to decide which is best for me. Thanks.

  25. I have fallen in love with every color of Clara Sunwoo top you have modelled and been waiting patiently for the ruffled sleeve ones to go on sale. Finally today I found that the periwinkle color, along with several other ones, is reduced! Ordered just now. Thanks for inspiring me to choose less items but more selectively!

  26. Thanks for sharing – once again, all good tips and ideas Susan. Loved your comment re ripped clothing as I feel exactly the same – to my mind there is definitely an age where that look goes from being trendy to looking like one is wearing worn out clothes but as I always say difference is what makes the world go around.

  27. Bonjour Suzan,
    Toutes les françaises ne savent pas s’habiller (je suis française, je vis en province).
    Merci pour ces 3 articles sur la création d’une garde-robe pour la retraite.
    Mon problème est : combien de chaque vêtement est-il nécessaire pour s’habiller tous les jours simplement et avec élégance ? (combien de pantalons ? combien de chemises ? combien de tee-shirts ou de pulls-overs ? etc …
    En France, d’une boutique à l’autre, les tailles ne sont pas les mêmes et il est très difficile de s’y retrouver.
    Bonne Journée.
    Je traduis mon message avec l’aide de google

    Hello Suzan,
    All French do not know how to dress (I’m French, I live in the province).
    Thank you for these 3 posts on creating a wardrobe for retirement.
    My problem is: how much of each garment is needed to dress everyday simply and gracefully? (how many pants? how many shirts? how many t-shirts or sweatshirts? etc …
    In France, from one shop to another, the sizes are not the same and it is very difficult to navigate.
    Have a good day.
    I translate my message with the help of google

  28. I have been struggling with style at this new stage of my life and found your blog inspiring. Thank you for the classic and elegant options! Also, I live in SWVa – an hour from Johnson City and was pleasantly surprised to learn you’re from my area of the world!

  29. Susan you have the most fabulous collection of high heel sandals. I am interested in where you find them. They are elegant and unique.

    I have enjoyed your blog for some time. You have a wonderful and elegant sense of style.

    I would love to know where you find your high heeled sandals .

    It is fun to see your date nights with Mr. Mickey. I have found wonderful fashion idea on your blog.

    1. There are a select few brands that always seem to come through for me in both style and fit. I order most of my shoes online from Nordstrom. The brands I am most fond of include, Vince Camuto, Louise et Cie, Sam Edleman, Jeffrey Campbell, Linea Paolo, and sometimes Marc Fisher. Always check the links in my posts. If I can find a source for the shoes or similar ones, I will always share a link to them.

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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.