The Perfect Wardrobe

Before we get into the wardrobe’s details, here are a few pictures from our Saturday spent in Micaville, Mount Mitchell, and Weaverville, NC.

Our first stop along the way was the One Of A Kind Art Gallery in Micaville.

We found the works of many local artists & artisans in this colorful and fun shop. Live music events happen often, and there is a cute coffee shop right next door.

After a short drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway, we arrived at the majestic Mount Mitchell.

The temperature in Johnson City on Saturday was 92 degrees. The temperature at the summit of Mount Mitchel was 65 degrees. Elevation makes a lot of difference!

Mr. Mickey makes a guest appearance!

Italian food is always a good idea! We love to visit the Glass Onion in Weaverville. From the house-made garlic and olive oil bread to the diver scallops with polenta, Mr. Mickey enjoyed every morsel.

He also helped me with my flounder and lobster in parchment.

To end the day on a sweet note, we took a little stroll down the street to the Well-Bred Bakery, where we shared a piece of delicious carrot cake.

A Passionflower was in bloom at the flower shop across the street. The fruit (below) is edible, but only after it falls from the vine, turns purple, and gets wrinkly.

My look for the day included an old white Portofino shirt (similar here) over a downtown cami (here) and Levis jeans (here). The shoes are here. The bag is old, similar here. The Louis Vuitton scarf was a gift. The gifted bracelet is here. (Use the code SAS10 For $10 off any Beauty In Stone item.) The gifted Nordgreen watch is here. (Use the discount code SUSAN15) Referral and affiliate links in my posts may result in a small commission for me at no additional cost to you.

Now onto the retirement wardrobe!

I’ve figured out why the world has admired the elegance of Parisian women for centuries. They only wear what looks best on them. It isn’t that they are always tall or slender or beautiful, but they learn at an early age which shapes and colors complement their own. Purchases are well-planned to fit the needs of their lifestyle. They don’t experiment much with trends and purchase the best quality they can afford. It isn’t economical to repurchase the same garment when the first one falls apart after three wearings. Unique accessories complete all their looks and express their personalities.

When I started planning my retirement wardrobe a few years ago, I put the fundamental principles above to work for me. I am dedicating the blog posts for this week to sharing the other tips I used to create a collection that will take me through the next decade with panache. I plan to travel often and remain very active in a wardrobe that serves all my needs.

  1. What bra do you wear under that thin strapped cami? Love all you tips, but especially today’s and the previous post, because I still need to hear how the same outfit can be accessorized to dress it up or down. Thanks!

  2. Thanks for all your tips. Enjoy your classic style and your travels too. Thanks to your photographer and driver, fun to see Mr Mickey in the reflection.

  3. You are beautiful as always, Susan! Love Mr. Mickey’s “cameo” appearance. Eagerly awaiting this weeks posts. Today was great! Your effort and sharing of knowledge is so appreciated.

  4. Susan, eagerly anticipating your posts. This will be a retirement capsule wardrobe in my thoughts. Beautiful scenery and scrumptious looking food from this post

  5. Really enjoyed this part 1 of a retirement wardrobe. Very interesting comment about the French. I have family in Austria & the UK and the older generations ( I guess that includes me at 62! ) have always bought quality over quantity. And, they take excellent care of these clothes so that they are not torn, strained or have moth holes – maybe due to cedar lined armoires. My mother sewed most of my clothes when I was growing up so there was high quality sewing and she always bought quality fabrics.

  6. I’m so looking forward to all of these new posts on your retirement wardrobe. Being retired, I typically have my jeans and tee “uniform” with the French Kande jewelry in Summer and one of your amazing silk twill scarves in Winter. I still learn a new tip or two with each and every post that you gift us with.

  7. Loved the great scenery photography as well as the pottery wares. My question to you is regarding the Portofino shirts. I want to order some but am unsure of the size. I wear a large to extra large top due to bust size, so am wondering if they run true to size or if I should size up to make sure. Could you send me your current scarf inventory? Lovely as always!

  8. Love the white blouse style, as I age, have thyroid problems so I find I gain more weight in the tummy area. I hope the long tunic style stays in style forever!!

  9. I LOVE it when you post your weekend travels! My husband & I have been inspired by so many &/or been reminded by your travels to revisit favorite places. I live in Cookeville, TN and, when weather is cooler, you may enjoy visiting here! Mauricio’s is an elegant restaurant, in an old Victorian house, food is upscale, can also dine alfresco on their secluded porch. I can see you posing on their front porch! In the old part of downtown there’s quite a few boutiques, lovely restaurants too numerous to mention,old train depot museum & further down Spring St yet another museum by the library! Not to mention Vintage Rose Antiques, very well curated! Look for our iconic Cream City sign,across from train station & have a delicious ice cream treat! I’m sharing my city w/you because you’ve always been so wonderful to share your travels w/us! Happy trails! Jan Stevens!

  10. Thank you Susan for all your wonderful tips and inspiration. You are a gem and I hope one day to visit all the wonderful places you and Mr Mickey go to and hopefully I will have the pleasure of meeting you.

  11. Can’t wait for the next post! Looking forward to your tips. I an retiring in the next 18 months and am working on purging my wardrobe now. Btw, I love my new shapeez bra!

  12. Hey Susan,
    Looking very beautiful……And the scenery is breathtaking up at Mr. Mitchell. I have never been but 65% sounds so goo to me here in SC.

    I wanted to ask you since I am on SS and a very tight budget, what does it cost you for a week end like this one. Gas, room, and food. If you don’t mind me asking.

    I stay home so much and need to get away.
    Thank you,

  13. Susan, while I like your blog… you wear the same look every day. That’s easy. What is hard is many seasons, diverse climates, City vs. country , beach, country club, make, church, date, work, etc…… jeans and a top is not a wardrobe that will take most of us through all the places and situations we find ourselves in!

  14. So looking forward to this series. I follow several fashion blogs but you fit my retired 63 year old self by far the best. We have very similar styles and tastes. Keep it up and thanks.

  15. What I found most challenging when I went into semi-retirement was shopping for the lifestyle I now have, rather than the one I had. I still have to remind myself that even if a garment looks great on me, if I don’t need it, I shouldn’t buy it. Still miss wearing a suit though… 🙂

  16. Thank you! Another great post.
    I have been paying attention to your excellent advice, and now own 3 of the Portofino shirts. They are superb. I live in New England and about 2/3 of my time is spent in the woods and 1/3 in the city. On top of this, my husband and I travel extensively, so dressing appropriately has always been a challenge. Not any more! Thank you.
    Can’t wait to see your upcoming posts about a retirement wardrobe.

  17. Enjoy your website very much. Looking forward to seeing more, especially retirement wardrobe. Thank you for the helpful tips.

  18. I love the Portofino shirt on YOU. I’m quite small-busted and button down shirts just sort of “hang” on me. I do wear a very good bra, tho not Shapeez. I’ve turned to tunics, but I seem to look the same all the time. Tips?
    Love your tips. Have started adding scarfs/jewelry. Always look forward to your posts.

    1. It is challenging to come up with new silhouettes in the summer if you don’t wear dresses or skirts. I try to look presentable while remaining comfortable and adding a few accessories to spice things up. I don’t mind if my looks are similar as long as they feel authentic.

  19. Please send me your photos of available scarves. Do you only wear twill silk in your pared down wardrobe? I have many scarves but few twill. Do you select scarves based on colors, since the patterns “disappear”? Thank you.

  20. Thank you for this — perfect timing! We are retiring in a month to a mountain community in Virginia & I realize many of my clothes will not work for our new life. I want to look stylish & chic yet not overly dressy (“trying too hard”) and I want to be comfortable but not sloppy. Basically, I want to look appropriate! I have admired your style for years, so I look forward to your advice on the perfect retirement wardrobe. Our bodies are different shapes — I am tall with long legs, and not as slender as you — but I know I will learn a lot from you as I enter this new phase of life.

    Thanks, Susan, for all you do!

  21. We are planning a driving trip from Texas to NC next spring. Your postings of the places you visit are going to be our guide. Thanks so much for sharing!

  22. Hi Susan – love your look as always but was just wondering about your downtown cami – are you wearing the ivory or the white cami with your white blouse? Love your blog and envy the cooler climate where you live. High temperatures and even higher humidity can be so uncomfortable here in Australia.

      1. I can’t believe that I don’t see the bra straps under the cami straps. I always knew you kept another layer on over the straps, but this shirt is so sheer!
        Lovely look!

  23. Always look forward to your posts and learn or reaffirm fashion sense. My question is about mascara that runs. I’ve never had this problem till now. I know it’s hot but yesterday I even wore waterproof mascara! I wonder if it is the eye cream I use at night?

    1. What do you use to remove your eye makeup? Any trace of oil will cause your makeup to run the next day. Do you put mascara on the bottom lashes? I stopped doing that a few years ago because it traveled, and it also started to look harsh.

  24. I think another wonderful aspect of your fashion choices is the ability to pack minimally! By having those perfect “base” classics, with a couple of coordinating/complimentary colored accessories, you can easily cut down on what to put in a suitcase & still have an adaptable wardrobe.
    In 2013 & 2014, we spent a month and a half (May into June, each year) in the UK.
    By using this type of fashion sense, I packed for those trips in a single carry-on suitcase (totally packed, it weighed 23 lbs). We did museums, castles, driving, light hikes, picnics, pubs & 4-star dining and I never felt under or over dressed. The look also never screamed “tourist!”
    Keep it simple, timeless & classic and you’ll always be comfortable, no matter the locale!
    Simply put, Susan, you are a classic!

  25. Hi Susan,

    I notice you wear white pants frequently during the summer. I do as well, for I like the look. One thing I always wonder…do we stop wearing them on Labor Day? Look forward to your answer. Looking forward to the continuing daily blog on the “Perfect Wardrobe”.

    Thank you Susan for sharing all the wonderful style and fashion tips.

    1. The weight of the fabric should determine when you stop wearing it. I wear white jeans on sunny days all year round. I never wear light-colored jeans on a day with precipitation because you can never get the splashback stains out.

  26. Enjoyed this post Susan. I have always loved your sense of style and totally agree with you about a retirement wardrobe. Retirement dressing is so different to a “working wardrobe” and one has to reinvent yourself in the way you dress (and activities) whilst still holding on to who you are. My retirement wardrobe has had to be changed a number of times due to health issues and its really difficult – so I have found myself over purchasing on-line and then as I don’t get out very often, find myself wearing the same old things and saving the newer clothes …..for what I don’t know……thank you for reminding me I should really get my act together and start dressing better around the house.

  27. I always look forward to your new posts and enjoy reading older ones over and over again. I’m wondering if you ever considered putting them together and publishing a book? It’s one that I would definitely purchase and I feel many of your devoted readers would do so also! I’m interested in learning how you managed to stay motivated when making changes to your diet, lifestyle, etc. — you literally transformed yourself. I do OK for awhile and then slip up a little and then go completely off track. You are inspirational! Any motivational books, etc. — keep up your wonderful work!

    1. Boredom can be motivation. For example, I rearranged my closet and let go of some things this week, so it feels all new again. Sometimes just looking at things from a different angle can help. Thanks for the book suggestion. I am considering it.

  28. Beautiful photos! I wish I had the freedom to travel like you do. Perhaps one day.

    You are correct that elevation makes a difference. When I lived in Blacksburg, I worked as a horticulturist at Mountain Lake Lodge in Pembroke, VA and I had to carry a down jacket with me to wear for work even though the temps were in the 90’s at VA Tech! My best friend named her son Mitchell after that mountain…gee, I wonder why ( wink).

    I agree with you about avoiding trendy disposable fashion. People fall for the low prices but in the long run, those items cost much much more. I have always worn traditional classic and timeless fashion and I still have tweed blazers that look brand new from the 70’s! It’s difficult to find quality at the usual stores but I look for British-made items and classic American-made items on Ebay. I also buy new items from UK and France.

  29. Hello, Susan,
    I purchased two of your scarves a while ago and have been quite delighted with them (and with the many compliments I have received while wearing them!) The original email you sent with pictures has disappeared from my phone, so I’m wondering if you could resend current inventory.
    I’m particularly interested in scarves that will work well with black (I’m still working at 68 and wear a fair amount of black) as well as containing red or other jewel tones. I am a “cool” complexion as you are.
    Many thanks!

  30. You may to try this little Airbnb in Shady Valley that we stayed at weekend before last. Scott Hill Cabins. Beautiful views, quiet and relaxing. I can send pics if you would like. Tell Mickey hi. Lee and Peggy’s son.

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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.