The Rest Of Us

According to a recent study (here), the average American woman wears between a Misses size 16–18, which corresponds to a Women’s Plus size 20W. The required size of a female fit model is 5’9″ and taller with a 34″ chest, 24″ waist, and 34″ hips. Professional stylists on every shoot know how to pair the right style personality with the correct model. Makeup artists spend more than an hour on each model before the shoot. Let’s not forget all the editing and photoshop work before we ever see the images. When you consider all the work and expertise that goes into fashion photography, it is easy to understand why the clothing we loved on the model looks nothing like that on us. These facts also make shopping very frustrating for the rest of us.

When you know what looks good on your shape and you only have those items in your wardrobe, it makes getting dressed successfully a little easier. By successfully dressed, I mean that I have managed to put together an outfit that doesn’t make me look two sizes larger than I am and appropriate for the occasion. For these reasons, you will see me in similar items and silhouettes because that’s what works. When I stopped wearing heels last year, I had to relearn some essential styling hacks. Those three or four inches made a big difference in how clothing looks on my short legs, and I have spent a small fortune getting all my pants hemmed. This week, I share a few of the tips that I have learned to use to keep my style personality intact while wearing mostly low heeled shoes.

My shoes are by Marc Fisher from last year. Mr. Mickey’s shoes are by Calvin Klein. My tights are by White House|Black Market.

My updated shoe styling hacks include wearing pointed or almond toe shoes with at least a low block heel. The shoe or boot should always have a visible arch, not a fully flat sole. The shoe’s color should be close to the color of my skin when wearing summer pants and black tights with black shoes and boots in the colder months. Getting my photo taken so often shows me what works and what most certainly does not. Try taking a selfie of new looks before you buy them or decide to keep them. Mirrors lie!

The vest was a gift from Mr. Mickey on our first Christmas together. I got tears in my eyes when I opened it. It had been many years since I had been with a man who gave me gifts. Similar vest here. The Portofino shirt was from Express last year. My jeans look a little like leather ones, but they are waxed jeans from Chico’s a few years ago. The Dooney & Bourke crossbody bag in Bordeaux is old.

We enjoyed a beautiful Saturday afternoon on the Biltmore Estate and also visited downtown Asheville.

The Harvest Succotash was delicious!

The Christmas decorations are already in place at the Biltmore.

  1. Your proportions are perfect, and this is a lovely outfit. I still prefer my pants a smidge longer on my booties. Just seems like a better look for my petite frame. I love the way you adapt and then pass on your knowledge to us!

  2. Susan: I routinely enjoy and look forward to your tips on fashion, beauty, & healthy living. Today, however, I have improved my vocabulary! For any, like me, wondering about your use of the word “hack” in this column today: a clever tip or technique for doing or improving something (Merriam-Webster). Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

  3. Thanks again for a wonderful and enjoyable post. I have learned so much from you! I also like the way you incorporate styling tips with your handsome Mr. Mickey. My boyfriend has similar coloring as Mr. Mickey so it helps me when buying clothing gifts for him.

  4. I have been upset for years that the fashion industry labels sizes as low as 12/14 as extra large. I hate it when I find something that I know would look good on me but it only comes in a size up to 12 or 14. I suppose the designers do not want heavier women to be seen in their product but I’d think that they want to sell to as many people as possible. I also hate that they design unattractive items for women our age or who might be heavier. I’ve gotten so many tips from your site and usually just stick to basic solid color tops along with jeans or slacks, and I stick with just a few brands I know will work well for me.

  5. I happened to peruse the latest copy of Vogue this morning as I was grocery shopping (I was looking for the “How to Have Perfect Skin” article!). As I thumbed through the photos, I literally laughed out loud. I know they have an “editorial” look, but. . . seriously?????

    Your topic is well timed! Looking forward to the rest of the week’s posts.

  6. I just love the shoe photo…so creative and cute while still sharing information. I think yesterday I looked like I weighed a lot more than I do. My three grandchildren were baptized yesterday and I joined the family front of the church. Photos were taken. It all seemed fine in mirrors at home….reminder to self: get a better quality full length mirror…..but when I look at the photos taken, I am appalled. I am about 5’4″ and 78 years old. My legs/thighs, arms and shoulders are slim, my boobs have moved east and west but Shapeeze takes care of that problem. However my mid section is rounder than I prefer. I typically wear very slim pants and tops that hide the mid section. My shoes/boots are always flat or have a low wedge or block heel. When I saw the photo I realized that the pretty, flowing top made me look rounder and didn’t allow the full length of my legs to show. I think, had I worn heels, the look would have been better but heels aren’t in my life so….AHA….lesson learned. Interesting that your post today coincides with this issue. As always, I appreciate your content and sincere effort to share what you’ve learned. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your loved ones. XO

  7. Thank you so very much…from a curvy, short legged fan. My closet is getting quite free of anything not flattering to my look

  8. Susan, your blouse is a lovely colour on you. It is amazing how your basic articles look so different, just by changing one item. By the way, I think your black boots look fantastic, and do not look at all boring, despite being almost flat.

  9. Agree with Kathy! Perhaps if Bergner’s, etc., had designed a more flattering line of clothing for us older gals, they’d still be in business! Everyone chases the young, slim market, leaving a huge group of people without resources. Because of surgeries, I find myself a size 12/14 tall with a size 18 waist – no really good solution except I have eliminated all stretchy fabrics. Not a lot of choices after that. Appreciate all your most helpful suggestions, Susan.

  10. First of all, I love your blog and your generousity in sharing your styling journey. I am pear shaped, so your proportions are the opposite of mine but I learn a lot from you anyway. I agree about mirrors lying. But how does one take a photo of oneself? I really haven’t mastered that using an iPhone. And I’d really prefer to do it in private without help. Any suggestions?

    1. It takes a little practice, but try to take a photo of yourself with your phone while looking a full-length mirror. Try it in a store dressing room if you are thinking of buying something. Without your face in the frame is even better. You can be much more objective while looking at a photo. Your mind plays tricks with you while looking in a mirror.

  11. I got a Christmas chuckle out of the photo of you and your silent soldier friend. You and he share the same taste in clothes: black boots, close fitting black pants with colorful tops.

  12. I often find I look better in a mirror than in a photo. What is that all about? I’m kind of disappointed to hear that it’s the mirror that lies, I was hoping it was the photo.

  13. I got a tear in my eye when I read about Mr. Mickey’s gift to you. You deserve a man who appreciates you. I, too, have a wonderful man, and I never take him for granted.

  14. Susan, are there any rules regarding matching purses with shoes in tones, colors, or textures, or even things to avoid?

    Many blogs gives lots of comments and photos of young, thin models, but are weak on actual photos from the author. I applaud you for showing us what actually works and what doesn’t on YOU and then taking a picture of it! Then you explain why it works or doesn’t work on you. Keep it up!

    1. Some experts say that matching your bag to your shoes ages you. I say wear shoes to match your skin or your tights/socks. The bag can relate back to a scarf or some other part of your look if you don’t want to match your shoes. There don’t seem to be any rules these days. If you feel happy and confident in what you are wearing, enjoy it. 😉

  15. Super cute outfit! Thanks for relating about how touched you were by receiving the vest from Mr Mickey. I’m married to a sweet gifter, but I have friends who, if they were to receive such a thoughtful would so warm their hearts , not to mention rock their world! And I wish this for them quite often as they are wonderful women.

  16. Hi Susan. Shoes are my biggest problem. I have Fibromylagia so need almost flat, wide fitting shoes. Cannot wear pointed toes at all and just to complicate matters they have to be vegan friendly as I don’t wear leather. I always wear slim fitting pants. Do you have any suggestions, please ?

    1. What we see in the mirror is flipped. What we see in a photo is not. It also has to do with what we have become accustomed to seeing in the mirror and how comfortable we are at home. When you look in the mirror, you may subconsciously “adjust” your face before you look. (I’ve watched it happen!) A photo may not look as good because we didn’t have a chance to adjust our face before the photo was taken. Our resting faces often look very different from our “adjusted” faces.

  17. I always appreciate your advice and really want to try a Portofino blouse but it is not offered in petite sizes even though Express does carry other items in petites. I’m tempted to try a small and just roll up the sleeves. I just love this blouse on you!

  18. I loved your comments about why we look better in the mirror than in a selfie! Good explanation about “adjusting” to the mirror.

  19. Your tip about wearing narrower pants has worked wonders for me. I am short with chunky legs so always wore loose pants – big mistake! Slimmer fitting pants and a low block heel make me look taller and slimmer – so thank you!

    I am so excited about my upcoming trip to the USA next week – I’m from the UK – and boy! Am I going to hit the malls. You’ve given me so many ideas. Your layered outfit in today’s shot is so flattering – elegant yet cosy; stylish and age-appropriate. Wonderful!

  20. You are so very chic and an inspiration for me. I spend way too much money on clothing. I’m looking for my look. I’m a reasonably fit 70 year old who just went into remission from Metastatic Breast Cancer. God has blessed me beyond belief. I want to celebrate that by honoring Him with the way I look. I’m learning as much as I can. Thank you.

  21. Always enjoy reading your comments and appreciate the time you spend to give us style guidance. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family.

  22. I love this outfit! And I’m trying to do exactly what you said about keeping the items that work on me and taking to Goodwill the rest. I love your advice about a selfie before buying!! Why didn’t I think of that? I usually do a selfie after dressing at home, but that’s such good advice!

    Have a very happy Thanksgiving Susan and thanks for your advice! I love reading and seeing these….

  23. This was very helpful to me. ( age 67, not as tall as I used to be, and trying to stay a size 6!). I love your look and I would love to know what looks best on me instead of buying what looks great in a catalog and then always feeling like I don’t know how to put things together ( as well as you and my sister do!!). Thanks for the good suggestions. I also can’t successfully wear shoes over a 2″ heel so this helps.

  24. Susan, I wouldn’t be exaggerating to say you have changed my life. You are so inspirational and everything you say resonates with me. I used to look at your photos and think, if I was that tall I would look so much better. You are an inch taller than me! It’s all in the way you put everything together. I am the same body shape as you and I have learned so much about looking so much better! On a holiday in Fiji I wore a beautiful embroidered, light full white top with wide khaki linen pants. It should have looked great but, in the photos, I look two sizes bigger. Full on top, streamlined below – I should have known and could have looked so much better.

    Jenny from New Zealand (where summers are hot and humid)

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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.