The Summer Wardrobe

I appreciate questions from readers because finding helpful answers challenges me. “Show me how to build a basic summer wardrobe if I do not wear dresses, skirts, shorts, or sleeveless tops.” This one isn’t difficult to answer because those are also my style guidelines.

As you build your wardrobe for any season, keep in mind dark, light, and bright as you add pieces or decide to hold on to items. With this combination, you will be able to create a variety of looks. Your colors might be olive, cream, and turquoise, but the guiding principle of dark, light, and bright still applies. Having a variety of solid colors in tones that flatter your complexion means that you can always wear those items in random combinations. It allows you to mix and match your clothes endlessly without anything being too memorable. If I wear a print, it is a subtle small stripe or some other repeating small geometric pattern. Prints and patterns mostly enter my looks from scarves.

I folded this oversize silk scarf into a triangle and then tied the ends at an uneven point, leaving one end much longer than the other. I put the long end in the back and let the bulk of the triangle rest on my other shoulder. The softly draping material helped me keep warm while still showing the top’s sporty, modern details.

When you add items to your wardrobe, I highly encourage thinking of matching the colors of you, such as your eyes, the darkest and lightest natural strands of your hair, and the cool or warm tone of your skin. If we honor our natural coloring as we choose our clothing and accessories, they will look good on us, and they will blend effortlessly with each other. For example, my eyes are clear blue-gray with no gold flecks. (Silver is my best metal color, but that doesn’t mean I never wear any gold.) My hair is silver-gray on the top and very dark slate gray underneath in the back. My skin is a pale almond cream that turns bright pink when I blush, so all these colors are perfect for me.

The next point to consider is the shape and style of the garments. If you take everything out of your closet that you never wear and then look at what is left, you will see all the items that reflect your style. Classic, flirty, feminine, sporty, and modern are some of the words that might come to mind as you evaluate the clothing that reflects the style in which you are most comfortable.

These photos were snapped during our recent weekend getaway to Primland Resort. We took a short walk around the grounds before lunch on Saturday after our massages.

During the day, I wore the blue Clara Sunwoo top from that I showed you in a recent video here.  Those are the Jag ankle jeans I told you about in the same video. They are from Purple Poppy, and they are perfect to wear with this type of tunic since they have no lumps and bumps from loops and zippers. The bag is by Ralph Lauren from a couple of years ago.

My shoes were by Vince Camuto last year. They are so comfortable; I bought two pairs so that you will see them often this summer. If you do not wear heels, you might enjoy the low wedge sandals pictured below, which are from Macy’s.

  1. Which scarves would you suggest since you don’t have this one right now, thanks,
    I will be ordering through top.

    1. I will likely have that style again by next week. You should think about what colors look good on you and the size that would be in proportion for you. I am 5′ 6″ tall, so I can wear the larger scarves like this one. There are more than 85 scarf styles and colors offered on the site now with more on the way.

  2. Hi Susan! Just wanted to make sure I understand your dark, light, and bright guidelines. Do you mean that when you put together an outfit you wear something dark (the tunic), something light (the white pants) and something bright (the scarf) ? Or did you mean something different entirely? 🙂 And as far as my style goes, I like so many different looks! And as funny as it may sound, I sometimes feel I am “supposed” to like a certain style! Great idea on how to determine what I feel most comfortable in!

    1. Thank you for your question, Kim. To clarify, I mean when you are building your core wardrobe, try to make sure you are not buying all the same tone or color. Using myself as an example, I would start with three tank tops for summer; a white one (light), a silver gray one (bright) and a black one (dark). Add three pairs of lightweight pants in black, white and denim. (Denim is considered a neutral.) I would need at least one lightweight jacket or cardigan in one of those three basic colors. If I added a bright blue or a bright red tank and another cardigan in one of those bright colors I can create more than sixty different looks. Add in a couple of print scarves which have some or all of these colors, and I have a great small wardrobe for travel or daily wear. Good quality basic pieces in your best colors and a variety of accessories can mean you are always well dressed.

  3. You always have such great tips!

    I wanted to say that I think what makes Mr Mickey most endearing and special is that he loved your “before” self! That makes me believe he truly loves who you are as a person more than your looks. And that is the foundation of a good and lasting relationship and something to be thankful for 🙂

  4. Love your basics – will you add navy for those of us who can’t wear black?
    Please continue to carry plus sizes

  5. I love your style and suggestions. I just turned 50 so I’m always interested in transitioning gracefully in my style.

  6. Hi Susan. I normally wear petite size M or L. Do you have clothes that will fit my shorter frame? I am also hesitant to shop at My Fair Lady because of this dilemma. Can you give me any suggestions?

    Thanks bunches. I love your blog!


  7. Susan, your insights and shopping resources continue to serve me well. My colors are very similar to yours and I’m ready to invest in my first piece of French Kande. If you were choosing your first piece for this season what would it be? Long or short? Predominately silver or the polished white beads? I live in Central Texas where the climate is very hot in the late Spring & Summer – even into early Fall.

    Also, if you were investing in white tanks? Clara Sun Woo, Covered Perfectly, Cali & York? All different price points.

    Faithfully following your blog has saved me so much money and frustration. For years, I dreamed of investing in appropriate clothes but kept waiting until I reach my goal weight. I’m now dressing the body I have and love feeling appropriate and attractive for every occasion.

    1. My favorite white tanks are the Peck & Peck ones from Stein Mart or the Microfiber Contemporary Tank at Chico’s. I go up in size because I like the fit better when it isn’t clinging to me.

    2. I apologize for failing to address your question about French Kande. It depends on what you wear and what colors look best on you. I will give you this personal example. Since I wear a lot of long flowing tunics with plain scoop necklines, I wear the long tassel necklace with the bold chain more than any other in summer. The silver color is best for my complexion. Note: I have been wearing this necklace very often for more than a year and there are no signs of wear or of tarnish anywhere.You can see the necklace on their site here.

  8. I have the same rules as you do “No dresses, skirts, shorts or sleeveless tops”. I have an outdoor wedding coming up in July, what would you suggest?

    1. Take a look at Dillard’s. They have some good looking dressy pants sets that would appropriate for an outdoor wedding. Be sure to wear flat shoes or sandals. It is a real challenge to stand on tip toes to keep the heels from sinking into the soil.

  9. About colors: My hair is graying from dishwater blonde/brown. I find that the color gray only adds to my colorlessness and that adding bright colors such as pinks, turquoise, navy, red, and black give me the color I need! I have brown eyes, olive complexion.

    I really enjoy your site and get so many tips. Now, if only I could get my closet cleaned out!

  10. I was wondering how tall you are? You look awesome in all your outfits and petite. Will these out fits look as good on 5’6 over weight lol.

  11. I am new to your site and love it. I am curious to know how tall you are….I am 5’2″ and have styling issues. Can you comment on petite gals? If you already have, sorry , but I am new.

    1. It is very important to wear items that are in proportion to your size. For example, when I wear a top that is too long with capris and flats, I look like I am much shorter because I have short legs and that combination makes them look much shorter. Always wear items in the right proportion for your body. Your tailor may become your best friend. I will try to explain more about this in a future post. Thank you for the question.

  12. Susan, again you look stunning in your clothing and accessory choices. I would guess you had a lot of admiring glances from other guests this weekend! I particularly love the scarf you are wearing; it’s really flattering. You wrote it is out of stock, but hope to have it In your store again next week. I’d like to order it, so can you please share its style name and dimensions. Thanks again for sharing and helping me design
    my new look.

  13. I am in love with your beautiful scarf. Please let us know when you have it back in stock.
    Your destination is really gorgeous.

  14. This is a note to petite Diane. I am five foot nothing and I have been buying from Shop My Fair Lady since I started reading Susan’s blog. I buy the IC Collection and Clara Sun Woo and they fit very well.

  15. What can I admire at first place your outfit with the wonderful scarf or the pictures from your weekend (what a marvelous wooden table in front of the sofa !)

    1. At the end of the sequence of photos I am sharing about this most recent trip, I will do a post about what I packed. I always take two or three tank tops, a couple of jackets in different colors and denim, black and white pants. There are also a few scarves and a couple of pairs of comfortable shoes included in the bag. Thank you for the suggestion. I am glad you enjoy what I share.

  16. I don’t know how you keep up the pace, but I sure enjoy your blog! After following you a while I bought many Covered Perfectly clothing items. And now my most recent purchases are from your site. Wow do I love that crepe!!!! Thanks for encouraging me to always look my best!!!

  17. You look very chic! Enjoyed the cute birdhouse pic & the others; what a lovely place. Noticing you often wear the larger scarves of about 50 inches. May need to try your larger squares as I usually do the 30 something size. Any plans for your crepe pants in white? Enjoying my black ones very much. Recently found a local shop that carries some French Kande jewelry items..and they are beautiful & very detailed! Thanks for all you do to make this a great blog.

  18. I got the large in the basics black before & had them hemmed a bit as my legs are short and they were perfect as I still had a bit of a slit at the ankle, so a large basic pant in soft white sounds lovely for spring & summer! My coloring & body shape is very similar to yours in your “before” photos, sigh! but I’m an inch shorter..all in the leg. Thank you so much for responding about the pants. You are so good at all this, makes me think..mmm..I’ll just have what she’s having! Just need to apply that to my plate!! Wore the jag jeans today and they are still comfortable this afternoon, which most of mine are not. Also, found 2 pr of Miss Elaine pjs on sale awhile back & you were right about those too!! Your blog is both fun & a blessing. Best wishes!

  19. These are great subjects, keep them coming.
    I suit cool softer colour – so find royal blue and fuschia or a very bright pink too strong a colour,
    and ivory is better than white, with no black near my face.
    Please can you suggest which colour to substitute for royal blue and fuchsia or would you just choose a lighter version of those ?
    I am gradually reducing the prints in my wardrobe and looking more at solid colours thanks to your style tips.

  20. Susan I need help finding affordable light weight longish cardigans for the summer and then how to style them. I still work full time and live by you 3 rule and it’s helped me feel polished in my male dominated atmosphere. They wear suits every single day. I don’t 2 days a week bc I work those days until 8pm but I try to keep my cardigan days very polished tho. I love your long light weight cardigans for summer but I just don’t seem to find them. Not even at my local Chicos! I saw one at Kohls and plan to purchase it on my next payday. Any suggestions?
    Thanks, Leslie

    1. I do love a sleek polished looking long cardigan. You can find them at Dillard’s, Stein Mart (I am wearing a beige one from there today), Macy’s and many other stores at any price point. The one I am wearing today is by Cable and Gauge. If you Google that brand, I am guessing you will find something you like.

  21. Susan,
    I loved the pearl necklace that you had with the medallion. Do you remember which medallion you had with the necklace? Really enjoy your blog.

  22. This info is so helpful. I now say, would Susan buy this? Then I either put it back or purchase it. It has sure helped me put more solids in my wardrobe, which are more versatile. I also pay more attention to color and if it flatters my complextion.

  23. I just loved your video on packing for a long weekend! And the website Shop My Fair Lady is just great! Thank you for letting me find a wonderful new blog to follow! (I found you on Pinterest!)

  24. You really look lovely in these photos, and I would like to disagree with you on one thing. You do not have candles!!!
    In your white ankle pants you show a lovely pair of ankles. I’ll bet you’d look great in a dress.

  25. Hi Susan,
    I have so enjoyed your blog and your shop! I’ve also been buying from the various online stores you recommend, and my wardrobe is beginning to improve enormously. One quibble: Purple Poppy is not, to my mind, a great choice for your readers. Each time I call their number, I either get a recording, or someone answers who cannot help me with whatever issue I may have. Most recently I called to see about a backorder, and the woman who answered said that the ONE person who dealt with all online purchases would not be available for six days.
    Six days. Really? And no one else can answer a simple question: where is my order placed 3/25 and still not arrived? When I leave messages on their recording, no one returns my calls. When I leave an email, the response is not reliable either.
    I’ll bet there are other online sellers who will appreciate your fans a bit better.

    1. I am sorry that you had a such a negative experience there. My experiences with them have always been much more prompt. I will pass along your comments to them.

  26. Please tell me that you put on an old t-shirt, yoga pants, and flip flops to do housework. Just kidding! You look lovely, in every outfit, and I have found your suggestions so helpful and encouraging. Have a great weekend!

  27. Hi Susan,

    Can you tell me about the white pants that you are wearing from purple puppy are they true to size? If you are between sizes would you go up or down.
    Thank you. I really enjoy your posts.
    Have a great afternoon

  28. Hi, it is me again, what about the Mesmerizing pans from ShopMyFairLady, how are they size wise, would you go a size up or down if between sizes.
    Thank you again.
    looking lovely as always.

  29. Hello Susan,

    I love this scarf and was wondering if you know when you may have the same one you are wearing back in stock.

    I must have it if you will have one available. Our grandson is having a wedding party at the winery and this is the perfect outfit.

    Love your site and all your fashion. Thanks for all you do.

    God bless you and Mr. Micky.



  30. LOve your style and I’m in my 40’s! LOve this outfit – can I wear this with long jeans, khaki, and black pants? LOoking to take a trip to Europe in September. ALso, the name of your scarf so I can order. Keep posting.

  31. That place looks very beautiful. Your outfit is gorgeous also. You always have such fantastic shoes.

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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.