The Way We Were

During this time of quarantine, many women have asked me about my transition to gray hair. Since most of us cannot visit our stylists yet, we may be trimming and or coloring our hair ourselves. Some of you are taking this time to let your natural color grow back.

After thirty years of sitting in the stylist chair for three hours every five weeks, I decided that I had had enough at fifty. My hair grabs a brassy tone, no matter what magic the highly trained colorists apply. As a result, I was always faced with the battle of getting warm hair color to blend with my cool coloring.

I used a temporary color a couple of times during my transition period, but that also became tiring. I ultimately got my hair cut short and wore a hat often while my natural color grew back. Stylists today have much more experience in helping their clients transition to their natural color. I highly recommend finding a specialist to help you avoid the two-toned hair that makes the growing out process tedious.

Below is Mr. Mickey’s weekend car. On Saturday afternoon, we drove down to old town Johnson City to see how the renovations were coming along. New parks, condos, shopping destinations, and restaurants were opening at a rapid pace until recently. We also have rotating art installations, and a few new galleries will open soon.

My favorite part of getting dressed is adding accessories. All of my hats are neutral in color and usually a fedora style with little or no adornment. None of the items I’m showing you today are new, so I’ll share links to similar current items.


After spending more than twenty years working alone in my jewelry studio and my office and warehouse, I was utterly clueless about current fashion trends. All of my clothing was utilitarian and comfortable but certainly not fashionable.

I started dating Mr. Mickey when I was forty-nine, and suddenly I had a hectic social life. That’s also when my business started growing exponentially. My lifestyle was changing rapidly, but I often felt unsure of myself due to my lack of style confidence. Improving my wardrobe became a priority.

Subtle changes made a significant difference. My natural hair color and a better style for my face shape allowed me to see that clothing and makeup in warm colors did not flatter me at all.

After many expensive buying and embarrassing styling mistakes, I began to get it right more often. My confidence grew, and I started to have fun with fashion again. Sharing what I’ve learned has given me a new purpose. I enjoy hearing from those of you who write that my blog has been helpful. I also wish I had known all these tips decades ago!

  1. Like you, I’m so pleased to have “gone native” some 10+ years ago, especially at this time when hairdresser appointments aren’t going to happen any time soon. My hair is still two-tone though, but I’m ok with that. I’m sure you’ve helped a lot of ladies to switch to their natural colour over the years.
    Hugs, Mary x.

  2. Sigue adelante, a mi me animas todos los días
    Sigo aprendiendo de tus consejos y eso que yo soy forma pera.
    Me gustaría que hicieras una propuesta con tus zapatos de verano, desde más casual a más elegante
    Muchas gracias

  3. Good morning! I am embracing my natural hair colour at present. Like you , I was fed up of hair appointments every 5 weeks. Luckily I have very short hair so when I finally got to my hairdresser last week, she cut off a lot of the coloured hair. At the moment it’s a bit of a mixture……grey at the sides and back but still blonde and grey on top. I am still 50/50 as to what I feel about it but will persevere until my next appointment. !!!

  4. Thank you for the info; I am ok with hair color but concerned about thinning! Your eyebrows look thicker now; how did you fill in those?

  5. Susan, what are your thoughts on hair length as women age? I am 55 and have been gray for a while now. I get compliments on my gray all the time. I’ve had short hair until this past year. My husband prefers long hair so I thought I’d give growing it out a try. It’s now to my shoulders in a long bob style and I think it ages me. How does one determine what hairstyle is best for them?

    Thanks, Trish

    1. I am keeping my hair short and tucked behind my ears because length and width around my jawline draw attention to sagging skin in that area. I prefer to have height at the crown and more narrow sides because that is what flatters the face I have now. Some women can wear long hair all their lives, but it has never been very flattering for me.

  6. Stunning as always Susan! I will start using a hat because I notice my gray hair turns brassy in summer.Would you please share the brand of shampoo you use? Thank you so much.

  7. That hair color commercial from years back comes to mind “You’re not getting older, you’re getting better!” It surely applies to you Susan! I turned 65 this year and am still not ready to go gray; since the lockdown I can actually see that I still have quite a bit of my natural color. I’m using brush on eyeshadow or root spray to cover the grays until I can get to the hairdresser again. Once my hair becomes truly silver, like you, I may be ready to let it grow out

  8. I had my husband look at your then and now picture and he thought you looked more “natural” in the warm colors and like you had makeup on in the cool colors that “drained” your coloring. Personally, I like you better with warm face colors but then you have to feel comfortable with what you wear and what feels right for you. Lately you haven’t worn scarfs and I always thought they gave you a “softer” look when you wore them around your neck. Just an observation from me.
    I also think that no matter what you wear, you look classy.

    Clara from Iowa

  9. I was born into a family that grays very late. At 60 I only about 1/8 of my hair is gray. I don’t plan on dying it but I have at least 8 years before I am totally gray. My concern is gray hair with my warm skin tone. There isn’t a lot of information out there about how to deal with that except don’t wear gold jewelry next to your face and I will have to let certain colors go. For example mustard and gold. What do you do when you have warm skin and gray hair? Any ideas would be welcome.

    1. Your natural color may have some sandy tones since not all gray is silver or cool tones. A good colorist can always add some high or lowlights to balance your hair color with your skin tone.

  10. I am also 63 with cool coloring. I wear my dark hair short and have been getting my roots touched up every 3.5 weeks! Well, it’s been 10+ weeks since my last appointment, and the silver is shining! Since I have such a big head start, I’ve decided to embrace my gray. Now I can’t wait to get some of this dyed hair cut off. It’s getting more and more brassy. I used some root spray yesterday that I’ve had for awhile when I went to the nursery for flowers. The root spray is now too dark and brown to blend with my brassy hair. That was not a good look, so I guess I’ll show the grays until I can get a hair cut! Admittedly, I don’t feel confident when my hair doesn’t look good!

  11. Always a beauty! Wow, I love Mickey’s car. If I had a 2nd car, it would definitely be a convertible! Love the hat!

  12. So pretty in navy and green. I too am embracing the gray, months before quarantine and I am very happy. I think I will shop my closet today and wear a similar outfit. Always enjoy your blog, pictures, and positive attitude!
    Have a great day! ☀️☀️

  13. I love everything about your look. That is how I would like to look with the hat and shoes and purse in the perfect blend. I am told to wear a hat most of the time after my last face surgery, and will certainly look into that shape. I find there is a majority of warmer shades and those do not look good with the silver hair, so will keep looking. Thanks for all the inspiration. Oh, also, the cooler colours are perfect on you. A hairdresser once told me I had to have warm tones added to my hair, needless to say I did not go back to her.

  14. You’re looking very trim, Susan! Is it your outfit? Maybe not eating out as frequently? You just look great. It’s not easy to avoid snacking when in lockdown, but I’m sure trying.

  15. I truly look forward to your post. It is so informative and you always look so lovely. I do like your hair, even when you had it cut short a bit back. You are a very attractive woman and were so pretty at age 49, even with the warmer tones.

  16. Hello Susan!
    I have a question about clothes replacement. I have always exercised, but since my retirement 4 years ago, I have more time, so my routine has gotten more rigorous. I feel great and love what I do. I am a vegetarian and eat very healthfully.
    Certain body parts have gotten firmer and smaller.
    However, like many women, I have experienced a larger waist size with age. I am okay with this, but should I just replace all my jeans at once?
    I am looking for styles that are tighter in the legs and hips, but more give in the waist. My size hasn’t changed, I just need different styling . Help please! Also, thanks so much for your amazing blog!

    1. I’ve found that Chico’s pants are always cut fuller in the tummy area. Try their jeggings. The slim fit jeans at Talbots may also work for you. They are cut slim through the hips and legs.

  17. Hello, Susan! I have followed your blog for a long time and recently moved to East Tennessee six months ago and I am enjoying the “Mountain Life” very much. I embraced going gray about two years ago and look forward to your posts and tips as I aspire to age gracefully. Love your hat inspiration as well as your rosy, sun-kissed glow in this post.

  18. I’m so glad to read that you enjoy sharing your experiences and that has given you new purpose. Because you have helped me so much!
    I have to wear orthopedic shoes with ankle braces. When I go out, I need to use a walker. I am still in my 60’s. But, you know what?!! I still have to wear clothes and I’ve learned from you how I can still chose fashionable and not frumpy! I can still be stylish.
    Because of your influence, I have a positive attitude.
    I am so thankful! God bless.

  19. So enjoy the blog! I visited my hairdresser yesterday for my four-week cut. I started “embracing my grey” in my late 30s, with one small spot in the back of my head being the first to “show up”! It drove my hairdresser at the time crazy. He begged me EVERYTIME to “let me just cover up that one spot”. My answer was always the same: no thank you, I can’t even see it! Over the past 20+ years, my dark brown hair has become “sparkly”, as my now 29 year old son referred to it when he was four! If I live to be in my late eighties like my mama has, I hope mine is as beautifully snowy white as hers!

  20. I agree that your sharing what you have learned with all of us has been so helpful to me personally and given me much more confidence in the way I dress. Thank you, Susan!

  21. Susan,
    I have followed you for years Your recent hairstyle is my favorite. What is different about this cut? I want to show it to my stylist when I able to go back to her. Thanks.

  22. When I decided to stop coloring my hair at 64 I had my stylist put in extra highlights. Each time I went in she made it lighter and lighter until it was all silver. So I never had the dreaded “skunk line” look. After that it was easy to just let it grow… I’m all white and it’s shiny and smooth (just lucky, I guess). I have received more compliments in two years than I received in my whole life!

    1. I did the same thing starting at age 61, and I love how may hair looks now. It’s just below my shoulders and although it could use a trim, not getting it done since January hasn’t been painful at all! My hairdresser started with ash and silver highlights, then progressing to platinum and silver. I get so many compliments on my hair now…take the plunge ladies! My sister in law is struggling with the skunk lines and she is not sure what to do. She has very dark brown hair that she dyes at home now…any suggestions I can pass along?

  23. Best thing I’ve ever done was to quit coloring my hair. Saving me lots of money and time. My stylist told me to keep my hairstyle current and it wouldn’t age me. I’ve never looked back…it is so very freeing. Just as God intended it to be.

  24. Hi Susan, your blog has certainly helped me at nearing 60 with dressing for my age .
    Your photos of putting outfits together help me when I have a over full wardrobe of clothes yet nothing to wear lol
    I have an album put together of all your outfit photos on my iphone and when I get stuck with what to wear I go to it for inspiration and ideas it’s been great
    Going from casual to dressy with one outfit but different accessories has also saved room when on vacation.
    Thank you and keep the tips coming

  25. Well Susan, I am finally purging my closets! I have given away all the clothes I don’t love and that just don’t flatter me! It’s so hard, when you have spent so much money, you make excuses thinking you will wear them at a later date. I am trying a second hand store and donating to dress for success. Thank you for the tips on classy style! Love Mr. Mickey’s weekend car! We have a BMW Z3 convertible we ride in!! All the best!

  26. Hi Susan,
    Love the Panama hat you are wearing in your latest post. Tried to find it but they are all sold out. Do you have any ideas where I might be able to buy one? I especially like the grey band. Thank you ad look forward to hearing from you.
    Judith Weden

  27. Susan – to you and all your readers regarding gray hair, take a look at what blogger Beth Djalali at has to say about going gray. Like yours, her blog is excellent.


  28. Susan, will you see if you have my email address? I didn’t receive the last 3 posts.
    Thank you, Jennie

  29. I have learned so much from you Susan and continue to grow from your fashion tips! Keep sharing so I continue to grow.

  30. My natural color is warm. I have seen after copying some of your blue red shirts that they do not look good on me. What basics would you include for pants and tops if you were of the warm hue.? The blacks and whites with a touch of red is very sophisticated but how do you get that sophisticated look when you don’t look good in the blacks or the blue reds? I have been told that I am an autumn/spring. I look better in blue and coral. Do I stick to those two colors or what good colors could I add to my wardrobe to go with my blues and coral. I love a lot of your silver jewelry but I can only wear gold. I am after seventy.

    1. Any clothing with a golden undertone will suit you. Your best blue might be a yellow/green turquoise and the best red for you will be an orange-red. Instead of black, try a warm dark camel or brown, instead of white chose ivory.

  31. I have learned so much from your posts, Susan! Like you, I have finally discovered what does and does not work for me. You are slimmer than I am, but we share the same coloring and lifestyle. I am having fun making better choices when I shop; your tips have made me a better shopper and a happier person. Thank you!

  32. I truly believe your new style is just wonderful! You look great all of the time. Keep it up.

  33. Your comments are appropriate hair, makeup, & clothing colors are spot one. Years ago, likely in the 80’s there was a trend to “have your colors done,” a color analysis. I did it & what a difference it made for me in my wardrobe shopping. Have you ever “had your colors done”. I recall that the analysis was easily done and that I was given a little portfolio of material swatches to use as a reference in my shopping. I am a “winter” as I believe you are. You might have stated that some time in the past. There are a number of links online re color analysis; perhaps your readers would be interested.

    I latched onto your blog about 3 years ago and always appreciate your tips.

  34. I have learned so much from you.
    Plus because of you, I decided to quit coloring my hair. Never had a skunk line because my hairstylist eased me into this with lighter and lighter highlights. So glad I did it.
    Thank you for all of your inspiration! You are my favorite blog.

  35. I let my hair go naturally platinum white when I was in my early 60’s. It was the most liberating feeling and I’ve never regretted it. I think our skin tone changes and mutes as we age, so the change in hair color actually made my skin look better. Your natural look is great!

  36. You have always been a beautiful woman. I love your hair style and color now. As a blonde I hope to have white hair someday. You have been “my girlfriend” for years! I love your clothing suggestions and have purchased many of your ideas. I am a 77 year old who lives half the year in Naples FL and half the year in Grand Rapids Michigan (have family in both cities) When I retired from teaching I needed more casual clothes for play like shorts and crop pants. When I go to church or get dressed up to go out with friends I need another type of casual dress. You have given me so many ideas that have helped. I have many Chico’s clothing items which are classics so I grab my Travelers and then add some jacket. Also have a few of your beautiful scarves. I enjoy reading how you put your pieces together. You are continually giving me organizational ideas. Thank you so much for continuing your blog. I love you and Mr Mickey and wish you both the best. God bless you. Carol Rose

  37. Susan,
    So encouraged by your spunk and positivity. I am over half of 68, work from home but still want to keep myself up. I, too, went to my natural hair color which my hair stylist now REFUSES to color! I get so many compliments on it.

    Mr. Mickey looks like a fun guy – perhaps he should start a blog (or add to yours on occasion) on how older men can continue to be well-dressed and sexy, too!!

    Keep up your blog and style!! Love it!

  38. Susan, I enjoy your blog and was wondering if you have ever considered giving styling advice to individuals. It could be as simple as someone sending you a photo and you giving some styling tips. Sometimes it only takes a keen eye to help someone to continually make better choices. Thanks for your blog and all your helpful advice.

  39. Hi Susan, I love your Fedora hat! What brand is it? The hat you recommended is sold out. Thank you.

  40. I was already having my hair colored. to transition back to grey so it’s not totally obvious. I really got my money’s worth at this last cut and color appointment. My cut’s growing out nicely too. I’m a new reader.

  41. Dear Susan
    I am so happy to have found your blog. I am 54, 1,67 m that is about 5ft5 I believe and although I have a warm colouring, and live in Africa in a very warm climate, it is fun to try your ideas in our very short winter with day temperatures around 24 degrees celsius and nights af about 4 degrees celsius. Early mornings are cold, but then it warms up nicely.
    I love a structured look and it has always worked for me, so I am seriously studying your every blog. I can see which items I should find to fill gaps in my wardrobe.
    I have a short neck and short torso, so it is all about proportions and creating illusions! My legs are a bit heavy with knees that dare not be exposed! I therefore wear jeans and slacks most of the time.
    I also have curly hair which I wear a bit longer, but can see that your no-frills hairdo will certainly work for me in future.
    I hope to age as stylishly as you do. I believe one should take more care as you age to dress appropriately and stylishly but still with a sense of fun and adventure. My make up routine has always been minimalist, but I never leave my house without mascara, eyeliner and lipstick.
    Ive also struggled with allergies, stuffy head and migraines and have recently eliminated numerous foods from my diet. I have already started to lose some weight and feel amazing, but your blog about what you eat has really opened my eyes to new foods to try.
    I can only say that you make all of this look so easy. I love your approach and look forward to every new post I find. As you can see, I can identify with a lot of issues that you have so successfully adressed.
    All the best for the rest of 2020!

  42. I’m now 4 months into transitioning to my silver hair at age 65. This has been the best time to grow my hair out while in isolation. I’ve colored my hair for 30+ years and decided that enough was enough!! I was wondering if you have any posts dealing with clothing colors to wear with silver hair. Did you find that you had to adjust your clothing colors once you were completely silver? Some women have said to stay away from black, but I’m not entirely convinced. Any thoughts?

    I read that you were recovering from covid or covid-like symptoms. Hoping you’re feeling much better now. And a belated Happy Birthday to Mr. Mickey!!

    1. I let my hair grow out to its natural color when I turned fifty, so that was a long time ago. As I recall, I was able to go back to wear red and other more flattering colors when my hair stopped being the brassy color it always turned after coloring.

  43. I am enjoying your tips and plan to add accessories to my look as I have never felt comfortable in wearing them. It makes such a difference! Thanks for the tips. Sandra folk

  44. Oh Susan! I recently found your blogs, and you’ve been there for years! Well, so glad I’ve finally started looking more at Pinterest. You’ve taught me so much! Went shopping this week at Macy’s and have started my core outfit in black (as I am a winter in skin tone and do know the colors that look best on me).
    Thank you for teaching so many of we ladies what
    works, and why.

  45. Susan,
    I enjoy your post so much. I am 64 and I love how you are teaching us to age gracefully. I grew up in Asheville, NC but have lived in eastern N.C. for many years. So I love your post in and around the mountains. They will always be in my heart. Thank you for your tips. I always look forward to seeing and reading your suggestions.

    Dawn Thomas

  46. I think that you are lovely at any age but frankly I think that the age 49 coloration suits you better. The gray hair color doesn’t change what goes best with your skin tone.

  47. Love your tips and age appropriate attire. Just because we are over 60 doesn’t mean we don’t want to look good (& maybe even turn some heads) when we go out! I’ve been telling my friends about your blog and that even though we are retired we should still look and feel great about ourselves when we go out!

  48. My natural color was dark brown almost black. I experimented with color for a while, but one evening I noticed that most of my bridge group was doing the same experiment and it was not a pretty sight! Most of us had the same color hair. Now my hair is completely white and I get lots of complements on it.

    In defense of your younger self, I think maybe the photo has changed some over the years or the film used emphasized the warm colors. I definitely prefer your current color choices.

    I tried on a couple of my outfits just to see what dividing my self in half vs 1/3 – 2/3 looked like on me.. Not that I doubted you, but what a difference! I will certainly keep the formula in mind from now on. You’re keeping us on track.

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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.