Use What You Have

Great style isn’t about buying the newest trend. For me, it means creatively using what I already have.

Each time I wear this cashmere sweater from Everlane, I’m glad I bought it. The soft, thin knit is perfect to wear alone or layered with a jacket. (I’ve worn it with a long cardigan too! That post is here.) Crewneck tops are generally not my best choice, but this one is low enough to show my collarbones while still keeping me warm. I wear white jeans all year round when there is no chance of precipitation.

The plaid suiting jacket is from White House|Black Market. The white jeans are old from Chico’s. The bag is several years old.

The black and white polka dot scarf is old by Ralph Lauren. I’ve decided the best way to use the thin silk rectangle scarves is to tie them to the handle of my handbag. Always tie the scarf to the back part of the bag as you are carrying it to keep from adding visual bulk where you don’t need it in the front.

The Franco Sarto shoes are from last year. When I wear light-colored pants, I always wear nude shoes. Since I wear mostly flat shoes now, I’ve had to learn some new styling tricks.

Before I purchase anything new, I ask myself, “Will I wear this for the next ten years?” Classic, simple styles paired with dramatic accessories allows me to wear the same items on repeat in endless ways. Gimmicky clothing with too many busy details, bright colors, and bold patterns are not for me. I’m pleased with all the pieces I’ve purchased in recent years now that I know what works for my shape and my lifestyle. I hope that sharing what I’ve learned, helps you to develop your best style also.

  1. Totally great outfit along with the idea of cleverly wearing what you have already. That idea appeals to me a lot on so many levels.

  2. Good Morning, Susan!
    I really do enjoy your posts. Love this outfit! Simple, clean and classy! I am quite a bit shorter than you, but this is an outfit I would wear. I have never owned a cashmere sweater, although I love the look and feel. My hesitation is the care. Do you hand wash it or dry clean? My lifestyle is not as dressy as yours, but I never leave the house, even to go to the grocery store, without an “outfit” on! It makes me feel like I’m putting my best foot forward! Thanks for all you do!

    1. I gently handwash my cashmere in cold water and then fold/roll it up within a towel and press to start drying it. Then I lay it out flat to finish drying. I always hang it up on a hook or my rolling rack to let it air out for a couple of days each time I wear it. I don’t wash my cashmere items unless they need it. Natural fibers can release odors naturally.

  3. Love that post. I’m trying to shop my closet this year and use that money I would spend on clothes for fun trip.

  4. I was pleasantly surprised when I eagerly opened up your email and saw the first picture! You look stunning. Very good post with information. Thank you and have a wonderful weekend.

  5. Good tip on the scarf on the back of your handbag…I never thought of that when I do it!! Seems so obvious but I wasn’t even thinking!!

  6. Love the white jeans with the gray sweater and jacket — very nice! I’ve always wanted to wear white jeans in the winter, but here in Michigan, they only work when the weather isn’t sloppy. But I can see how they’d work in the south, even in winter. Thanks for the inspiration, and happy new year to you!

  7. I love this post. You are so inspiring as always. Even though I have the exact opposite body type as you and have dark hair, I still learn from you and adapt those lessons to my body/ complexion. It’s refreshing to see a woman our age, who knows her style and doesn’t waver. I love that you don’t chase trends or feel compelled to model what’s in the stores currently. You look wonderful.

  8. Susan, this outfit is tres, tres chic! I love the darker gray on the lighter gray with the white pants, and I like the way you always carry a bag with color that pops! Perfect! I have learned something today about wearing the lighter shoes with the white pants. I would have gone out the door with dark shoes on — a bad choice. Lovely outfit, head to toe!

  9. Love your simplicity but in a glamorous way Susan. Wish I could downsize my closet…..maybe that will be something for me to work on in this New Year!

    All the best,

  10. Hi Susan, my favorite color combination. I have the oversize Everlane blazer, so wondering if it would work with this outfit? Since you are going to lower heels, what do you think of the block heels. I don’t remember seeing you wearing them. Perhaps not dressy enough for your outing with Mr. Mickey, and too much heel for casual? Hope you enjoy your weekend.

    1. The oversize blazer would also work with this look. I have a few pairs of block heeled sandals and boots. I enjoy the comfort and they do look nice with most outfits.

  11. You look lovely. I did not know to wear a neutral shoe with white pants, that does look nice. I just received my first 2 covered perfectly 3/4 sleeve t’s in white and black, they feel awesome! I also purchased the cascading vest in grey, black white animal, it is darling! I love your tips and style. I look forward to engaging in the seminar with Sylvia! Have a great week!

  12. Perfect classy, casual outfit! Love everything about it. And I think that light grey will be your new signature neutral – so flattering.

  13. So nice to find your site. Yours is the second blog I’ve read this week that mentions using scarves tied to purses and other “accessory” ways, which is something I used to do in the 70’s and 80’s and perhaps you enjoyed doing, too? You mentioned scarves being expensive, at times. I have given up on purchasing scarves at department stores and now search for them every time I visit my favorite thrift shops. My biggest “find” was an Evan Piccone treasure for about $5. In Richmond Virginia the thrift shops are fabulous treasure troves.

  14. I’m a plus size girl and love the way you dress. I have always dressed with classic clothing. I’m not a frilly girl, but wear can I get plus size jeans and blazers like yours .

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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.