Use Your Intuition

Intuitive dressing, gardening, and cooking all serve me well. So, after learning the basic principles, I prefer to use that knowledge to make the task my own. Copying a look I have admired on another may not represent my aesthetic. Your aesthetic combines wardrobe pieces and accessories that reflect your personality.

Take pictures of yourself wearing your favorite outfits. Then, study the details of what makes that look work in your favor. Consider which shapes, textures, and colors flatter you. It has helped immensely to see photos of myself because the mirror lies. So many of you have told me you thought you looked OK, but when you saw family photos later, you said, “What was I thinking?”

Photos allow us to be more objective about what we see, and they are also the reverse of what you see in the mirror. Taking a selfie that only you see and keep in a file on your phone allows you to save reminders of great outfits.

We are certainly the “glass half-full” people and try to make the most of every day. Saturday was another cloudy and, at times, rainy day, but we didn’t let that keep us indoors. During a few minutes of sunshine, we whipped into the parking lot of Elk River Realty to take these photos.

We enjoyed another delightful lunch at one of our favorite places in Banner Elk, Bodegas Kitchen and Wine Bar. The owner, Paul, and his excellent staff always make us feel like family as we have a leisurely lunch on the back deck overlooking the woods.

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  1. Susan, how do you and so many other stylish women manage to wear ankle pants and make them look chic? Ankle pants always make me feel like a little girl growing out of her hand-me-down clothes with no resources to replace them.

    1. I’ve enjoyed wearing slim-fitting ankle pants for almost twenty years. However, the width of the leg might be the critical factor in making the pants look more fashionable.

  2. Last January, I decided to take pictures (selfies) of me in my outfits to wear to work. BEST decision ever even though I felt silly doing it. You are SO right in that it looks different than in the mirror and it is easier for me to be more objective. I made it a goal to photograph my “OOTW” as I chose one outfit to wear each week being that I travel to a different location each day. It is more like doing “uniform” without it being so and lessens decision fatigue for me and takes less time to get dressed in the morning. The only thing I have to deal with is if the item needs freshening and that is no big deal as all my clothing except blazers are machine washable. I’ve accumulated my photos in an album on my phone AND on Pinterest as a backup. It is so enlightening to see what I wear and how it looks and it has helped me to let some things go to the “donate” pile that might look better on someone else. It has the added benefit of being a fun project for me. Ha! Thank you for you excellent blog and I always get inspiration from you to go through life like that…”glass half full” kind of thing!
    Joyfully, Rebecca

  3. Hi Susan, I am so pleased that I found your website. During the last 18 months I have been following your blogs with great interest, and now have more ideas on how to dress for my age and activities. I have been clearing out things that clearly do not suit me anymore, and find your blogs inspirational. Please keep going, there are a lot of us out there looking for a little guidance.
    By the way, did you get your new glasses?

  4. Hi Susan and Everyone,

    I hate to sound like Debbie Downer but good fashion begins with a good figure. I speak from the unfortunate experience of being plump in all the wrong places. When I look at pictures of myself throughout my life until about 45 years of age, I always looked very polished, well-groomed and people used to say that I could make a sweatshirt and jeans look fashionable. But I was 2 inches taller and much thinner and my eyelids didn’t sag 🙁 I always wore nice clothing that wasn’t always expensive but it was in good taste, well-made, fit and it wasn’t trendy. A blazer makes anything look great!

    Now that I’m post menopausal, I definitely have a matronly figure that is quite difficult for me to fashion – especially given how poorly designed and tasteless most fashion is these days. I feel so self conscious in almost anything I wear. I tend to wear looser clothing but I also know that clothing that doesn’t fit well will lead to excess weight gain sort of like being a fish in a tank that is too large. Lately I’ve been forcing myself to wear more fitted clothing. It also makes me more aware of what I’m eating throughout the day.

    One thing that drives me absolutely crazy ( besides bad hair styles/cuts) is the back pocket placement on women’s jeans and pants in general. Pants that fit and look good on me from the front look horrifying when I dare to check the rear view in the mirror. They place the yoke so low from the waist band causing the pockets to sit too low and even worse, they are not oriented properly. The yoke hits me at and accentuates the worst location on my hips- the widest and heaviest place- and the pockets are so low that I feel like a sloppy rapper. I always wonder how many women actually notice this? So, I avoid jeans and pants with back pockets except for welt pockets. I also don’t like the back pockets being lower than the shirt/blouse I’m wearing because I look out of proportion.

    1. I have noticed the same fit problems that you mentioned with some jeans. However, one of the reasons I love the Slim-Sation jeans here is that there are no pockets, and the waistline is very comfortable.

    1. It takes a bit of work to get the proportions right with wide-leg pants. I look for a more fitted style in the hips. Pairing them with shoes or boots with heels helps make the legs look longer. A shorter jacket or sweater that fits close to the body keeps us from looking larger than we are while wearing wide-leg pants.

  5. Thank you Susan! I’ve never heard of them. I’m going to give a pair a try. I prefer slimmer ankle pants ( not leggings or skinny though). Yesterday I wore a pair of wide leg rayon slacks ( previous J Jill purchase) that surprisingly looked wonderful with a white smock/ pullover style shirt that wasn’t too long. J Jill once had wonderful petite clothing that fit me but I can no longer recommend shopping online with them.

  6. Your advise regarding taking photos of your outfits is spot on!
    I just started this practice and what a difference it makes in my choices, as well as my confidence. Easy to put together outfits that you are sure look good is like a dream come true.

    As far as jeans trends go..I have always selected a straight leg, and have never been able to wear “skinny” jeans. Larger legs, and flares are just not for me. Especially the trend of ankle length flares. I always say I didn’t like them the first around, and still find them unflattering. I am definitely going to try the pants you are wearing.

    I have found myself filtering and limiting the number of pieces in my wardrobe…you have been extremely helpful with my choices to keep and build on. You always look stylish, and on trend and elegant. Many thanks for your suggestions.

  7. What a wonderful idea about taking pictures in our outfits so we can see how it actually looks. A great way to keep pictures of favorite outfits!

  8. I love your confidence! I will have to try the photo tip to help build up mine. Would you share how you stay fit and trim? I am struggling. Thanks.

  9. Love your photos of the autumn plants and flowers. We just returned from Burnsville, NC and it was wonderful to see mountains and fall leaves. Your photos and advice always help make my mornings enjoyable.

  10. Thank you for sharing the fall pictures. It’s such a beautiful time of the year.
    You are an inspiration and I look forward to your posts.

  11. Good morning Susan,

    I like your attitude and outlook on life. The photos are so up lifting to look at, thanks for sharing.

    My hubby often asks me “what was the best part of your day honey,” and my reply is always the same, “waking up,” that means I am alive and get the privilege of enjoying an incredible day.

    I like what my new pianist friend in my home town of San Francisco say’s “Enjoy today – it comes only once in a lifetime!” Danny Halfords comment really resonates with me. I find this to be “spot on.”

    Sending smiles and here is to a wonderful, joyful day. It will be for my hubby because Sandy his hair stylist that comes to our home to give Barry hair cuts is arriving early this morning. Ten weeks is too long to go.

  12. Yes the mirror does lie…also with makeup and may think your makeup and hair look great in your bathroom mirror at that angle and that lighting, but that all changes when you leave the room and go out into the world,,thus the shock when you thought you looked great and then saw a photo of yourself in different lighting and different angle.

  13. Susan,
    Your suggestions are the best!
    Recently I came across a picture from a family gathering a while back. A relative had a calendar made of everyone in attendance. I recall wishing I had worn something else that day because I was told at a color consultation (long ago) to avoid red near my face. It turns out the picture was one of the best I have seen of myself and everyone agreed. The color of my sweater looked great. You pointed out that the different shades can make a difference in past posts and you are so right. Darker reds with a bit of a wine color look good on me. I have the sweater because it’s nice and I couldn’t part with it. I will be wearing it a lot now.
    Thanks for all your wise advice. It’s simple and very practical which I appreciate.

  14. It is great to be your self… authentic self, living a simple life, w/ beauty, yard full of flowers attracting butterflies, turtles, including baby ones, squirrels(rascals) different types of birds….or often strolling along the shoreline, bicycling… exhilarating!

  15. Hi Susan, do you also like the Slim Station pants in the denim or other colors? You’re the best, and thank you so much for your suggestions, that has been a great help to so many. Pat

  16. Susan,
    You always give wonderful advice. I am wondering what you think about the new styles in jeans, especially the lighter colors.
    I have been wearing darker denim these days. I feel as though it’s more suited to my age. What are your thoughts?

    1. Darker denim is a better choice for me too. I find lighter washes challenging to style with anything other than sharply tailored items such as navy blazers or crisp white shirts.

  17. Love your travels, pictures, and of course the wonderful advice given. I hope to take pics now too of my OOTD. I know you’ve mentioned it before, but I will give it a try. Thanks too for pant recommendation. Always enjoy reading your blog – the best!

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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.