Bending The Rules - une femme d'un certain âge

Bending The Rules


#OOTD – Navy + Black

One of the fashion rules I learned growing up was that the components of an outfit should have matching levels of formality. Tailored with tailored, casual with casual. Another was that blue and black should never be worn together. Today, rules like these feel as anachronistic as dial telephones.

I’ve worn this linen sweater quite a bit as part of more casual outfits (it was one of my 12 Items that went to France in April/May) but it wasn’t until I paired it with these more tailored trousers that I really received a lot of compliments on it. I think the juxtaposition of slouchy and structured makes each piece stand out a bit more.


These glasses are actually a few years old. Because I’m not as diligent about wearing my sunglasses as I really should be (and end up constantly squinting), I took my current pair in to get the lenses replaced with the “Transitions” kind that darken in bright light (should have them back next week). These above have those self-adjusting lenses, hence the slightly dark cast out in sunlight.

Another “rule” I’m bending is the one that says women over 50 should stick to pale or nude lipstick. I’ve been playing with bright lip color again lately. This one is Chanel Rouge Allure in “Melodieuse.” I’m starting to think that maybe my best “red” is really bright pink.

Striped_sweater+trousers 3

Earrings: Beladora // Sweater: Eileen Fisher // Tank: Eileen Fisher // Cuff: Metal Pointu’s, similar // Watch: Michael Kors // Pants: Vince // Shoes: Sam Edelman

Do you mix casual with more tailored pieces? What are some of your favorite combos? What other style rules do you like to bend or even break?

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  1. Judy
    June 19, 2014 / 8:50 pm

    You look great, also fresh and young! I like the whole outfit and envy you the ability to wear stripes. I like the lipstick on you too. Damn the no-makeup look! I am rocking a coral lipstick (organic from Ilia) these days after years of not bothering except for nude lipliner etc. (But I will never give up my eyeliner, I am a punk rock chick, after all.)

  2. June 19, 2014 / 9:23 pm

    Seems to me like you have a wonderful flexibility in your color palette – peach, pink, you can do them both.

    Love this outfit. Earrings are just right:).

  3. June 19, 2014 / 10:42 pm

    Rules for lipstick? Really? I wear reds and pinks…maybe I break rules too.
    Black and blue sound good on paper so why not wear them as you have shown us here?
    The one rule I want to break is wearing t shirts with a message printed on them…I have seen so many fun ones lately that I am tempted but nudging 60 makes me shy away….what do you think ?

    • KPL
      June 20, 2014 / 6:29 am

      Hostess – do it! I think it looks cool.

  4. frugalscholar
    June 19, 2014 / 10:53 pm

    In Paris now–seeing quite a few navy handbags with black outfits.

  5. June 20, 2014 / 12:19 am

    Best lipstick on you, I will immedately rush to the nearest Chanel counter to test it out. You also must rethink your glasses. You look great in black frames. I know you always wear brownish but black looks great on you. Navy and black? Great looking. Do you use a camera on a tripod to take your photos? Or do you have someone’s help? Great look.

    • une femme
      June 20, 2014 / 5:46 am

      Hi Sandra, thanks! I use a tripod and a remote (you can sometimes see the little clicker in my hand).

      • Judy
        June 20, 2014 / 7:00 am

        Somehow I always imagined that it was your husband taking the pictures!

  6. June 20, 2014 / 1:04 am

    That lipstick looks great on you Susan. Every time I try to mix casual/formal I end up with a horrid result, I’ll be watching the comments here to see what others have to say on doing it successfully as you have here. I wonder if there is something in the slightly formal shoes with the slightly formal trousers, maybe that’s where I’ve gone wrong.

  7. June 20, 2014 / 4:10 am

    This is such a youthful look from lipstick to cuff! I really like black and blue together…and the slouchy with the structure works! I also like these glasses on you…however, I like them anyway because they look a lot like mine!!

  8. Nuts4dogs
    June 20, 2014 / 4:16 am

    I think the lipstick looks great. A pop of colour only enhances. Brings life in.

  9. June 20, 2014 / 4:32 am

    Wonderful modern look, Susan. I really enjoy navy + black, and wear it a lot myself. And lovely new lipstick!

  10. sueinspain
    June 20, 2014 / 5:33 am

    Love this outfit on you and I would happily wear this combination (maybe not the shoes unless they’re super-comfy!) though with a necklace, as I don’t have pierced ears. I also break the lipstick rule because I look washed out with pale lips – I’ll have a look for the colour you’re wearing next time I’m shopping. I’m short and not as slim as I was, however I love stripes so I break the “rule” about not wearing horizontal stripes unless you’re tall and slim.

  11. June 20, 2014 / 5:45 am

    You look GREAT in this lip-color. I’m leery of rules in general and especially of those that try to limit what we can wear. Sure, there are guidelines to style, but not rules. In my last outfit, I mixed casual sandals with a more formal dress and liked the result. The sandals made the dress look more current. Ultimately we should make our own decisions on matters of style.

  12. Laurie
    June 20, 2014 / 6:05 am

    I love mixing styles – I especially think a lace or dressy blouse looks terrific with jeans. Recently I’ve worn a summer tweed suit jacket with jeans and it looks very polished.

    As for lipstick – I had never heard of that “over 50” rule and frankly, don’t understand it at all. My lips seem to be disappearing with age, and while I would never go for the bright red look (I have lighter hair/very pale skin), my lips definitely need something more than pale or nude. I love Clinique’s Ice Bloom. I sometimes think of stockpiling it for that inevitable day when it is discontinued.

  13. Diane
    June 20, 2014 / 6:08 am

    I am definitely considering getting this sweater. I just bought the black linen one you wore a couple of posts back and simply love the way it drapes and fits on me.
    One question: I am short but was unable to buy the small petite of the black so instead tried the small. The fit was great and I am happy with it. Now I wonder if you are wearing the petite or the regular in this sweater since I seem to have a size choice this time?

    • une femme
      June 20, 2014 / 6:40 am

      Hi Diane, both the black sweater and this one are Petites, but I often find with EF sweaters that the regular sizes fit just fine and sometimes I prefer the longer length of the regular size.

  14. KPL
    June 20, 2014 / 6:45 am

    I honestly don’t remember growing up with too many fashion rules, or I tuned them out? My grandmother loved navy and black combos, and as my mother disliked black shoes on little girls, I wore white leather Mary Jane’s year round. I guess my family marched to it’s own fashion drum? I love your outfit – one of the best ever.

  15. stylecrone
    June 20, 2014 / 7:10 am

    Bending the rules of the past looks great on you. Blue with black speaks freedom, and one of my favorite combinations. I too love bright lip colors. You look fabulous!

  16. citizen spot
    June 20, 2014 / 8:29 am

    I always thought the “rule” was don’t mix navy and black. I have always mixed non-navy blues and black, but now it looks like navy and black can also play well together.

  17. Rita
    June 20, 2014 / 8:32 am

    I love linen sweaters, I wish they were more prevalent. I generally wear casual shoes with dressier outfits, unfortunately it’s not much choice for me since I need the arch support & can’t wear a heel over 2″. I have a scarf with free-form stripes in pink & orange, I wear it with an orange skirt & pink (linen, of course) shirt.

  18. Duchesse
    June 20, 2014 / 8:39 am

    I adore your blue with black but what is making me swoon: the earrings! Absolutely gorgeous!
    Some of the “rules” seem to pertain to the US specifically; one from my mother that I still follow is not to have your skirt hanging out of your coat (assuming the coat is not a deliberately shorter design like a 3/5 topper.)

  19. adriennerichlife
    June 20, 2014 / 8:47 am

    I adore navy and black together. I think that rule – that I steadfastly used to follow – is quite silly now that I am looking back. I was also told that white should never be worn with off-white. I do that all the time now and love it!
    I think a woman of a certain age needs more color rather than less when it comes to makeup. Nothing garish, of course, but I find dark pinks and certain coral shades very flattering at this age.
    Happy Friday, Susan!

  20. gingerR
    June 20, 2014 / 9:08 am

    The think the no bright lipstick rule is rooted in the problem of lipstick bleeding into your facial lines. A lighter lipstick color doesn’t show that so much. Nevertheless, that’s not a look anybody wants.

    Personally I think I look better with a colored lipstick. If something is too nude I look washed out.
    Some lipsticks need a lip liner to stay put, others are formulated better and not so runny. Find the right one or combination and wear whatever color you like!

    Lipstick on the teeth is another problem! Friends tell friends if that happens 🙂

    • June 20, 2014 / 12:44 pm

      Lipstick bleeding may be a reason for the rule. Now days we have lip pencils that keep the bleeding from happening. No more need for that rule!
      I’ve always wondered if the “wear nude” came from wanting women of a certain age to blend into the background. I also wondered if it came about 2 generations ago when moral women didn’t wear bright lipsticks? That said, I know my one grandma definitely wore lipstick. It looked good on her.

  21. Kathleen
    June 20, 2014 / 9:36 am

    Love the sophistication of navy and black. The bright lip color is lovely and lights up your face. I don’t feel dressed unless I have on a pretty pink or berry lip color and thank Duchesse of passagedesperles for pointing me toward Cover Girl’s Outlast lip color.

  22. June 20, 2014 / 9:50 am

    Love the outfit but I also wanted to say I have been LOVING your hair this season!! Lovely color, chic cut. Goes with everything. 🙂 Inspirational!

  23. Jill Ann
    June 20, 2014 / 11:14 am

    Didn’t know there was a rule about lipstick! I think I look terrible with a nude lip, it washes me out. That said, I tend toward more sheer formulations; I switch between a berry pink and a coral, with an occasional red, depending on what clothes I’m wearing.

    Where I have a problem is when my clothes are in purple tones (yes, I wear color!) Yesterday I wore a shirt in a great watercolor print (I wear prints too!) with shades of blues and purples on a black background. The coral and red wouldn’t have worked, but the berry pink wasn’t right either. And I’m not going to wear purple lipstick. Any suggestions?

    • Nicole
      June 20, 2014 / 12:01 pm

      Jill Ann, I, too, have been wearing shades of violet and purple over the last couple of years. The lipstick I wear with it all is Mac, and the color is Syrup. It’s in their Lustre line and it is my favorite lipstick of all time. Sometimes I combine it with a sheer gloss or over a base of my sunscreen lip balm. In any case, it’s a great color. I’ve worn mine down to the stub! Viva the violet!

      • June 20, 2014 / 2:13 pm

        Love syrup also. But I’m going to try Susan’s new Chanel.

      • Jill Ann
        June 21, 2014 / 11:10 am

        Thanks Nicole, I’ll check it out! I guess another option would be a blue-based pink, will have to search for one of those too.

  24. Sandy Smith
    June 20, 2014 / 11:32 am

    I grew up with the rule ‘ no heels with trousers’. Fortunately it no longer exists……great for those of us with short legs, as the right shoe and trouser leg gives us that longed for length!

  25. June 20, 2014 / 12:28 pm

    I love wearing black and blue together.
    I find a combination of casual plus formal works really well for “business casual” and also for Fridays. You can go straight from work to a casual evening engagement.

  26. Nicole
    June 20, 2014 / 2:15 pm

    The black pants have such ‘useability’ for both casual and dress-up, my favorite being with low heels or shiny flats. These have an almost Audrey Hepburn feel and style to them, fashioned a little differently for our certain d’age. It’s a wonderful look. I found a similar pair when going into a dressing room to try on tops and they happened to be in the dressing room, and then fit perfectly. Serendipity.

    I used to really dislike blue and black together (and I have no idea why). It has grown on me and now I see no reason why to dislike it (but I am intrigued as to where that came from).

    Your lipstick color make you, in the outfit, pop! I hesitate to wear such brightness but when I see it on somebody else I love the effect, as it can brighten the whole face. Bravo

  27. Lorraine
    June 21, 2014 / 2:29 am

    Bonjour love your blog. Great outfits. Blue and black..
    Can you recommend a few stores to shop in Paris?

  28. Eleni
    June 21, 2014 / 7:49 am

    Picture perfect, beautiful outfit, love the lipstick

  29. Sisty
    June 21, 2014 / 7:50 am

    This is scary — I’ve worn an almost exact copy of that outfit once a week for work for the last several weeks. Mine is a blue/white linen mariniere (Saks house brand), Peace of Kloth black sateen ankle trousers, and black suede wedge ankle strap sandals by Taryn Rose, which I’ve had for a few years now. Usually I wear silver Creoles, but the other day wore Indian-inspired embellished hoops much like yours.

    I’m consciously taking inspiration from Cathy Horyn (who describes a uniform of pullover and slim trousers but with flats), and Sofia Coppola, who wears the same outfit much of the time, but with black ankle-strap wedges or heels.

    The texture-mixing here works because it’s not too extreme — unlike filmy cotton lawn dresses worn with leather jackets and combat boots — kind of charming for the young but not terribly sophisticated.

    And didn’t I JUST decide that, while neutral lipsticks are every nice and very flattering, I shouldn’t give up on red lipstick altogether. Mine turns out to be Nars Fire Down Below, which on me, applied lightly, looks like a pink/red, not at all like the brick red it looks like in the tube. Red lips require a little more attention during the day, though — they tend to fade and leave a ring if I’m not careful with touch ups.

  30. June 21, 2014 / 3:45 pm

    OK, I bought the lipstick. It looked great until I had to apply it again. Then it looked neon. Any secrets as to how to deal with it? How does it work on you. It’s fab in the photos. Maybe I should only wear it to be photographed in.

    • une femme
      June 21, 2014 / 4:00 pm

      Sandra, two things to try: first, blot it. That takes the brightness down just a bit. That’s how I’m wearing in the photo. Then, if the color still feels too intense, try just a little bit of a sheer nude color over it (after blotting), either a gloss or a sheer stick color. That will also give it a bit of shine since it does dry a little bit matte.

  31. Suzanne B.
    June 21, 2014 / 4:43 pm

    I recently discovered your blog, and just have to say that I am finally inspired to shop! My job requires a uniform (fire inspector) which means I am clueless about clothing styles, especially since I’m over 50! I love the Eileen Fisher pieces, and your shoe collection is outstanding, but sadly, out of my price range. Are there other sources similar to what you have posted that are a little more budge friendly? Also, I was planning to visit Paris when I retire in about 8 years, but your photos have made me think I need to do it sooner! Thanks for a great blog!

    • une femme
      June 21, 2014 / 5:56 pm

      Hi Suzanne, welcome, and thanks! It’s always a little tough to recommend lower priced versions as materials, fit and construction will vary. Right now there are a lot of EF pieces on sale at Nordstrom: . If you like Eileen Fisher’s styles and ease of wear, you might also want to check out J.Jill. I haven’t shopped there in a while, but they do offer a lot of things in linen, and the aesthetic is often similar to Eileen Fisher. For footwear, you may want to look at Sole Society brand. They are quite reasonably priced, and offer some very cute styles. I have a pair from this brand and am quite impressed with the quality for the price. You can find them at Nordstrom: and on their own website:

  32. June 22, 2014 / 4:26 am

    Thank you soooooooooooooooo much for being such a good sport, and part of the Share-in-Style family.
    Your style is always chic, classy and wobderful, my dear friend

  33. June 22, 2014 / 9:53 am

    lighter or nude lipsticks over a certain age? I didn’t know that. I’m 56 (almost) but my hair is still mostly dark and my eyes are dark. I love light lipsticks in theory, but they always make my face disappear into a bland whiteness under all that dark hair. I do love your outfit though. I guess I also like mixing casual with formal, structured with unstructured. I think it can be hard to pull off unless you know yourself and are comfortable with your own style, but you seem to have that part mastered.

  34. June 22, 2014 / 11:53 am

    Very chic and I’m glad you broke the rule about lipstick – that shade looks great on you. I like mixing casual with tailored and I like wearing red lipstick to work even though that it generally thought to be a no-no, but it’s just more me.

  35. nell
    June 22, 2014 / 1:10 pm

    You are wearing a great color of lipstick for your coloring– I don’t think that pink is too bright at all, just enlivening.

    I think I have fair, cool-based “summer” or “gentle” coloring, and find that quite a few pinks and roses work for me, BUT the low contrast among my eyes (grey), skin (so light you can see through it) and hair (lightest brown with cool blonde highlights), requires a fairly narrow range of intensity. If that makes sense! In other words, color is necessary for me, but can’t go TOO bright. Very bright or deep red lipstick just overwhelms me.

    Mixing tailored and casual is something I do in my favorite “uniform”, I guess. I wear casual short denim or twill skirts, but pair them almost always with colorful cotton button-down shirts and often a linen or cotton jacket. My concession to “casual” in my shirts is that they often incorporate a small amount of spandex!

    Thanks for asking interesting sartorial questions that really make me think!

  36. June 22, 2014 / 5:40 pm

    the lipstick looks beautiful on you. we should wear what feels good and makes us happy.

    • Judy
      June 22, 2014 / 5:42 pm

      Wow, this thread is on fire! Bravo, Susan/Une Femme, for hitting a nerve!

  37. June 23, 2014 / 12:30 pm

    Wow Sue,
    Navy and black is such a sophisticated combination. You pulled it off just right.
    The Beladora earrings add just the right je ne sais quoi to the ensemble.
    Tres Chic!

  38. June 25, 2014 / 10:13 pm

    I like this outfit and always struggle with wearing navy and black together. I have a tough time when the navy is really dark (almost black) and I struggle with color shoes to wear. You paired the 2 colors so well here.


  39. July 1, 2014 / 4:55 am

    Hi Susan, I love the black and navy together and the slouchy with the more tailored pants. I am a big fan of playing with different looks and breaking the so called rules of fashion. I also appreciate the fact that you are having fun with your lip color – the pink looks great on you. I think we all need a little color on our lips as we get older – it makes our faces come alive. you look great!

  40. jangrahammcmillen
    July 1, 2014 / 2:23 pm

    What a delicious sweater … that stylized stripe looks fresh as 6am on a spring morn! And the shoes … the SHOES ,,, wonderful.

  41. Deborah Lindsay
    July 6, 2014 / 5:10 am

    Love your blog!!!

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