Colorful style: a year of adding color to my wardrobe

My Color Journey: Year One

Evolving a more colorful style after my color analysis with Red Leopard. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

Toward A More Colorful Style…

For decades, my wardrobe consisted primarily of neutrals, mostly black. Black was both a practical and aesthetic choice. Practical, because it was easy to put outfits together, and because it (mostly) traveled well.

Aesthetic for a number of reasons. First, I believed it conferred authority and seriousness. (For the last 18 years of my corporate career I was a department head, one of the few women in my division at that level.) Second because there’s a chicness, sophistication, and drama to it I still love. And third, because I’d been taught all my life that black was “slimming.”

Susan B. of une femme d'un certain age wears a minimalist look with draped black jacket, tan bag and metallic boots.

Early in 2019, still wearing lots of black… (outfit details HERE)

But there was always a part of me that craved more color. I’d tried adding it to my wardrobe periodically, but it almost always felt “off,” like the colors didn’t belong to me. By the beginning of 2019, my “easy” neutral wardrobe was feeling drab and stale and I knew I needed to shake things up. And that I needed a fresh pair of eyes to help me get started.

"Self-defined in five colors," neon artwork by Joseph Kosuth at Foundation Louis Vuitton in Paris.

My blogger friend Lisa of The Sequinist wrote about having a color analysis with Red Leopard in London. She raved about her experience and results. We were planning to be in London later that year, so I booked a color and style consultation with them.

The Journey Begins…

Color analysis with Red Leopard in London. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

Click here to read all about my Red Leopard experience.

Once I really saw the difference that my best colors made in how I looked (and felt!), I couldn’t unsee it. I walked away feeling excited and energized, and like I’d made three new awesome friends.

Susan B. of une femme d'un certain age with Jennifer Saunders, Manina Weldon and Annie Castano of Red Leopard.

But I also knew that updating my wardrobe would be long process, and that I’d have to be patient and persistent. Annie (on the right in red) suggested that I start by clearing out my closet of black and other pieces not in my Spring palette…

Out With The Old…

Before and After a closet clear clear out. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

How I began my color journey: with a huge closet purge !

What I quickly discovered when I began shopping to rebuild my wardrobe was that the colors in my palette weren’t that plentiful in shops and current collections. At least not in styles that suited me.

I’ve developed the habit of scanning the racks or websites for colors in my palette, and not bothering with the rest. It’s certainly cut down on both the time and money spent shopping. But for several months, I felt as though I was wearing the same few pieces on repeat.

In With The New…

Susan B of une femme d'un certain age in a casual leather jacket outfit with striped tee and jeans.

That leather jacket was one of the very first pieces I found in one of my “best” colors, and is still one of my favorites. (Outfit details HERE.)

Over time, I’ve been able to find more clothing that hits the mark for both color and style. It’s definitely been a year of trial and error…and I’ve learned much from the “misses” as well as the “hits.”

Susan B. wears a linen sweater outfit with light wash jeans and French Kande jewelry. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

Love this green, and am hoping to find more of it! (Outfit details HERE.)

The biggest change though, is that I’m not only having much more fun with style, but feeling freer to express my more playful and irreverent side. (Maybe it’s also finally shaking off the last remnants of the Serious™ persona I thought I had to put forward during my corporate career.)

Susan B. wears a lemon print sweater, tassel earrings and light wash jeans. More about creating a colorful style at une femme d'un certain age.

Earrings | Sweater (similar) | Jeans | Shoes

I’m no longer trying to fit into someone else’s idea of stylish, or pretty, or whatever. Both inside and out, I’m moving closer to a “first-rate version” of myself.

It may sound like hyperbole to say that my Red Leopard color and style consultation was “life changing,” but it really feels that way to me.

Always be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of somebody else. --quote by Judy Garland.

And here’s another thing that’s been a pleasant surprise…by sticking to colors within my palette, I find that pieces are easy to re-mix in different combinations. Even with a more colorful style, I don’t need a huge wardrobe to create variety.

If you want to see how my style has evolved over the last year, (yes, including some of the “misses”) you’ll find all of my outfit posts HERE. I’m excited about continuing on this journey!

Have you shifted toward a more colorful style? Has it impacted your outlook?

Stay in touch.

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  1. Rose
    July 6, 2020 / 4:35 am

    Susan—there’s a lot to be said when you wear your color palette. You’re glowing and when I look at the picture of you dressed in black, I can see the color overwhelms you. What a drastic change for the better.

    • Cecile
      July 6, 2020 / 7:00 am

      Rose, I agree! Susan, you look younger and healthier in your colours.

  2. July 6, 2020 / 5:06 am

    I have always seen that witty, colourful person within you. Glad you are freeing that side of you.
    It is indeed harder to find nice, bright colours in shops. Retailers often play safe with black, grey and white. But those colours are out there and if you are lucky you will find that one boutique that sells exactly the pieces you like.

  3. Brenda
    July 6, 2020 / 5:17 am

    Susan, I have to agree with Rose. What a difference your new colour choices have made , you are glowing ! Your journey has been an inspiration and has encouraged those of us who were also stuck in neutral to try more colour and make more fun choices.

  4. Sandi Skalicky Mcdougall
    July 6, 2020 / 5:31 am

    I am a huge fan of color analysis and really believe in what color, especially near our face, can do. I am an autumn, gamine and love the clothes you have been purchasing. .PS I live in Fargo ND & am a friend of Brenda KInsel, meeting her through her blog.

  5. Jannie
    July 6, 2020 / 5:34 am

    WOW! What a difference in a year! The colors make you glow and shine! Encourages all of us to brighten up a little!!

  6. S.H. McCannell
    July 6, 2020 / 5:49 am

    What did you do with the clothing you pulled from your wardrobe when you brightened it with your colors? Your regrouping brightened your whole persona. Nice colors on you.

    • Susan Blakey
      July 6, 2020 / 9:16 am

      Thanks! I recycled the Eileen Fisher pieces with her Renew program, gave several others to a friend’s adult daughters, and donated the rest to a local thrift that supports addiction recovery services.

  7. Eileen
    July 6, 2020 / 6:05 am

    You definitely inspired me! I had my online color consultation with Red leopard in April, I was told I’m a “ blue autumn “ and slightly warmer than my previous “summer “ consultations. So I am slowly looking at different colors, and taking pics. I wasn’t too sure if my pics were true as my iPad kept changing my skin color as I tried on different colors ( without makeup) to send to them. And being color draped online on Zoom, made me hope she could really “see” me. With lockdown, I will have to just hope this technology worked! It was fun though.

    • Lila
      July 13, 2020 / 4:48 am

      I had the exact same experience and was also typed blue autumn from being a summer. Plus I wasn’t sure of my iPad showing the colors correctly. I, too, am carefully starting to look for warmer colors. How has it been going for you so far? Are you thinking you really are a blue autumn?

  8. Kat
    July 6, 2020 / 6:26 am

    Susan, I’ve been reading your blog for years. You’ve always looked stylish and put-together, as well as grounded, heavy and serious – an asset in the workplace, as you mentioned. But with these new colors – Wow! – You look so fresh and light! There’s a sparkle in your smile I hadn’t noticed before.

  9. Téa
    July 6, 2020 / 6:35 am

    Happy 1 year color journey! Before I had my colors done (5 years ago?) my “go to” was black and color, color, any color – all over the place! After my analysis, I’ve streamlined my BEST colors (autumn palette), and – as you said – it makes shopping and dressing easier, as well as making new outfits! I love my colors and my colors love me! Thanks for your blog – as ever!!

  10. Deborah Ockerse
    July 6, 2020 / 7:07 am

    Since having your colours done you look so vibrant & alive!

  11. Jami Christen
    July 6, 2020 / 7:07 am

    I love your new look. I have been true to my autumn palette for years. As I have aged I find some of the colors no longer work as well. I have let my hair go grey which is a bit challenging with an autumn palette. I go to London often so hope to visit Red Leopard when we can travel again.

    • Buffalogal
      July 7, 2020 / 5:50 am

      I was an Autumn for my entire adult life. Two years ago I decided to go grey (white, really). I noticed the same thing! Colors that once suited me now seemed “off”. I returned to my color consultant and she agreed. It seems that “True Autumns” have a tendency to morph into “True Springs” if they allow their hair to go white.
      I adopted this new color palette (still warm and not dissimilar to Autumn) and I find it suits the new me! I hope this helps.

      • Jami Christen
        July 17, 2020 / 4:15 pm

        Thanks, I have been following more of the spring colors as well. However pumpkin mustard & beige are off the table. I have blue eyes, so wearing more blues & mixed metal jewelry. Also diamonds & pearls seem to work with my hair.

  12. July 6, 2020 / 7:19 am

    Susan, your new colors make you look more energetic and youthful. I’m a spring, like you, and color always gives me a huge lift!!

  13. Lauren
    July 6, 2020 / 7:33 am

    Red Leopard has given you a whole new bunch of fabulous colours to work with….and it shows because you look great. Th only thing they were a bit “off” with was your hair…..they had it too short….and it made you look drained and severe. Your “pixie” cut looks much nicer a wee bit longer the way you have it now….softer and more fun.

  14. July 6, 2020 / 8:05 am

    It’s been a BLAST to accompany you on your colorful journey through the year. You look MAHvelous and are a true inspiration to women who – having attained a certain age – want to enjoy our hard-won wisdom and express the real us in every part of our lives – from work to play to dressing with flair.

  15. Chris
    July 6, 2020 / 8:23 am

    You look so alive in your spring palette. I too have had a colour epiphany following a Red Leopard day. Wow, what a difference the correct colours have made. We were sold a lie when we were told black or navy were the only colours to convey authority. I am now a Blue Autumn and feel authoritative in dark olive green or khaki trousers and jackets. But I also look and feel fabulously myself as I enliven it with my teal or kingfisher shirt and Red Leopard silk scarf. I have used the UK lockdown to finally clear out my wardrobe of all the navy, white and black and now when I look inside it I see so many fabulous colour options. And yet, I now only have one wardrobe of clothes! Luckily my niece really is a Winter and her work wardrobe has been dramatically upgraded! Well worth the money to find myself.

  16. Elizabeth
    July 6, 2020 / 8:24 am

    I esp appreciate your comment about “shaking off the last remnants of the Serious™ persona I thought I had to put forward during my corporate career.” I cannot wait to do the same. Thank you for the inspiration!

  17. Stephanie Ashworth
    July 6, 2020 / 8:53 am

    You might want to check It looks to me like she is lifting all your content and taking credit for it. I linked up to it from Lisa Lenkh’s post on her visit to Red Leopard.
    I did comment asking her if this was your content.

    • Susan Blakey
      July 6, 2020 / 9:03 am

      Thanks for the alert. I’ve reported to and filed a copyright infringement notice. Looks like they’ve lifted multiple posts of mine… >:-(

      • stephanie ashworth
        July 6, 2020 / 11:09 am

        I’m sorry about that. I’m glad I noticed. Good luck getting them shut down.

      • Janet D.
        July 6, 2020 / 6:55 pm

        I glanced through his site & it appears everything there has been stolen from somewhere else. I’d like to figure out who the other “contributers” are & warn them of his shenanigans as well. And to add insult to injury from MY viewpoint, the little pest is Canadian! I can only apologize on behalf of my entire country! I swear we usually teach our young better manners.

  18. Lily
    July 6, 2020 / 9:03 am

    I always thought we were the same season, summer. I think you look nice In your “summery” blue green top in the “Stay in Touch” photo above. Here’s my question, do you ever find it exhausting wearing a high energy color? What do you wear when you are in a quiet, gentle mood? I think we know on some level what colors suit us, physically and emotionally. I think I will stay a summer.

  19. Sue
    July 6, 2020 / 9:13 am

    Like every other reader, I love your post-Red Leopard look — incredibly flattering. But I have to say, you also looked fabulous in the black outfit — beautiful proportions and textures. I hope you have that jacket hidden away, ready to wear when you feel like mixing it up for a change.

    • Susan Blakey
      July 6, 2020 / 9:26 am

      Thanks, I did keep the jacket, but even better…found the same style in one of my colors! I’ll be showing it soon.

  20. Claudette
    July 6, 2020 / 9:29 am

    I am new to your blog and am so enjoying each day’s presentation. I also had to dress the part of leadership and am finally letting go of that part of my life now that I am retired. This winter I became so tired of the safe colors and have had such fun putting color into my life. Thank you for your guidance on this journey.

  21. Vivian
    July 6, 2020 / 10:01 am

    Is it weird to say that the changes actually make you look happier? This is fascinating to me and probably why I have such a hard time with color. I try and try to add it to my wardrobe but many times it just isn’t “comfortable”, probably because I don’t know what colors to pick. Awesome info! Thanks.

  22. Sandra
    July 6, 2020 / 11:08 am

    I was inspired by the changes I saw after your consultation with Red Leopard so scheduled one of my own when I was in London early this year. It was life changing. The dramatic change when I was draped with the colors of Vibrant Autumn convinced me she was right. She also helped me understand which style suits me best. I now understand where I was going wrong and choose clothing that suits me and that I am comfortable in. I have always enjoyed your blog, but have really enjoyed watching you over the last year.

  23. Francesca B.
    July 6, 2020 / 11:23 am

    Hi Susan,
    Absolutely love your posts Susan, thanks for giving us so much joy and happiness during this time especially. One day I am going to do Red Leopard. I really love the green sweater on you!

  24. Janet Maher
    July 6, 2020 / 11:28 am

    Susan – Has anyone commented that your beautiful duvet reflects many of your new colors?

  25. Nancy
    July 6, 2020 / 11:44 am

    Susan, I also have been inspired by your color journey. You have always looked chic; now you appear lit from within. Are there any consultants similar to Red Leopard here in the US? Or is there a certification we should look for in a consultant? Thanks!

    • stephanie ashworth
      July 6, 2020 / 11:55 am

      I noticed you can have a consultation with Red Leopard online now. I have an appt in October with them in London. If that falls through then I am definitely going for the online color and style consolation. I am dying to be Red Leoparded!

  26. Jean
    July 6, 2020 / 12:14 pm

    This has been an interesting process. I’m going through a color reboot myself. You look great.
    I’d love to hear how you regrouped not only from your primarily black wardrobe which you’ve talked about but also from your the more subdued, neutrals and you French look which you cultivated
    beautifully. Any thoughts or was it easy?

  27. July 6, 2020 / 12:15 pm

    What a difference color makes! You look younger, happier and definitely lit from within in your perfect colors. And, the longer hair makes you look younger and less serious. Red Leopard was the right choice for you change. If only they had a location or two in the U.S. …. Thank you for sharing with us. (And, the nerve of someone stealing your content. Shameful!)

  28. Angela in NZ
    July 6, 2020 / 1:16 pm

    Your new persona has really made me colour obsessed, and in a good way. My overarching observation about wearing the “right” colours is to make sure your hair colour works. When my hair colouring journey began 20 years ago to cover the greys, I stayed true to my Winter colouring. The moment I strayed into warmer hues, including going blonde, the problems began and after several years lost in the wilderness, so to speak, the lightbulb moment hit at New Year: I needed authenticity. So my grey journey began, including once again blonde as part of the colour stripping process, and now finally at a cooler tone I have bought two jewel colour sweaters this week and I’m back in my happy place.

    Thank you for playing a part in rediscovering the real me.

  29. Julia
    July 6, 2020 / 4:32 pm

    Susan, you always look fabulous and your colours really suit you.
    I have a couple of questions which are not really related to that subject, I hope you’ll forgive me.
    I love a lot of the tops that you promote….but they are always very short (not a problem for you as a petite woman).. Are there some labels that make longer t-shirts?
    Second question, whenever ( or very often) I click on the items you advertise, they are only available in small! Ok l I realize this is ok for you, being short and slim, but why don’t retailers realize that medium, large (especially) and extra large sizes sell out quickly and order accordingly? The same problem is in shops. Do retailers really want to end up wth a load of smalls at the end of the season? This is true in Europe, Canada and the USA. Seems like poor business policy.

    • Susan Blakey
      July 6, 2020 / 5:58 pm

      Hi Julia, you might look into tops from Covered Perfectly. They offer a range of styles and sizes, and the quality is good. I found they run on the longer side.

      Regarding your question about the availability of sizes, it does seem to be rather short-sighted on the part of retailers. Other than that, I’m afraid I don’t have an answer for you. 😉

  30. Nancy
    July 6, 2020 / 5:53 pm


    I don’t see myself in London anytime soon and I’m leery of doing an online analysis as I don’t believe the lighting, difference in monitors and color will translate accurately and I’m wondering if the Red Leopard uses the Kettlewell system of analysis and if so, will I get the same/similar experience using one of the House of Colour specialists in the US ?
    Your opinion ….. ??

    • Susan Blakey
      July 6, 2020 / 5:56 pm

      Hi Nancy, I believe House of Colour uses the same system.

  31. Rondi
    July 6, 2020 / 8:32 pm

    I have watched your color journey and have been quietly cheering you on. You look fantastic! You have dealt with all of the changes and comments about the changes very professionally. You look so fresh and full of life now. You look happy. And honestly your hair is always adorable and has never been too short.

  32. Linda L
    July 6, 2020 / 8:39 pm

    You do indeed look more vibrant in your new colors! I would love to have my colors done one day. I am trying to get away from black too. Not as easy as it seems! Thank you for sharing your journey!

  33. Carla
    July 7, 2020 / 7:57 am

    I don’t comment often, but I follow you regularly. This past year has been the best! I, too, have added more colour since leaving the world of paid work – and feel more ‘myself’. Keep on rockin’ colour, Susan,

  34. Mary Margreiter
    July 7, 2020 / 9:35 am

    Hi Susan,
    I love your new colors – you really do look fantastic in them. I went shopping today and found two very good tops in black or gray. I put them back and bought other tops in colors that light me up. Thanks for the incentive!

    However, I would like to make one remark about corporate dressing. As I said, your colors look wonderful on you, but all the clothing you show us on your blog is very casual. If someone tried to buy business clothing in your lovely, vibrant colors, I think that would be VERY difficult. Clothing for the business world always tends to be black, gray, navy, but especially black. It’s no wonder most of us run around in mainly black – there’s not much else out there! How do we get the message out to the retailers?

  35. Sue Reuker
    July 7, 2020 / 9:38 am

    I had my colors done back in the 80’s and I am a summer. Once I really followed the colors my wardrobe was easier to mix and match, as you said. I have had more luck at second hand stores because, also as you say, retailers stick to a limited palette. Also, I shy away from the “golden” blonds and stick with cooler ash tones because the more reddish colors just look wrong.

  36. July 7, 2020 / 10:26 am

    I LOVE your new color palette. You look so vibrant and happy. People keep thinking I’m an autumn because of my red hair but that’s not my natural color! When I wear oranges and yellows and browns – or pale pastels – I feel like death. I think I’m probably a bright clear summer. No idea what “type.”

  37. Leslie Wilder
    August 5, 2020 / 6:55 am

    Susan — I am so glad you are enjoying your Spring designation, as I have mine since I received it many years ago (I am way older than you). It reinforced my love for camel, brown, turquoise and yellow and introduced me to some new colors. It also saved me wasted time looking at (and occasionally buying ) colors I admired on others: burgundy, dark green, navy.

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