Outfit: Using A Column Of Color To Create A Long, Lean Line

one from column A…

ivory sweater vest over black separates

When you’re as short as I am, a Column of Color™ becomes your not-so-secret weapon. Here I’ve doubled down by adding a long ivory vest over a black base. Though retailers seem determined to style these vests with sleeveless tops in the product images, I think it looks fine with a 3/4 or long sleeve top.

earrings | vest | top (similar) | ring | bag | pants | sandals

This is the Ann Taylor sweater vest I mentioned last week; I’m wearing an XS in the regular size (was not available in Petites).

I decided to play up the minimalist vibe of this look with a few simple statement accessories.

French Kande ring, Clare V leopard pouch

I’m so glad that Eileen Fisher brought these sandals back again this year. They’re a great looking and comfortable shoe. I purchased them in both colors last year, and they continue to be in frequent rotation.

block heel sandals

Do you have a style “secret weapon?”

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  1. March 30, 2016 / 3:18 am

    Janice at the Vivienne Files really showed the power of a column of color in some posts, contrasting same color top/bottom vs. light top and dark bottom. I’ve been doing it ever since. Your picture looks great BTW!

    • Susan B
      April 1, 2016 / 6:03 am

      francetaste, thank you! Yes, Janice puts together some wonderful and inspiring looks.

  2. Melissa
    March 30, 2016 / 4:21 am

    Once again Susan, you are rocking my favorite style, a column of color, usually black and then a statement piece, this time this vest. I haven’t liked them at all, till now, you have fashioned it better than any of the fashion mags/blogs. Black also highlights your hair in a great way, light/dark contrast.
    This style really looks great on you, and you styled the accessories perfectly! Just the right amount, the no necklace look I actually like on you, it draws all the attention on your lovely bone structure with this haircut and makes you look petite and very feminine. (think Audrey Hepburn elegance)
    I really love this and that scarf cape cool looking outfit from your Anniversary. Both right up my alley! I love the shoes and would be buying a pair of them, unfortunately, I can’t do them now that I have special insert soles .
    I won’t go without them, they really help my feet, not nearly as much pain as I used to have. I still have no idea if I will be able to rock all the beautiful sandals I bought last year with my bonuses:( waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa:( All flat so may work with my newly discovered flat feet pffff…

    • Susan B
      April 1, 2016 / 6:02 am

      Melissa, thank you very much! I’m really enjoying this haircut too. A shame about the sandals, but we do have to take care of our feet.

      • Melissa
        April 1, 2016 / 10:24 am

        Haha speaking of feet mine are dead. My girlfriend is getting married her cousin needed a dress for the wedding. The bride is 27 her cousin is 35 they are from Kenya the bride tried to warn her cousin be ready this bridesmaid dress will be Melissa Marathon shopping. Haha she had no idea what she was in for. Ok they don’t have a lot of money. But bless them they trusted Melissa we found in 5 hours nonstop shopping a coral chiffon dress nude pumps one of the best made strapless bras normally 60 euro 15 euro!

        I found the whole outfit for 125 euro! She is so happy! She is large breasted a bit of belly but we foud something make her breast looks smaller her belly dissapear! She feels like a queen. But they are kapot these young girls now know how a 47 year old American girl can shop! Haha I asked for sales got extra discounts went to shops they know me now we are at mine and the brides favorite cafe owned by Greeks in Germany across the border from our home in Netherlands. They know us by name:)
        Yes ladies it was a crazy shopping day give me goal give a budget tell me what you want I will find it!!!

        Enjoy the weekend girls this tired lady had a cocktail I am kapot!

  3. Susan D.
    March 30, 2016 / 4:29 am

    This is such a great outfit on you Susan! I also employ the column of color even though I am rather tall as it is also a slimming way to dress.

    • Susan B
      April 1, 2016 / 6:01 am

      Susan D., thanks so much! I think this style flatters everyone.

  4. Susan
    March 30, 2016 / 4:46 am

    You look very stylish and it is a look that I am beginning to wear more as I am only 161 cms tall.

    • Susan B
      April 1, 2016 / 6:00 am

      Susan, thank you!

  5. nell
    March 30, 2016 / 5:02 am

    So glamorous! Classic and modern at the same time. I love your accessories too– the animal print, the sunglasses, and the ring! Even though I normally like color on you, this look of yours is one of my favorites. There is no one who wouldn’t look at you and wonder “who is this fabulous, mysterious woman?”

    • Susan B
      April 1, 2016 / 5:54 am

      nell, thank you very much!

  6. bellsonme
    March 30, 2016 / 5:38 am

    I thought of your “column of color” yesterday when I reached for my black separates and topped them off with a handknitted silk scarf in wild colors. Your blog is rocking my closet.

    • Susan B
      April 1, 2016 / 5:54 am

      bellsonme, thank you. Glad you enjoy and find it helpful!

  7. March 30, 2016 / 5:49 am

    If you’re ever in Annapolis and run into a gal wearing a strangely similar outfit, reminiscent of your favorites, it’s me!! Thanks for making my wardrobe cohesive, stylish and fun!

    • Susan B
      April 1, 2016 / 5:53 am

      thea, thanks very much!

  8. March 30, 2016 / 5:52 am

    I love the look great that you showed. Petites can wear long lengths as in your vest it’s all how you put it together as you demonstrated with black head to toe underneath.

    • Susan B
      April 1, 2016 / 5:53 am

      Judy, thanks! I love a long outer layer which adds a bit of drama and the impression of height.

  9. March 30, 2016 / 6:00 am

    It’s amazing but you photograph so much taller than you are! You rock that column dressing so well!

    • Susan B
      April 1, 2016 / 5:52 am

      Catherine, thank you!

  10. March 30, 2016 / 6:00 am

    Nice look. Even though I am quite tall I think a column look is very flattering.

    • Susan B
      April 1, 2016 / 5:51 am

      Thanks, Josephine!

  11. Val
    March 30, 2016 / 6:01 am

    I somehow missed the column of color. (I’m 54– came to the realization in the last 6 months that it’s time to make serious wardrobe changes to go with he body changes. Just now finding age similar fashion blogs.) This is brilliant. However, I’m always hesitant to wear black on top and bottom because black is hard to match with black. Do you not worry if they’re the same shades of black?

    • Susan B
      March 30, 2016 / 6:09 am

      Val, thanks. I don’t worry about matching my blacks, unless it’s a jacket/pants, then I try to mix up textures to avoid the mis-matched-suit look.

  12. sandypatti
    March 30, 2016 / 6:04 am

    So beautifully done, Susan – I love the column and the striking accessories. I need a pair of those EF sandals for my looooong summer season ahead. xox


    • Susan B
      April 1, 2016 / 5:50 am

      Patti, thank you! I love these sandals 🙂

  13. March 30, 2016 / 6:13 am

    I adore everything about this look Susan! Pardon me while I go buy those shoes! Eileen Fisher shoes are some if the most comfortable I’ve ever worn. I’ve used the column of color technique for years. It’s a winner. Love the pop of leopard.

    • Susan B
      April 1, 2016 / 5:50 am

      Jennifer, thank you and thank for the link!

  14. Deb H.
    March 30, 2016 / 6:28 am

    Wow. So chic. I love this outfit on you! It is definitely you wearing the clothes, not the clothes wearing you.

    • Susan B
      April 1, 2016 / 5:49 am

      Deb H, thanks so much!

  15. avicennia
    March 30, 2016 / 6:55 am

    I’m also petite, 5’4″, and pretty much dress with the column of color. I often wear jackets or blazers, but have been concerned that they may be too formal for certain situations in my business casual work world. So in the Fall, I bought two black vests and love them. They strike a balance between being authoritative, and yet not too formal. I haven’t yet found a white vest, so many thanks for the roundup!

    • Susan B
      April 1, 2016 / 5:49 am

      avicennia, thanks! Yes, they seem to hit a nice balance between authoritative and casual.

  16. Kathryn
    March 30, 2016 / 7:06 am

    Lovely. Easy. Classy.

    • Susan B
      April 1, 2016 / 5:47 am

      Thanks, Kathryn!

  17. March 30, 2016 / 8:27 am

    Looks great, Sue. Column of colour… love it. I wear it sometimes as well, although I’m more partial to monochromatic on top with contrasting bottoms, especially if I might take off my jacket. But I’d totally do this with a sleeveless jacket or vest as you have. You’re the very picture of black and white and chic all over:)

    • Susan B
      April 1, 2016 / 5:47 am

      susan, thank you!

  18. March 30, 2016 / 10:46 am

    Great look Susan. I love the statement ring. I always have trouble finding ones that fit. Some of my fingers are smaller than size 5!

    • Susan B
      April 1, 2016 / 5:46 am

      Glenda, thanks! Wow, those are some slender fingers…

  19. Sweet Sue
    March 30, 2016 / 11:59 am

    Great look on you!

    • Susan B
      April 1, 2016 / 5:45 am

      Sweet Sue, thanks!

  20. March 30, 2016 / 12:37 pm

    Love everything about this outfit Susan…right now to the gorgeous ring! Perfect casual style!

    • Susan B
      April 1, 2016 / 5:45 am

      Thank you, Pam!

  21. Bobbie
    March 30, 2016 / 1:55 pm

    I like the neckline on your top, not too high or too low, and I prefer the way you styled the vest over a top with sleeves. Maybe my eye will change as we see it more with sleeveless tops, but it seems hard to wear that way.

    • Susan B
      April 1, 2016 / 5:45 am

      Bobbie, thanks! I do think it would work either way, but as someone who “runs cold” I’m happy it works with sleeves.

  22. Nicole Kowalski
    March 30, 2016 / 1:58 pm

    I like the stance on this vest compared to others I’ve seen. With a short waist (and somewhat larger chest), the stance can make a real difference on how these tailored items fit and flatter. Creative outfit. Love it!

    • Susan B
      April 1, 2016 / 5:43 am

      Nicole, thank you! What I love most about this vest is that it has a structured look but still drapes nicely, which works for a bigger bust.

  23. Charlene H.
    March 30, 2016 / 4:33 pm

    Like this look on you AND still think that your new haircut is absolutely terrific on you!

    • Susan B
      April 1, 2016 / 5:42 am

      Charlene H., thank you!

  24. March 30, 2016 / 5:43 pm

    One of my favorite looks on you ever.

    • Susan B
      April 1, 2016 / 5:41 am

      KPL, thank you!

  25. Karen
    March 30, 2016 / 7:58 pm

    I think this is one of your best looks ever! So chic and minimal but with impact from each piece.

    • Susan B
      April 1, 2016 / 5:41 am

      Karen, thanks so much!

  26. March 31, 2016 / 7:27 pm

    Love all the elements of your look, very chic! I especially love your beautiful ring. It is amazing what a statement ring can do to set an outfit apart.


    • Susan B
      April 1, 2016 / 5:41 am

      Cherie, thank you! I’m a big fan of the “high impact” accessories.

    • Susan B
      April 1, 2016 / 5:40 am

      Sensational Baby Boomers, thanks!

  27. April 1, 2016 / 1:22 pm

    Susan, I’ve been following your blog for a few months now and I have to confess something: most of what I wear now is b/c of YOU. You’re such an inspiration to those of us who love clothes but look into our closets and can’t figure out what to wear ! Like many have already expressed, you look marvelous in this outfit!

    • April 1, 2016 / 3:16 pm

      ooh, forgot to say, I got the same sandals in the “sand” color and LOVE them! Very comfortable right out of the box.

  28. April 5, 2016 / 6:47 am

    This is such a fabulous look! So stylish!

  29. April 8, 2016 / 8:58 am

    Effective…. this is the look I am after when I grow up. Clean lines. Love this. And the ring is a stunner.

  30. Karen
    April 17, 2016 / 4:46 pm

    Love this look. You look fabulous.

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