Friday Style Musings

polished casual style: simple navy separates get a boost from accessoriesI’d begun working on an outfit post for today, trying something different with the leopard coat, but after reviewing the photos, decided it looked too heavy and contrived. That fine line between trying new things and remaining true to my style? Sometimes I cross it. That’s OK, it’s a learning experience and reinforces my belief that if you have to work too hard to make an outfit come together, it will never feel quite right. So to wash away the bad taste of a not-so-great outfit, I went into my “virtual closet” to create this one.

Above: fragrance | earringssweater | scarf
coat | jeans | watch | bracelet | bag | boots

I’ve been going through another style shift for the last few months. My style seems to evolve in intermittent lurches, and usually I flounder a bit before I can really quantify where I’m going and hit my stride. I’ve lost interest in the more Boho, distressed and weathered looking shoes and bags, as well as those that have too much going on. Sleek, modern and simple with an interesting detail or two is what appeals to me, and what feels most authentic. “Polished casual” is the best description I can come up with. I still wear jeans most days, so with accessories I’m leaning more feminine, along the lines of “modern gamine,” with a sprinkling of Casual Glamour, and an occasional pinch of whimsy. And a heaping spoonful of Not Overthinking.

I’m focusing more on accessories and “accent pieces” because my basic wardrobe feels mostly complete (there are a few pieces I’ll look to replace or refresh this year) and versatile enough to facilitate different looks with a shift of accessories. That’s the beauty of good basics, and the reason I’ll never stop banging that drum…

And clothes are on the back burner at the moment because my weight’s up a few pounds over my preferred range after the holidays. It’s not the sweets that do me in, it’s the cheese! And maybe the extra few glasses of wine… When I was younger, I’d have beaten myself up over this, tried to struggle into my tightest clothes, starved myself and suffered. I’ve learned over time to treat my body with kindness, to keep it comfortable, move it, nourish it, and move on. Some of my clothes are too tight for comfort right now, so I’m not trying to squeeze into them. Rather than embarking on a drastic regime, I’m shifting us more toward a Mediterranean diet (not a problem for me…I love veggies and legumes!) and staying away from le fromage for a while as well as bread (another indulgence I allow myself on vacations and around the holidays). I still enjoy a small glass of red wine most evenings, to which my doctor has given the thumbs up. “Aging well” has become a priority for me, and this article in the LA Times from earlier this week provided additional motivation for the dietary shift. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Does your taste remain consistent, or do you find that your style preferences shift over time? How do you accommodate these shifts? Do you experience weight fluctuations, and how do you handle those?

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  1. “Aging well” is a good goal. We might or might not live a long time, but we can try to make sure that we are healthy and able to enjoy it.
    Your polished casual look is great.

  2. Boy, do I like that blue with the leopard. Never imagined that before. That combo is much appreciated, because I have a gorgeous blue rock-stud styled purse I’ve struggled to combine with my basics, which are similar to yours.

    Re losing weight — doing this successfully is rather new to me, having lost 100 pounds a few years ago and having now maintained this weight loss for the past year. Thus far what’s working for me is weighing every single morning. And when the scale tips up by more than a pound I cut back only a couple hundred calories a day until the scale goes back down to my new normal weight (135 pounds). (I also exercise 5 days a week.) That’s not very cutting-edge, I suppose, but it works. I don’t aim for perfection, but for high consistency — and getting back on the wagon immediately after I fall off. I haven’t felt this great in decades. 🙂

  3. I am in the midst of a style shift, too. I love, and have worn for years, lagenlook. Received the Artful Home catalog yesterday and thrilled at the beautiful, architectural styles. But now I reach for my jeans and an interesting top and see myself as more polished casual than anything [except for my Janis Joplin hair]. I love that I’m still growing and changing at 70, though!! Thanks for your always great insights, Susan.

  4. That is an interesting article about the brain. I lead a senior ladies’ book club at the community centre. One member s 90+, travels a distance on the bus to attend and always has astute observations to contribute.
    I wonder if about the relationship between diet and education. I’m not buying anything new right now but you have reminded me how much I like bright blue.

  5. My style shifts frequently so I take baby steps and reevaluate constantly. I need to check in with my gut, to know if I feel confident in a look. And yes, sadly my weight is up too. Love these outfits you put together!

  6. Love this look. I have a rarely worn cobalt blue coat that I’m going to have to pull out of hiding and mix it up this winter.

  7. Like Ann, above, I will weigh in about every other day. If the scale goes up a pound, I cut back. And it works just about every time. I have found that an almond milk shake, with kale or spinach, banana, frozen mango etc. for lunch seems to do the trick! They are fun to make and satisfy a food craving. I have yet to cut out sugar which everyone seems to be doing. No, can’t do without my sugar!

  8. I am lucky in that my weight has stayed roughly the same for many years now. I seem to have lost a few lbs recently. I can only think that this is because I now eat more slowly which means that I feel full quicker and do not always finish the food on my plate. Other than that what I eat has stayed the same.

  9. CAFTANS or KAFTANS…… the trick for me!
    STYLE changes it happens gradually as I get older I look and think YOU ARE TOO OLD TO PULL THIS OFF ANYMORE!COMFORT in the shoe department is a BIG one for me………..because if my feet hurt my WHOLE BODY HURTS!

  10. Such encouraging words – thanks Susan!
    I have found over this past year of reading your blog and accessing some of the links you provide, my closet is looking almost organized and I am feeling less overwhelmed with stuff.
    Yesterday, I didn’t know what to wear but I also didn’t have that helpless feeling of too much choice in a crammed closet. I actually gave thanks out loud for the nice clothes I have purchased, took a breath and got ready.
    And funny enough, I find I am kinder to myself because I have let go of the clothes that I was saving for a lower weight. I am striving for comfortable lovely clothes that suit me and my life.
    What is my style? Well… thanks again Susan! I would have to say I am firmly on the gamine side. I assembled a “Susan-y” outfit not too long ago based on une femme pics and felt so lovely, fresh and stylish that day!

  11. After I gave up working in an office, I moved more toward paring down my wardrobe and collecting basic pieces that will last. I like to add some seasonal additions such as scarfs, soloured merinos or silks. I am feeling that shoes date more easily than some other pieces so will probably buy at least one pair a season. Polished casual is a perfect style for me and I will continue to be inspired by your pairings. Thank-you Susan.

  12. My style has evolved , or rather , shifted a tad over the past 5 years. I have given up working in the lab, so my at- home -wife style is actually more fancy! I dont have to worry about standing all day, so I can wear a slimmer soled shoe or boot. I can wear dry clean only things too! Would never in a million years have done that if I were in the lab. It’s still heavy on the pants and tops, with fun jackets to round it out. I have noticed I have a selection of skirts and I never wear them. Not in winter anyway. so no more wool or black crepe skirts for me . If I am going out, it is a pants and jacket combo or a dress if the destination is swanky and it is not too arctic and frigid. Hubby and I are going to the symphony tomorrow and it will be in the single digits , so the outfit will be wool pants, booties and a nice jacket under my big warm coat.
    And Susan, I am glad you hear you are being gentle to yourself after the holiday indulgences. I know it’s coming, I expect to gain a few pounds and I try to relax about taking it off. Sometimes, a girl must wear Stretchy Pants!!

  13. Always learning from you, Susan, even when you don’t get the outfit to come together! Loved your recent post on the tweed jacket. Mine had gotten lost in the closet, and this week I wore it three times. Enjoy your wine and Mediterranean meals!

  14. My style shifts – or tweaks – pretty regularly, though not super frequently. My go-to strategy is thrift shopping. They carry a variety of styles, not just what’s trendy; and with such a low price point, I can afford to give away things that don’t feel like “me” and try out new styles that may become my new favorites.
    Loved reading about your style (and diet) shift! Thanks for sharing.

  15. I love this outfit <3 so well put together! It's something that I would gravitate towards and I'm a dramatic classic. Thanks for the inspiration:)

  16. As a fellow blogger, I completely enjoyed this post! I also try outfit ideas and later when I look at the photos, I just think “Ugh, this felt ok when I wore it, but it REALLY doesn’t photograph well, or I look like I’m trying to do too many things in an outfit.” One particularly bad one, I may put on the blog anyway, just to make a point that we all get it wrong sometimes.

    I also enjoyed your perspective on the weight fluctuations. I’m put on quite a bit over this holiday (having a French husband who cooks beautifully is more of a curse than a blessing!) . I’m really working on being kinder to myself and just accepting that what goes up will come down, weight wise. I always want it to just ping off like it did when I was younger, but it doesn’t work like that anymore! Great post, thank you xx