I’ll Have What She’s Having: Elevated Basics

Elevated Basics: A textured cardigan and jeans outfit creates two simple chic looks with a change of accessories. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

Last week when I was out to lunch with a friend, I spied a woman wearing this cardigan and similar jeans. Her look was minimal, but notable at the same time, thanks to the sweater’s color, texture and sleeve shape. The overall effect was very pulled together and chic, yet relaxed.

Elevated Basics

Left (casual): Earrings | Bracelet | Bag | Shoes
Center: Sweater | Jeans
Right (festive): Earrings | Bag | Ring | Boots

It got me thinking about how an “elevated basic” like this sweater adds a lot of value to a casual wardrobe. You could easily dress it up for a festive casual look just by changing out the accessories. (And the jeans for trousers or even a skirt, if you prefer.)

One of my mother’s style rules when confronted with a choice between two pieces was “always go with the simpler one.” While I think there’s some validity to that, it can also lead to too-safe choices and a wardrobe full of boring basics. It makes sense to pass on trendy details (or too many details), but I’m slowly getting comfortable with not always going with the most generic choice.

(About the collage: no, those aren’t my colors. 😉Many of you have mentioned that my warm color selections don’t work for you, so went with cool this time.)

What are some of the details you look for to elevate your basics?

It seems there are a few flash sales going on today, here are some I’ve seen so far:

Anthropologie – up to 40% off gifts

Aquatalia30% off everything with code GIFTS30

Chico’s50% off purchase with code 30403

J.Crew 40% off purchase + extra 10% off with code MONDAY

J.Jill50% off outerwear, sweaters, 40% off everything else

Madewell40% off sweaters & tops, 25% off everything else

Nordstromup to 50% off select styles

Talbot’s – Friends & Family 40% off your order, code FRIENDS40

Stay in touch.

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24 Comments

  1. Esmeralda
    December 9, 2019 / 3:19 am

    Funny you said that about the colour; I am Spring too and that pale aqua/teal is rather good for me.

    • Susan Blakey
      Author
      December 9, 2019 / 6:25 am

      Yes, I think this color could go either way. (It’s even better in person, very pretty.) I just kept the rest of the ensemble in the cool range.

  2. Pam
    December 9, 2019 / 5:44 am

    I’m so glad you are showing warmer colors because most bloggers only show cool colors or the color sapping, aging black. My complexion comes alive in warm colors, so thank you.

    • Susan Blakey
      Author
      December 9, 2019 / 6:48 am

      If you like this sweater, it’s also offered in a gorgeous brick-red color (I have on order, will report back).

      • lagatta à montréal
        December 9, 2019 / 10:15 am

        That is actually a colour I can also wear, and my favourite in the choices available. No aqua or other pastels for me. Black is ageing for some, but not for all.

        • lagatta à montréal
          December 9, 2019 / 10:50 am

          I see that the green is a paleish aqua or sea green – I was confused because the colour circle shows a forest green – one of my best colours. I really like the recycled sweatshirt in pewter as well, though of course that is VERY casual.

        • Linda Green
          December 9, 2019 / 11:15 am

          I agree with you regarding black, Lagatta. With my particular coloring, black makes my skin, eyes, and hair come alive, markedly.

    • Rita Prangle
      December 9, 2019 / 8:58 am

      Oh thank you for mentioning “color sapping, aging black.” I never wear black near my face, as I too need warm colors. The past few seasons seem to have been focused on navy, grey, or black with few other options. I keep reading that rust and gold are back, but I see very little of it in the stores.

  3. Téa
    December 9, 2019 / 5:49 am

    The “safe” choice method is what was drilled into my head by my own dear, departed mother and aunts. Bless them, they survived the Depression, WWII and a host of other lean times I’ve yet to know. The abundance available today often leaves me overwhelmed. Thanks, as always, Susan for teaching me new thought paths each day. Grateful for you and your platform.

  4. Lynn
    December 9, 2019 / 6:18 am

    Susan,
    I was in a store the other day, and another shopper was looking for a short button up sweater that she could also wear backwards. A few she tried didn’t work, but a couple did. I think that is a fun was to get 2 looks out of a sweater and show off different type necklaces with the different looks. I don’t know if the one you feature would work, but it might be worth a try or something to keep in mind if your readers try on other similar sweaters.
    Lynn

  5. Barbara
    December 9, 2019 / 6:38 am

    What a pretty group in this post! I too appreciate the fact that you are often showing warmer colors now. As an autumn I am frustrated by most bloggers’ cool colors. You seem to try to show both, so thank you!

  6. Eileen
    December 9, 2019 / 6:38 am

    I’m a summer, and don’t mind if you show warm colors, maybe just show both cool and warm ideas occasionally. I don’t wear many holiday colors well, too dark, but I realize it’s just the other seasons turn.

  7. Anon
    December 9, 2019 / 7:40 am

    This is…perfect. Thank you, Susan.

  8. Molly
    December 9, 2019 / 8:13 am

    I loved this sweater and ordered it in a small. I am petite small and it was cute, but overwhelming. Also, it was heavier than I expected or I might have tried it in extra small. I really wanted to like it and will look around for something similar that is lighter and/or comes in petite.

    • lagatta à montréal
      December 9, 2019 / 7:25 pm

      Molly, if you lived where I do, you may well have ordered that cardigan in XS. Small and very slim people certainly feel the heat at least as much as larger ones.

  9. Lily
    December 9, 2019 / 8:20 am

    That sweater is really gorgeous! I love the Pomona Green color and I have blue/grey/green eyes. All of the colors offered are pretty. Unique colors really make a piece. I prefer basic pieces because they won’t become dated looking and are easier to layer/style.

  10. NancyMK
    December 9, 2019 / 8:51 am

    A sweater and jeans are a uniform now in my retired years – still trying not to forget earrings and a scarf – but what pleases me most at least as to the sweaters is that they are of very fine quality. I would not pay the retail price for them even if I could so all are from consignment or thrift stores or ebay. The latest find is an Italian cashmere pullover in the color of today’s cardigan, a cable knit but the cables are unusual.

  11. Susan D.
    December 9, 2019 / 11:14 am

    Sadly, the pretty color you posted seems to be not available.

    • Susan Blakey
      Author
      December 9, 2019 / 1:21 pm

      Hi Susan, I’m still seeing it on the site in all sizes. If you click on the dark green color dot (not a good representation of the actual color), you’ll see it. It’s called “Pomona Green.”

  12. Linda Green
    December 9, 2019 / 11:20 am

    Susan, thank you for including a look from the cooler realm. This “winter type” much appreciates your effort. Beautiful items, too.

  13. Lisa
    December 9, 2019 / 12:10 pm

    I just fell in love with the cardigan you featured, and that color is perfect for me. Clicked to order, and it’s not available until Feb. 1st!! No problem, that same color was available in a v-neck, so it’s on the way to me. Also ordered the Kendra Scott earrings to go with it. Thanks for your post today!

  14. RoseAG
    December 9, 2019 / 12:47 pm

    That sweater is having a moment this year. I’ve seen it at The Gap and Zara.

  15. Patrish
    December 9, 2019 / 1:28 pm

    Attitude elevates any wardrobe choice.
    Black or charcoal gray are what I wear….it makes my face the focus so polished skin, makeup and
    a chic, modern haircut are essential. Simple is always best imho. Simple is not the same as boring.

  16. Rondi
    December 9, 2019 / 6:07 pm

    I have always loved the look of a cardigan buttoned up. No blouse showing underneath. I wore this look often when I was younger. Thank you for reminding me it is a good look for any age.

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