Making It Work

Susan B. of une femme d'un certain age wears a leopard sweater jacket with a coral tee, jeans, and Loewe puzzle bag.

Not long after I posted about my color and style analysis, someone asked me “would you give up wearing something you loved because it wasn’t in your color palette or style profile?” My answer: No. I still believe in “tools, not rules.” So I might style it differently, but would try to find a way to make it work.

Casual Look With A Leopard Sweater Blazer…

Earrings | Sweater Blazer | Tee | Jeans |
Pearl Bracelet | Wrap Bracelet (similar) | Bag | Sandals

Take this “sweater blazer,” for example. It’s a style I love and have purchased in multiple colors over the last couple of years. This leopard print is a new, and slightly lighter, softer fabric. On the minus side, there’s quite a bit of black in it (not in my palette) and the style isn’t exactly “gamine” (too long, too unstructured). But it was love at first try on, and there are some ticks in the Plus column too: the base color is close enough to the “beige” in my palette, and the print is fun and a little funky.

Before, I probably would have thrown this leopard sweater jacket over a black top and called it a day. But now I know I look best with some color, so styled it with a bright coral-red tee. I think it works.

About the tee…I love the color and fit, but can’t recommend it. The fabric developed holes in the front after just a couple of wearings. 😟

Susan B. of une femme d'un certain age wears Banana Republic leaf earrings and a leopard sweater jacket.

These earrings are new favorites. I first spotted them in the San Francisco Banana Republic store, but didn’t purchase. I kept thinking about them though, and went hunting for them out at my local store. I’m using the Levears backings with them, and they’re comfortable all day long.

Lip color is Chantecaille “Sunrise” with Makeover Workshop longwear lip liner in “Neapolitan.”

Detail: Susan B. carries a Loewe small puzzle bag in tan. Info at une femme d'un certain age.

I’ve had this Loewe puzzle bag for a couple of years now, and it’s one of my most often-used bags. It was pricey, yes, but other than the leather softening a bit, it hardly shows any wear. I anticipate continuing to use this bag frequently over the next few years, so the ultimate cost-per-wear should be quite low.

Detail: Susan B. wears straight leg jeans and Mephisto wedge sandals. Info at une femme d'un certain age.

These sandals may be a bit “rugged” but they’re extremely comfortable, and I’m finding this color goes with all of my casual outfits.

Do you have styling tricks to make your “outlier” pieces work?

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78 Comments

  1. Jill
    August 30, 2019 / 4:16 am

    This looks fabulous! The T-shirt makes it look very youthful instead of the typical black. I think I prefer that color with the lighter jean also. If you hadn’t defined gamine, I would have thought this was it! One last thing-have you thought about spiking your hair? I think it would be so cute!

    • Susan B
      Author
      August 30, 2019 / 6:01 am

      Thanks so much, Jill! I don’t usually spike my hair on a day-to-day basis, but may give it a try just for fun.

  2. Ainsivalavie
    August 30, 2019 / 5:05 am

    Absolutely mix in the outliers! Case in point, I own the same jacket in the beige/khaki. It is definitely not in my winter palette BUT it’s a great neutral that looks awesome with black or red or black and white stripes. The one I have in cerise is no issue because it falls in the palette. I find the contrast with the neutral and the bright creates contrast which, to my eye makes more of an impact than the actual colour choice. With your jacket for me, I would go all black or a red tee and black leather skirt/skinny jeans. So glad you are showing options as most of us are not fashion bloggers and simply cannot afford to trash all or most of a wardrobe.Also it leads people to think outside that “looks like she had her colours done” box!!!

    • Susan B
      Author
      August 30, 2019 / 6:00 am

      Thanks, Ainsivalavie! I’ve always loved leopard print paired with red or other bright colors.

      • citizen spot
        August 30, 2019 / 7:18 am

        I think leopard with a sky blue/light blue tee would play well together too.

  3. Darlene mann
    August 30, 2019 / 5:11 am

    I looked to order the Levears and saw they were $60 but there were some similar for $10. Does anyone grow it they are comparable?

    Loved your look!

    • Susan B
      Author
      August 30, 2019 / 5:56 am

      Thanks, Darlene! I haven’t tried those other earring backs. Maybe someone else who has can give some feedback.

  4. Kelly
    August 30, 2019 / 5:27 am

    Do you have an off white in your palette that could go with your leopard sweater? A button up blouse in a soft material buttoned all the way to the neck could look very gamine (thinking of Winona Rider in the late 80’s with her short hair and style sense).

    • Susan B
      Author
      August 30, 2019 / 5:55 am

      Hi Kelly, there is a nice cream in my palette, and I’ve been on the lookout for collared tops in that color. Just haven’t found the right one yet.

  5. Sharon
    August 30, 2019 / 5:49 am

    I’m curious if that beautiful Missoni jacket you purchased in Rome made your cut? I drooled over that one.

    • Susan B
      Author
      August 30, 2019 / 5:54 am

      Hi Sharon, sadly it did not, but it’s available for consignment here 😉 : http://bit.ly/2PFsYZl

      Even before my color consult, I’d realized that black and white patterned pieces just felt too harsh on me, and I struggled to style them.

      • Lyn
        August 30, 2019 / 11:39 am

        It is sold! And for a pittance! Probably to one of your readers.
        I also loved that jacket and kept looking for it to show up in your photos. You could have made it work with that coral tee.
        I will console myself with the thought that it would have been too snug on me — a bigger problem than the color palette.

        • Cindy
          August 30, 2019 / 3:57 pm

          What Lyn has said!
          CindyF

  6. Abby
    August 30, 2019 / 6:32 am

    Could you share some more of the guidelines for the gamine style?

    • Susan B
      Author
      August 30, 2019 / 4:40 pm

      Hi Abby, look for some details in a post next week.

  7. Sally Sebastian
    August 30, 2019 / 6:41 am

    I still like seeing you in some of your “old” palette colors: black, navy, etc. Love the “tools not rules” idea.

    • Susan B
      Author
      August 30, 2019 / 4:42 pm

      Hi Sally, I haven’t given up my preference for neutrals, and will still rely on them as a base to add some color accents.

  8. Joan
    August 30, 2019 / 7:04 am

    You look fabulous! The warm leather colors pull out the “honey” tones from the sweater and the black spots get de-powered in the process. And hey — sometimes we need a bit of an unstructured look for the day. I enjoy reading your thoughts behind the look as the “why” is fascinating to me. Those sandals must be tres’ comfy — cork is a marvelous cushion for the feet! Ann thank you for the info about earring backings, SO clever. Hope you return the EF as her products are always such high quality and I’ve never had a failure in any piece I’ve owned through the years.

    • Susan B
      Author
      August 30, 2019 / 4:44 pm

      Thanks so much, Joan! That was my hope with using brown rather than black accessories.

  9. Nancy MK
    August 30, 2019 / 7:09 am

    Susan, thank you for starting my day with a hearty laugh. I fell in love with the Missoni jacket, bought it in black and white and found it on sale in mauve and navy a few months later. If it were not for you I would not have been so extravagant……in seriousness, they are both becoming.

    • Susan B
      Author
      August 30, 2019 / 4:45 pm

      Thanks, Nancy MK! Glad you were able to find a couple versions of the jacket that worked for you.

  10. lagatta à Montréal
    August 30, 2019 / 7:21 am

    Yes, please return it, and voice your complaint. That simply shouldn’t happen with garments in that price category.

    I struggle with leopard prints because I really am a gattara (catlady, one who rescues strays) so I’d look a bit too stereotyped. I tend to prefer plain clothing anyway. I do want leaf outline earrings too, but mine have to be in pure silver – or gold -as I’m allergic to other metals. We have some good artisan shops here, so I’ll keep my eyes peeled.

    • Susan B
      Author
      August 30, 2019 / 4:47 pm

      It’s hard to find pure silver these days, especially for posts. What I like about this leopard print is that it’s a bit abstract.

      • lagatta à Montréal
        August 31, 2019 / 9:03 am

        I bought pure silver (or close to it) based earrings yesterday. At a street sale, but this is a legitimate artisan I’ve bought from before; he is Peruvian. They are such fun! They are bunches of red grapes, which are garnets (clever way to use up small pieces) But the hooks and metal attaching the grapes are all good silver. And he threw in the little silver butterflies to keep me from losing them. I can also use them with my filagree fish earrings.

        Yes, that print does not scream “cat lady”! I do like feline earrings too, but they mustn’t be to cute or twee.

      • Cynthia
        September 7, 2019 / 11:22 am

        I just discovered that Lands End doesn’t have their cotton Bateau tees in every color anymore! I’ve been relying on them for years. Now what?

        • Susan B
          Author
          September 7, 2019 / 11:37 am

          J.Crew has these striped bateau neck tees: http://bit.ly/2HSvyVb The fabric is a bit more structured than the tee I’ve shown, but if I recall correctly, they’re not unlike the old Lands’ End versions. Several colors offered too.

  11. Rondi
    August 30, 2019 / 7:27 am

    You look wonderful! I love the leopard with the coral tee. Thanks for showing us how to incorporate a piece you really love and make it work for your palette. I love the same blazer on the J Crew model. She is wearing all light denim with it. Did your color analysts suggest certain shades of denim?

    • Susan B
      Author
      August 30, 2019 / 7:44 am

      Thanks, Rondi! What they suggested for denim was to look for shades that were close to the navy and blues in my palette, and for my style profile to avoid heavy distressing (which I do anyway). But most denim is pretty neutral.

      • Rondi
        August 30, 2019 / 7:48 am

        Thank you, Susan!

  12. Lee Rosenthall
    August 30, 2019 / 8:32 am

    I actually found that Sophie blazer style too structured for me (preferred the Juliette), so I think it easily fits into the “gamine” realm, especially on a taller person. If you look at how they style the Sophie in camel on the website, you’ll see they show it with a classic “gamine” striped mariniere, in camel and navy IIRC. I wonder if you might already have a mariniere that would work under the leopard blazer too? Or a solid bateau-neck top in one of your new colors?

    Chico’s has a new leopard jacket (Animal-Print Jacquard Moto Jacket) that is adorable and would probably work for all the gamines out there too. It comes in petites too!

    • Lee Rosenthall
      August 30, 2019 / 8:34 am

      And I love the coral with the sweater. I bet that turqouise in your palette would look smashing as well.

      • Lee Rosenthall
        August 30, 2019 / 8:36 am

        Actually either of the turquoises or the green that you show in the drapes at the top of the blog. (Red “Leopard,” indeed! 🙂 )

    • Susan B
      Author
      August 30, 2019 / 4:49 pm

      I’m still looking for some bateau neck tops, but yes, the leopard looks nice with the aqua too. I noticed that Chico’s jacket online too, want to go take a look.

  13. Sandra
    August 30, 2019 / 9:16 am

    I miss your long French Kande necklaces, I’m happy that you are using more color, I’m doing that also and enjoying myself. Something I envied when I was younger was how more mature women could wear big bold jewelry and look fabulous whilst I just looked odd! So don’t leave those lovely things in your jewelry box let’s see them

    • Susan B
      Author
      August 30, 2019 / 4:50 pm

      Oh, you’ll be seeing some of them again soon. 😉

  14. Elizabeth Miakinin
    August 30, 2019 / 9:24 am

    Found your comment about holes in the front of the coral colored tee interesting. Nearly every tee shirt (J. Crew, Eddie Bauer, Caslon, Garnet Hill) I’ve purchased in the last few years has developed tiny holes in the front after a few washings. I thought it was something I was doing. I have 12 year old tee shirts that are faded but don’t have these holes. Anyone know what’s going on?

    • Linda S
      August 30, 2019 / 12:19 pm

      Help, I have the same problem and not just tees. I have a roushed (sp) cotton top that I love and found two rather large holes in the roushed part on the bottom. Fortunately the roushed part hides the holes. I cannot imagine what is causing it. Moths? Because it’s always in the front and on the lower half.

      • Susan B
        Author
        August 30, 2019 / 12:20 pm

        That’s where mine are too. Makes me wonder if it might be from seatbelts?

        • August 30, 2019 / 1:06 pm

          I thought the holes in my Tshirts might be from belt buckles. Never the less, I have been using net bags in the washing machine, and have noticed it has not happened as often. Still not sure of the cause.

        • Cynthia
          August 30, 2019 / 3:49 pm

          Same! Almost all of them! And for a few friends as well. Very odd.

      • Nicole Kowalski
        August 30, 2019 / 5:48 pm

        I had the same problem and found that it’s from buttons on jeans and rubbing up against counter (we have stone counters and I’m not tall and seat belts. I either tuck in the front when at the sink or wearing my seatbelt, or cover my jean button with one of these: https://holebuttoncover.com/products/the-hole-button-cover OR one of these: https://www.amazon.com/Lickety-Klip-Pack-BROWN-WHITE/dp/B012J2RXDI

        It has pretty much eliminated the problem. And no, I don’t know why this became a problem in the last 10 years or so and wasn’t before (shrug). It’s a mystery? Maybe more stretch in the jeans puts the buttons in a different angle. Maybe we’re older?

        As for your outfit, it looks wonderful Susan! And I did wonder about the gamine designation. I’ve always thought you leaned toward very feminine, relaxed pieces to some extent. Definitely a very feminine “tomboy” with the French Kande, bling, heels, kimonos, floaty Stevie Nicks touches to your wonderful basics. Glad to see you saying “tools not rules.” Feels like a good chant!

        • Susan B
          Author
          August 30, 2019 / 5:53 pm

          Thanks Nicole! I think it boils down to fabrics being generally lower in quality these days…shorter fibers, looser weave. And thank you…I’ve never felt comfortable in really “girly girl” styles, but can’t do straight up tomboy either.

          • Nicole Kowalski
            August 30, 2019 / 6:05 pm

            You’re welcome! Here’s a better link for the Lickety Klip: https://www.licketyklip.com/
            They aren’t super comfy, but easy to pop on and off. Don’t really show either. I was surprised.

            And as far as tomboy vs girly, you certainly found a happy medium.

            Cheers!

    • Cynthia
      August 30, 2019 / 3:48 pm

      Same! Almost all of them! And for a few friends as well. Very odd.

    • Jannie
      September 1, 2019 / 6:26 pm

      So glad to hear this has happened to so many of us. Do think that the quality of fabrics are to blame and not seatbelts. JoAnn fabrics carries a special type of light fusible cloth (iron on) that can be used to take care of this. This is so frustrating because it is not just one company but many. Never had this happen to many of my other top from years ago (and still have). Any other suggestions?

  15. August 30, 2019 / 10:03 am

    I am so glad you went back for those earrings, I thought they were perfect:). And when I see other women in those sandals I always kind of want to go up to them and say, “Hey, you’re in the club!”;)

    • Susan B
      Author
      August 30, 2019 / 4:50 pm

      I just love these earrings, and am so glad we spotted them!

  16. Daniella
    August 30, 2019 / 10:04 am

    Sorry, not fond of the outfit! Each item is OK on its own, but together they don’t jell!! Perhaps a closed toe loafer and a better cut jeans of a different shade would pull it all together! You are trying too hard!!

    • Susan B
      Author
      August 30, 2019 / 4:54 pm

      ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

  17. Lorraine
    August 30, 2019 / 11:10 am

    OK, maybe it’s just me because I live in San Francisco, but I think your recent trips have had a fun, mix it up and take more risks influence on your style. Not just the Consult but also perhaps seeing other people in cities far and wide- how that can have an influence on style. Know what I mean? Loving this outfit because it embodies exactly what I am aspiring to every day. I’d call it SF street style, elevated. As a Southern girl, SF style never came naturally to me, but I do try. P.S. That adorable Tory Burch wrap bracelet is now calling my name.

    • Susan B
      Author
      August 30, 2019 / 4:51 pm

      Ooh, I love San Francisco style, so will take this as a compliment indeed! Thank you!

  18. August 30, 2019 / 11:57 am

    I would like that jacket with a black pant, or even white jeans! The shoes and bag are a great match! Obviously if you chose black pants you would change the shoes and the bag. It is so great seeing you wear some color!

    • Susan B
      Author
      August 30, 2019 / 4:52 pm

      Thanks, Linda! I’ve kept a pair of white jeans, may give this a try soon.

  19. Carrie
    August 30, 2019 / 12:56 pm

    I love this outfit on you and this would also well for me. The pop of coral is youthful.

    • Susan B
      Author
      August 30, 2019 / 4:52 pm

      Thanks so much, Carrie!

  20. August 30, 2019 / 1:37 pm

    Would you ever consider belting the leopard-print sweater-coat (which I agree is adorable)? I wonder whether that might add a little gamine structure and flavor.

    • Susan B
      Author
      August 30, 2019 / 1:43 pm

      Hi Nancy, belting usually doesn’t work well for me. I have a short, thick waist and a belt just emphasizes my lack of waistline.

  21. lucretia roletta
    August 30, 2019 / 4:42 pm

    It’s great that you didn’t go with the expected(black) and chose your color and it really worked! You just thought outside the box and made your outfit more exciting and authentic.

    • Susan B
      Author
      August 30, 2019 / 4:53 pm

      Thanks very much, Lucretia!

  22. August 30, 2019 / 9:52 pm

    Love your outfit – would look great with your Cleregie shoes as well. Partly influenced by you…I’m also trying to wear more color and have some fun with it.

    • Susan B
      Author
      August 31, 2019 / 7:24 am

      Thanks, KSL!

  23. Sheryl
    August 31, 2019 / 7:22 am

    Just be on the look out! Those little holes in the front of T shirts can also be due to clothing moths. They attack T shirts in the front because that’s where they are exposed when folded and also go for thinner, weaker areas . Hopefully that’s not what it is at all, but it pays to be aware. The problem is much, much harder to eradicate if not addressed early on.

    • Susan B
      Author
      August 31, 2019 / 7:25 am

      Thanks, Sheryl. I don’t think it’s moths in my case, because I usually hang my tee shirts (not a lot of drawer space) and I’d just worn it a couple of times. But I’m always on the lookout for them!

  24. Carol
    August 31, 2019 / 9:07 am

    The earrings are flattering and the colors are perfect. However, I agree with Daniella that “each item is OK on its own, but together they don’t jell!!” The wedge sandals are cute and they look comfy, but for this outfit they are clunky. I think a pointy or square toe loafer would be a better choice. I also think the jeans should be replaced with perhaps a darker wash and different cut or different pant altogether.

  25. Eleni Wilding
    August 31, 2019 / 10:45 am

    Susan I love your blog and I really like you! But I’m not a fan of what the “color palette” ladies have suggested for you. I think it actually ages you. Maybe it’s how it comes through the photos. So I went back and looked at some of your older posts of outfits and I thought you looked fabulous/youthful/classy and I want to emulate your spot on style. But with this “gamine” category and the color palette they’ve put you into — it’s reminiscent of my grandma. Of course this is just my opinion but you are like my “sister-who-I’ve-never-met” and I want you to know what I’m seeing. Have you looked in the mirror and wondered the same thing?

    • Susan B
      Author
      August 31, 2019 / 12:27 pm

      Hi Eleni, thanks so much for the feedback. It’s funny, for years I had so many people telling me that wearing black was aging. I think it really depends on perspective. I’m still working out a new “formula”…which colors and how much, what pieces work with my body shape, and quite honestly what feels right for the part of the world I live and move about in. I’ll continue to refine and try to find the balance that works for me.

      • Rondi
        September 1, 2019 / 8:54 am

        Readers continue to wish you back to your old style. It reminds me of stories of women who have lost weight and people bring them desserts and other fattening foods to undermine their success. I doubt readers liked every single outfit before your analysis. But if they don’t care for an outfit now it’s the fault of color analysis! You apparently look so good now, Susan, that it’s very threatening. I hope you continue to discover what’s best for you. We are here to learn from you not copy every outfit you wear. Because, ironically, you are not supposed to listen to professionals but you are supposed to heed the advice of your readers! I think the entire point is to educate yourself and make your own decisions which seems to be what you are doing. Carry on!

        • Susan B
          Author
          September 1, 2019 / 4:38 pm

          Hi Rondi, I don’t think that people feel threatened necessarily, it’s just that we each bring our own regions, cultures and sense of aesthetics to the table. I think we all like to see our preferences reinforced, and can find change unsettling.

          • Rondi
            September 1, 2019 / 5:41 pm

            Yes. Well said, Susan. Change can be unsettling for many. I embrace it but I may be the exception. Often people like others to stay in their lane. And, of course, everyone is coming from a different place. I understand.

      • Eleni Wilding
        September 2, 2019 / 11:05 am

        perfect answer!!

  26. Helene Harris
    September 1, 2019 / 10:09 am

    I have pondered weighing in here for quite a few weeks. I’m so sorry, but i really prefer your old style more. I felt it was much “slicker”, “polished”, “sophisticated”and yes, even “younger.” Maybe i just got used to the color pallette of before.
    On the plus side, this Loewe bag is gorgeous. I love your makeup choices in general (wouldn’t work for me, but i think they’ve always been flattering to you, esp the Chantecaille lipstick colors). I disagree with Rondi that we naysayers are trying to undermine you in any way. I’ve thought long and hard about commenting that i didn’t like the change, but felt it was unkind to say so. But never because i wanted you to look worse. I just wanted to support your previous beliefs in what you had chosen.
    I 100% feel that you should wear whatever makes you happy. You have had a huge positive influence on the way i address wardrobe choice. And i thank you for that.

  27. Susan D.
    September 1, 2019 / 12:03 pm

    Ok. Since others have commented, I will too. I really like the suggestions of the Red Leopard consultants and think that Susan looked fabulous in their suggested colors and styles—MORE youthful (if that is what we’re after) and MORE polished. I am convinced that we all see this in different ways.

  28. Abby
    September 1, 2019 / 8:01 pm

    I, too, think that since the consult you look more brilliant and alive. I’m excited to see where the gamine style takes you. Please don’t listen to the grandma comment above. The new style looks like you are wearing the clothes rather than the clothes are wearing you. Onward and upward!

  29. September 2, 2019 / 4:31 am

    I had my colors done years ago and pretty much stick to those colors. I am a “winter”. I think the consultant was trying to get you to add more color in your wardrobe. I don’t quite understand the “gamine” aspect of it. I do feel we sometimes need a little push to wear something we would never ever consider before, and then just try a new style. I think you looked great before and look great now!

  30. Veronique
    September 2, 2019 / 4:31 am

    Hello Susan,
    I really love tout new outfit
    Coral tee is really nice…
    Bravo !

  31. September 2, 2019 / 2:38 pm

    I love the “tools, not rules” concept! I found that having my colours done back in the 80s provided me with a useful tool, but over time I learned to “colour outside the lines” so to speak, to use what I’d learned but not stick to it as rigidly as I did at first.

    • Susan B
      Author
      September 7, 2019 / 8:23 am

      Thanks, SF-dre. I’ve considered that one and really like the fabric, though that style tends to be more of a tunic than a shirt on me.

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