Finding Balance In Transition

Susan B of une femme d'un certain age wears a Vince pleated floral top in navy, bamboo bag, jeans, and Vionic Evelyn Darby oxfords in shell pink.

As part of my Style reset, I did a major closet clear-out a few weeks ago. Almost everything that wasn’t in my Spring palette or style profile was off to find a new home.

Polished Casual Outfit With Pink Oxfords

Top | Pearl Bracelet | Wrap Bracelet | Bag | Jeans | Shoes (c/o)

I did say, “almost.” 😉 Keeping in mind that “perfect is the enemy of good,” I did hang onto a few pieces that aren’t quite “Gamine,” though most are in my color palette. One (my kimono) because I just love it too much to let it go. This top was another, because I like it and it fills a need. It’s a great lightweight throw-on-and-go top that’s a little more polished than a tee; it can also be worn open as a light jacket. Perfect for this time of year. And when I wanted to create an outfit with these pink oxfords, it was the first piece that came to mind!

I’m still processing what I learned during my color and style consultation. And I’m still working out how to “mesh” the Gamine style guidelines with my personal aesthetics and locale. Anything too “done” (complicated, refined, and/or structured) feels out of place in Southern California, which has a more relaxed and laid back style. I still believe in “tools, not rules,” but feel as though I was given a really good set of tools, and want to make the most of them. To be continued…

After so many of you have recommended kut from the kloth jeans over the years, I decided to give them a try. On the last day of the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale, I ordered these “Catherine” boyfriend jeans in the dark wash. And I really like them! Great fit, nice amount of stretch.

Vionic Evelyn Derby oxford in shell pink. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

The pink oxfords (gifted from Vionic) are in my color palette, are definitely Gamine, and are incredibly comfortable. I crossed my fingers and went with the light pink, and they’re perfect. (Yes, I’ve treated with water and stain-repellent spray.) Great arch support, and the grosgrain ribbon laces are such a nice touch. They’re a feminine element (along with the color) that balances the menswear-inspired oxford style.

Are there “outliers” in your wardrobe that you keep and wear even though they differ from your usual style?

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  1. I remember when I first had my colors done as a young woman in the 80’s. At the time, I was told I was a Spring with similar colors to yours. I had a sense of mourning about giving up some colors that I loved but “weren’t good for me” because I loved neutrals, not bright colors. In later years I was told I was a Summer and then a Winter! I’ve grown to know what colors look good on me and when something is my style (I’d call myself a trendy-casual-classic!). You’re right to think of the information you received as tools not rules, using the information you received to enhance your look but not lock you into something.

  2. Love this outfit. Very wise to keep it. The shoes are so cute. Big bonus that they wear so well. Only two photos???

  3. I am a new subscriber, and I love your style! I would like to order the Catherine jeans, but after reading the Nordstrom reviews, I am not sure about what size to order. I am 5’ 5” and 135 lbs. Did you order a size down, which is the recommendation? Thank you, and I look forward to more of your posts!

  4. If it isn’t broken, why fix it?
    Advice! Opinions!
    Color analysis is as relevant as a magazine horoscope.
    You always looked chic and pulled together before your recent trip.
    Your sense of style has been side-tracked but you can always turn around and go back.
    Trust your personal instincts and judgement; they never failed you in the past.

    1. I get what you’re saying, but I’d been feeling stuck with my style for some time. I tend to be my own harshest critic, and realized I wanted a trained and objective set of eyes. Now I feel I have a framework from which to add some color and different silhouettes, and be more confident with those additions. To me, it’s been more about opening up what I *can* wear, rather than restricting. And as always, I take what works for me and leave the rest.

      1. I’d think of it not as your style being “side-tracked,” rather that the Red Leopard team took you on new paths and you bring back what you learn. You’re always one to follow your own road xoxo.

        1. I love the path Red Leopard has taken you on Susan. Every picture you post wearing the colors and styles they recommend is spectacular. You come to life in a truly lovely way. I can understand comfort level (as I am such a creature of habit), but want to put in a cheer for the Red Leopard point of view because i found it remarkable. I do like Lisa’s sentiment as well.

          1. I have to say I agree that the Red Leopard guidance has taken your style to a new level which personally I love. All the naysayers perhaps need to ask themselves why they have an issue with the direction you are going. Your change of direction does not call into doubt anyone else’s choices and I think we are all guilty of falling into ruts and doing the same same all over. If anything, your change should make each of us question whether we need to update/makeover/refresh our own looks.

  5. I would love to see how you could transition some of your old neutrals, especially black and gray, into your updated wardrobe. Regardless of our color “season” many of us don’t have your fashion connections and resources to build a completely new wardrobe.

  6. Love this look! It seems very “you” – a combination of gamine (the jeans and oxfords) and relaxed (the flowy, but not overwhelmingly so, pleated top). I think you’ve very successfully put your spin on your new style directive with this outfit!

  7. I like what you are doing and you look great in your colors! You’ve inspired me to make some changes in my closet. I’m also working toward buying less, but better. Your posts are really helpful.

  8. I love that kimono. Glad you kept it.

    I’d love to do my colors and style – color wise, I know I feel best in jewel tones. I’m curious what my style would be. Definitely not gamine. What other options are there?

  9. Looks gorgeous as always
    But I don’t understand how we are going to be inspired if you stick to gamine/summer now?
    Being a natural/winter there’s no cross over except accessories I guess

    1. Hi Sharon, thanks! I mostly stuck to a single style before this, (long-over-lean silhouette and neutrals). For my outfit posts, yes the pieces will be from my own wardrobe, so will reflect my personal style. But I’m trying to cover other style personalities and palettes in my other posts.

  10. I’ m very much with Patrish : I am unsure why women need to be persuaded to adopt another person’s idea of which colours suit? I think your style was pretty damn fine beforehand and I think that it does seem more rules than tools. You have written a style blog for a while, I think, and if you really hadn’t “got it right” do you think so many would have been keen to see and read about your style?
    I guess this is a bit of a clumsy way of complimenting you on what were YOUR choices and gently wondering if you need to ditch so much that you felt comfortable with before? I am of the view that the fewer constraints there are around style, the better, so that all women can feel comfortable with their own style.
    I can understand people wanting a bit of unbiased advice for particular situations but to be “allocated” a random palette of someone else’s making?? Not, I’d have thought, for those of us who have spent half (or more) a lifetime dressing ourselves!
    Do love Patrish’s analogy of colour analysis and magazine horoscopes. Great stuff!

    1. I realize that everyone has their own opinion, but if Susan has had a wonderful experience to clarify her questions about her style, is that not HER choice. This company has had years of training and study to understand the colour concepts and best style choices. Why is it anyone’s place to break the bubble of another just because it is not their choice. I can totally understand since I was feeling like an update and it was my choice to get this done as well. If it makes you feel great there is not harm to someone else.

      1. Bloggers can’t win.
        Susan either has a bunch of people complaining about her wearing so much black and now complaining about her wearing color!
        I don’t know how she does it.

  11. Those pink oxfords are so cute! But Vionics’ aggressive arch support is more than my poor flat feet can handle.
    I agree with others who are worried that your embrace of the Gamine style may be too restrictive. You have the enthusiasm of a recent convert. I hope you didn’t purge too many of your former favorites. Even Audrey Hepburn herself probably wanted to dress like Katherine from time to time. (And either one of them could have made that kimono their own!)

  12. I agree with Sara and Parrish. You already had a sense of color in accessories. My mother, who was always a sharp dresser, had her colors done in the ‘80s – mostly to keep a friend company. The woman who did them was the reigning authority. Mother came home – showed us the choices. Maybe she bought a pair of orange shoes. Then she threw out the scraps and returned to trusting her own excellent judgment!

  13. Great top, I love double duty pieces. I’m trying to keep a balance in my closet of my casual daily clothes and stylish pieces for occasions, dates or just dressing up to give myself a lift. I’m generally very classic styles but this top really speaks to me.

  14. My outlier is to gradually incorporate boho pieces, one at a time. I get so bored with classic style. Boho is fun. Gamine is what my inner Audrey calls me to wear, but my body is a profound pear. The two don’t mesh, with the exception of fit-and-flare dresses. Boho has some of the same free spirit, and is kinder to my shape.

    Everyone should have outliers, as a remedy for tedium.

  15. There’s a reason a person goes to a professional consultant, to get unbiased professional advice, to advance their style. In other words, to learn how to be uniquely themselves, I applaud this idea. I follow many blogs, and many don’t look like myself, or aren’t my age, or don’t dress to suit my shape, but, they have a unique spin on what we wear as a culture right now. All these ideas, have me thinking about uniqueness more than ever. The new glasses and yellow leather jacket, hair, accessories, say to me , an interesting unique personality, I want to know more about this person. Well done, be who you are. I aim to do the same, my closet is filling up with fit and flare dresses, , espridrilles, vintage accessories, and more unique items that fit my esthetic which could be classic/ retro/ euro, if there is such a thing. Jeans and pants are fading out of my closet quickly, as a pear shape they never really worked well anyway. Being unique is very French, be you.

    1. I look better in skirts as well, but in our climate, we sometimes need jeans or other trousers. Last winter was too cold to wear a skirt and leggings; we had to wear leggings under our jeans. There are now “curvier” jeans lines with a greater difference between waist and hip sizes, and I find that the newer, somewhat higher waists work better.

      And I love my Doc Martens mary janes. Mine are red. Their textile mary janes and oxfords come in pink as well. Pink is cheery, but gets so grubby in cities. I guess some Docs wearers are too punk to care, but I’m not that hardcore. I can walk many km in these shoes; also have a black pair.

  16. I like to look pulled together, but my lifestyle doesn’t demand that I have a lot of “nice” things. I live in a rural area, have messy hobbies and pets. I find that if an article of clothing fits me well, suits my style and has me feeling like a million bucks, it doesn’t matter what color it is. That said, I look ghastly in purple! So, what it all distills down to is personal style and making choices that fit it. By the way, one of my cats loves cashmere – not to wear, of course, but to knead and roll around in ☹️.

  17. I also ordered the Catherine jeans. Maybe it’s because I grew up wearing hand-me-downs but I don’t like the pre-worn/faded look, it was more pronounced on the jeans than the photos. Luckily I also ordered the Eileen Fisher sale jeans which were perfect.

  18. Susan has always had a thoughtful, individual, evolving point of view on style, as is evidenced in her wonderful think pieces on the subject. She’s no follower. But fashion can be an exhausting sea of choices. In reaction, it’s easy to get into a rut. A new set of educated eyes can help you see your way to fresh choices that better reflect who you are now. That’s all Red Leopard offered her. As a reader, I’m very much enjoying watching the process unfold, and she looks great! For those of you threatened by her new outlook, aim your slings and arrows elsewhere. You are free to make your own choices, but snarky judgments (equating color study to horoscopes) look bad on you.

    1. Susan has changed and so has her blog. Some may choose not to follow if the new look doesn’t resonate with them.

  19. I occasionally make a purchase that is “close enough” as far as my palette goes. For example, I recently purchased a dress in a large floral print that has some of my colors but not all. It’s “close enough” and I love the dress. As you quoted “perfect is the enemy of good”. I love following your journey into color and style analysis. I tire of the comments insinuating that as soon as you come back to your senses you will dress the way you used to! LOL If readers do not want to embrace color analysis that is fine and even understandable. But some of us are loving this!! And for the record, I am not the same season as you and I still have learned plenty from your recent posts.

  20. While I know pattern isn’t your thing, when you do pick one, it is usually something I really like and enjoy on you. And you seem to have a real eye for interesting and versatile tops that are not overwhelming — like the navy pleated one you featured today. Love!!

    Was there any discussion about best ways to make use of pattern in your consultation? (types, scale, anything?).

    (I would just add that we can all learn something from your posts. Whether your style is precisely our own or not. I have never been able to make the ‘long over lean’ work for me, for example, but that doesn’t mean that I haven’t gotten a lot of great ideas from your variety of outfits and style choices….)

  21. That kimono is fabulous! I’m so glad you kept it. I like to see these style and color typing as “guidelines” to follow or not, based on my mood. I own too many wonderful things that don’t fit my suggested style and color range, that I just can’t give up.

  22. Although I don’t care for that top with those jeans if you are comfortable and happy that’s what counts.
    I personally am enjoying your changes. They are not in my color palette but they are making YOU look younger, happier, sassier. Frankly I was getting bored with your style posts. Now I’m intrigued to see where you go! And it’s made me more aware of my own choices

  23. This seems too familiar. I worked as a tv news anchor and reporter for 30 years. Always did my own thing.
    During my later years, the station would bring in consultants. Those people who shop with you and tell you what to buy for tv and then tell you to cut your hair and wear specific makeup. I loved having someone (a professional) who dressed Network newscasters help me at the local level but I was uncomfortable and unhappy at times. …New York is not the Midwest. When I was told to cut my hair, I worried I would look like a boy.
    As for clothing….
    Full purple pant suit, full red skirt suit. No patterns but jewel tones to bring some life to the screen with the boring men’s suits all around me. Not only did I feel odd in some leather blazer…
    I got many in the viewing audience up in arms. Some did not like the changes. They did not like the short, pixie hair…Men hated it, women liked it. They thought the makeup was too heavy etc etc. You cannot please ALL the people.
    In the end, I embraced some of the consultants suggestions but toned down others…leaving me with a look I felt ok about. Being in the public eye seems glamorous and fascinating but it is not always easy. I did get rid of a few things…a purple velvet blazer that nobody cared for…. I did not like that I wasted my own money for something that I basically dumped to the back of the closet until it went to charity.
    My feeling is, take suggestions and if you look in the mirror and feel pretty…that is the look to go with.
    Susan, I personally love your old look…long and lean, fringe, longer hair but change (advice) helps us all to at least rethink….and try something we might be afraid to try. From one who had a gazillion wonderful comments from viewers over the years, there are still a few crappy comments that are hard to forget. I thought about blogging but… been there, done that with the comments.

  24. I think the Gamine style is you to a “t”. I started subscribing to your blog because I was looking for a real life reflection of that certain age. Never have I felt that you were advocating that your subscribers should adopt your ideas in a wholesale manner. To those who preferred your former style choices, may I suggest that they try the “you do you” philosophy. It is incredibly freeing.

  25. I have no idea if I have any outliers in my wardrobe or not anymore. I’m in a place of huge change right now. I can no longer work, transitioning to ‘casual’ clothing all the time and lots of medical stuff going on making my face & body change big time. These things are the reasons I’m going to get my colors ‘done’ & what I like to call a ‘style check’. I don’t know what they call my style, however I do know what I like & what I THINK looks good on me. I’m having a blast watching your transition to different clothing & you have really got me thinking about buying less. I’m not going to get rid of any of my clothing until after my trip to London & I’m not buying any new clothing until then as well. I’m even going back & getting new lenses in 2 old pair of glasses that looked fabulous on me instead of getting new ones (I can rotate to the glasses I wear now). You inspire me along with some of the ladies you follow! Love the oxfords!!

  26. Adaptation is the key for me. My ‘style’ is classic no matter how many quizzes I do to try and get a change from the consultant’s analysis. Like you I live in a more laid back place so true classic leaves me feeling either over smart or too plain. Enter accessories! Patterned scarves, coloured or patterned shoes, stacked bracelets or statement earrings.
    Your posts are always interesting no matter how relevant they are to me personally.
    I applaud you for being true to yourself and sidelining the detractors.

  27. Beautiful kimono! Good color combo!
    I clean out my closet once in a while. I spend a considerable amount on my clothes and I’m very choosy with cut, quality and fit. I keep my taylor quite busy. I avoid most things made in China with a few exceptions. I generally buy items whenever in Europe, as generally they are of a better quality. Of course, even there now there are exceptions. When cleaning my closet, I make two piles, one sure to “let go” another a “may be.” With the last one, I wait a couple of months or so and then I review. I’m known to raid the pile and save some, let go of the rest. This way I hope not to regret for discarding items I really love. I buy any and all colors, mostly stay away from tiny florals or fussy prints and trend toward more architectural designs. I also design jewelry as a hobby, now a passion and actually an obsession (counteracting my many years spent in the medical profession) and I’m a watercolorist as well, quite comfortable with the various color palettes. I never stress about color or lack of since I can accessorize to make it work. I also change lipstick colors to blend or for contrast, otherwise I tend to use very little makeup now, that I’m no longer a teenager!! This is all in a nutshell. I try to keep it simple. I have always been in a Less is More mode, perhaps because I grew up for 20 ++ years behind the Iron Curtain where Less was really Less!!!! I quickly became creative under those circumstances and truly less hungry. Had no choice. It serves me well now.

  28. I’m a boho winter/summer ( I never know;) and I’d wear that outfit in a second! Only change would be super dark wash skinnies and kitten heeled pink or navy suede booties or a sandal with a heel in the same colours. Love Vionic but oxies, not my jam. Point being, we can all walk away from Susan’s blog with some great takeaways. I am enjoying her new proportions although I am more long over lean but always open to a great look like this. I am also loving Susan’s move to colour, that poppy shirt always looks fantastic on her. Being short myself I often use her suggestions on petite items to do research for my own look.
    The garden is full of flowers of different shapes, sizes and colour. How boring it would be if we were all the same!

  29. There is something about living in LA (which we both do) we encourages neutrals, no color. I’m in Italy right now and all the women from all over are in gorgeous colors. I’m loving the colors on you…and feel myself slowing coming around to wearing more color.

  30. Susan, I can’t find anything to complain about. 🙂

    In fact, I’m very interested in seeing how your personal style evolves and how you evaluate this new approach and blog about it. I also look forward to my own reactions to your restyling adventure.

    Taking risks is not required of anyone, although it’s available to everyone. Thank you for modeling what’s hard for so many people of a certain age, both women and men — taking *current* stock of ourselves and how we’re living our lives and then (for some of us) going where we have never been before in the hopes that things will turn out fine and, along the way, we’ll have learned and grown.

    Because, if not now, when?

  31. LOVE the shoes – they are wonderful! And glad you kept that top and the divine (!!!) kimono, since they bring you joy and are your colors after all. I wonder if you front-tucked the blouse and rolled up the sleeves a bit if it would look a little more “gamine”? Regardless, you look terrific. I don’t get the naysayers either. It’s not like you’ve joined a cult FFS! 🙂

  32. Thank you for the link to the Vince pleated floral top! Mine just arrived and it is just what I had hoped for. Looks lovely with my pink Cole Haan oxfords and jeans.