New style mindset, casual blazer look - une femme d'un certain âge

Welcoming la rentrée, and a new mindset

The beginning of September has always felt like a fresh start. It may be a holdover from school days, or maybe anticipation of the coming change of season. But I always find it’s a great time to establish new routines, and try out new things.

Susan B. sits on front steps wearing a light peach blazer, green tee, cuffed jeans and pointed toe mules.
JACKET (SIMILAR) | NECKLACE (SIMILAR) | TEE (SIMILAR) | JEANS | SHOES

In France, September is often referred to as la rentrée, a return to school, to work, to routines, as something to be celebrated. After giving myself a bit of a break in August, I’m feeling re-energized and ready to get back into the swing of things.

Here, I’ve remixed some favorite wardrobe pieces. The light peach jacket was purchased during our visit to Paris in April, previously shown here. I found that it works well as a neutral when paired with a colorful top. Tee previously shown with a different look here. I’ve had those boyfriend jeans for a couple of years now, and they are still favorites. I’m wearing size 27. I really like the contrast between the ruggedness of the jeans and the sleekness of the shoes.

Susan B sits on brick steps wearing a light peach jacket, green tee, blue jeans and beige mules.
JACKET (SIMILAR) | NECKLACE (SIMILAR) | TEE (SIMILAR) | JEANS | SHOES

A new style mindset: getting out of my own way

We all can fall into worrying too much about what others think, and waste energy trying to live up to others’ expectations. That’s as true for style as any other aspect of life. Over the last few weeks I’ve been doing a deep dive into my own style mindset. I’ve been teasing out why some things that are “good on paper” just don’t feel right, and why sometimes the “wrong” things do.

Physical appearance (including what we wear) is one of the ways that our culture polices women to keep us in line. But the older I get, the more liberated I feel from those diktats that the primary function of style should be to “enhance” the figure, or make one look prettier, younger, more conventionally attractive.

I want my outside appearance to project my best, most authentic self. And that doesn’t always align with what we’re so often told is most important: looking slimmer, taller, younger. Sometimes, those trousers that make my legs look stumpy or a top that doesn’t accentuate my waist are exactly what make me feel sassy and confident. Sometimes rather than accentuating my shape, I want to accentuate my personality, sense of humor, or confidence.

Susan B is seated, wearing a light peach jacket, green tee, green bracelets and blue jeans.

That said, I still find style guidelines helpful; they just may shift over time. In the coming weeks, I’m going to be sharing some ideas about guidelines that reflect your authentic style, and are a helpful tool rather than a constraint.

Has your style mindset shifted over the last months or years?

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68 Comments

  1. Pat La Ferrara
    September 1, 2022 / 4:50 am

    Always enjoy your blog…. that being said, I have many pairs of AG jeans, they are one of my favorites…. I do find that some of the jeans, I put in the washer and dryer… then, there are some that I need to wash on gentle and hang to dry. Mostly depending on how they fit…

    How do you wash this particular pair?

  2. Jennifer McGregor
    September 1, 2022 / 4:52 am

    Dear Susan,

    Your hair color is perfect. You look wonderful! Welcome to fall 🙂

    • Susan Blakey
      Author
      September 2, 2022 / 9:00 am

      Thanks very much, Jennifer!

  3. carol
    September 1, 2022 / 4:56 am

    i love your style and your hair is absolutely awesome

    • Susan Blakey
      Author
      September 2, 2022 / 9:00 am

      Thanks so much, carol!

  4. Michelle Hamric
    September 1, 2022 / 4:57 am

    Yes, now at 67, my mindset about style and what I want to wear has changed drastically! I guess I’ve become a bit of a rebel !! For so many years I religiously followed my color analysis which was always questionable, at best. I know I’m a cool undertone with a smidge of neutral undertone. Summer/Winter colors are my best, but because of my eye color and slight neutral-ness to my skin tone olive greens and certain browns are great. All this to say, that I’ve found a new freedom in following MY desires for how I want to present myself to the world. On days I want to feel fresh, alive, sassy, and bohemian I don’t worry about looking my slimmest , having the longest looking legs or worrying if the colors I’m wearing are true to my color palette. I’m more into BEING ME now.

    • Elle
      September 1, 2022 / 7:15 am

      I share your views, and maybe also your colors, Michelle. I feel best in summer/winter shades, however, my hazel green eyes lead me towards some greens and definitely turquoise. I will never give up black—I’m a New Yorker, ha!—but I am shopping more navy as it is less harsh sometimes.
      Here’s to us all being ourselves!

      Love that outfit, Susan

      • Susan Blakey
        Author
        September 2, 2022 / 8:45 am

        Thanks, Elle!

    • Susan Blakey
      Author
      September 2, 2022 / 9:00 am

      It sounds like you’ve found what works for you and feel good in it. That’s awesome!

  5. Blekkenhorst Barbara
    September 1, 2022 / 5:00 am

    Just wanted to say: your hair looks AMAZING!!!

    • Susan Blakey
      Author
      September 2, 2022 / 8:58 am

      Thank you!

  6. Jane Smith
    September 1, 2022 / 5:01 am

    I love your grey hair!

    • Susan Blakey
      Author
      September 2, 2022 / 8:58 am

      Thanks, Jane!

  7. Diane B
    September 1, 2022 / 5:01 am

    As a matter of fact, I have changed over the past couple of years, back to what I was many years ago. A shift to a softer way of dressing, and spending more time on my makeup, not just a swipe of liner and done. I like to take the time lately (months) to do a whole face that blends with the more true to me look instead of blending in with friends that don’t wear much at all. I feel more authentic for me instead even if I look a bit more dressed. I am back to my old self of being happy being a woman who has that girl in her that will always be happy with clothes and skin care and makeup and jewellery. Maybe the heals are done, but there are still cute shoes that are lower. I guess I rambled on, but you did remind me that there has been a revival of the true me.

    • Ms. Liz
      September 1, 2022 / 12:23 pm

      I am so with you with respect to your comment. I feel so much better when I am pulled together. I like being “dressed” even if I am more dressed up than the company I am keeping. I have been finding that sometimes I don’t wear what I want because others are more casual. I need to be me and just wear what I like.

      • Susan Blakey
        Author
        September 2, 2022 / 8:25 am

        I agree that presenting our best, most authentic selves is a confidence booster, and will inspire others too!

    • Susan Blakey
      Author
      September 2, 2022 / 8:58 am

      That’s great to hear… it sounds like you’ve leaned into what feels authentic to you and are happy with it. Brava!

  8. Karen
    September 1, 2022 / 5:08 am

    Susan, Love the color and length/new style of your hair in this post! Looks fabulous and shows what a few small tweaks can do to give one a subtle update.

    • Susan Blakey
      Author
      September 2, 2022 / 8:55 am

      Thanks very much, Karen!

  9. Marcie
    September 1, 2022 / 5:21 am

    First of all, your gray hair looks stunning. Congratulations on that decision! I also stopped coloring my hair in my sixties and realized the cool colors I loved my whole life were not doing me any favors. Trying to give up black, gray, and many shades of blue, but it’s a slow transition. Warm colored clothing seems harder to find most of the year. I always look forward to fall, not the least because that’s when stores are showing the warm fall colors that suit me best. I always look forward to reading your blogs and appreciate how much you share of your life. Welcome back!

    • Susan Blakey
      Author
      September 2, 2022 / 8:55 am

      Thanks, Marcie! Yes, if you favor warmer colors, there are a lot of good ones to choose from now.

  10. Sandy
    September 1, 2022 / 5:31 am

    Susan,

    Welcome back. Just wanted to say how nice I think your haircolour is — now all grown out — au naturelle.

    Sandy J

    • Susan Blakey
      Author
      September 2, 2022 / 8:54 am

      Thanks so much, Sandy!

  11. Amy
    September 1, 2022 / 6:03 am

    I loved reading your thoughts about dressing authentically to please yourself and not others. I try to embrace this idea as a rule, but I struggle with it sometimes and find myself being pulled by “Style” or “Trend” into directions that don’t really feel right to me. Inevitably, the purchases I make during those times are the ones that remain unworn in my closet! I am looking forward to reading more of your thoughts on this topic. Welcome back!

    • Susan Blakey
      Author
      September 2, 2022 / 8:54 am

      Hi Amy, thanks! Trends are definitely a two-sided coin; they can inspire us to incorporate something new into our personal style, but we need to listen to our inner style voice and pass on the ones that aren’t speaking to us. That’s not always easy to do!

  12. Rona
    September 1, 2022 / 6:05 am

    Susan, I agree, La Rentrée always feels like a fresh new start. And you look fab, gorgeous smile!

  13. Evelyn
    September 1, 2022 / 6:56 am

    My style has evolved to valuing comfort and how comfortable I feel wearing something, as opposed to feeling like I should wear something, because it’s stylish or “supposed” to look good on me. I still believe in quality over quantity and I like to make a little extra effort for an occasion, otherwise, my former penchant for cashmere has morphed into nice tees and Patagonia fleece (ALWAYS with jeans!) The last couple of years of Covid have really forced me to think about the things that are important to me and being “stylish” is low on my list. I think we are living in an era where humble austerity is becoming tres chic ; we are being forced to think of many other issues besides fashion. That said, following fashion is a welcome relief from the heavy stuff. Thanks for the post. I’m eager to read more from you on this topic!

    • Susan Blakey
      Author
      September 2, 2022 / 8:49 am

      Thanks, Evelyn! Style doesn’t have to be “fashion.” It sounds as though you’ve developed a personal style that’s practical and works for you.

  14. Judy M.
    September 1, 2022 / 7:02 am

    Susan, I completely agree with your thoughts about dressing in a way/style that reflects our authentic selves — especially at our mature ages. No more adhering strictly to the “rules” set by somebody else! Like Diane (commenter here), I’ve always been a bit of a girly-girl — interested in fashion, make-up, etc. Throughout my career, this was something that I felt had to be put on the back burner in order to be taken seriously. Well, no more. Like the Cat in the Hat says “I yam what I yam!” And guess what?! My 15-year-old granddaughter and I have bonded over our shared love of fashion and make-up. So there you have it – another reason/bonus to be our authentic, wildly wonderful selves!

    • Diane B
      September 1, 2022 / 10:00 am

      Yayyy to Judy. Good for you. I am having more fun with it now than 40 years ago.

    • Susan Blakey
      Author
      September 2, 2022 / 8:47 am

      Hi Judy, that’s wonderful!

  15. Ellen
    September 1, 2022 / 7:03 am

    Thank you for saying this, I love that you want to celebrate your individuality. We all need more encouragement to do that,

    • Susan Blakey
      Author
      September 2, 2022 / 8:46 am

      Thanks Ellen, and you’re welcome!

  16. Stephanie
    September 1, 2022 / 7:20 am

    Your hair looks amazing! I was inspired by you to get my colors done which was just super fun! Plus, I knit and always have a hard time picking yarn colors for sweaters and scarfs. I am an autumn and can see that browns golds and warm colors for the most part look better on me than my old go-tos – navy, gray….. I will still wear my favorite navy, white and black items but I am enjoying wearing warm colors!

    • Susan Blakey
      Author
      September 2, 2022 / 8:44 am

      Thanks, Stephanie! I’m glad you’ve found colors that you love and work for you.

  17. Bette
    September 1, 2022 / 7:27 am

    >>In the coming weeks, I’m going to be sharing some ideas about guidelines that reflect your authentic style, and are a helpful tool rather than a constraint.

    I really appreciate this approach to style — tools, rather than constraints. I admit I am less stylish than I once was, and I look forward to new ideas.

    • Susan Blakey
      Author
      September 2, 2022 / 8:43 am

      Thanks, Bette!

  18. Sally
    September 1, 2022 / 7:50 am

    Susan well said! I love your hair and this outfit you’ve put together. I’ve learned so many things from you about clothes and style! Thank you! At 75 (almost 76!) my primary concern is comfort. I do like feeling ‘ put together’ but mostly I want comfort and ease of movement. If I were to identify the things that suggest my personality those things would probably be my haircut, my glasses and my shoes—my accessories I guess! I like what say about societal expectations toward women. Anyway thank you for all that you do!

    • Susan Blakey
      Author
      September 2, 2022 / 8:41 am

      I think comfort has become more important for many of us, and there’s nothing wrong with that! Keeping style choices simple and using accessories to add personality is a great way to do more with less, and make our wardrobes work for us.

  19. MJ
    September 1, 2022 / 8:01 am

    This explains my love for wide-leg jeans. I want to enjoy the freedom they give me, so I wear them. Is it wrong to love 1970s styles? Definitely not!

    • Susan Blakey
      Author
      September 2, 2022 / 8:39 am

      I’m also loving more relaxed silhouettes these days. The good news is there seems to be a wide range of styles available, so something for everyone!

  20. Elaine @ Following Augustine
    September 1, 2022 / 8:13 am

    I love this post and look forward to what you’re planning to share in the coming weeks. At almost 70, I no longer worry about following fashion rules. I’m all about comfort and authenticity, not fitting into someone else’s preconceived notions about what a woman of a certain age is supposed to look like or how she’s supposed to dress. Let’s celebrate individuality!

    • Susan Blakey
      Author
      September 2, 2022 / 8:34 am

      Thanks, Elaine, and good for you!

  21. Johanna
    September 1, 2022 / 8:16 am

    Love the hair and the outfit!

    Yes, there’s something magic about this time of year. I have such fond memories of back-to-school shopping with my mother for brogues and knee socks and kilts and Fair Isle sweaters, at Altman’s and Bonwit Teller, etc.

    • Susan Blakey
      Author
      September 2, 2022 / 8:33 am

      Thanks, Johanna!

  22. Mary Ann
    September 1, 2022 / 8:26 am

    Wow Susan! You look really great. I love the color of your hair, your outfit and those glasses! Very, very stylish.

    • Susan Blakey
      Author
      September 2, 2022 / 8:32 am

      Thanks so much, Mary Ann!

  23. No Fear of Fashion
    September 1, 2022 / 8:29 am

    My style and my style mindset has certainly changed over the last 10 years. Although I still very much like the corporate style and the clothes of Victoria Beckham (if I just had the money…) it isn’t really me, nor fit for my present life. Being retired means more casual, more low heels but I still want to look put together. And I have a side to my character for quirky things. So I fully agree with you. Looking slim, tall, hourglass etc is all very fine and I sometimes like that, but I certainly do not shy away from looking funky and not at all flattering. “Man Reppeler” was a great example of that style.
    Greetje

    • Susan Blakey
      Author
      September 2, 2022 / 8:32 am

      Hi Greetje, I think you’re doing quite well at adjusting your wardrobe to your more casual lifestyle.

  24. Cindylou
    September 1, 2022 / 8:32 am

    Your skin looks amazing!

    • Susan Blakey
      Author
      September 2, 2022 / 8:30 am

      Thank you!

  25. SoSuSam
    September 1, 2022 / 8:36 am

    Seeing your style transformations over the years–especially the dramatic one since you got your colors analyzed in London a few years ago–has been fascinating and also so helpful. Watching how you’ve handled opening up your ideas about style and shifting your style to better reflect who you are today helps me do the same (tho my style is not nearly as well-defined or interesting as yours).

    In terms of my own style, although my fashion sensibility hasn’t changed much in years, my hairstyle has. First, about 6 years ago I went gray. That was both shocking and easy. I don’t always love having gray hair (I started going gray in my early 20s, so by my late 40s I was nothing but gray), but I accepted it and found it looked better than coloring it did. Now, I’m letting my hair (gasp!) part in the center. Oddly, this one has been muchhhh harder for me to embrace. I look, objectively, far better (more “attractive”) with a side part. FAR better. So I’ve battled my hair, trying to convince it to part on the side, for decades. But it just won’t do it anymore (my hair has changed a lot now that it’s mostly gray–it’s less curly, much thinner, and has definite opinions about what it will do). In the last month I’ve stopped fighting it and am learning to be okay with a center part. It’s actually becoming kind of fun to give into my hair’s inclinations and not care as much about what “looks good” but rather to focus on being myself, as you and others have said.

    • Susan Blakey
      Author
      September 2, 2022 / 8:30 am

      Thanks, SoSuSam! As someone who has always had a VERY strong cowlick and insistent part (mine’s just off center) I get it! 😉

  26. Sandy
    September 1, 2022 / 10:07 am

    Susan
    I have truly enjoyed watching your transformation since your color analysis.
    I stopped coloring my hair many moons ago and found it to be freeing!
    Your hair looks terrific !!
    I’m looking forward to hearing more about your new color consulting venture. I’m happy you’re able to share what you learned with others.

    • Susan Blakey
      Author
      September 2, 2022 / 8:28 am

      Thanks, Sandy! I’m looking forward to it too, and to sharing how color can help us look and feel our best.

  27. Vancouver Barbara
    September 1, 2022 / 10:38 am

    You look spectacular with silver hair.

    • Susan Blakey
      Author
      September 2, 2022 / 8:26 am

      Thank you!

  28. Linder
    September 1, 2022 / 10:50 am

    I think you style is very natural. Enjoy your blog, but if you want to be true you why do you photo shop your pictures?

    • Susan Blakey
      Author
      September 1, 2022 / 10:56 am

      Hi Linder, thanks! I often shoot photos with an iPhone in Portrait mode to blur the background. I only make adjustments for exposure, cropping, or sometimes to remove something distracting from the background (like neighbor’s trash bins). That’s it. I don’t “facetune” or airbrush my skin.

  29. Sandra Sallin
    September 1, 2022 / 11:36 am

    Well said Susan. I hope you shout it to the rooftops!!! I’m here to hear more of your thoughts. It’s OK, to be grey, it’s OK to have lines, it’s OK to not use filters. it’s OK not to wear slimming clothes. Jesse enough of what “others say.” It’s time to not care.

    • Susan Blakey
      Author
      September 2, 2022 / 8:26 am

      Thanks Sandra!

  30. Linda
    September 1, 2022 / 1:09 pm

    Susan, I always enjoy your offerings. Thank you for what you bring to my day!

    Your words today really resonated with me. Growing up (I’m now 66), we were indeed told our clothing choices must make us look slimmer, taller, and more attractive. Never did I receive the message that how I dress could be an expression of joy and creativity.

    Many (most?) of us have lived within that framework for a lot of years, and it’s tiring. It’s time to let go of old filters and embrace who we are and who we want to be!

    • Susan Blakey
      Author
      September 2, 2022 / 8:23 am

      Hi Linda, thanks, and yes it IS hard to let go of sometimes. That’s why I’ve decided to really focus on this now.

  31. Cath
    September 1, 2022 / 6:16 pm

    What a welcome discussion regarding dressing to express your best self… whether or not you look slimmer or taller or whatever.
    At 5’3”” and 72 years ‘young’, I have learned to embrace my creative side in my outfits… eg wearing cropped loose linen pants with a tunic top and chunky necklace in interesting colour combinations that suit me . No , I do not look long and lean, however I am fit , and the colours and style suit me and express my personality . I am usually showing more colour than others in the room, but I feel confident enough to do so.
    Seeing the way you are transforming how you choose your clothes, and accessories, is so inspirational,Susan. Like you, having my colours done with Red Leopard in London this past spring has helped me also choose better make up colours from my favourite , the Jane Iredale line , as well… just a few tweaks, but quite a difference. Grey hair is so easy now, and not at all boring. Amazing what a touch of product does to perk up the short hair I now wear.
    I am looking forward to more from you as we return to fall and hopefully cooler temperatures. Fashion is fun, and perhaps more so as we mature and learn what works best for our individual personalities .

    • Susan Blakey
      Author
      September 2, 2022 / 8:22 am

      Thanks, Cath! I figure it’s never too late to have fun with style.

  32. Linda
    September 2, 2022 / 10:35 am

    Hi Susan,
    Thanks for your comments, always very thoughtful and helpful. And I do love your hair, which looks very cool in the photos. Just wondering if you think this changes your warm color palette at all? I have very cool gray hair, but have always been a winter so I didn’t face that issue. It would be a great subject for you to write about one day. Thank you for your blog, I know it’s lot of work for you but I do enjoy it.

    • Susan Blakey
      Author
      September 2, 2022 / 4:27 pm

      Hi Linda, thanks, and no, my color palette hasn’t changed. Because the system I was analyzed with looks at skin tone rather than hair color, letting my natural color grow out doesn’t change my palette. I’ll be writing more about this soon!

  33. That's Not My Age
    September 5, 2022 / 7:51 am

    Completely agree with authenticity over what other people think. If you love it and it makes you feel good, wear it!

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