A Style Reset: First Steps

Susan B of une femme d'un certain age wears round shape glasses from Jimmy Fairly.

After my color and style consultation with Red Leopard in London, I was SO fired up! I couldn’t wait to start incorporating what I’d learned about color and style.

(Above: I’d purchased those glasses from Jimmy Fairly in Paris, before my Red Leopard session. I was going for something fun and different, and my instincts were on point: the color works with a Golden Spring palette, and they’re a good shape for my Gamine style profile!) Lipstick is from Chantecaille, color “Sunrise.”

First Things First: A Closet Clear-Out

Annie at Red Leopard advised me to start my style reset by clearing my closet of any pieces that weren’t in my Spring color palette. Then I could better assess which areas to prioritize for updating.

I’ve often joked that my closet looks like it belongs to a cat burglar (so much black!) so I knew this would be a big project. It took several hours over a couple of days. This time, I remembered to take some Before pictures. 😉

First step of a style reset: getting rid of what no longer works. Before and After a closet clear clear out. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

Tops

I had accumulated quite a few tops over the years. Many were the wrong colors, and/or the wrong style for my Gamine profile. I kept several sleeveless shells in ivory and navy, but may winnow those down further. I quickly identified lightweight tops with sleeves as a shopping priority. (The light aqua tee in the top and After photos is new, available in Misses / Petite / Plus.)

Pants

I had So. Many. Black Pants. (Many were doubled up on those hangers.) And I’d hung onto some jeans that no longer fit me, or styles that felt dated or that I’d rarely worn. There were also a few pairs of trousers that were the wrong colors. I’ve kept the jeans I wear most often. And I did keep a couple pairs of black knit pants, one of which is my “workout” pair. The other I’ll probably replace with navy in due time.

As part of my Style Reset, I decluttered my closet, removing items that aren't in my color palette. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

Sweaters

I had already cleared out a lot of sweaters during my closet declutter earlier this year. This time I let the rest of the black and “wrong color” ones go. The coral sweater in the After photo is the sale sweater I picked up in London while shopping with Greetje and Lisa.

Jackets

I still had quite a few black jackets, most of which were holdovers from my office wardrobe, and that I rarely wear anymore. After this clear-out, I was down to 6 jackets total, including my kimono (which turns out to have colors mostly in my palette!). The coral jacket I purchased on sale in London is at the tailor getting the sleeves shortened.

When it was done, I felt as though a huge weight had been lifted.

Most of the black pieces in my wardrobe are from Eileen Fisher, so I’ll be dropping those off later this week to recycle with their Renew program. There are a few tops and jackets from other brands I might be able to consign. The rest were donated to a local for-charity thrift or given to a friend who has 3 petite-sized young adult daughters still in school and working part-time.

Style Reset Next Step: Rebuilding…

This style reset is going to be a long-term project. As a result of the color and style consultation, I’ve already radically changed how I shop for myself. I’m much more focused and discriminating. First, I scan the racks for “my” colors. Then I look at the cut, fabric, and details to see if they’re a good match for the Gamine style personality (nothing too fussy, floofy, frilly, oversized, or Boho) and my body shape. Only then do I try anything on.

I’m finding the current season pickings are slim, especially with regard to color. Softer, cooler colors seem to be predominant now, and my palette is warm and bright/clear. I’m hoping that Fall collections might provide more options.

I have found one keeper so far from the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale. To be honest, if it’s the only piece of clothing I find in the sale, I will consider it a roaring success.

Susan B of une femme d'un certain age wears a Lafayette 148 NY leather jacket from the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale.

I featured this leather jacket (Plus) in my “top sale picks” post last week. The color is in between* two of my “best” colors in the Spring color swatches wallet (Cinnamon and Honey). The glazed lambskin leather is dreamy. I’ll need to get the sleeves shortened, and have tucked the cuffs up inside for this photo. I’m wearing size Small.

Spring seasonal color palette browns. Details at une femme d'un certain age.
The dots indicate my best colors within the Spring palette.

*Red Leopard says, “Do not try to match the colors in your wallet exactly (or you will never buy anything!). Use your wallet as a reference point; you may buy colors that fall in between the swatch colors.”

I’ll be on the lookout for some lightweight tops (prints and solids) in my colors. I’ll continue to share updates as I work through this wardrobe refresh.

Have you gone through a major style reset? Did you do it gradually, or in one big step?

Stay in touch.

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123 Comments

  1. Pink Azalea
    July 15, 2019 / 1:11 pm

    I love your new look and will follow along as you add other pieces. Your experience has made me take a look at my own closet. I applaud your curiosity and willingness to take a different direction with your closet. I have two pairs of black pants and a couple of black tops. I do find that black doesn’t work well for me any more so I won’t be buying more of it. A thought – there may be cashmere sweaters in spring/summer colors on sale now so maybe you can find some in your palette – ON SALE 🙂

  2. Barbara Hansen
    July 15, 2019 / 1:17 pm

    I am now inspired to have my colors done, after reading your excellent article. I am becoming very conscious of developing what I believe is the best style for me, and in order to look my best I need to know which colors work for me. Thanks for being an inspiration.

  3. Janet Parker
    July 15, 2019 / 2:21 pm

    That jacket is amazing on you! Not many people could wear that color and look stunning as you do. I had my colors done professionally by Color Me Beautiful a long time ago and it was life changing! I still have the original swatches. I am a red headed, brown eyed, freckled Autumn but had been wearing gray and navy for the winter and pastels in the summer since it was easier. Once I switched to the Autumn pallet of warm browns, golds, rusts, it made such a difference and I received so many compliments. It made shopping and building a capsule wardrobe so much easier! I once left my rust colored blazer behind at a meeting and the someone identified it as mine simply because of the color. At that point, I did worry if I had overdone the commitment to my colors!

    Love your blog!!!

  4. Angela in NZ
    July 15, 2019 / 2:38 pm

    Wouldn’t it be great if fashion designers thought a little more about colour analysis when preparing new seasons collections? Some seasons I totally despair at the offerings and just have to make sure there’s enough in my clothing budget when my season (Winter) is available. Our market in New Zealand is very small and shipping costs can be prohibitive so patience is most definitely required. Looking forward to your future posts with your new look. 😉

  5. Carol
    July 15, 2019 / 2:39 pm

    I echo the sentiments of the masses. The Jacket: You wear it well. The long-over-lean silhouette visually pulled you down. This new look lifts you up. Bravo!

  6. Anita Branin
    July 15, 2019 / 3:03 pm

    You must have yellow undertones in your skin for your palette.

  7. Chris
    July 15, 2019 / 3:33 pm

    I’m also a spring so I look forward to learning from your new fashion journey! Eileen Fisher has some classic brownish neutrals called bark, musk and nutmeg. A new musk canvas jacket is in my closet. Can’t wait to see what I can put with it. Midnight is a rich navy that will help ease the demise of black pants and jackets. Have fun discovering your fresh palette!

    • Susan B
      July 15, 2019 / 3:38 pm

      Yes, the EF midnight is a good option. The August collection (which should be online later this week) will include several piececes in nutmeg, so I’ll be on the lookout.

  8. Mary
    July 15, 2019 / 3:53 pm

    That jacket color and style looks great on you. You are inspiring me to take a look at my closet and try to figure out what colors look best on me. I think I’m a winter, but some of the colors are too bold and harsh for me. I wish Red Leopard would come to LA. I definitely would go!
    Thanks Susan, I love your blog!

  9. Elle
    July 15, 2019 / 5:48 pm

    Susan, I’ve been waiting for this post since your London appt. It’s thought provoking. The jacket looks great on you. What is very interesting in this post is the expression on your face. It doesn’t feel posed. I feel like you are thinking “this is me.” The thought of eliminating all the black in my wardrobe is really painful. Am following your posts closely—as are many. Wish I’d spent my recent time in London more productively. Red Leopard is clearly amazing!!!! Color analysis seems to be a skill which is not always taught by courses. Let me just add that the recent heat wave in Europe really messed up my well-planned suitcase! It was an anomaly!

  10. ED Faris
    July 15, 2019 / 6:00 pm

    We, your readers, are so excited about your visit to Red Leopard and how you are putting this new venture into your wardrobe. It all seems spot on! I celebrate individuals looking for what flatters them, individually, in color and shape and form of dress. It is an important way to be creative and also to stand up to the relentless pressure to conform in our dress.
    Yes to a wide variety of colors, to all different sorts of shapes and sizes of clothing.
    Your choices so far look divine!
    Maybe Red Leopard (and you) could do a three to six city tour. I bet there are enough of us to back it.
    And thanks for the breath of fresh air.

  11. Rondi
    July 15, 2019 / 6:27 pm

    You look amazing in today’s outfit! Not just the color but the shorter jacket is very flattering. I don’t see a professional color analysis in my near future but I have read and studied and believe I know my best palette. If not, at least I’m trying! It’s fun and freeing to shop your palette. Not restricting. I believe only winters have jet black and pure white in their palettes. I am surprised at the comments about black. I do not understand why people are so reluctant to give up black when it is not flattering on the majority of people. Wearing black pants with a colored top in your palette is really not as flattering as your whole outfit being from your palette. Thank you for showing us that other neutrals can be flattering and useful and maybe designers will start giving us other options besides a closet full of black. I look forward to seeing your closet expansion!

  12. Judy Curtis
    July 15, 2019 / 7:00 pm

    Susan , you look fantastic! So worth it. When you had the color and style consultation, did they give you a different palette in your book for each of the four seasons or does the Spring palette represent your best colors all year round?

    • Susan B
      July 15, 2019 / 7:06 pm

      Thanks! I’m a Spring, which means that the colors that look best on me are all from the Spring palette. Within those colors, some are my “best” (for me, it’s the colors with the most yellow undertones).

  13. July 15, 2019 / 9:35 pm

    I’ll join the chorus of approval for your new leather jacket! A question about the sleeve alteration: Is it covered by Nordstrom’s tailoring program, or are you using your own tailor? I’ve never had a leather garment altered; it seems like it might be tricky.

    • Susan B
      July 16, 2019 / 11:06 am

      Thanks! I’m not sure if the alterations I need will be covered. I’ll find out tomorrow and if I’m not comfortable with what they suggest, I’ll take it to my own tailor, who is not cheap, but does quality work, nothing slapdash.

  14. Dee
    July 15, 2019 / 10:24 pm

    I’m so excited,I too am a Spring/ Gamine and chose very similar glasses a few weeks ago. I can’t wait to see how you rebuild your wardrobe (finding Spring colours is a bit difficult here in Australia.

  15. Wendy
    July 15, 2019 / 10:29 pm

    Absolutely love your new jacket! – both the shorter style and the colour on you. I’m also a shorty and love your blog. I’m definitely a bright winter in color and I’m going to follow your example in culling my wardrobe- so liberating!

  16. July 16, 2019 / 4:56 am

    I love black; I’ve had at least three black cats in a row. Understand that it doesn’t suit everyone though.

  17. Dianne
    July 16, 2019 / 6:42 am

    Love your new look. Would you share the style name and color of the Jimmy Farley glasses. Could not locate them on their website. Thanks.

    • Susan B
      July 16, 2019 / 6:44 am

      Thanks! Here’s the style # REX P124-E59

  18. Andrea
    July 16, 2019 / 8:05 am

    Can’t wait to see your evolving wardrobe without black. I don’t wear black, either, and I find it maddening to shop. A nice warm charcoal or indigo pant in tall? Makes me think I should go back to sewing. Even finding soft white tops are a challenge (especially ones with lower necklines). Good luck, and I’ll be watching!

  19. July 16, 2019 / 9:20 am

    I had my colors done years ago and was/am an autumn. So, as you know, black is out. However, I always believed it was the color around my face that was important, not the color on my legs. I love my black jeans, etc. as they look less casual than blue jeans. I’ll have to look into this entire theory to see if I’ve been doing it wrong all this time. So I will be interested in how your wardrobe changes. But, my very non-expert opinion is that jacket would look great with black pants. Sigh, oh well, I guess it’s time to adjust my wardrobe…

  20. Nancy Karpen
    July 16, 2019 / 10:58 am

    That jacket is certainly flattering on you. I can’t wait to see how you build your wardrobe with your new colors. I have been wanting to get my colors done ever since I let my hair go white, and it is really white, pure white.

  21. Daniella
    July 16, 2019 / 12:15 pm

    Congrats! You are finally going in the right direction! Your SOCAL weather and the Lumiere there invites more color than just black or other neutrals. I’m in NOCAL, wear color judiciously, keep black away from my face for daytime wear or embellish with some punchy scarf. I’m a natural blonde with greenish eyes and my very best color is kacky(spelling?!). Go figure!

    • July 16, 2019 / 5:28 pm

      khaki. originally, a dust or sand colour worn by troops in hot, dry regions, but now includes khaki green, a dull green related to the above. Indeed, the new palette seems more appropriate to SOCAL, but not to travels in Europe. I’m just saying that because I can get away with black jeans in work and social situations where a lighter wash would not be appropriate. Obviously, do as you please, and this is not unfriendly criticism. You have a wonderful sense of style. I have also had success with dark forest green and dark violet-red jeans.

  22. July 16, 2019 / 10:02 pm

    Susan – I love love love that jacket on you. It fits your style, form and lifestyle. I like the colors on you, though it would be awful on me. No yellows, oranges or browns for me. I’m into blues, pinks, purples, mauve, greys, greens and lavenders. I did recently add back navy as a pant color – I’d not worn navy in reaction to the navy blue starter suit that a lot of us wore in the Ally McBeal suit era.

    I haven’t done a color or style reset voluntarily. I just lost 30 pounds in six months due to an unexpected cancer diagnosis so I’m having to reset my whole closet and I’m not happy about it. So much of my wardrobe was purchased on sale or carefully matched to my smart business casual wardrobe and replacing it is a pain. I’m 5’2″ so I have to have petite sizes and don’t have much luck in regular sizes.

    I look forward to seeing your wardrobe revision as it unfolds.

    • Susan B
      July 17, 2019 / 6:33 am

      I’m so sorry to hear about your cancer diagnosis. I hope your treatment goes well and you are soon cancer-free. Being 5’1″ myself, I hear you about petite vs. regular styles. It can be limiting. Lately I’ve been all about the alterations.

    • Lee Rosenthall
      July 17, 2019 / 6:57 am

      Laura, I recently discovered a website that was the first I felt really did a good job of finding the nuances of color for those who don’t clearly fit one group or another, and they actually specialize in products for people with hair loss through either chemotherapy or alopecia, etc. You might find it of interest. Go to http://www.headcovers.com and scroll down the left to the section, Cancer Resources & Tutorials, and then Beauty, Brows & Lashes, to Finding Your Color Season. Wishing you a speedy recovery!

  23. No Fear of Fashion
    July 16, 2019 / 10:40 pm

    Well done! Applause. I can imagine you feel light after such a clear-cut. Gosh I should do this too. Only I have been shopping my colours and style for a long long time now, so there are less discriminating factors. Only the Marie one: do I feel great in this?
    Your jacket is indeed a dream. So much better than a black leather jacket. The style is just right as well.
    Now, about clearing your pants (as you call them). I have found that if your good colours are near your face, it doesn’t really matter what colour is on the bottom. I would only select on style if I were you.
    Greetje

  24. Bobbi
    July 17, 2019 / 7:33 am

    Susan, you look so happy in your new color palette! The jacket is sublime. It is a beautiful color on you. I am looking forward to seeing more of your transformation. Such FUN!

  25. Patrish
    July 17, 2019 / 11:05 am

    My style has evolved by observing those women who make an ‘impression’ on me sartorially.
    I have always preferred the same color all the way….top to bottom, except maybe changing up the shoe color if it suits the time/event. Feels elegant and long and lean.
    One color on top and another on the bottom and another for shoes is too much to wrap my head around.
    What to look at first? I want me to enter the room, not my clothing before me.
    Mixing colors also adds to a foreshortened appearance and I like a long line instead.
    Just a style thing and I’m comfortable with who I am and how I present myself. I have found my style.
    Have fun and best wishes on your journey to find yours.

  26. Donna
    July 18, 2019 / 7:14 am

    Love your new look Did Red Leopard advise you on makeup color foundation and blush colors eyes etc If so maybe you could do a blog on it or let me know what they suggested

    • Susan B
      July 18, 2019 / 8:14 am

      Yes, they did. It turns out that most of my current makeup colors are good for my palette, though I did ditch some more blue-based “rosy” pink lipsticks I’d been hanging onto for a while and never wore.

  27. Quietgirl
    July 18, 2019 / 5:23 pm

    So excited for you. I’m in my 60’s and have long believed that black drained my skin. Navy, however, looks dynamite on me. I am so glad you have had a color awakening and I look forward to seeing the new you!

  28. RebeccaNYC
    July 19, 2019 / 4:51 pm

    I had my colors “done” back in the 90’s, and I still have my color swatches! Thanks for the reminder to look for my very best colors, and not just for what fits. Thank goodness that as a “soft summer” one of my very best colors is sweatshirt gray! I love it and it loves me. AND it seems to be available in every season. I always joke that it is my “pop of color”

  29. Lisa
    July 19, 2019 / 8:28 pm

    Oh my gosh, that fabulous Lafayette jacket! Looks like it was designed just for you. I’ve got it in my cart, just can’t yet pull the trigger. Now you’ve set the bar so high, if it doesn’t look that beautiful on me, I can always send it back!

  30. July 22, 2019 / 6:42 pm

    I did my closet reset in one go but I put all the rejects in a spare room closet just in case I couldn’t find suitable replacements in time. But the funny thing is that once I started wearing my Seasonal Colors & Style I just couldn’t go back. I’d think I’d wear something “one last time” but as soon as I put it on it didn’t feel right. I did take some of my newer designer purchases to a consignment store where I traded them in for colors/styles that suited me better. I remember feeling such a twinge about giving some items away but once they were gone, I never thought of them again. Clients often express concern that they won’t have fun shopping anymore but without fail they all express that shopping is so much more enjoyable now that they know what to look for — no more wasting time in stores that don’t carry their colors/styles, no more dithering over whether a color or style suits them or not. And no more buyers remorse when they get their purchases home. It’s very freeing.

  31. Jeanne
    July 30, 2019 / 4:41 am

    Susan, are the clothes in the closet the only clothes you own? If so, I envy your ability to winnow! There is not much there. It might be climate dependent. I have a lot of sweaters for winter. I am trying to purge every day and stop shopping.

  32. Lynn Nadjarian
    October 25, 2020 / 8:33 pm

    I live in Australia but have been buying clothes from Kettlewell.uk, as they have colours for all seasons, advice on colour n great customer service. Worth a look! Highly recommended

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