Wardrobe essentials for casual living - une femme d'un certain âge

My wardrobe essentials for how we’re living now…

Casual wardrobe essentials from Susan B at une femme d'un certain age.

Whether you’re looking to re-build, re-organize, refresh or even reduce your wardrobe, the first step is identifying your essentials. They’re the pieces that are the backbone of any wardrobe, and that you reach for day after day.

Today I’m joining up with Jennifer of A Well Styled Life to talk about our wardrobe essentials.

Even though I’ve worked from home for over 5 years, I’m still refining my wardrobe. The last couple of years especially have reinforced an emphasis on comfort. But they’ve also reminded me how much better I feel if I’m “put-together,” and that I’ll never be someone who’s comfortable hanging out in pajamas or sweats all day.

Comfortable and “composed” wardrobe essentials

The pieces that most earn their keep in my wardrobe are those that are simple, practical, and easy to style. A few years ago, I started prioritizing pieces that will travel well when adding to my wardrobe. So it’s no surprise that most of my essentials are what get included in my travel wardrobes.

Sweaters and tees

what I am wearing

sweater | necklace | jeans (similar) | bracelet (similar) | loafers

what I am wearing

bandana | tee | jeans (similar) | shoes (similar)

During the coolest months, you’ll usually find me in a cashmere pullover, either crew neck or v-neck style. A lightweight cashmere sweater is warm enough, but doesn’t make me overheat indoors. During transitional seasons, I’ll rotate in fine merino wool and cotton sweaters.

Styles that are fitted (but not too snug) and layer-able get the most wear and are best for travel. I always have one or two striped sweaters in rotation.

Favorite sweaters:

cashmere v-neck | cashmere crewneck 1 | cashmere crewneck 2 |
merino | favorite cotton (budget-friendly option)

When it warms up, tees are my go-to. Though I love the finished look of a collared, button-front shirt, I just don’t feel at home in them. Striped tees add visual interest and make my outfits feel more finished when it’s too warm to layer. So I’m always on the lookout for them, and have been known to buy backups when I find styles I love.

Favorite tees:

short sleeve tee | 3/4 sleeve tee

I have a couple of older Eileen Fisher long sleeve tees that I still use for layering. They’re a viscose-blend fabric and have held up exceptionally well. I hope she brings back something similar.

Jeans and pants

what I am wearing
what I am wearing

jacket (similar) | top | pants (similar) | boots (similar)

So jeans should come as no surprise. 😉 Despite a bit of burnout with them during the fall, they’re still my “default setting” most days. But as with my other essentials, comfort is key. I no longer shoe-horn myself into skinnies; even my slim leg jeans aren’t skin tight. This month I’ve been alternating between a darker wash slim-leg style, and a medium wash boyfriend style.

Favorite jeans:

slim-leg | boyfriend 1 | boyfriend 2 (similar)

But at times I do want to look a bit more polished, or just want to mix it up a bit. I like 5-pocket styles in materials other than denim (e.g. corduroy) and find them as easy to style as jeans. And there are lots of good “hybrid” pants options that are as comfortable as sweats or leggings, but can dress up enough for dinner out.

Favorite non-denim pants:

straight-leg corduroy | slim-leg corduroy | ponte knit lantern pants | stretch crepe pants

No matter the style of pants, they have to have some stretch for movement and comfort!

Casual jackets

what I am wearing

sweater jacket (similar) | top | necklace | pants (similar) | boots (similar)

what I am wearing

jacket (similar) | sweater | pants (similar) | boots (similar)

Adding a jacket is one of my favorite shortcuts to make an outfit look “finished.” ✅ I prefer lighter weight and softly-structured jackets, including sweater jackets and “coatigans.” Most of the jackets in my current wardrobe are either a few seasons old, or were purchased while traveling or second-hand. But I’ve linked to a few that are either still available or similar to ones I own.

Casual jackets

relaxed sweater jacket | tweed jacket | blazer | denim jacket | fuzzy trucker jacket | leather jacket

Shoes and boots

what I am wearing
what I am wearing

boots (similar), (similar)

Footwear (and accessories) are my outfit “secret sauce.” A standout pair of shoes can really make an outfit, and I’ve collected some really fun styles over the last few years. I’d list ankle boots, loafers & oxfords, and sneakers as my “essential” footwear styles for cooler seasons and travel.

Comfort is absolutely my top priority! Heels over 2 inches are a no-go, so platforms can be a good way to get some height and visual volume.

Some of my favorite footwear brands include Clergerie, Paul Green, Cole Haan, Aquatalia, and Mephisto.

Footwear in current rotation:

weatherproof ankle boots | platform ankle boots (similar) | loafers | oxfords | sneakers

And if you have bunions or wide feet, be sure to check out Sole Bliss, and use code SUSAN15 for 15% off.

Be sure to visit A Well Styled Life to see what Jennifer has chosen as her wardrobe essentials! What are some of yours?

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  1. January 21, 2022 / 6:37 am

    I’m with you on so many levels! Your footwear is smashing. I wish my feet were a “bit” smaller so I felt comfortable drawing attention to them. You always look fabulous. This was fun.

  2. Mari
    January 21, 2022 / 6:48 am

    I just clicked through for the short sleeved t-shirt and found the Momoni website for the first time. Gorgeous clothing!

  3. Rhoda Clark
    January 21, 2022 / 7:06 am

    You and Jennifer have finally sold me on The Quince merino wool sweater. Today is my 75th birthday, so I am gifting myself two. Just ordered them. I love both you and Jennifer’s styles.. you always look so put together and polished without looking contrived. I will definitely be following both you and Jennifer. Have a wonderful day!

    • Susan Blakey
      January 21, 2022 / 7:07 am

      Thanks Rhoda, and Happy Birthday!!!

  4. Abigail
    January 21, 2022 / 7:28 am

    Hi Susan! Love this post! Could you comment on the quantity of pieces in each Essentials category you have? I understand it’s different for everyone but I’m just trying to get a general sense of where to add pieces in my own wardrobe. Thanks so much!

  5. Eve
    January 21, 2022 / 8:31 am

    There are rural and country, small town girl and big city outfits. It took me a few tries to understand why my wardrobe wasn’t working. I live in a rural community on the coast. We usually wear zip front hoodies, jeans and sweaters or tee shirts plus boots or sneakers for everyday wear. If you are wearing a blazer, you work at the bank. Lifestyle is a main consideration I think. Don’t buy city clothes if you live in the country. Be realistic.

  6. Kathy
    January 21, 2022 / 9:17 am

    Love your post. Sweaters and tees are my wardrobe favorites!

  7. Robyn
    January 21, 2022 / 9:23 am

    Thanks for this helpful post! Yesterday I hit the work load running and never changed out of my pjs and a long cardigan until supper time when I finally showered and put on some clean pjs.
    Today I got up a little earlier and chose some comfy joggers and a cute turtleneck to wear. I feel so much better and maybe a bit more productive even if my only out of the house time is walking the dog!

  8. Lisa H
    January 21, 2022 / 9:24 am

    I just ordered the cotton fisherman’s sweater from Quince. I’ve been dying for the Jenni Kanye one, but could never justify the price tag!

  9. Susan
    January 21, 2022 / 9:32 am

    I love this post! I find your style choices so inspiring. You and I are opposite seasons and opposite heights, so I can’t often buy your specific selections, but I always click on the links to look. Some day I may get lucky! Thank you for all the work you put into this blog. It’s my favorite.

  10. Sheri Baker
    January 21, 2022 / 10:08 am

    Susan, what size are you wearing in the Quince cashmere blue sweater? I am usually a size 6-8 in tops, and worry that the medium will be too loose, and the small might be too small. Thanks! I love your casual, but polished style.

    • Susan Blakey
      January 21, 2022 / 10:10 am

      Hi Sheri, I decided I liked the fit of the Medium better, and that’s what I’m wearing here. I’m usually 4-6 in tops. And thanks!

  11. January 21, 2022 / 11:39 am

    Great essentials blog today. All excellent ideas. Thank you for all the work you put into your blog to help guide us through our “fashion” life. It is so appreciated. And, I’m glad to see you partner with Jennifer of A Well Styled Life. I follow Jennifer also. You both speak to the real women out there.

  12. Judy B
    January 21, 2022 / 12:34 pm

    Right to the point, identifying the essentials—a great guide to wardrobe organization. For the past two years I’ve also been working from home, so I feel the same way about dressing for how I’m living now. My preferred wardrobe resembles the options you show here. Some time ago I also adopted your idea of choosing pieces that will travel well—and that has worked out well both for home and for travel wardrobes.

  13. Alison
    January 21, 2022 / 11:48 pm

    Great posts from my two favourite bloggers. I could switch the colours for a cooler palette and wear any of those outfits. Very inspirational thank you.

  14. January 22, 2022 / 11:22 am

    You nailed it. You know very well what suits you and your life style. I still adore that orange jacket with the lug sole boots. Great outfit.

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