A Wardrobe Wake-up Call

black boucle jacket and jeans

The blogger conference was such a great experience! I learned so much, was so inspired and have so many notes to review. But the best part, by far was meeting so many other bloggers, both those whom I’ve known and collaborated with over the years, and some whose blogs were new to me. I learned as much if not more from them. We all love sharing our best tips, and that feeling of being with a group of women who are supporting each other is so energizing!

Above: earrings | jacket | top | necklace | bag (similar) | bracelet | jeans | shoes

But I have to admit, my wardrobe felt really drab. So much so, that over the entire weekend, this was the only outfit I liked enough to shoot and share. (And the accessories really did the heavy lifting here.)

Wardrobe Workhorses And Show Ponies

I’ve focused for so long on my wardrobe basics that I’ve collected very few stand-out pieces. As I said to Jennifer (the blogger I roomed with who writes A Well Styled Life), my closet is a stable of Workhorses, and almost no Show Ponies. I’m not looking to completely change my style, just add some pieces that take it up a notch.

There’s nothing wrong with having a stable of good basics. They’re the foundation of any cohesive wardrobe, and keep us from those “nothing to wear” days. But I’ve come to realize that (for me anyway) a basic capsule wardrobe isn’t a complete wardrobe. It’s a starting point.

Adding Wardrobe Personality

While working on a recent post, Style Formula: Simple, With Interest, I began to get a sense of what I’m looking for. Pieces that are special, not necessarily splashy. Feminine but not frou-frou. Modern, but not so of-a-season that they’ll look dated in a year or so. Bold color used as an accent, maybe even the occasional print (though I’m still most comfortable with prints in small doses). Interesting shapes and/or details. Movement, fluidity, a little drama.

And they have to “click.” Right away. There has to be that “oh yes!” reaction when I first look into the mirror. It’s not an easy “ask” but I’ve found when that element is there, I hang onto these pieces for years and wear them at every opportunity. They’re usually not the least expensive pieces in my wardrobe, but I consider them worth every penny.

The Downside To Show Ponies…

is that they’re often memorable. A pair of simple black pants can be styled 100 different ways and no one will think, “hey, those are the same black pants she wore last week.” A unique, standout piece gets noticed, and remembered. I think we’ve been trained to worry far too much about looking different every day, but your comfort level is something to think about when considering a balance between basics and statement pieces.

silly poses at rewardStyle conference

(By Saturday evening, I was a little tired and punchy, and had switched back into my flats.)

Are statement pieces an important part of your wardrobe? What do you think is the ideal ratio of basics to statement pieces? Or do you rely mostly on accessories to make an outfit statement?

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  1. I knew from reading othe bloggers that preparing for the conference was s big deal for some of them. You probably got caught comparing your efficient travel style to their knock’em dead looks. Nevertheless, sometimes we all need to be a show pony. Accessories are great, but sometimes it’s good to have a go-to outfit that’s s little bit different.

    1. Roseag, yes, for me it’s mostly about wanting to have something to wear for special occasions that feels a bit more special.

  2. i wonder if your need and use of show ponies will be different now that you are not working in an office everyday…one reason that my wardrobe has few show ponies is that i need to dress 5 days a week/48 weeks a year, knowing that i will see the same people every single day.

    1. karen, true, working in an office has its own style challenges. I think my style mostly evolved from that scenario, and using accessories more than clothing items to change up my looks.

  3. Tread carefully. I really dont think you should change things up too much. I have followed you for years and relate to your style. I love the european influence and the fact that your clothes are very wearable and attainable. Personally I have looked at other blogs aimed at our age group and I really do not care for their taste. Those gawdy pieces just look aging and rather cheap. The overall effect just looks silly to me. I think your base of Eileen Fisher is very nice and working in some other pieces from other designers is just about perfect.

    1. Thanks, Julie. I hear what you’re saying and am not looking to do a style overhaul, maybe just add a piece or two that feel up to the infrequent Special Occasions I need to dress for.

    2. I’m with you Julie. I follow Susan because she isn’t gaudy, floral, & over done. I think the fact that I’m in California is part of it too. We are more upscale, low key casual out here.

      1. Thanks so much, Nicole. Yes, it’s a different “look” here than in many parts of the country for sure.

  4. While I agree that having a great set of basics is uber important, I think a statement should be made, and not just on a special day. Every day is special! A colorful stripe, a great necklace or scarf, a punch of color cardigan. These are the items that keep me feeling vibrant. And they are so fun to hunt down, especially when traveling.

  5. I think your show ponies show your personality. Your work horses “get the job done” which is critical but not joyous. I add trendy accessories and shoes every season to basics to look current which guess what looks young/vibrant/with it. Maybe the open toe boots are not my cup of tea fashion wise but they bring jeans and a t shirt to 2017 like a boss : ) I NEVER spend a lot of money on these items…Target/TJMaxx etc because they come and go so quickly

    1. Thanks Cassie. Maybe I’m underestimating how much the accessories are able to spruce my basics for occasion dressing.

  6. I am 10 years older than you, and I have, perhaps, a greater sense that I need to fight invisibility. I have a wardrobe of basics, but nearly every day, I try to wear one thing thats a standout. My every day life mandates that jewelry is a non event (volunteering at an inner city school is not the time to wear statement pieces and multiple necklaces, nor are hikes along the river, nor going to the playground with a three year old), but I can still make a statement with an unexpected color, an unusual cut, oddball layering,etc.: just one thing that says “take notice”. My first reponse to “Simple, with Interest” was that it was more of the same, and my response to the above selections is that many of them verge on dowdy.

    Like you, I pack lightly when I travel, and I shop with travel in mind, which means that I have a lot of black and gray in my wardrobe. When I travel, I don’t mind it I feel a little drab as long as I am feeling appropriate, but when I am home, dressing “safely” is something I try to avoid.

    1. Hi Ellen, thanks for your input. It sounds as though you’ve really nailed what works for you and feels right.

  7. I’m in the same position. My figure is more of Wardrobe Oxygen but my style more like yours. I travel often (weekly for work, monthly for pleasure. Long trips once a quarter) and my wardrobe excels at that. Where I need show ponies is the events such as the conference you went to this weekend. There are 6 events a year I need to stand out (and perhaps for a date night or two). It’s hard to transition to that. I have a black silk Elizabeth Suzann piece that works well and is a chameleon but I need more of that and a few just a bit more formal. Looking forward to your posts on this. I’m still trying to find a long (ankle) length skirt/ball gown in a silk crepe for this purpose.

    1. Hi McKristie, special occasion dressing can really be challenging when we’re trying to stay within our style wheelhouse! I’ll keep an eye open and will update with any good finds.

  8. I have been following your blog for years and you are my muse – not only when I get to travel, but on the daily. It’s too easy, working from home, to wear a “uniform” of blah and basic and you’ve taught me otherwise. I am a beautiful canvas. I get up every day and “get dressed” and show up. I feel like Wonder Woman and take on on the world…even if I’m in jeans and a tee and a “third piece” – possibly cashmere?
    Why not! I have one life! The people in my universe know they can count on me to be ready for adventure! Thanks you, Susan, for showing me the way! You’ll never know how much your blog has lifted me over the years! I would say your smile and honesty are “show ponies”…keep on, keepin’ on!!

    PS- What DID you wear to the black tie event???

    1. Hi Thea, thanks so much! I’m so glad to know the blog has been helpful. I wore this dress without the under slip over silk pants, my metallic mules and some sparkly jewelry. I’m hoping there might be some photos available from the conference, will post if I find any.

  9. Susan – I think you under-estimate your style quotient and, in fact, you are superb at blending the everyday with the sublime. Your rotation through French Kande, Johnny Was, Gucci, Stuart Weitzman etc to me have elevated you from great taste to the sublime. I can’t imagine anyone at the blogger conference does it any better.

    1. I’ve been reading through the responses, and I can’t help but agree with Christina. It seems to me that what many of the commenters are recommending above as things you could/should do to punch up your Style Basics are things that you already do in spades. You always have something that enlivens these basics, and by doing that through accessories you keep your look stylish but also sustainable. I can see why you might want one or two standout pieces, Show Ponies as you call them, especially as your post-retirement blogging opens up new lifestyle opportunities. I trust your thoughtfulness and discernment will guide you to letting the weeekend’s inspiration settle with you before you act on it — I wonder if you’ll return to a stronger appreciation of your sartorial approach to the conference when you see more photos of it with your back-at-home eye. And when you do come up with a Show Pony or two for your stable, I’ll be very interested because I share your values of sustainability and your questioning of the demand for so much variety (I think of Lisa at AmidPrivilege, and a Show Pony she’s shown us in that Prada dress she doesn’t mind wearing often — Impunity, right?) 😉

      1. Frances, YES! Lisa’s Prada dress is always what comes to mind. I’d love to find my own equivalent of that. And thank you.

    2. I feel bad to see you put yourself down. I couldn’t say it better than Christina and Frances already have, but that won’t stop me from adding to the responses. Yours is the one style blog I *never* miss, never delete from my inbox because I’m pressed for time that day. I can see why you were somewhat overwhelmed when surrounded by other bloggers, but to me, the outfits posted by many style bloggers in our age group frequently look more like costumes. Wonderful as photo-ops, but not to actually live in. You, on the other hand, take realistic, relatable, livable style and elevate it many notches. There is no other style blog as useful to me. Yours is the one from which I most frequently incorporate elements into my own life (along with Lisa’s, because the older I get, the more minimalism my brain wants). And from the monetizing perspective–yours is my click-through champ.

  10. Hi Susan,
    Yes, I think signature pieces are an important part of our wardrobe. They showcase your personality, and highlight your style. With that said, a stand-out piece needn’t be overly trendy or showy – that defeats the purpose. You have a lovely style, so anything additional that you add to the mix should still be consistent with it.
    Just my two cents as I struggle with the balance of building a simple and streamlined look and finding those pieces that set my heart aflutter.

  11. one blogger I watched on you tube said comparing yourself to others robs you of joy. You have a chic simple elegant style. It is wonderful. I wouldn’t change a thing. I think there are many of us who have learned from your fashion approach. I too love Eileen. It is easy to be robbed of joy in a room full of fashion bloggers. Don’t forget you are one of the best .Eileen’s fashions don’t shout/ They are understated. You wear her clothes well. I love how you mix other brands to create your own unique look. I’ve learned a lot from you. patval

    1. I agree completely. I’ve followed your blog for 8 years and have enjoyed watching your style evolve and your self-acceptance flourish. I’m 48, and it’s been a huge inspiration for me. If you do add some “show ponies,” do it because you love the pieces and not to “keep up.” You are utterly chic and lovely the way your are.

      1. Hi Jane, thanks very much! I’m going to hold any potential show ponies to very high standards, the most important being that they have to feel like “me.”

  12. The thing I have noticed about wearing stand out pieces is that I get compliments on the piece. I would rather hear “You look great.” It seems one is an affirmation of taste, the other an affirmation of personal style. Perhaps we take ourselves too seriously in this, yet, I certainly want others to take me seriously which I am finding is more difficult as an older woman.

  13. There was so much flamboyant fashion at the conference, but I felt you stood out because your clothing was chic, it fit you perfectly, it was quality, and it was carefully chosen and paired together. I came from the event wanting to wear less makeup, worry less about my hair, and purchase fewer but better quality/items I adore pieces (that last part I think had a lot to do with you!). I love these thought pieces you have, and I think experiences like the one we had this weekend provide a way to reanalyze our wardrobes and have fresh perspective.

    1. Hi Allie, thank you! I know what you mean about wanting to dial back on the makeup. 😉 What I’d love to find are one or two simple and elegant but dressier pieces that feel like me, and that will work for events like cocktail parties and conferences. You looked amazing in every outfit, BTW.

  14. Sue, you always look chic. Always. But I know what you mean about arriving somewhere and instantly feeling like you want to go back home and re-pack. I wonder how many of the “showy” outfits made you think…”I’d love to wear that.” That’s always my cue to myself when I begin to look at how others are dressed and question my own choices. Most of the time I realize that I wouldn’t wear whatever outfit I’m looking at. Even in Buenos Aires this past February, where the women are supposedly known for dressing fashionably, I saw only two women whose outfit I liked so much that I would gladly have switched with them.
    On a side note…I’m with Karen on the idea that retirement changes things big time. Like you when I retired, I looked at how I could restyle my work jackets (in particular the jackets because I had a ton of them) for my more casual lifestyle. That plus the fact that I would not be seeing the same people every day, changed how I viewed my wardrobe. Maybe now that you don’t need a five-day-a-week work wardrobe you can invest (guilt free) in a few more “show pony” pieces. Although I think that some of your pieces are pretty show pony already…in the best possible way.

    1. Thanks so much, Susan! Actually, most people there had a style very different from my own, and I wouldn’t have wanted to wear their look, just a more elevated version of my own style.

      1. Susan, that’s how I want to look sometimes too — not like others, but a better expression of myself. And expressing myself is what, for me, fashion / style is all about.

        For the record, your drumbeat of finding, trusting, and expressing your best self has been important to me. And it’s obviously important to the many others who’ve commented on this blog post.

        Thank you for your blog and your very consistent commitment to expressing yourself.

  15. What I admire about your style is the “comfortable in your own skin look” that you project. You wear your clothes, not the other way around. A showpiece now and again could be fun – you have such good taste I’m sure you would choose something flattering. But this basic look just works so well for you that I hope you keep at it for the most part.

  16. Just yesterday I wore a statement dress to a big family occasion. Now when I look at the photos, I think that I don’t look like myself and that the dress stands out too much when blending in would have put the focus more on the person of honor. That is a good realization to have and will help me make different decisions about wardrobe in the future.

    You look classic above, which is much more my style. Maybe a bit of color would have given you the punch you needed–one of your fab scarves? Ultimately, feeling really good about yourself is the most important thing–not worrying so much about others’ choices (which is what I did before going to this event!). A photo filled with statement pieces is a bit chaotic.

    1. Hi Whitney, I know what you mean about not feeling like yourself in what you’re wearing. I’ve done that before and maybe it’s what has made me more cautious about branching out.

  17. I think you always look tasteful and elegant with a modern sensibility.I think your shoes, toppers, jewelry, bags and other accessories really punch up your look enough without screaming “LOOK AT ME” and make YOU the focal point. You are the show pony!

  18. Hi Susan,
    Let me begin by saying that I love your pixie! It totally suits you and looks great with your beautiful smile. I too have a pixie and find it looks best about two weeks after it’s been cut (but probably no one else notices the difference).
    That said, I think you are being too hard on yourself. Without enough basics, no amount of show ponies can make a complete wardrobe. I struggled for years with this issue, which I finally resolved by using lots of color in my wardrobe. I’m a small person with light blond hair and fair skin. Every time I wear blue or blue-green, I get compliments. Ridiculous though it may seem, I now try to wear a touch of this color nearly everyday. When I look in my closet, I see lots and lots of blue along with my black, navy and white basics. Rather than being bored, this makes me very happy. I also like small touches of red, but it’s hard to find exactly the right red.
    I guess my point is that show ponies only work if they truly coordinate with your coloring. For example, bright red shoes or bag will only work to enhance your look if bright red makes your skin glow and look wonderful. Adding an item that’s striking, trendy or showy in some way but not really related to your physical characteristics will make you look all tarted up, but not necessarily attractive.
    Sorry to run on for so long…

    1. Hi Cathy D., thank you! I’m glad to hear that looking at your closet makes you happy; that’s how it should be!

    1. Hi Dawn Lucy, I always enjoy seeing what you’re wearing, and think your style really suits your personality.

  19. I have been following you for a little while now and I just love your style! Don’t change too much…I love your classic style and tendency to invest in good quality pieces. Following trends is fun but having things in your closed that you absolutely love is more rewarding. I love, love your short hair! When I travel, I use your blog to pack my own suitcase. Blessings to you and your family!

  20. Susan, I appreciate your style and rationale for what to wear. You are a thoughtful, introspective blogger who provides great tips and suggestions which has helped me transition to retirement dressing a few years ago.

    I prefer workhorses to show ponies. BTW LOVE your pixie cut and great SMILE!

  21. You’re being way to hard on yourself. You’re the one with the leopard coat, fabuloous McQueen scarves, great bags and shoes. I didn’t see anyone there that i’d want to emulate. You’re wonderful being yourself and those that follow you love the way you are. So stop it. Love your haircut and smile.I immediately noticed you with your long white duster in that crowd instagram shot.

    1. Sandra is right. Your liberal use of animal print says “statement” to me. I know some people consider animal print neutral, but I’m not one of those. Your bold, chunky jewelry is also “statement,” in my opinion.

    2. Hi Sandy, thanks for that. If the weather had been different I definitely would have brought that leopard coat! 😉

  22. YOU are the statement piece. Wear what makes you feel like you are, and, in my humble opinion, I think you are already there…. pulled together and comfortable in your own skin.
    I bet an awful lot of those ponies are insecure about everything. Carry on. Real style is intuitive.

  23. I’ve been following you for several years. Your packing lists helped me pack for a three week trip to Italy and Greece with a cruise (dinner outfits every night) squeezed in there. Thank you for that. The pictures are amazing as a result. I know you have some show ponies. How about that beautiful silk scarf jacket you have? Gorgeous. I like that sequin gray tee. With your black pants and jacket, silver shoes and a clutch, that would be a simple wow outfit. It could even be dressed down with white jeans for dinner out. Just keep to your great style and up the amp with one or two show ponies.

  24. First of all, you look beautiful in the new pixie! It is a statement in its own right. Secondly, I would add to the above comments by saying that a little movement is an easy way to create a sense of presence. Wide-legged cropped pant with more tapered top, or skinny pants with a tunic, long vest etc. My clothes are fairly plain in color and simple in style, so, for me, something that has some swish to it adds a statement…Otherwise, your classic style is statement enough!

    1. Margaret, I never, ever thought of focusing on movement in clothing as a style element. What a brilliant concept. Thank you.

  25. From my perspective, all the things in your wardrobe come off as unique when you style them in so many different ways with all your fantastic accessories. Show ponies are really fun too, but don’t kid yourself about how much they really count – I could wear a statement green garbage bag one day and again the next week and probably few people would remember. That said, they are DEFINITELY fun to wear for yourself.

    I met a male executive about a year ago and his female coworker took a bet with him, that if she wore the same top every day for two weeks, people in the office would/wouldn’t notice. And they didn’t notice. Even on my blog I’ll wear an almost-identical outfit to one I wore before and many think it’s new, which I like because it relaxes me about overlaps. It seems we register fleeting impressions that don’t stick with so much else in our lives vying for attention.

    It looks like you had a blast at the meetup! I’m so glad you had a good time.

    1. Melanie, thanks! I always appreciate your perspective. No matter what you wear, you always make it look original.

  26. I know exactly what you mean about having a piece to punch up the outfit. Often, though, those pieces tend to overwhelm my short frame and they really don’t suit my personality. I love the EF dress over silk pants you wore to the dressy event. The different textures add enough punch.

    1. Leslie, yes! That’s the problem I so often encounter when trying on “statement” pieces. There are so few of them that don’t overwhelm me.

  27. You are speaking my language! Since I became Editor of two local magazines I have been in search of more statement pieces to mix with my basics. I really want them to communicate my creative side and communicate my strength. I have added a few, but keep searching. You are so right…it has to be a OH YES THIS IS IT moment. I still find myself loving the expensive, so I am trying to be smarter with sale shopping quality lines. I am doing this for me and my current position…not because I compare myself to other women. I have built great Eileen Fisher basics like you have …now let the fun begin!

    1. Hi Pam, you really seem to have found your style groove, I think. You have a formula that’s working well for you, and those bold elements you always add show your confidence.

  28. I think you looked amazing everyday and more importantly,comfortable in your own skin. Chic, relaxed and perfect for a conference. I came away realizing I need to keep black in my wardrobe and to never travel without my EF pants again. Show ponies are more memorable but damn, they feel so fabulous!! I want more too 🙂

    1. Hi Jennifer, I had SUCH fun at the conference, and am so glad you were there. I’m bringing two pairs of the Eileen Fisher pants on this trip…they are just the best!

  29. I think you look marvelous! I’ve learned a lot from how you put outfits together- the individual pieces may be workhorses but the whole outfit is often a show pony. I imagine there’s a lot of pressure at a blogger conference; looking elegant and being comfortable were probably uncommon!

  30. I saw some photos from the convention and a lot of those gals were indeed dressed to the nines in all the latest trends. Fun to look at but not our groove. I admire your chic and simple style but look forward to seeing a few show pony additions. Personally I think rather than investing in cheap versions of the latest trends, it is more interesting and chic to search out one of a kind artistic pieces from travels, local boutiques and individual artisans. For instance, I can see you layering a hand painted silk kimono top over your basics.

    1. Penelope, I agree! I tend to find some of my favorite distinctive pieces when we travel, and will be on the lookout.

  31. I will admit that I had to go think about this for awhile, Susan! Because in reality I’m just the opposite and probably have way more “show ponies” in my closet!
    But after reading many of your readers comments, I was thinking about all the differences between each and every one of us!
    Sometimes, I think our style evolves to either fit in with our life. And lately, I feel like I want to stand out more. But I haven’t always been like that. So part of your wardrobe, could be this point in your life?
    And truly, how boring we would be if we all dressed the same, right?

    1. Jodie, yes! That’s what I love most about the style blogosphere: how many unique expressions of style there are! It’s made me appreciate and be inspired by those whose style is different from my own.

  32. Susan this was such a great post. Like many of the other commenters I find your style to be much more approachable than most fashion bloggers. I too tend to wear too many basics and I am not a big pattern person. I have lately entertained the idea of adding “more show ponies” to my wardrobe as well but I know I must do it with caution. Otherwise they will rot in the closet. I am looking more to accessories for the pizazz. Keep doing what you are doing you look fabulous!

  33. Like you I’ve gone into collecting basics. I find Zara good for adding the odd fun piece. I just walk into the store and see what’s there. Nine times out of ten, nothing fits or suits me. One time in ten I have found something special: a floaty summer tunic in a turquoise print, a dark red “suede” fitted coat, a black and white summer pop-on dress… These are fresh, fashionable items to supplement my very sensible navy tops and navy pencil skirts etc. Being chic, almost austere, is good but some fun pieces can brighten the day.
    Michaela in Sydney

    1. Hi Michaela, it sounds as if you’ve found your style formula. It’s good to have a “go-to” source!

  34. I am going to take a slightly different tack than many of the other posters here, which is to say that if you feel the need to find some “show ponies” to broaden your wardrobe, go for it! I am by no means a fashionista nor trend-seeker (or setter), and my day-to-day wardrobe is quite basic. However, I live in NYC and have opportunities to go to the theatre, concerts, shows, and dine at nicer restaurants…not every week, but often enough to need some nicer outfits for these occasions. I have had a lot of fun over the years in exploring different designers, finding which suit my style and tastes, and shopping for high quality clothing that is classic enough to wear for many years after purchase, but with the special flair (cut, shape, material, pattern, whatever floats your boat) that stands out a bit in a crowd. This doesn’t even have to be all that spendy, if one shops wisely (end of season sales!) I’m at the point now where I’ve built a wardrobe that has the exact outfit I need for any occasion in my life, which feels great. In sum, if you are feeling a hole in your wardrobe right now, have fun exploring how to fill it! There is sure to be a special item out that feels as natural for you as any of your current pieces.

    1. Hi Olivia, thanks! Yes, it’s not that I want to have a more showy look most days, but those special occasions or outings often have me scrambling. I’d love to find a few pieces that I can always reach for to look dressier or more festive.

  35. Basics have a nice role in a wardrobe but looking the same as everybody else, i.e. leggings, jeans, t shirts, cardigans, black mostly as the only color, etc…… is really BORING!! Embellish with some color, edgy pieces, over the top jewelry, a really smart pair of sunglasses, something that’s memorable and distinguishes one from the crowd. A great blazer with jeans, a cutting edge white blouse, palazzo pants where appropriate, a smart hat, the works!!

  36. I enjoyed seeing Allie taking Jennifer and your picture as you three are my favorite bloggers! I never miss your posts! I turn 60 (?!) next year and am having a tough time finding my fashion footing. I have tried to emulate all three of you to see if any of your styles were the new ‘me’, but alas despite Allie’s coloring being similar to mine, she is 20 years younger, and hipper. I also went to Nordstrom and tried on a bunch of EF clothes, and laughed myself silly as I looked like a somber tissue paper box. Jennifer’s style made me look like a women’s clubbing private school mom. So my search continues… My point is that you have found clothes that define and flatter you, and shouldn’t try to be who you are not. I do see your point in needing some accent pieces and I look forward to seeing your new discoveries! ps-thanks for finding that green Velvet utility coat as I tracked it down and will be taking it to Paris with me Friday!

  37. Excuse me. But YOUR show pony is your MEGA WATT SMILE!!!! You don’t need an article of clothing to stand out. You got charisma and moxie.

    As for my show pony clothing? I’m a basic. I don’t have them. I shall continue to blend and be comfy. I need to get my butt to one of those conferences.

    BTW–the pixie cut is adorable!

  38. Sue, I think you always look great, and I’ve bought more than one piece based on your recommendation. That said, you tend to skew more neutral than I do…I love color, and I am more than happy to wear a flashy piece if it makes me feel good. My “show ponies” are going to be less expensive than my good quality basics, generally. But they are fun!

  39. Susan, I’ve been following your blog for a while now and I have to say you’ve got me hooked! You, Beth’s and Jennifer’s blogs are my favorite blogs to read. Thank you for sharing so much of yourself in each and every post. BTW, I LOVE your new haircut! It suits you. Cheers, Janet Majors

    1. Janet, thanks so much! I’m so glad you enjoy the blog. It was so fun to meet and spend time with Beth and Jennifer last weekend. They are both so smart and funny and are lovely people.

  40. I have mostly basics right now and am planning to look for some simple statement pieces of clothing for summer. Usually I use scarves and jewelry or a great handbag, but with this pregnancy I want lightweight and transitional pieces.

    I love your style and always think you look chic. It’s hard around other fashion bloggers to feel self-assured, but your style is distinct and really works to highlight you, rather than you showcasing the clothing.

    1. Thanks Kate, for your support! Yesterday I had a flash of recognition that most of the bloggers at the conference are “Fashion Bloggers” and I’m not. So that made me feel better about my choices.

  41. I’m ALLLL about the statement pieces, of course. I spent years in finance and in New York where wearing black 7 days a week was a necessity. I’m quite glad to be in a city like London now where I can let my freak flag fly just a little and not look out of place. Not everyone has that option though. Plus, being older and working in a creative job where I’m expected to be a bit more colourful coincided with the phase of my life (nearing 50) where having some colour near my face is helpful… especially after a night out.

    Like you, I’ll always love black and will always have a lot of it in my wardrobe, but for the past year, I’ve been adding in a lot more colour. The easy way is to use colourful jewellery around your face (I look like an airline hostess in scarves; I wish they suited me better! ). I couldn’t find anything my style with good colours, so I started designing Swarovski-stone jewellery that adds flattering colour around the face in the form of earrings and necklaces. It really elevates an all black look.

    I adore your style, and I think it suits you beautifully. You think about clothes, you are not a fashion victim, you wear a lot of investment pieces, and you aren’t wasteful. Wastefulness is my number one hatred about fashion. It is spring, and this is the time we re-think what to wear, and you’re keeping your style fresh and relevant… something I personally think you are particularly good at. xxx

    1. I so enjoy your blog, Sequinist, although our styles are so very different. But if all I always did was what I always did, there’d not be much opportunity to learn anything, eh? I especially love your enthusiasm for dressing up. I’ll never be the “peacock” you are, but sure watching you strut your stuff. Great blog!

      1. Oh Ann, that is so kind of you to say, thank you. I also like to push myself a little out of my comfort zone; I learn a bit more every time I do! xx

    2. Hi Lisa, thanks so much. I love your bold and fun style! In fact, you’ve inspired me to get a bit flashier with some of my accessories.

      1. I’m so thrilled to have influenced you! Well Susan, you have inspired me to up my elegance game a bit and find the perfect crisp white shirt. Can you believe I’ve never EVER had one?! My necklaces and earrings are crying out for one. xx

  42. I love your style, you wear it well. I personally love a scarf to add that pop of color. Perhaps a belt, a bag, shoes, I find the Pop out jackets etc only last a season or two.

  43. Confidence is the ONLY style punch up you need my lady. A woman with unbreakable confidence and total self awareness looks amazing in anything. Because we see HER, not the clothes. One could say Linda Rodin is flashy. But really- she looks amazing and we see HER not the flash because she is totally confident and true to herself. So stop looking to others to find your style. No one great ever did. Look to yourself, please yourself only. Then and only then will your best and true style be seen. Because it will truly be YOU.

  44. Your readers and yourself have a totally different style vibe from me. I’m all about the statement pieces.

    After returning from Hong Kong I realize that the only high end store I liked was Gucci because it already relates so well to my personal style. Otherwise I found 99% of all stores boring with a capital B.

    Vintage is where my heart is at. It allows for the most creativity and ensures that no one else will be wearing the same thing as myself. It suits me and my character, quirky and creative.

    We all have different reasons for choosing to dress the way we do. I’d hate to come back from a blogger conference and think that I have to tone down my style.


    1. Hi Suzanne, I think that’s the beauty of the style blogosphere…there’s really something there for everyone and a multitude of avenues of self-expression. You’ve really created a distinctive look for yourself that suits you beautifully.

  45. Susan, your Etoile Isabel Marant jacket with a black tee and blue jeans would be a fabulous outfit for a conference. I hope you still have it. I feel like a million dollars when I wear mine!

    1. Thanks, Denise! I actually replaced that one with something similar that was a better fit, but yes, if I attend another conference it would definitely go with me.

  46. It is your blog and the way your clothes always look – like I could just walk into your closet and say, “Yes, that style would work great for me” – that has turned me into a loyal follower of yours. Through you I have borrowed ideas to form the nucleus of my basic wardrobe. (Eileen Fisher needs to be on my speed dial.) My wardrobe choices are more medium value contrast than yours (think grey and beige instead of black), with just a bit more color added, but you have directed me to many items which are now beloved and in my closet. Those flats you took on this past trip – sequins?! wonderful! A pair just like them was ordered the very day your blog with them came out, and I consider them a Show Pony on the Foot! And they feel wonderful to boot!

    My hardest thing to find – and still looking – is a bit dressier item to add to my basics for evening parties, perhaps as you are looking for, Susan. Not quite a Show Pony – I prefer those to be my accessories – but definitely a Thoroughbred. I’ll keep watching to see what you find!

    And love, love, LOVE that you decided to cut your hair short again. Your pixie is fantastic on you, and really lets your wonderful smile shine. Your smile is the first thing I see when I look at you!

    1. Hi Rita, thanks very much! Yes, that’s what I feel is missing in my wardrobe…clothing for special events or the occasional party or dressier evening.

  47. I have a lot of statement pieces. Shirts (try Coton Doux in Paris), blouses, patterned skirts, unusual vests, etc. A plain top with an interesting skirt can still give lots of outfit options for that skirt. I particularly love a patterned sweater or dress, as the top is often the most visible part of my outfit at work. I do have a lot of basics but I use them to wear color with. I’d say that you do have a lot of statement pieces but they are often shoes, whereas I often wear plain shoes because my ‘show pony’ shoes just aren’t very comfortable.

  48. Since retirement, my daily dress routine (following yoga-class and the grocery store, since that’s how I often start out my day) is jeans-centric with quiet blouses, sweaters and outer layers. On days when my Show Ponies come out for exercise they are bracelets, scarves/shawls, shoes and sometimes purses. Sound familiar?

    But a few times a year, hubby and I take a long cruise on a luxe line, and, boy oh boy, is it time for me to bring along some new Show Ponies to strut their stuff. I’m not looking for ball gowns, but pretty textures in something other than black. Your beautiful EF dress (linked to above) is staggeringly beautiful and exactly what I’m looking for. Plus, the “movement” conversation above has really gotten my attention.

    There is nothing wrong at all with re-evaluating our self-expression. The world changes, and we change. After all, look at how differently we expressed ourselves in past decades. Change doesn’t have to mean refutation. It can also be evolution.

    1. Hi Ann, thanks for your comment. Yes, I think periodic re-evaluating is a good thing. It helps keep us current and that our wardrobes suit our lives and styles.

  49. Not to get political here, but I wanted to draw your attention to the women at the conference in Germany. Merkel is workhorse wear. Trump is designery pretty on her but would be frump city on us. Maxima is stunning as always, but it’s a bit too demanding a dress for the likes of me (requires sucking in and sitting up). But there is this wonderful looking older woman in a simple black dress elevated by a large scarf pinned “just so” who takes the elegance prize. She’s stunning. And I have that kind of stuff in my closet by the armloads. I just never would have thought of pinning my scarf like that. And I do believe it fits your “statement piece” idea.


    1. Yes, Christine Lagarde! Love everything about her — personally, professionally, stylistically. (I know her from my pre-retirement work life.) She has actual style as we’ve defined it here in opposition to “fashion.” Her ensembles often appear on Pinterest. Go, Christine!

      P.S. What in hell was le fille du Trump thinking when she got dressed that morning?

  50. I confess, I haven’t read all of the comments in this post (because there are so many) but I hope mine only affirm those of others. I’m a faithful reader, and maybe not your target age range (38), but I very much appreciate your approach to style. You provide timeless and quality advise that I can take and make my own. For example, I’ve learned to incorporate the amazing EF crepe slim pants into my business (travel heavy) attire while keeping with my desire to do more with less in my wardrobe thanks to your advice. Please continue to blog for us “real-life” readers and don’t be swayed by hype.

    1. Hi Kat, they are actually quite comfortable. I wore them around all day with no problem. Paul Green is one of the few brands that makes heels I can wear these days. 🙂

  51. Love the Paul Green shoes. So glad you have steered me toward them. I bought the wonderful sequined tennis shoes, which are really, really comfortable. And then got the silver shoes. The same great comfort, and I wore them 3 days running this past week. Love them!

  52. I’m late to this blog post, but your comments remind me of the difference between French style and everybody else. With French style, the woman wears the clothes; not the other way around. They seem to use mostly well tailored simple pieces with stylish accessories. But the everyday French woman is not dressing for Instagram. And bloggers at a style conference are … according to Allie’s posts, sometimes they were very uncomfortable and chilly in their Instagram outfits.
    Add a few pieces that flatter and work with your wardrobe as you find something you love. Don’t buy anything unless it ticks all the boxes and makes you go “Ooooh”.

    1. Hi Patricia, your point about Instagram is well-taken. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how much Instagram has influenced fashion and current styles (not always in a good way…)

  53. I agree with the above posters. When I look at many other fashion blogs, I always run back here for your sanity and common sense. You remind me (in a good way) of my most fashionable great-aunt, Aunt Margita, who was a singer in New York City, flew her own plane, rode horseback on beaches, etc., lived life, in other words. Aunt Margita’s look was similar to yours; chunky bracelets, she loved cheetah and leopard skin (back when they could be real and it was legal); I never saw her wear a memorable “bright” color that looked excessive. She could wear peasant-style blouses, but hers were silk. Sometimes she wore print. She liked neutral colors, in general, but she always dressed them up with something memorable. I inherited some of her rings, which are one-stone glories of huge size (alas, no diamonds, because that wasn’t her style; instead she’d go to Buenos Aires and pick up a huge, pink amethyst, or another, also huge, citrine). She never wore “ditsy” or obnoxiously large prints of any kind; everything, and this is important, because it’s always important to pay attention to one’s size and scale, everything of hers was scaled to her rather diminutive size. She was not tall, probably 5’5″, I think, and that makes a lot of difference. I am at the other end of the size spectrum, but the “rules” are the same whether one is taller or more petite, scale and size of everything one puts on is key. One thing I will say is that I never saw her wear black, which was not a fashionable color back then. Black is also a trying color as we age, particularly around the face, and her coloring could not stand it. She was a natural blonde who went grey in more the camel–cream–taupe direction. I personally had my colors done when I was younger, and they told me at the time I would look better in them as time went on, and they were right. I try to keep black away from my face now, as I approach 60, although disavowing black entirely is very hard. Personally, I think you look the most fabulous in your lighter colors! Very chic. And I would suggest that quality of fabric and textures are not something one can see in a photograph, and yet quality and texture *are* elegant on their own. I’m not at all sure I’d strive for the “show pony” look at all; understated elegance is more appealing.