— Style —


Photograph from Osservatoria Digitale PMI
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Most of you who responded to my recent fashion survey said you wanted elevated, casual clothes. Outfits that are a cut above your every day wear and will take you from work, or workout, to date night with your honey. This fall I want to help you build an easy, comfortable wardrobe you can continue to add to and wear for years. Over the next few months my easy suggestions and styling tips will make you look “put together” as opposed to thrown together in the dark.

Dressing better is an important step toward feeling better about ourselves.

Many of you also told me you buy things that don’t go with anything else you have, and/or you don’t know what to buy. Let’s fix that. While it’s just as easy to put on something that looks nice–as opposed to something you don’t want to be seen wearing outside your back yard–the hard part is knowing what to buy. I can help.

Let’s start with this outfit I saw online. It’s my inspiration for this post. It’s sharp, simple and you can wear each piece with other things. I think it looks like something Audrey would have worn. While few of us are as thin as Audrey and the model in this photo… or have wispy waistlines… we can still rock this look!

Everyone needs a great pair of black pants. Yes you may need to pay more, but they’ll look terrific for years, and will be the workhorse in your closet. You want pants that:

  • Sit on your waist. They’re the most comfortable, and you won’t have muffin top.
  • Slim, straight-leg pants. They’re the most flattering. No leggings or skinny jeans, because they accentuate areas most of us don’t want to highlight.
  • You want pants that hit your ankles. Few of us look good in cropped pants… I know… I’ve said that before…

Next you need an undergarment like “Thinstincts Convertible Camisole” by Spanx. I wear mine under so many things. It’s so thin, you won’t know it’s there, yet it flattens tummies, minimizes love handles and doesn’t compress our bust.

I loved the gorgeous fall color of the sweater in my inspiration photo, but if it doesn’t work for you, change it to something that does, perhaps a plum, rust, red or blue. BTW, the sweater she’s wearing is a cropped sweater, so you don’t have to worry about tucking into your pants. And don’t worry about seeing your skin with a cropped sweater because you’ll have either the Spanx, and/or long-sleeve thin blouse… or shirt… on underneath!

When it comes to wearing sweaters, let’s borrow a trick from top stylists. Look at my inspiration photo. You’ll notice the sweater sleeves have been pushed up to reveal a contrasting sleeve beneath. Depending on the neckline of your sweater, wear a simple, cream, collarless, lightweight long-sleeve blouse or thin, sleeveless, turtleneck shell underneath. Neither will add extra bulk under your outer sweater, but it’s another layer of warmth–if needed–and a trick that will give you an added punch of polish like you have your own personal stylist.

Since leopard never goes out of style—it’s considered a classic neutral—what if you accentuate this outfit with a pair of these leopard earrings, or arrange this leopard scarf around your neck? No necklace required!

Now for a stylish pair of comfortable shoes. I have two pairs of similar leopard spot shoes made with calf hair, and I love them! I loved the first pair so much, I went back and ordered a second pair for when the first pair craters. That was two years ago. They’re my go-to shoes, and the first pair is still in the box!

The pair in the link above is black, but click on them, and you’ll see they also come in LEOPARD, just like the ones I have. So fun!!

Happy Shopping! Remember the look is elevated casual.


  • Taste of France August 31, 2018 at 3:20 am

    I love the outfit you feature, but I wonder whether what I love is the model’s thin waist, which I wish I had.
    I have noticed more than once that my neighbors look nice even when they’re puttering in the garden. If I compliment them, they say something along the lines of “shucks, this old thing?” but they really do make the effort to wear color-coordinated outfits even when they’re going to get dirty. And a pretty scarf. And a cute hat. And they have nice gardening gloves.
    I’m no fashion photographer but I did assemble some shots of nicely dressed French women I’ve seen about lately. It was summer, so they were mostly in simple dresses. How easy, really–just one piece–and cool, too, yet so much more chic than shorts and a top.

    • 1010ParkPlace September 1, 2018 at 11:55 am

      Taste of France, From what I’ve seen of the women in Italy and France, their super casual, about the house clothes are well thought out. I think that’s because they buy clothes with a different eye. They’ve watched their mothers and grandmothers and understand true style. It doesn’t have to be expensive, but it needs to look nice. I’m not sure there’s a way to teach “looks nice.” Awesome comment, Brenda

  • Sue Burpee August 31, 2018 at 8:23 am

    I love that inspiration photo as well. I’m on the e-mail list for a ton of stores and brands, not because I shop on-line very much, but because their editorial content is often better than the fashion magazines. Atizia, MatchesFashion.com, and FabianaFilippi.com are my favourites. I love the orange sweater in your featured photo but, like Taste of France, I’d never be able to tuck it into a pair of pants like that. Too much middle age middle. Ha. But I achieved a similar look with a cropped loose sweater, a tucked in tee shirt underneath, and high waisted pants. I may try that pushed up sleeve with other sleeve showing. Love that twist.

    • 1010ParkPlace September 1, 2018 at 12:05 pm

      Thanks Sue!! I didn’t catch it, but somehow my blurb about the sweater being cropped so you don’t have to tuck it into your pants or see your midriff didn’t make it into the final edit of this post, but I put it back in. You’re exactly right: The cropped sweater and a tee or a thin blouse underneath is the way to go. I agree that many of the online brands have better photos and editorial content than the fashion magazines. I used to love Vogue, but it hasn’t offered me anything in 20 years. Actually it’s fashion blogs like mine and yours and so many other women of a certain age that are picking up the slack and delivering relevant content and great fashion ideas. xoxox, Brenda

  • Lynda Davis August 31, 2018 at 8:49 am

    Great advice – as always – and so relevant. Glad you mentioned about the waist because most of us no longer have a waist and feel left out of fashions because of it. Going to get those Tory Burch drop pearl earrings. Gorgeous. Thanks. Boomerbroadcast.net

    • Brenda Coffee September 1, 2018 at 5:02 pm

      Hi Lynda, Aren’t those Tory Burch earrings beautiful? The good thing about a cropped sweater with a thin blouse or a t-shirt underneath is they don’t add extra bulk. Also a cropped sweater in a contrasting color moves independently from our pants or skirt and gives the illusion of more of a waist. BTW, I left you a message today on your post. Thanks for your comment, Brenda

  • Diane August 31, 2018 at 9:35 am

    Genius! Starting today . . .

    • Brenda Coffee September 1, 2018 at 5:02 pm

      Hi Diane, Thanks so much for leaving me a comment! Brenda

  • Maria | passion fruit, paws and peonies August 31, 2018 at 9:37 am

    Whaaaat?! A cami that flattens the tummy? Now you’re talking… xx

    • Brenda Coffee September 1, 2018 at 5:03 pm

      Maria, I know… Genius, right? I love my Spanx! Brenda

  • Amy Reese August 31, 2018 at 1:03 pm

    Love this series!!! Please write more.
    Many thanks,

    • Brenda Coffee September 1, 2018 at 5:06 pm

      Hi Amy, Thanks for letting me know you like this post. It’s just the beginning of a series I think can help us all buy clothes that work well with one another and are more flattering to us. xox, Brenda

  • Candi Randolph August 31, 2018 at 2:21 pm

    I love your inspiration outfit, especially the beautiful sweater. Your advice is spot on, too!

    • Brenda Coffee September 1, 2018 at 5:06 pm

      Thank you, Candi! I hope you’ll stop back by and read the rest of my series of posts! xoxo, Brenda

  • Nina September 5, 2018 at 6:49 am

    I am definitely a capsule wardrobe person. Because my budget has been tight at times, I learned early to buy a few key pieces in neutral colors and at the highest quality I could afford. Those pieces remain in my wardrobe for years and years. Great tips, cant wait to read more from this series. Hugs! Nina

    • Brenda Coffee September 5, 2018 at 4:31 pm

      Hi Nina, You’ve got the concept down pat!! With or without a shopping budget, it’s the best way to build a good wardrobe that will last. This morning I was talking to a friend who’s sworn off of buying H&M and Zara… fast fashion… because of the quality. It looks good until you’ve washed it four or five times, then it falls apart. I appreciate you!! xoxox, Brenda

  • Victoria September 8, 2018 at 6:30 pm

    Brenda, I am not crazy about the above outfit but I do like the principal thought. And I love the idea of the camisole I need to dig mine out of the drawer and start wearing it again. I also need to get some of the thinner shirts to wear with sweaters being very busty and not svelt I need no added bulk. Great post I look forward to others.

  • Mamavalveeta03 September 9, 2018 at 7:41 pm

    I think the key, as you suggested, to making an inspirational outfit work is “make it work for YOU”! I love Pinterest for finding inspiration, but I use it as a starting point. I search for trends and appealing silhouettes that catch my eye. For instance, I love the color of the sweater in the outfit you featured, but with my height and large frame, I can’t do cropped or I look like I shrunk my clothes in the wash! So I’d find one that’s longer, layer one of my J Crew whisper thin crewneck tees underneath & push up the sweater sleeves, add a pair of on-trend dark trouser jeans (I have a very casual lifestyle…AND a ginger cat!), and a pair of loafers. I’m crazy about long, layered coin pendant necklaces which I think would look fantastic with this. And voila! I’ve made it mine.

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