Suz, just posted my version - not sure it's any improvement!

Suz, I have skipped almost all the comments after Angie's but will read later. I actually just saw Una's outfit and commented following up on your comment. I do think the key is to keep each part tonal - so a lighter sweater and darker bottom and shirt tail would be an interesting experiment. Or, basically what Angie said!

Haven't read all the comments...but I did see Angie's comment. In line with what she said, I was going to say that the color of the button-down in pic 1 is the problem. To me, that shade of purple is kind of a statement color, and the pants are obviously a statement too. So to my eye, the two statements were competing. I was going to suggest a more neutral-colored button-down.

On 2, I would suggest trying a longer shirt.

FWIW, I haven't been able to pull this look off myself either!

Suz - just a quick note here before I hit the bed! Maybe someone has already said this - but you've got too many statementy things going on in outfit 1. I'd ditch the lavender shirt for starters - substitute in a neutral color that works with and is less contrast with the pants - maybe a taupe? See how that feels to you.

Happy you are getting well, Suz! For nr 1. I don't see any problems regarding the sweater's/shirt's lengths. I even feel proportions are the very best here. It doesn't need to have the sweater end at your natural waist at all, it feels more grown up and ladylike like here, a bit longer, at least to my eyes. But I see the lower part of your outfit it's a bit faded compared to the top part. It may be the thing it bothers you without knowing what it is. I say try the same top part with dark pants (or skirt:-)). It may solve all your worries.

Nr 2 is looking quite good in regards matching colors, and proportions, but you have to feel good in it. I know what you say about sweater not roomy enough and squishing the shirt underneath it for a weird feel. I cannot tolerate that, either:-(.

Now, off to read the comments:-).

I have been sporting the layered look often this season and I find that the shirt has to be a little form fitting while the topper has to be a little looser.