Oh, Sterling, you're too kind! I feel like I've been banging my head against this problem for like a year! :laughing:

Isn’t that the story of every “overnight success”? Lol

Lol, I guess I am a standard-issue genius!

SarahD8 I have nothing to add to all the fantastic advice you've gotten here, but I want to THANK YOU for posting this because I have had a lot of the same issues with my own wardrobe, and like you I don't care much for lighter colored shoes or bottoms, so I'm reading all the advice with great interest!

SarahD8- Somehow I missed this wonderful thread. What a great exercise, this is something I need to do as I have similar issues. I do not have anything to add to add to the terrific advise you received but also wanted to thank you.

What are your essential tops that you would wear under cardigans if not layering sweaters and tees?

Sarahd8, have you read insideoutstyle’s blog? She has a lot of articles on “colour contrast” vs. “value contrast” that were so helpful to me! She has examples of people who look better in high colour contrast, and those who look better in high value contrast. I suspect with your blonde hair that you need a high colour contrast (I.e.: lots of colours).

Staysfit knows a lot about this too.

Thanks for the continued input here and apologies for taking so long to get back to this thread!

Chris987 and Lynn, I wanted to say a very sincere THANK YOU for popping in to say that the discussion had been useful to you. I am so pleased to hear that my self-indulgent whining has served the greater good, at least a little bit!

Anchie, great question about what are my essential tops to wear under cardigans. I confess that I struggle a bit with the concept of "essentials" as used here on the forum. But I can tell you about the tops that I would like to wear under my cardigans. They are:
-printed (not solid) long-sleeve knit tees. I have a couple of Breton striped tees and enjoy wearing them, but I think other types of prints like florals or paisleys would work as well. Preferably scoop neck but a fairly open boatneck works too.
-woven tops, either printed or solid colored. If solid colored, they need to have some source of interest/detail, like a button placket, textured fabric, pintucks, etc. They need to have some openness at the neckline. Generally prefer popovers but have some button-throughs as well. Can be low hip-length or tunic length.

smittie, YES, you are so right about color contrast; I have blonde hair, blue eyes, lots of different tones in my hair, and although my skin has cool undertones I think it has peach overtones. So yes, I feel most at home in a lot of colors. I am familiar with InsideOut style and it is very helpful although I have to admit that it also brings out my inner rebel -- sometimes I'll wear an all-neutral outfit or a high-value-contrast outfit because I WANT TO, DANGIT! However I notice that the color vs. value contrast rules REALLY explain well why some prints work on me and others do not.