I’m going to admit something right here. I’m not a very strategic person. In a strengths assessment that I took recently, Analytical was #36 on my list of strengths. Out of 36. So dead last.
That might be why this list has taken me years to develop.
I prefer to think of myself as something of a late bloomer, and not that I’m on a roll, I’m hoping to have more aha moments going forward.
I’m also hoping to start loving exercise, but I’m not holding my breath for that one.
The reason I tell you all of this is to make the point that the reason these strategies/suggestions/tips made my list is not because I am so good at spotting them, but because they’ve come up over and over again.
These are the areas that trip a lot of us up when it comes to style. And now, they’re all in one place, for us to dissect and discuss.
Here, 9 style strategies to consider over 40.
Rules are made to be broken, but only if you’re a rule-breaker when it comes to style. Many of the world’s most stylish women defy conventions and break all the rules, but they do it in a way that is true to their personal style, and that’s why it works.
Women often worry about looking over the top or too much or extra, but this lack of balance in style only happens when you are dressing in a way that doesn’t align with you. If you have the confidence and self-awareness to pull off quirky, unconventional and interesting looks, then they will look amazing on you. Period.
One of the easiest ways to express and explore your personal style is through accessories, so if you’re still on a style journey (and who isn’t?) and trying to figure out where you stand, consider starting wtih a formula that involves simple clothes and interesting accessories. It’s foolproof, and allows you to play with combinations to continue to perfect and define your style, and where on the maximal-minimal scale you lie. Plus, they’re fun and they always fit!
After a certain age, strictly classic style can look stiff and even matronly. Rather than combining all of the classic elements (pearls, tweed and silk scarves, for example) into a single look, try mixing up these pieces and wearing them in fresh and modern ways.
At some point in every woman’s life. she needs to decide where she falls on the minimal-maximal scale. And then she needs to own it. The only times when “too much” and “too little” are just right are when they are worn by women with strong personal style and intentionality. On a maximalist, an outfit that seems “too much” to the rest of us just works. And the same is true of a minimalist. Most of us, however, fall somewhere in the middle, and need to decide for ourselves the right balance of elements to express our own style visions.
One of the things we need to learn over 40 (and definitely over 50) and beyond is to stop apologizing for our outfits and explaining why we wear what we wear. I’ve had many women tell me that since they improved their style, they get unwelcome comments from friends and family members, comments like “Where are you going?” and “Why are you so dressed up?” Some of these were welll-meaning, of course, but others were meant to disparage the woman for being “overdressed.” Disregard these comments. Dismiss them, brush them off, or utterly ignore them.
It can be helpful to think of style as a recipe, and you, of course, are the chef. Most of the time, our personal style is the result of a lifetime of experiences, influences, and preferences. When we think of personal style as a way of bringing together those preferences, we can start to define it more loosely. Rather than labeling our style as “classic” or “boho” or “preppy” we can create our own style recipes. Mine, for example, is Feminine + Colorful + Bold + Whimsical. Some of my outfits will include all 4 of these elements, and while for other outfits, I might only draw on one or two. I am the chef, and I can choose and use the ingredients to create my own unique brand of personal style.
Polished is nice. Perfect, however, is boring. Not only is a perfectly polished and completely coordinated outfit out of date, it’s also aging. Instead of polished perfection, strive for a slightly effortless feeling with your style. Adding one unexpected and relaxed element to every outfit can help you achieve that effortless vibe. The key, whatever we are wearing, is to look comfortable in our own clothes, and to avoid that self-consciousness that comes from feeling off in our clothes.
Nothing ruins a perfectly good outfit more quickly than bad accessories. And while I understand the need to combine function with form as we get older (particularly with footwear), both of those elements need to be present in order for our style to look contemporary and, well, stylish.
Frumpy, clunky shoes, a styleless bag, or dated jewelry are all instant outfit killers, so keep yours current so that they elevate all of your looks.
Somewhere, someone got the idea that women over 40 want pre-matched outfits in sugary colors with dated prints. We do not. Not only do these outfits lack versatility, but they are dated, frumpy, and unflattering. Instead of looking for matched sets like these, look for elegant wardrobe essentials that you can wear multiple ways and in multiple settings.
Which of these style strategies is your favorite? And how can you use it to improve your style today? Let me know in the comments!
Nada Manley says
I love this! So true about a belt pulling everything together! And yes! Don’t dress for other people is exactly it. Dress for yourself and your confidence is all that people will see. 🙂 Thanks for the comment!
My favourite, or the ones I find more useful are:
– Accessories are everything: took me a while to get it. I’m now always looking for nice belts, it’s incredible how a good belt can make you look more put together. Plus it takes almost no place in your closet 😉
– Never explain your outfit: which I understand as “don’t dress for other people” there’s no way you’ll please everybody and you’re the one that has to feel at ease in it. Besides, I used to fret a lot about what people would think (“if I wear the same shirt two days in a row in the office people are going to judge”)… and I actually realised that most people don’t pay that much attention. And if it bothers people I’m wearing the same dress several weddings in a row, well it’s their problem not mine.