For years, I’ve been telling you the same thing, more or less:
If you want to look modern, shop contemporary brands.
In other words, skip the brands that are targeted to women over 40 and stick to contemporary brands. Buying your classic pieces from modern brands ensures that your everyday essentials are fresh and up to date.
And that’s still true. Except when it’s not. Let me explain.
Some of the tried and true, iconic, go-to contemporary brands, the ones we have relied on for years, have lost their way. Or their minds. Or both.
I don’t know how it happened, but it has. How did Calvin Klein go from this:
What the heck happened?
And while Calvin Klein no longer shows his high end collection on the runways of NYC, another designer from the same era, Michael Kors, definitely does, and yet the pieces that end up in department stores bearing his label have no relation to the high-end chic American sportswear aesthetic he has become famous for.
How is this Michael Kors? I don’t understand. Even this beautiful model looks unhappy in this tunic.
There’s one old-school iconic designer who has stayed true to his design aesthetic, however, and that’s Ralph Lauren.
In addition to the disappointment I felt when I spotted dowdy duds from my favorite designers, I’ve also started seeing designer labels on items clearly created for off-price stores like TJ MAXX and Marshall’s. Don’t get me wrong. I love both of those stores, and have found some fabulous genuine designer items there, but I’ve also seen PJs, socks, poorly made handbags and makeup bags, sweats, underwear, and accessories sporting names like Betsey Johnson, Juicy Couture, Nanette Lepore and Nicole Miller.
These bear no resemblance to any of the items found on the brands’ sites, and instead they cheapen and dilute some of these iconic fashion brands. And it breaks my heart.
I celebrated by 23rd birthday at Betsey Johnson, and the brand defined my 20s. My 30s began with a Nicole MIller LBD which I wore to my rehearsal dinner.
These brands have been my favorites for years. But they have changed. That doesn’t mean I will never buy Michael Kors or Nicole Miller or Calvin Klein again. But it does mean I’ll follow these tips when I do:
Look At The Item, Not The Brand
This is the biggest takeaway. It used to be that the brand name alone was a sign that the item was modern and relevant, but that’s no longer the case. We have to take it on an item-by-item basis.
There are good and bad items everywhere.
In the same way that the Calvin Klein label is no longer an indicator of a stylish item, a Talbots or Chico’s label is no longer an indicator of a frumpy item. There are stylish and chic finds from each of these brands, and frumpy ones as well.
There are still a few sure-thing brands.
Even though you can find frumpy items at contemporary brands and contemporary items at “frumpy” brands, there are brands that get it right most of the time. These include LilySilk, J. Crew, Anthropologie, LOFT, Boden, Banana Republic, and more.
In my next video, I’ll be sharing a list of 10 brands you should be shopping over 40.
“Frumpy” clothes have been in style for a couple of years now, and that’s further complicating the already challenging task of finding fashionable clothes over 40.
Nada Manley says
Aww thank you so much Jennifer! I am so thankful to have the best community! I am so glad you found this helpful! I too miss those days when things seemed clearer and style was easier to figure out!
Jennifer hillman says
So thankful we have you to guide us, Nada! I really miss ‘back in the day’ when outlet stores were full of true factory seconds! I have figured out that, when I go to my local Michael Kors outlet, I need to ask a sales clerk where the “retail returns” are. Those are the true MK items originally purchased at Bloomies, Saks, etc! Again, Nada, you are the best! Thank-you for helping me feel fun and fabulous (vs frumpy)- with as little work as possible!