Strolling along a café strip the other day I looked up to see a woman dressed in a 60’s style black shift dress, low leopard print heels and carrying a black straw bag. It was a hot day and her grey hair was pinned into a messy up-do. Rose gold loop earrings completed the look.She looked fantastic! She was probably in her late 60’s. Effortless. Cool.
When we think of stylish older people we think of Jane Fonda, Helen Mirren, Isabelle Huppert, Richard Gere and Michael Douglas among many. They are the highly visible style icons but there are also people around us on a daily basis that just seem to know how to dress with pazazz…
How is it that some people just have STYLE? Is it an innate sense of balance, texture and colour mix? Is it learned- can you teach people how to have a signature style? How is it French women (and men) have a reputation for dressing with style?
Do you keep a journal of style clippings and ideas- a Pinterest of fashion ideas? Have you had your colours “Done?” What is your Signature Style? Have you ever used a fashion stylist? Do you need a certain “look” that you know suits you or is it Ok to experiment and be eclectic in your fashion styling!
I spent the weekend with Evelyn Wilfling, a 54 year old woman who just seems to look great whenever I see her and styling seems to be a no- brainer. Mix this with that, layer in this texture, be bold not gaudy and voila.. A look is created! We had so much fun flinging clothes around, dressing up, accessorising and creating “looks.”
We shot a number of videos with Evelyn for Viva 70 that will be available in the next few weeks. But here’s a brief overview of what I learned from this style queen.
Is it a good idea to have a Signature Style?
A unique you, a Signature Style is a good starting point. Know what works for your body shape, lifestyle and what you feel comfortable in. Know the colours that drain your natural colouring and the colours that make you sparkle.
But then stretch the boundaries and try to be new and exciting in your fashion choices. As we get older our colouring changes. Colours that used to work now don’t. You don’t need a whole new wardrobe. Use a coloured scarf with a black dress and the energy changes. Style isn’t about having designer brands. It’s about being clever and innovative with what you’ve got.
Do you need to build a basics wardrobe? Key items of clothing that you can mix and match?
It’s a good idea have a good basic collection. Start with underwear. Make sure bras and pants fit properly and don’t create bulges. Use Spanx or other shapewear if the dress is fitted. Then you can’t go past the black pants, Jeans, white shirt and great winter coat. Many older women don’t wear skirts anymore. Pants, a couple of dresses, a variety of tops and then the art of layering and using accessories creatively. Boots, flip-flops and a pair of neutral low heels and flats to go with dresses and pants. Belts, bags, jewellery and hats are wardrobe essentials.
What about the “rules” of fashion styling?
There are some looks that can enhance body shape but I wouldn’t call them rules. There are lots of video clips around about body shape- pear shapes, apple shapes etc. But if you have a larger body you can look great with a belted look. You don’t have to hide your body in mass of fabric. Its how you use fine fabrics, layering and creating a strong point of interest e.g. earrings that add colour, a necklace that provides a strong statement.
Feeling comfortable in your clothes also matters. In these years we don’t have to squeeze our feet into high heels to be fashionable. Evening wear is less formal. Looks are trans-seasonal. It’s a good time to be making fashion choices.
Where do older women shop?
EVERYWHERE! On line shopping is great. Even shops stocking young adults clothing can have great handbags and inexpensive fun jewellery even if the clothes are too small or short. Try good quality clothing stores for a few basic pieces. E.g. well- fitting pants, trench coat or leather jacket. Buy them in sales. Then try places like Zara, Mango, Cos for European -styled fashion items. Many stores now stock clothes with a much larger size range so make a point of visiting stores or online shopping that you haven’t tried before and check out what’s available for the 50 plus market. Don’t go past Target, H & M and some of the chain stores too…looking stylish is no longer expensive.