Saturday marked my 10-year Blogaversary! Back in 2007 I set out on this style blogging journey partly as a pleasant distraction, and partly out of frustration with trying to dress my then 50-year-old self. The workplace had changed, my body had changed, and I felt as though I’d fallen into a giant retail chasm between Twenty-Something-Clubwear and Shuffleboard-on-the-Lido-Deck. Where were the chic clothes for women our age? I just wanted sophisticated, modern clothing that fit me, looked good and made sense for my life.
Fashion magazines and websites were of little help, and the nascent style blogosphere seemed to be focused primarily on women under 30. So I started writing the blog I’d want to read, and hoped to connect with some like-minded souls as I sussed out my own style. Ten years later, there are scores of style blogs for women over 50 offering inspiration for all kinds of tastes, budgets and sizes. The best part of this whole venture? I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know some of my readers and fellow bloggers from all over the world, and now count many of them among my dearest friends.
And I’ve figured out a few things about style too…
10 Nuggets Of Style Wisdom Picked Up Along The Way…
- Forget “age appropriate.” It’s limiting and meaningless. Focus instead on how you feel in something. Does it feel like an outward expression of your inner self? Then go for it. Do you feel self-conscious? Maybe go back and tweak a bit until it feels right. Ignore those “women over age x need to stop wearing y” kinds of articles. That said, I do believe in venue appropriate style. Whether we’re 30 or 80, dressing appropriately for the occasion shows respect for ourselves and others.
- “Classic” is often relative. Yes, there are certain iconic pieces (trench coat, marinière, shift dress) that will stand the test of time better than others. But they don’t suit everyone’s taste or style, so don’t feel you “have to” invest in something just because it has been anointed A Classic. And even classic pieces can look dated over time, so you may want to consider altering hemlines, lapels, buttons, etc. to keep your classics current. We each have our own versions of “classics” too.
- Times change, and so do style norms. The world has become a more casual place (for better and worse) in recent decades. Though I struggled with that for some time, I’ve come to embrace a more laid-back approach to style. I don’t think we’re ever going to shift back to the kinds of strict tailoring (and the restrictive undergarments required) that used to be the hallmarks of elegant, mature style. “Casual chic” is my benchmark now.
- There is no one “right” body type. Ditch the comparisons. I grew up hearing “only tall, thin women look good in clothes” (or “…can wear X”). It’s what we have been conditioned to believe, but it’s not true. If clothing “only” looks good on models, then the problem is the clothing, not our bodies. Two women of exactly the same height and weight may have completely different shapes and proportions and a garment will look different on each of them. Certain pieces may suit one body type but not another, or may look good on both, but in different ways.
- I still believe in chic. It’s still relevant, and something I aspire to.
- Tools, not rules. Those guidelines for what to wear for your body type, or coloring, or for what numbers or kinds of pieces you should have in your wardrobe are just that…guidelines. While they can be helpful in developing your style, you can also feel free to ignore the ones that don’t work for you or that cramp your expression of style.
- Personal style needs to mesh with lifestyle. I love to travel, and factor that in when shopping for my everyday wardrobe. Think about how you spend your time and what your wardrobe has to accommodate. Do you have a lot of special events on your calendar? Is your lifestyle mostly casual? What about your climate? I don’t need a lot of special occasion clothes, and no longer need to focus on “office appropriate” wear.
- Physical comfort is crucial; so is emotional comfort. It’s hard to feel stylish when your clothing binds, pinches, constricts, or is unwieldy. And it’s also hard to feel stylish when you’re self-conscious. I don’t like to draw attention to my bust, and have never been at ease in very form-fitting tops.
- Don’t be afraid to try something “trendy.” Trends are more amorphous these days, and multiple trends can exist concurrently. I look at trends as opportunities to a) try something new provided it appeals to me and b) find a greater selection of the kinds of pieces I’d want to wear regardless of trends. Conversely, you don’t have to be a slave to what’s “In” or “Out” in order to look modern. Individual style has replaced adherence to unilateral style trends, so we get to pick and choose.
- You can’t please everyone, so wear what pleases you. We all have different tastes, lifestyles and style preferences. I know that not everyone shares my love of black or denim for example. I’ve occasionally been swayed by friends or other bloggers whose style is different from mine to try things that are outside of my usual aesthetic. Occasionally something sticks, usually not. Ten years in, I still find that I most often hit my Style Sweet Spot when I don’t overthink it, when I don’t “play to the crowd” and when I stick with what I love and what feels unforced and organic.
I just celebrated my 60th birthday a couple of weeks ago, and feel better about my life and style than ever. While I have no doubt that I’ll continue to experiment from time to time, I’ve developed confidence about my choices and preferences that makes selecting clothing and getting dressed much easier.
I’m looking forward to the next 10 years of exploring style with all of you! What lessons have you learned in the last decade that have given you more confidence either with regard to your style or in other areas?
Photo by Carla Coulson.