10 Things I’ve Learned About Style In My First 10 Years Of Blogging

strolling near St. Sulpice

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…

  1. 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.
  2. “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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. I still believe in chic. It’s still relevant, and something I aspire to.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.

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65 Comments

  1. karen h
    March 20, 2017 / 3:32 am

    congratulations! 10 years, that’s quite a milestone.
    and your nuggets are spot on….

  2. Susan Gardner
    March 20, 2017 / 3:40 am

    Congratulations on your 10-Year Anniversary! That’s a major cause for celebration! Love your Style Nuggets. And to think I remember you as a redhead…! 😉

  3. March 20, 2017 / 3:50 am

    Congratulations on your anniversary! You were in on the early days of blogging.
    Sadly, body shape isn’t something we get to choose. And it changes over time, not always for the better.
    I think clothes of the past, while more restrictive (those corsets and girdles), were more age-inclusive because they were worn by women of all ages. It wasn’t until the late ’60s that you got “youth” fashion that was for young adults. Before that, there were styles for youths (bobby socks and poodle skirts), but those were abandoned upon adulthood, and adult women wore pretty much the same kinds of dresses.
    I like the choices of today, but as you say, the specific choices of clothes tend to skew young. Thank goodness for brands like Eileen Fisher.

  4. Sue K.
    March 20, 2017 / 4:44 am

    I love your blog, and especially this post! “Tools not Rules” is an excellent reminder of guidelines for body type and coloring. And I cherish your comment, “If clothing ‘only’ looks good on models, then the problem is the clothing, not our bodies.” Hooray for diversity of all kinds, and let’s embrace who we are right now! I will turn 65 in a few days, and I’m so glad that more and more stores are recognizing the lucrative clothing market for women of a certain age.

  5. Argie
    March 20, 2017 / 4:45 am

    Great post! Love your perspective.

  6. Leigh Parrish
    March 20, 2017 / 4:49 am

    Congratulations! Your blog is consistently one of my very favorites, and you never disappoint. If it were’t for you, I’d never have found my Eileen Fisher Black raincoat, which I consider my most wise clothing purchase ever. Hope you celebrate today, I am most thankful for you and I look forward to 10 more + also.

  7. Margaret H
    March 20, 2017 / 5:12 am

    Enjoy reading your blog so much! Looking forward to your continued advice that helps me develop my own style.

  8. March 20, 2017 / 5:17 am

    Happy Blogaversary! This is a great post, and you’ve expressed many of our thoughts very efficiently. Thank you for the work you put into your blog.

  9. Meg
    March 20, 2017 / 5:26 am

    Happy Anniversary and thank heavens for your blog! I too have fallen into that chasm, sometimes I pull out an old favorite and look at myself and say, “that fashion train has left the station” and into the ‘donate’ pile it goes. I can’t recall a more quickly changing rate of personal style since I was a young teen, making the switch from kid clothes to young woman clothes!
    I appreciate your blog so much and the guidance and community of your readers. I will happily admit to clicking thru and finding some great gems- your Poppy boiled wool EF coat is now a great personal favorite of mine and makes every airline trip with me to visit my dad, who is ailing.
    Thanks Susan and congratulations on 10 years!

  10. March 20, 2017 / 5:36 am

    Congrats and happy birthday to you, Susan! I’ve enjoyed your blog very much, and plan to mention it in my column about mature fashion bloggers (for a magazine that’s delivered with the Sunday Detroit Free Press). Bloggers like you truly inspire confidence in mature women who are looking for fashion advice! Bravo!

  11. March 20, 2017 / 6:00 am

    Happy Blogaversary, Susan! Congratulations, and thanks for a great and inspiring blog.

  12. roxannesteed
    March 20, 2017 / 6:09 am

    Congrats on your 10 year blogiversary! (I just passed mine too this January for 10 years of my painting blog)! I’m SO GLAD I came across your blog a couple years ago…it’s the one fashion blog I most identify with. Your advice & thoughts have been soooo helpful for me as I cross into this same ‘territory’ and adapt to this changing bod of mine. I hope you never tire of writing & posting, as you’ve been a ‘trusted advisor’ for quite a while now!! Cheers! and thanks for the inspirations!

  13. March 20, 2017 / 6:09 am

    Congratulations and Happy Birthday!! I always enjoy reading your column and this latest “10 Things” was an especially great read. Here’s to the next 10 years!

  14. Suz
    March 20, 2017 / 6:30 am

    Congratulations on the ten year milestone! And all the very best for your blogging future. Your blog is the first one I check in the morning, and I always appreciate your posts. Thank you, Suz from Vancouver

  15. Karen
    March 20, 2017 / 6:38 am

    Congratulations on your 10 year anniversary. I follow your blog closely. I also turned 60 in March. Even though I live in a colder climate than you I find I can tweak your style just a tad to suit my life. Thanks again. It is one of the reads I look forward to daily. Karen from Canada

  16. March 20, 2017 / 6:51 am

    Congratulations – wow 10 years. I think that the fashion thing I’ve learned and tried to stick to the most – is to dress for my real life…and living in LA that is very casual. And I agree, the world has turned towards the more casual as well. Luckily for me, it’s how I’ve always preferred to dress and don’t really enjoy getting dressed up – never have. I love the way your style has evolved and have enjoyed watching you change since you no longer go to a “workplace”.

  17. March 20, 2017 / 6:54 am

    Congratulations Susan! Lots of style wisdom in this blog. Well done.

  18. Cheryl Johnson
    March 20, 2017 / 7:01 am

    Congratulations Susan! You are beautiful inside and out. Thanks for all you have done and do to keep us informed about fashion these days. I no longer buy magazines with 14 year-olds and “stars” on the cover. It’s silly! Real women are beautiful too…

  19. JMOD
    March 20, 2017 / 7:02 am

    Thank you so much for the incredible service you perform for women. You have allowed me to enjoy clothes and fashion again, after despairing for a few years due to “shape shifting” and the vacuum in publications for our demographic.

  20. MJ
    March 20, 2017 / 7:03 am

    Congratulations on 10 years of blogging and your birthday. I remember coming across your blog almost that long ago as I looked for fashion advice for someone my age, and sticking with you both because of your fashion sense and your way with words. Love the point that if the clothes don’t feel right it’s a problem with the clothes, not with you. Looking forward to continuing to read you for many more years.

  21. Sarah Harvey
    March 20, 2017 / 7:09 am

    Susan you’ve taught me a lot about style and what to wear as we grow older. I still make unwise choices but overall I’d say my wardrobe has vastly improved! Thanks so much for sharing what you’ve learned! Happy Blogaversary and Happy Birthday!! Sally

  22. March 20, 2017 / 7:10 am

    Yes to all:). I would add something that I’ve noticed recently – don’t be afraid of color. Which is not to say that one must dress in vivid shades, only that if you do a little homework and practice you can find colors that always suit you. This makes shopping both more fun and way easier.

  23. Mary Perez
    March 20, 2017 / 7:28 am

    A Champagne toast on the two milestones, or as we must say in Sonoma, sparkling wine…I love your blog for several reasons. Yes, you love clothes, but are also a thoughtful and deep person, willing to talk about real life in the context of a style blog. Am 66 myself, and continue to become more confident and joyful the older I get. Go Girl!!!

  24. March 20, 2017 / 7:32 am

    Congratulations! Ten years ago you must have been a pioneer in these conversations! I love your style and tips. I am ten years older than you and am still interested in appearing stylish. Luckily I find that there is not much difference in dressing the sixty and seventy year old body. The one problem that rankles me these last ten years is that I run hot post menopause/HRT and the sleeveless tops my body requires don’t flatter the aging arms. I wear them anyway. Comfort first.

  25. March 20, 2017 / 7:33 am

    Congratulations Susan! Yes to all of these! Welcome to 60, it looks fabulous on you. xo

  26. Kelly Hale
    March 20, 2017 / 7:34 am

    Would you do a post about what you wish you knew at 50? Some of us are a few years behind you and read your blog to show ourselves 50 is not the end of life but just another great beginning. Thanks for keeping your blog so current.

  27. Jayne
    March 20, 2017 / 7:51 am

    I enjoy reading your blog. You look stylish and have great fashion tips! Congrats on your milestones!

  28. March 20, 2017 / 8:31 am

    Happy Blogaversary! I’ll always remember how generous you were in visiting and supporting my blog when I started in the summer of 2007. And I’m astounded to realise that you’d only begun a few months earlier yourself — you already had such a clear voice and seemed so much more established to me. Really looking forward to toasting your 10 years IRL a bit later in the year. xo

  29. March 20, 2017 / 9:11 am

    You were one of the first bloggers I followed when I discovered women my age were writing relevant and interesting blogs. I even bought the Taos silver shoes after reading one of your travel posts. Congratulations on a wonderful 10 years and best wishes for another 10!

  30. stylecrone
    March 20, 2017 / 9:56 am

    Happy Birthday Susan!!! This was a wonderful post about your process over the past 10 years. I remember when I first found you when I started blogging in 2010. I admired you then and I admire you now. It was a pleasure to meet you in 2016, and I look forward to following you over the next decade. xo

  31. Susan W H
    March 20, 2017 / 9:57 am

    Happy Anniversary and Birthday! I don’t remember when I first started following your blog. It must have been in early days, because I first became interested in dressing “of a certain age” before my son got married in 2005 and I needed to figure out what I was supposed to wear–certainly not one of those MOG or MOB outfits I saw in stores and online. I am a long-term follower who continues to learn something new almost every time I read one of your posts. And watching you, I’ve tried out new ideas that I wouldn’t have otherwise have considered.

    Thank you for the time and talent you put into the blog.

  32. Sandra
    March 20, 2017 / 9:59 am

    Congratulations on your 10th anniversary and 60th birthday. Your blog has inspired me to punch up my casual wardrobe after retiring from my job and all those suits! Looking forward to the next 10 years!

  33. Lori
    March 20, 2017 / 10:47 am

    Congratulations on your ten year blogversary and your 60th birthday. Yours was the first blog I found when I did a google search many years ago for dressing well over 40 or 50. An oasis in the desert! I am looking forward to many more years of relatable, relevant writing about style fashion and life.

  34. Dany
    March 20, 2017 / 11:55 am

    Congratulations on your birthday and blogaversary! Your posts have been both useful and enjoyable.

    As for the lessons I’ve learned…
    1) The world has become more casual, but I haven’t. My current lifestyle would allow super casual looks on most days…but I’m not that person. I’m not going to let my pearls sit in my jewelry box because I have no special occassions planned or donate my beloved button front shirts because most women prefer comfy tunics. I’m in “Life is a party, so it’s more than ok to dress up because it’s a random Tuesday”-camp. I don’t judge others for not sharing this approach…but I do me.
    2)There is a happy medium between being comfortable and looking polished. Many people seem to equate chic style with uncomfortably and impractical choices. I’ve learned that the happy medium exists, you just don’t get to see it all the time because most people don’t even bother to search for it.
    3)Never settle for “quite okay” just because it’s in discount or cheap to begin with. A good wardrobe, just like a good life, is all about love and beauty.

    • Katie
      March 20, 2017 / 4:26 pm

      My sweet spot is that ‘happy medium’ feel & look; – exchanging corporate suits for Eileen Fisher and buying David Yurman pearls to wear with my lounging PJ’s when I retired. Was happy to discover this blog years ago when googling travel wardrobe ideas. Thanks, Susan, for your creative perspective.

  35. Kay
    March 20, 2017 / 12:11 pm

    I have been following you for most of those 10 years. I travel frequently, and your “lessons” on packing have been valuable. I also live in California, and your advice about seasonal dressing is right on point. Keep up the good work (and welcome to the 60s.)

  36. Murphy
    March 20, 2017 / 12:35 pm

    I love your blog, and it always makes me feel optimistic about dressing my 61-year-old self. Thanks for all the great posts, and happy birthday and blogversary!

  37. March 20, 2017 / 12:52 pm

    Happy belated birthday Susan!

    After blogging for 10 years you’ve got some truly great wisdom to share.

    I’ve been at it for 11 years. I shudder to think I’ve been doing it for that long to be honest.

    bisous
    Suzanne

  38. Sue
    March 20, 2017 / 3:06 pm

    Excellent post!

  39. Nicole K
    March 20, 2017 / 4:24 pm

    Happy Birthday, Happy Anniversary and thank you! So glad you needed a distraction 10 years ago. I’ve only been following for two years, but you have transformed by wardrobe and ability to dress myself both for every day and travel. (As an aside, I recently regained some lost weight, but finding many pieces I purchased with your guidance still work so well, I’ve repurchased in a larger size).

  40. March 20, 2017 / 4:41 pm

    Congrats on ten years! Ten years! Your blog is almost a teenager!! All your points are excellent. And Happy Birthday!!!!

  41. Ann
    March 20, 2017 / 4:47 pm

    I am new to your blog and so glad I found it and I wish I had found it sooner. Being “retired” it’s sometime hard to make an effort on what to wear and your blog gives me inspiration to still give it my best shot. Plus It makes me want to pack a bag and go somewhere. Haha!

  42. Anonymous
    March 20, 2017 / 4:57 pm

    10 years is a real achievement! Congratulations. Also so good to share your celebration by drawing up your style code list. We have rather different styles but I totally agree with all the principles you’ve listed. At the request of my grand-daughters (I’m older than 60) I’ve grown my hair long. The other day I met someone I hadn’t seen for years and she commented disapprovingly on the length. But it didn’t worry me – my family like it long and now I do too, though it is much more work. Despite my age it has only limited strands of silver-grey. It’s now a honey-toffee colour with lighter streaks – completely natural colour. I love colour, scarves and statement jewellery – but have found I’ve been wearing a bit more black or navy than in the past.
    You look fabulous in your top picture – walking in Paris. It looks like the (Rimbaud?) walkway that connects Place Saint Sulpice with the location of the Musee de Luxembourg? We spend a few days each year nearby at the lovely Hotel Recamier after our usual month in an apartment belonging to a friend (he goes to Barcelona at that time). It’s a great location. Best wishes, Pamela

  43. Verónica
    March 20, 2017 / 5:20 pm

    Happy anniversary! I also (as Katie above), discovered your blog while looking for travel wardrobe ideas. Since then I have really enjoyed reading each one of your posts. I find your nuggets spot on and definitely agree that feeling good about yourself in the clothes you wear is the goal. If you feel good about your clothes you will forget about them and let your personality really come through! Keep on blogging!

  44. Beryl Meiron
    March 20, 2017 / 7:50 pm

    Happy special birthday, and hearty congratulations on your blogaversary–milestones both. You have inspired and taught me about new elements of style, and I am grateful for every new post. Here’s looking at many, many more years online, and continued success. All the best, Sue!

  45. Shannon @vinousrambler
    March 20, 2017 / 7:51 pm

    Another congratulations on your ten year blogversary and your 60th birthday! Your voice has always been honest and true so it’s no surprise that you have so many loyal readers. Cheers to the next 10!

  46. Vancouver Barbara
    March 20, 2017 / 10:55 pm

    Congratulations on your birthday and blogging anniversary. The photo of you in Paris is beautiful.
    Such elan! Such shoes!

  47. Daniella
    March 21, 2017 / 1:14 am

    Congrats on your decade long blog! Looking forward to the next decade of blogging!
    I would add to your list that “less is more” at any age unless you are Iris Apfel! And it goes without saying that “fit” is the most important asset in anything one buys! Using a good tailor to alter an outfit to perfection is a must if one wants to really feel”chic”! As for the classics, one chic Hermes or Ferragamo scarf, a simple pair of Armani slacks and a fabulous white Carolina Herrera shirt will always save the day!

  48. Quelque part sous la Loire
    March 21, 2017 / 2:32 am

    Chère Susan,

    je vous lis depuis 7 ans sans jamais commenter, mais pour une fois, je vous souhaite un joyeux bloganniversaire, et pour le futur, toujours autant d’enthousiasme à vivre et des trouvailles étourdissantes.

  49. Maria
    March 21, 2017 / 7:23 am

    Your “nuggets” are perfect. Congratulations and Happy Birthday! You’re blog is truly inspirational in many ways and so helpful for those of us who are a little style challenged. Grateful that you’re taking us along this journey.
    Look forward to many more cups of coffee while enjoying your blog.

  50. March 21, 2017 / 7:48 am

    Happy Blogiversary to the most chic blogger out there!

  51. Susan D
    March 21, 2017 / 12:56 pm

    Mazeltov on 10 years of brilliant blogging and also on your recent 60th birthday.

    The very first blog I read was Chic At Any Age and through Josephine’s blog list yours was the second. I was so excited about it that I went back to your very first one and read them all. You give so much useful information and speak so much sense and I have to say that I think you look far more youthful now than you ever did.

    Here’s to the next ten.

    Susan D

  52. Mary Fisher
    March 21, 2017 / 6:44 pm

    thank you for your wonderful blog and thoughtful comments. Thank you for pictures of the Wonderful Lars, a kitty after my own heart. Fashion magazines could learn much from your topics and choices. In the midst of all the challenges of life, your blog is always such a good, happy place. You remind us that value has nothing to do with the number of birthdays, the number on the scale, the numbers in the bank account. But, one has value intrinsically and one’s goals and aspirations are also to be valued.

    Mary F.

  53. Susan B
    March 21, 2017 / 7:29 pm

    Thanks so much everyone for your support and good wishes! It’s so gratifying to know that so many of you find the blog helpful. Thanks for reading and for all of your comments and feedback!

  54. Jill
    March 22, 2017 / 9:25 am

    Number 10. Love it and I live it……I dress not to impress anyone …..I dress to my mood and what feels right on me…..so there are times I might put on one or two things and decide on something entirely different. That’s what makes it fun.

  55. March 22, 2017 / 10:55 am

    Somehow I missed seeing this post earlier. Big congrats to you on your tenth blogaversary. That’s a big deal, as you well know. Blogs come and go, but yours is still building.

    BTW, you and Alyson are my faves. 🙂 But don’t tell the others!

  56. Chris M.
    March 22, 2017 / 12:54 pm

    Happy 10th Blogaversary!

    I truly understand your motivation. In my 50s, I also found myself at a loss as to how a mature woman should dress. I refused to believe that just because we’re older, we must be relegated to the “shuffleboard” section of the clothing store. And, at the time, looking for appropriate role models wasn’t easy.

    I wasn’t as proactive as you were, but I’m deeply grateful to you and your compatriots for helping the rest of us find our “visibility” in a world that seems to chose not to see us. Thanks! And congratulations.

  57. Lynn
    March 22, 2017 / 1:22 pm

    Congratulations on 10 years and belated birthday wishes. I live vicariously through you – live in LA, soon will be 69. Thanks for the inspiration.

  58. CJ1
    March 23, 2017 / 7:09 pm

    I’ve only recently come to your blog but I feel like I’ve found a kindred spirit! I really enjoy your posts, particularly on travel wardrobes. I too love to travel and packing for a trip is stressful, but I read your advice and it seems so simple. Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts.
    I love your insights! Congratulations on your 10 years blogging and 60th birthday!

  59. March 23, 2017 / 10:37 pm

    I just turned 59 myself and I look to you, Susan, for style inspiration and guidance. I’ve thinned out my closet and wardrobe using your advice, posts, and photos – especially when I’m on the fence, clutching something I haven’t worn in years. You look fabulous, ageless, and I am so grateful that you started blogging so that kindred spirits can follow your lead and example.

  60. Linda B
    March 24, 2017 / 5:14 am

    Belated happy birthday and happy blog anniversary! This post epitomizes why you have developed such a loyal following–so helpful and inspiring to read your thoughts. Thanks so much for providing your readers such a steady flow of inspiration over these past years, and keep it up!
    Love to you from AZ, Linda (who reaches the 6-0 milestone in about 5 months)

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