I don’t know if you’ve noticed but some women have totally cracked the ageing with style thing. I don’t just mean celebrities but women you pass on the street or glimpse cycling past, their silver hair blowing in the wind. They have one thing in common. They look nothing like the old ladies with blue-rinses we carry in our heads. They are confident in their ageless style and don’t give a damn about their wrinkles. These women have learned that there is no age limit to looking stylish and they’re loving it.
This post was inspired by a gift I bought for a growngal’s 60th birthday. I decided to give her a copy of Ari Seth Cohen’s Advanced Style, Older and Wiser. It’s the second book to come out of his blog: Advanced Style which documents Cohen’s photographs of fashionable Americans rocking their twilight years. The blog has become a world-wide sensation, spawning books, a movie and making stars out of many of it’s models. I wanted to show my pal that sixty is ‘young’ compared to some of these amazing ninety-year-olds. She is already fabulous, of course, but you just cannot help feeling excited about the decades to come when you see so many people having wardrobe fun.
When you look at these pictures you realise that there are no rules, anything goes. Style doesn’t have to involve expensive designer gear or even smart clothes (check out those paint splattered dungarees). It isn’t about what you wear so much as how you wear it. Many of the characters that Cohen’s shoots are expressing themselves through their fashion choices and creating an image of themselves that is as individual as their personalities. Not everyone wants to be colourful and many choose restrained elegance – but the point is that women of a certain age are no longer invisible.
I know from my own experience that it is easy to lose your style mojo. I’ve always loved clothes and when I was younger I used to promise myself that I would be elegantly dressed in Nicole Farhi in middle age. When that day arrived I realised I didn’t have the height or body shape to carry off Ms. Farhi. Clothes shopping became increasingly frustrating and my self-esteem slipped as the gulf between my imagined self and what I saw reflected in the mirror became wider. But midlife is a wonderful time to reinvent and rediscover ourselves. Coming to terms with ageing is incredibly liberating.
What is clear is that we are all more confident when we feel good about the way we look. So how do we go about embracing and developing our own ageless style? I’ve come up with a few ideas:
- Maybe we should start with what makes us feel good. Some of us like dresses, some of us don’t. Whatever we enjoy wearing, be it smart, sporty, floaty, fitted, bright, black – could be where we start to build a signature style.
- Think about comfort! Age is about wisdom so don’t suffer for your fashion – make it work for us, not against us. If high heels are painful swap them for fabulous flats.
- Think about body shape and structure. What is flattering and is it the same as it used to be? Visit a few shops with a good friend and give one another changing-room feedback to start exploring what works.
- Think beyond the high street. Mix in a bit of vintage, add a bit of ethnic, make some of your own clothes, be creative.
- Check out Pinterest boards for inspiration starting with my own Ageless Style board.
- Draw attention towards your best features (e.g. paint still-gorgeous lips) and away from others (e.g. floaty pants for flabby thighs).
- Be natural. Walk tall. Confidence and a broad smile are the best beauty tricks in the book. Love every wrinkle and every silver strand.
Lastly I shared a stunning picture of Helen Mirren just before she turned 71 on my facebook page – take a peek if you dare!