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The key to dressing confidently at any age

Whether you’re 35 or 65. By Alison Lynch
dressing confidently

Unless you’re blessed with the sartorial assuredness of a Kristin Scott Thomas or a Susan Sarandon (or have access to their stylists), you’ve probably been through the odd crisis of confidence when it comes to your wardrobe over the years.

Particularly as you get older, it can be easy to start second guessing yourself in the changing room, questioning whether you can still ‘get away with’ wearing certain looks. But while you’re never going to wear the same things in your 50s as you did in your 20s, there are some style rules that never change.

We spoke to some of our favourite stylish women to get their tips on dressing confidently, whether you’re 35 or 65.

Don’t wear something just because it’s on trend

‘Don’t wear something that’s on trend even though you know you won’t be comfortable in it,’ advises Dawn Cutler, who started her blog The Posh Rock because there were so few people writing about style for the over-40s. She adds: ‘It’s easy to gravitate towards what’s in vogue (and great to try new things), but stick with styles that you know work for you.’

Do make a statement with accessories

‘Bringing on the bling is the easiest way to perk up an everyday outfit and show a little personality. And that doesn’t necessarily have to mean go big, or go home,’ advises Alyson Walsh, style blogger and author of Style Forever: The grown up guide to looking fabulous.

She says: ‘Layering fine necklaces and silver bangles will amp up the chic factor as much as a showstopper necklace. Blending day and eveningwear – or what I like to call Casual Glamour – is how women dress today; and so chandelier earrings look cool with a denim shirt and jeans, a long pendant necklace and a simple tunic dress looks effortless and modern. Jewellery is an easy way to add character whether you’re 18 or 80.’

Don’t dress carelessly 

What you choose to put on in the morning has a big impact on your mood and how you approach the day. You’re sending messages to your subconscious all the time. So if you start the day by pulling on an outfit that’s tired and probably needs a wash, think what message you’re sending yourself. Your best clothes should be for every day, not just special occasions.

Do make sure you’re comfortable

The biggest confidence killer is not feeling comfortable in what you’re wearing. So, for example, if you know you’re going to be on your feet all day, leave your highest heels at home. Opt for comfy and stylish instead – mannish styles like brogues and loafers look great, whatever your age. And if you’re already tugging at necklines or hemlines before you even leave the house, it’s best to change rather than feel self-conscious throughout the day.  

What you don’t want to be doing is thinking about how you look rather than focusing on what you need to do. If health concerns like bladder weakness are making you feel anxious, plan ahead and ensure you have the right products to give you total confidence. 

Do embrace colour and texture 

‘It is possible to liven things up without veering too far out of the comfort zone,’ says Alyson. Here are the different ways she approaches colour in her wardrobe: 

1. ‘A blast of neon colour – a skinny scarf, beaded necklace or bright nail polish – looks fabulous against a navy, khaki or grey backdrop.

2. Stick to one colour head-to-toe. Navy is always a chic option, and burgundy looks fab for autumn.

3. Mix it up. It is possible to play around with clashing colours like red and candy pink or a mustard-y yellow and turquoise and look wonderful.

4. If going crazy with colour sounds a bit much, try monochrome plus a primary for a powerful visual effect. Orange, turquoise and emerald green look fabulous with black and white.’

Alyson also recommends mixing different textures to add interest, ‘particularly if you’re wearing one colour head-to-toe. For easy elegance team a navy silk blouse with dark denim jeans, try a black silk shirt with velvet palazzo pants.

There does come a point when you have something of a signature look, a uniform of sorts, and that makes life easy. When you know the shapes that suit, you can try them in lots of different fabrics and textures.’

Do update your look

If you’re still gravitating towards the same styles and colours you were wearing 20 years ago, it might be time to reassess a little. A lot can change in that time, from body shape, to hair colour, to skin tone. So don’t get hung-up on what you think does and doesn’t suit you, stay open-minded and be prepared to try anything on once.

Don’t compromise on fit

‘Always make sure you have the correct size. Clothes that are too small or too big will always fail to flatter,’ says Dawn. That means always trying on before you buy and getting pieces altered to improve the length or fit when needed.

Do dress for the occasion 

Forget worrying about whether your outfit is ‘age appropriate’ and think about whether it’s appropriate for the occasion instead. If you’re going to an event, always check whether there’s a dress code and stick to it. There’s nothing worse than feeling like you stand out for all the wrong reasons.

Do celebrate your best bits

‘It’s easy to be critical, but focus on what you love about yourself. It could be your legs, your hips, or even the way you’ve styled your hair that day. Whatever it is, pick your favourite feature and then work on emphasising it,’ Dawn says.

Do wear what you love

‘My top tip for dressing confidently is simple: Let go of the fear of worrying about what others think about what you wear – dress for yourself and only yourself. You’ll end up a lot happier as a result, and your happiness will translate into confidence,’ says Not Dressed As Lamb’s Catherine Summers, who started her blog on her 39th birthday five years ago ‘to encourage women of all ages to ditch those crazy notions of ‘age appropriate’ dressing.’

She adds: ‘So wear those leather trousers, mix those animal prints and put on your pink sequins if you want to – life’s too short not to have fun with what you wear!’

And never let something like bladder weakness stop you wearing the things you love. 

From: Good Housekeeping UK

Photo: iStock/kupicoo

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