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Having A Fashion Crisis In Middle Age?


Lifestyle Kuel Category Expert: Nina Anders

I think I was around 55 when I realized I was “middle age”.

This whole middle age thing seems a sliding scale. Some women think they are middle age at 35. To me, middle age was never about my actual age or about coming to some sort of middle point in my life. Middle age was a way of describing other people—older people. But not me.

“I began to wonder whether I might be too old for any of the outfits in the catalog..”

Catalog Of Styles:

The day I realized I was “middle age” I was looking at the cover of a catalog featuring a white halter-style sundress that I immediately fell in love with. As I began looking for the purchase details, I started wondering if I might be too old to wear a white eyelet. As I thumbed through the rest of the catalog, I began to wonder whether I might be too old for any of the outfits in the catalog. Maybe I had outgrown it, after all, the models looked to be in their thirties. Maybe the clothes were actually for younger women and I just hadn’t gotten the memo.

Where was a woman in her fifties supposed to shop, anyway? Are there specific kinds of clothing she is supposed to wear? And what about those rules? Aren’t they supposed to kick in at some point? And who enforces them? Would I be pulled over and receive a citation, or be the subject of a whispering campaign?

“There seemed to be this huge chasm between me and fashion and possibly even the whole world.”

High Fashion:

Who could I turn to for style inspiration? I realized that most of my favorite actors were no longer being shown in fashion magazines, in fact, I didn’t recognize any of the stars or models anymore. When I found older women in media, they were nondescript pleasant-looking women dressed in pastels selling assisted living facilities and prescription medications. High fashion featured the same three or four white-haired fashionistas well in their seventies a good ten to fifteen years to my senior.

There seemed to be this huge chasm between me and fashion and possibly even the whole world. I mean, people were talking about older women being invisible and irrelevant—and when I saw the recommended “mature woman outfits” on offer, well, I’m sure you can imagine my distress.

That innocent white sundress had thrown me into an identity crisis. And, no, I didn’t buy it. I did, however, begin to think about how I wanted to dress for my middle chapter. The truth is that a lot had changed and my wardrobe needed to catch up.

My Own Look As A Woman:

I edited my closet, and tried clothing from all sorts of stores, from American Eagle where my daughter worked for a summer and offered to help me find the perfect pair of jeans, to Chicos, J.Jill, and Soft Surroundings where women my age are “supposed to” shop.

In the end, I realized I needed to curate my own look, one that reflected who I am as a woman and my lifestyle. I had to find places to shop that weren’t too young or too old. I’d have to make my own decisions about hairstyles and makeup too. Best of all, I realized that I didn’t need to follow any rules, worry about whispering campaigns, or being invisible or irrelevant.

Perhaps you can relate to this dilemma. Perhaps you recognize that your life has changed, or you have, and now you want your clothing to reflect your inner transformation. Or, perhaps you are going through changes, and your clothing choices can help draw you through the transformation process. And, finally, perhaps you are wondering where to start. Well, my friend, I am here for you. Here is a mini prescription to get you started.

Create Your Own Style Assessment:

Put on one of your favorite outfits and have someone photograph you standing naturally, front and back. Ask yourself these questions:

Do your clothes fit and look good on you? Are they in good repair? What about the colors—do they make your eyes sparkle and your skin look bright? If the colors you wear bring out dark circles or make you look dull you are wearing the wrong colors. What about your hairstyle?  If you saw the woman in your photo on the street, what would you think about her? If you were her friend, what would you tell her about her look?

Now take a look through your closet and note the things you wear all the time. Think about why you keep wearing these items. Are they really great? Are they comfortable? And are you just too busy to figure out something else?

“What you choose to wear regularly and why you wear it can provide a lot of insight into your life and lifestyle.”

What You Choose To Wear:

When I did the exercise I noticed I wore jeans and workout clothes on the regular. The fact that I was wearing workout clothes and jeans all the time, highlighted the fact that I hadn’t worn a business suit in several years—but my closet was still full of them.

What you choose to wear regularly and why you wear it can provide a lot of insight into your life and lifestyle. For example, do you wear the same three or four things because the rest of your clothing is outdated or doesn’t fit you anymore? Or perhaps the clothing you have isn’t appropriate for your lifestyle anymore. Maybe you don’t know what to buy for yourself anymore—like me.

Here are a few areas we get stuck.

Hairstyle And Color:

Overly styled hair, perms, short cuts, and harsh bobs were once considered essential for the mature woman, but longer, softer styles are more modern. Try allowing your bangs to grow a bit, or try a center part.

When it comes to color, grey is very popular, as are mid-tone blonds or darker brunette shades. Brassy, over-processed blonds or dark black tend to be too harsh and aging. Updating your hairstyle and color will immediately make a difference.

Try New Makeup:

Makeup trends change from time to time—now might be a great time to try a few new techniques, and products. As we age, our skin tone and eye color soften. New colors may be in order. Learning new makeup application techniques and new products made to work with mature skin go a long way to updating your look to reflect the beautiful woman you are today. So often our hair and makeup are stuck in a time warp going back to a time we felt the most desirable—but those colors and techniques can really date a look—especially when the rest of your wardrobe is current.

“often older women are relegated to wearing watery pastels and neutrals when vibrant colors may actually suit them better..”

Have Your Colors Done:

Our skin tone, hair, and eye color begin to change as we age (as stated above). Now is a great time to reassess your color palette. Wearing the right colors does wonders and is a great way to look more vibrant. So often older women are relegated to wearing watery pastels and neutrals when vibrant colors may actually suit them better. We are all different, and finding your personal colors—the ones that make you look amazing is so important—when we look great, we feel great.

Adopt A Trend:

One of the signs of a fashion victim is the wearing of head-to-toe trends. Very little looks good head to toe. But if you have a strong basic wardrobe, why not spice it up by adding a few trend pieces to your wardrobe? Adding a trend or accent item to your outfit will give it a modern vibe no matter how old the other pieces in your outfit are.

Add Pieces Uniquely “You”:

Whether you love to channel your inner rocker chick, or you love vintage romance, adding something “uniquely you” to your wardrobe really personalizes your outfit, especially when working with a basic wardrobe. I have a few vintage and “signature” accessories that I love adding to an outfit—and many of my signature pieces have been floating around for many years, but always come through.

Nothing is more exhilarating than wearing a look that is authentic “you”. During our middle years we have time and often the income to play a little with fashion, and some time to consider whether our wardrobe suits the women we have become—or are becoming.

If you are looking for more transformation, this free worksheet (http://bit.ly/Fashionq) can help you get started.

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Nina Anders

About The Author:

As the dust from the divorce settled, Nina embarked on finding herself, reconnecting spiritually and mapping out a new future for herself. Seeing there was no real guidance for women in their fifties and beyond, Nina decided to start her award winning blog, Sharing A Journey, a life/style blog for women over 50. The blog covers fashion, beauty, and lifestyle topics for women looking to live their best lives during their middle years.

To follow along, or join in, you can follow Nina’s blog here www.sharingajourney.com, on Instagram @sharing_a_journey, Pinterest, Facebook and YouTube at sharingajourney. Sign on to the Sharing A Journey weekly newsletter and get Nina’s shopping tips here: http://bit.ly/Fashionq