Style is a choice

Different people have different ideas about what style is. Which is perfectly understandable. At it’s most basic it is how you ‘present’ yourself when you go out in the world. Some people say they don’t care what they look like. I’m not sure I would agree. If you are happy with how you look you are more likely to feel confident which in turn helps with your self esteem. Some people say it’s not important. Well, compared to family, friends and health it isn’t. How you look does matter because it can affect your mood and it does send an unspoken message to others. We tend to judge by appearance, often getting it woefully wrong. But we still do.

jck print pants

Chic and flattering 

The above outfit is, essentially, a simple T-Shirt, print pants and a fitted jacket. Virtually any woman could wear this. It is not over-the-top but it is modern.

When I talk to style clients I’m often surprised at the emotional aspect to choosing clothes. When women rejuvenate their style the first thing I notice is the sheer delight and pleasure this brings. Sometimes this comes as a surprise to them! What tends to get in the way is being concerned about what others think. Dress to please yourself. If your partner, family, children and relatives aren’t supportive – and may even be dismissive – that’s their concern.

If you want to rejuvenate your style you need first to make the decision to do so. The key (if there is one!) is to look modern and avoid that dreaded style error so many older women make of not wanting to stand out. So, they either wear what they have worn since they were in their thirties, thereby dating their overall look, or believe that they shouldn’t wear anything ‘too’ modern or they will look like “mutton dressed as lamb”. Stop apologising for yourself. You have earned the right to look your best.

fashion star!

Confidence and style

I think the woman in the above image looks incredible. Would I wear this outfit? No, because the jacket it too short and would draw attention to my boobs and the overall look is too busy for me. Personally I think she would look better with a longer jacket. The image below is again about confidence but the style of this woman is less flamboyant.

black shawl with orange

Comfortable in her skin

italian older woman

Italian older woman

I think the Italians are starting to overtake the French when it comes to style. I love Italian cities not only for the architecture, food and general energy, but also for the people watching. The amount of stylish older people is fabulous to see.

blk and animal print

Simplicity

pants and lacy shirt

Contemporary

Style is a very personal thing. I believe that as we get older we owe it to ourselves to look our best. This can be jeans and a T Shirt or a floral dress. Style is a choice. Not caring what you look like is also a choice.

The art of accessorising

If you’re a bit bored with a certain outfit or garment one way to ring the changes is through accessories. It’s always a cost effective way of cheering yourself up when you want something new to wear but your budget won’t stretch to that lovely top you keep looking at!

with wht shirthermes on wht t shirt

A patterned scarf with a white top looks very stylish

In this post I’m not going to talk about handbags I’m going to look at jewellery and scarves. Never before has there been such a good choice in costume jewellery. I’m lucky, in the small town where I live, there is an independently owned accessories shop and over the years I’ve found some real gems. Of all the department stores Debenhams and House of Fraser seem to consistently have the best selections.

silver earringblack metal feather earring

Discreet or more flamboyant?

A really neat pair of earrings looks very feminine and can ‘finish’ an outfit. The black feather earrings look sophisticated and could be worn with a simple block colour dress or a more formal work outfit. Yes, really! If you have read one of my previous posts about simple steps to being stylish you will remember that a little element of surprise and contrast is stylish and makes you look as if you have made an effort. You don’t want to look like everyone else, do you.

metal broochswirl metal brooch

Brooches – the most under-used accessory

Wearing a brooch may remind you of your Grandmother or favourite Aunt, however, brooches can make a real impact on plain outfits. Visit vintage fairs where you can pick them up for anywhere between £5 and £30. I have a large diamante brooch which I wear with my denim jacket. In the 2 images above imagine there were no accessories. The outfits would not be remarkable in any way.

Most women will wear a necklace and a pair of earrings but there are still women who tend not to wear bracelets. This is a pity as there are so many three quarter length sleeves around and bracelets can balance this.

bracelet with red tasslesilver squiggle bangle

Casual or more sophisticated? It’s up to you.

When you accessorise you need to take into account the size and placement of the jewellery. The larger the piece the more likelihood of the eye being drawn to that area of your body. For example, the bracelets put onto chain is a novel way to give depth to a plain white top. I wouldn’t wear that as it would draw attention to my boobs! The last thing I want. I would wear the wood and brass necklaces especially with a severe round neck.

bracelets on chainwood and cord necklace

Can older women wear leggings?

This is a question I’m frequently asked and I noticed recently in another style blog the same question being asked. I have no problem with leggings per se and I do wear them myself. You’re sensing a ‘but’ here aren’t you? Well here’s the ‘but’. If you are an older woman you need to make sure what you are wearing with the leggings is stylish and looks good. Too many woman wear leggings because they are easy and comfortable. Nothing the matter with that, however, if you give little thought to the rest of your outfit you may end up looking sloppy, or even worse, frumpy. You’ll look as if you have made little effort.

 

shirt with leggings

Effortless yet well put together

The cardinal sin with regard to wearing leggings (except at the gym) is to keep your bottom covered. I live in a market town and we have a great mix of people in the area. Unfortunately there are some women with large bottoms who clearly have no knowledge of this ‘no no’! Even if your bottom is not large if your top doesn’t cover it you will simply look as if you have forgotten to put your skirt on! Please take note.

with white shirt

Casual summer look – great for holidays

A loose long shirt, or shirt dress, looks good with leggings as the proportions work and balance the outfit. Make sure the top is not too baggy as this will not be flattering, particularly if you are petite.

with silk tunic

Silk Tunic 

Not only the cut but also the fabric worn on top will help to determine how casual, or otherwise, you wish to look. This will depend on what you are doing and where you are going. The silk in the tunic above immediately elevates the leggings.

shirt dress

This could be worn by any age group

bright top and sandals

Easy to wear

Leggings are versatile and they don’t need to cost the earth. In winter (sorry to mention it!) they team well with ankle or knee length boots and look good with chunky knitwear.

50 Shades

french manicure

French Manicure

Your hands are always on show and one of the best ways of looking well put together is to have manicured nails with a complimentary shade of nail varnish. My favourite for daytime is a French Manicure. Needless to say it doesn’t happen often as I have to get a professional to do it.

If your budget doesn’t run to regular professional manicures then make sure you nails are kept reasonably short and well filed. There are so many shades of nail varnish on the market making a choice can be difficult. Pale or dark? Pink or blue?

chanel nail polish

Brilliant summer colour

I am a big fan of Chanel nail varnish. They always have a great range of colours and the varnish lasts – unlike some of the cheaper brands. Orange and corals look really good in the summer and combine easily with other colours.

chanel pink may

Chanel – ‘May’

If you are a bit of a traditionalist then a soft but bright pink will work for you. Or you may want something with more zing as in the colour below.

chanel tentation polish

Chanel – ‘Tentation’

Because there is often a tendency to wear lighter, brighter colours in the summer the introduction of darker, deeper polishes can have real impact.

marc jacobs grey

Very stylish!

nars mint polish

Would look just as good on toes

nails inc porchester square

Versatile and modern

Whatever colour you choose please ensure you use a good quality hand cream and ALWAYS remove chipped varnish. You do don’t you?

Simple is often best

If you want to rejuvenate your style and have a wardrobe that works for you, then you can’t go wrong with black and white. It is timeless, classy and rarely looks cheap. You can ring the changes with accessories to keep your look fresh. If you want a splash of colour then add jewellery or a scarf.

t shirt and crops finery

Simple T-shirt and pants from Finery

blk long top wht jeans

Great holiday look

Both of the above outfits are simple yet effective. Wear long or three quarter sleeves if you feel more comfortable.

pleated trousers zara

 

Relaxed evening look from Zara

evening look classy

Very stylish & upmarket

Perhaps it’s just me but I do think the above outfit is far more chic than rows of frills in a garish colour.

long white top

Casual and easy

Unless you are very short this would be an informal look for summer and YES you can wear trainers. It’s official!

white nike

Nike – worth every penny

white jumpsuit sneakers

Plain yet poised

If the above outfit is too plain for you add a scarf or piece of colourful jewellery. Personally I would have had a more neutral bag as the one above looks too business like.

The benefits of black and white are versatility and cost. Very colourful busy prints can often look cheap. More Primark than Prada!

Bags of choice

tan tote

Classic tan tote – great with black, white & navy

Whether you are a bagoholic or not every women needs something to carry around all her ‘stuff’ in. There is so much choice sometimes it can take ages to actually decide. Do you go for lots of cheaper bags or do you want that fabulous designer bag you know you’ll love wearing for years. That’s up to you – and of course your budget!

Prada white tote

Prada white tote – lovely but totally impractical!

Black work

Serviceable work bag

suede tote mustard

Suede tote casual & good with most colours

Is it possible to have a bag that takes you from day to evening? Really that’s up to the evening in question. If you are going out to supper with friends or a quick drink after work then possibly it is. All the above bags would work for an informal evening. What about a’posh’ evening or Ladies Day at the races?

Pink occasion

Definitely an ‘occasion’ bag 

Blk silk clutch

Silk clutch

This is a truly elegant bag and one that would compliment a dress or chic  trouser suit. Very French.

clutch animal with tasel

Animal skin with tassel

I love the ‘idea’ of a clutch bag – so much more freeing than a large leather tote. However, as I have a tendency to carry everything but the kitchen sink they don’t work for me.

Dark beige

All round practical bag

Personally I would go for the tan tote or the bag above. They are good colours for me and offer the opportunity to carry all those items I can’t seem to do without.

More body hang-ups

Having looked earlier this week at boobs, stomachs & bottoms the other potentially troublesome body areas are length of legs, hips, arms and your torso. I wonder if men go through this process? They don’t seem to in the UK!

Short legs

Many women seem to think their legs are too short, and whether this true or not, there is a sure fire style tip to give the ‘appearance’ of longer legs.

classic navy

Continuous colour from head to foot

cont col long legs

Same approach with trousers

The key to creating longer looking legs is to have a continuous sweep of colour with no obvious distractions. If your legs are on the short side then avoid wearing ankle strap shoes with dresses or skirts. Why? The visual effect will be to ‘cut’ the length of your legs. If you also have thick ankles this will be compounded.

Smaller hips

Many women feel their hips are too big. Again, the key is to create a visual balance. Avoid pencil skirts, skin tight jeans and slant pockets on trousers as they will emphasise the size of your hips. If you wear jeans go for flares to create balance and take the attention away from your hips.

NYDJ blue

Flared jeans

a line print

Yes – you can wear prints!

 Italian linen dress

Linen dress over leggings

The above outfit skims over the hips and if you don’t like to bare your legs then leggings are the obvious choice.

Longer torso

There are 2 approaches to creating the illusion that your torso is longer than it is. The first is to wear lower rise pants or jeans and a higher neck top. Thus you have created length. However if you have a thick waist or a substantial tummy you will not look good in low rise pants.

wht shirt

Works on fairly slim torso

classic long torso

This coat creates length

Coats or knitted long jackets elongate your torso. Make sure you avoid too obvious patterns and stick to one colour.

tunic longer torso

More flattering on older women

This creates a good balance and the scarf draws the eye away from the body.

Shorter torso

If you have the opposite concern then  you need to visually ‘break-up’ the torso. Women with long bodies can often have shorter legs so it is best to avoid cropped pants especially if they are wide. The key here is a cropped top – ending above your natural waist line. If you are older then layering can work very well. You could also try a wide belt – if your waist can take it!

dk blue with casual look

Layering tends to shorten the body

jacket and jeans

Cropped jacket breaks up body length

blue with striped top SS

Horizontal stripes shorten

full blk

Full skirt takes attention away from top half

Slim arms

For years I had slim toned arms. I liked my arms! Now they have thickened and have lost muscle tone. I know I’m not alone in this but the thing is I’m living with my arms not yours! The solution is to go for three-quarter length sleeves. They look elegant and certainly take away attention from the top of your arms.

dvf wrap navy

DVF wrap dress

sleeveless jacket

Totally elegant

I seriously doubt if any woman has a ‘perfectly’ proportioned body. Whatever that is! Get to know your body shape and those areas that you want to emphasise or minimise. Work with what you have and you’ll always look good. Remember, style rejuvenation is all about being the best ‘you’.

Body Hang-ups

It’s difficult to feel really confident if there is an area (or areas!) of your body you are less than happy with. Your shape and your size have nothing to do with being stylish. Anyone, regardless of age or body shape, can look good. Easy to say and yet if we do feel ‘challenged’ by our body shape then it can become an issue.

Here are some style tips which will help. There are 9 body areas that can cause concern. I’ll deal with 4 today and the remaining 5 later in the week.

Big Bust

I’ve started with this as I have, in proportion to the rest of my body, big boobs. I’m 5 feet 4 inches and size 10-12. They have been the bane of my life. When I was 13 I had the biggest boobs of anyone in my class and I did my best to hide them. This has resulted in my less than perfect posture due to stooping and trying to ‘conceal’ them. It did NOT  help when well-meaning family members told me I should be “proud of them”. What a totally ridiculous thing to say. Had my boobs conquered Everest? Had they achieved the Nobel Peace Prize? However, there was no getting away from them! Over the years I have learned that the best way to minimise them was that good old stand-by the V-neck.

Satin v-neck

Perfect for generous boobs

navy blue v neck

Classic navy sweater

If you have big boobs and would rather not draw attention to them then avoid frills around the bust and high neck tight sweaters or tops.

Stomach area

If you want to give the impression of a flatter tummy, and women often do, a draped or wrap dress works very well and can also create the illusion of a smaller waist.

turq silk wrap

The front tie is very flattering

deep blue long slv draped

Excellent for large tummies

print wrap

Very figure defining without bulk

Any of the dresses above would flatter and add definition to your figure.

Large Bottom

Although Beyonce and the Kardashians seem to have a love affair with their extremely prominent rear ends, many women feel this is a body area they do not want to draw attention to. So if you would like the appearance of a smaller bottom then wide leg trousers and full skirts will help. It’s really all about proportion. Wide leg trousers balance the width of the bottom as do full skirts. If your bottom is large avoid pencil skirts and skinny jeans.

wide leg pants

Classic black trousers

print flared

The style and print work very well

Small Boobs

Oh how I wish this was an issue for me! If you have small boobs you can easily add some size by wearing tops that have frills or other embellishment.

embellished blouse

Beautifully feminine

neutral silk pleats

I love this – but not on me!

So – boobs, bottoms and tummies can require some thought when choosing outfits that flatter. We will look at legs, arms and your torso in my next post.

Hidden Gems

Quite by chance, when staying with a friend, I encountered a fabulous independent fashion retailer. The business, called Nero e Bianco, which is based in Sutton Coldfield, offers the two key ingredients essential for success. Absolutely lovely clothes (sourced in Italy – where else!) and  service delivered with passion and professionalism.

nero bianco shop

Impossible to walk past

The owner, Jill Hartley, spent some time talking time about her business journey and the philosophy behind it. The business was launched in June 2015 when the shop was opened in Sutton Coldfield quickly followed by the opening, in October that same year, of a shop in Bleper, and has had remarkable success. She loves style and one look at the fabulous clothes on the rails confirms her expertise.  In her own words she wants to, “Make the everyday woman feel fabulous in clothes and spend time giving a good service”. Jill comes from a nursing background and spent many years working with women who were experiencing a range of challenges, including self esteem issues. It is this background that she ascribes to her ability to build a relationship with her clients and provide a personal touch. Jill recognises that there is an emotional component to how women feel and look and sums it up by saying that shopping is more than simply buying clothes. I couldn’t agree more.

neiro bianco interior

My idea of heaven

The business, which includes 3 shops (and a fourth on the way) offers very chic, stylish casual and occasion wear. You can be sure you won’t find clothes like these on the High Street. Jill is now also stocking Italian menswear. She works with like-minded suppliers and she believes this has given her business a great foundation. Jill is surprisingly calm and modest about her journey into the business world.

If you are in the area pay a visit to Nero e Bianco. It may just change the way you shop! I freely admit that clothes are my passion but so many clothes shopping experiences fall short of the mark.

Sunshine Therapy – Step Three

Having prepared and then applied your tanning products there are some simple steps to help maintain your tan. The first thing to do is the make sure you keep your skin well hydrated by using a good quality body moisturiser, preferable tinted. This will avoid any patchiness and dry areas of skin.

Avoid too hot showers or baths. A fabulous product from Temple Spa called Goldentini, which is a body oil and glaze, provides radiance and sheen and light colour (£25 for 50 ml). This is a remarkable product which is simplicity itself to apply and you only need a small amount.

goldentini

Goldentini – body oil & glaze

 

On your face use a tinted bronzer or if you want an instant glow, use Temple Spa’s, Lovely Day ( £25 for 30 ml), which is a tinted bronzing gel. By following these steps not only are you maintaining your tan but you are also caring for your skin.

golden day

Lovely Day – immediate response bronzing gel

So – Prepare, Apply and Maintain. Sunshine therapy in 3 easy steps!