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Some would argue that dressing should not be dictated by your date of birth. But  judging from the many  emails I receive from women who suddenly find themselves in a fashion crisis, there is definitely a transition that takes place and shouldn’t be ignored (unless you’re a Vivian Westwood kind of girl!)

 

It can be really unnerving when suddenly all your go-to favourite shops no longer seem right but you don’t quite know why. And as I too approach my 39th year, I can totally relate! In a sense, we do need to learn a whole new ‘dress code’, but it actually isn’t nearly as hard as it may seem.

The key is to keep things toned down, simple and subtle.  So dressing in your 40s (and beyond) is actually very liberating!  If you focus on what really suits your colouring and bodyshape and take your eyes off the fashion world (which let’s face it, completely ignores older women), you should find that how you look and feel is actually the most confident you’ve ever been!

 So here goes, my top style tips for 40 and beyond, and I hope you find them helpful…

 

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1. Know what suits you and stick to it…

 

You’ll always feel good if you understand what styles of clothing look good on you and stick to them. Ignore fashion trends and invest in classic, great fitting, pared down pieces that you can mix and match with other less expensive items. You’ll never regret investing in something if the colour and fit is fab on you.

2. Invest in your underwear… 

 

avero_cafe_latte_high_res Get yourself fitted by a professional and try a wide range of brands so you can find the best fit. Always check what the bra looks like with a top over it – you should never see any lumps or bumps!  If you only invest in one expensive bra, make it  a nude, moulded and seamless one so it will work under everything.

You can also get a lot of help for your tummy, hips and thighs by wearing control vests or pants (M&S do a good range). Nowdays they are designed to be more comfortable so you can wear them every day, not just for special occasions.

One of my favourite brands for a bra is Marie Jo  (left) – amazing styles and really pretty even if you’re on the larger side! Also try Prima Donna.

 

 

 

 

 3. Invest in good tailoring, especially a jacket or blazer…

 

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No 1. on my list is a great fitting blazer or jacket which can transform your outfit from plain or shabby, to chic in an instant. Good tailoring is more important as you get older because you’re not quite as toned and often need a bit of help from well structured clothing. Try and add pieces each season if you’re on a budget; a great pair of trousers to dress up or down, a go anywhere fabulous dress that again, can be dressed up but equally, worn in the day with different accessories. Try  Hobbs, Jigsaw, Me & Em, Cos and Jaeger for great quality that doesn’t cost the earth.

 

4. Pay attention to the quality of fabrics…

 

Cheap synthetic materials don’t seem to work as we get older. Fact. Natural fabrics are much more flattering.  You may find that shiny and really bright colours also start to look a bit harsh on you. Lots of women start to soften in their colouring and look better in softer colours and fabrics. This doesn’t mean you can’t wear vibrant colour – just look for it in natural and soft materials so the ‘edge’ is taken off.  So if you can aim to up the quality of your clothing but have less items in you’re wardrobe as a result, you’re heading in the right direction.

 

 

5. Lose the spaghetti straps, plunging necklines and short skirts…

 

 If you have good shoulders and medium_Dancing_Leo_AW_2014_0817021006666_2646065707_1-3arms you’ll be able to show these off, but I think that less flesh on show is generally more sophisticated! Three Quarter length sleeve tops, dresses and jackets always look really flattering, so try these. If it’s hot weather you’re worried about, simply choose lighter fabrics like silk or linen. Also look for interesting necklines and keep the emphasis on this rather than your arms or cleavage!  Shorter skirts and dresses are fine if you’re wearing tights in the winter, but otherwise stick to just on or above the knee. Shirt dresses can be a great option. Obviously when you’re on holiday you can let it all hang out, but this is one style rule you can definitely be relieved about – no pressure to bare all and more sophisticated all in one step!

 

6. Flat shoes don’t have to be boring…

 

I am wearing heels less and less. At first I felt genuinely sad about this as I have always felt more confident when wearing heels, but recently I’ve been embracing the alternatives and having lots of fun. First off, if you really need heels in your life but want comfort I can highly recommend Hobbs – I can wear their Lizzie Nude courts all day . Classic wedge heeled shoes are also a great option for work or smart occasions – you can find these anywhere.

But I think flat or low heeled shoes can add real drama and fun to an outfit and are a great place to express yourself, especially if you feel you are toning everything else down a bit. I love my patent pewter brogue shoes which I wear whenever I want to give my otherwise plain or classic outfit the’ wow factor’. And for evenings out or a bit of glamour, I might choose a jewelled flat sandal. Be bold and try some new styles you may never have even considered before…

 

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7. Buy a great shirt or tailored blouse…

 

A beautifully fitted shirt or blouse can be a wardrobe wonder. Wear it alone with accessories or images-138layer it under a sweater or jacket.  When shopping with a client I always guide them towards a light neutral depending on their skin tone so it can be worn a multiple of ways. If you can stretch to a silk shirt, you won’t regret it. (Check out Equipment, Whistles and Comptoirs des Cotonniers). Look for a curved hemline  which is much more flattering on the hips and tummy and ensure it has some structure with seam detailing.

 

 

8. Proportion is key to a good outfit.

 

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Balance and proportion become more important as we get older. Understand whether you look better in slightly loose and flowing tops with well fitted and tapered trouser/skirts, or in wider legged trousers and A-line shaped skirts with something fitted up top. Once you’re confident in what works, stick to the formula.

 

 

9. Avoid fussy detailing.

 

This includes bows, ruffles, frills and decorative sparkle. It can all make you look old!  Instead, stick to plain block colour or simple prints, and use sharp accessories to bring in the glamour or interest.

 

 

10. Treat yourself & Get your clothes pressed…

 

Nothing beats a perfectly pressed shirt fresh from the dry cleaners. If you treat yourself to one thing this week, make it a trip to your local dry cleaner. When there’s more emphasis on clean and simple lines, your tailored pieces often look their best once they’ve been cleaned and pressed professionally. You’ll love the difference this makes to how your clothes look and feel. A small luxury I think, all things considered…