You know those articles that tell you what you should wear in your 20’s, 30’s, 40’s and 50’s? I hate those. The underlying premise is that there are certain items that you should be wearing at specific times in your life, and that you should stick to ‘age appropriate’ styles. And to that, I say complete and total hogwash (or another appropriate expletive). Style has nothing to do with age – it has to do with what you like and the image you want to present to the world. It has to do with how you express yourself and what kind of impression you’d like to make. It has to do with your priorities at any given time and how those translate into your closet. And the best thing about ignoring these ‘age rules’? You don’t need a new wardrobe for every decade of your life.
When I work with clients, I like to build wardrobes that are essentially ‘ageless’. They are comprised of pieces that you can use until they wear out, that will function not only for various aspects of your life, but for years - no matter what age milestone you hit! And whether I’m working with a 30 year old who’s about to get married, a 42 year old balancing family and work responsibilities, or a 55 year old at the pinnacle of her career, there are things that I consistently recommend that are versatile, appropriate and blend seamlessly into your style.
A NEUTRAL BLAZER
A solid, neutral blazer is probably much more versatile than you know. You may be thinking, “Really, Paul – I don’t need to dress up for work. So, when would I wear a blazer?” But in actuality, a blazer is more than a professional workplace essential. Yes, it’s totally appropriate (and sometimes necessary) for interviews or a big presentation, but what about when you want to dress up a t-shirt and jeans? Or how about when you need something to tame the overt femininity of a flowy dress? Or what about the times when it’s too warm for a piece of heavy outerwear, but it’s too cool for a light cardigan? A blazer adds instant polish to a casual look and finishes off a simple top and pants like nothing else can.
If you’re looking for the ideal blazer to take you from now through summer (and into early fall), click here to see what I suggest and three ways to wear it.
A DENIM JACKET
So, you’re already sold on a blazer as the ideal item to dress up your look – but what should you wear when you want to ‘dress down’? A denim jacket, that’s what! I recommend a denim jacket for any time when you want to tone down the formality of your look. It’s the ideal piece to make a structured dress or sleek pants outfit feel less ‘buttoned-up’, so it’s excellent for when you need a jacket, but want to be a little less dressy.
A denim jacket is also the perfect third piece when you can’t figure out which jacket to pick. It’s the uber-versatile ‘I don’t know what to wear’ outfit completer – and if you find the right one, it flatters your shape at the same time that it adds some casual cool. Check this out if you’d like to see how I style denim jackets for my clients (along with tips on how to select the right one).
I walk into so many clients’ closets and encounter a wide array of blouses, sweaters and t-shirts, but they’re all in solid colors. So I’ll ask, “where’s the print?” And occasionally I’ll work with a client who says that she doesn’t wear prints – but I can usually slide a few into her wardrobe in a way that’s comfortable for her.
The amazing thing about printed tops is that they add necessary spice to otherwise simple looks. Think about an outfit made up of blue jeans, a navy blazer and white blouse. Straightforward and versatile, but a little boring, right? But think of that same outfit with a dot print top. Or a boldly striped sweater. Or a subtle floral blouse. It’s much more interesting and it says something about the person wearing it. And the good news is that you can usually get print tops at ‘cheap and cheerful’ prices – so, even though you need a range of these to add fun and dimension to your wardrobe, you don’t need to break the bank to find them.
Jeans are the mainstay of many modern wardrobes, so it pays to have a pair (or several) that make you feel amazing. You know the ones, right? The jeans that feel comfortable but lift your butt at the same time. The jeans that hug your curves in all the right ways. The dark blue jeans that seem to go with any top and jacket.
Some may say that once you reach a certain age, jeans aren’t practical in your wardrobe. But I completely disagree – it’s all about the fit and the attitude. And no matter how old you are, you always deserve clothes that fit and you can express a little attitude!
As much have jeans have become the ubiquitous bottom in everyone’s wardrobe, they’re not the only pants. Because there are occasions in your life when jeans just won’t cut it – like a job interview when you’re not sure how casual/dressy the environment is. Or on a date night when you’d like to wear something different from your every day. Or when you don’t want to wear a dress to a cocktail party and a pair of stylish black pants would be perfect.
So, as much as you’re tempted to fill your bottoms wardrobe with just jeans, it pays to have other options. A few things that will always be useful are ankle pants (that you can wear with flats or heels), a classic black pant (that you can dress up as needed) and lightweight summer pants (for when jeans are too hot, but you don’t want to wear shorts).
A VERSATILE DRESS
Yes, even for my clients who rarely wear a dress, there are occasions where it just makes sense. But if you’re going to add one to your wardrobe, make sure it’s one that you can dress up/dress down, that can go from office to date night to a school function with a change of jacket and accessories.
The most chameleon-like dresses are solid ones in simple silhouettes – they’re essentially the ‘blank slate’ of your look, and then how you build the rest of your outfit depends on the setting and your preference. If you’re curious how to take a solid dress from work to weekend, read this blog article for an example - plus ideas on how to transition two other styles from your Monday-Friday grind to your Saturday/Sunday style.
When I’m creating clients’ outfits for every day running around or casual office environments, I’ll often go for their metallic flats as the shoe that goes with everything – and here’s why. Metallics are just like sparkly neutrals – gold is basically metallic beige and silver is metallic grey. But when you add the shine factor, you have a shoe that easily pairs with multitudes of outfits and adds a little glitz and glam to whatever you wear it with. How can you integrate other metallics into your accessory wardrobe? Click here to find out.
A QUALITY BAG
The bag you carry says as much about you as the rest of your outfit – and it’s one place in your wardrobe where you should definitely buy the best quality you can afford. After all – most women carry the same bag around 90% of the time, so you’ll need one that’s versatile from a style perspective, but also wears very well since it gets daily use.
A STANDOUT ACCESSORY
When many of my clients think about building a wardrobe, they focus on tops, pants, jackets, sweaters, dresses, etc. – and sometimes forget about the accessories. And then they wonder why they never feel fully pulled together. (Read this for my best tips on feeling pulled together.)
Accessories are key in completing your outfits, and the right ones can take a plain look from so-so all the way to stellar. So, it pays to have a few accessories in your wardrobe that turn heads, or at minimum stand out from the rest of your look. If you’re daring, wear a necklace that always starts a conversation. If you’re willing to try, pick a scarf in a bold print that you can build your outfit around. And if you’re hesitant, simply go for a shoe in a pop color that works with most of your wardrobe. The main point is selecting an item that makes a statement in relation to the rest of your outfit – think of it as the ‘star’ of your look, and the rest of the pieces as the just-as-important supporting cast.
A STATEMENT PIECE
And while we’re on the topic of items that stand out – no matter how old you are, you should have something in your wardrobe that says, “this is me!” Something that you undeniably love and feel amazing in, every time you put it on. And I’m not saying that this has to be specifically loud or bold or attention-getting. Yes, it can be the colorfully embroidered jacket that you got on vacation, or it can be the bright yellow heels that channel your inner fashionista. And it can also be the well-cut black leather jacket that fits like a glove, that works with any outfit and makes you feel powerful during the day and sexy at night.
But whatever statement piece you choose, make it one that feels completely and totally ‘you’.
How many of these 10 ageless styles do you already have in your closet? If you’re ready to create a wardrobe that makes you feel and look amazing, click here to read about my services and then contact me to schedule a free phone call to discuss how we can work together.