My friend Marj and I were having lunch on Sunday. We got to talking about style for wise, wonderful ladies in the vicinity of “our” age. Marj expressed her dismay with clothes that are in stores these days. “How’s a woman to dress when the choices aren’t out there?” she said.
Marj was on a roll. I pulled out my notebook and started taking notes.
You weren’t able to read my notes? Let me translate.
What do I want to wear?
How do I want to feel?
Nothing excites me anymore.
I don’t know what I’m supposed to look like anymore.
What are the basic clothes for me anymore?
You’ve probably had questions like that yourself.
You have to know Marj loves clothes and I love Marj. I wanted to give her words of wisdom that might make her feel better. But what were those words? I decided not to address her exactly but to share with her some of the things I do with my clients to modernize their wardrobes. I started jotting ideas down as we drank our coffees. Here’s what was on my list.
Look for high tech fabrics. Modern fabrics help women look modern. That’s why it’s important to update basics. Basic clothes in newer fabrics look sharper.
Updating shoes are a must. Even if you go to the shoe store and feel disgusted by what you see, make yourself sit down and try new styles. One client last year got into a fashion forward shoe and it not only changed her wardrobe, it changed her life! I couldn’t have predicted how the purchase of this one item gave her such an emotional and stylish lift.
Always adhere to the 50/50 rule. Within one outfit, be sure one of the items is following the outline of your shape. The other item can be more flowy, but only if there’s definition somewhere else.
Create an edge. Women “our” age need definition. There are catalogs out there for older women and they are filled with images of loose, flowy pieces. I’ve admired some of the looks myself, but I’d always want to introduce some edge to prevent all that softness from looking droopy, saggy, or shapeless. An edge can come from a collar, a lean pant with stretch, or a strong piece of jewelry.
Have a clear focal point. Your finished outfit should always have something in it that directs us immediately to the face.
Women want comfort clothes. I get that. But comfort can come with clothes that have body and oomph to them (again, not shapeless). You can be comfortable without losing sight of your shape.
How lunch turned into a girlfriend shopping experience at Chico’s
After lunch Marj asked if we could stop at Chico’s. Sure! I said to her, “Would you like me to show you some of the modernizing ideas we were talking about earlier?” She said yes.
As I started creating outfits for her, the clothes started talking to me. I was trying to be sensitive to what I know Marj has been comfortable in but I knew it was important to push those boundaries. Otherwise she’d just go home with what she’s always had and not something new, refreshing, and liberating. I wanted to be diplomatic but at the same time challenge her because that’s what the clothes were telling me to do!
I saw immediately how a blouse with a collar framed her face and brought strength to her look. “I don’t wear shirts with collars much at all,” she said. Duly noted, but I pursued my hunch.
Marj has always dressed in a pretty, soft, gentle way. What I was seeing with each new outfit was Marj 2.0. Strength, leadership, dynamism.
I started to see Dynamic Marj, Powerful Marj. I saw the part of her that is a natural leader. She truly is a champion and advocate for women. I could see her claiming that leadership role. With each outfit I saw her claiming that role with gusto!
I checked in with her to be sure she was resonating with these looks. I wanted her to feel more like herself than she did earlier in the afternoon.
And she did. She started seeing it. Here’s what she said:
This is making me realize why I have been discontented with much of my wardrobe.
It’s like I was reaching for a change in my look but didn’t know what direction to go.
Your words really help.
I see myself in a different light. It’s a real eyeopener for me!
Marj’s dynamic-powerful-advocate-and-champion-for-women outfits
I love the drama of these long sweaters on Marj. I paired them with a column of navy blue underneath. That column shows strength. The column pieces are in fabrics with stretch. They are comfortable but they have definition. Nothing’s droopy or sloppy. She looks sharp!
I love the new denim pieces we added to her wardrobe. The bomber jacket is easy to wear and is on trend. I love her denim vest on the right. I like how the white blouse is long and the vest is long. They make a great team.
From Marj’s lips
I never would have thought about wearing a collared blouse but I like the way it frames my face.
I never would have thought of wearing a blouse with such strong colors and pattern but the more I look at myself in the Ikat blouse, the more I like it.
I really love the column of blue when I had on the blue pants and the blue blouse.
I have navy in my wardrobe but it’s darker. This navy blouse is a brighter blue and has more energy!
I love the long white blouse. It has pockets!
I had a long cashmere vest that I wore in the winter and loved but this denim vest will be great in the summer!
I love the idea of wearing a piece of statement jewelry, or a multiple strand necklace closer to my face inside the V of my shirt.
The key pieces that make up Marj’s new wardrobe
She got the So-Slimming Brigitte ankle pant (4-way stretch) in deep navy and dark butterscotch. I like how the center seam gives definition. Plus, she purchased the refined denim ankle pants with the contrasting topstitching down the center. They are more like a denim trouser than a jean.
She got three no-iron blouses: Ikat Scrolls Shirt, Navy Bartack shirt, White cotton shirt with pockets. The Ikat print blouse is powerful and looks just right on Marj. That was maybe the biggest surprise for her. The long white cotton blouse looks great under her long sweaters or the denim vest.
Two long cardigans: a striped belted cardigan (reminds me of a Missoni design) and a geometric color blocked cardigan (found this one on sale). These will work with multiple colors underneath them. I would always pair strong jewelry with them.
When I pulled this denim jacket for Marj she said, “I have a denim jacket at home.” I told her, “Your denim jacket at home is stiffer, bulkier and not as refined as this one is. Part of updating your basics is to look at new styles and new fabrics.” “I can see that,” Marj said. I paired it with the collared Ikat blouse.
Part of the math of this new look is to create a bridge from her strong hair color to her shoulders. I think she looks great when there’s framing around her face and strong jewels at her neck. It’s a stronger look for her strong hair coloring. The collar and the jewels are the bridge to the top of her head. Otherwise, if you squint, it can seem like her head sits on her shoulders but isn’t securely anchored. I love that brighter navy blue which is also a great balance with her hair color.
Marj is ready to lead us all into enjoying fashion and feeling great being ourselves. I’ll follow her anywhere!
Have you tried something on that was new to you and it unlocked a whole part of your personality that was ready to be expressed? Please share!