If you’re an appreciator of personal style, do yourself a favor and check out the documentary “Advanced Style.” This film, inspired by Ari Seth Cohen’s blog of the same name, follows seven fashionistas over the age of 60 who challenge the conventional expectations of what style is or should be for a mature woman.
The women in “Advanced Style” are often witnessed wearing avant-garde ensembles, but it got me thinking about the mature women that I encounter as a personal style coach. The question “What is age appropriate style?” comes up with almost every client I meet. Whether it’s a woman who’s in her early 30s who feels she needs her style to become more mature or someone 80 years old who wants to feel special and stylish again, women are asking themselves “how do I dress for my age?” To answer this question, I’ll introduce you to two women I’ve worked with. Each of them has taken her own journey in finding and embracing a unique style.
Teresa Cozzetti, a 57-year-old flight nurse, had always had a difficult time finding clothing that fit and flattered her petite stature, large chest and straight torso. And she spent so much time in her flight suit that she wanted a signature style for every day. “I have this great life, so if I can feel good in what I’m wearing, it’s icing on the cake,” she says.
So with a long list of style elements she didn’t like (dresses or skirts, shorts, zippers, buttons, pattern, structure or anything with a collar), we moved on to exploring what she’s really drawn to, which included modern clean lines, minimalist silhouettes and accessories. Teresa loves jewelry. Being crafty herself, she found inspiration in architectural pieces that told a story whether it was of the artist, design or her own adventure in acquiring the piece.
What Teresa learned was that she could cultivate clean lines and a minimalist look while still wearing pieces that have interesting shapes and color. She also discovered that no matter what your age, you can wear trendy combinations such as leggings with boots if you choose pieces that flatter your body type. Her advice for women looking to find their personal style is “embrace your figure and don’t hide in your clothing.”
Next meet Ursula Irwin. Ursula’s personal style has not only evolved over the span of her life, but also over the course of her career. When she was an English professor her clothing was romantic and artistic. Her style evolved into a sea of black pants and suit dresses when her career took a more executive turn as she became a college dean and administrator. Now at the age of 68, she says she’s “earned the right to be casual.” In other words, she can dress how she’d like to dress, not how her work environment dictates.
Together, we discovered that Ursula likes pieces that are “unfussy” but not boring. She likes a little edge to her look and is willing to be unconventional: “I don’t have to follow the rules anymore,” she says. Ursula describes herself as “drawn to eccentricities,” so she chooses pieces that have some personality and texture to them, then pairs them with shoes and accessories that make a statement.
Ursula suggests that women who want to refine their personal style take a good, hard look at the clothes in their wardrobes and ask if they represent who you really are. “Then go visit shops that have clothes that are stylish and different and just try something on.” You may be surprised with how well it fits and how good you look.
It doesn’t matter when you get there, or how you get there. Like Teresa and Ursula you stop feeling like you have to follow the rules and instead choose to dress the way you want your life to be represented. There is no expiration date on a having personal style.