Stylish at any age

What does being age appropriate mean?

Stylish women shopping for clothes

As a fashion stylist, I get asked this question all the time, with women frequently telling me they want to be more stylish without entering into the much-feared ‘mutton-dressed-as-lamb’ territory.

In my experience, so many women are afraid of becoming ‘mutton’ that they lose sight of who they are and just become, well….. dare I say it, boring! (In the industry, we also call it being lost!)

So why is it when we reach a certain age we start to become so fearful of our clothing choices? Well, I think it is a series of rules that were trotted out to us by our mothers who heard it from their mothers, which very clearly stated that by the time you reached 40 you had to cut off your hair, fill your wardrobe with beige and never catch sight of your legs above mid calf again!

And woe betide you if you actually reached 60 because then you were expected to look and behave like a granny!

Luckily for us now, the fashion landscape has changed dramatically in the last 10 years and all these rules are utter rubbish and should be discarded with immediate effect.

If you want to avoid the ‘mutton’ tag, you just need to follow three simple rules and avoid:

  • wearing anything too tight
  • flashing too much flesh
  • overdoing your make up

And that’s it. Other than that you can wear whatever you like, but the most important advice I can give you is to make sure the styles you choose are right for your body proportions and your colouring (this applies whatever age you are).

A recent exercise I did with some women customers was to ask them to find one item in our shop that they thought would make them look too old and frumpy, plus one item that they thought was too young for them. And the results were so interesting! We learnt that every item (maybe with the exception of a micro mini and body con dress) could be styled to suit every age range, simply by changing the items it was worn with.

Breaking the style myths

Contemporary style is about smashing the preconceptions surrounding us about ‘age appropriate’ dressing and as modern, stylish women, we should be confident enough to give ourselves permission to stay looking fabulous… always.

So please don’t give up on colour, make-up or longer hair. Just make sure it is well groomed and in a modern style, don’t lose sight of what is current each season and try to bring at least one fashionable piece into your wardrobe to keep you looking modern, stylish and fresh.

I’m often asked how I would describe my own look and what sort of items I would recommend to stay on trend. I’d say that, as a 45 year old, I now go for classic pieces with an edgy twist. Every trend can be tailored to work for every age profile – a pencil leather skirt can look great at any age, just add a clean white shirt or soft cashmere jumper.

Coco Chanel said: “At 40 women used to exchange youth for elegance, poise and mysterious allure.” I love the sound of having some mysterious allure…

Top tips for staying stylish

  • Don’t forget your footwear. Keep it bang up to date to avoid looking frumpy
  • Introduce some colour to avoid being all beige. Team your colours with a luxurious palette of other neutrals and sumptuous fabrics
  • Invest in some gorgeous trendy glasses
  • Update your make up and hair colour regularly
  • Don’t be afraid to wear jeans
  • Wear the best underwear that you can afford
  • Take regular exercise and choose healthy food options
  • Read Grazia magazine
  • Go out with your friends
  • Laugh a lot!
Pippa Rees

About Pippa Rees

I’m a fashion stylist and joint owner of Stick & Ribbon, an independent boutique in the heart of Nottingham's city centre. As well as working with men & women to help them create their own unique style, I work within corporate organisations to help employees visually represent the brand values of the company they work for. I also regularly contributes to the national print media, radio and TV; and worked with 
Lorraine Kelly on LK Today to 'make-over' viewers re-entering the workplace. I recently appeared in 'The Secrets of Body Language' on Sky 1, to help job seekers create the right impression during the interview process. I’ve achieved Master Status with the International Federation of Image Consultants (IFIC) and am a co-founder of ASIP, the Association of Stylists & Image Professionals.

  • Deborah

    We love going to the events at Stick and Ribbon – always some great ideas and fun all round. Not to mention a nice glass of wine or two.

    More information about up and coming events are here:

  • Lynette

    What a wonderful post, Pippa! On my site, I’ve been discussing color in wardrobes in several posts. I completely agree with you about resisting the tendency to descend into beige as we mature!

    One thing I’d like to add is that shoes can become a problem as we become older: knees, arches, backs, hips, etc. can rebel. But there are more options for stylish (cushioned) shoes out there now. And, by the way, if you need to wear arch support inserts in your shoes, take them with you so you can make sure you get the size that will accommodate them comfortably.