Over the past year or so, I’ve noticed more and more pushback regarding ageism — especially in the marketing of women’s fashion. Many women over 50 love fashion, and, like Carrie Bradshaw, seem to find room in our budgets to pursue our interest. Some complain that there is nothing specifically “for” middle aged women, but that’s not really true—what they are actually talking about is marketing. We just don’t see women 50 and over in mainstream media.
How to Be a Fashion Icon at Any Age
How old we are has nothing to do with fashion or style because one’s style is a form of personal self expression. The truth is, we can shop anywhere we find clothes that inspire and wear what we like. These days, 50+ year old fashionistas are unapologetically doing their own thing and shop at all sorts of stores. We all should. It’s time we stop looking to Marketeers to call the shots, and take our personal style back into our own hands. It’s time to think about creating your own style.
I stopped reading “rule articles” after reading 50 Things A Woman Over 50 Shouldn’t Wear. As grown women, we may make a fashion faux pas every now and then, but we do know good taste when we see it, and I submit to you that the same rules outlined in these articles are applicable to women of all ages. In fact, when it comes to style, one’s age is completely irrelevant. And, frankly, I’m not sure why we are even talking about it—except for the fact that designers and advertisers rarely show women over the age of 40 wearing their clothes when marketing them. Which is a business decision; (not a very smart one, but a business decision none the less) What it’s not about, however, is a woman’s creative expression through her own personal style.
How to Be a Fashion Icon: Be Compelling
At the end of the day, women with great style have an ageless quality about them, and it’s amazingly compelling. The fact that people in marketing don’t realize this is ultimately their loss. I’m not here to school them, I am here to encourage you to find your inner style icon (if you haven’t already done so) and let her shine. You can bet none of your favorite fashion icons are paying much attention to marketing, and never have. They are too busy combing shops and the internet looking for what they like or just plain living life.
So what are those qualities, exactly—and where can we find women who exemplify great style? As I scroll through Instagram, check out blogs or notice the women around me, (as I mentioned, they are rarely seen in magazines or in advertising—and for the record Mae Musk and Helen Mirrin are not the only mature women on the planet.—Just a little heads up to the Marketeers, out there and we don’t all have grey hair either—just for the record,)
I’ve noticed my favorite style icons, and fashionistas (of all ages) have the following traits:
How to Be a Fashion Icon: 7 Tips
1. Exude confidence.
This woman knows herself. Self confidence is huge—so much so that it doesn’t matter what she’s actually wearing—not the price point, the style, or the designer. She stands in her own light, strong and true. As we get older, our self confidence can increase, especially if we don’t let the non sense get into our heads about being “mature” “over the hill” and that sort of thing. Older women often take these comments to heart, and they shouldn’t. Mature European women exude a huge amount of self confidence as they age, and American women should too.
2. Focus on good health.
It’s been said before, “If you don’t have your health, you don’t have anything” which becomes even more important as we grow older. Take care of yourself, get rest and exercise—take a vitamin or two. The better you feel, the better you look. It’s kind of like the self-confidence thing. When we feel healthier and more vibrant, and we know we are in tune and caring for our health needs, it naturally shows.
3. Establish your own “look” and rock it.
I have a friend who calls her look “The Ageless Rebel”—it suits her to a “T” she is bright and bold and her clothes are too. Clothes telegraph who we are, so don’t be afraid to wear what you love and what makes you “you”. This may take a little experimentation. You might need or want to change your look a little as your life changes so that your clothes reflect who you are now. Create a Pinterest board with styles you like, replicate some of the looks using clothes from your closet, try to create new outfits from clothes you have, then fill in the blanks with new pieces or vintage; what ever brings you joy.
4. Don’t apologize for being yourself.
She doesn’t apologize for where she is in her life or who she is. If she finds something undesirable, she works on it, but she knows that ultimately she is responsible for where she is and where she is going. This is a hard one, especially when things are tough, or we poke our heads up and find ourselves in a bad spot. It has been my experience that such situations are temporary, and once we decide on a direction, we know that while it may take time, we will get there. The saddest thing is hearing women apologize for things they shouldn’t feel they need to apologize for, it goes deep down and effects everything.
5. Don’t be afraid to experiment.
Trying new things, adding a contemporary pop or a classic iconic piece to one’s wardrobe is what takes an ordinary outfit to the next level. Though I have never been a vintage shopper, every once in a while I go on a shopping trip to places I don’t ordinarily shop and try on a few things, just to see how it feels and wether it might be something I can add to my wardrobe to personalize my look just a little more, or add new interest.
6. No matter what your style, make sure your clothes fit properly and are in good repair.
From short leather skirts to $100,000 gowns, if it doesn’t fit properly, don’t wear it. Poorly fitted clothes never flattered anyone. Period. I’ve talked about fit in several of my posts, including this post on choosing the right undergarments.
Don’t forget the tailor either. Having your clothing tailored or modified to suit your body or to update an outfit is a great way to extend your wardrobe and get that customized iconic look.
And finally, make sure your clothing is in good repair. Nothing ruins an outfit more than disrepair. Make sure you take the time to try on your outfit and look at it front and back.
7. Don’t try too hard.
A little provocativeness, a little flirt, a little fun goes a long way and she knows it. It’s that self confidence thing again. It seems to transcend everything; its is magnetic. You will make mistakes, but they are easily fixed, restyled or passed on, so don’t worry.
You have all that you need to be a fashion icon, no matter how old or young you are, no matter your budget or style. You’ve got this sister, just go out there, have some fun, let your clothes telegraph your unique awesomeness and shine. If you need a little help with choosing a wardrobe, click below and get my freebie along with weekly updates.
Updated March 24, 2021