How many of you can relate to this particular scenario?
It’s Zara. 3pm of a random Saturday (or 1.30pm of an eat your sandwich at your desk Tuesday) and you’ve spotted a leather midi skirt. Nice wide waistband. Great colour. Lots of fabric. You’ve done the right thing and cued up to try this masterpiece on, thinking in your head of the tops lingering a little too long in the back of your wardrobe with the tags still on. Maybe this is the item to pull your wardrobe together. Give you that hero piece your longing for to rid the guilt of not wearing them. To help rid you of that dreaded ‘nothing to wear’ syndrome. This, of the moment leather skirt may be just the ticket.
You try it on and it’s almost great. Almost. Shop assistant gets dragged into the fold now. You need to see it with a pair of heels right? Sky high heels to be exact. Lots of twirling and head twisting in the mirror and 5 minutes later the decision is made. €59.99 later and the bag is sitting by your desk, the first stop on a journey to the back of your over crowded wardrobe of ‘almosts’. Ok, so we’ve all been there (me included). I applaud your bravery. I spend my working week convincing personal stylists I train (both themselves & the women they style) to push themselves outside their comfort zone yet somehow as we get a little older fashion ‘almosts’ I believe become less and less of a heartache.
So, what exactly does age buy us that money cannot? Common sense of course. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying you hit forty and comfort zones and fitting room jaunts are no longer part of your life (how sad would that be). Quite the opposite in fact. Your forties however is the time when the fashion glass starts to become a lot more half full. Things start falling into place just that little bit more.
1. You know who you are.
Our 20’s and usually our 30’s is spent figuring ourselves out. Our lives change much more dramatically during this time and with change comes uncertainty about owning your style as you tend to move more with trends rather than knowing confidently who you are and what works for you. Jane Shepardson, CEO of Whistles said not so long ago of this topic; “Some things I look good in but I feel like someone else, and then some things I feel me in and that’s the feeling you want: comfortable and confident.”
2. You have more experience honing your wardrobe.
You eventually come to the point (and realisation) about the hemlines, the styles, waist lengths, sleeves and fabrics you can wear. Not to mention the heel heights you can master without breaking a leg or losing your smile. When you get to this point your life becomes much easier. It isn’t about buying the same thing all the time, rather being aware of what you need to look for in the clothes you buy to know it’s a lot better than ‘almost’.
3. Your not trying to impress anyone but yourself.
Fashion can put a lot of pressure on us. For women this pressure comes in the form of impressing girlfriends, being ‘on trend’ and feeling in control of what you feel should be a modern fashion message. With age you realise all these things actually get in the way of you finding your own true style. I think Victoria Beckham is a particularly great role model here. She has shown time and time again she’s a grown up with no time for fast fads or trends. She wears what she likes and has an easily identifiable style.
(This also goes some way to explaining why 42-year-old Phoebe Philo (Celine) is arguably the most influential designer of the moment – she’s not designing frivolous, on-to-the-next- trick fashion, she’s making clothes for her contemporaries from a place of cool, nothing-to-prove confidence).
4. You spend less time shopping and more time getting inspired.
The mistake a lot of women can make is shopping too much. Not enough time is spent on being aware of what parts of fashion, which ideas and which things around us that actually inspire our style. Maybe this also comes down to just literally not having as much time but whatever the reason, less shopping, more prepping is something the 40+ lady sees the value in.
5. You are better at asking the right questions.
You know that ‘Do you like it’ is not as important as ‘Do you have the life for it’. This way you don’t end up with lots of leather midi skirts and no midi skirt occasions to go to! They say most women wear 20% of their wardrobes 80% of the time. Well, the older we get the more this percentage moves to 40-50% meaning we are getting lots more wear from the things we buy. Asking the right questions means your developing a wardrobe around your actual day to day life!
Bottom line. Embrace your fashion wiseness, that wiseness that can only come with age, wisdom, stupidity and an over crowded wardrobe. Oh and remember, ‘almost’, never won the war……the fashion war that is.