Finding Your Signature Style: Our Interview with Petite Over 40 - Part 2

This week we interviewed Petite Over 40's Sherry Dryja. Based in Seattle, Sherry is currently journeying through the decades to discover her own signature style.

Over in Part 1 of my interview, we chatted about what prompted Sherry to start this journey and how she hopes it will inspire you. Here we discuss what Fashion today could learn from the past, the differences between US and UK style, and Sherry shares her best style tips to help you find your own signature style....

"We’ve lost the sacred art of presenting our best selves to the world"

Whilst we are slowly moving back to demanding slow fashion, Fashion generally remains a 'mass-production monster'. We want fast disposable styles to fit with our fast paced lifestyles. Sadly, a focus on quality, craftmanship and care is often overlooked. Do you feel we could learn from anything in the past in order to move forwards in the right direction?

I immediately think about the glamour of decades gone by, how “dressing up” was part of the culture. Women and men took pride in what they wore, even if they couldn’t afford high-end fabrics or the latest styles. For example, my grandmother was incredibly poor—she was widowed at the age of 23 and had two kids to raise during the Great Depression, but she still managed to look nice. Her cotton dresses were always pressed, her hair done just so.

This a photo of my grandmother probably from the late 30s, early 40s (she's in the center). In all likelihood, she made the clothes she and her children are wearing. She was a seamstress, in addition to being a farmer and restaurant baker. She was always clean and polished. Her style might not be considered glamorous, but if I wore that top and skirt today, I’d be considered dressed up to a certain degree. It seems like we’ve lost the sacred art of presenting our best selves to the world. I’m generalizing here, but it’s like we’re all depressed and have no reason to try.

That's a very perceptive point, and I have to agree. My grandfather was the same - he always wore a shirt and tie, even in the home and when he was unwell. It's a shame that we've got to the point where the want for comfort often means having to compromise on style...

Having said that, I do think the UK continues a tradition of pomp and circumstance that we can’t fathom here in the States. There seems to be a greater respect for special occasions. For example, women in the UK wear hats (and gloves?) to weddings and other celebrations. As a general rule, we don’t do that here.

"I admire how natural it seems for UK women to mix patterns and colours"

Another thing I admire about UK fashion is how natural it seems for women to mix patterns and a broader range of colors. One UK fashion blogger told me she sees pattern as “just another color,” whereas my eyes bug out if I try to imagine pairing up different patterns and I know that’s true for other friends here in the US. I’m trying to change this for myself because I’ve become incredibly fond of the outfits I see on my fellow UK fashion bloggers who do it so naturally, but I have a long way to go.

Is there anything you refuse to compromise on when it comes to style? 

I’m in this place right now where I’m trying to be open to everything and not refuse anything. Where I struggle the most with this is comfort and fit. I don’t want to be cold, itchy, slouchy, or have painful feet. Being “put together” in my mind means everything fits and you’re not spending the bulk of your day adjusting something. But like I said, I’m willing to try almost anything once! 

What's the best advice you can give to someone else trying to find her 'signature style'?

I actually have three pieces of advice:

1 – Have an open mind and a sense of play. You have to be ready to try things on you never thought you would, just for the sake of ruling it out or discovering something new. 

2 – Create a community of others so you can cheer each other on and learn from one another. This can be done in person with friends you already have, or it can be done online through groups (create your own if there isn’t one), or simply through Instagram, using hashtags like #fashionover40 and #ootd. The feedback you get can be surprisingly inspiring and supportive.

3 – Take advantage of social fashion events and fashion experts in your community. If you live near, for example, attend socializing events to get style tips and ideas from professionals. If you’re in the US or Canada and there is a Nordstrom nearby, take advantage of their personal stylist program. I learned so much from the stylist I worked with in Seattle. If you’re in a small town and not near either or Nordstrom, go to a small-town boutique that is known for their apparel and get to know the owners. Find out why they went into business and how they choose the styles they do for their shop. Long ago, I worked in such a small-town boutique and we always loved customers who wanted to come in and try new things.

"April in Paris" - Sherry's latest feature discusses embracing femininity in her own way (with a little help from Audrey Hepburn!)

And that completes my interview with Sherry! I hope it's offered you some inspiration and food for thought on how you might step outside your comfort zone, and discover your own signature style.

Make sure to check out part 1, and join Sherry on her journey over on the Petite Over 40 blog, twitter, facebook and instagram.

You can read Sherry's Interview with me - " Empowers Women Over 40 to Find Their Style" - where I discuss's ethos and having the confidence to try something new here.

Plus, if you're a fan of style history, you might enjoy some other posts here on posts too:

A Brief History of Haute Couture 

Pas Des Deux: Fashion's Love Affair With Ballet

Can I wear It Again?

The Fabric of India: An Insight Into India's Fascinating Textile Heritage

Made In Italy Part 2: Vintage Finds

Leave a comment