Debunking 'What Women Over 40 Shouldn't Wear' Myths: Party Season Edition
By now we’ve all read enough articles ‘advising’ (ahem more like dictating) women on what not to wear over a certain age. And I think it’s safe to say they’re getting a little tiring. From the ban on animal prints, to being told never to repeat a trend if you wore it the first time round, these views are just as out-dated as the looks they’re claiming they’re helping you avoid.
But whilst it’s time to accept that women can wear whatever they want, that doesn’t necessarily mean we want to dress like we did years ago. Nor does it mean we want to look identical to our younger counterparts now. After all, style is like a fine wine – it develops and evolves with age. So how can one strike that balance between dressing modern and fresh, whilst reflecting the best version of your true self today?
The trick is to never rule anything out. Because there’s no look you can or can’t wear; it’s about how you wear it. So with this in mind, and given it’s party season, I’m going to debunk some of those ridiculous ‘what not to wear’ myths in the hope of inspiring you – because your Christmas pudding shouldn’t be the only thing on fire this festive season.
Myth 1: Sparkle is for girls
The Belief: Wearing sparkly clothes makes one look like a little girl. Or, at best, the Sugar Plum Fairy.
The reality: It’s time to embrace your inner magpie. Because glitter and sparkle are joys of life that should never be reserved just for younglings. You can wear them at every age, whilst still looking sophisticated and glamourous. The trick is to pick the right pieces.
When it comes to clothes, opt for a shimmering garment that has an elegant, contemporary cut – that only a woman could pull off. And prevent it from dominating the look, by keeping it subtle. Metallic thread woven through fabric, or delicate sequin panels can be mesmerizingly effective.
Belief: This time of year brocade is often a hot trend. It screams opulence. But its synonymy with suburban wallpapers and sofas has left a stale taste in some people’s mouths, resulting in some believing its more drab than fab.
Realty: Again the answer is in the cut. Choose a modern silhouette, to make for a funky look. Sharp lines work particularly well, as they contrast with the flowing traditional curves of the brocade pattern. Plus, add a cool ironic twist by dressing the brocade down with otherwise casual pieces.
Belief: Women need more accessories as they age to liven up their look.
Reality: Coco Chanel said it all with: “Before you leave the house, look in the mirror and remove one accessory.” Less is more, and that doesn't suddenly change when you get older. Because the mark of real style at any age is looking effortless and, when you pile on the accessories, you look anything but.
Confidence is the answer to how to achieve effortless style. So when you’re wearing too many accessories, it suggests, at best, uncertainty or, at worst, that you’re overcompensating for something. And that is not an accurate portrayal of who you really are.
So trust your gut instinct: you know what your outfit really needs, and what it doesn't. And remember that the best part of your outfit is the person wearing it, so take off those excess accessories and let you shine through.
Myth 4: Black Is Always Best
Belief: When in doubt, avoid colour and just wear black.
Reality: The classic LBD might be a wardrobe staple, but in reality too much black isn’t always the most flattering, especially as we age. This is because over time our skin loses pigment, so all over black can have a draining effect.
That’s not to say you should avoid black altogether - it’s still a great base colour, and is oh so versatile. But try to add in a dash of colour next time you see yourself going towards an all-black look.
Or alternatively try some different colours instead. Midnight blue or navy are universally flattering – and always looks gorgeously atmospheric this time of year. Similarly, other jewel-like tones such as ruby red, amethyst or emerald green can look stunning, and will make you stand out from the crowd.
Belief: Stick to what works, and leave trying different makeup looks to those in their 20s and 30s.
Reality: Your clothes aren’t the only thing you should experiment with – why not have just as much fun with your makeup?!
Our faces do change over time, but that just means there are new opportunities to try different makeup styles, rather than fewer. Whether it's a photo, a catwalk look, or an online tutorial that’s caught your eye, let it inspire you. You might want to adapt it for your own skin tone or proportions, but ultimately do sample that new lip colour, do play around with eye shadows, or do try a coloured eyeliner. Because ultimately you’ll look your best when you’re having fun.