Well now, this is the decade where the rubber starts to meet the road. The 20s are a time of experimentation and playfulness. The 30s are spent honing in on personal style and building a foundation with a fashion-forward edge. Now in your 40s, you have a real sense of your personal style and the confidence to carry it off. Probably the most difficult part of dressing in this decade is having the discipline to say no to items that are better left for the younger set. It’s especially difficult now, when 40 year-old women are looking better than ever before. But no worries, this doesn’t mean dressing has to be safe or boring. In fact, this is the time to bring out bold jewelry, luxe fabrics, sexy shoes and gorgeous color. The code words for this decade are sexy and polished. You can wear the sultry looks and own them.
There’s no reason to pass on trends that work for you. Sarah Jessica Parker, above, keeps her outfit subdued and streamlined, while letting her sexy stilettos do most of the talking. It’s edgy, fashion-forward, but still in line with her age and personality. Here’s the part where I caution any 40-somethings about trends though. If your daughter is wearing it, you can’t do it in the same way. Your choices need to be more refined. Warning bells should go off if anything is too cutesy, ruffled, revealing, tight or over embellished (or my personal pet peeve, anything by Ed Hardy). This can be hard to figure out, I know (except the Ed Hardy stuff), so cut yourself some slack if you go off the rails every now and again.
Invest in luxurious fabric choices. This is the right time for cashmere, fine wools, supple leather, silks and other long-lasting materials. Buy classic accessories in the finest quality you can, which will elevate everything in your closet, especially jeans and other casual wear.
Here are a few guidelines for dressing in your 40s:
- Stick to silhouettes that best complement your shape
- Buy quality materials
- Invest is tailoring – fit is especially important now, even for jeans
- Show what looks good and cover what doesn’t
- Aim for a wardrobe that is 60% investment pieces and 40% of the moment
- Be wary of dressing older than you are — there’s plenty of time for that
- Stock your closet with colors that make your skin glow
You know your body and personality best, so stay true to yourself. As they say, if you look good, you’ll feel good and it shows. I’ll close this Style How-To post out with a quote that seems just right for the 40-something woman:
“Style is very different from fashion. Once you find something that works, keep it.”
–Tom Ford, fashion designer and film director