by Judy Cowling
Aging. It happens. But we shouldn’t let it sneak into our souls – or our closets. Don’t let getting older tarnish your inner fashionista. I say fight back and march forward in style.
I embrace aging because I consider it a gift. I am five years older than my mother ever got to be. She often proclaimed that she never wanted to grow old; in 1991 she was 54 when she died of breast cancer. I remember she was always full of energy. Mom could captivate an audience with a well-told tale or a joke, and she could crush a steel beer can with one hand. She never met a stranger and had mad style on a shoestring budget.
I am 59 and decidedly anti-frump. I refuse to let my age dictate whether it’s time to pull on elastic-waist pants or stop me from shopping in the juniors’ department of my favorite stores. I giggle at my AARP membership and senior discount – it’s like I’m getting away with something.
My mom posthumously taught me that style is ageless and that a youthful attitude is your best accessory. She had a reputation for wearing interesting, colorful ensembles and statement costume jewelry. She employed unexpected details like ribbons wrapped gladiator-style around her toes and calves instead of shoes so she could feel the grass beneath her feet at garden parties. She had fun with fashion, plain and simple.
I do too. Pay no mind to those who think you should dress your age: No one is better equipped than you to tell you what that is. Age is a state of mind. As long as you feel good about what you’re wearing, you’ll be fine. Frump creeps in when you stop caring about the way you look; style appears when you no longer care about the status quo.
My career as an artist, designer and writer lends itself to a closet that’s more casual than career. My wardrobe consists of a plethora of jeans and an enviable collection of boots, as well as sentimental pieces like my grandmother’s pearls, pins and a beaded cashmere cardigan that’s more than 75 years old. I’ve sewn closed moth holes in that piece more times than I can count. I also have a fitted, tan linen cocktail dress from my mother’s trousseau. When I pair these items with boys’ department graphic T-shirts, bold turquoise cuffs, patterned shawls and some great vintage jackets, I’m ready for just about anything.
When developing your style, it helps to have a few icons in mind. Besides my mom, I’ve always admired Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis’ signature hats, Grace Kelly’s pearls, Mary Tyler Moore’s capris, Sophia Loren’s smoldering off-the-shoulder dresses and Audrey Hepburn’s loafers.
Instagram is a great resource for researching looks that might work for you. Lately I’ve been perusing the likes of Maye Musk, Elon’s mother , model Deborah Chambers , “fashion influencer” Lyn Slater and writer Sophie Fontanel , as well as bloggers Simone Jacob and Shauna Robertson . These women are all style celebrities around my age but with far deeper pockets. I look to their fierce spirits and unapologetic fashions for inspiration, from hairdos to makeup cues to basic wardrobe pieces.
But style isn’t about the tags you wear, or the cost. It’s about your unique way of putting things together, be it hand-me-downs, vintage pieces, thrift store and flea market finds, men’s hats, chunky jewelry or cool shades. Take the time to think about how you want to present yourself to the world, and don’t hide your beauty behind shapeless, drab or unmemorable clothing. Edit your closet so that everything it contains makes you happy, powerful and ready to tackle the day.
Visit Shauna Robertson’s blog for great tips!