As I write this, I am hurtling towards the big 4-0 with quite some momentum *deep breath*. In one month’s time, I will enter my fifth decade. But do you know what? I’m not nearly as terrified as I was this time 10 years ago. In fact, armed with everything I’ve learnt in my thirties, I feel pretty well equipped to take this next milestone in my stride, particularly when it comes to my wardrobe. Let me share with you what I’ve learnt...
Don’t listen to ageist style “rules”
Let’s start with the most important thing: whatever I say works for me in this article you are ALLOWED TO IGNORE COMPLETELY. Remember all that nonsense Trinny and Susannah used to spout about not wearing leather trousers or mini skirts over a certain age? When I first turned 30, I took no notice and started wearing very, VERY short skirts again (I’d ditched them mid-twenties in an attempt to look “grown up”). I didn’t know how much longer my legs would be up for it and I wanted to make the most of them. Turns out they’re still going strong, so I ain’t giving up on the mini just yet.
Life’s too short to be uncomfortable
In my mid-thirties, I stopped wearing heels completely (I even started writing a blog about flat shoes) and it’s one of the best things I ever did. I never got on with heels – I couldn’t walk in them and they didn’t match my tomboy look. Once I’d made the decision that I was never going to fall over again in public, or cry because I thought my toenails were going to actually fall off, or step on broken glass at a wedding in bare feet on the dance floor, I was hooked on the comfort factor for good.
Find the jeans that work for you and stick to them
I only discovered my dream jeans recently – Levi’s Wedgies – and they are just perfect for my body type. Once you’ve found yours, buy in bulk and ignore everything else. Because everyone knows there’s nothing in the world more infuriating than jeans shopping.
Less is more when it comes to fake tan and make-up
When writing this piece, I was asked to dig out an old photograph of me aged 30. This caused me a few problems. First, there doesn’t seem to be a picture in existence of me at this age without a glass of wine in my hand and a manic look on my face. Second, I hadn’t learnt the art of subtlety when it came to tanning products, as you can see from the fact that I look positively grubby in this, the only picture I was willing to share with you. I now occasionally use gradual tan (not full-on fake tan, as in the offending picture) but, mostly, I just go with whatever colour my skin happens to be at that time of year. I also wear less and less foundation, so it doesn’t collect in my laughter lines, and my skin is all the better and more glowy for it.
See also: hair
I had the odd “special occasion” blow-dry in my early thirties, but I think they actually made me look older. At 40, I’m more of a cut-my-own-fringe, balayage-once-every-two-years, let-it-dry-naturally kind of person. Plus, I’m 100 per cent embracing my white hairs (they seem to be all growing from the same spot, so I’m hoping for a streak). Believe me, it’s liberating saving all that money on all that stuff.
Don’t be scared to experiment
Just because you never wore colourful prints or snazzy socks in your twenties doesn’t mean you can’t start trying now. I’ve been dabbling with red lipstick more and more recently, having never worn colour of any kind since a mean girl at school said I’d faked the shape of my lips (I have a very pronounced Cupid’s bow).
Stop going in Topshop/New Look/H&M if it makes you feel depressed
These shops are aimed at younger women. You aren’t meant to like everything in there! The high street has never better catered for women over 35; my favourites for well-fitting, confidence-enhancing clobber are Zara, COS, & Other Stories and Finery London. Of course, if you still love the stores you’ve been shopping in since your teens, go for it (see point 1).
You don’t have to dress “sexy” – ever
I’ve come to the conclusion that the coolest, most chic women in the room are usually the ones who look happiest in their outfits. And, yes, sometimes, those are women who look really sexy. But, often, they are the women in roll-neck sweaters or tracksuit bottoms. There’s a lot to be said for not giving a shit.
So, there you have it. I think it can be summed up as simply as this: wear whatever makes you happy, and you’ll be content whatever your age.
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