My friend Nancy and I had a closet-cleaning event recently. MY closet. It was a riot. We drank champagne, and laughed our asses off while doing it. My closet is so full, I do not have room for one more thing, but I end up wearing the same seven to eight items. So what else was in there? Stuff from 1988 through 2013. Of course, there was a story with each era.
There was the year I lived in Palm Springs in the early 2000s, and wore all the animal print, clingy, bling-y pants, and shirts. If I was looking for a wealthy guy over 80 living in the desert, I would wear them. I am not in the market at the moment.
Then there was my fixation with Misook. Loved the designer when I worked as a consultant at a Santa Monica hospital for 13 years, but now the clothes seemed dowdy. Too long, too wide, too corporate, too 1990s. Kind of stretched out. I kept them because each piece averaged more than $100. When was the last time I wore them? 2002.
When we got done, we were thoroughly buzzed and primed to get rid of everything except for about 20 pieces. Nothing like a good bottle of champagne to release your inhibitions and finally get rid of the stuff you’ve been saving for who knows what! Chrysalis Foundation, you have hit the jackpot!
So what now? I wanted to look fresh, stylish but not trendy. I wanted an updated, but classic look. I turned to my stylist (aka Emily) for some advice.
And great advice she shared – below is a master list of go-to pieces for me and other women who want to fight the frump and look smart, energetic, and youthful. I will wear these basics to work, out to dinner and anywhere else. (Now I just need to upgrade my $5 Target sweats when I work out.)
Black Pencil Skirt
A black pencil skirt is classic, sexy, and flattering. My stylist told me to wear it to the knee, and make sure it has a little stretch and is not too tight. She suggested I pair the skirt with a pair of heels or sexy booties. Sold!
Light Cashmere Sweaters
Light cashmere sweaters – a year-round classic that can be worn with jeans, skirts, or over the shoulder when wearing a dress. My stylist advised me to focus on long and three-quarter-length sleeves that hit me at or above the hip. She advised me that longer styles are great with straight-leg jeans or pants, but not with skirts.
The ones I like the best are feather-weight and so soft, and come in my favorite colors, like camel, red, cream, black and navy. A luxurious treat to wear with everything. I bought them in all colors. Cha-ching. From Misook to cashmere; from the frying pan into the fire. But I love them.
Dresses make me feel pretty and sexy, and with the help of my stylist, I discovered a few styles that really flatter my figure:
• Wrap dresses, especially those with long or three-quarter-length sleeves – my stylist told me to knot the belt on the side, never in front. I found a gorgeous red wool dress that I can’t wait to wear with my new, custom-made red Jamah handbag that Nancy (the designer and founder) made for me!
• Sleeveless sheath dresses worn with scarves or cashmere sweaters casually tossed around my shoulders – this was my signature look for a while. Cool and classic. I bought a cool pair of sunglasses to go with them.
• Dresses that are fitted on top and flare out slightly starting at the waist, creating a flirty, swingy look. I wasn’t sure about the flare on the bottom at first, but I ended up buying a deliciously fitted style in black, to dress up or down.
Cropped Black Leather Jacket
My stylist said I can wear it with everything I own: pants, jeans skirts and dresses. It’s cropped at the waist, classic, and I can wear it forever. I found a simple, fitted style that will work with almost all the pieces that I currently own and just purchased. When I wear it, I feel just a little tougher than usual!
Pants That Fit Like A Glove
I was advised to look for a lightweight wool blend in black, charcoal or navy. The cut of the pants is crucial and the length must be exact. My stylist advised me to take them (along with the shoes I’ll wear with them) to my tailor to get a perfect fit. I am so glad to have gorgeous, new pants, especially in charcoal! Yum.
Tips To Look Your Best In Your Clothes
My smart stylist also left me with her infinite wisdom:
• Get a good tailor. Clothes look best when they fit well.
• Define your waist, no matter how big or small.
• Keep your skirt and dress lengths to the knee.
• Don’t show too much skin: too-short skirts and tops that are too low don’t flatter anyone.
• Keep it simple; stay away from bling. (Bummer – I like a little bling)
• Mute the loud prints, lean toward solids. (No prob – my favorite color is black.)
• Buy bras that really fit, and consider “shapewear” when needed. (Done!)
Hot Flash Universe is the go-to source for women over 40 looking for insight into the hottest, most current trends, products, and issues. Topics are approached with candor, intellect, and a healthy dose of humor.
Barbara Bishop is President of Santa Monica-based BBPR, Inc. For comments or suggestions, email Barbara.firstname.lastname@example.org.