The simple answer to the above question is a categorical No.
Actually, this is the fourth reinvention of me. When the editor of nonbeige.com asked if I’d like to write a piece about style for the over 50s, initially, I was uncertain. It’s as if I know too much, or feel less in touch than I used to be. Anyway, my first reinvention was in 1994, when my wife and I went to live in Los Angeles for 11 years. The second was coming back to live in the UK. The third was starting over in the UK as a business coach. My fourth was becoming a lecturer/teacher in colleges and universities throughout the UK.
If you’d have told me when I was in the fashion business, that I’d become Honorary Invited Professor of the London Metropolitan University, I’d have said ‘Never, no chance of that.’ I have experienced many changes in my life. However, one thing that remains intact is my Personal Style. To a degree, it’s an outcome of being in the fashion business for a large number of years. No matter our age, size, skin colour or taste, having a Personal Style is always possible. Are you someone who loves low-key attributes, or do you prefer extrovert behaviour? These are tell-tale signs about your personality. For instance, do you need to wear certain types of clothes to feel a higher level of self confidence?
By asking yourself these somewhat deeper questions, you’ll be able to discover your Inner Style. In turn, this will affect your Outer Style. My Inner Style is about being a stickler for authenticity. Therefore, natural fabrics are usually a must. If I’m buying English shoes they need to be made in Northampton, if possible. Must admit, I can get carried away regarding my desire for authenticity. If you are outward going, you don’t need bright colours, or anything too flashy. Also, avoid anything matchy-matchy. Be that a denim jacket worn with denim jeans, or top and bottom in different shades of the same colour. It looks kind of naff.
Does your body shape allow you to wear the most fashionable items of today? Do certain colours flatter your skin tone? Are you conscious of how important the way a garment fits? These are the kind of questions you need to answer before you go shopping. That way, you’ll waste less time and money and be able to focus on what’s best for you. Over the years, due to weight change, greying hair and budget, buying clothes has been a challenge. Nevertheless, there are some fundamental underpinnings that always need to be in place. They are what I call must haves. Men: a haircut between 4 and 6 weeks. Women: hairstyling and/or colour needs to be at the top of your list. As far as clothing and shoes are concerned, keep it simple, yet stylish. Ensure you take care of your teeth and be well groomed all times.
Start by having a closet clear out. That way, you’ll see where there are gaps and rid yourself of items you no longer wear, or need. Often, we can be emotionally attached to a garment, therefore, ridding ourselves of it can be challenging for us. By doing so, you’ll have space in your mind and space in your wardrobe. Often we are too close to ourselves to see ourselves in a holistic way. This usually means we see ourselves selectively – focusing on parts of ourselves we’re less than happy with. So begin by addressing aspects of yourself you are happy with. For instance, if you are blessed with a slim physique, wearing fashionable clothes will be relatively easy. These days, fashionable clothes are designed for a slimmer body shape.
Conversely, if you are on the heavier side, avoid skinny jeans and tight fitting jackets. I know this sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised how many men and women are so enticed by high fashion, they lose all sense about if it will suit or flatter them. So begin by being aware of what’s going on in fashion, but don’t be dictated by it. For instance, skinny ties are in for men. However, if you are on the large size, a skinny tie might not be the best choice. Perhaps a tie that has a nod toward slim and isn’t ultra conservative. Also, ensure your shirt collar is no too big, big collars on shirts are no longer de rigueur. In short, be fully aware of what’s in and what’s out, that’ll affect any purchase you make.
For me, once I know which shoes I’m going to wear it sets a tone for the rest of my outfit. On that note, I usually buy my shoes at New and Lingwood in Piccadilly Arcade. Expensive? Yes. So I only buy in their Sale. Whilst not cheap even in their Sale, they last a very long time fit extremely well and are spot on for my Personal Style. I also buy very specific items from Banana Republic, I like some of their shirts and sweaters. I also like J. Crew for tailored, slim fitting suits and some of their informal attire. So it’s a mixed bag, be prepared to shop around. If possible, take a good friend or your partner as it can enable you to think outside your box. Mustn’t forget; focus on enhancing parts of you that you like, and playing down parts you are not entirely happy with. If you have a paunch, do not wear anything tight fitting, it’ll focus attention on your paunch. Alternatively, maybe you could reduce your carbohydrate intake… Now, on a final note, John Smedley have a website for heavily discounted sweaters. I use it for their superb mock turtle necks and V necks. I’ve been wearing Smedley sweaters for about 20 years.
Once discovered, your Personal Style will remain for as long as you want it to. Yes, age is just a number, however, your Personal Style is ageless.
Some essential tips:
If an item of clothing feels wrong it probably is
Be prepared to spend at least between 10% & 15% than you budgeted for
Be prepared to just look around the shops first
Endeavour to not give yourself any time constraints
Allow your gut feelings to guide you
Remember the 3 Fs: Fit, Fit & Fit