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What are the fashion rules for ladies of a certain age?

Fashion Advice For The Over 40s

Hazel Wooten Vanita Sareen (Fashion Advisor) gives expert video advice on: What are the fashion rules for ladies of a certain age?; What accessories should I go for?; I can't get out to the shop, how can I get clothes I like? and more...

What are the fashion rules for ladies of a certain age?

I think, if you're going to be general about it and we started at the beginning saying, please be honest and realistic about where you are in life. Think about your best assets, the things that are greatest about you. Now, what have you got that's lovely and you like about yourself? Because once you do that, you're going to have a lot more fun. At the end of the day, we've all got lives and real things going on. So think about things that give you pleasure. Do you like your wrists? So you can wear bracelets. Once you've decided that then think about fashion laws. Don't show too much cleavage. It's not an attractive look, certainly in daylight. It's discerning. Wrinkly knees, too much armpit and vulgar makeup aren't great. Wrong foundation is hideous, and the tide mark. So please go sit down with the girls at Estee Lauder. Have a makeover done. Walk away and look in daylight how you look, and you'll look lots, lots better. And do that twice a year. Talk to you friendly sales assistant. They'll help you. Don't wear tight clothes.

What accessories should I go for?

It depends on what's in your wardrobe. I would always go for a neutral bag, at least two bags. A black one, and a neutral one. Maybe some sort of shade of taupe or something like that. Maybe a belt, if you're able to wear belts. Definitely some nice scarves. Scarves can do so much for your wardrobe. If you've got big boobs, you can actually disguise that. A little neckerchief if you've got small boobs, and bring the eye up. Some great earrings. It's endless, but not rocket science. Accessories actually make outfits. You can bring out, if you like, an established suit or a coat, and by putting it with a terrific scarf or a great handbag, the accessory actually makes that coat that perhaps you've had four or five years this season. It's the way you wear it, and an accessory is the quickest way to dip into the season. Buy the best handbag you can afford, and if you can't afford to buy a designer handbag, and most of us can't, go to a charity shop, and scour them. Sometimes you can get some great finds and it can illuminate your wardrobe. Everyone's going to be sniffing out that Chanel bag. They're to be found. Hand in the bags. In some of the off track charity shops. You could ask your granny and everybody's granny what they've got in old handbags, and you'd be amazed at what's brought up. Absolutely. Particularly with looks, because bags repeat in a different theme, so you ask around for the older generation to see what they've put away, and they will have.

What basic items do I need in my wardrobe?

Well let's be very frank about this, statistics say that woman wear twenty percent of their wardrobe that they own. So everybody who's listening to this, think about what you've actually bought in your wardrobe, or perhaps in a box stuffed under the bed and realize that you're wearing twenty percent of it. So when we're talking basic items, to put it very briefly in a nutshell, for winter you need a coat, a decent winter coat, and then you need a jacket, and a more casual jacket. You need a pair of casual trousers and a jean, and a smart pair of trousers which can either be worn if you want to look smart in the daytime with more formal wear, or you can change the top and go out for dinner by simply changing your footwear and top. So you really need very little. Ideally you should have a suit, you want a good suit, so you can wear the jacket with jeans if you want to go that route with it, or you can wear it all together with a skimpy little top for fun for dinner, or you can wear it to go interview for a more formal occasion. And I would say make the suit a very dark shade. Yeah, plain and dark. Which will have some impact with your jeans. And it will accessorize well. So you might wear it in autumn time or you might wear it in early spring by changing your accessories, the color and the look, you're actually going to change that one item to pay its way .

What colours and patters should older women avoid?

I would say harsh colors when you're older are always a "no". If there's a skin tone that's more delicate and drained, then I would say that I think that really harsh colors like burgundies, very dark navy and very flat brown's are not a good option. I think you need something to lighten your appearance. Inevitably your skin has lost its coloring, your hair is generally becoming whiter, whether you're dying it, hopefully that you're dying it sympathetically to your skin tone, and you're adapting the look there. But, don't wear hard colors because you can't do that any longer. I think that pattern is great, but the thumb rule with pattern is never wear pattern on the largest area of your body. So when you're deciding that you're going to wear pattern, because you want to break up the naturalness of your outfit, don't ever be tempted to put a pattern anywhere near your top if you've got big breasts. If you're wider across the hips, then don't go for a patterned skirt in any shape or form. Look for pattern and wear it if you're like in a scarf, wear it as a trim, and do pattern in that respect. For me personally, when you're older, I would always recommend wearing a pattern in a smaller way. Another way to wear pattern is to wear it as a texture. We're not talking, don't think you can't definitely wear patterns after what's just been said, but don't think pattern is a splotch of color, tapiote or tweed. You see, pattern is a tweed and you can get oiled wools, and get that sort of thing; so that's also pattern but it's a more subtle take on pattern so adapt as necessary. Avoid paisley at all cost. So really, we keep saying the same thing, it's just adapting to the situation. You can do it all, but just adapt it. Blend it down.

Where do I get flat and practical but stylish shoes?

I think you can get lovely shoes in so many places. So where do I begin? I think Russell and Bromley are fantastic for their wealth of shoe patterns that they have. They do an amazing range of flats. They do, obviously, the very high fashion level but within Russell and Bromley their fit is great. Clarks are also fantastic. They really are trendy. Yeah. I think Clarks have improved beyond all recognition. Clarks are not where Clarks used to be, so they're brilliant. You can get nice sort of little pumps from Clarks which are so comfortable. Jones Bootmaker - they do some amazing shoes - boots that fit. So really and truly the main thing is… where can we start really? Well the key thing is buy leather. Buy a leather shoe because inevitably to get comfort, full on comfort you need leather because it moulds to your foot. You need leather. So spend a little extra on leather; if you like. Double the amount you spend and buy one pair of good leather shoes. They will be comfortable because they will blend and they'll cushion your foot. They'll be like gloves. They'll be like slippers. If you buy anything that is less it'll be okay for a short time but you will never get the comfort factor. No, then you have to suffer for your art.

I've always worn skirts, how do I find trousers to suit me?

Well, you have to take on board your shape, and trousers come in all shapes and sizes. So really, you can find any shape or size or height, so you can find a pair of trousers to fit. It's just a question of targeting the place that you want to buy them from, to suit your budget, and you have to try a few pairs.

Will trousers make me look fat?

Not at all. Again if you choose the right shade. Choose the right shade of trouser, yes. I think trousers can actually make you look far slimmer than a skirt. I have to say that having dressed an awful lot of women, that ladies that are bigger tend to hide in trousers. I struggle to get them to try on a skirt and they would much rather wear a trouser. So it is interesting that you are saying people tend to go the skirt route. Trousers are fantastic, particularly a relaxed trouser, because it gives you so many different ways to wear jackets and tops and it gives you much more structure on your body than a skirt. A skirt can tend to fall into folds and if you are feeling a bit chunky, a skirt can emphasize that feeling tremendously. But if you get a right fit of trouser, it gives you much more structure to your body. It also elongates you from waist down to, suppose you are not wearing a skirt that is just below the knee or mid calf. The fact that you are wearing a trouser elongates you from waist down to ankle, so you give the impression that you are longer, and therefore not as wide by wearing a trouser. I would agree.

What should I wear to excercise?

Soft cotton trousers that can be bought anywhere, and a comfortable top. It's not rocket science. Obviously, for exercise there should be a jolly good sports bra for comfort and support. Yes, when you're pounding on that running machine, you do not want to be bouncing up and down. Very painful!

Any general advice for weddings?

It always makes me shudder when someone comes into the shop, and says "I'm looking for a wedding outfit." I invariably find that people do not know what they want to wear for a wedding, and they come in like rabbits caught in the headlight of a car, and say “I need a wedding outfit”. You need to do a bit of homework on this. If you're going to a wedding, you've got to think about if it's going to be an all day wedding, I'm going to be sitting in this outfit, all day, and so I need to be totally comfortable and relaxed. If you're just going to a wedding in the evening, then it's a different ballgame and the same rule would apply. You need to be comfortable. You've got to be briefed on the value. The golden rule that I would always say is great, you're going to a wedding and it's wonderful, it's going to be lots of fun and thrilling, but remember it's the bride's day. By no minor should you ever try to even want to have any eye on her whatsoever. It is the day for the bride. Don't compete. And whatever you choose should always be in the wings. Don't choose your outfit to ever draw attention. Don't be Elizabeth Hurley. It's not fair. It's the bride's day. Wear something that's subtle, that's pretty, that‘s attractive, and does justice to the occasion. You're going there to share their happiness and joy. You're invited to do so, and not to cause a stir.

I'm an older bride, do you have any general advice?

The general advice that you give to an older bride is that this is your time. You've grown up and you're doing it when you find time to reflect on where you've been in life, who you are. On this day of your life when, as an older bride, you are having a very happy time. It is one of probably the happiest days that you maybe thought you'd not have, is have something that is a reflection of your life, of where you've been, how you feel about yourself, and wear that. Don't be forced to think that you've got to be bridal in the sense of in anything that's too stiff or too starchy. Let it reflect your life, your relationship and how you feel. There are no rules. You can make the rules. I would absolutely impose your personality on the day. As an older bride, you should feel very confident that you've reached the stage in your life that you've finally decided to take the plunge, and on that day you should just 'be'. Happiness is happiness evoked. That's true. Have fun with it, wherever you are at that stage.

I'm mother of the bride, what do I wear?

Hazel Wooten: You're going to be your daughter's support that day, and so you are not going to be the center of attention. And I think that you really need to think about comfort and felling your best but not in anyone's face. Vanita Sareen: And I think as well, I mean I think, see what the bride is wearing, see what the mother of the groom is wearing, and then try not to clash, you know. Have a sort of basic color idea of what you're all going to look like because there are going to be group photographs and, you know, they're going to be up for years. Hazel: You know actually its amazing how weddings have evolved now because if you look at old wedding photographs, nobody ever thought about color coordination, and I'm always astonished now that it's, you know, it's so thought about.Vanita: So have a sort of ask around as to you know, so try and sort of think you know, we'll look nice because inevitably that photograph is going to be there for lots and lots of years. And I think as well, you know wear something maybe a jacket is always good for photograph, whether you take it off later in the evening. But, you know, a jacket gives you a little bit of stature and confidence, particularly when you're going to be introduced to lots of people you might not have met before. It's going to be a long day. Hazel: Yes, structure is essential. Vanita: And I think a jacket is quite a comforting piece. So something that you know has a jacket, though you will probably get rid of it later on in the day, but for that initial everybody arriving and when you're reassuring everybody, and seeing your daughter...Hazel: And maybe have a little glitsy top in the wings, waiting, that you can just slip on and take a jacket off and still feel good.