Search for a style icon

Self portrait of the author, aged 39 and a bitThis time next week, I’ll be 40 years old. Birthdays have a strange way of making you think about ageing and the passing of time, despite the fact that we are getting older every single minute of every day, and so I have been pondering what ‘the big four-oh’ means to me. Does it mean I’m ‘over the hill’? Er, no. To be honest, I feel like I’ve only just worked out which hill I’d like to climb, having taken a rather lovely meandering path to get to it. I suspect that, for me, life begins at 40 (for certain definitions of ‘begins’, anyway). It means a new digit to begin my age with, perhaps a new category to tick on some questionnaires, but that’s about it. Well, until I start to think about my wardrobe.

My opinion on all the so-called rules that forbid anyone from wearing particular items of clothing once they pass a specific age, is probably well documented. However, to save you searching for it, I shall reiterate here – I think it’s bollocks. Who gets to decide what you wear? You do. Do you feel awesome in a mini skirt and are aged over 50? Go for it! Are you a massive fan of twinsets in your early 20s? Knock yourself out! Dressing to suit the occasion – be it work, a family wedding or a red carpet event – is one thing, but age appropriate dressing can fuck right off as far as I’m concerned. Many people agree with me but many others don’t, and those who don’t are often the folk who write for the mainstream media. This means that a lot of people in the public eye are too scared of what others will say about them to wear what they really want to, and it means I’m running low on style icons.

When asked whose style I admire, I used to pick someone like Paloma Faith. Bold and fearless, glamorous yet quirky, she uses clothing in a way that makes a statement and forges her own personal style. However, with my squishy bits settling in for the long term and my shape slowly changing in a way that can only be described as ‘middle-aged spread’, I decided to look around for a new stock of style icons. People who, well, look a bit more like me. However, that wasn’t as easy as I’d hoped it might be. Much as I adore bloggers like Catherine from Not Dressed as Lamb and Alyson from That’s Not My Age, plus posts like ReeRee Rockette’s style inspiration for women in their 30s/40s, I can’t relate to them because their clothes just won’t fit me. When you’re not tall or slim, the vast majority of 40+ fashion blogs don’t really offer anything in the way of direct inspiration. There might be the odd jacket or skirt that I simply must buy, but no overall look to really sink my teeth into.

Maybe I should be looking to bloggers of any age who are more like my own size/shape to become my new style icon? Perhaps, but I’d really like someone famous to admire too. I asked on Twitter for non-slender style icons over the age of 30, and the following stylish women were suggested: Nigella Lawson, Helena Bonham Carter, Cindy Gallop, Megan Mullally, Kirsten Vangsness, Christina Hendricks and Immodesty Blaize. Googling the names I didn’t know, I scanned the images which popped up and formulated a shortcut to developing a personal style that, hopefully, will serve me into my 40s and beyond. Option 1 is to look to the 1950s for inspiration and stick with whichever silhouette from that decade best suits your figure and/or confidence level (e.g. full skirts for those of us with a tummy, and pencil skirts for those without). Option 2 is to pair a strong hairstyle and/or glasses with a fierce dedication to black clothing. Clingy where you feel comfortable and baggy where you don’t, with colourful accents occasionally added when wow-factor is needed. Option 3 is adopting the ‘throw caution to the wind’ approach to dressing, and putting on whatever you feel like wearing that morning with zero fucks given. So far, I seem to be taking all three options on board to varying degrees.

Have I found a new style icon? No, but I think I may have found another focus for this blog that isn’t just about bras and pants. I’m not one for ‘finding my niche’, as I enjoy having a forum to write about whatever the hell takes my fancy, but this could make for an interesting and ongoing series. Keep the style icon suggestions coming in while I think of a name for this feature. Let’s make 2015 fabulous.

12 thoughts on “Search for a style icon

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  1. 44 here, and looking forward to reading this. I’m halfway through my forties and more confused than I’ve ever been. I mainly tend to go for black with something bright for my best bits. I’m too commitment phobic for the strong hairstyle, but I expect in ready for my purple hat.

  2. it was only when I got to 40 that I truly felt I could inhabit my own body properly…I felt confident about my curves, knew I was Foxy and was totally unencumbered by body concerns I’d had in my 20’s and (shudders) 30’s. I am always bemused by the idea of dressing my ‘age’ and Yep… Will wear those hot pants if I want to!!

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