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Fashion Rules Over 40 Can Boost Confidence!

Last week’s column was about dressing too young for your age, and the resulting “fashion rules” for women over 40. Perhaps you can help me understand something!

From a recent study of 2000 women over 50, The Daily Mail  reports only 15 per cent claim high or very high confidence.

Only 15%!  This study concludes:

  1. Four in ten women lacked confidence because they missed male attention.
  2. The presence of younger women at a social event zapped confidence.
  3. Confidence was robbed by graying hair, wearing glasses, and struggles to find fashionable clothing.
  4. Many felt invisible and saw themselves disappearing into middle age.


Here is what I do not understand: if this study rings true across the ocean to American women as well, then why are we so rebellious toward guidelines and, dare I say the word, RULES which are meant to build our confidence?

The criticism for fashion rules

In my four years of fashion and style blogging, I have met so many women who detest books, interviews with stylists, and blogs which teach rules for dressing age appropriate, stylish, and confident.   Comments go like this:

Throw out the book, do your own thing.

Screw rules! They are meant to be broken.

I am going to wear whatever I want to.  I do not care what anyone else thinks or says.

Fashion rules only exist to put money in the pockets of the fashion industry!

No rules…It is time to have fun.

I share the sentiment of desiring to enjoy each moment of a short life and to wear clothing we enjoy. But I also know from experience that some of these fashion rules will truly make a difference in our confidence and our own personal style.

When I am more confident, I enjoy life more.

When I am more confident, I enjoy my job more. When I am more confident, I speak out and give my opinion more.  When I am more confident, I enter a room with my head up. When I am more confident, I smile more.  When I am more confident, I do not compare myself to younger women or seek the approval of the men in the room.

Stacy London writes in her book, The Truth About Style (affiliate link):

Stop being mad about aging. There’s no point. Look at every stage of life as an opportunity to reinvent your style, and as its own unique opportunity, period.  It’s a new reason to get busy with yourself.  You may no longer be the cute girl, but get to know the kickass woman, now.  She has something new to offer you and those around her.

I have been blogging through Charla Krupp’s book, How Not To Look Old (affiliate link), and I understand a few of the guidelines do not work for everyone. But last week, I could tell, there are some clutching tightly to those ripped jeans and message tee shirts with all the angst of a stubborn teen.

Now, don’t kill the messenger. I understand.  There was a time I did not want to throw out my Christmas sweaters or bohemian long, oversized skirts.  Eventually though, I saw the wisdom, and loosened the grip.

All you have to do is go shopping with guidelines and some of you will see right there in the dressing room – these rules we fight against so much will actually help us to look fabulous and confident.

Because I am here to help and am a glutton for punishment, I will once again tread into dangerous territory and next week discuss jeans!!

Until then, please tell me, why does our generation still fight fashion RULES which could actually build our confidence?

Thanks for stopping by the Joy Boutique. Have a week full of spring flowers!

midlife boulevard, columnist, midlife women, middle-age, midlife crisis

Pamela Lutrell

Pamela Lutrell began her blog, over50feeling40, July 2010 with a desire to encourage women over 50 to walk in strength, confidence and joy. Of course, head turning style makes each day fun!

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Tuesday 13th of May 2014

This has been a great discussion, ladies...full of insight. I love the story of Shelia's MIL...and it is obvious that we all like guidelines over rules. Hopefully, more will join the discussion...thanks to all of you who have so far.

Sheila (of Ephemera)

Tuesday 13th of May 2014

I think there's a big difference between "rules" and "guidelines" - rules implies that there is to be no deviation, whereas guidelines are gentle nudges in the right direction (a direction that points us towards flattering our figures and feeling good about ourselves).

I recently spent an afternoon shopping with my 70+ mother-in-law, who had a revelation when I asked her, "Do you love your clothes?" - she realized that she was wearing what she thought followed the "rules" for her (ugly elasticized pants and orthopaedic chunky ughly shoes). When we were able to find things that flattered her figure, she lit up - it was really amazing to see this joy in her as she discovered that she could still feel good about how she looked.

Well, that's my goal - feel good about myself and how I look. And I don't mind a little guidance here and there. Great, thought-provoking article, Pam!


Tuesday 13th of May 2014

I think for us "Baby Boomers" we just naturally rebel. However, I too appreciate guidelines. I was brought up with the "Rules" ie; no white shoes, after Labor Day Holiday, shoes and purse must match, etc. etc. Being a woman of a certain age (57), I've relearned how to dress attractively for my age, it took some effort, but so worth it. (also, taking good care of myself physically as well as mentally has helped immensely.) This has given me more confidence/happiness and frankly I'm still noticed and complimented by people of all ages and genders. Thanks to blogs like yours as well as Pinterest, we are all so fortunate to be able to "view" and get ideas in order to feel and look, amazing!


Tuesday 13th of May 2014

I'm all for being comfortable in your own . . . style . . . but I have to admit that, when I am more put together - umm . . . clothes-ily (is that a word?), my confidence is boosted sky-high.

Jennifer Steck

Tuesday 13th of May 2014

I sometimes feel invisible because I'm overweight, on top of growing older. It's a struggle sometimes to find fun, fashionable and professional clothing. I'm so glad that is changing. I can always use guidelines and help from my friends.

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