How to be stylish at 40 and beyond

Many of us use significant birthdays as a time to reflect on what we’re wearing. We ask ourselves, can I still wear this? The dreaded phrase “age appropriate” comes up a lot. Is age appropriate scaring you? Do you equate age appropriate with frumpy? Do you wonder what you should not be wearing at your current age (or any age)?

How to dress “age appropriate” is one of the top requests I get from my clients. Here’s a way to do this in a way that still honors your personal style.

What to let go of to be stylish at 40 and beyond

Things that do not fit, are the wrong size or a size you will never wear again

When it comes to being stylish at 40, fit is one of the style basics – without proper fit, nothing will look flattering on you. This means clothes that are too big and too small. Consider why you are keeping the clothes. Do not keep an abundance of “aspirational clothes” – clothes that you may one day fit into. Because it’s unlikely when you get to that size that you will want to wear the clothes again. Tim Gunn says that “fit is the most neglected aspect of style.” I can confirm that I see that time and again in my work with clients. Get into your closet (get a full length mirror if you don’t have one) and confirm your clothes fit!

Things that do not fit into your present lifestyle

If you’re in your late 30s and have a bunch of band t-shirts from when you were in your twenties and you haven’t worn them in a while, maybe it’s time to let them go. There is no hard and fast rule or timeline because the time part is irrelevant. It’s the lifestyle part that matters, especially when you want to be stylish at 40. Do you have things that you will no longer wear simply because they don’t fit into your professional or personal life? Do you have more things that represent your past and don’t position you for your future?

Things that aren’t positioning you for your future

Do you have a lot of clothes that you used to fit into (see #1), are sentimental or you keep because you spent money on them even though you don’t love them? Then they need to go. Your closet needs to be a place that honors your present and has positioned you for the future. When you hold onto items from your past, you stay there. The items in your closet need to align with you and position you for success in your personal and professional life!

The good news is age appropriate is not a dirty word and it is not synonymous with “dated” and it doesn’t mean a draconian approach to throwing away everything you own. It means periodically assessing your wardrobe for the above three criteria to see if the majority of your clothes fit you, fit your lifestyle and fit your future.

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