Finding your personal style after 50

Age is not a barrier to style; in fact, it's an opportunity to redefine it on our own terms. As we embrace the confidence that comes with stepping into 50 and beyond, our personal style becomes a vibrant tapestry of self-expression. 

While trends may come and go, your fashion journey after 50 can help you discover a signature look that speaks volumes about who you are.

In this article, we’ll break down how to define your personal style formula, find the colours that suit you best, and curate a capsule wardrobe that reflects your unique identity. 

Understand your style personality

65-year-old fashion blogger Susan Blakely states that ​​”knowing my best colours and understanding my style personality have helped me build a cohesive wardrobe that makes getting dressed (in a way that feels like “me”) easier.”

Truth is, by the time you reach your 50s, you have an extra air of confidence and know yourself better as a person. When you start the hunt to find your style, it can be overly tempting to stray from your comfort zone to test out the latest trends, even if it’s not a look you love or clothes that feel like you.

While it can be great to experiment with different styles, it’s important to never compromise on your own self-image. However, defining our style personality is a step that many of us don’t take - though it’s often the key to creating a curated wardrobe that reflects your best, unique self.

Find your 3-word formula 

Susan Blakely uses 3 words to define her style personality, which allows her to create a “simple, easy-to-remember formula that both describes and directs personal style from the inside out.” The 3-word formula can help identify your style voice among a myriad of choices and influences, making it easier to shop and get dressed each day. 

The first word

Believe it or not, no matter how eclectic your closet feels, you will find your own sense of style slowly developing from within its depths.

Have a rummage through and pull out your favourite pieces. The ones you love to wear and always make you feel happy and confident no matter what kind of day you’re having. The go-to pieces.

Now take a look at these pieces and consider what they all have in common. What makes you look and feel great in them? The first word in your formula should describe these everyday items that make you feel best. 

The second word

Now that you have a word to describe your go-to style, use this second word as a way to further refine your style. For example, if your first word is “casual”, you can use the second word as a modifier to describe what kind of “casual” your style represents. 

The second word is a crucial modifier, as it adds further clarity to your personal style formula. For example, modifiers for “casual” may include “chic”, “relaxed” or “tailored”. 

The third word

The third word in your formula should be a little more aspirational. Find some inspiration by taking a walk around the shops and noting down the items you’re drawn towards, but may not currently have in your own wardrobe. 

You will begin to notice you tend to be attracted to certain brands. Now head to their social media pages and write down some key words and feelings these outfits evoke in your mind.

Alternatively, find some inspiration from style bloggers within your demographic (like these stylish influencers over 50) and complete the same exercise.

Your third word should be a clear amalgamation of everything that inspires you during this research process, and should ultimately describe how you want to feel and what you want to project. 

For example, Susan’s 3-word formula is “Classic”, “Modern” and “Cool”. In her words, this means that her style is neat, functional and stylish, and focuses on being current rather than trendy. 

Whatever your chosen words are, they don’t need to have the same meaning for other people; the most important thing is what they mean to you, and that they evoke a clear image that you can use as a guideline.

Find your best colours

When it comes to finding your personal style, understanding the colours that suit you best can make a huge difference. Wearing the right colours can enhance your natural features, boost your confidence, and create a harmonious and flattering overall look. Here are some tips to help you discover your best colors to wear and unlock your style potential.

Assess your skin undertone

Start by determining whether you have a warm, cool, or neutral undertone. A simple way to do this is by examining the veins on your wrist. If they appear blue or purple, you likely have a cool undertone. Greenish veins indicate a warm undertone, while a mix of both suggests a neutral undertone. Once you’ve determined your undertone, read this guide on the most complementary colours for each skin type.

Experiment with colour draping

Colour draping involves holding different fabric swatches (or different coloured items in your house) near your face to observe their impact on your complexion. Use a variety of colours, including warm and cool tones, and notice how they make your skin appear. Some shades may make your face look brighter and healthier, while others may create shadows or make your skin look dull. Take note of the colours that make you glow, as they are likely to be your most flattering options!

Consider your hair and eye colour

Your hair and eye colour can also guide you in finding the best colours to wear. If you have warm-toned features like red, golden, or strawberry blonde hair, earthy tones and warm hues like oranges, yellows, and browns can complement your natural colour ring. On the other hand, cool-toned features such as ash blonde or black hair pair well with jewel tones and cool shades like blues, purples, and greens. Experimenting with different combinations will help you identify the colors that make your features pop.

Trust your instincts

While colour theory and guidelines can be helpful, it's important to trust your own instincts and personal preferences. If a particular colour makes you feel confident and comfortable, regardless of conventional advice, it's worth incorporating it into your wardrobe. Personal style is about expressing yourself, and if a specific colour resonates with you, it can become a signature part of your unique style.

How to do a colour analysis to find the shades that suit you best

Do you stand in front of your open wardrobe each day stressing over what to put on because nothing inspires you? Do you always choose black?

The endless sea of available colours can be overwhelming, especially when you don’t know which shades truly compliment you.

We’ll guide you through the art of discovering the shades that suit you best with the help of Australian image and colour consultant, Ann Vodicka.

Ann Vodicka helps people find the right style and colours for them.

Unpacking black

Black has literally been in vogue since Coco Chanel first created the little black dress, or as it became more simply known, LBD. In 1926, Vogue magazine carried a story and drawing of a woman in a simple black dress, accessorised with a string of pearls. The publication dubbed it ‘Chanel’s Ford’, in other words, a dress that was simple and accessible to all classes (much like a Ford motor vehicle). The philosophy has lingered to today, with just about every woman having at least one LBD in her wardrobe.

The idea caught on so completely that whenever a new colour trend arises, couturiers will be quick to claim it as the new black. Black dressing was snapped up by the corporates and many of us found it easier to simply have a wardrobe of mostly black garments because, well, frankly, it makes dressing easy. We convince ourselves we are the corporate type, or that black is elegant, or that black is slimming. All are probably true, but if we wear black for all occasions, it becomes a drab uniform.

Australian image and colour consultant, Ann Vodicka of Image Confidence tells us that hardly anyone is enhanced by wearing black all the time and not all blacks suit everyone. A person with a cool undertone might better suit charcoal grey, and a warm undertone might better suit a chocolate brown. Poor old black.

What’s my undertone and where do I find it?

Knowing your undertone is critical information to unlocking the secrets of personal colour analysis, so again we sought the help of our professional, Ann. It’s the undertone, either cool or warm, that will be the baseline for the right clothing shades that work. Undertones are informed by our colouring – our skin, hair, and eyes – and the value of that colouring, in other words, whether our skin, hair and eyes are dark or light. As we age, those characteristics will likely fade. The hair is noticeably lighter, and without our realising it, our eyes and skin will also most likely fade.

These ageing colour changes will affect our undertone, and therefore our colour analysis, so that the colours and shades that were right for us when we were in our 30s may not be right for us in our 60s and beyond. A changing hair colour might move a person from being a warm undertone to a cool undertone.

OK, but what colours are my colours?

If you have a particular outfit that each time you wear it, people tell you you’re looking well, or younger, or particularly attractive, then you’re probably wearing the right shade choice for your undertone. Perhaps you carefully selected that outfit, or perhaps it was random. The best way to work out the most complimentary shades are by draping different colours against your skin. Some colours will brighten you and others may make you look dull or washed out. And just because you’re attracted to a colour, let’s say green is your favourite colour, it doesn’t necessarily follow that green clothes will suit you.

Cools usually look best in colour with blue and purple at their base, including pink, silver, grey, white, and some reds. Warms generally suit colours with a yellow or orange base including brown, green, coral and peach.

Both cools and warms can wear neutrals. You only need to visit the paint swatch section of your hardware store to appreciate the enormous range of whites, let alone the creams and beiges. Don’t be afraid of neutrals - they are meant to be played with. Add a splash of one of your best undertone shades with the addition of a scarf or jewellery for an instant colour lift and watch what your skin does. If it’s the right colour, you should glow.

And it’s not all about what we wear

While there are some lucky ones who suit both yellow gold and silver jewellery, cools usually look best with silver jewellery, while warms suit gold jewellery. And the people at L'oreal of Paris tells us if you have cool undertones and wear a foundation that’s too warm, your skin may look yellowish or orange. If you have warm undertones and wear a foundation that’s too cool, your skin may look greyish or ashy. Nobody wants that.

“To know your colours is a very empowering thing. It builds confidence,” says our colour guru, Ann.

Grab your colours and get ready to rock your look.

Build a capsule wardrobe filled with staples

A capsule wardrobe is a curated collection of versatile and essential clothing items that can be mixed and matched to create various outfits. It promotes simplicity, reduces decision fatigue, and ensures that you always have something stylish to wear that reflects your personality. 

Assess your lifestyle and needs

Begin by evaluating your lifestyle and the activities you engage in regularly. Consider your work requirements, social events, hobbies, and climate. This assessment will help you identify the types of clothing you need the most, whether it’s casual wear or workout gear. Understanding your lifestyle ensures that your capsule wardrobe is tailored to your specific needs.

Choose quality over quantity 

A key principle of a capsule wardrobe is investing in high-quality, durable pieces that will stand the test of time. Select garments made from quality fabrics, with attention to details like stitching and construction. Focus on building a collection of versatile basics that match the style formula you’ve created for yourself. These timeless pieces can be the foundation of numerous outfits.

Mix and match

The key to a varied wardrobe comes down to the stapes. A good pair of jeans that can be matched with different blouses or polo shirts. A great pair of boots that will see you through winter. Some great basic tops that can be worn as the base of any outfit. 

The beauty of a capsule wardrobe lies in its versatility. Aim to create a range of outfits by combining different items from your collection. Look for pieces that can be easily layered, interchanged, and dressed up or down. Focus on achieving maximum outfit possibilities with minimal items. 

You can then add a few statement pieces that really show off your personality. With the staples taken care of, you can be brave, be bold and add a little style to your look, without compromising who you are and what you love.

Edit regularly

Regularly assess and edit your capsule wardrobe to ensure it remains functional and aligned with your evolving style. Remove items that no longer fit, are damaged, or no longer resonate with your aesthetic. Consider donating or selling these pieces to make room for new additions that better suit your current needs and preferences.

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