Reader Request: Evolution

Reader Lisa submitted one of the most fascinating and challenging reader requests to date:

I think it would be very interesting to get guest posters from different age ranges (20s, 30s, 40s, etc.) to discuss style and style evolution, body image evolution, how they address trends, what they find work appropriate, etc. At 37, I’m not a kid anymore, but I’m infinitely more confident and have style that I never had in my 20s.

So I called upon my friends to contribute. I asked style bloggers because I know these women think about body image and fashion on a daily basis. I asked non-style bloggers because I know these women are astute and articulate. I asked non-bloggers because not everyone keeps an online journal, but everyone has a body and gets dressed.

I asked my amazing friends to summarize their feelings about how their body images and styles have changed, and asked them to do so in 200 words or less. This was a tough assignment, but as you’ll see, they stepped up and gave me some varied, moving, and unique insights into what it means to be aware of your body and style at every stage of adulthood. I hope you’ll enjoy their writings as much as I did.

TWENTIES

Jessica
from Saturday Jane

Age: 23

23 year olds are supposed to be all about sex appeal, I guess. We have income! We are educated! We have nubile bodies that look nice on magazine covers and entice available males to buy expensive body sprays. We youngins are always being told to take advantage of our youth with the latest fashions. All like, “Buy these leggings! Now! In five years, your legs will be hideous. Like fatty old sausages with the skin shriveling off. Buy our leggings and wear them, before the inevitable onset of Fatty Sausage Leg!”

Okay, leggings are all well and good for … well, people that like leggings, but I resent being told what to do. When I am told that my body now is the best that it’s going to get, I get uppity, and when I’m told that I’m not taking advantage of its youthfulness by stuffing it into $300 shirt-dresses, I get positively peeved. My astronaut t-shirt is just as hip and sexy as your skinny jeans, thankyew! Maybe my man-shorts and sneakers aren’t typical of what a 23-year-old should be, but they’re typical of what a 23-year-old is. Namely, broke, busy, and ready to make do with what works.

Besides, I’m 22.

Winona
from Daddy Likey

Age: 24

In seventh grade my language arts teacher had the entire class write letters to our future selves. I remember writing an angry and demanding diatribe to my adult self, insisting she be a rich magazine writer living New York City who wore bright purple pumps every single day and never had dandruff.

I will be 25 in a little over a month, and I’m certainly not rich. I live in Oregon, write for magazines occasionally, and count myself an avid fan of ballet flats and Head & Shoulders. And I’m much more accepting of these facts than my seventh grade self would have been.

I’m slowly but surely amassing a wardrobe that flatters my body and makes me happy. I’m certainly still young enough to get caught up in awful trends, and I look forward to the day—maybe in 5 years or so—when I’m wise enough to say, “Zebra print white latex leggings? Not for me.”

I also secretly look forward to the day—maybe in 50 years or so—when I’ll wear those zebra print white latex leggings and walk my cat around on a leash and be like, “What? I’m an eccentric old lady. Deal with it.”

Christine
from futurelint
Age: 28

At 28, I am aware that my body is a combination of genetics and my lifestyle. My whole family is pretty slim, and I was raised eating healthy and exercising. I feel blessed that my mother was always accepting of her shape, and didn’t pass on any insecurities to me. Still being relatively young, I think I am able to see the results of my work (or lack thereof) almost immediately on my body. If I am eating healthy and exercising four days a week, I feel great and toned and notice that my clothing fits me well. If I am having a particularly poor week, where I let my diet be guided by convenience and snacking rather than healthy meals or if I don’t keep up on my exercising, I notice it almost immediately the next week. This instant feedback is amazing because it doesn’t let me slack off too much before I get my rear back in gear.

My personal style is pretty eclectic and varied. I like to experiment with different styles and eras of clothing and I am certainly not afraid of color. I have always paid attention to how I dress, and even in college I didn’t let myself fall into a style rut. When I dress well, I am more confident and productive. I think my willingness to stand out, stylistically, is because I feel very comfortable in my own skin. I am flawed and I am okay with that. I’m going to keep experimenting with my style and have fun with it, because at the end of the day, as long as I feel good about myself and that helps me to do good things in my life, the rest doesn’t matter!

THIRTIES

Hillary
from byhillary

Age: 31

When Sal asked me to write a piece about “My Personal Style” I said of course, but the more I thought about it the more I was unsure what exactly my personal style was so I asked some of my friends.When asked they described my style as lady like, tailored, vintage inspired but always with a quirk. I can get on board with that.

My style has evolved a lot over the past few years. I am in my 30’s now (31) and I am learning more about what actually works for my figure. I lost about 30lbs 3 years ago and before then I didn’t wear much tailored clothing. That is the biggest change. I like to show my figure more the older I get. I am still modest but I am more likely to wear a nipped in waist or a pencil skirt. In my 20’s I never would of done that. I am also very into dresses now. I own more dresses than anything else. I feel beautiful and complete in a dress.

Kristin
from K-line
Age: 39

I’m that all-encompassing cusp-age: 39 and 3/4. Really. And I couldn’t ask for a lovelier age and stage. I mean, I’ve lived through a couple of decades of adulthood and have learned valuable lessons about what matters to me and how I want to project my image.

In my twenties, I was cute and I took my metabolism for granted :-). But fundamentally, I didn’t have confidence in my look or abilities. I couldn’t afford the fashion I loved, but I did try to reproduce looks at lower price points. It was the early 90s – not the most adventuresome time in fashion. I belonged to that final generation of matchy-suit-wearing career women.

My early- to mid-thirties were difficult. I had a child and the early years of parenting were (extremely) hard on my body/mind. I gained weight. I turned to some very unhealthy practices to deal with my omni-present stress. This time was largely a fashion write-off. Extra weight inhibited body-conscious fashion choices. And I was too tired to care. But my career – and my life – continued to evolve.

My mid- to late- thirties have been terrific. I am healthy and happy with my weight range – confident enough to wear what I want. know what looks good on me. Aging is extremely liberating and I highly recommend it! I’ve always been a fashion junkie – and since I found blogs my sense of style has continued to evolve. Seeing real women wearing beautiful things in unique ways has made me realize that I am not limited by my shape or age. Only by my imagination. And, as my mother will tell you, I’ve never lacked for that 🙂

FORTIES

Audi
from Fashion for Nerds
Age: 40

Though I’ve never been afraid to express myself through clothing and style, at 40 I feel more empowered than ever in critically examining fashion’s rules and trends, figuring out what works for me, and throwing out the rest. For instance, conventional rules might state that miniskirts are inappropriate for a woman over 35, but wisdom and experience have taught me that great looking gams should be shown off. As my confidence in my body has increased, so has my confidence in pushing the boundaries of style and being willing to experiment and make mistakes on occasion. My style is more playful than it was when I was younger, because now I see it mostly as an avenue for creativity, self-expression, and fun. When I was younger I viewed fashion more in terms of fitting in with a particular crowd, an idea that is no longer important to me. Moreover, I’d say that my current style reflects more facets of my personality than it ever has before; I’m no longer afraid to be stylistically schizophrenic and have embraced the fact that I have many sides, which will translate differently into my outward appearance on any given day.

Alison
Age:40

My wardrobe is definitely more colorful than it was 20 years ago. Black still often dominates, but now punctuated with more vibrant colors. I love my teal and fuchsia coat. It would have been too bright and noticeable for me 20 years ago—especially for outerwear! I also now own several pairs of jeans—I hardly wore them in high-school and college.

As a child of the 80s, I loved the boxy oversized look and had to adjust to the more fitted styles of the 90s. I now appreciate a good cut, more architecturally constructed clothing and better “lines”. I’m more comfortable with clothing that shows my shape even though I have gained several pounds in the past fifteen years. I’ve always been a bit self-conscious about my legs, but am happy leggings are popular again, and that I have the luxury to indulge in a few pairs of great boots, something I couldn’t afford in my 20s.

What defines my style? I love black, purple, and silver. Anything asymmetrical, never any logos, jewel tones, tunics, decorative zippers, rivets or studs, knits, black mini ruffles (current obsession), faux velvet, hot pink, faun, teal, stripes (esp. on socks and stockings), not many collars or button down tops, anything with a peacock feather, beads, metallics, or embroidery.

Deanna
Novelist and blogger at deannaraybourn.com
Age: 41

The French have a wonderful expression—bien dans sa peau. It loosely translates to being at ease with oneself, comfortable in one’s own skin. For years it was my goal, and somehow, without even being aware of it, I arrived. It might have had something to do with turning forty, but I suddenly realized I was relaxed with myself, and I understood my own sense of style. (I am a firm believer that fashion is who you wear; style is who you are. I am much more interested in the latter than the former.)

My own style has evolved from the two halves of my life. I’m a writer, which means that a good part of the time, I am at home wearing jeans and Gypsy skirts and an armful of bangles. But I also travel for book signings and personal appearances, and—for a variety of reasons—I like to dress more formally, injecting as much glamour as I can manage. Sometimes the worlds collide—at my first publishing dinner, I wore a little black dress but I topped it with a burnout velvet opera coat dripping with fringe. And from time to time, the more constructed dresses I buy for appearances find themselves trotted out at my daughter’s school events or out to dinner with my husband. My daughter calls me a Bohemian bombshell, which is intended—and taken!—as a tremendous compliment.

Mary
from Unmitigated
Age: 46

A friend likes to point out that this is the last year I can claim to be in my mid-forties. I must point out that 46 doesn’t really feel any different to me than 40 did. I am actually twenty pounds lighter now, that I was at 40, so it even feels a little better.

My style is in development right now. Really. I have managed to reach this age wearing mostly jeans and sweatshirts. The sweatshirts have been out for the last couple years, owing to the hot flashes (my own personal summer). But, until now, my wardrobe, hair, and makeup choices have all had to do with ease, convenience, and shortest possible prep time.

I am fairly comfortable with my body, and have come to accept that the pooch-y belly thing is not going away. I love my curves, but I have noticed that my 36D breasts feel a little more matronly than voluptuous. That could be because of the ever-decreasing distance between my bra and my belt! New bra fitting, anyone?

Since 40 or so, I have placed a barrier before myself, guarding diligently against anything that looked “too young for a woman my age.” Long hair? I’m too old for that. Skinny jeans? Not on a woman my age. This, I have come to realize, is silly. Which doesn’t mean I am going to start wearing baby-tees and ultra low-rise jeans, but I am looking for a way to be both sophisticated and still fun!

At age 46, I am working on a personal style makeover with a purpose. Starting in the second week of March, I embarked, with dr.wende, on Wardrobe Therapy. I am hoping to emerge having learned some things about myself!

Barbara
Age: 47

Currently, I am less concerned about both personal style and body image than I ever have been. Or perhaps I should say differently concerned. Functionality seems to be my motto. My body, in the past year or so, started gaining fat in different places and it took a while to get used to that. But with exercise and yoga, things are feeling pretty good. Feeling – that’s the key for me. I want my body to be strong so I can do all the things I want to. I don’t think as much about how it looks as how it feels.

As far as clothes, I¹m not sure when or how it happened, but I went from being quite stylish to almost purely functional (still cute enough, I hope) for 95% of my waking hours. As a freelancer, I don¹t dress for work regularly, although I have occasional meetings and conferences for which I make more of an effort. I have a collection favorite outfits that I recycle that have a casual professional/Bohemian/Gypsy vibe that I suppose is my personal style. But fashion is not something I think about much anymore. That seems like it could be a rather sad state of affairs or some sort of negative reflection on my self-image, etc., like I’ve “let myself go.” But it’s not. I’ve never been happier or more at ease with myself.

Annie
Age: 48

I’m forty-eight, and the last few years have been some of the best years of my life as far as my self-image is concerned. This is both unexpected and a huge relief, as I used to feel a lot of despair about my looks and figure.

The most compelling reason for my attitude change is that I know so many people who are dealing with serious medical or weight issues that I feel very fortunate just to have a healthy body. (This is a big paradigm shift from having the “luxury” of worrying that my legs weren’t long enough or my skin was too pale.) I’ve gained just enough weight in my forties to have a more feminine-looking body, which I always longed for. And for the first time in my life, I’m working out in a gym, which is good for my body, energy level, and attitude. It also helps tremendously that I have a partner who is fabulous and appreciative. He and I just returned from a trip to the Caribbean, and the Latin American women inspired me with their confidence and allure, which clearly was self-generated and not dependent on some narrow external definitions of beauty, age, or weight.

My style has remained much the same over the years. I like tailored clothes, in black, brown or gray, simple ballerina tops, button-down sweaters, clunky clogs, platform loafers. I’m partial to interesting hats, perhaps inspired by former NY congresswoman Bella Abzug and pictures of my glamorous Irish grandmother and her sisters. I own a few vintage dresses, fitted Madmen-esque styles from the late fifties and early sixties.

FIFTIES

Deja Pseu
from Une femme d’un certain age
Age: 53

When it comes to style, I’ve always had a sense of what I liked, but until the last fifteen years or so, my almost nonexistent clothing budget severely constrained my choices. Whatever I could find at thrift stores or deep discount that fit me was what I wore, whether I liked it much or not. I do remember a couple of thrift store finds that I was thrilled with and wore until threadbare. One was a grey wool quasi-military jacket from the late 1940’s. It fit my curves like it was made for me. Another was a grey wool cloche hat, probably from the 1930’s. I’ve always been drawn to styles that are clean and simple, without a lot of visual clutter. I tend to shy away from pattens. I’ve come to describe my style as “classic with a twist.” My quirky, irreverent side needs some fun accessories to lighten up my otherwise straighforward look. Aside from budget, the biggest change over the years has been achieving a clear sense of what I can or wish to wear vs. what I love on someone else. I can now admire someone else’s style without feeling it’s somehow “better” than my own or trying to emulate.

At my age, I’d love to be able to tell you that my body image is 100% positive, but that’s just not the case. There are definitely days when I dress to camouflage. But I’ve learned to buy what fits regardless of the size on the label (which nowadays are meaningless anyway) and no longer blame my body if something doesn’t work for me. Trying on a garment that looks terrible on me no longer ruins my day.

Mary
Age: 56

At 56, I must find ways to celebrate how I look, because everywhere I turn, someone is making age into a problem. Wrinkles should be removed through injections or surgery. Gray hair should be hidden. Skirts shouldn’t be too short, heels shouldn’t be too high.

I look for clothes I think are pretty. Style and fashion are important, but only if they’re flattering. I’ve discovered that my skin isn’t reacting well to hair color, so I’m deciding whether to find gentler alternatives or just let my hair gray naturally. I love skin care products and makeup, and while I don’t know if they actually do me any good, I’m afraid to stop using them and find out!

I chose this photo of myself with my daughter just before my son’s wedding last fall. I stopped looking for “Mother of the Bride” (and Groom) dresses, after finding only shapeless skirts and portrait collars like my grandma used to wear, or “Cocktail Dresses” that were mostly mini skirts and baby doll dresses that look great on my daughter’s friends. It took me months to find my chocolate brown taffeta Badgley Mischka, which met my criteria: pretty and flattering. I felt beautiful.

* * * * *

You fabulous readers in your teens and 60s, I hope you didn’t feel excluded. I queried many more women than contributed, and I think I ended up with a wonderful and fascinating group of musings, don’t you? HUGE thanks to all of these amazing ladies for taking the time to mull over and write up their feelings on style and body image as they pertain to age.

Whose story resonated most with you? Was it someone in your actual age group, or outside? Please feel free to add your own story in the comments. I’d love to keep this conversation going.

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  • Corrine/Frock And Roll

    I loved this so much that I am going to bookmark it and possibly read it another 1,76567789 times!

    I feel SO much more comfortable with myself now as a 22 year-old woman than I did as a 17 year-old; it sounds a little bit nutty, but at 17, I was almost two dress sizes smaller than I am now and STILL felt like I was enormous! I didn't appreciate what I had and while I'm a little bit bigger now, just feel so much more accepting and confident within myself than I ever have before. Now, if I think a trend doesn't look particularly fabulous on me, I'll just bypass it and find something that does, but a few years ago, I probably would've lamented it and felt unnecessarily unappreciative of my body for days.

  • Rachel @ Suburban Yogini

    As someone who is dreading turning 36 in June this post made me so happy. Things will just get better and better. Thanks Sal and thanks guest bloggers for making my day 😀

  • Renee

    such a cool post! it was really interesting to hear what my peers thought about style as well as the older women. i love that style is something you can have at Any age!

    thriftypoet.blogspot.com

  • Jane W.

    thank you!!! all of these images resonated with me on some level, but as someone who is 41, I enjoyed seeing images of 40+ women doing their own sartorial "thing."

  • Casey

    This post is so inspiring! What a fantastic idea Sal–and thanks to all the lovely gals who wrote too! 🙂

    I'm hitting my mid 20s officially this year (25 in May), and think I'm starting to finally figure things out a bit more for myself. I still struggle with the typical "20s insecurities", but am finding they've lessened. I loved the point Jessica brought up about us 20-somethings being bombarded by the mantra of "wear this now before you get old!"; it's so silly. Frankly, half the time I don't like (or can't afford) what it being pushed as age appropriate for the 20s, so why buy into it? I much prefer gals who strike out on their own, or put their own spin on things (as many of the imaginative and talented fashion bloggers do).

    I also want to give a big thank you to the ladies outside my age group too–you all are so inspiring! Honestly, I can't wait to hit my 30s, 40s, and 50s and start working styles that I feel too young to pull off yet (my baby face trips me up when trying more sophisticated styles ;). Y'all are amazing! 🙂

    ♥ Casey
    blog | elegantmusings.com

  • La Historiadora de Moda

    As a woman in her 30s, I can attest that I am much more confident and body confident now than I was five years ago — even though I'm a size or two larger now and not as toned. I have always been adventurous with my style, although I tone it down more for teaching than I did in the past.

    I really enjoyed all the perspectives here, but I especially enjoyed the 30-50 range.

    Thanks to you and all these ladies for such a wonderful post!

  • Deja Pseu

    Sal, thanks so much for inviting me to participate! It was really great to read everyone's responses and see the variety of attitudes toward style.

  • 3goodrats

    I'm in my 30s and while I loved reading the thoughts of women of all ages, I'm particularly inspired by those who are older than me. I like to look forward to aging, not dread it – it's inevitably going to happen, and reading what these women have written makes me feel so much better about it!

  • Middle Aged Woman

    Audi is 40???? I would have said she was ten years younger based on her pictures and the fun style she always radiates! Thanks for the invitation, Sal, it came at the perfect time.

  • AprilT

    The one I identified most with was Kristin, although she's three years younger. I've always loved fashion and my style has changed over the year (Thank God, in some caes), but my 30s were pretty much a bust fashion-wise. I had young children, a full-time job, and a marriage that was disintigrating. I dressed mostly for covering up what was left of the weight I'd not lost. My 40th year was an actual wonderful time for me and I've had so much fun the past two and a half years redefining my style.

    I really love that you did this post…THANKS!

  • Alison Cross

    Barbara Moore – you look FABLAS!

    oh dear, am I going to be able to read the little anti-bot thing that will let me post this? I'm useless with them. Maybe I'm a bot after all…..

    Ali x

  • LPC

    Wonderful to see so many women from all the ages. I think it's quite common for one's relationship with style to improve as we age. Don't worry young 'uns!

  • K.Line

    Sally: What an AWESOME post. You've outdone yourself. I have to read this another 10 times to even scratch the surface. Thank you for letting me be a part of such a wonderful piece.

  • ccjach

    Great Post! At 50 I've finally figured out a few things:

    Less is more
    You get what you pay for
    Edit, Edit, Edit
    Preppy/Conservative Styles are not boring

  • Christina Lee

    Sal, How utterly FANTASTIC was this post!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Elle

    Thanks for a great post. I just turned 50 at the beginning of the year, and am really trying to find a style of my own that works for me. I've always been so concerned about what others think I should be wearing, and that is something that I (think) I finally feel free to let go of.

  • Myrna

    FABULOUS posting. Thanks Sal.

    I can relate the most to the women in their forties – which I am at 47.

    Raising children and running a home based business, I ended up in fashion rut of jeans and t-shirts. The sweatshirt comment was so familiar.

    It's nice to take the confidence of my 40's and work my way back to an expression of self through fashion. My career was in textile art. I'm on a sabbatical and have time to focus on fashion instead. Wonderful.

    My style has always included black with color, clean lines with a focus on details, and jewelry especially necklaces and bracelets. A bigger budget would be a bonus.

    – Myrna

  • alli

    This is a great post- I see similar sorts of discussions in magazines all the time, but not many have real life thoughtful opinions and testimonies attached! Love it!

  • Zuzuli

    I love growing older. I am more confident in who I am, what I want to do, where I want to be. It helps that I look young and that I have a mother who never worried or nagged about age.

  • materfamilias

    What a great post — thanks for all the work you did imagining it and putting it together. It's a wonderful resource.

  • Anne

    This is such a cool post! It's so interesting to read the thoughts of so many beautiful, confident women in different age groups.

    At 28 (just a couple months shy of 29), I haven't been able to relate with the 20's age group in a few years. I find that there's this gap in between girls in college/fresh out of college in their early 20's and me in my late 20's because we're in such different stages of life. I still found this to be true reading your post. Although I agreed with a lot of things in a lot of posts, I could relate most with Audi. Specifically, the last few lines:

    "When I was younger I viewed fashion more in terms of fitting in with a particular crowd, an idea that is no longer important to me. Moreover, I’d say that my current style reflects more facets of my personality than it ever has before; I’m no longer afraid to be stylistically schizophrenic and have embraced the fact that I have many sides, which will translate differently into my outward appearance on any given day."

  • lisa

    This is such an inspiring post with so many diverse viewpoints. Kudos for including two of my favourite bloggers (Jessica from Saturday Jane and Winona from Daddy Likey)!

  • WendyB

    It was fun to read this especially after I just read Bazaar's "Age" issue which gave me anxiety with all the suggestions/rules. I don't want to be classic now. I was worried about that in my 20s. Now I want to be Iris Apfel but sexier.

  • stacy

    I loved reading about the women in their 40's — maybe because I'll be there next year! They all looked so youthful, but not like they're trying too hard. Everyone in the entire post had great style — all ages.

  • Almost 40

    Every day I think it's impossible for me to love this blog more than I already do. And then, sweet Sal, you whip out a beautiful collaboration like this one! Truly, you have outdone yourself. SPECTACULAR post!

  • ~Tessa~Scoffs

    Love this post! Love all the bloggers and their looks! This made my day!

  • Poppy Buxom

    Wow, great post! (And shout out to Mary of Unmitigated!)

    At 53 I'm going through a transition. After five years of writing a personal blog, I've decided that I'm too old to be a mommyblogger–my kids are long out of diapers–I've always been fascinated by fashion–and I'm one of the few babyboomers I know who's completely comfortable in the blogosphere.

    So I've started blogging about beauty, skin care, fashion, and style for women my age. I started on March 1st and have received a huge response.

    Women my age are really hurting for advice, ideas, and general support. I'm so glad there are others out there telling them that they don't have to give up, and that style is eternal.

  • Cedar

    Audi is 40!!?! I'm a fairly regular reader of her blog, and I honestly thought she was in her late 20s to early 30s, especially when she had the shaggier hair cut.

    Wonderful post, by the way. I'm going to save it so I can read it over and over again.

  • Anonymous

    What perfect reading for a Monday! At 48, I'm inspired by each of your contributors: those younger making me hope my own daughter has the same confidence, my contemporaries giving me much inspiration. Thanks for assembling this wonderful group of women!

    Karen in Paris

  • Lemondrop Marie

    I identified most with those in my age group, and was fascinated with everyone's especially those whose group I am approaching.

    Like so many of these women I am beginning to embrace and honor what I look good in instead of trends. I have so many pairs of pants in my past that I tried to make work because they worked for everyone else…. what a waste of time and money.
    Fabulous post as always!

    Marie @ Lemondrop ViNtAge

  • teaandfeathers

    Fantastic collaboration!

    I loved the thread of 'you know what? I'm not afraid to experiment, to just be me' that ran through all of the stories, regardless of the age of the ladies involved.

    Beautiful, confident women all!

  • Anonymous

    I'm 35 and found myself relating most to the 40s gals, possibly because at least two of them used the word "Bohemian" (and Audi has always struck me as kind of bohemian anyway) and that's my sartorial desire.

    I've wanted to dress vaguely gypsy for as far back as I can recall, but I always felt it ended up looking too old or too costume-y on me. It's nice to know I might be growing into my style! I also love that one gal who said her style was becoming more practical, I definitely have moments where I'm going to be in my sloppies because the alternative is getting paint all over my clothes.

  • Candice Virginia

    Thank you for the inspiring post and thank you to all of the wonderful contributors!

    I am only 22, but whenever I think about fashion, I always remember something my grandmother (a gorgeous woman to this day) told me when I was a little girl: "I felt the most beautiful when I turned forty. Everything suddenly changed for me when I found elegance."

    I just loved that simple comment, even though I was only nine years old!

    Anyway, probably for this reason, the stories from the older women really resonated with me.

    Thanks again!

    ~Candice

  • Peldyn

    Great article 🙂

    I am so much happier in my late 40's than I even was at any time in my life. I expect my 50's to be just as great. I just wish that I had not listened to people in my mid 20's who told me that I had to be a certain thinness and live a certain lifestyle. What the hell was wrong with being a SAHM and being a bit large in the hips? (umm and I wasn't really all that large I just had skinny friends) My husband sure as hell didn't complain. To think I didn't love my body then is a shame.

  • annie

    Sally, thanks for inviting me to be part of this discussion. I was inspired and moved by the other stories ~ it's very cool to hear what real women think and feel about body image and style.

  • Rad_in_Broolyn

    Like many others, I totally love this post. I have only begun to recognize that I am beautiful regardless of whether my body fits cultural norms since my late 20s, and I as I soon hit my 30s, I will remain confident, interested in style, and hopefully as interesting as these lovely ladies. Your posts are just amazing, Sal. I know that you gets some negative feedback, and I'm sure those folks have their reasons, but your blog does such great work and generates such awesome discussions. Thanks again!

  • Audi

    Wow, this post turned out fabulous, Sal. Thank you so much for inviting me to participate — it was a fun exercise for me and I loved reading everyone else's contributions!

  • deanna

    Sally, I loved being part of this project! I am completely inspired by the other responses. (And Candice, that is a superb quote–and precisely what turning forty felt like to me.)

  • Stephanie L.

    Both age and location have a huge impact om my style. I grew up in L.A. and NYC (albeit Staten Island, which is sort of ground zero for the whole "guido/guidette" nightmare) I'm 38 now, a mother of three and don't feel like I have to dress any particular way to identify with any particular tribe. I live in suburban New Jersey and, Jersey Shore grumblings aside, there is a definite style here that is just not me. I don't do french manicures, long nails, high heels, straightened hair or expensive handbags. But I can rock a graphic tee, jeans and boots like nobody's business and am old enough not to feel like I need permission to do so. My spiky, crazy hair is mine alone and doesn't need to look like the latest style among the mom set. Going to art museums is always a revelation, because I am suddenly surrounded by people who look JUST LIKE ME.Or close enough I feel right at home! 🙂

  • Annie

    I just turned 41 three days ago and where my 40th birthday was fraught with angst, this one was easy and mellow as could be. I feel I have finally become comfortable in my own skin, which is something I was pleasantly surprised to discover. It just happened. I didn't force it or fight it. It was there and what a lovely birthday gift it was! I think as I age, I come to appreciate things I took for granted when I was young(er), like my relative good health (knock wood), my family and friends and the roof over my head.

    Clothing and fashion were always a source of stress and anxiety for me. I was always trying to fit in. My desire to assimilate, to turn into a chameleon or shape-shifter, was so I wouldn't be noticed, or if I was noticed, it would be to acknowledge that I fit in, that I was wearing the "right" thing. I was dressing the way I thought I should, not the way I wanted. Entering my fourth decade changed all that. I am better able to filter out all the nonsense and just go with my gut. I know what colors I prefer and the styles that compliment my figure; while I'm not above wearing Spanx now and then, I really just accept myself, lumps and all.

    Life isn't easy and it's far from perfect but I enjoy the process of being alive and I'm thankful for my sweet children and my husband, the love of my life. In the words of my role model Eva Zeisel, an artist who is 103 and still making amazing things, I am ever on a "playful search for beauty."

  • Eyeliah

    What a cool and insightful post, I know I will be reading it over and over! 😉

  • RETRO REVA

    Sal !!!

    What a GREAT idea !!! I am 45 and LOVE trends, and sharing my personal style with others. I am looking foreward to blogging about fashion well into my little old lady days!

  • BookGirl

    A fabulous post, Sal. I'm in my 50s, and my style has never been more adventurous or personal than it is now. Like many of the women in the post, growing older has given me more confidence in my tastes and my style.

    As Audi noted, when I was younger, fashion was often a way to fit in; now it's a form of personal expression.

    I can't discount the effect that the recent proliferation of style blogs by "real" women wearing "real" clothes has had on me. Before these, women were often limited to the traditional fashion magazines, which offered little support for individuality — or reality, for that matter.

    Blogs like yours provide not only ideas, but tremendous inspiration and encouragement to those of us who prefer to dress out of "uniform."

    Thanks!

    Clara

  • Frances Joy

    Love, love, love!
    Brilliant and inspirational.

  • MJ

    I love what Audi said about being a 'style schizophrenic'. I'm in my late 30s & just feel like my style has 'come into its own' in the past few years. I consider myself pretty schizophrenic when it comes to my daily attire. Some days its sexy secretary, other days its a bit quirky & still other days its pretty darn average. There are basic guidelines, both body related & dress-code related but I feel now (which I didn't feel in my 20s) that I know what works for my body & having that knowledge makes me more adventurous as far as color & other aspects. If a deep v-neck with a cami layered under it looks great on my bod, why not try it in different colors? In my 20s I was trying to figure it out so my style was pretty jumbled & IMO, terrible. With age has definitely come wisdom.
    I still have days I question what I'm wearing & why I'm wearing it. But hearing how nice I look on a regular basis and having people who I know aren't into fashion at all say 'I love it when you wear hats' makes those 10-15 minutes I spend every evening laying out clothes for the next day more than worth it.

  • that one girl

    Such a wonderful post! This couldn't have come at a better time – I've got a month left in my 20s and have decided that turning 30 deserves a major wardrobe overhaul (well, and I need it desperately). This was exactly what I needed to read today!

  • Stacy

    I just found your blog a few days ago and have been voraciously reading posts old and new. This one in particular has given me lots to think about…not to mention giving me some great style ideas!

    stacyverb.typepad.com

  • amy

    This post has so much heart! Thanks for being such a fabulous platform for these different women's voices to be heard.
    In my early 30s, I feel (along with so many of your contributors and readers alike) that things just get better and better. In fact, I can't wait for that sentiment to emerge and become embraced by our American media, but i suppose that's a topic for another day, eh?

  • closet365

    This is cool. Very awesome to see the age sprectrum in fashion blogging and see that style exists at every age.

    Plus,I found more fun blogs to follow now. Bonus!

  • Make Do Style

    Lovely post xx

  • Anonymous

    I have never before commented on your blog, even though I've been reading for a year now, but I have got to say something now! What a fantastic entry!! What I love about your blog, Sal, is how you seem to bring the good out of a lot of people!

    I'm 24 and love the way I look and reading these stories from women of many different ages made me feel really extra inspired and happy right now. Can't quite put my finger on it, but thanks a lot for such a great post!

  • Fiona

    This is an absolutely fascinating post. Who needs womens' magazines when you produce posts like this??

    PS. I'm sorry to hear you've been receiving hurtful comments, I think you and your blog are inspirational.

  • Academichic

    Oh my god, Sal, I love this post! I don't even know where to begin gushing! I also can't wait to check out all those new to me blogs by these fabulous ladies, awesome feature! S.

  • Anonymous

    I am 67, follow fashion just as I did always. Pick and choose some trends that looks good on me. The difference: now I check with my 40 year old daughter, and 33 year old daughter in law. I wore mini several times around, and I really stopped wearing that are shorter than 2-3 " up from my knee a few years ago. I wear leggings (do you think I am too old for this? ansear: of course not!) the third time around, and enjoy them. Skinny jeans do not look good anymore, but skinny capris, clamdiggers, anything that is a little shorter – are great. Pencil skirts I always wore, since 1960 on. So do not be afraid – you will never loose the capability of mixing classics with trendy.)
    :-))))
    Keep your weight at check, exercise
    and enjoy your life:-))))

    PS: English is my second language:-)))

  • The Waves

    I am so blown away by this post that I don't even know what to say but thank you for sharing these wonderful pieces of personal histories!

  • Rachel

    I just found your blog today and I must say that this is amazing! What a fantastic idea to have this diverse group of women share their style stories.

    I personally relate to Hillary of byhillary though we are a few years apart. I am 28 and the last several years have gone thru a major style transition – from a FL surfer girl to a very chic, sophisticated (I hope!) woman. I too love dresses and feel most comfortable and put together in a dress and a great pair of shoes. I also really related to Audi though there is a decade between us. I agree with her that as you get older it's much easier to be adventurous with your clothing. You lose so much of the desire to fit in with the crowd and want much more to stand out!

    Thanks for a great post, I will be reading more!

  • Aunt Snow

    This is a wonderful post! I came here from Femme d'un certain age, and I am also in my 50s. I love reading this.

  • hillary

    Sal
    I feel so honored you asked me to be a part of this. I can't believe all the amazing ladies you got to do it. I am in good company.

    But I am only 23 *nods* ask my mom she will tell you. 😉

  • Amanda

    What a fantastic post! Thank you, I needed it today. I love how the ultimate theme is to feel comfortable in your own skin. And thanks for introducing me to some great bloggers, some of whom I've already added to my Google Reader.

  • Harriet

    What a fascinating post, I really enjoyed seeing how people felt about themselves and their age, and how they felt they 'should' be compared with how they are. A great and inspiring read, thank you!

  • Anonymous

    Am here via DaddyLikey (only because I hit her blog before I went to yours today). This provides a great perspective to any woman. As for me, up until very recently I would say my style was "uninspired" – shopping at mainstream stores & buying whatever I could find there that caught my eye or looked similar to what was in the magazines.

    Now thanks to all the wonderful style bloggers out there, I'm finally (at, um, 56) learning to edit, find alternative sources for clothes, have more of a sense of humor/confidence in selecting what I like. Comfort, quality, and "what makes this special" are my guiding rules. et

  • Redhead Fae

    As a fabulous fifty, I found myself in total agreement with your contributors on fashion v. style.
    But why stop in the 50s? We are no longer "the older women" and I'd be delighted to hear from women in their 60s +. As my mum, who is a stunning 70+, women seem to disappear from the fashion mags and articles after "that certain age" which is sad, as many are still just as interested in seeing role models and styles on women like them.

  • Lynn

    Thanks for this post. I found it via Dustbury.

    I am 51. I've never given a lot of thought to style or fashion even when I was at the age when most women are concerned about being fashionable. I sew, therefore my style is not limited to what the fashion powers think it should be. I mostly dress for comfort but I do like to look presentable, well coordinated and colorful. I wrote more about it here.

  • Shannon

    I think I should have read this when I was 15, or even a few months ago. Either way, I'm SO glad I had the chance to read it now! As someone who has had an abysmal self esteem and body image problems for a long time, I cried when I saw such awesome women give such refreshing LOVE for their own bodies, their own STYLE. I suffered from an eating disorder for 4 years, and I'm still paying for it. If some one like any of these women (who I respect ALL of) had told me this when I was caught up in all of that, maybe things would've been different. Moms should show this to their daughters, any girl to sisters or friends. In a world (especially in college) when girls are in the habit of insulting themselves in the mirror, it's awesome to read about women who are who they are, and are totally cool with it!

    thank you for your site

  • Luinae

    What about teenagers? As a 14 year old, I think one on teenagers would be important, especially as teenagers are influenced by the media.

  • heisschic

    as a 24yr old- i dont exactly fear aging, but it's not something i've ever been excited about.

    well- this post changed that. im confident in my body now, but knowing that (if i choose) i will be even more comfortable in my own skin the more time i spend in it, well, that's just magnificent. and, yaknow, logical.

  • Eyeliah

    Such a great compilation post, will reread it again in the future. It is very timely for me as I am approaching 30 and working on revamping my girly style to something more grown up, but while still being rue to myself.