Fashion Over Forty

6 minute read

"Good clothes, simply made never date...of course they must not be made with exaggerated or extravagant lines."

— Elsa Schiaparelli 

Senza Tempo was recently featured in the Fast Company article by Liz Segran on fashion over forty. I launched Senza Tempo the year I turned forty. I approach design from my experience and what I see missing in fashion. I had a long discussion with Liz over lunch and email about my frustrations with the fashion industry and what prompted me to launch the brand. I thought I'd share a few things from of our discussion that didn't make it into the article. 

Think Before You Buy

Time is the greatest asset we all have and as we age it only becomes more precious. Most women in their 40s are balancing a busy family and work life. We can spend so much time searching (and searching) for clothing. Then later we waste more timing managing all we've bought. We rarely think about how much time we spend managing our wardrobes: organizing, re-organizing, sorting, donating, or re-selling what we don't wear. Fashion over forty should be about committing to buying and wearing styles that serve you and your lifestyle.

When I turned 40 I did a massive closet clean out — as in over 50% of my closet was donated or sold. So many of the lessons I espouse in the journal and on social media come from what I learned from this closet overhaul such as not giving into buying something just because it's a "good deal" and figuring out your wardrobe gaps and needs before you shop.

Find ways to cut down on the number of options you consider when shopping can help you make better choices and buy things you are more likely to wear often and keep in your closet.  

Know Your Needs

The better you know what best fits your body, personal style, and lifestyle, the less time you'll waste managing your wardrobe. As Liz highlights in the article, by the time women reach their 40s they usually know what they want. Know the colors that best flatter you, the styles that make you most comfortable, and what items will compliment what you already have is the best way to get the most out of your wardrobe. When you do a close clean out, edit against that list.

I've written previously about learning to identify your shopping weaknesses and creating a target shopping list after you clean out your closet. These are crucial and underappreciated steps to creating a wardrobe that serves you and not the other way around. Sustainable fashion isn't about buying clothing made with certain adjectives, but how you use the clothing and for how long.

Signature Accents

Red, pink, camel and leopard — those are my signature accents. They go with most everything in my wardrobe. I used to want a wide variety of options, but as I've gotten older I find I simply want a selection that makes getting dressed and packing easier. 

How many of us buy something in a certain color or print that doesn't go with anything else in our closet and then it's never worn? Committing to buying items within your signature palette — this small step goes a long way to helping you get the most out of your wardrobe.

Always Think About Versatility

Women in their 40s are running teams, departments, or entire companies — time is our most valuable asset. Shop with the goal to get the most out of what you buy. An ensemble like the Sophia/Frances combo or dresses like the Brigitte or Jackie II gives you a polished base that can be styled depending on your day. 

For less formal days or after-work events, wearing any of these items pair of slip-on lightweight sneakers like Converse or Keds gives these styles a modern casual feel. I especially like the Sophia paired with one of the Francoise tees and a pair of Converse sneakers for a high-low look. Add jewelry that suits your style or a small silk scarf around your neck for a retro-modern touch.

The Sophia and Frances ensemble can be worn on its own, or paired with the matching Natalie blazer if you need a full suit. I like to wear the ensemble with a tweed jacket or other complimentary blazer like the one below. 

Look at the Seams

To shop for less you have to think ahead. Think about all the different ways you'll wear something, but also think about how something could be altered down the road. Look at the seams of a garment before you buy. It's a mark of quality as I've written about in You Can't Greenwash Quality, but the width of the seams determines how much an item can be altered. Most Senza Tempo garments can be taken out 1 inch if your size changes.

Timeless Style is Proportional Style

The proportion of a style is an underappreciated element of timeless style and creating a long-lived wardrobe. Buying clothes that fit proportionately — that aren't too big or too tight is crucial to keep in mind when shopping for items you'll want to keep in your closet for years. 

Look at the tux Marlene Dietrich wears in Morocco — it's perfectly tailored and proportional — the shoulders fit perfectly. It's impossible to identify the era from her outfit. Compared to suits with broader shoulders or a more relaxed fit, which go in and out of fashion and are not flattering to all body types. When you shop for items that are proportional to your body shape and frame, they can live in your closet forever. Proportion is what I had in mind when I designed the Natalie blazer. It's a style that's been popular since the early 20th century and will endure for years to come. 

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