Is Your Wardrobe Ageing You?


This morning I did a wardrobe audit for a lovely 53 year old client. She’d already thrown out a pile of stuff before I got there, but we managed to get rid of another 5 garbage bags of clothes that were no longer working for her.

Like most ‘middle ageless ‘ (thanks Rosina) women, she didn’t want to look middle-aged, nor (not surprisingly) matronly, so as we went through her clothes it was easy for her to let go of everything that was dowdy, dated or decrepit.
By wearing these ageing clothes, you are adding years to your perceived age (and approximate age is one of the first assumptions we decide upon after what ‘sex’ someone is when we first see them). Details on clothing are important when deciding what is still working and what is passe – look at the fabrics, old man-made fibres are very different from the current ones, especially if they were a ‘fad’ at the time of purchase. Button details – big gold buttons can often give away the age of a jacket or coat. What are the pockets like? Pockets go through the fashion cycle as do all sorts of other details such as collars and lapels.
In her wardrobe was a jacket she’d bought 12 years earlier for her father’s funeral, that she ended up never wearing, that swamped her frame and was a dated pattern and style. Why keep something you’ve never worn for 12 years? It was placed front and centre too in her wardrobe, first thing you see – not making her feel she’d made a good purchasing decision, yet not being worn either.
Also, my client had had a breast reduction 2 years ago, and she had some clothes pre-reduction that now swamped her frame – she’d had to buy ‘big’ just to fit her breasts in. Plastic surgery can alter the styles and shapes of clothes you wear. Interestingly it also changed the ‘style’ of clothes she wore, as she now chooses clothes with feminine details, but before the reduction had only chosen ‘practical’ clothes. Fortunately she’s enjoing her new body more as well as expressing her feminine side through her clothes, which she hadn’t felt able to before.
We’re written up a shopping list, and are off next week to get her some new threads to update and upgrade her look – we’re both excited!
Do you have clothes in your wardrobe that are pilled, stained or don’t work anymore? Not sure what you should keep or get rid of?
The first step I taken when sorting through a wardrobe is to get rid of the villians. After that it’s a matter of assessing each piece for its viabilility. An objective pair of eyes can really help, either a friend with great style who completely understands your,style, or the professional help of an image consultant can get your wardrobe sorted out.
In Melbourne and want your wardrobe sorted? Contact Imogen for an appointment.
Elsewhere in the world? Try the Directory on the Association of Image Consultants International website for someone close to you.


I'm not sure if it's for you but how would you feel if you learned all about the colours and styles of clothing that suit your individual personality, shape and style? Just imagine what it would be like when you can open your wardrobe and pull together fabulous outfits that make you look and feel amazing every day? If you'd like to stop wasting money on the wrong clothes and accessories plus join an amazing bunch of very special women also on their style journey - then my 7 Steps to Style program is right for you. Find out more here.

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  • Five garbage bags of clothes that weren't working? I don't even own that many clothes! I guess I've got the purging down pat …

  • My problem is, that I´m in too much of a haste, when buying stuff. I rip off the tags too, so that I can´t take them back to the shop. I know, I know, from now on I won´t rip off the tags. Usually we have 2 weeks for the return, so I only have to blame myself. I weed my closet constantly, just two days back, I threw out a suit I last wore 2 years back to a funeral. It was ok, but I don´t need two funeral uniforms ( I have a black suit too). Somewhat puzzled I am about some of my clothes; are they too `young´for me. Usually my daughter then assures me to just wear those heels! My limit is max. 8 cm.

    • I still have a couple of pairs of shoes I can’t bear to part with – particularly a pair of Charles Jourdain boots that I used to wear a lot and now drag out for certain special occasions in winter – they still look smashing. And a couple of years ago I wore a 35 year old bridesmaid’s dress (in brown velvet) to a function I had no time to shop for and got lots of compliments … but I do chuck a lot of stuff a couple of times a year. It’s funny – I find some cuts do last and look good later on and others appear irredeamably dated.

  • I always dress older then my age- I think it comes from a desire to be taken seriously. I'm only 14, but I do lots of service work and am starting up a small business and I want to be taken seriously be adults. I try to dress youthful still, but it's kinda hard

  • Tiffany – she didn't think she would get 5 bags either! She was very surprised!

    Metscan – keep the tags on for a few days, try on with other clothes you own when you get home, then take the tags off when you're SURE!

    I'm sure that you're not dressing too young – those who worry about it – don't do it – it's the ones who don't worry who end up dressing MDAL. Many dress too old for fear of dressing too young.

  • Thank you Imogen! I guess my anxiety goes back to my childhood. The few times my mother took me to town, she always said, that we are not buying anything, we are just looking at things. So, in my adulthood, I´m never looking, I´m always buying things. GRR. How harmful can we mothers be!

  • Luinae – I understand at 14 you want to be taken as more adult – but don't overdo it – your childhood is gone in a flash, you spend the majority of your life as an adult – no need to rush there!

    Metscan – interesting how our childhoods mould our adult realities!

  • My sole meeting with an image consultant = 7 garbage bags! AND she made me take them, with her, to Goodwill, otherwise she knew some items would creep back. Mostly my problem when shopping is the opposite, most of the clothes are too short and tight for me. I can't buy clothes in tall specialty stores b/'c the fabrics and construction aren't good enough.

  • Right on – when I work with clients, the first things to go are the ill-fitting garments, followed closely by the age-inappropriate ones. And many more women buy old than buy young, in my experience!

  • This post truly rocks! Yes, we do make judgements about people's ages very fast. I used to not tell people my age. The interesting thing is that, when I didn't, people assumed I was around 38-40. As soon as I decided to advertise it, I could tell they started looking extra hard for signs of aging. But that's off topic. I am sure my wardrobe has a few villains. Sometimes I buy clothes for their art appeal and just to look at. I love deconstructed stuff with threads hanging loose. I am never, ever confident in myself and how I dress so I couldn't really tell if I looked batty or not and my friends all dress in black stretch pants and loose tops so likely couldn't comment in the way I'd want them to.

    Just a comment to Luinae…GOOD FOR YOU working so hard at such a young age. Do you honestly need to be taken that seriously? As an older woman, I would be just as impressed by a 14-year-old looking like a 14-year-old and doing what you do as a 14-year-old looking somewhat older.

    Imogen, I so miss including the "e" in "aging" but my readership is mainly Americans. All the same, I can't spell moisturiser "moisturizer." It's too awful.

  • At this point, the only things I keep that I don't wear are items with historic value. My overalls from 1972, for example.

  • Hi Imogen,
    I would love to hire a professional image consultant to help me in my closet. I talked to someone the other day who charges $2500 for her fee, which includes about 18 hours of work in the closet and shopping and her own research…and then of course your clothes purchases are in addition to that. The cost although I am sure is worth every dime, is too prohibitive for me and my DH is not on board with spending the money. I think the idea though of finding getting a fashion savvy friend over as well as continuing to go through my collection of style and wardrobe books will help. I am in that early 50's age where I do need some help navigating what looks to old and/or too young…your advice is always extremely helpful!

  • Duchesse – I have the 5 bags in the boot of my car waiting for my next trip to the charity shop to drop them off!

    Sal – and yet so many women about dressing too young!

    Rosina – I refuse to do American spelling! Here in Australia nothing is converted for us when it's released in this market, whilst I have author friends who have to go through their books with a fine comb and take out anything that is particularly Australian (doona, Tim Tam etc) that would not be understood by the American market. Most of my readership is in the US, but as I'm not, I like to spell using the English way (without all those z'ds and with the u's).

    Kelly – not all image consultants will charge you that – shop around – you could find someone who spends just a few hours for a few hundred rather than committing thousands!

  • Yep, I'm sure I have one or two villains. A pair of black pants as worn by women 20 years older springs to mind. It's time they hit the charity pile!

  • Imogen and Kelly, NO WAY will I write in US English unless a specific client wants something written or translated that way. Kelly, keep on ageing 😉 …

    Imogen, I do know what doona and Tim Tams mean. I always liked reading things in different varieties of English and French. The next big thing will be South Asian English.

    Hmm, two possible problems are if one does not have the money to replace all unflattering garments (we need far fewer clothes than we think, though most women do need a pair of trousers even if we usually wear skirts or vice-versa, and in my frozen waste we need a bloody warm, bulky and alas usually ugly winter coat. (Hate those things). The other is if one's body shape requires wearing ugly trousers or whatever. Imagine there are solutions though they often involve a great deal of cash.

    I've given away several bags this summer. But what galls me is clothing that is a bit too worn to give to a charity shop. I have thrown some in the rubbish, though throwing out good fibres that could be used for other things makes me very sad and guilty.

  • Lagatta – I've discovered that clothes that are too worn to be sold in charity shops are recycled into rags and sold off by the charity shops – so I give everything to them.

    Also, our local zoo needs lots and lots of rags and take donations of clothes that are too worn to sell in op shops too.

    Glad that you know what a doona is! I think that the cultural difference and words make each culture intereting, and I love discovering different terms for everyday items.

  • There are many fine works of English literature coming out of India and other South Asian cultures, with cultural differences and new words galore for any Australian or Canadian reader (not to mention for British and US readers).

    The "ugly clothes" problem was a reference to a friend who alas ballooned up to about a size 26 (Canadian) as a result of many problems including two difficult pregnancies when she had to take to bed. Both of us have always been on the short and plump side, but my poor friend is among those who gets stared at and insulted when she goes out for a walk. She is trying to recover her health and get back into the job market, but you can imagine the hell of finding nice clothing on a modest budget in such a very large size.

    I guess I should give clean but somewhat worn clothing then – seemed a shame to toss anything pure cotton or pure wool as the fibres can be reused. Bedding for beasts is another good use!

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