Reader Question: “I‘m turning 40 this year though I still feel 30 I have an 18 month old baby and I just feel like my style is a huge mum rut since dropping my breastfeeding down to once a day I noticed the weight start to creep in around my tummy and I’ve always been a naturally thin person so if I try to wear any of my dresses I almost look like I could be pregnant again, I feel yuck when I look in the mirror and I’m sick of always wearing jeans and a t-shirt. My biggest challenge is finding clothes that I like in shops that suit my age and figure. Clothes are either super skimpy or loose fitting which only makes me look bigger than I am. I have a classic hourglass shape with hips and a bum and I now have a little pooch in front so even though the clothes I think I like on the model or mannequin hardly ever suit my shape I feel like this makes me super fussy when it comes to clothes because I never feel comfortable”
Whether it’s having a baby and the body changes that go with this stage of life, or menopause and it’s body shape changes, it’s not uncommon to find shopping for clothes an experience that wants to make you scream – and there are good reasons for this. But it doesn’t necessarily have to be so and ways around this.
Accept Your Body Shape Changes
It’s not uncommon for your body shape to change some with age, from pregnancy and the stretching out of your previously taut skin, to just the natural general sagging and redistribution of weight of menopause.
Experiencing this can mean that your old clothes don’t look as good as they used to and it may be that you just have to get used to the less slim version and give yourself some slack (as we tend to imagine our stomachs are way bigger than they are in reality) or start adapting what you wear.
If you’re reading this I’m assuming that you want to look and feel your best, no matter what your age or shape may be. However, as you grow older, it can become more challenging to find clothes that not only fit your body but also reflect your personal style. You start to discover that much of what is available is aimed at the super-toned and younger body, even though the majority of the population is older (and wiser) and no longer wishes to wear dresses with cut-outs at the waist.
When it comes to dressing for your shape, the key is to accentuate your best features and downplay any areas you’re not so comfortable with. For example, if you have an hourglass figure with curves in all the right places, look for clothes that cinch in at the waist and flare out over your hips. This will accentuate your curves and create a feminine silhouette. But with your new more rounded tummy, you may not want it to be as tight fitting at the waist as what you used to wear, or you may want to look for features such as strategic ruching that hide your new tummy.
On the other hand, if you’re more apple-shaped with a bit of a tummy, try looking for tops and blouses that bypass your waist, or blousing your tops over the waistband of your pants or skirts. This will create less focus on your midsection and cover up any areas you’re not so happy with.
Fabrics that Skim and Do Not Cling
Fabrics are key to creating a look you love and that make you feel confident. Fabrics that cling and show off every roll make you way more self-conscious, whilst a fabric that skims make you look and feel better. So some of your old tighter jersey garments may not work as well now as they did in the past. Instead, start finding fabrics and styles that still work with your figure, but don’t highlight areas you want to camouflage.
The more heavily textured a garment is, the more bulk it adds to your frame. Look for fabrics that are more smooth rather than really chunky knits (tips of the day – if you’d describe a garment’s fabric as chunky, then it will be making you look more chunky).
Shine draws attention so it’s great to use in jewellery as it will grab attention, sparkling earrings or metallic necklaces are a great way to draw attention to your face. But shiny fabrics in garments will draw attention to themselves, so don’t wear a shiny garment on a area of your body you’d rather wasn’t a focal point.
Prints and Patterns May Be Your New Best Friend
So many women are under the illusion that you can’t wear prints or that prints aren’t flattering, yet they can be your new best friend.
Busy, dense prints can be really flattering, more so than solid colours or neutrals, this is because the eye can’t rest on them so keeps moving and you don’t notice what’s going on underneath. There are more tips about finding these kind of prints and patterns here.
Maybe the shops you used to shop at in your 20s and 30s are not really for you anymore. This is not uncommon. Most of us tend to shop in the same stores and only look at the same brands over and over when there are more options out there that are available, but we’ve never really taken a good look at them.
It may be time to expand where you shop and go into every store in the mall you never normally go to, as you might find some new places that stock clothes for the you, you are today, rather than the one you used to be.
Don’t be afraid of going online, there is a whole world of clothing options on the internet, reading the reviews is always worthwhile before you purchase and for an online store I’ve never experienced, I always go to Trustpilot.com and check the store out when looking at a store I’ve never bought from before to make sure it’s legitimate (there are more tips here too that are worth knowing). This list from Written with Love has a blog post which keeps a tab on stores you shouldn’t trust – so it’s another great place to check out before you buy.
If it looks too good to be true, it probably is. One of the biggest tip-offs to a dodgy online clothing store is the price. My rule of thumb is that if it’s really cheap, someone is being exploited (and sometimes it’s both the people making the very cheap clothes as well as you, as they don’t run true to size and look nothing like the photo).
I’ve got more tips on how to have a better online shopping experience here.
Check out my ultimate guide to online shopping here.
Always Experiment With Your Outfits
Finally, don’t be afraid to experiment with your style and try new things. Just because you’re getting older doesn’t mean you have to stick to the same old boring wardrobe staples like your jeans/tee combo. Instead, reassess your Style Recipe to figure out what you want to be expressing with your style right now as the key is to always stay true to yourself and wear what makes you feel confident and comfortable.
Playing in your wardrobe, and experimenting with different garments and accessories to create new outfits instead of just getting dressed out of the washing basket is key.
If you’re finding the whole body shape change and also change and stage of life hard, then consider getting yourself a new set of style guidelines that work for who you are now – an education in style and colour and an understanding of how your personality influences every style choice will make the process so much easier, and it’s the reason why I created my 7 Steps to Style program – to help you through this more easily plus it includes my Evolve Your Style program that has been designed with brain-based science to get you out of your style rut.