Learn how to make the most of what you got from these style icons.
If you’re like many women over the age of, say, 30, you’ve probably had the bizarre experience of walking into a store and not knowing where to shop. You feel silly in the junior section, yet many of the clothes made for women your age call to mind images of frumpiness and “moms who’ve given up”—definitely not your style. You may not be a kid anymore, but you’re not exactly ready to be put out to pasture. What’s a sexy, unique mature hipster to do?
One option is to create a signature style. I don’t necessarily mean sewing your initial onto all of your clothing, Laverne DeFazio-style, although you have to admit she did have a signature style. I’m talking about creating a look all your own, that people immediately identify with you.
The beauty of a signature style is that it is all yours, meaning that you can choose the way in which you want to represent yourself—sexy, sophisticated, playful, tailored, bohemian, badass—creating a style that defies classification based solely on your age. Even better, since you’re in charge here, you can choose the best looks for your body type and lifestyle, playing up your finest features in a way that works for you.
The goal of any true style is to make the wearer look and feel amazing. You know better than anyone else what makes you tick, but choosing clothing can be overwhelming, particularly if you’re on a budget, so let’s focus on the key elements of some signature styles. I would never suggest you copy any of these looks wholesale. Rather, I hope they’ll spark your imagination and inspire you. Let’s look at some rocking style icons of the past for inspiration.
When it comes to playing up great features, one need look no further than Tina Turner, who for over 50 years has managed to show off her miles-long legs. The dresses she wore in the 1960s and 70s may have reflected the styles of those times, but those legs were always featured and continue to be today. The clothing has become sleeker and changed to reflect contemporary styles, but those legs are always featured, making the style unmistakably hers.
Tina in 1970. The dress and hair are very much of their time, but those legs are an integral part of her look. / A more recent shot of Tina.
The clothing is more contemporary and doesn’t suggest any era other than the present and the hair has evolved over the years, but the legs are still featured, creating a look that is uniquely hers and reminiscent of her youth, yet not stuck in the past.
Cher is another “if you’ve got it, flaunt it” singer who has turned her body into a style statement, whether in 1960s fashions or those of today.
Cher, past and present. Again, the styles have changed to reflect where she is in her life now, but the abs are still in evidence and the over-the-top look is distinctly hers.
Cyndi Lauper is style icon who’s managed to stay true to her signature style while not looking like she’s desperately trying to hold on to the past. The “anything goes,” punk-vintage style has evolved into a sleeker style that is still daring, while making her look great well into her fifties.
Cyndi Lauper, then and now. While no one could accuse her of growing dowdy with age, she has toned it down a bit, adding a touch of sophistication to her still edgy look.
Similarly, Debbie Harry’s early “downtown glam” look is still in evidence in contemporary photos, but the styles reflect someone who is stylish and confident at her current age.
As you can see, Debbie Harry still looks great into her 60s. The fashions are a bit more covered up, but still reflect a punk sensibility. The hair and makeup are still glamorous and edgy, but have been updated and keep her from looking like a burlesque of her younger self.
For a different take on the same theory we need look no further than Joan Jett. Her original rocker style remains as vital today as ever, but, again, she has allowed her look to change with her life and the times.
Her black tank top has been and continues to be a favored wardrobe staple, but here we see that Jett can beautifully adapt her badass style to any setting, however refined.
None of these ladies are stuck in a time warp. A true signature style allows the wearer to comfortably evolve over the years and these women have demonstrated that beautifully.
Whether you favor a retro/vintage style, are strictly contemporary, or like to mix it up, a signature style will allow you to focus on your best features while letting your tastes dictate how you present yourself in a way that transcends trends. You don’t have to dress like a teenager to look hip and you aren’t banished to mom jeans just because you’re over 30. Focus on who you really are now and what you want to say through your style and you’ll have an age-appropriate signature style that will beautifully see you through the years.
Kelly Camille Patterson is an actor, writer and host of “Velveteen Lounge Kitsch-en,” an entertaining and lifestyle web series with its tongue planted firmly in its cheek, which celebrates all that is fun and kitschy about food, drink, party planning and lifestyle topics.
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