Age And Style And Self-Knowledge

This is an encore post I wrote about five years ago. It still rings true for me, and now I have even more experience to rely on. Edited to make it more current.
I’ve been contemplating how aging or experience translates to beauty. That’s what aging is, after all – experience at living. And experience helps us in every area of our lives: at parenting, at our jobs, at managing money and homes and hobbies.

So can it help us be more beautiful and stylish? I think yes. Here are some of the ways experience can make us more fabulous:

  • We don’t doubt ourselves as we select our wardrobes, so we are more sure of our choices.
  • Our style reflects who we are more closely — because we know who we are, more confidently each year.
  • We take the time and make the effort to take good care of ourselves. If budgets allow, we get massages and pedicures. If not, at least we know how to turn down the noise and take a long, fragrant bath.
  • We’ve learned how to accept, style and work with our hair, to its best advantage. No more straightenings for me, or setting my hair on juice cans.
  • We are not so self-conscious in our clothes as we once were. We get dressed, have a good look in the mirror, add or subtract a piece and go about our day. Because . . .
  • We know what works!

For example, I did a mini closet clean-out recently. I just focused on my skirts and blouses/tops. I tried most of them on to see if I still said “Oh, yeah!” when I looked in the mirror. “Do I still love this?” and “Do I want to wear this right away?” The Yes pieces got put back in the closet.

There were a few easy No’s – that just don’t fit right anymore, or are too scratchy/pilly. Then there are the very nice pieces that I haven’t worn in a long time. The fine black wool Banana Republic blazer. It’s in perfect condition, and it’s my size. But it’s double-breasted and has shoulder pads, and it’s just too masculine for me. That’s why I haven’t worn it, duh! So to consignment it has gone.

Beautiful, but it didn’t fit my style (this one’s a Donna Karan).

This chunky knit cotton cardigan suits my personal style much better.


This Cinq a Sept cardigan is also me (but miles beyond my budget).

I have learned my own style so that it’s easier to say No, whether at the store or in my closet, to pieces that are not Truly Me. That’s the beauty of experience.

What do you think? Has aging helped make you more beautiful, by giving you that extra boost of wardrobe confidence? Or are you thinking: shut up, Patti, I’ll take 29 and inexperienced any day?  : >

Stay fabulous,

 Some things are always welcome in my closet:

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  1. Having a young body is beautiful in one way, and being experienced with life and ourselves makes our body beautiful in another way. Either way, we are the same person, young inside, and Your True Self 😉

  2. I actually feel freer to experiment with slightly crazy things, like iridescent green eyeshadow and blue lipstick, or bright green boot-cut jeans with a bright pink sweater.

    One rebellious thing I do is to dress with a little bit of care before leaving the house. I feel that women in my age group where I live take the idea of looking like you didn’t “try too hard” too literally. Going shopping and running errands in sloppy-looking gym clothes seems to be the norm. Sometimes I’ll sneak down to the mailboxes late in the evening looking like that, hoping that I don’t run into anyone (I haven’t, yet!) but I dress better than that even to do laundry in the basement of my building. If someone is offended because I put a little thought into how I dressed and applied my makeup, I think that’s pretty strange! And I flaunt my 30% grey tailbone-length hair in various braids and ponytails. I like looking like an individual rather than an anonymous member of a herd.

  3. I have learned that I am more Boston than Boca. More Everlane than J McLauglin and to go for the good stuff. It is just nicer. And always check out the thrift stores.

  4. I agree 100% with you Patti! Last week I did a mini cleanse of my own closet (which I shared steps for doing this yourself, this past weekends post on the blog). My goal is to have a well curated closet – filled only with items I love, that love me back. Items that reflect my authentic self – regardless of trend…that fit and are comfortable. I have to say, my days since have been much clearer. Getting ready – so easy. I purged quite a bit. The items that I could not part with for whatever reason, are in clear “purgatory” bins at the bottom of the closet – out of sight as to not be distracting every day, but accessible if I decide to give one a try. My guess is these will be consigned this year, but I was not quite ready to part with a few. A clear closet = a clear mind, and who wouldn’t want that? Great reminders, thank you!

  5. I have definitely grown more confident with my style as I age, although I have always been pretty experimental with my wardrobe. I am more certain about the shapes and colours I like and what looks better on my body.

  6. Patti, as another “curly gal”, I think that your fourth reason -We’ve learned how to accept, style and work with our hair, to its best advantage. No more straightenings for me, or setting my hair on juice cans.- is the most important one. When you strip down to be basics of your personal style, it’s your hair/makeup that set the tone. If you’re fighting against it, it will fight back. Thank you for sharing this perspective on age and style.


    • thanks Rena – coming to love our curly hair is a huge step toward being authentic, I agree. xox

  7. I agree wholeheartedly that I’m enjoying the age I am!
    As for the style, I think I’m more comfortable trying new things now and not trying to be only “one” style. I always say that my personality is more than one dimensional, and maybe my clothes should be too??

    • yes, you have great multi-dimensional style, and it looks like you really have fun with clothing! xo

  8. Though I sewed most of my clothes, all my life, only since last year, that I am paying attention to my style. I have finally learnt to reconcile the latest fashion with my style. So, that is a big relief. I will be 55 next month; have decided to go grey. Happy times ahead I feel!!!

  9. How great to sew your clothes, it’s a terrific talent to have. And yes, gray is where it’s at : > xo

  10. It’s definitely true that as I’ve got older I’m more confident about what suits me and I don’t make so many mistakes. Some of the outfits I wore in my teens and 20s were horrific (I shared them on my blog recently). I just wish I could silence that vonce in my head that’s always telling me I shouldn’t wear this or that….

  11. I’m a city person now living in the country. My style and lifestyle melded when I was in my 30s and 40s. Now, dressing up would look pretentious/ridiculous. And it bothers me. I have to settle for put-together but casual.
    OTOH, I don’t try to make my hair something it isn’t. I need glasses and go for something fun. I don’t try to lose weight, just to stay healthy. All that stuff, I’m at ease with it.

  12. Patti, I agree with you that age brings a level of confidence that helps us find — and declare — our true, authentic style. Age brings many benefits to us if we pay attention. Sometimes it’s difficult because of all the negative, anti-aging rhetoric, but more and more I believe women “of a certain age” are owning their age and the gifts of their experience. Style is one way to present those gifts to the world.

  13. I was always confident in my style — it’s just that “my style” is not always “in style.” And I’m fine with that. Being able to sew has let me indulge my personal style. And, once 20-30 years went by, my favorite things are back “in” and I can access the current iterations in thrift stores for cheaper than I can make them.

    Am right with you about not fighting my hair anymore. I stopped straightening it decades ago. I cut it short when my infant snatched and pulled at my long locks to get my attention, and never grew it long again. I stopped dying it when my husband decided to let HIS hair go gray, since I no longer get mistaken by strangers for his mother.

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