Welcome to another in my series of how to live like a millionaire on a retirement budget.

To start, there is no one way that a millionaire dresses. Because as we all know, there is no relation between having money and good taste. The good news is you don’t want to dress like a millionaire. What you really want is this – to feel like a million in your clothes.

Start with Your Closet

You need to truly love everything in your closet. If you don’t, then it must go. It’s really is as simple as that. When you look in your closet in the morning it should be delight, not torture. Only buy a new piece of clothing if you absolutely love it, not because it’s just okay, or a good deal.

 
 

Know Thyself or Take a Good Look in the Mirror

First, it’s time to really confront your style. Who are you and who do you want to be? Some women’s style changes over the years, and other women find their style and stick with it.

My style has changed as my personality developed and my career changed. I once wore conservative suits to a corporate job at Exxon. Then I went into advertising and had fun being chic and cool. When I was a mom I wore utilitarian “mom” clothes.

A few years ago, I looked at myself in the mirror and thought, “I don’t like who I’m seeing.” I had recently retired from the work world and decided to teach English as a Second Language (ESL). I am a dynamic, wise woman and I saw a grey mouse. Time to embrace a new style that reflected my new sexy power.

Who Are the Women You Admire?

What kind of dame are you? Begin by looking to your icons for style inspiration. Feminine? Sportive? Classic? Bohemian? Eclectic? I chose: Georgia O’Keefe, Miuccia Prada, Eileen Fisher. They are strong, idiosyncratic women who have embraced their own personal styles. I realized I wanted the austere, minimal look. Uncluttered. Stark. Bold. Luxuriously simple.

What’s Your Lifestyle?

Think about your lifestyle. If you live in the mountains, you need rugged, outdoorsy clothes. If you live in the tropics, you need light floaty layers. If you live in the city, you can go for dark urban wear. Get the picture?

The Big Rule: If You Love What You’re Wearing, You Will Look Fabulous

Forget about fashion trends and styles. If you wear what you love, guess what? You’ll look great, and you’ll feel like a million. Repeat after me: if you want to feel like a million in your clothes, then love what you’re wearing.

Don’t Be Afraid to Be Merchandised: Let the Store Merchandise You

When I started buying the occasional Eileen Fisher piece I wondered why I didn’t look as good as the models in the photographs. It wasn’t about being young or slim.

One day I let the Eileen Fisher sales associate dress me. It was a great education. I tried on things I never thought I could wear or would go together. I learned about the right proportions of my body. I got an idea of cut and style. Most important: it’s not about one piece, it’s about how it’s layered with other pieces.

Looking Like a Million Takes a Lot of Work

Once you understand the look you want and how to create it, you can go your own way. Shop outlets and sales. But know that getting good clothes inexpensively is a lot of work and requires patience. You can pay the full price and buy less, or you can put in the effort and buy on a budget.

Shop where you normally wouldn’t shop. For instance, I have gotten absolute steals at stores that I don’t usually shop in. I’m talking about Neiman Marcus in the summer at their “last call sale, on sale!” Last summer at Bloomingdales on July 4th, there was sale upon sale upon sale, and my DD bought a $420 dress for $18. It can be done, but it’s work. Fun work, to be sure.

Your Hair is Your Most Important Accessory

Your hair style changes as you age, as your hair texture and color changes. Find a stylist who is truly an artist and will sculpt your hair to fit your face. Be brave! I went short after a lifetime of long hair and I feel the chicest I’ve ever felt.

You Want to Have a Pampered Look

Grooming is even more important as we age. We can’t change our age or our wrinkles, but we can look soigné, well groomed. You don’t have to go to a salon. There are plenty of inexpensive beauty treatments you can do at home.

Toes and hands are super important. Again, nails don’t have to be polished bright red, but they should be manicured, and clean.

Love your clothes. Care for your hair. Groom for pampering. Guess what, you look like a million!

So much to talk about here! Tell us what women you admire. What’s your style? Do you love your look? What have you learned about your body and fashion? What’s your biggest challenge in feeling like a million in your own clothes? Please add your voice to the conversation.

Liza DunkelElizabeth Dunkel is a writer and novelist who has lived in Merida, Yucatan, Mexico for 25 years. She is the Creative Director of Camp Liza www.campliza.com, a personal blog about stylish and creative living. “A thoughtful life is a luxe life.” Elizabeth is the proud founder of the Merida English Library. She discovered a second career as a CELTA certified teacher of ESL and is Merida’s first, only and best college coach www.superenglishmerida.com.

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