When it comes to fashion over 50, are there any wardrobe essentials that every woman should have? This is the question that I posed to style expert, Judith Boyd, when we sat down for an interview. Join us as we discuss finding the right balance between rules and rebellion, style and self-expression. I’ll also share why scarves are my favorite type of accessory. Enjoy the show!  

 

Margaret Manning:

Hello everyone! This is Margaret Manning with Sixty and Me. This is the place where women over 60 come to be inspired.

My guest this evening is Judith Boyd. Judith has a fantastic blog called the “Style Crone“. Her life is basically dedicated to fashion, style and helping older women to feel good about themselves and to have a voice in society. Welcome, Judith.

Judith Boyd:

Thank you, Margaret!  It’s so good to be here.

Margaret:

It’s so great to have you here. I’m so thrilled because I have a lot of questions about fashion. I have been thinking about it since the last time we spoke, which was about a year ago I think, wasn’t it?

Judith:

It was.

Margaret:

Since then, I went down to Milan. We did a fashion video series with a woman from Italy, Melanie Page, who is a great stylist. We talked about a couple of things, on which I’d like to hear your opinion.

One of them was body shape: Your body size and shape as well as your wardrobe essentials. We talked about how to choose clothes that accentuate and make the good things look better, while hiding the unattractive shapes.

First of all though, do you subscribe to the theory that we have to wear certain types of clothing if we have a specific body shape? What’s your view on that?

Judith:

I think that the theory is probably true. I really don’t know the rules and, at this point in my life, I kind of instinctively know what clothes are going to fit me well. When I go into an estate sale, which is my place to go shopping, I can usually tell if a piece of clothing will work well with my body type.

Although, this is not really a process that I could articulate. It’s more instinctive and, when I look in the mirror, as I think I told you I do, if the article looks good to me then I go with it. I’m probably not the best person to describe it to other people.

Margaret:

I think, Judith, that you’ve answered the question in a really beautiful way. I mean, your business is style. You blog about it. You take pictures of your favorite styles, you have a passion for hats and you’re enthusiastic about keeping classic fashion going. A lot of women don’t do that.

Following your advice, this is what I consider: I am a little bit bigger than you. I’m also smaller on the top. I have a waist, but my hips are bigger. I am a size, or even two sizes larger below the waist than at the top. Because I’m now thinking about your strategy, I would instinctively go for a jacket that goes in at the waist and maybe has a little bit of a peplum sort of swirl at the back.

I think I now realize what you’re trying to tell us: know yourself, take a look at your body and trust your instincts.

Judith:

And experiment a little bit. It’s easy to do. I’ve spent so much time in the recycled clothing world, such as estate sales and consignment stores. I’ve also experimented quite a lot. I’ve come to know what I like, what I feel comfortable in. It takes some experimentation, but it’s inexpensive to do so at a thrift shop.

Margaret:

Honestly, I think we should talk about a thrift shop one day; the things you find at thrift shops. Maybe you have better thrift shops in your neck of the woods. You do such an amazing job at finding these wonderful items. Also, like we talked about earlier, it’s important to have a little detail to pinpoint your style. For example, this might include a little brooch.

Judith:

Exactly. It needs to be interesting and unique. It should express one’s personality from the inside out. It doesn’t have to be anything revolutionary or a huge step above what you’re comfortable with.

Margaret:

It must carry your voice. I read somewhere that your clothing is really a representation of your voice. It’s your outer expression of your inner self.

I want to go back for a second to body shapes and choosing clothes. You said choosing clothes should depend on our instinct. I think that’s great advice. Also, experiment and try things and feel good about it.

Judith, do you think that there are some basic wardrobe essentials that every woman should have in her closet? What would you say they are?

Judith:

I do have my wardrobe essentials, but they might not be what somebody else has. I like to have a background of black, so that I can embellish. I like brown, which I have on today. It’s very simple and understated. I can just take it out as far as I want to.

I have navy. I think grey is another one. I also like off-white, some natural backgrounds and sweaters or tops that are varying in color. Then I like to go from there. I also have quite an inventory of vintage dresses and so on. That’s a little bit off the beaten path.

Margaret:

See, dresses are difficult to find if you’re two sizes. For example, if I find a dress that fits me at the hips. It’s always too big at the top. I guess that’s another question. You didn’t specifically say, but should I assume the basics you meant are skirts, pants, jackets?

Judith:

I love to wear tunics. They are a big thing with me. Sometimes I also wear shorter dresses over jeans, and that’s a pretty good look. Layering is something else that I like. Do you like to do it, too? Does that work for you?

Margaret:

Actually, tunics are a great idea, though I’ve never thought about wearing one. I don’t tend to layer my clothes. I also don’t like a tunic top on leggings or pants because I’m so big at the hips.

This has turned into confession time, it seems. That’s alright though – we aim to be personal. We know each other, so even though this is an interview it feels like it’s just us girls.

I guess that wearing a tunic accentuates my hips too much. That’s why I don’t apply it on myself.

Judith:

This only means that you know your body.

Margaret:

Yeah, maybe that’s it. I do actually wear skirts though. I wear black skirts that go below my knee, and sometimes I would wear a long tunic with that and with pike tights.

Judith:

Right. I do a similar thing.

Margaret:

I think the important thing you’re stressing on is: Choose clothing that you know is going to make you feel comfortable and stylish. Don’t worry too much about the rules about what you should or shouldn’t wear. Do you agree with that?

When it comes to fashion over 50, choose clothing that makes you feel comfortable and stylish. Don’t worry about what you should or shouldn’t wear.

Judith:

Yes, I do. Out in the blogging world, I see such a full range of expression that it’s almost like permission to be experimental.

Margaret:

You know what I think is really cool about you and so many women in your blogging community? I look at them and I see they have big smiles. Whatever they’re wearing it represents their real personality, and that makes them happy.

Judith:

Right. One of the most inspiring styles for me is an advanced style. It involves pattern mixing, which I would never have done years ago, but now I find it a fun expression.

Some of the bloggers that I know have presented guidelines to pattern mixing. So, I can’t say that I’m totally against guidelines because I did use their advice, but then it can be instinctual. I’m not sure if I can explain the guidelines, but one I use is finding a common color in tow patterns and then putting them together.

I said that I don’t follow guidelines, but perhaps I do. Our discussion is certainly making me think.

Margaret:

For myself, I think that guidelines are not to be followed like rules. I think they’re there just to get you to experiment with things you wouldn’t dare combine otherwise. For example, floral motives and stripes.

I really like the sound of that. I don’t think I would ever say, “Oh, that’s perfect for me.” Although, I’ve seen women wear a floral skirt with a striped top and maybe a belt or some other accessory. It looks pretty and it seems to work.

Actually, I wanted to ask you about tailoring, because you have a classic philosophy about style and clothes that fit you well. Do you use a tailor a lot? Is that something that you do?

Judith:

I prefer to purchase clothes that fit me perfectly. Of course, that’s not the real world, because we’re all unique.

So when I go to an estate sale and find something that is so fabulous that I cannot possibly let it go by, if it needs some tailoring to fit me perfectly, then yes, I do use a tailor. I try to keep it at a minimum because these services are rather expensive. Still, if the item needs a little adjusting to look fabulous, then I certainly visit the tailor.

Margaret:

Yes, expense is something a lot of women comment about, and you’re absolutely right. If you don’t go shopping with the thought that an item will fit you when you lose 20 pounds, you can spend a bit more. So, if you have four or five basic essentials and they fit perfectly, you can wear them for 10 years or more and they’ll feel good on you all the time.

Judith:

Right. Something else I’d like to share is that I recently started wearing large silk scarves as skirts and use them for travelling.

Margaret:

Like a sarong.

Judith:

Yeah. I prefer scarves that I find at estate sales because they are large, very beautiful and silky. So that’s one of my recent ideas for embellishment, because it’s easy to travel with a number of silk scarves.

Margaret:

From a packing perspective, you can just take four black pieces and several scarves. In fact, I brought a scarf here in honor of you. Can you see my scarf?

Judith:

It’s beautiful.

Margaret:

I love this scarf. It has beautiful colors. It’s from Australia and I just love it. I think it’s great. Even though it’s probably against the rules, I’m going to put it on.

Judith:

How can it possibly be against the rules? It’s something of such beauty.

Margaret:

Thank you. It’s nice to hear another woman say, “Oh, I like this.” That’s what exchange between women is all about. If we’re not dressing for men at this age, we can dress to please ourselves and to please others.

Judith:

Right, sounds good to me.

Margaret:

I agree. It is always wonderful to chat with you and to be inspired. I’m going to keep my scarf on, even though I’m sure I’m doing it all wrong. You have to give me scarf wrapping ideas.

Thank you so much, Judith. It’s been great chatting with you, and we’ll talk again soon.

What do you think of Judith’s suggestions when it comes to fashion after 50? Do you have a favorite accessory – a scarf, brooch or purse – that you absolutely love? How would you describe your personal style? Please join the conversation.

Let's Have a Conversation!