I am not a pear, an apple, a triangle, a square, a peach, a carrot or any other vegetable, fruit or shape used to describe my body! I am a 62-year-old woman with a passion for clothes, a wild heart and a desire to live out loud and feel fabulous!
It always makes me smile when I hear our bodies being described as pieces of fruit, shapes or vegetables. And whilst I understand that it helps some people to have a better view of how to find clothes that suit their proportions and particular shape, it does nothing to connect you with your own fabulous authentic style.
In my late 20s and early 30s, I was one of the young women representing the first generation of plus-sized models. I loved it! I got to wear the most beautiful clothes and had great fun strutting down the catwalk at fashion events held at Harrods, Selfridges and Dickens and Jones. Something that you didn’t see too many larger women doing at that time.
I was also blessed to be featured in some of the women’s glossy magazines who were breaking the stereotypes by showing how larger ladies could be fashionable and stylish as well as our smaller sisters.
Fashion and clothes, for me, are all about the feeling I get when I wear them. If what I am wearing doesn’t make me feel beautiful, free, loved and fabulous, it doesn’t deserve my money or time.
As a teenager growing up in the 70s, I was given a lot of “rules” about how I was supposed to look and dress. Going shopping for clothes was something I dreaded as there weren’t too many fashionable shops around back then for bigger young people!
I remember my mother buying me a dress one summer, which hung like a sheet from under the bust and covered what my mother called, “a multitude of sins.” She was delighted to have found something that covered my shape, whilst I was mortified.
I recall wearing it to a youth club disco and was completely body shamed when a very trendy and cool-looking girl wearing jeans and a tank top approached me and asked if I got my clothes from “rent a tent!”
You might be forgiven for thinking that my early experiences with clothes would put me off fashion forever. However, I always adored looking at beautiful clothes and dreamt that one day I might wear them too.
And so, fast forward to my 60s and clothes are part of my wellbeing routine. Alongside eating foods that are kind to my body, moving in ways that energise me, doing work that fulfils me – my clothes simply make me feel loved.
Authentic style is all about discovering clothes that represent and honour all of who you are – physically, emotionally, mentally and soulfully. Our 60s are the most wonderful time to really rock our own authentic style. We have learnt so much about who we are, what we desire, what things light us up and what don’t.
We have come through many of life’s challenges, and here we stand at the brink of new adventures, endless possibilities and new experiences to be enjoyed.
We have made the long journey from girl to queen and now more than ever, it is our time to shine. No more holding back or worrying about what others might think or say – it is time to step into our own body sovereignty and wear clothes that fully express our own majesty and magnificence.
I don’t mean this in a superficial, egotistical or arrogant way. It is simply about embracing the women we are, the lives we have lived, the dreams we still have and acknowledging that it is okay to fully show up in our lives as we are right now.
As a Body Confidence Expert and Author, I often hear women saying that they feel invisible, especially as they grow older. Among the first questions that I explore with them is, “How are you being visible and showing up in your own life? What do you see when you look in the mirror? Where are you being invisible towards yourself?”
This is an eye opener for many women as they realise that they have been downplaying who they are. They may have dialled down the colours they wear or have certain rules from the past that are dictating how they show up in the present.
Creating your own authentic style starts with wearing clothes that represent and tell a story of who you are today. It has nothing to do with your body shape, size, age or anything else. However, it has everything to do with how you feel and how you desire to show up every day of your life.
Authentic style is about choosing clothes that honour who you are, what you love, your values and how you desire to feel.
For example, one of my favourite skirts is a pink taffeta long “tutu” style skirt. I love it and I always feel dreamy in it. The layers of taffeta rustle and swish as I walk, and I always feel as if I am about to go to some kind of a lavish Venetian ball.
Another favourite is an off the shoulder jumper. It’s 25 years old now, but it always makes me feel beautiful, sensual and free.
Follow these authentic style coaching guidelines to help you begin to create your own fabulous wardrobe of clothes that fully express all of who you truly are.
Choose clothes that kiss your skin. The texture of our clothes has a powerful influence on how we feel. For example, wearing clothes that pinch or are too tight or scratchy can make us feel restricted, irritable or uncomfortable. This has a direct psychological link with how we then perceive ourselves to be.
A tight waist band that is uncomfortable can draw your attention to your waist and may trigger emotions of feeling too big or feeling awkward in the way you move.
The question here is what would you love to feel on your skin? Do you love soft fabrics like silk or do you prefer thicker textures like velvet? Perhaps you love structured fabrics that support your body without restricting your shape? Or do you love the feel of cotton on your skin? There is no right or wrong – only what feels right for you.
Who are you? This is not always an easy question to answer. However, when you begin to explore this question more deeply, it opens up so many ideas of styles, possibilities and combinations of clothes that you can weave together.
Some great questions to ask yourself are: What do you love? What era of clothing do you resonate with – for example, the 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s, etc.? What hobbies or pastimes do you love? For example, art, dancing, walking, singing, baking, etc.?
The secret is to take elements from all the things that you resonate with and bring them into your wardrobe. For example, I love dancing so I wear dance inspired clothes such as my long “tutu” skirts. I also loved the freedom of the 60s so anything that has a touch of Boho and flower power in it really fills my soul.
Take a moment and write down five to seven emotions that you would love to experience every day. For example, some of mine are freedom, joy, peace, vitality, love and magic. Then go through your wardrobe and ask yourself if the clothes you currently have make you feel what you desire to feel. If they don’t, it may be time to change them or alter them in some way to give you more of what you want to feel.
When buying or making clothes in the future, always ask yourself if the clothes you choose are in alignment with how you want to feel. For example, I love to wear long gipsy style skirts, and they always make me feel free and rather magical. The clothes you choose need to honour at least one or two of your core desired feelings.
What do you value or prize highly in your life? What are your values? These might be anything from having a sense of community, fairness, your family or indeed values around ethical sustainability, the planet, or a love of animals etc.
The key is to align the way you buy, create or acquire your clothes in accordance with your values. For example, if some of your values were fairness and ethical sustainability, you might choose to source your clothes from Fairtrade clothing suppliers. Or you may love to donate old clothes to charities of your choice. Wearing clothes that honour your values promotes a deep sense of being authentic.
A signature style is something that is unique and personal to you. Every style icon, from Cleopatra to Jackie O, Grace Kelly, Audrey Hepburn etc., has a signature style that is directly associated with their personality.
Sometimes your signature may be a piece of jewellery that you wear with all of your outfits. Your signature style may be casual, rocky, glamorous, structured, flowing, bold or subtle. Your signature style could also be a colour that you love to wear, and you could wear this in different shades, tones and complementing hues.
Consider making hats a part of your signature style as they can just add that finishing touch to any outfit!
I didn’t actually wear jeans until I was in my late 50s. I had always been told that jeans would never suit my shape and that larger women should stay well away from them. However, one of the joys of feeling more comfortable in my skin was the realisation that I could re-write those old “rules” and decide for myself what I wanted to wear.
The result was that I experimented with different styles of jeans and came up with a pair that I absolutely love! So, experiment with your style and be open to trying out new ideas, colours and outfits until you find one that both you and your body adore!
As a Body Confidence Expert, I have seen the huge effect that clothes can have in helping us to feel confident and at home in our body. As someone who only wore black for a long time because I wanted to hide my body, experimenting with brighter colours really helped me to see myself in a new light.
And, whilst I love the colour black, it is not the only colour I wear nowadays. There are many other factors that are necessary to help us feel good in the skin we’re in, however, clothes can offer a wonderful way to help us to connect with our authentic self and to show up in the world as who we are.
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Do you think of your body as a certain shape? Why? Have you created your personal authentic style? How long did it take you to create that style? What guidelines did you use? If you have yet to do this, how are you planning to go about it?