Let’s talk about style. Not beauty, but style and the power conveyed through its creation and portrayal. What you wear says volumes; even if you throw on a T-shirt and jeans, that’s a “look.” We all know women who are not classically beautiful, yet always look fantastic. Effortlessly put together. Confident. Cool. Stunning. They may wear the same outfit as someone else, but on them it looks better. They’ve got the right shoes, right belt, right jewelry. The walk. The stance. The look. Every head turns when they enter a room.
Like it or not, it’s a visual world. This is important stuff, made even moreso as we scroll through photos on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Are we born with style? Maybe. Maybe not. I frequently write about my mother, late community leader Cis Golder, who had magnificent style. Everything I know, I learned from her. My daughter does not love clothes like I do, but has great style of her own — younger, edgier, more effortless and boho.
So perhaps the DNA theory stands. Yet, style can be acquired. It’s a matter of interest. Style is about polish. Panache. Then add a little glam and a love of fashion. Be yourself. But step it up. Still confused? Follow the lead of someone you respect — a friend, a professional, a celebrity, or all three.
Here’s what to do: Make a date to go shopping with someone whose style you admire. If you like, keep in mind the image of a famous trendsetter, too. Jacqueline Onassis. Audrey Hepburn. Sarah Jessica Parker. Victoria Beckham. Amal Clooney. This season, we all want to look bohemian — envision Stevie Nicks or Ali MacGraw. Then, as you shop and try on, think, “Would Jackie wear this?” “Would Sarah Jessica wear that?” It works. And it helps a lot.
Choose your shopping partners wisely (some friends do not want you to look as good as they do) and never hesitate to use a professional. Work with people you love and who love you. They are trained to help. A good salesperson—particularly one who knows you (and your body) well—should be able to reach for the right item every time. And never listen to those who tell you that you always look wonderful. That’s crazy — even Amal Clooney looks better in some things than others. A good salesperson must be able to say, “Take that off — we can do better!”
What about stepping out of your clothing comfort zone? Most of us do not have our latest photograph displayed on Vogue.com everyday — if we make a misstep now and then, it’s perfectly OK! In fact, sometimes it’s fun to take risks and stray. A few years ago I bought cognac-color leather pants. A little tight and sexy for me. But I wear them often. So go figure.
But I admit, the older I get, the rarer the deviations become. Though I love new trends — like this year’s fringe, flared pants, and flowy boho tunics — I still look like “Ellyn.” As you find your style, you’ll find yourself saying, “That’s so me.” Or, “I love that, but it’s not for me.” Always know what’s in. Don’t always wear what’s in.
Finally, part of the fun of being 50ish is knowing yourself — and staying true to yourself. Beyond trends, real style has nothing to do with dollars, and everything to do with grace and charm, caring and concern for the world around you — and, surely, a sense of humor! Style stems from confidence, from nonchalance. When you know you look good, that inner glow radiates from the top of your head to the tip of your toes.
And that’s the moral of the story. Be yourself. Get good advice from people who know you well. Envision those you admire. Create your own style. Enjoy the compliments — and confidence — it brings. As holiday shopping begins, I cannot imagine a better gift to give yourself. Here’s to looking — and feeling — fabulous!