Whilst I’m a firm believer that we should have the freedom to experiment at any age, there’s a number of style incidents in my history I absolutely do not need to revisit under any circumstances. For example: my beloved white capri pant/spaghetti strap halter combo of 2004 was practically Chanel at the time – yet now serves as a daily reminder that blindly following trends doesn’t necessarily always translate (particularly on my 6ft frame – cue Bermuda shorts).
Our younger years serve stylistically as a breeding ground for the most inventive and alternatively offensive items we’ll ever throw on our backs – so realistically, your taste level takes years and collated experiences to refine. The starting line of style really resides in your 30s, confidently hitting your stride having whittled down those pieces that are so inherently ‘you’. Taking a little longer to find your feet? Read on for the most common slip-ups and how to avoid them from here on out.
Wearing too-high heels.
Unless you’re moonlighting as Lady Gaga on the side, hear this: if you can’t strut five steps without a wobble, you’re not tall enough to ride. In no way, shape or form are you able to project confidence or elegance in a shoe that literally renders you immobile – so if you haven’t perfected your stiletto runway walk by now, it’s time to hang those ankle-wrenchers up. Those gunning for an extra few centimetres can do so with a platform under the toe instead, or moving into mid-heel territory for a comfortable alternative. Don’t discount a fancy flat for evening, should all heel options tap out on you – a delicately jewelled number is just as polished.
Tony Bianco heels, $189.95, tonybianco.com.au.
The Mode Collective ankle strap sandal, $279, themodecollective.com.
Badgley Mischka David embellished satin flats, $245.11, bloomingdales.com.
Over or under accessorising.
A gentle clink of a bangle or two as you walk is one thing, but clanking around the streets like a one-man band is another. Too many accessories create fuss, whilst too little screams no personality – so where’s the line? As a general rule, if you’ve got a statement accessory in the mix (whether that be a bag, shoe or piece of jewellery) let that standalone, whilst the rest of your adornments should quietly fall in line with your colour palette. All neutral? Easy – I keep my lineup to a shoe, a bag, and two pieces of jewellery (one of which is usually a bit larger in scale to the other). If you’re throwing eyewear or headwear in the mix, simplify or tone down the scale of the rest – for example, if you’re throwing on a large straw hat and oversized tote for the beach, a thin, delicate leather sandal is your best shoe option here (too many chunky pieces all at once adds bulk to your silhouette).
Jewellery wise, a bit of breathing space between your pieces is key – stockpiling on necklaces against a chandelier earring is too much action all in the one area. It’s all about proportions, so if you’ve got oversized pieces (say a large cocktail ring or cuff) in one space, keep the rest minimal.
Michael Michael Kors textured leather pouch, $124, net-a-porter.com.
Samantha Wills Wild Fox earrings, $99, samanthawills.com
Showing too much skin.
Wearing as little as possible may have been the brief in your last decade (and rightly so), but coming into your own requires a certain level of body confidence – which funnily enough is better projected by a tasteful silhouette as opposed to skin on show here there and everywhere.
If you’re unsure, I still abide by the age-old ‘boobs or legs’ rule – short skirts marry beautifully with a silk blouse as opposed to a skimpy singlet top, whilst a bit of cleavage is better spent with a trouser or longer-line skirt as opposed to a hotpant. A bit of mystique goes a long way.
Country Road button detail pencil skirt, $159, countryroad.com.au
Witchery belt back knit top, $149, witchery.com.au
Letting pieces swamp you or pouring your legs into jeans that don’t fit? Unfortunately there’s only one common outcome here, and that’s a one-way ticket to disheveled.
Our body shapes change over time, so it’s only natural that we adapt with it – investing in some quality pieces that fit you like a glove is the first step to maintaining an overall sense of refinement in your style. Universal items (like a slouchy trouser, a trench coat, a while shirt) make the perfect base items to build upon with new separates as you require them (Hint: for the best guide to dressing for your body shape, pick up a copy of RESCU Me! here.)
Rockins mid-rise straight leg jeans, $241, matchesfashion.com
Zara trench coat, $199, (02) 9376 7600
Sporting a stain, lint-ridden or discoloured item – or a disheveled cocktail of all three.
You know the saying “if you love someone, set them free”? Same goes for those dilapidated favourites – yes, you were amazing together, but there comes a time when that coffee stain from 3 months ago just isn’t cutting it.
Make the switch to better quality fabrications if you’re finding your pieces are lint-ridden or discoloured, or not budging on stains (this is a personality trait of cheaper polyesters and so on) – replace them for a newbie in your favourite silhouettes for an instant refresher.