Style Evolution: How to Create Ageless Personal Style in Your 40s and Beyond

Style Evolution: How to Create Ageless Personal Style in Your 40s and Beyond

by Kendall Farr, Anja Kroencke

The author of the successful The Pocket Stylist follows up with a book that addresses the specific fashion needs of the over-forty crowd

Even though women in their forties, fifties, sixties, and beyond have never looked better, healthier, or younger, their fashion needs have changed. Unless you have the body and lifestyle of an eighteen-year-old,


The author of the successful The Pocket Stylist follows up with a book that addresses the specific fashion needs of the over-forty crowd

Even though women in their forties, fifties, sixties, and beyond have never looked better, healthier, or younger, their fashion needs have changed. Unless you have the body and lifestyle of an eighteen-year-old, shopping probably isn’t much fun anymore. The fashion industry seems to have turned its back on women who are forty and older, churning out collections that have nothing to do with careers or sophisticated living. Kendall Farr to the rescue! With Style Evolution, she shows readers how to create a hip, ageless, individual sense of personal style without feeding into the culture’s deep obsession with looking “young.”

Naming names, Farr shares the results of her extensive analysis of designers and brands—from high-end to budget-conscious—best-suited for women over forty. She also delivers ideas that suit every budget, from high-end lines to good buys. Packed with more than one hundred full-color illustrations, Style Evolution guides readers through discovering their own style profiles, with six basic shapes designed to match realistic body types. Farr also puts the spotlight on trends, illustrating the ageless approach to wearing what’s “new.” An ageless shopping checklist and thorough details on accessories (from bags to shoes to eyewear) complete the book.

With hundreds of tips that bestow grace and class, Farr leads the way for the woman who is ready for her wardrobe to catch up with the rest of her life.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal

In her first book, Reed-the style director for Grazia, a weekly UK fashion magazine, and a seasoned fashion journalist-incorporates all the great elements of many books in this genre: bright, bold images, a fun, informative tone, and tips most women can apply to their own wardrobes. Peppered with pictures of celebrity fashionistas like Sarah Jessica Parker, Style Clinic is as fabulous as the personal style it promotes. In Style Evolution, stylist and former fashion editor Farr narrows her focus to helping women in their forties and older create lasting personal style. This follow-up to The Pocket Stylist targets specific styles and body types, relying on enduring designs, fits, and clothing lines to teach readers how to avoid trends and build wardrobes to meet the changing physical and lifestyle needs of middle age. Farr even names individual designers and stores most appropriate for women over 40. This original approach makes for an educational though text-heavy guide. Readers may be put off by this denseness and by the illustrations, which are vague and do not have the appeal of the photographs in Style Clinic. Both are recommended for larger public libraries where similar titles circulate well.
—Meagan P. Storey

Product Details

Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.20(w) x 9.20(h) x 0.60(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Read an Excerpt


What does it mean to have reached middle age in a time ofcelebrity adulation, youth obsession, stripper culture, and the RealHousewives franchise? For starters, it means you are likely to be confusedand frustrated when you shop for new clothes—at a time whenyour personal style has never been more important. Dressing well andlooking current and grown–up in middle age is not only a vital reflectionof self–regard but of the attitude we wish to project to the world.

A woman's 20s are about style surfing, chasing trends for provocationand outrage, and for experimenting with as many personas aspossible. Her 30s are for growing up and into her fashion identity alongwith developing an eye for silhouette and quality. Her 40s are a kind ofstaging decade for a new approach to her style that will wear well in theyears ahead. Many women have an epiphany (or a full–blown crisis) whenthey recognize that styles they've worn since their 20s and 30s haverun their course and simply don't look right anymore. If by 40 you findyourself asking, "How am I supposed to look now?" if you are unsurewhen shopping for new things or ambivalent about buying new clothesbecause you are stuck in a style rut, don't worry about it. It happens toalmost every woman at this point in the journey (even fashion stylists).

This is also a time of physical and mental transition for women and manycomplain that once they reach a certain age they feel invisible.Your personal style is one important way to stay visible and relevant,yet you may start to hate shopping because so few clothes inyour favorite stores seem designed with you in mind.

In every fashion season designers invoke many of the same tiredmuses: the ingenue, the schoolgirl (or schoolboy), the sexy secretary,the debutante, and the dissipated socialite. Gorgeous, malnourishedteenagers wearing the world's most expensive clothes (many silly, frilly,and utterly out of touch with reality) are meant to fuel our middleagedaspirational appetites. Designers know this works. While thedesire for luxury goods is at a fever pitch, so is female body anxiety (theincidence of eating disorders among midlife women is on the rise).

If you've succumbed from time to time to the images in fashionmagazines and celebrity rags, you are far from alone. Unless you livein the extreme remove of an ashram or a space pod, these images areunavoidable, they are everywhere, and no woman is entirely immuneto them.

We are an unprecedented group, we baby boomers. Whilesome of us were hippies and others of us were yuppies, we all sharea rejection of traditional notions of middle age. That most of us don'tdress like our mothers is well documented. That we dress to pleaseourselves is also well known by researchers. I read recently that toreach "us"—meaning to harness our staggering spending power—theapproach should be "psycho–graphic" rather than demographic. Yetretailers struggle to pin down what we want because our psychologyis represented variously in a female tribe with diverse notions ofself–adornment, self–improvement, and what it means to dress appropriatelyfor one's age.

You may well ask: "Exactly what does age–appropriate dressingmean anymore? I'm 50, but I feel 30 and I want to look young." Thisis an important question and one your stylist thinks about with everyshopping trip for her advertising gigs, for her clients (those between 40and 60), and for herself! Your stylist is also a woman of a certain age.

For the past several years, the design direction for affordableclothes has offered a few specific choices—none of them acceptable,in my opinion.

First, the '90s world of basics: a dreary landscape of unremarkabletees, twinsets, boxy jackets, bootcut stretch pants and washeddenim jeans, A–line, pencil, or the token "flirty" bias–cut skirts. An"update" of these basics spawned something far worse: moderate andbridge lines trying to create "young" looks for midlife bodies by borrowingdetails from news–making lines like Marc by Marc Jacobs orChloé, to absurd affect. The same matronly and boxy shapes weretarted–up with a row of Sgt. Pepper buttons here or a ruffle and abeaded appliqué there. Why? Because we brand–literate (and fed–up)over–40s had run screaming to the racks of the contemporary departmentlooking for current styling and fit, novelty, and youthful details.We ended up with too many low–rise jeans, velour tracksuits, faux vintage,and baby–doll looks.

While there may no longer be any tried–and–true rules or prescriptionsfor dressing appropriately (at any age), for us there should be.

Ladies, some stuff simply doesn't work anymore. There is a whole worldof choice that exists between the blanched monotony of basics and thesoft–porn style seen on The Real Housewives of Orange County.Especially now, when you have never known more or had morepersonal gravitas, it is essential to cultivate a new perspective if you feelstuck. It's time to choose the clothes that will keep your look evolving inan inspiring and individualistic way. By 40, you have lived and learned,and the last thing you want to do is dress unremarkably or in styles soincongruously young that you appear to be at war with yourself.

There is young and there is youthful. And while youthfulinfuses a look with an ageless and timeless charm, verve, and a doseof nerve, young is where most middle–aged women run off the rails.And let's be frank, ladies, our culture assesses women—especiallymidlife women—by a brutal set of standards every day. While"mutton–dressed–as–lamb" is commonly lobbed at the woman faking itin a blouse–length dress from Forever 21, when was the last time youheard a 50ish man dressed in cargo shorts and a wallet chain fromAbercrombie described as "beef–jerky–dressed–as–calf"? Exactly.

I am here to show you how your wardrobe can keep pace withthe rest of your life. So before we begin our work together, I'll ask youto keep this in mind: This is not a revolution. There will be no wagingwar on your closet or your body. This is an evolution: a slow and steadyway to intelligently reevaluate your style one piece at a time. Let'sbegin your style evolution…

  • Meet the Author

    A top New York stylist, Kendall Farr has dressed many celebrities, including Halle Berry, Uma Thurman, Angelina Jolie, Joan Allen, Andie McDowell, Julianne Moore, Sigourney Weaver, and Diane Sawyer. She has also served as a design consultant for a number of fashion labels. Farr is the author of The Pocket Stylist (Gotham Books, 2004) and has written columns for Glamour and O, The Oprah Magazine. She lives in Brooklyn.

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