Five top tips from Jo Allen, Colour & Style Consultant
The body (and mood) changes that we women experience during and post menopause can leave us feeling that nothing in our wardrobe suits us any longer! And that’s never any fun, and especially around the time of menopause. Styles that used to work can suddenly seem not to work anymore, and it is often difficult to know what to wear to look and feel good. At 56 myself, and having helped hundreds of women on their style journey over the past 13 years, here are my top five style tips to help you through this phase of life.
When we feel low or unattractive (or even just hot!), we often reach for the dullest, darkest pieces in our wardrobe, but this will often only serve to depress our mood, not lift it. There is a whole science and ‘psychology’ behind colour and how it makes us feel, so now is this time to ADD colour, not remove it. But choose wisely. Dark colours can indeed be slimming, but black doesn’t suit everyone, especially close to the face – navy, charcoal or chocolate may be better choices. But do experiment with other colours. Adding blue will have a calming effect on you, green helps you move forward if you feel run-down/stressed/anxious, pinks and peaches will make you feel nurtured and feminine, red will energise you, yellow will help you feel more cheerful and positive, and orange is playful and friendly. But you do need to find the right shade of each of these colours to suit your own personal colouring so, if you haven’t had a colour analysis, now may be the time to treat yourself, or have a colour review.
- Accept the changes
The main body shape change we often experience around menopause is weight gain around our middles and our waists become less defined. There are good biological reasons for this but, if you have never gained weight here before, it can be challenging. The belts, short tops and jackets and fitted styles you’ve always loved no longer feel comfortable or flattering. Don’t beat yourself up about it – be realistic. Start making little changes – avoid tucking in, look for slightly looser and longer tops (longer tops visually elongate and ‘slim’ the torso). Skim, not cling, is what you are looking for. But do avoid totally shapeless, very baggy styles – you still want some kind of shaping (eg if the top is loose, the sleeves should be more fitted).
- Layers and Lycra!
Hot flushes and weight gain mean anything too heavy, tight or synthetic becomes the enemy! Look for fabrics made from natural fibres (eg cotton, linen, silk, viscose, especially jerseys) and ideally with a little Lycra (for comfort/ease of movement/shaping).
And experiment with combining two or three lighter layers, rather than one single heavier layer. That way you can remove layers if you suddenly experience a hot flush. Petite height ladies have to be careful about too much layering but most of us can find combinations that work. And developing a selection of pieces which you can layer in different combinations, can give you lots more variations of ‘looks’ and makes your wardrobe work harder for you.
We all have days when something we loved wearing last week suddenly feels horrible on us! So developing a wardrobe of mix and match layers and separates helps avoid too many of those.
Accessorising is creative and fun, and accessories always ‘fit’! Plus well-chosen jewellery/scarves/bags/shoes draw the attention where you want it in an outfit, and away from where you don’t. They are a great way of adding your individual ‘personality’ to any outfit. If you find heavy necklaces make you too hot, try statement earrings. If you find the same with bracelets, try cocktail rings. Now is the time to experiment!
I often feel this is the thing that I should mention first and not last in a Style Consultation because well-fitting underwear is the essential foundation for any outfit. So get measured. Body shape changes/weight gain may mean you need a different bra size. You’ll be amazed how a well-fitting bra improves your posture and can create slimming space around your centre! Treat yourself – buy something pretty or sexy.
Your style will have changed and developed over the years, and this is just another step along that journey. Use this time to positively explore new clothing styles, update your look, add new colours and new accessories to fit this stage of life and, in particular, have fun expressing your personality through your choices. And, of course, do get in touch if you need any help.
Jo Allen, AMFIPI FFSF
Colour & Style Consultant
The Style Studio, Portwood Farm, Gt Ellingham, Attleborough, Norfolk NR17 1AG
t: 01953 456645