How to look sophisticated and corporate yet modern and hip: Style lessons from Annette

by Sylvia

Post image for How to look sophisticated and corporate yet modern and hip: Style lessons from Annette

I only recently got introduced to Annette, which is not surprising since her blog “Lady of Style’ has only been around for 3 months. Since that time though, she has uploaded many inspiring outfits which stand out because of their sophistication and elegance, yet also have a young and hip vibe. Perfect for many women over 40.

Add to that that she mainly shops in mainstream stores, which highlights that you do not need a big budget to look corporate and chic, yet modern and hip. All good reasons to have a chat with her so we can find out about all her style secrets!

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Hi Annette.  Thanks for taking the time out to answer a few questions for 40PlusStyle.com. Can you tell us a little bit more about yourself?

My two grown up children mean everything to me! My son Lucas, 20, is studying Business Management at university here in Germany. Sport and fitness are his life. Alena, my 18 year old daughter, will finish school early summer and is currently applying for universities in London to study Fashion Styling or Fashion Journalism. Mr C, the man in my life and I live a long distance relationship between Portugal and Germany. Our relationship is stronger than the distance! I am a Personal Assistant and Travel Manager, working for NATO. Besides my passion for fashion, I love interior design and decoration, my garden, wine and good food, summer and sunshine. I get very excited about European football, love the thrilling atmosphere in the stadium and strongly support my teams FC Bayern München, Liverpool FC and Real Madrid.  And of course Mr C made me a fan of Benfica Lisboa!

As a point of reference which age group do you belong to or perhaps you are willing to share your age?

My blog “Lady of Style” is a personal fashion blog for mature women, I’d say 45 and above. I turned 50 last October.

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Can you tell us a bit more about your blog Lady of Style?

My 18yr old daughter Alena started her blog FashionFlirt 2 years ago and since we share this passion for fashion, I was pretty much involved in getting her started. To have my own blog targeted at women of my age group was in the back of my mind for quite a while but actually I wasn’t brave enough to have photos of me taken and present them online! Alena encouraged me to start my own blog at the beginning of this year and she takes most of my photos. I soon realised that blogging in our age group is more than showing a new pair of shoes or a nice dress! I feel there is a strong community and a great support amongst more mature bloggers.

How would you describe your style?

People around me always comment on my style as “sophisticated” or “elegant”. I was never a casual girl, not even when I was younger.

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I love how you look very sophisticated and elegant in all your outfits, yet they also have a modern edge to it and often an element of fun. What is your secret?

Over the years you know what works for you, your age and your body. I love watching trends but I will always keep my own style. For example floral printed trousers are a big trend for this season and I couldn’t resist 😉 However, I pair them with a blazer, pumps and maybe a silk shirt – that will make them appropriate, even for work.

I also love how many of your looks look expensive and corporate, yet you mainly shop at mainstream brands like H&M and Zara? Is there a secret to doing it the right way?

I am always amazed about the designer brands some bloggers, even a lot younger ones, can afford. I know that some of them might be sponsored but personally I have a limited budget. My favourite brand is MANGO and I am also a bargain hunter and keep an eye on special offers and sales. Besides the right accessories and styling, the perfect fit is key to any outfit! I couldn’t do without my seamstress. Since I live in a smaller town I shop a lot online and when in doubt, I rather go for one size bigger and have her fit my clothes perfectly.

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You work in a very corporate environment so a certain standard of dressing is expected of you. Yet your outfits are not conventionally corporate. How do you go about finding the right balance?

That is true, Sylvia. I work for NATO in a multinational and multicultural environment which indeed requires a certain standard. My military colleagues wear uniform but there isn’t a fixed dress code for civilians. I am dealing with a lot of high ranking officers and civilian guests on a daily basis which requires a presentable and professional outfit.

What do you think are the elements of a good work outfit?

A professional dress code is very important for me. But that doesn’t mean I have to wear black or grey conservative suits and a white blouse. Military organisations are male dominated and about 80% of my colleagues are men. My style remains the same whether I am at work, at home or go out. Also in the office I wear feminine clothes but I pay attention to the right length, fit and cleavage. And I always add accessories like a statement necklace, earrings or a nice belt to jazz up a more modest work outfit.

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Since you live in Germany, what would you say distinguishes German fashion and style to that of the rest of the world?

This is a very good question! I have to distinguish between German fashion design and the typical outfit the average German woman wears. I don’t think that is necessary in France or Italy.
There are several great German designers, however, I often feel German women think practical first and foremost… we are not always blessed with perfect warm and sunny weather but have to dress weather appropriate. When I go shopping in my town I see a lot of local women dressed in casual trousers, T-Shirts and flat brown leather sandals when I prefer a summer dress and wedges… I miss the feminine and elegant touch of French and Southern European women.

What inspires your outfit choices the most?

I work and live internationally and travel a lot and get a lot of inspirations from my shopping trips to London or to Italy. I love spending time on Pinterest and admire the classy style of Olivia Palermo.

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Do you take things like colour profiling or body type into account when you dress?

I have never done a professional colour profiling but think it would be nice. Black is a great colour and I love it but learned it is much better for me in summer when my skin is tanned or in the evening when I am wearing more make-up. I am pursuing my personal “colour challenge” and bought a lot more colourful clothes than ever before. And I really like them! I can’t wait to wear my new bright spring and summer dresses and show them to my readers. I have an hourglass figure and emphasizing my waist is certainly a lot better than wearing low raise jeans which accentuate my hips.

Would you say you have a signature style? And if yes, what are the main elements?

Certainly a feminine style – elegant but not stiff. I love dresses, especially shift dresses and wrap dresses. Whenever the weather allows, you will see me wearing dresses. Wrap dresses are perfect for every figure, no matter if you are skinny or more a Rubens type figure.

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Has your style changed at all after turning 40?

I found my style relatively early and I can see that my daughter is very similar even though she is a lot more fashion conscious than I was at her age. My style hasn’t really changed but in fact I am more aware of it now and got more confident on what to wear.

Do you believe in dressing ‘age appropriately’ and what does it mean to you?

Yes, I incorporated age appropriate dressing when I was in my late 40ies. I was a German 34/36 (US 4/6) and turned more into a 38 (US 8). I know I shouldn’t complain but my body has changed and I am more careful with bodycon dresses, my skirt length or skinny and low raise jeans. For me age appropriate dressing is twofold: Not desperately trying to look younger but also not to look old and frumpy!

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Would you say that at this stage of your life you are now more, or less interested in fashion, style and the way you look?

Well, with age I have to spend more time in front of my wardrobe and my mirror to get a decent result and to feel confident 😉 Style is the keyword!

Why is the way you look important to you?

The motto on my blog is “Style is a reflection of your attitude and your personality.”
It is not only about a new pair of heels or a red blouse but more how you feel in it. If you feel uncomfortable in what you wear, then it is exactly the impression you give.

Which outfit from your site is your favorite outfit and why?

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I only started my blog 3 months ago and because of the long winter season I only presented a very small selection of outfits. In my last post “In Love with Leopard… again” I am wearing a shift dress – this is kind of my favourite look. Watch out for my new more colourful spring and summer outfits!

Do you follow trends? And if yes, which trends excite you at the moment?

I follow a lot of international blogs, love reading fashion magazines and watch live stream fashion shows. I am interested in trends and when I like them I add them to my personal style. But I am happy to skip trends if I don’t connect and feel they are not appropriate.
There is a clear No to platform heels, distressed jeans or striped trousers. But last weekend I bought one of the new slip-in clutches and I love floral prints. So it depends…

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Do you have any fashion and style tips for women over 40?

Wear something that really flatters you. As mentioned before, a wrap dress is a great start as it fits every woman. Try a bit of colour and add a necklace or a scarf, a colourful bag.
And most important: pay attention to your shoes! Stunning heels can enhance a casual, basic jeans outfit but on the other hand boring shows can kill a lovely dress!

Do you plan to continue with blogging and how do you see your blog develop over the coming years?

I only started my blog 3 months ago and there is something new every single day. Here in Germany I only found a few fashion blogs for my age group and on “Lady of Style” I would like to show that women over 40 love fashion and are an important and influential target group.

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Anything further you would like to add?

Thank you so much, Sylvia, for giving me space on your fabulous blog! It is a great honour for me to talk about my blog and my style.

Note from Sylvia: Thank you Annette for your generous and thoughtful answers! Now rush over to Annette’s fabulous blog Lady of Style!

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Sarah

“There is a clear No to platform heels, distressed jeans or striped trousers.”

Why? I am nearly 50 and I wear all those things, and I can’t fathom why you have a rule against them for older women. It is not as though those items can’t be worn tastefully is it? We’re not talking revealing outfits more appropriate for a prostitute, or little girl teen wear. (Not that I think people shouldn’t be able to wear such attire if they want to.) It saddens me that we are expected to all suddenly develop a completely different personality when we reach a certain age. What if your personality is such that you can’t think of anything worse than wearing ‘classic’ so-called ‘timeless’ clothes?

Consider the case of Linda Rodin, aged 65 and looking so incredibly hip and cool in her leather trousers: http://www.eastsidebride.com/2013/04/holy-shit-this-woman-is-cool.html. I’ll bet leather trousers are on the list of what not to wear over a certain age, yet she is wearing them and looks so stylish and cool. She has not descended into the sort of style older women are told to adopt, and thank goodness for that. She is such an inspiration.

Why, as we get older, must we limit ourselves and all adopt the boring middle-of-the-road ‘classic’ style that some of us have always found exceedingly dreary? The trouble with having such rules and telling women they shouldn’t wear this or that at their age is that it perpetuates the ‘rules’ — the rules that are completely arbitrary in most cases, and make life miserable for those who for some reason feel duty bound to follow them but who find the attire deemed acceptable for older women alien to their personality. (The rules of course contradict each other: we are to dress to suit our own unique personality, but when we get to a certain age, we also have to dress ‘timelessly’, in ‘classic’ style. Presumably if that is not who we feel we are we Have A Problem or are Trying To Relive Our Youth or some such damning judgement. What rubbish!

Annette, I read your blog and it looks to me as though you still have fun with fashion despite your rules. But maybe it is worth questioning those rules anyway, at least for some women? I’m still wondering what on Earth could be objectionable about striped trousers or distressed jeans (unless they are more than normally distressed!). Take a look at http://doesmybumlook40.blogspot.com/. Kat is 40 now, and she still wears them. She also wears hidden-wedge sneakers, and I think also platforms — and she looks fantastic, to my eye.

Of course platforms may be on their way out now — in which case I won’t continue wearing them — but while they have been ‘in’, I have certainly embraced the trend. (I haven’t embraced the hidden-wedge trainer trend yet, but that is nothing to do with my age, I just haven’t found a pair I personally find attractive.) My sister takes the view that women our age should not wear high heels at all. My sister has NEVER worn high heels, because she is very tall and doesn’t like being taller than her man, but I think her rule just as arbitrary as the striped trouser rule, and I will continue to wear high heels when I feel like it.

Don’t let your joy and fun be curtailed or diminished by arbitrary rules that have no basis in logic. Question those rules. Disobey them. Dare to step outside the so-called ‘Age-Appropriate’ Approved Zone. Experiment. Please yourself. You will be surprised how many compliments you get when you are dressing in a way that delights you yourself.

Sylvia

Hi Sarah. I think it’s ok to have some personal ‘rules’. It does not mean that they hold true for everyone over 40, but I think it’s also ok that you have some personal guidelines that you feel comfortable with. I feature all kinds of women in this series and I think it’s interesting to see what dressing over 40 means to each of them. Those personal guidelines are different for each of them. I have some personal guidelines as well, but I know that others would not need them. It certainly does not take away from my fun with style and fashion. In the end you have to do what feels right for you and your personality.

Rita

Wow…I just felt beat up reading that. That zealot “break the rules” bossiness is no different than bossing someone into always follow the rules. Some people are more comfortable with guidelines, and some want to step out of the box. Who’s to say one view is better than the other.

Lorraine

I re-read the interview after reading this exhausting diatribe and Annette is not dictating what older women should wear, simply expressing her own personal limits when she says ‘no to platforms etc’ . ‘Wear something that flatters you’ is hardly a ‘rule’ but a sensible piece of advice that needs saying.

Hepburn Chic

Greetings Sarah,

Loved the links you posted. I agree with your comments. I believe in following your own style – not fashion Style is permanent & timeless – age doesn’t matter. My style icons would be Inès de La Fressange, Lauren Hutton, Audrey Hepburn, Katharine Hepburn, & Jackie Kennedy Onassis. Each of these ladies have a recognizable style all their own. They didn’t change their style when they turned 40.

Sylvia

I agree their style did not change. But each of these women made adjustments to their dressing as they got older.

Maria

Very nice article! Love the style and vision of Annette. Thanks for the inspiration.

Maria

Lorraine

What a stylish woman who embraces colour and pattern and looks absolutely age appropriate! She’s an inspiration. I was delighted to hear Annette mention Olivia Palermo as I posted an image of her on the forum and said at the time she can do no wrong style wise. Thanks for the interview Sylvia. I would like to see more of these interviews with members of our own 40+ Style community.

Susan Street

You look fabulous! I feel particularly connected to you since we seem to have a similar sense of style. I am looking forward to your next post!

Alison @ Get Your Pretty On

I love how Annette incorporates trends yet remains true to her own style. She is definitely an inspiration! Classic and elegant, yet always on trend. I love her style!

Deborah

Sylvia, thanks so much for introducing Annette. I love the way she thinks and her approach to age appropriate style. I am sure every 40+ woman finds themselves evaluating what is stylish and modern yet still age appropriate. I’m off to check out Annette’s blog 🙂

Nicolene Richards

What a delight to be able to share in the thoughts of a lady who has imprinted her very sophisticated style on her followers in such a short notice! I find it very encouraging to read blogs and style tips from women in my own age group since I also live in a small town where few women take the time to care. Well done Annette, and to Sylvia who promotes such inspirational blogs!
http://www.fiftyfabulous-fiftyfashionable.blogspot.com
FF

Jeannie

Great feature, Sylvia!
Annette IS classy & elegant. She has great style!!

tallpat

I love many of the statement necklaces Annette is wearing. Could you find out where she gets them from.

Annette

Hi tallpat,
Thank you! I get a lot of necklaces from MANGO. They often have them on sale and there is a special MANGO Outlet website (Link is a the bottom of their regular website). On my blog I usually add the brands.
Please let me know if you have any questions.
Annette

Greetje

I found Annette’s blog a while ago and always check out her new articles. She has a really good sense of style. She is indeed every inch a lady. She inspires me as I move between so many styles and sometimes get confused myself.
I would love to have such a focus.
What amazed my as well, that she can look a million dollars with low budget items. Which proves that style has nothing to do with having a lot of money.
I also find her a kind and honest person, so thanks for featuring her.

Rita

“Pay attention to your shoes”. Yes! 🙂

The Style Crone

Great interview Sylvia! Very interesting and beautiful woman and I’m checking out her blog now.

Jean at Dross into Gold

Hi Sylvia!! First of all, I love Annette! I think she’s lovely, and she exudes graciousness and warmth. I think she has a great eye for what works for her: her figure, lifestyle, and personality.

I love you for all the same reasons 🙂 I’m always especially interested in seeing how you get creative with hot weather clothing, since I live in the southern US.

My figure, lifestyle, and personality make me inclined to embrace some of the things that were her “no’s” but by the same token, my no’s could be her yes-es. Nevertheless, I’m always intrigued by personal style, regardless. Thank you for this lovely interview.

Lyddiegal

I love Annette’s style! She knows how to incorporate trends and still be classy.

Rebecca

This was a lovely interview with Lady of Style. I first learned about Annette and her blog from the Fabulous after 40 blog. Her style is elegant but individual. She clearly knows what works for her body and lifestyle.

Heather

What a lovely and inspiring article ! I love Annette’s style, it is clearly her own, elegant, but fresh and interesting. She looks wonderful. I will definitely be following her blog as I am still trying to work out what my style is …. and I am too old to still be wondering !

Diana Zubani

Hi Sylvia, I love the way Annette is confident with her style, that is an inspiration to most women that are still struggling with their signature style. well done great post.

Tangobabe

Wonderful, gorgeous and stylish lady! Bravo.

Mary Beth

What an inspiring post! Annette looks fantastic. I’m constantly on the look-out for real-life role models of women who are 50+ and who have decided to stay sexy and feminine past that age. And, sadly, they are hard to find. Annette is a lovely example.

Sylvia

Thanks for your feedback Mary Beth and you first comment at 40+Style!

Carmen

Great post. And wonderful, inspiring ideas, which I’ve needed lately – as a 50 (but fab) woman who doesn’t want to show up at job interviews looking like Miss Marple, or a tram conductor. I write about my experiences trying to “get it right” at, http://50shadesofunemployment.blogspot.com.au/2013/01/the-hazards-of-faking-it.html

Thanks,
Carmen

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