In her 40s Susan went through a ‘frumpy’ phase when she dressed older than her years and just did not feel stylish or youthful at all. That all changed when she hit her fifties and found her style grove. Now she is one of the most youthful-looking and sassy 50+ dressers I know. Time to get to know her style secrets and learn more about her!
Hi Susan. Thanks for taking the time out to answer a few questions for 40PlusStyle.com.
It is an honor to be included in this feature. I’ve been a fan of your blog for a long time.
Can you tell us a little bit more about yourself?
I love the classics; be it architecture, Dutch master paintings or a good looking black suede pump. Luxury for me is spending time doing the things I enjoy most, reading, going for long power walks, exploring the old neighborhoods in a city I haven’t visited before and in winter taking a nap by the fire on Sunday morning while Mr. Mickey reads the paper.
I have been working in the fashion industry since 1976 so a fashion blog seemed to be my destiny. Mr. Mickey and I have been dating for almost nine years. The blog has become a scrapbook of our adventures together. He is the photographer and plans most of our outings so this is a joint venture in many ways. If he were not in my life I would likely be sitting home reading a book or still working crazy long hours.
As a point of reference which age group do you belong to or perhaps you are willing to share your age?
I was born in 1956 and Mr. Mickey was born in 1934.
Can you tell us a bit more about your blog Fifty not Frumpy and why you created it?
In 2010 I became a vegetarian and quickly lost more than forty pounds which meant I had to buy a whole new wardrobe. Not even my shoes fit anymore. That may sound like a great adventure but it wasn’t as easy to do as you might think. I made a lot of expensive buying mistakes but after a couple of years I finally figured out what would work for me at this age and my current lifestyle. Throughout this adventure, I kept thinking I can’t be the only one who has this much trouble figuring out what to wear, so I decided to share some of my successes (and more than a few failures) on a Facebook page. That project quickly grew into a blog because there was so much to share.
How do you avoid looking frumpy over 50?
I don’t wear plaids, floral prints, ruffles or anything too trendy. My wardrobe includes basics with a bit of an edge in neutral solid colors. I love unique shoes and quality handbags. I am thankful that I can still wear high heels comfortably.
How would you describe your own style?
Rock ‘n roll minimalism softened with elegant details.
What would you consider the most important components of your style?
Well-made jackets, slim leg jeans and always awesome shoes.
Where do you live and how does that influence your style?
I live in Johnson City, Tennessee in the USA now but I have lived in many other places. That multicultural experience contributes a great deal to my style which is quite different than most of the women in my area. I spent a summer in Europe as well as time in New York, Atlanta, New Orleans, LA and Dallas.
Do you feel you have a signature style?
My uniform includes neutral colors with elegant details in natural fabrics. I prefer well-made classics that last for years, not just a season. I can almost walk into my closet and get dressed with my eyes closed. If something catches my eye while I am shopping but it won’t work with four other things I already have, I don’t buy it.
What inspires your outfit choices the most?
It all starts with the shoes. I often put the outfit together based upon the pair of shoes I want to wear that day.
Who are your style icons?
Emmanuelle Alt (editor of Vogue Paris) is my current style crush. I also like the casual style of Kate Moss and Barbara Martelo. I loved the work of the great designers Pierre Balmain, Madame Gres, and Cristobal Balenciaga.
Do you take things like color profiling or body type into account when you dress?
Yes, I must! I look very ill in warm (toned) colors and thirty pounds heavier in anything with a ruffle at the neck.
Has your style changed at all after turning 40?
During my 40’s I was working so many hours to build my company I rarely saw the light of day. Sadly, what I wore wasn’t something I thought much about. Thankfully there are very few pictures from that time.
And after 50? Do you feel there is a difference between dressing after 40 and dressing after 50?
My body and my lifestyle changed a lot after 50. I now enjoy wearing structured fitted clothing in more sophisticated shapes and better fabrics. I dress for social events several times a week now so I need separates that can be mixed with each other. I rarely wear a dress. My late 50’s have been significant for me because I finally feel comfortable in my skin and I really enjoy getting dressed each day.
Do you believe in dressing ‘age appropriately’ and what does it mean to you?
I do think we have to be mindful of dressing too young. Even if I were in great shape I would not show cleavage or wear a skirt with a split. That wouldn’t fit with my personality and I do think you need to take that into consideration as well. I was guilty of dressing too old for a while because I felt a need to “act my age” after I turned fifty.
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?
I am enjoying the happiest time in my life so I want to celebrate that fact by looking my best and feeling comfortable in what I am wearing. I am having a lot of fun with fashion right now.
Why is the way you look important to you?
Style is unspoken communication. I want my style to say happy, healthy, successful and confident.
Which of the outfits on your blog are personal favorites and why?
The posts from this year show how much my style has changed since I started blogging. I found my personal style formula this year and it has made getting dressed everyday so much easier.
Do you follow trends? And if yes, which trends excite you at the moment?
I do follow trends and I especially enjoy looking at street style photos. The creative combinations can give you ideas but I limit myself to one trend per day. I like the half tuck or the messy tucked shirt in summer with a pair of straight leg jeans.
Do you have any fashion and style tips for women over 40?
Wear what makes you happy and comfortable. When you find the dressing formula that fits your body shape and lifestyle, stay true to it. You can always update your look with accessories. Be it makeup, accessories or hair coloring/styling less is more.
What are your plans for your blog and how do you see it develop over the coming years?
As long as I have something relevant to share and people still comment about and share what I publish, I will continue to blog. The blog is a fun diversion but my real job will always be running my company and serving my customers and taking care of my wonderful employees. (My real job is being the President of VintageJewelrySupplies.com.)
Anything further you would like to add?
I look forward to many more years of sharing, learning and getting to know more of you via the blogging community. It has been a wonderful journey!
Note from Sylvia: Thanks Susan for your inspiring answers. Be sure to check out her fabulous blog Fifty Not Frumpy and discover many more outfits.
How do you beat the frump after 40? And which of Susan’s outfits is your favorite?