Less is always more and other style rules… What do you think?

by Sylvia

style rules
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I just read an article in the Sydney Morning Herald: the secrets of stylish women. As so often in style guides and these kind of articles, true style is said to be synonymous with less is more, neutral colours and elegance. Truth be told I have always adhered to these principles and have been a minimalist for most of my life both for my home and my wardrobe. But as you know I have been advocating more colour, more wildness and more risks on this site. So which way to go with style as you get older? Let’s have a look at the points Paula Joyce lists and what you and I think of them.

1. Less is always more

This one is probably up for the biggest debate. There is a reason why women like Miuccia Prada make statements like: “as you get older you need to get wilder“. Your face and body changes and let’s face it, in many cases they don’t look so perfect as they once were. Your perfectly minimalist clothes in pale colours may have done wonders when you were younger, but as your face pales, gets more creases etc, you may want to wear some clothes that distract a bit more from all of that. Wearing black only accentuates the shadows in your face. Older women often look much better with a bit of colour and more adventurous clothes make you more dynamic, less old and less boring. Of course you can also dress minimal with bold lines and colours. Or you can use your accessories to make the bolder statements.

2. Effort equals elegance (Grooming)

One point that is made in the article is that of good grooming. I think that is spot on. Good grooming is important at any age, but never more so when you get older. At the same time grooming gets harder to do. I don’t know about you, but I’m finding it more difficult to keep up with my eye brows, facial and body hair, nails and toes and keeping my hair in a good shape. But it is indeed the basis of a good appearance, so make time for your beauty appointments ladies!

3. Trends fade fast.

I agree with this point too. You all know that I love trends. But I only love those that suit ME. As I have discussed in the last week, I feel it is most important to wear clothes that suit you as a person. So get to know yourself and the message you want to give with your clothes, then see which trend can complement you with that.

You may want to develop a signature style. Perhaps you already know it or you are still evolving and growing into it. Or perhaps you will never develop a true signature style, because you like variety. But it can certainly be powerful to have items that are just so YOU. You might want to make a list of things that are definitely NOT you and a list of some that you ALWAYS want to include. If you keep buying things from your definitely YOU list, you may develop your true signature style almost automatically. For example, I have decided to focus even more on asymmetry as that is so truly ME. (also confirmed by my style profile by the way).

4. Fit is everything

Of course. No need to go into too much detail here. You will never look good in an outfit that does not fit you.

5. Bravery is style & style evolution

And here is the icing on the cake. You will want to add that little bit extra. That something special. It would be the best if that something special had something to do with your signature style or the YOU part of your dressing. That extra something can make you look fantastic.

In the book I’m reading right now “Style Evolution” by Kendall Farr the author talks about how you should evolve your style as you get older. Experimenting with every trend was for you 20s, starting to get to know yourself for your 30s and hopefully by 40 you know your style. But she also writes that many women over 40 can get into a style rut. If that is the case for you or even if you have a clear style, it is always great to evolve,  which is to try new things and get better. To find out which clothes work with your newly changed body (through menopause and the like) and to embrace new colours.

So let’s take this last point to heart and be a bit braver with our style. Even though you may like to keep your looks elegant and simplistic, add a litte twist. Wear that exuberant statement necklace with it or the crazy shoes!

So what do you think. Is “less is more always more” a statement that you agree with? What are your style rules?

p.s. Here is a selection of some outfits I pinned of the recent 2012 Costume Institute Gala. More was definitely more there with Prada being very popular!

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{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }


Well, you know my motto, Sylvia: more is more. Ofcourse there is some humor and rebellion in my using of that motto, since I always found the less is more slogan so overrated. But also I am just not a minimalst and I love color, fun and a hint of quirkiness;-).


Still your last outfit here on the site also shows that your more is more is still very subtle. I thought actually that most people at the MET gala overdid the more is more principle…. It’s still a fine balance.


I like both (less and more) depending on my mood. I tend to buy clothes that stand out (=more). Not always that clever, as you cannot wear them very often (“here she is again in her xxx-dress”). And they do not combine easily with other clothes.
I love colour and it suits me better but my biggest love is black with white (=less).
I love necklaces but am beginning to think I should be able to go without them as well and I am not so sure that I can. All contradictions so I am miles away from a signature style. As for rules…… Just follow them if they feel right to you. They are made by people who don’t you and you are not hurting anyone by breaking them.


For me the definition of less is not that it can’t stand out. Look to Gwyneth again last night. Definitely a ‘less’ outfit but she sure sure stood out for me. Buying impressive design pieces can be minimal and still exciting. Colour can be minimal too. I think if the clothes are strong enough then, you can do without accessories and still have a minimal look. For more ordinary clothes, accessories can make it special.


I completely agree with you on this! I’m one of those 40+ women who hasn’t quite established my style yet, it’s an ongoing project. I am however going to inject some more colourful (trendy) pieces into my wardrobe this spring, I’m getting a little bit bored of all my neutrals:)


At least you now know that you are being truthful to your personality. So you may only want to add colour in subtle ways or more muted tones. Or do it with accessories!


Yeah, that’s the funny thing though….many of the colours of the Type 2 personality really doesn’t respond with me at all, altough I can certainly recognize myself in the description of personality and facial features of the type 2 personality. When it comes to colour (other than neutrals, that is) I prefer the type 1 one colours, bright and warm:) Perhaps that’s my secondary type.


Ok, no worries. At least you have learned things about yourself!


Less is more is relative….I love being in my 40s best!


Yes, it’s a good place to be :)

The Style Crone

I am going to check into the ‘style profile.’ I make it up as I go along so I don’t pay much attention to ‘less is more.’ I wear what I love and change it up as much as possible for self entertainment and fun. I continue to wear black, but I love color too. I’m all over the map and that’s OK with me. Live is always evolving and I am too.


Still I think you have a very clear style Judith. Of course you also have your signature hats! And yes I agree you should always let your style evolve with you…

Heather Fonseca

I find the less is more motto a bit overrated as well. Perhaps it is more tasteful, but I’m not sure I always want to be tasteful. Sometimes tasteful is just boring. I like the other points though, and especially the part about evolution of style. One’s personal style should evolve as one’s life changes. I’m wearing much more interesting clothing now that I’m in my 40’s because my lifestyle allows it. My kids are older, my career is exciting and flourishing though in a different direction than in my 20’s, and I have more money to spend on myself as I’ve already purchased a home and set up a retirement account. I really think that other than the unfortunate signs of aging on myface that the my 40’s is my best decade yet, and I want my clothing to reflect the optimism and happiness I feel right now, which is why my wardrobe has become so colorful I think!


Great to read that you in such a good stage of your life and feel so contented right now. And I’m sure the best is yet to come!

Kathleen Lisson

I agree that there is a level of personal outfit perfection. If I put on an outfit and take off one piece, is the outfit still fabulous? Then leave it off.


That is a good one. . I think it was Chanel who said: ” When in doubt, leave off the last accessory”. You take it a step further. Good idea, must remember that.

Kathleen Lisson


Amy Carson

Agree with Rebecca. I’ve always been a huge advocate of the idea of less is more when it comes to make up and style….


Thanks for your feedback Amy!


Something else I was thinking about – shoes! I notice you always wear nice shoes. I have noticed a lady who dresses fashionably at my son’s school, and she always has amazing shoes on. I think as you get older, shoes are very important, not only for comfort but they can make or break an outfit. Another thing is “moisturiser”! This can take years off (your skin) and is a great accessory!!!


I have never been that focussed on shoes as I was always more drawn to clothes. But nowadays I also feel that they are more important. Shoes and other accessories can really lift an outfit. Moisturizer is a good one too!


I completely agree with the comments in point 1 (less is not always more!) For the last decade or two I’ve dressed in a simple classic style, relying on basics and solid colors (in softer tones as I moved through my forties). I thought I could not carry of bold patterns or prints. Now at 52, with salt and pepper (mostly salt) hair and fading features, I’m boldly playing with color and prints in my wardrobe. The right accessories – shoes, jewelry, and attitude – pull it all together and I feel more confident and attractive than I ever have before. Yes, sometimes, more IS more!

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