The below article is a guest article by Barbara de Mul. (pictured above with her mother) Enjoy! Be honest. How many times have you worried about aging in the last month? Perhaps you compared yourself to a successful hipster born in the eighties and felt frustrated? And I don’t’ even mean worrying over a new streak of grey hair or a wrinkle that seems to get deeper every time you look at it. I mean just fretting about the fleeting of time. That horrendous feeling of growing further and further away of the unattainable ideal of youth. When ageism becomes almost systematic, it worries me more than any other kind of injustice. Size, for instance. Off course, there will always be a volume hierarchy in fashion, but more and more this is inspired by health motivations. But age: come on! We all know that, while we can choose to look our best, little or nothing can be done about age itself.

Fighting the age battle

Fighting the age battle is something women do to themselves. According to a recent survey by Allure Magazine, 87 % of us feel that women have more pressure to look young than men do. Vice versa: 66 % of men say they’re not worried about looking older. As if the usual suspects in the line-up of life’s  worries (growing children, mortgage, relationships, work….) weren’t enough, it seems like we want to pile the most melancholic worry on top, as a race against time which is all-consuming and trumps all other fears in the end. Let’s stop thinking about our age and more about how we can evolve from our youthful self into someone whose sense of style has grown exponentially each year.

How to evolve from our youthful self?

The first thing to do is not to make ourselves believe that age is limiting. There are lots of tips out there on how to dress age appropriately, but when they are written in an underlying tone of ‘ditch your old habits and now behave, Ma’am’, they should be ditched right away. Rules, especially the big ‘no no’s’, can harm free expression. However, it’s a no brainer: the older you get, the more put together you should look. Once you hit this decade, going about without even as little as lipstick is a thing from the past. The same goes for ponytails or any hairstyle that doesn’t involve a mirror and hairspray: unless you have shampoo ad hair, you will have to add more time and effort. I’m not saying anything goes, but it’s more a question of balance. A head to toe grunge look is great in your twenties, when you just mix all the ingredients together. But when that same grungy outfit is worn by a forty-something, it will need to be more structured. You’ll need to follow the recipe. Besides, as this is your second meeting with grunge since the nineties, you should ace it!

How to stay true to your style?

It’s pretty straight forward. If you were skanky in your twenties, your miniskirts will look less than alluring now. However, if you’ve always been effortlessly stylish, it would be highly improbable for your style to fade along with your hair color. Staying true to your style as a 40 plusser  can be an opportunity to flaunt more style than you ever knew you had in you. How?

  • Talking about your generation: Key to changing your attitude about growing older is inspiration. Find a celebrity, blogger or a stylish friend to emulate or share ideas with.
  • No matter how much fashion advice you can get your hands on, you still won’t ooze sexiness if you think you are in any way ‘less’ than anyone who was born after you. A fresh face will only get you so far, a poised attitude everywhere.
  • This implies not even twitching at: You look great for your age. Off course, in this sentence the last three words should be scratched forever, but when will people learn? Don’t sit around and wait for that!
  • Mix colors and brands. Off course we all have our go-to labels for basics, but trying out new designers is a must. It’s also an easier style switch than picking up random trends. Staying put in one style may feel comfortable, but you will also come across as someone who dresses ‘sensibly’ (that’s almost as bad as ‘matronly’, isn’t it?)
  • When you consider (minor) surgery, try to find natural options first. There are still so many cases of (probably) needless, bad needlework. Since there are so many reruns of Friends, I cannot believe how beautiful Courtney Cox was, in comparison to the attractive, but slightly hamster like looking middle-aged woman. There is always a danger of losing perspective, of going overboard. I love how Valeria Mazza (41), Argentina’s Heidi Klum, puts it: “I am not against the needle. It just shouldn’t be a habit, like that time of the year when you call up your doctor for a pap smear.”

Do you ever feel that age is bothering you? How do you stay true to your style after 40? About the author: Barbara De Mul (1975) finds that the only way to deal with turning 40 is looking forward to it! “I am lucky enough to have a lot of older family members and friends who inspire me. Your spirit stays the same, whether you are 10 or 101”. As a freelance writer, she has lived in Paris, Greece, Spain, Miami and she currently works in Lima. Her next travels will be to Colombia and Chile. She is just starting out in the blog world, so feel free to give her a cheer at


Sylvia is 40+style’s editor-in-chief and has been helping women find their unique style since 2011. An alumni of the School of Color and Design, she is devoted to empowering women of any age to look and feel their best. Read more about Sylvia and 40+style on this page.

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