Tiina travels a lot as her husband works in England. Therefore she likes her clothes to be comfortable and practical and easy to mix and match. Let’s find out how she creates a wardrobe that is fit for travel!
Can you tell us a little bit more about yourself?
I’m a freelance teacher, a weekend wife and a frequent flyer. And I’m an outspoken blogger with an axe to grind with fashion designers who refuse to see that short, curvy, middle-aged women are just dying to spend a lot of money on flattering clothes.
As a point of reference which age group do you belong to or perhaps you are willing to share your age?
I will be 50 this June.
Can you tell us a bit more about your blog Elegance Revisited and why you created it?
Elegance Revisited started as a creative outlet, a place to showcase some of my travel photos, artwork and style ideas. I had got very frustrated reading fashion magazines, thinking that they had absolutely nothing to offer to women in their 40s and 50s, or women who do not fit into a certain idea of beauty. And I had seen so many interesting blogs by women over 40, all different body types, reclaiming style in their blogs. I wanted to be part of that ‘movement’.
How would you describe your own style?
I could summarise my style as “living out of a suitcase”. I travel a lot, or ‘commute’ between my two homes, so we can take this literally. But what I really mean is a certain attitude of less is more: I try not to accumulate too much, and I want to be able to mix and match my rather small wardrobe endlessly. I sort of like to pretend that all the clothes and accessories I could ever need would fit into one suitcase (which they don’t, of course…). And living in two places also means that whatever I need to complete an outfit is usually in the wrong country, i.e. not where I am, so I have to improvise a lot… So, my style motto could be: use whatever you have available and get on with it.
What would you consider the most important components of your style?
Colour, material and shape. I use colour as a focal point quite a lot, and I like body-skimming clothes made of natural materials that not only look good but also feel good on the skin. In short, I want all my clothes to be fitted and low-maintenance, with a luxurious feel. If it says polyester or ‘dry clean only’ on the label, I’m not interested. Oh, and clothes have to travel well, of course…
Where do you live and how does that influence your style?
I live and work in Helsinki, Finland, and my husband works in Canterbury, England, where we have a second home. So, one of us travels every weekend, and I often spend weeks at a time in one country. So, obviously weather and climate influence my style, and I have quite a collection of outerwear. Winter is long, cold and dark in Finland, so I live in cashmere sweaters and boots for almost 6 months of the year. And in England I need different types of winter coats, for rainy weather… So much for fitting my wardrobe into one suitcase, huh?
Do you feel you have a signature style?
Definitely! Every time I’ve been shopping and show my husband what I bought he says ‘don’t you have something like that already?’ He may have a point…I have a really bad addiction for Breton-stripe tops, and all my coats are practically clones. I could summarise my style as: trousers/skirt and a t-shirt, a coat, a scarf, sunglasses and a bag. It’s easy-to-wear, mix-and-match separates and bold accessories, classic styles and strong colours.
What inspires your outfit choices the most?
I’m a very practical person. So, if it rains, that means rainwear. And as I walk a lot, no heels. I can’t stand anything fussy or complicated, or something that makes me feel self-conscious. Everything I wear must be comfortable, practical, low-maintenance, and appropriate for the situation. I also believe that comfortable clothes should be stylish, but comfort always comes first… And then there are my style influences, of course: I prefer simple and classic styles that don’t scream the latest trends. My late mother has been maybe the biggest style influence in my life, and I mix her simple, elegant style with my own, more flamboyant vibe.
Do you take things like color profiling or body type into account when you dress?
Absolutely! Colour is very important for me: I know which colours look good on me and I buy new pieces that match /complement what I already have. I don’t care about ‘the colour of the year’ or what the colours of the season are. I have my own ‘colour palette’ and stick to that. So, when hot pink is ‘in’, it’s time to stock up…
And body shape… well, I see body shape as something that sets the parameters for me when I’m shopping for clothes. Fashion changes, but my body isn’t going to miraculously grow taller and slimmer just to accommodate the season’s styles. Besides, I think clothes should flatter the woman wearing them, i.e. the woman wears the clothes, not the other way round. So, when fashion designers send out body-skimming dresses with cinched-in waistlines, I stock up… and when shops are full of boxy cuts and sack-like dresses I’m convinced that fashion designers have something against women with hour-glass figures…
Has your style changed at all after turning 40?
Probably… I think my style has evolved over the decades, but I don’t think it has changed drastically since I turned 40. Of course, I was very experimental in my 20s (crazy colours, mini skirts…), and since I turned 40 I stick to knee-length dresses or skirts and wear more classic styles. I also buy better quality clothes, and spend more money on clothes that I wear more often. For instance, I collect simple cashmere sweaters/cardigans because they last forever, which in my book justifies the cost.
Do you believe in dressing ‘age appropriately’ and what does it mean to you?
Yes, I do. But what looks ‘age-appropriate’ on me may not work on someone else and vice versa… I think an older woman can be trendy and dress in a youthful or experimental way, or wear shorts and mini skirts, if it suits her style and personality and flatters her figure. And if her clothes are made of quality materials, of course. An older woman should definitely not wear cheap-and-cheerful throw-away fashion. That would look, well, cheap and a bit desperate. The trendier the cuts and the more experimental the style, the more important it is to buy only quality pieces that will last. For me, dressing age-appropriately means good-quality clothing that flatters my body and makes me look the best I can. And in my case that does not include shorts and mini skirts (but that has probably more to do with my thighs than my age…)
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 have always been interested in fashion, and the way I look like. I even studied fashion design when I was young. But these days I’m more interested in personal style: women of all ages using style as a form of self-expression, how their personalities come across in their clothing choices, and how they adapt their personal preferences to suit their body shapes.
And on a more personal level, I want my signature style to have longevity, that there is some continuity between the person I am right now and will be in years to come.
Why is the way you look important to you?
When you grow up with a mother who was a former beauty queen, you are always expected to meet certain standards, and often feel that you’re failing miserably…No, seriously, don’t we all want to look our best? It is a confidence boost if you know you look good. It is also one area of your life you can control: we all can look our best if we want to. All it takes is a bit of effort.
Do you follow trends? And if yes, which trends excite you at the moment?
Let’s say I’m aware of trends. But I’m rather picky when it comes to incorporating trends into my own style…
Do you have any fashion and style tips for women over 40?
First of all, forget black: very few people look good wearing black, and at this age you should make use of all the tricks that make you look your best. In other words, colour is your best friend, it can take years off your face, and it lifts your mood, too. And if you’ve always wanted to dress better, stop wanting and start dressing, now. You can be stylish at any age, of course, but you might as well start now.
What are your plans for your blog and how do you see it develop over the coming years?
I would like to see the blog turn into a sort of online magazine, also covering other topics besides style and fashion. Or I would like to discuss style and fashion on a more general level: the changing beauty ideals and how we see them in high street fashion, maybe an occasional rant on how fashion is so unfair to those of us who do not look like catwalk models, that sort of thing.
Anything further you would like to add?
The blog has already undergone some changes this past year. Most importantly, my amateur artwork has moved onto another blog, The Dilettante Artist’s Gallery as I felt it didn’t really fit in with the other material I was posting. And I’ve started posting pictures on Instagram!
And I would like to thank you, Sylvia, for including me in your style interview series.
Which of Tiina’s outfits is your favorite?
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