Both me and others were a bit saddened by a comment from Cheryl as a response to an outfit I posted on my Facebook page: “When you are slim you can wear what you like. I am feeling so down today and have lost my way with my wardrobe  I’m feeling old, (at 48) fat and frumpy”.

I know that quite a few women feel this way. I also know it doesn’t have to be this way. Age, body type, money, or location have nothing to do with style. Let’s discover how to get out of a style rut.

I also know that an increase in weight, hormone changes, health issues, and life, in general, can get us into a style rut and make us feel less than wonderful.

Of course these can sometimes lead to more serious issues like depression, but that is beyond the scope of this article. Today we will mainly focus on how to get out of a style rut.

That in itself can make you feel better about yourself, as it really is true that looking good can make you feel good as well.

How do you get into a style rut?

A style rut often happens when you feel that you don’t have the time or the desire to spend time on dressing and / or self grooming.

You may be overwhelmed by or too busy with your children, not feel happy with your career or relationship or got frustrated by the increasing size of your body or overwhelming health issues.

You may feel that looking after yourself is not important or that there is no time for that.

The problem is that when you stop looking after yourself, you will look even worse and therefore FEEL even worse. It can become a downward spiral.

Before you know it, you may feel old, fat and frumpy as Cheryl expressed above.

How to get out of a style rut?

First of all, you need to realize that you are in a style rut and that you are doing this to yourself.

You have stopped caring at some point and stopped making an effort to look after yourself for any of the reasons mentioned above.

You will need to get rid of any excuses you have given yourself as reasons why you can’t look good.

Some of these can be:

  1. “I’m too old to look good”
  2. “I’m too fat”
  3. “I have no style”
  4. “I have no time for shopping”
  5. “I have no money to buy anything”

Let’s tackle these excuses one by one.

1. I’m too old to look good

I assure you that you can never be too old to look good!

No matter what age, if you have developed your own sense of style, it really does not matter if you have a few more wrinkles or not. Everyone can achieve a young & hip look and there are so many ways to achieve that.

You may like to read: is there a big difference between dressing at 40, 50, 60 or 70?

Add some funky shoes to your outfit. They can still be comfortable but they will give you a young and hip vibe. You may like to check out the latest trends for clothes and shoes on this page

You can also wear a modern necklace and it’s important to choose clothes that fit. 

These are just a few things you can do but there are so many more ideas.

In fact, this whole website is about how to dress after 40 and still look hip.

Often it’s not even about how you dress specifically, but how you approach life in general.

Suzanne’s article on how to look young and youthful after 40 gives some great tips on how to achieve this.

A great example of someone who celebrates life and looks amazing after 80, is Judith. Check out her article on this site on how to look amazing in hats.

Over 70 style icon Judith Boyd | fashion over 70 |

2. I’m too fat

Many women give their increased body size as the excuse for not being able to look good. I understand that it can be a challenge to dress for a changing body after 40. Many find that they need to adjust to a bigger tummy, the loss of waist, bigger hips etc. It is no excuse to look frumpy though.

When your body changes, you may need to learn a new set of guidelines on how to dress the new curves of your body. It may take some effort and it may involve a few trips to the shops, trial and error and some commitment from you. You can start by reading this article on determining your body type.

When you understand your horizontal and vertical body type better, you can now decide which parts of your body you want to highlight and which parts you want to downplay.

Many women prefer to downplay their belly which is why I offer lots of tips here in how to hide a belly.

Then concentrate on the parts of your body you like. Maybe you have a great pair of legs, or you like to show off your shoulders.

When you put in the effort and learn what works for your body type and your personality, you will soon discover that you can look good no matter what size you have.

One of the best examples of someone who looks superbly chic while being curvy is Georgette. Check out this article on how to dress for curves and be inspired by how fabulous she looks!

3. I have no style

When you have neglected yourself for a while you may feel frumpy. You have probably  paid no attention to what you like, what excites and delights you. If you have lost your (style) spark, you put no effort whatsoever in finding clothes that suit your body type and personality. You may say to yourself that you have no style.

The truth is that you have neglected your style too much.

Everyone has style.

Everyone has a unique personality and their own preferences and likes. You just need to find or rediscover what they are.

If you want to get your style back on track this year, you will love my course 21 Steps to a More Stylish You which is now open for enrollment.

Now Open For Enrollment: 21 Steps to a More Stylish You |

4. I have no time for shopping

Another well-known excuse is that you think that you have no time.

Fact is, everybody has the same amount of time each day. It’s up to you to decide on how to spend that time. What will get your priority?

If you think that you have no time to look after yourself because your kids, husband, job or whatever else it is needs it more, you are doing both yourself and others a disservice.

You should always make sure that you look after yourself first.

Only when you are happy with yourself, both mentally and physically, will you be able to look after others and/or your job well. If there is no time to go to the hairdresser once a month or go to a shop, there is something wrong with your priorities.

Have another look at your schedule and make sure to plan some “YOU” time a month in advance if you must. It’s the best thing you can do both for yourself and for others as well.

You can, of course, also shop online. While it can be more difficult to find pieces which perfectly fit and suit you, it also means that you can try pieces on at home. Check out my list of the best online shops for women over 40.

5. I have no money

This is another popular excuse.

I know that not everyone has equal amounts of money and that times are tough for some, but most of us in the developed world have enough to live on.

You don’t need the latest designer clothes and bags to look good. If you know what you like and what suits you, you can buy fabulous clothes in thrift shops, fast fashion retailers and Amazon as well.

When you are on a budget, you will need to be even smarter about your fashion choices.

You will need to know even better what suits you and what does not. You may want to create a few smart capsule wardrobes, so you can easily mix and match all your clothes and always have something unique to wear.

By taking time to find out what suits you and what doesn’t, you will have the confidence to edit your own closet, and wear different combinations.

You may find this piece on how to wear the clothes already in your closet inspirational.

You may also enjoy this article on how to thrift like a pro from the (very stylish) Karen.

How to get out of a style rut |

How to get out of your style rut?

Regardless of your height, weight or physical limitations, feeling comfortable in your body is important at any age.

When our clothes fit and feel comfortable they become an expression of who we are and cannot only be an enjoyable experience but uplifting as well.

Many of us throw our hands up in the air as we sense our appearance changing and the clothes we once enjoyed no longer feel or look good on us.

You just have to adjust. And, you can!

Go through this list of excuses and ask yourself honestly: “What is my excuse?”

Perhaps you have several.

Concentrate on the one that is your biggest excuse, and try applying some of the recommendations mentioned to counter them.

Start with one excuse at the time. Once you have overcome that issue, move to the next excuse you may use for yourself to stop looking good.

Take baby steps and slowly but surely start making some positive changes.

As an extra motivator, here are just some reasons why looking good is important

1. When you look great, you feel great

You may have heard the phrase before: When you look great you feel great.

I believe this to be true.

When you don’t put in the effort, you will know deep down that you don’t look your best and your face will show it.

You will look less confident and less approachable.

On the other hand when you have made an effort and can look in the mirror with a confident smile, you will show that to the world. You will look confident and happy and beautiful and others will notice that too.

I even believe that making an effort in terms of your clothing can actually reverse a bad mood, so it can be very therapeutic as well.

2. It shows that you care about yourself and others

Others DO really appreciate when you look after yourself.

Not only are you entertaining and pleasing yourself with some creativity or color, others will be delighted as well.

Although I believe that you should mainly dress up to delight yourself, there certainly is no harm in entertaining others as well!

3. You will be taken more seriously

Unfortunately, this one is a fact of life. If you look better, others will take you more seriously.

In a study it was even shown that women that put on more makeup will have better promotion chances (for more info see my article makeup: is it essential for women).

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t agree with this, but I have experienced myself that you will be more appreciated when you look better.

I am hoping though, that you will take the first 2 reasons more to heart. I believe that making yourself look stylish and beautiful should always be done, because you yourself will feel and see the benefits and not because others expect it from you.

4. You will have more FUN

Fashion, styling and dressing up is fun. When you start seeing the potential of dressing again and how it makes you look and feel, it will become a fun activity and not something you dread.

You will take delight from websites like these and not feel threatened by thin models and the latest styles. You will know what suits you and what you can do this season to make YOU feel better.

You will know how to add perhaps one trend to your style this year and how you can play with color, prints and silhouettes. You will have fun with your style and that is exactly how it should be.

5. You can connect with other women

Fashion is often said to be frivolous.

And, maybe that’s true to an extent.

But style, in particular, can also be something much deeper. Not only can style change the way you see yourself, and how others relate to you, but it can also create connections and lifelong friendships.

If style is important to you and you want to learn how to improve it, you will love my course 21 Steps to a More Stylish You.

While some women who joined the style course would say they had become stuck in a style rut, others just want to take the opportunity to improve their style. Take a look at some of the style transformations here.

Some final words on how to get out of a style rut

I hope I have convinced those of you that are in a style rut to have more fun with clothes and discover your stylish you.

Looking stylish doesn’t have to be a chore but can be fun.

I’m sure that the time (and perhaps a bit of money) invested will make you feel happier, more alive and will help you to enjoy your life after 40 even more!

I would love to hear your feedback! Have you ever been in a style rut? How did you get out of it? If you are in a style rut right now, what is your main issue and what will you do to beat the style rut?

P.S. If you are in a style rut right now, my course will definitely help

Like this article on how to get out of a style rut? Share it Pinterest

How to get out of a style rut |

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.

Want to get more articles from 40+style in your inbox, subscribe here.

You can also connect with 40+style on Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest.

Support 40+style by using the links in our articles to shop. As an associate for Amazon and many other brands, we receive a small commission (at no cost to you) on qualifying purchases which enables us to keep creating amazing free content for you. Thanks!