How to look stylish and have fun with accessories – style lesson from Anja

by Sylvia

How to wear accessories

Anja is a familiar face on this site. She is my photographer whenever she in town and we share a passion for photography, nice clothing and travelling. Our style in clothing is completely different though and while I tend to be more of a minimalist who sticks to solid colors and graphical shapes, Anja has a ‘more is more’ philosophy and loves colors, flowers, pastels and accessorizing. Time to find out about her style secrets and her best tips on how to accessorize!

Hi Anja. Thanks for taking the time out to answer a few questions for Can you tell us a little bit more about yourself?

I am a Dutch woman, living 6 months per year in the Netherlands and the rest of the year in Singapore or travelling. I follow my husband wherever his work takes him. The last year and a half that has been mostly India.
For many years I worked in the mental health care and in training and development. Nowadays I am passionate about the Argentine Tango, about photography, blogging and travelling. I am crazy about cats and dogs and I love to hang out with my (girl)friends.

As a point of reference which age group do you belong to or perhaps you are willing to share your age?

I turn 57 in may.

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Can you tell us a bit more about your blog Curly Traveller?

It started as a blog about my life in Singapore. Initially I blogged in Dutch, since my parents don’t speak any other language. But after a while I shifted to English. Also the blog’s angle became wider then just Singapore, since we travel quite a lot. The majority of the posts are now about Singapore and India, but also about the Netherlands, the Philippines, Thailand and more. To make it easily digestible for my readers, I put the emphasis on pictures instead of on text.
I have a second blog called Totally Wowed, about all things that ‘wow’ me.

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How would you describe your style?

The first word that comes to mind is ‘a curl’. Quite appropriate, with my curly hair, hence the name of my blog;-). To elaborate on the word ‘curl’: curls, ofcourse, flowers, soft, flowy, feminine. The second word that comes up is ‘colorful’. I love colors, especially pastels, but also brights and neons. Primary colors and e.g. earth tones are not ‘my thing’. The last words would be ‘playful’ and ‘happy’. My motto is: ‘More is more; less is a bore.’

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As a friend of mine you are of course a familiar face on this blog and known for your love of both color and accessorizing. Why are accessories so important to you?

For me accessories are the icing on the cake. They are a wonderful and affordable way to add color, personality and something special to an outfit. I have numerous accessories -hats, jewelry, hairaccessories, shawls, belts, shoes, nailpolish, bags- in every imaginable color. They give me the opportunity to play so much more with my clothes and to make a lot of variations.

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How do you go about accessorizing yourself. What comes first?

That depends. Sometimes I start with the clothes and accessorize after. Sometimes I feel like wearing certain accessories and choose the clothes upon that.

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What do you feel is the most important accessory over 40?

That is a tough one. I cannot choose. For me they are all important, although not all at the same time, ofcourse.
You say :”…over 40…”, but I can think of other factors that are more important then age. The country and climate you live in, e.g. I love hats and have many, but I would not wear them in Singapore. And in Holland it sometimes is way too windy to wear my hats. With my long hair I can do a lot with hairaccessories, while for someone with a short hairstyle this might be less usefull.

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What are your best tips for women who want to have more fun with accessories?

Buy many (cheap) ones in the color palette that you have in your closet. Display them in your home in a way that you see them every day. I bought metal grids that I attached to the walls of my dressing room. My accessories are clipped or hung onto those grids, so that I have a good overview. Seeing them gives me inspiration and ideas on the spot. If you keep them hidden in closed boxes and drawers, you tend to forget about them and may not use them so often.

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Can you tell me where you live and how your location influences your style? Is it very different from others in your area?

The last four years I lived in the Netherlands, Singapore and India.
In Holland it is often cold, wet and windy. That forces you to cover up more, with thicker clothes or layers. I hate the cold and I have to admit that I have much more fun in wearing summer clothes. But I try to maintain my style, by e.g. wearing colored tights, boots, shawls and vests. I also have coats in a lot of colors.

In Singapore, people dont pay attention to an older, caucasian woman. I might as well be invisible on the streets. That gives a strange sort of freedom, in a way. Therefore I care less about wearing short skirts and short sleeves in Singapore, while I don’t do that anymore in Holland.
In India, I don’t wear short skirts, unless I am in a hotel. I tend to wear more trousers, leggings and tunics over there.

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What inspires your outfit choices the most?

How I feel that day. Or looking into my closet and getting ideas from that. Or my program that day. Am I going to dance tango? Meet friends? Go to a party?

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Do you take things like color profiling or body type into account when you dress?

Yes, I choose only colors that I find flattering for me, ofcourse. Also I choose only clothes that flatter my body. Clothes that hide my flaws as much as possible. I lost quite some weight a bit over a year ago and that has changed my choices a lot. Before that wider A-line tops were perfect for me, while now I often choose for a belt around my waist.

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Would you say you have a signature style? And if yes, what are the main elements?

Soft materials, stretchy, velvety, satin. Paillettes, ruffles, tule. Flowers, accessories. Soft tones, happy colors. Feminine, bohemien, artistic.

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Has your style changed at all after turning 40?

Not particularly after turning 40, but during my life, my style (obviously) changed several times. I had a pink period, a punk period and a hippie period. At this point and time I wear my dresses, skirts and sleeves less short and my cleavage less deep. I came to realise that formal clothes, like colberts and shirts, are not me, so I don’t wear these anymore. I also don’t wear a lot of black and grey anymore.

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Do you believe in dressing ‘age appropriately’ and what does it mean to you?

Yes, I do. Some things just look childish at a certain point. Also while ageing, parts of your body may become unattractive, like the skin of your upper arms and your inner thighs. I don’t feel like showing these of any longer.
On the other hand people nowadays can keep dressing young, fun and artistic even when they get older. Our grannies tended to look like real grannies. Now, also 60, 70 and 80 year old’s can look cool and hip. Age appropriate does NOT mean old, traditional or boring and that is awesome!

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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?

Although coming from a family that works in fashion, strangely enough I have never felt ‘into fashion’ myself. That deserves some explanation, I guess. I certainly always love to make an effort in the way I look; I never just put on some clothes in the morning. I think this is because I love beautiful things, I love to decorate, to customise and to create. Fashion on the other hand, has to do with trends and ideas that come from the industry. “Next season: the color is emerald green, the fabric is fake fur and the item is the sailor pants.” That kind of stuff. I couldn’t care less.
Although I am still influenced by fashion and trends, despite of what I just said. If only, because it determines what is available in the shops.

Why is the way you look important to you?

I love to beautify the world, things, myself. Seeing people on the streets that made work of the way they look makes the world so much more fun and beautiful. Look at Advanced Style; don’t these ladies bring a smile to your face and make you happy and inspired?
Another reason is, that it is a great way to express who I am.

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Do you follow trends? And if yes, which trends excite you at the moment?

I am not very trendy or trend following. But regularly there are trends that match my taste. Then I grab my chances in the shops. For example, at the moment jeans and trousers in every possible color are a trend and that suits my love for colors perfect. And last winter the shops were filled with soft fabrics, mint green, soft pink, paillettes; totally up my alley.

Do you have any fashion and style tips for women over 40?

Not particularly. For me, key is that whatever you wear expresses who you are and is flattering for your body type and for your complexion.

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Do you plan to continue with blogging and how do you see your blog develop over the coming years?

Yes, I do, because it is another way to express myself. It is also a nice way to share my experiences. The hard part is to make your blog grow. That is a skill in itself and I am not good enough at that yet. I hope I will be able to develop that.

Anything further you would like to add?

Thank you for featuring me. I always love the interviews you do and the women you present on your blog. My admiration for you as a blogger is enormous, by the way.

Note from Sylvia: many of the accessories featured in this article are from Heels Diva. You can find more articles featuring Anja, by doing a search for her name in the search box on the right. Also be sure to visit her blogs: CurlyTraveller and Totally Wowed!


1 Susan

It’s so obvious that Anja has found her style comfort zone because she looks smashing. I especially love her RBW dress and the yellow top and skirt. Thanks for the inspiration–Susan

2 Tangobabe

Hi Susan,
Thanks for the compliment. And how funny is it, that I state that I don’t wear primary colors, yet there I am in a red-white-blue combination;-).
In fact quite unusual colors for me, that came up thanks to the upcoming dutch activities at the time. (Red, white and blue being the national colors).
I guess it shows that most ‘rules’ and ‘decisions’ are not so strict nor 100% all the time.

3 elizabeth anderson

Hi i love the dress

4 Rita A.

I love Anja’s colorful and happy style! To project happiness is so uplifting to others. I get happy everytime I see a picture of Anja. 🙂

5 Tangobabe

Thanks, Rita, that’s great!

6 The Style Crone

Another great interview Sylvia. Anja has great style and a beautiful take on life. Her use of color is fun and inspiring.

7 Marie Dowling

Thanks for interviewing Anja, it’s always insightful to know about the choices others make (and why). But what is a ‘colbert’? Anja said she doesnt wear colberts or shirts much now. And could Anja please post a photo of the metal boards she keeps her accessories on in her dressing room so that I may have a better understanding. Thanks again from Australia. Warm wishes, Marie Dowling

8 Tangobabe

Hi Marie,

To answer your questions: a colbert is a blazer. And with a shirt I mean shirt with a collar, like a man’s shirt.

About the displays, like the metal grid, I posted some pictures on the forum just now:

I hope that that answers your questions?
Thanks for asking and for commenting!

9 Suzanne

Wow I adore her style! So fun, colourful and eclectic.

Also loving all the fun accessories.

I think we are style sisters ; P


10 Tangobabe

Hi Suzanne, Yes, there are certainly similarities in our styles! And you seem to be a tango dancer too? Cool! You dance in Toronto? Then you must know my friend Andy Kamienski. Are you originally from Quebec, since you named your blog Bisous? I lived in Montreal during 6 years. Loved it!

11 Suzanne

My husband is from France where I met him…thus the name Bisous which was my manufacturing company that I had before.

I haven’t heard of your friend but we only took dance lessons through Arthur Murray private lessons in Mississauga.

We have also lived in Montreal and Quebec City but I absolutely hated Quebec City. Montreal was okay but I much prefer Toronto. Quebecers are funny with non Quebecers.

Your article on the third sex of India was really interesting. Not something you would think about.


12 Tangobabe

Quebec City is boring indeed. Loved Montreal though. Thanks for stopping by at my blog and for reading my post.

13 Kathleen Lisson

Wonderful to meet another hat lover!

14 Marianne

Great article Anja, I like your style of clothing you know that. Very colourful one day and the next day in pastels. But most of all I think you are very creative when I remember that you made some very nice jewellry for Greetje. When I was in my twenties I worked in Ibiza and for some reason when I think Ibiza I see you. Not the Ibiza of today though.

15 Tangobabe

Funny that you say that, Marianne, since I have never been to Ibiza, yet feel some connection with it upfront. Hope to visit one day;-)

16 Mrs C

She has a very fun and original style! Love her in the shift dress.. I will never be able to pull off shift dress, unfortunately

MRS JACK OF ALL TRADES (a fashion and life-style blog)

17 Tangobabe

What is a shift dress?

18 Lorraine

Sleeveless, round neck, usually straight or with darts coming down from the bust.

19 Greetje

It is so nice to see Anja in her Singapore / India clothes. They are totally unknown to me and they suit her so well. Love everything she is wearing. And love the fact that she styles me whenever we have the chance.

20 Ofelia

What an amazing women and what great legs she has!
I love all things colors and I also believe that more is more especially when it comes to accessorizing.

21 Annette

So nice to get to know you at least a little bit, Anja.

I admire your attention to details and accessories as I love that as well! Like these fabulous shoe clips, they are so cute and you can always perfectly decorate and match neutral colours with your outfit.

Interesting what you said about the “invisibility” in Singapore. I have been there and in many other asian countries but I was younger at the time.

Thank you and greetings from Germany,
Lady of Style

22 Spashionista (Alicia)

Thanks for giving us a better glimpse of Anja and her style, Sylvia. I love her use of color and sense of whimsy. She’s absolutely right about displaying your accessories where you can see them. I have many inexpensive trinkets I had forgotten about until I started displaying them on jewelry arms on my bookcase.

Spashionista (Alicia)

23 Lorraine

Anja has a fantastic figure and I love her attitude to clothes. Also, how wonderful to reinvent yourself for the country you are in. Interesting question about the most important accessories – I always wear earrings and feel naked without them!
Another great interview.

24 Tangobabe

Well, thanks, lovely ladies, for reading the interview and for your comments. I always love Sylvia’s interview posts, so I was very happy to be featured myself;-).

25 Alyssa W.

Love her. Her style is always so fresh and beautiful. Thanks for that interview Sylvia!


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