This week’s style star is the fabulous Susan who combines her love for fashion and styling others with a job as a social worker. Her own style is understated and elegant yet always features a statement pieces. Let’s discover her style secrets!

Can you tell us a little bit more about yourself?

My story is a bit unique. I’m a social worker, wardrobe stylist and midlife style blogger—crazy combination I know, but it works! I’ve been a social worker for the past 20+ years.

I run a federal program that helps low-income families become self-sufficient. About nine years ago I started my business, which grew out of a passion for clothes mixed with a love for helping women feel empowered and self-confident (clothes are powerful!).

The business took off faster than I ever could have imagined and within a few years I had a robust clientele and started styling for television and print. I think that my background in social work gives me a deeper understanding of body image and self-esteem issues that so many women (including myself) struggle with.

Susan kanoff on style |

Photo by Emily O’Brien

Although my social work job is very different from my styling business, I try to infuse the two worlds when I can by running style events for charity, makeovers for deserving women and by collecting clothes to pass on to those in need (I actually have a small “dress for success” type program in my office!).

It is super important to me to give back to the community and I get a sense of great joy when I know that I have made a difference in the lives of others. Kindness makes the world go round.

On a personal note, I am divorced, happily remarried and have two amazing kids Alyssa 29 and Neal 25. I also have two grown step-kids and an adorable grand-bunny and grand-dog J.

merlot jacket outfit |

Photo by Cathleen Trainor

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

Of course! I’m in the 50’s club (54 to be exact!)

Can you tell us a bit more about your blog The Midlife Fashionista and why you created it?

Although I’ve been blogging for years (as a way to give my clients style ideas), it was just last year that The Midlife Fashionista was born. I did a total revamp of the blog including incorporating professional photos taken by my best friend Cathy (besties since high school!).

Cathy is a corporate executive with a passion for photography, so we teamed up to do photo-shoots together–I play model and she plays photographer! We have way too much fun and love exploring new places to shoot.

When Cathy’s schedule heats up, I tap into the talents of my friend/photographer Emily O’Brien. I’m grateful to have such wonderful women to collaborate with!

The mission of The Midlife Fashionista is to prove that style is ageless but doesn’t have to be difficult! During midlife so many body changes happen– it’s easy for women to get into stuck in a style rut and give up on their clothes and on themselves!

printed black shirt |

Photo by Cathleen Trainor

The Midlife Fashionista is all about showing off looks that are modern, versatile, and withstand the trends. I like to model simple chic outfits that are easy to put together—you won’t see complicated runway styles on my blog!

I want my readers to think “I could actually wear something like that!” or “I love how those colors look together”. I also infuse the blog with personal insights and most recently, stories of inspiring women who have made positive changes in midlife.

After all, we’re in this together and we can learn from each other!

How would you describe your own personal style?

For the most part I would say that my style is understated. You’ll never see me over-accessorized or glitzy from head to toe!

I tend to gravitate toward simple lines and styles with one standout piece–whether it be a great necklace, bag or fabulous jacket. However, I do like to switch things up, so my style can change according to my mood and can range from classic to edgy—sometimes even a bit boho!

 Susan Kanoff Style Interview |

Photo by Emily O’brien

 What would you consider the most important components of your style?

*Lots of basics—basics are the foundation of a great wardrobe. When there’s too much “fluff” and not enough basic pieces in the closet, it can be difficult to put great outfits together

*Comfort—I have to be comfortable these days. Gone from my closet are the killer 4’’ heels and low-rise pants. Clothes should not cause pain!

*Authenticity—It’s super important that my style reflects who I am as a person. I preach this to my clients too. It’s wonderful to push yourself beyond your comfort zone by trying new styles—just be sure that you still feel like yourself!

cashmere poncho |

Photo by Emily O’Brien

Where do you live and how does that influence your style?

I live in the Greater Boston area. Bostonians tend to be fairly conservative dressers…it’s definitely not trendy LA!

I would say that the weather impacts my style more than anything. Our cold snowy winters can make being stylish a bit more challenging. The older I get, the less I like being cold. I truly believe I was meant to be a snow-bird.

Edgy dress outfit with Susan Kanoff Style Interview |

Photo by Cathleen Trainor

What inspires your outfit choices the most?

I love to get ideas from other style blogs—there are some super stylish midlife bloggers out there! I also enjoy flipping through style magazines and of course scouting out what’s in the stores!

white fringe poncho |

Photo by Emily O’brien

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

Absolutely! Both are super important, especially in midlife.

Although I’m not a big fan of “color profiling systems” as they can sometimes be too limiting, I do believe that women should wear colors that are flattering to their skin-tone. A good color will actually make your skin glow, pop your eyes and even make your teeth look whiter, whereas a bad color can be draining and wash you out.

I’ve noticed that as I get older my colors have changed and I can now wear shades that didn’t work in the past. For instance, baby blue used to look terrible on me, but now that my hair-color is lighter, it works!

Light blue sweaterSusan Kanoff |

Photo by Emily O’Brien

Dressing for our body shape is just as important. As our bodies change, our styles need to as well.

I’m finding that clothes I rocked just last year no longer look great this season, so I’m constantly reevaluating and weeding out my wardrobe.

Has your style changed at all after turning 40?

Oh yes! As a matter of fact, I think my style has gotten better over the years! I cringe when I see photos of how I dressed when my kids were little!

I was a stay-at-home mom for years, so it was easy to throw on sweats ever day. Once my kids got older, I had more time to focus on myself and reconnect with my sense of style.

At 54, I think I’m more stylish than I’ve ever been!

leather sweatshirt |

Photo by Emily O’Brien

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

I’m actually not sure what the term “age appropriate” means anymore—I think everyone has their own interpretation these days! My feeling is that instead of defining our wardrobe by our age, it’s better to focus on what is flattering.

If you have fabulous legs, then why should you wear long skirts just because you “think” you should?

Aztec cardigan outfit with Susan Kanoff Style Interview |

Photo by Cathleen Trainor

We’re lucky to have gorgeous over 40 role models who dress youthful and modern, like Julianne Moore, Jennifer Anniston, Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman. I’m in love with Helen Mirren’s style, and she’s 70!

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?

 Definitely more! I love clothes more than I ever have! Maybe it’s because of my blog or because I have more time to focus on myself at this stage of my life.

Why is the way you look important to you?

It’s simple…when I look good, I feel good.

All black outfit |

Photo by Cathleen Trainor

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

I like to see what’s new in the style world but my wardrobe is more timeless than trendy. This year, I’m happy to see that stripes are in (classic in my book!) and bright vivid colors, which are just plain fun!

New Year outfit |

Photo by Cathleen Trainor

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

  • Get rid of the notion “I can’t wear that—I’m too old”. I have clients in their 70’s who can rock a leather jacket!
  • Understand your body type and wear styles that work with it, not against it.
  • Constantly reevaluate your wardrobe and weed your closet regularly. Having “too much” can make it difficult to put together great outfits.
  • Have fun with your clothes—they’re an expression of who you are!

Winter coat Susan Kanoff Style Interview |

Photo by Cathleen Trainor

What are your plans for your blog and how do you see it develop over the coming years?

I have big plans for the blog! I’m actually in the middle of making some fun new changes. I’ll be adding more pages for shopping inspiration, collaborations, and introduce ways for women to work with me privately.

I’m also exploring brand ambassadorships. I’m having a lot of fun at this stage of my life! I can’t believe I’m a style blogger at age 54–but then again, why not!

black sweater dress with heels outfit |

Photo by Cathleen Trainor

Anything further you would like to add?

Thanks so much for the interview! Ladies, have fun with your clothes!

Discover more about Susan and her fashion at The Midlife Fashionista, A Great New Look, and @TheMidlifeFashionista for Instagram.


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A style interview with Susan |


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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