How to look great in black and white – a style interview with Deborah

by Sylvia

How to look great in black and white |

Although it’s not the best color combination for me I’m always attracted to the classic black and white look. Certainly when that combination is worn with a bit of an edge with comtemporary jewelry and elements of draping and asymmetry. I’m therefore very attracted to Deborah’s unique minimalistic style. Let’s find out a bit more about her and why she mostly sticks to this color palette.

Deborah wearing black top and checkered pants |

Can you tell us a little bit more about yourself?

I am a Melbourne girl, now living in the largest regional centre in the state of Victoria, Australia. My career has been varied with social justice/social inclusion and style being my two main passions. I am grateful to be able to work between the two.

Deborah wearing plain dress and checkered scarf |


Want more inspiration? Check out this extensive guide on how to wear black and white


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

Happy to share, I am 48.

Deborah wearing black and white striped long dress |

Can you tell us a bit more about your blog Stylish Murmurs and why you created it?

I am an avid blog reader, and just over 12 months ago I decided to start my own blog. Stylish Murmurs was born out of a desire to document my style evolution and connect with like minded women.

Deborah wearing blazer and printed skirt |

How would you describe your style?

I think my style could be described as minimal. I prefer a neutral colour palette and garments that drape and have interesting, but subtle, design features mixed with more structured items.

Deborah all black outfit with black and white scarf |

You stick to a mainly black and white palette in your dressing. Why is that?

I have a very strong positive emotional response to black and white. Put very simply, I like it. But to elaborate, I would like to paraphrase something a very stylish friend of mine said recently, 

“Why does black sing the sirens song for me? Black “gets” me on so many levels – particularly on emotional levels which express my message. Black embodies the qualities of mystery, quietness, intelligence, formality, and simplicity. It is powerful and can be conservative, edgy, avant garde or elegant in turn. These qualities are the message I wish to convey – these things are me”

And white tends to flatter and light my complexion. White is my ‘colour’. When I don’t feel like an “all black” outfit, I turn to white to accent the black.

Deborah checkered top and black pants|

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

I live in regional city and I would say technically where I live has little to do with my style choices. However, relocating to a city where we knew no-one, freed me from any preconceived ideas I, and others, may have had about my personal style. I felt free from the expectations of others, and myself, to really start exploring exactly what felt “like me” and started dressing for myself.

Deborah wearing all black and white necklace |

Do you feel you have a signature style?

I do feel I have a signature style. The consistent elements of my style would be black, my blonde hair (which I recently chopped) and red lips.

What inspires your outfit choices the most?

I consider a number of things. What I am doing that day, weather, will I be on my feet etc. Mostly practical things, but I am a bit of a mood dresser too, so how I ‘feel’ also comes into play.

Deborah wearing black lace longsleeves and printed skirt |

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

I definitely take body type into account. I am a petite ‘apple’. I have a tummy… and a large bust. Figure flattery is a priority and I choose garments that visually elongate my legs, hide my tummy and reduce my bust. But there are some days where conventional figure flattery goes out the window and I wear something simply because I like it.

Deborah wearing all black and white statement earrings |

Has your style changed at all after turning 40?

I feel any style changes I have experienced have been more related to knowing myself better and being more fully at peace with myself. So that does tend to come with age but I don’t think it is directly related to turning 40. Having said that, and at the risk of sounding clichéd, I did find turning 40 quite liberating. I am in a place where I like what I wear and I don’t mind if others don’t.

Deborah wearing black sweater and printed skirt |

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

I have read and participated in many ‘age appropriate’ discussions, and I am still not sure what it really means. It is quite subjective and I think it means different things to different people. I think we should dress in what we believe is ‘appropriate’ for us.

Deborah wearing embroidered top and white statement earrings |

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?

Sylvia, I am almost ashamed to admit that I am a little (ok, alot) obsessed with style. I have always loved fashion but my perspective is slightly different now. For me style is more important than fashion. A woman doesn’t have to be fashionable to be stylish

.Deborah wearing black long coat |

Which of the outfits on your blog are personal favorites and why?

It’s difficult to pick favourites, but I would say that my more recent outfits would be my favoured ones. When I started my blog I was coming out of a period of experimenting with colours, trends, etc, whereas I feel I have now much more in touch with what not only works for me but what feels like me.

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

I do like to keep up with what is happening trend wise, but my wardrobe is not trend driven. For me to include a trend item in my wardrobe it has to meld with my personal style aesthetic. At the moment, I am excited by the amount of fluid silhouettes that we are seeing.

Deborah wearing long sleeveless vest |

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

I don’t have any specific tips. I would like to encourage women to simply be who they are. How we dress ourselves can be a wonderful creative expression. Enjoy getting dressed, have fun with style and don’t allow anyone to make you feel you should dress or look a certain way. Be authentic to yourself.

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

Well I am a bit of a lazy blogger, posting only fortnightly. I would like to post more frequently. I hope the blog will somehow be a reflection of my growth, both stylewise and personally, but what that looks like, we will have to wait and see.

Deborah wearing checkered dress and scarf |

Anything further you would like to add?

Sylvia, thank you.

I love Deborah’s unique style and especially love her new haircut! Be sure to check out her blog Stylish Murmurs and check out all her outfits!

Which of Deborah’s outfits is your favorite?


1 denton

The first, of course. So elegant!
# six, where she is holding her glasses.
And next to last, unusual but quite interesting with the gray sweater(?)

2 Debra@AModernTranslation

First, I’m in love with your gray cascading vest. Great interview. Thank you for you advice to be authentic to ourselves. Very nice interview.

3 Natalia

Beautiful woman with her own, very definite style. I really enjoyed this interview! We all need to be authentic to ourselves – in so many ways, live authentic life, then the style will be a true reflection of who we are. Everything else, I feel, is quite secondary. Thank you for the interview!

4 Rebecca

Very nice interview Sylvia! Since I wear a lot of black (it’s a given living in NYC), I enjoyed seeing Deborah’s outfits and would wear just about any of them (although our body types are pretty different). Her advice on having fun with fashion and seeking out style over fashion is on target with the great advice you have given us. Thanks for introducing Deborah’s blog to your readers.

5 Pauline

Great Interview And Great Style Tips. Particularly Like Both Black And White Jackets.

6 Ann

Deborah is one of my personal favorites in the 40+ bloggers! She wears black and white with such grace and dignity. I adore her new haircut and always enjoy her posts. I can see she truly was a passion for fashion because her comments on my blog are so insightful. I enjoy reading this article and learning more about this interesting woman. I think she wears black and white in a way that enhances the design of each item she wears.

7 Violet Pastille

She looks great in all her outfits. Love her style.

8 Alice - Happiness at Mid Life

Great interview and love the different bloggers you have interviewed recently. I love that they are so different.

Love Deborah’s style – she seems very defined in what fits her best.


9 MyEmptyBag

I like her style! she is so elegant.


10 Annette

Deborah is a fantastic example that having a signature style doesn’t mean boring looks.
She is perfect in adding this great red colour dash to many of her outfits and also her jewellery is very unique.
I love her zebra jacket!

Annette | Lady of Style

11 Deborah

Sylvia, it’s an honour to be featured on your blog. And thank you all for the very kind comments. I am frequently overwhelmed by how supportive and encouraging the 40+ blogging community is and I feel very privileged to be a part of it. xxx Deborah

12 Bridget

I really enjoyed the interview too.

Deborah’s comments about her emotional response to black and how it conveys her message about mystery, quietness, intelligence, formality, and simplicity intrigued me. Colour in fashion is fascinating. I am drawn to yellow and yellowy/greens, petrol blues and fushia and orange combinations. I love informality, cheerfulness, ideas, stimulation and exchange.

I never thought that the colours I choose might be giving out messages about how I am. I loathe wearing black too, but really get how Deborah uses it and agree with the message it sends. It would be interesting to hear more about her experiments with colour.

13 lissy

Hi Sylvia,
I love all of your style profiles. It’s so nice to be introduced to other stylish women and blogs that I didn’t know about before.


14 Suzanne

Great interview and a very unique style.

I could see where having a closet consisting of only black and white would mean that combinations would be endless. Not something I could ever personally do since my obsession is colour but it is fascinating to see someone else dressing themselves like this.


15 Lynette

Fabulous interview about a very stylish lady!
I thoroughly enjoy Deborah’s Blog ‘Stylish Murmurs’ too.

16 Greetje

I thought I had already commented on this post, but no… So here we go.
Deborah has got a very good eye for what suits her and an unique style. I like almost anything she shows, been to her blog a couple of times (sorry Deborah, should have been there more often). It is strange that when she is in summer I am in winter and vice versa. Then again, you (Sylvia) are always in summer.
I like how she varies with black and white, always very contemporary with her jewellery. Often with colourful earrings. And she also seems a nice person.
Thumbs up for Deborah.

17 ml in sf

Very elegant, beautiful clothes and a great hair cut!

18 Eugenia Russell Hargrove

I think she looks fab in very outfit especially the peplum!

19 Petra

What a fabulous-looking lady – I love her style and her comments! I’m hopping over to see her blog and follow her – thanks for sharing her with us Sylvia 🙂


I admire Deborah’s style, especially the consistency, which I think is key. Glad to see her featured!

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