Terri Durling is a small-town woman with a big style personality. She loves fashion so much, she even went back to work so she had a reason for dressing up.
In this style interview Terri talks about dressing to suit her mood, why she’s not afraid of pattern-mixing and her style tips for women over 40, 50, 60 and beyond.
Can you tell us a little bit more about yourself?
Terri Durling: I grew up in a small rural Nova Scotia town on the east coast of Canada. I am a wife, mother and grandmother (aka Glamma) who enjoys life to the fullest.
I retired in 2013, having worked mostly as an executive assistant and legal assistant for most of my working career.
After being home a year, I decided to return to work part-time and am currently working as a legal assistant at a university 16 hours a week. Although I enjoyed retirement, participating in volunteer work, joining dance & exercise classes, enjoying hobbies, etc… I quickly realized that I missed “dressing up” and it was a big reason for me returning to work!
I am quite active and particularly enjoy dance, having taken ballroom dance classes with my husband for many years, and also taking up ballet (a childhood dream of mine) after semi-retiring.
My husband and I belong to a bicycle club and enjoy trail rides with that group as well as on our own. We try to walk or hike a few times a week together – that is our special time to talk about things and we also try to have dates on a regular basis – gotta work to keep the romance alive!
We are quite involved with our grandchildren and they bring us much joy. We also love to travel and every year we try to do a couple of trips.
I am an avid reader and have belonged to a book club for over 25 years. I also enjoy photography of all kinds and take lots of pictures of things I love– fashion ones being a particular favorite of mine.
As a point of reference which age group do you belong to or perhaps you are willing to share your age?
I am a baby boomer and senior. I have no problem telling my age – 68.
How would you describe your own personal style?
Some days, it just depends on how I feel that day as to what style I want to try out. I like to incorporate aspects of different styles in my outfits and make them my own.
A few months ago, I came upon a fashion website that suggested using five words to describe your style and that made a whole lot of sense to me. It took a while to narrow down the words and it was an exercise in really understanding who I was and what I wanted my clothing to reflect about me.
I keep those five words on a piece of paper in my closet and they always reverberate in my head when I am shopping or putting together a look – does this reflect at least one or more of these words?
If it doesn’t I walk away. For me, they are: confident, vibrant, glamorous, creative and cool. “Style is saying who you are without having to say a word.”
What would you consider the most important components of your style?
Terri Durling: Style, for me, is about having fun. Putting an outfit together is something I find very enjoyable.
I will see something I like and get excited about how I can style it. I love to experiment with different colors, styles, shapes and add accessories to take it to the next level. But I always bear in mind that accessories can make or break an outfit, too.
There’s a fine line between terrific and tacky. I like to express myself creatively in my clothing choices. It’s just a part of who I am. I do like to look put-together so, although I want to be creative, I also want to maintain a classy look at the same time.
Where do you live and how does that influence your style?
I live in Halifax, Nova Scotia which is on the eastern coast of Canada. It is near the ocean and a beautiful place to live.
I love that we experience the four seasons and that gives me a chance to experiment with lots of different clothes all year round – heavier clothing in winter, lighter clothes for summer and spring/fall can be just about anything in our climate so be prepared, and I usually am!
Do you feel you have a signature style?
I have worn red lipstick since I was in my early 20s and it is my go-to lip color. In the warmer months, I go for lighter shades – rose, orange & fuchsia tones and I always try to pick a lip color that works with my outfit but red is always nearby. “On a bad day, there is always red lipstick”.
Then there are the hats. I remember wearing a big green paisley hat as a teenager in high school and I didn’t see any other girls my age trying this out.
It took a lot of confidence but I loved the hat and felt beautiful in it and that was the beginning of my love of hats (I wish I still had it – it was spectacular).
I wear sunglasses almost every day and have a few of those and I am known for wearing them a lot.
Then there’s the shoes. They are right up there with the red lipstick, sunglasses and hats. In their day, they were my favorite fashion item but I am much more practical about my shoes now.
They have to be stylish or pretty and also comfortable because there was a time I’d wear shoes just because they looked good but not anymore.
For comfy AND stylish shoes take a look at the best shoes with arch support.
Last but not least, jewelry. I never go out of the house without at least one piece on – even a simple stud but I need my jewels as they bring a smile to my face.
So, in a couple of words, my signature style might be red lipstick and accessories.
What inspires your outfit choices the most?
Inspiration comes from observing. I enjoy all things fashion related so shows like “Project Runway” and “Fashion Fridays” on some of our Canadian networks are favorites of mine.
I like to follow what is new and current and incorporate it into my style if it works, but I also don’t want to be a slave to trends. I may see something in a magazine or on Pinterest and will experiment to see if it will work for me.
I follow a couple of social media groups (40+Style being one of them) and I get ideas from there. Interacting with many of the women in this fashion community has been very rewarding because we all just want to look our best and enjoy fashion.
Often I just see something that I find interesting and bring it home to see if it works with other items I already have. Trends come and go so quickly that something that is out of style is often back in before we even realize it was gone in the first place.
Ageism is a fascinating topic for me and I love that older people are now becoming more visible and looked up to for their fashion choices.
Do you take things like color profiling or body type into account when you dress?
Years ago I was profiled as a “winter” as far as my colors. I tend to think that is pretty accurate still even though, as we age, our skin and hair color change.
It has not stopped me from experimenting with other color palettes though and I don’t think there are too many colors I am not willing to try.
For color inspiration check out the best color trends for winter and fall.
As for body type, well I work with what I was given. I am fairly well endowed up top and I have learned what works for me and seems to be the most flattering for me.
What is your current body type and height and what are your best tips for dressing for these?
I am 5’5” and would guess that I am what you’d call curvy. As I said, I am somewhat busty and have found the right bra and undergarments can make a huge difference in the way clothes look.
I stay away from blouses that don’t fit properly in the bust area – my mother used to refer to the opening created by a big bust (I come by it naturally) as “gap-o-asis” and we both tried to steer clear of it even though we weren’t always successful.
If my tummy feels a bit bloated, I camouflage it with skirts/pants/tops that flatter and divert from that area. I like belts for definition as my waist has thickened somewhat over the years – 4 kids does that!
There are more tips here on how to dress if you have a large bust.
Do you have any favorite brands?
I love shopping and am not drawn to any particular brand. I will buy from expensive local shops when they have sales but I also enjoy thrift shopping. I live in a smaller city that doesn’t have some of the bigger name stores that larger cities have but I still manage to find treasures locally.
I am not a fan of ordering online but will do it on occasion (it is because of sizing and the hassle of returning it by mail). I particularly enjoy The Bay, Winners/Marshalls as they have lots of interesting clothes at great prices and sometimes great designer pieces can be found.
I may shop a lot but I am careful, which is why I only shop at the higher end stores when they have sales. If I buy something at a thrift store or lower end store, it isn’t a big loss money-wise if I don’t wear it much and I can re-donate it for someone else to enjoy. I also love to buy unusual items when I travel.
Has your style changed at all after turning 40?
I have always been a fashionista. When I was in high school, I learned how to sew in Home Economics and that was the beginning of my love affair with fashion.
My mother was a single mother with not a lot of money so I had to learn to make something out of nothing and I did. I remember ordering white “go go” boots through the Eaton’s catalog (I babysat for many hours to earn the money) and how excited I was to be the first girl to wear them in my small Nova Scotia town.
I was an at-home-mother for 13 years to my four children so my style was more geared to casual but I still got up, put on my red lipstick and made whatever clothes I had (and there weren’t a whole lot of them back then) look as good as I could with the resources I had. I returned to work in my late 30s and enjoyed dressing for the job.
Now, at 67, I dress for me, wear what makes me happy and which reflects my personality.
Do you believe in dressing ‘age appropriately’ and what does it mean to you?
For me personally, age-appropriate is a word I try not to pay too much attention to.
It does not stop me from trying out things that may be considered “young” by others and making them work for me as long as they are comfortable, and make me feel happy as well as classy.
I still wear high heels. I have gotten some criticism for that but I am very comfortable in a heel – 2” is as high as I will go. I think it’s because I have always worn them.
In fact, a totally flat shoe is harder for me to wear than something with a heel. I understand that heels are not for everyone though and especially as we get older but I am wearing mine as long as I can!
Would you say that at this stage in our life you are now more, or less interested in fashion, style and the way you look?
Fashion for me, at this age, has become a passion. I think as we age, we realize that we don’t have all those years ahead of us that we had when we were younger and thought there were going to be lots of tomorrows.
My mother always told me I should have done something in fashion. Instead, I married my high school sweetheart (and that was a good thing), had four children, worked in an office and, although fashion was always high on my list of interests, it became my passion when my children were grown and I finally had more time to do something just for me.
I went a little nutty and shopped till I dropped because I never could before. It’s funny because the options for work when I was finished high school were: teacher, nurse or secretary.
I did not have the money to go to teachers’ college. I had no interest in becoming a nurse because there was no way I was going to wear an all-white boring uniform every day! I chose secretary so I could “dress up”.
It was always interesting to me as many of the women I worked with over the years would comment on my clothes and great outfits. I would tell them the highlight of the day for me was picking my outfit and, for them, it was almost always the opposite – they hated having to pick out something to wear.
Now, I find that fashion satisfies the creative in me; the part of me that was always there, but I have taken it to the next level because now I have the time and a “little” more money that used to be earmarked just for our family. I wish I could tell my mother “I finally did something with fashion” as she would have been so pleased.
Why is the way you look important to you?
I love inspirational quotes and one I particularly relate to is “no matter how you feel, get up, dress up, show up and never give up”.
If I feel good about the way I look, I am instantly happier. I dress for me and how it makes me feel and that is why it is important to me. I refuse to be invisible, something that used to be a given as we age. It took a while but it is finally the time for just me and this is who I am – like it or lump it.
What is your beauty routine and what are your favorite beauty products?
I put on my make up every day. On the weekends, I use less but still make sure I have moisturizer, some mascara and, of course, some lipstick on.
Every once in a while my hubby and I have a pajama day and that’s a nice break. I get seasonal facials and try to keep on top of beauty products that are good for mature women.
I am not partial to any one particular product or brand but try to be savvy about the products I do buy. I still have my hair colored & cut every 5 weeks at a salon because, for me, a bad hair day is not a good day.
I try to get monthly manicures and enjoy a spa pedicure every once in a while especially in summer. On Sunday nights, I do a little something special like a facial mask or a teeth whitening.
Do you follow trends? And, if yes, which trends excite you at the moment?
I do follow the trends and am willing to try a lot of them. At the same time, I don’t want to waste my money on something that I will only wear once if I can help it and really isn’t a reflection of who I am.
I do want to be current and enjoy reading about trends and seeing them. I have a collection of books on fashion/style that I still enjoy because, some things never go out of style – they just get reconfigured.
I am excited about all the bold colors out there. Although I like black and used to wear a lot more of it when I was younger, I now gravitate more towards brighter colors as I think they are more flattering as we age.
I am enjoying the graphic T-shirt trend and have a few now that reflect who I am and what I am interested in. Pattern mixing is very appealing to me.
Back in the day, it was a big taboo but the fashion world is letting us break the rules now or maybe we are all just tired of being told what we can and cannot wear.
In any case, I love it. It was a bit scary at first but finding color mixes/patterns gets my creative juices flowing and that is exciting to me.
Do you have any fashion and style tips for women over 40?
Enjoy fashion – have some fun with it – don’t take it too seriously. Experiment and learn what works for you and brings a smile to your face.
I have gotten a lot of compliments over the years on my clothing/outfit choices and I know those compliments always made me feel good about myself and, sometimes even made what might have been a bad day, a much better one.
In turn, if I see someone wearing something that takes my eye and is a standout, I make sure to tell them. You don’t have to spend a lot of money to look good. Enjoy your life as it’s all you get so make it a good one and look good living it.
Want to see more of Terri Durling’s fabulous style? Be sure to follow her on Instagram.
Which of Terri Durling’s outfits is your favorite look?
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Photos from Terri (@glammas.closet)
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