What is the secret to looking amazing and youthful at 40+?

by guest writer

How to look young and beautiful after 40

Quite a few 40+ women struggle with getting older and the changes that tend to occur, which became apparent through comments from readers on this website. It inspired a topic on the forum: Why do we insist on talking ourselves down and also inspired this article by long-time reader Suzanne. I think she has an important message so am very happy to share her article here on 40+Style. Over to you Suzanne!

As women past the age of 40, many of us struggle with our changing bodies and how to dress them. We do not want to become “invisible” or to look frumpy but we also do not want to look inappropriate or like we are trying too hard. Many of us hope to look youthful or fashionable but not like we are attempting to be young.

It is a fine line we walk and there are many confusing and conflicting messages from runways, magazines, Hollywood, and even from Blogs. A few weeks ago I had a very interesting experience that made me deeply ponder these issues and I had a small epiphany. I shared this story with Sylvia and she thought it was inspirational so I am going to share my thoughts with her readers as some of you may find some insight too.

A short story…

I was asked to attend a finance meeting as a favor. The board was all male but there were two female office assistants at the place where we assembled. I have known these women for many years but the men from out of state were meeting them for the first time. Both of these women are professional, intelligent, well dressed, and well groomed individuals but B is at least 15 years older than A, yet these men thought B was the younger of the two.

This gave me a great deal to think about.

What is it about B that causes her to be perceived as eternally youthful?

I have often heard the term “aging gracefully”. I know that means different things to different people, but to me it has always sounded a bit defeatist – like we are to accept our fate and quietly fade into the background. Then you see a woman like B, who in her 7th decade is still thought of as vital and attractive. What is her secret?

I will share with you that B has an incurable disease. She has been in remission for several years but she is on strong medications and she is unable to have plastic surgery or chemical peels or injectables so everything about her is natural. Despite obstacles, I will share with you what I believe makes B so beautiful:

  • B has made the choice to live life to the fullest.
  • She is active and loves to play tennis.
  • She bought a motorcycle when she turned 50.
  • She is open to new things – foods, cultures, hobbies.
  • She recently befriended a gallery owner and has been introduced to amazing artists and collectors at openings and galas. Their fame does not intimidate her.
  • She is always learning and growing.
  • She keeps her hair dark and in a current cut
  • She is never without makeup but it is subtle and enhances her features.
  • She does not have a large budget but she keeps her wardrobe modern – replacing outdated items with the newest colors and shapes.
  • She wears vivid shades and is known for her colorful shoe collection.
  • B makes everyone feel important and interesting and good about themselves, because she truly feels that way about herself.
  • She lights up a room simply by walking into it.
  • She embraces who she is at this time, with these flaws, and she honors that.
  • B is forever young in spirit and that is reflected in her physical appearance.

What have I learned from this?

  • That we can all make the choice to age attractively.
  • We can be joyful, charming, flirty, and fun no matter how many candles are on the birthday cake.
  • We can remain open to new experiences and keep on evolving.
  • We need to laugh every day and stay optimistic.
  • Maintain a spirit of adventure.
  • Do not fear wearing bright colors or trying a new style.
  • Most importantly, never believe that “the best is behind you” but that “the best is yet to come”.

I hope all 40+ women will embrace this philosophy. We are truly awesome creatures and we deserve to celebrate that each day.

Note form Sylvia: I really like Suzanne’s message and think we can all learn from this. I am definitely going to try and apply many of Suzanne’s lessons as much as I can into my own life! How about you? What do you think is the secret to looking amazing and youthful at 40+?

1 Heather Fonseca

Wow! What an amazing article! Lots to ponder for sure.

2 Suzanne

Heather – you have a lot of confidence and a positive attitude. Just hold onto it and you will continue to age attractively. You are a great example of what this article is about.

3 Greetje

Lovely article Suzanne and in essence you are so right. However, two things…
1) has B been always been lovely to look at also when she was younger? Because aging gracefully is difficult when you have always been ugly as hell (joke).
2) are those men just thinking B is younger? Or … B is fun to be around, so therefore she must be younger?
Much of what B achieves is due to caracter. Which is the hardest thing to change. Not wanting to say “you cannot help it, so don’t bother”. Quite the contrary. Somebody might be on the verge of making a change, read your article, get inspired, take a deep breath and decide to change her life. Wouldn’t that be a lovely result of your article?
Or the other way around…. (I am now talking to the women who are in doubt whether it works), start with implementing some of Suazanne’s points and see what the impact is. Maybe it will encourage you to try more.

I can assure you that it works. I have a friend who is far from pretty, lots of bodyflaws, irregular features, but… a bubbling personality. Everybody wants to be around her because she makes you feel so good. Which to me is really more important than being perceived younger. Although I am vain enough to strive for that. lOL

4 Greetje

One other little thing…. an all male board and two female office assistants….. we women do not really strive for a career, are we? Me neither. With these kind of jobs there is little to no balance between work and personal life. And I appreciate my personal life a lot more even though I have an interesting job.

5 Sylvia

Be careful what you are saying here. I think there are many women who are very ambitious!

6 Greetje

You are right. I was thinking of women in my own country. In The Netherlands the majority is not that ambitious. Or perhaps ambitious is not the right word. They do not really want to be on a board of directors. Exceptions excluded of course.
They are ambitious in achieving their goals, but have different goals.

7 Suzanne

This is an International company that is actually headed by some strong women. This was just one meeting where the people who came from out of state happened to be men. I was asked to sit in on the meeting so they would have a woman’s point of view. And B had a whole different career for over 30 years but had to take this job because the drugs she needs to take are so expensive. Her paycheck pays the part of her medical bills that insurance does not cover. I am sure her confidence and positive attitude helped her to get this position.

8 Greetje

I think it is very flattering that they asked you for a woman’s point of view. Also very clever and broadminded. I like that. Bet you were terrific.

9 Sylvia

I think that is partly the point Suzanne is making. If you are fun to be around and have a positive attitude, you automatically appear younger to others. Of course it’s difficult to change character, but you can indeed make little baby steps every day and do something positive or something daring. I know I can make a lot of improvements myself in being more positive and more joyful! Every little bit helps!

10 Suzanne

First, thank you so much for the way you organized my thoughts Sylvia! I sent you the story but I like the way you made the points. I did not realize there were so many! 🙂
Second, I did not mean for this to be about character or personality so much but about attitude. Women get so many negative messages as they age. I actually saw an article yesterday titled “Women Are Old At 28”. 28!!! That is just ridiculous. I have known B for 18 years and I honestly never thought about her age. She has always been attractive – and by that I mean nice to look at but so fun that she draws people to her no matter what situation she is in. When this discussion about the men at the meeting came up and she told me her age I was stunned. B seems as young as the day I met her. And men who were seeing her for the first time thought the same thing so it wasn’t just my bias. It made me wonder how a “real” (not a movie star or model) woman, with real health issues and problems, managed to ignore the messages about being past her prime and continued to project youthfulness. And I realized it wasn’t about the person looking at her but in how she looked at herself and what she shows to others. It is her attitude – and we all do have the ability to change our attitude. It is about not buying into the “anyone past 40 is done so why bother” mentality. B never fell for that – she went on being her charming, adventurous, joyful self. She still saw herself as important and vibrant and so that is how others view her. We do have control over how we think of ourselves and if we like who we are and honor that it makes a difference. Wear color! Try a new haircut or red lipstick or blue nail polish! Just ignore the message that life is over once you pass 40 because it isn’t true! The best really is to come.

11 Greetje

I can vouch for that. I am 58 and the past 18 years have been very happy so I am looking forward to the future. I try to make other people laugh. That way I can laugh too; a win-win situation (or can I not use that word anymore as it is officially in the bullshit bingo?)
My recent endeavour is to let people laugh (or at least smile) in the elevator at work. I can tell you, not that easy: those people are no jokers and I only have 15 seconds to “perform”. But I am doing fine, score is 9 out of 10. After a while people might remember me and I will not have a clue who they are. LOL

12 Greetje

Psst Suzanne… where are you? Been missing you since this post. Have been uploading lots of boots on to the Forum. Busy?

13 Tangobabe

Nice article, Sylvia and Suzanne. And a positive message indeed. Messages like this are always welcome. At the same time I understand and agree with Greetje’s remarks as well.

14 Maria

Very nice article, Sylivia and Suzanne. Thank you. Maria

15 Buckle Button Zip

Wonderful angle on how to age attractively (and I love how you put that). You’ve hit the nail on the head when it comes to staying vibrant, engaged and invested in life. Thanks for the good read!
x Laura

16 Seeker

Love this article Suzanne! How you talk about the attitude we face life while aging is just great food for thought. Very inspirational.
Like Sylvia says we “can indeed make little baby steps every day and do something positive or something daring”. I know I do it in my professional life (I’m very secure in my work and I always expect more. I guess I’m in the career ambitious team) so why not do it in my personal life….. I know I have to work on that. (Sometimes I think I have dual personality, a professional and a personal sides).
I just have a question about the fact that B is a surviver. I know (because I’ve been there, despite now it seems I have forget that) that when we survive of something we have a much positive way of facing things, because every little thing is a victory.
Thank you both Suzanne and Sylvia for this positive message!

17 Practical Paralegalism

Amen, Sistah! Seriously, it doesn’t get much more inspiring than this. If you’re lovin’ life at any age, it will show.

18 Tangobabe

Oh, and how lovely to see the boots in your header; I think they are Suzani’s. I love embroidered boots!

19 Sylvia

I took this photo in a shop in Amsterdam. Since Suzanne is such a great fan of boots an alternative title of this article could have been: Why you should wear your colourful amazing boots!

20 Kathleen Lisson

I think I keep myself feeling young through respect. I respect my body, so I give it good food and exercise. I respect my mind, so I am always trying something new. I respect my style, so I use makeup and flattering clothes so I feel pretty. I think it all starts with what we say to ourselves in the mirror in the morning? Do you think you are beautiful, or too far gone to care about?

21 Sylvia

This is very good advice too Kathleen!

22 Anneli

Just had to comment… what a wonderful observation. A woman who has faced adversity and come out on top, with a sparkling attitude. I bet what the others were thinking was really along the lines of ‘what an amazing person, she’s really interesting’ rather than ‘I wonder how old she is…’.

I want to pose the question – I wonder if people were really wondering how old she was, or was her evident joy for life what was really captivating everyone? Do people really try to figure out your age, or really look to what you are presenting… and this particular lady had a magnetic image of intelligence, joy and strength….

The fact she’s unbelievably strong, courageous and challenging herself to try and learn new things despite adversity I think only serves to make her attractive and interesting, whatever her age. I try to work on that principle too… I’m a little overweight, in my forties with three kids… but I have an amazing life, an amazing job…. and people think I’m younger than I am!!! I wonder sometimes that its my attitude, and not over processing myself. I like a good haircut and careful clothing too…. I take real inspiration from this article.

Maybe life and a good attitude are the best ‘wrinkle diffuser’ of all!

23 Sylvia

Hi Anneli, Yes I agree. I think that is partly the message of this story. When you express yourself like B, age becomes unimportant. Just be your best you and live life to the fullest and don’t obsess too much about the whole aging thing….

24 Bella Q

What great insight- and remarkable post! There is so much truth to that- coming from someone who has stayed youthful- I often felt it was more in the way I dressed and my mindset than physical attributes. Stay mindfully open to new things, and stay current are easy things to do- and it makes life better as you feel younger. Aces to your friend for sharing her epiphany.

25 Sophie Davis

Dear Suzanne and Sylvia

I loved your post as it re-confirms to me what I have always suspected – attractiveness comes from within and then shines through.

I have a business which, amongst other things, specialises in a wonderful collection of accessories. I have a belief that with a few well chosen additions, a simple outfit can be turned into something fabulous. Some argue that this is shallow, but there is real evidence that looking good and taking care of your appearance makes you feel more positive.

Over the years, I have been amazed by how critical women are of themselves. They are normally very quick to point out their flaws to me – “I can’t wear earrings because I don’t like my ear lobes”, “I have such ugly hands, I’m not sure I suit a bracelet” and even “I’m not sure I can “do” coloured scarf” are phrases that I regularly hear.

There will always be things we like about ourselves and things that we don’t. Some of the best advice I try to give my customers is to concentrate on what they like and feel positive about, not focus on what they don’t like.

With regard to colour, I can tell you that there is a interesting trend that I have found with my pure silk scarves – the best selling ones when women buy for themselves are normally the darker ones. The best selling ones when a man is choosing for a women are ALWAYS the bright ones, especially the ones with red! What does that say about how we see ourselves and how men want to see us!

There are so many elements of your article that ring true – once again, a breath of fresh air and positiveness from 40+Style!

26 Greetje

Sophie, I love your comment. What a good contribution. I so agree with you.
Your comment on how men see us as supposed to how we see ourselves, reminds me of a test with a sketch artist (like with the police). It was about how we see ourselves and how our husbands (friend) see us. The woman had to give direction to the sketcher (unseen) what she tought she looked like. Then her husband gave the instructions on what she looked like to the sketcher. The woman was looking a lot better in the picture her man had made. LOL

27 lawyerdoll

It is true that fresh style and an adventurous attitude can keep a girl fresh well past her prime! I credit liquor and preservatives for my youthful looks!

28 Greetje

hahaha Lawyerdoll… when I saw this comment I had to laugh and got curious. So I had a peak at your blog. You are Funny! And you have cute dimples. Probably because of all the laughing. Your remark on “What is black and white and pink all over? Me apparently..” hahaha. So funny. You have a really nice waist and know how to emphasize it. And an impressive list of “issues to work around”. Respect my lady.

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