A bit of mid life background!!
In recent years there have been a multitude of articles stating that the high street doesn’t cater for the middle aged woman. As recently as yesterday India Knight (who I love) bemoaned the UK high street in her column in the Sunday Times magazine. After having taken many middle aged women personal shopping ( I hate that expression middle aged – it seems to imply a frumpy woman who has lost all purpose and style in life – but for the purposes of this blog I will say that it covers the age range 39-64) I can categorically state that whilst there isn’t any shop that is expressly targeting the 40+ woman, that within every high street retailer there will be pieces that work for us.
Typically the clients who I shop with , my friends and acquaintances and myself… all in the mid-life bracket (that sounds better than middle aged) have the below body issues…this is certainly not an exhaustive list but some of the key issues that come up time and again…
- typically have had children and therefore have the mum tum as a badge of honour often complete with stretch marks. If not a mum tum then certainly a menopausal tum..In any event its a tummy that needs camouflaging.
- tops of the arms starting to sag
- a morbid fear of getting their legs out – citing their “pasty white flesh” (their words) as unsightly unless masked with fake tan
- a belief that there is nothing available for the 40+ woman to purchase
- a fear of getting it wrong and looking like mutton
- a general lack of awareness of the colours and styles that suit them (unless they have had a session with me)
Why I find personal shopping easy for both myself and for my clients
However, I am a 44 year old woman with a mum tum, heavy thighs and long monkey arms. Yes I’m tall which does give some advantages but if you have met me you might disagree that I have the above issues but isn’t that the point of what I do – to disguise the bad and flatter the good?
Anyway despite the above body challenges I find it easy to shop and find things that I like and that suit me – be it from John Lewis, a pop up preloved sale or a charity shop. Sometimes I wish I didn’t find it so easy..my credit card would thank me!
I find it easy purely because I:
- know my colouring and understand what colours suit me and why I have to step away from black and bright colours
- understand my body shape – the good and the bad
- get my lifestyle and the impact it has on my wardrobe and shopping choices..i.e. there’s no point browsing cute tailored jackets in shops or on line as I don’t have any need to wear them however much I might like them.
- am aware of my budget and what I will and won’t spend money on – yes to handbags and shoes, no to tops and jeans
- appreciate my natural style – I like a lot of denim, statement jewellery pieces, heels at times, stripes and clean lines with only a bit of pattern from time to time. I also like wearing current trends when they suit me and are appropriate to my lifestyle
The same applies to my clients. Obviously ones I have worked with prior to going shopping I know well. However, even with clients who I just meet to shop with, I can find out the above information which gives me a good starting point as to what they should be buying and wearing.
A typical shopping trip
I start off in Monsoon, head over to Warehouse, All Saints (if the client can wear cool colours), Dune, Cos, Kurt Geiger, Hobbs, John Lewis, Clarks, Apricot, Zara, Next and M&S. Possibly popping into Dorothy Perkins and H&M if we have time. Online I would peruse Boden, Finery (also available in John Lewis), Me & Em, Baukjen, Uterque and &Other Stories.
My clients have ranged from early 30’s to late 60’s, from 5 feet to 6 feet from size 6-8 to size 18 and every single shopping trip we have found items of clothing in the shops that work for the client’s budget, colouring,bodyshape, lifestyle and style preference
How to apply this to you – do I need a personal shopper?
- Get a colour and style analysis done – if not with me then another personal stylist or at least self diagnose using online tools.
- Decide your budget
- Evaluate your lifestyle; what do you wear for work and for leisure
- Sort out your wardrobe and then decide what gaps there are and start making a shopping list of items to purchase.
- If you have any events coming up – do you need to buy something to wear or can you wear an existing item and refresh by buying new accessories
- Follow my shopping guide as a starting point (this actually follows the layout of Westfield Stratford but could apply to any large city centre)
- Accessories are an easy starting point to add colour and interest to your wardrobe. If you see an item of jewellery or scarf that you know will work for you then buy it. You can make an outfits with it in due course.
- A great pair of shoes adds instant oompf to your outfit – especially coloured or patterned ones
- Invest in metallic accessories. Silver or pewter if you are cool skinned and yellow gold and copper if you are warmed skinned. Rose gold suits everyone.
- Keep abreast of trends by either subscribing to a woman’s magazine like Red, Woman & Home or Good Housekeeping or following a fashion blogger who actually wears outfits that could be worn in the real world of Essex/Suffolk. I like NotDressedAsLamb and The Edited
So to summarise this is not a exhaustive how to clear out your wardrobe and go shopping but more a rebuff to the constant articles that state there is nothing to buy if you are 40+. My empirical evidence of my shopping experiences with clients and shopping for myself lead me to definitely state that the UK high street ,both off and online is a fantastic place to source clothes and we are very lucky to have easy and immediate access to it. If you follow my tips in – how does this apply to you do I need a personal shopper? – you should find finding the right clothing items to purchase much easier and overall shopping should become a pleasurable experience. Obviously I would love to work with you to take you personal shopping but if you follow the above tips you should have more than enough skills to be your own personal shopper and stage your own successful shopping trip.
Don’t believe me or have any comments.. I’d love to hear from you!