How do you create a look that reflects the wisdom of your years with ageless style and panache? My friend Irene is a woman just stepping into her eighties and a glorious example of getting it right.
Irene lived in San Francisco from the time she was a young girl. She was married to a successful businessman and raised two sons. Shortly after their 48th wedding anniversary, her husband passed away, after a brief illness. Irene is a woman of resolve, clarity and immeasurable spunk. Determined not to be diminished by this unexpected turn of events, she quickly set about defining herself on her own terms.
For many years, she was an assistant to me in my personal image and style consultancy, my “gofer” as she described it. Over the years, she blossomed from a very traditional dresser to a woman of great style. About ten years ago, as her hair turned a beautiful silver, she decided to have a barber crop it super short. Her look became more and more unique, she took to wearing especially wonderful earrings and great jewelry. Her collection of fabulous baubles is one of her great pleasures along with her two fluffy bichon frise’s.
She now lives in the wine country, surrounded by the things she loves, including an eclectic collection of art that she and her husband enjoyed selecting over the years. Irene is the most stylish woman in town, she is pulled together every day, even in the morning when she takes the dogs for their first walk. With the addition of accessories the same outfit is ready for a meeting at the library. Says Irene, “ you can take me out of the city, but I am not going to compromise my style. It gives me pleasure, it sustains and amuses me. It represents the sense of power I feel about myself and my ability to create a new life alone after so many years of marriage. Yes, it was a shock to lose my husband so suddenly. We had a great marriage, but I knew that life had to go on and I have wonderful memories of our life together.”
Her thoughtfully curated closet has accommodated body and life changes and works for her very active lifestyle. That includes civic meetings, book club, and her favorite pastimes, fine dining and cool jazz, something she enjoyed over the years with her saxophone playing husband.
When it comes to lessons in looking great as the body changes Irene has learned the clothing trick of wearing longer tops and jackets of unusual texture and unique design that gracefully float over her mid- section and stylishly camouflage the tummy. She has enlisted the help of a personal trainer to create an exercise regimen. “Yikes! I hated it in the beginning. Exercise has never been my thing, but I find I am actually enjoying lifting those weights!”
Along with her jewelry, Irene has assembled a terrific collection of shoes and handbags that add individuality and finish her look. She knows that a carefully selected collection of accessories makes the difference in creating a cohesive style signature, that reflects the woman she has become.