Have you thought that when you are in your sixties or beyond it is just too late to find your own personal style? Recently, my friend Claire Carlevaro shared the story of her personal journey that tosses that idea in the air!
Claire Carlevaro and her husband Dan live in San Francisco in a home filled with eclectic, wonderful art that is frequently toured by museum groups from around the country. The former owner of Art Exchange, a gallery for the resale of art, Claire retired and closed the gallery. “ I failed at retirement,” says Claire, laughing. Now she works a couple of days a week at the gallery of a former colleague. Her striking appearance is a work of art itself. Her evolution to this confident self assured woman is inspiring evidence that it is never too late to create an authentic style of your own.
As a young woman, she just wanted to look neat and not appear overweight. “ I had polio as a young girl, wore a body brace and could not participate in any kind of sport or exercise. I felt embarrassed by my appearance and I had no confidence or sense of pride. I still can’t look at myself in the mirror nude.”
Claire’s mother was quite insensitive to her daughter’s feelings. “My mother once said “ ‘Well it looks like you got up this morning with the idea to make yourself as homely as possible … and you succeeded”
Claire was in her sixties before her sense of confidence began to blossom. “ It all began with a haircut,” she says. She was going to a new salon and was fascinated with the way one stylist was cutting hair and made an appointment. “I came away with this spiky super modern cut and told him it was better than a facelift!” The stylist was working for a company developing a new product and they decided to call the product “Better Than a Facelift” and make me the model. Stylists came from New York for the shoot. I was fussed over and experienced an internal feeling of being transformed. I was so excited and felt beautiful! I felt like saying to everyone as I walked down the street that day, ‘Look at me’!”
“ I don’t find aging to be traumatic. Now, I love to look at myself in the mirror, and play with all these wonderful pieces of adornment. At 75, I can create an interesting look for myself and still feel appropriate. It’s terrible when women try to adapt to styles that work for a younger generation. ”
Claire’s appearance became synonymous with feelings of self -confidence. She discovered accessories, especially unique statement jewelry, and scarves made by artisans. She wears pieces that most women would not have the confidence to wear so her appearance is very dramatic. At times people are so drawn to what she is wearing that they rather impolitely indulge in the urge to touch without asking her permission.
“ I don’t find aging to be traumatic. Now, I love to look at myself in the mirror, and play with all these wonderful pieces of adornment. At 75, I can create an interesting look for myself and still feel appropriate. It’s terrible when women try to adapt to styles that work for a younger generation. I wear mostly black, pack lots of accessories and jewelry in a carry-on bag, and can travel and look great for weeks. I don’t have to spend a lot of money. I can buy ten wonderful, inexpensive pieces for what some women will spend on a single gold Tiffany necklace.”
Having owned an art gallery for so many years, Claire enjoys being in the environment of unique artisans and relishes having a way to support the creativity of many wonderful and imaginative artists.
The ability and the freedom to express your self with your style can open a new world of possibilities at any age. Over the years working as a personal style consultant I have happily assisted countless women of every age evolve a style of their own. The feeling that it is time to take a look at the way you present yourself begins with the spark of desire for a change and the willingness to take the steps to make a difference.