At a time when many of us are struggling with how to dress over 40, Beth Djalali seems to have it down pat. The 56- year- old blogger behind Style at a Certain Age is quickly growing a loyal following with her inspiring signature style. Who is Beth and what defines her look?
Beth is a writer, with a mystery book currently in the works for a publisher. She began posting her outfits last spring after a woman stopped her on the street to ask if she was a stylist because she loved her style. Beth’s husband volunteered to take photos, and her three grown boys cheered her on.
Here’s a look at Beth’s chic outfits and the many reasons she is a Fabulous After 40 Styleblazer.
Deb: You live in San Francisco, but you grew up in Nebraska which is not exactly the fashion capital of the world. Where do you get your great style sense?
Beth: I think my sense of style has certainly evolved through the years, but I have my mother to thank for being my first style icon. And I have vivid recollections of listening to her and her two sisters recount tales of their childhood, and teenage years, and without a doubt every story they regaled included what they wore that day – down to the minutest detail: midnight blue lace scalloped dress with the mother-of-pearl buttons.
I also have such great memories of my mother taking me shopping at Crossroads Mall that always included a stop for a burger and a chocolate coke – two of her favorite things, and mine. She was the one who skillfully steered me towards the pink mohair turtleneck that would be absolutely divine with the chocolate suede wrap-around skirt for the first day of school. If you know anything about Nebraska you know that the day after Labor Day, the official kick-off for school, was most likely a blistering 85 degrees, but then my mother always thought that you might have to suffer for beauty. Gotta love her!
Deb: Any women whose style speaks to you at the moment?
Beth: As for women whose style speaks to me at the moment it’s hands down Jenna Lyons. What an amazing creative force she is and has single-handedly made JCrew into the powerhouse it is today. Although, having Mickey Drexler guiding you step-by-step doesn’t hurt. Jenna is a force to be reckoned with and has literally reinvented the way American women dress – and all for the better. I love her casual yet chic look with bold splashes of color, pattern mixing, and her nod to the classics: trench coat, striped tee, jeans, ballet flats and kitten heels. When I purchase something from JCrew, my favorite store by the way, I know that item will stand the test of time, something that is very important to me, and is a major factor in how I build my wardrobe.
Deb: Some of your outfits are very classic while others are a bit more trendy. How would you describe your overall look?
Beth: I would describe my overall look as American Classic with a modern twist, which is true casualness at its heart. Even my trendiest outfits are rooted in the classics: ballet flats, pencil skirts, dark rinse jeans, or a two-button blazer. Nothing too fancy for me as I love clean lines that are oft times borrowed from menswear. I’m happiest when I don a pair of blue jeans and top it off with a sweater. And, I have to say I’m a sucker for pearls, charm bracelets, and a simple classic watch.
Deb: Do you find it more challenging to dress now that you are in your 50s? How so? What’s your biggest style challenge?
Beth: I truly don’t think it’s more challenging to dress now at the age of 56 than it was at 26. It’s all about finding the best style that suits you, and I’ve always been a prepster at heart so nowadays it’s more about fine-tuning that look, and keeping it fresh. The styles that work best for me are jeans and a blazer, skirt and a blazer, and I don’t think I could live without my black faux leather moto jacket. It regularly appears on my blog. I adore dresses, but I typically reserve them for special occasions, or a hot summer day.
Deb: Take us through the process of how you put an outfit together. What goes through your mind as you pick out clothes?
Beth: When I’m putting an outfit together the most important question I ask myself is where am I going? Lord knows we all have busy lives. We’re mothers, daughters, wives, and friends. We’re career women, we drive carpool, we jet off for vacation, attend graduations, weddings, and showers. And these are the factors I think about when I get dressed for the day.
If I’m traversing the hills of San Francisco with Oscar, our new puppy, by my side, I’m certainly going to have on a pair of flats whether it’s a pair of ballet flats or sneakers. If I’m a meeting a friend for drinks I’ll throw on a pair of heels, and reach for a clutch purse. Or if I attended a power lunch most likely I’d be seen in a ‘power suit or power dress.’ Pinstripes, anyone? For me, it’s all about dressing for the occasion.
Deb: Do you have a signature color – which one and why?
Beth: My signature color is hands-down pink. It’s a color that flatters my skin tone, and it can go from pale blush to shocking pink, and back again. It looks good with grey, brown, black, navy – should I go on? Pink definitely rocks in my book.
Deb: You have the look so many women want – not too old, and not too young. What’s your secret for dressing modern and hip, but not desperate?
Beth: What a lovely compliment. Thanks, Deborah. I love to hear that I’ve nailed the look women want. I think the secret to dressing modern and hip is not veering far from the classics, and investing in great haircut. A fabulous hairstylist is worth every penny!
Deb: Do you think there is a limit to what a woman can wear at a certain age?
Beth: No, those were rules best reserved for my mother’s generation that didn’t allow white after Labor Day or insisted your shoes matched your purse. And bare legs? Never. Thank goodness those barriers have been struck down, and all for the better. I’m a firm believer in dressing appropriately for the occasion no matter what the age.
Deb: What is your opinion of the way the average American woman in her 50s dresses? What advice would you give her?
Beth: As for the average American woman in her 50’s and how she dresses, let me just take a moment and impress upon each and every one of us that the younger generation is looking to us as their role model. I can’t tell you how many emails I’ve received from women in their teens and twenties that thank me for being just that – a role model on how to age gracefully. So my advice is this: don’t fear aging, instead let’s embrace it. Let’s be authentic, let’s be genuine, let’s find new adventures to embark upon, if we do – then we’ll truly be beautiful inside and out, and it doesn’t hurt to add a little lipstick before we head out the door.
Deb: Almost every outfit you wear includes a belt. How many belts do you own, and how do you decide which one to wear with your outfit?
Beth: So you noticed my belts. I do have a penchant for belts. Every time I go shopping I always take time to visit the belt section, and if I find one I like I always purchase it. You’d be surprised how hard it is to find a great belt when you need one. I’m not certain how many I own, but I have one or two that I typically reach for time-and- time again. I truly believe it’s a simple accessory like a belt that can take an outfit from average to spectacular. The devil is in the details, and I try to remember this.
Deb: You have a fantastic collection of shoes from flats to mid heels to high heels. What type of shoe is your favorite and why?
Beth: I also love shoes, and know that a great pair of heels can dress up a pair of blue jeans like no other accessory. Kitten heels are pretty fabulous, but ballet flats have been a tried-and-true favorite of mine since I was a teenager, and I always have several pairs sitting in my closet. Why, you ask? The answer is simple: they go with everything. Blue jeans – check, sheath dress – check, shorts – check. Versatile and beautiful, ballet flats are a workhorse in my closet, and I can clock in more miles with them than my heels.
Deb: You also have a great collection of high-end handbags. How important is your bag to you overall look?
Beth: Now, it’s onto handbags, which hold a special place in my heart. Most likely it’s due to the fact that my husband has bought almost every handbag I own. So not only are my handbags fabulous to look at, but they have sentimental value to me as well. Handbags, shoes, and belts are those special additions to your wardrobe that can elevate your look, and keep you looking polished and put together.
Deb: What is the one fashion item you would invest in time and time again?
Beth: A worthy investment piece for me that I will buy again and again is a cashmere wrap. They’re a perfect and stylish way to stay warm on a chilly day. They double as a blanket if you’re travelling on a long plane ride, and I promise they stand the test of time.
Deb: Beth, it has been a pleasure! Ladies, please be sure to stop by Beth’s beautiful blog Style at Certain Age to see her latest outfits and chat with her about over 40 style.