When it comes to looking stylish, age or size is no barrier. Just ask Carol Walsh, the Vancouver, Washington blogger behind Evolve Your Image.
Carol, 50, is a certified image consultant who holds a Ph.D. in human development and social systems. She believes the myth of the “ideal woman” hurts our self-esteem from as early on as age seven. This has made her passionate about helping women, especially curvy women, learn to love themselves by finding their style.
Here’s a closer look at this Fabulous After 40 Styleblazer.
Deb: Carol, you always look so polished, confident and casually chic. Where did you get your great fashion sense?
Carol: It came from my mother. She was an incredibly stylish woman and would never leave the house without being impeccably dressed. My father was in the military, so my mother was fortunate to live in Europe for several years which had an influence on her style. Many of her clothes were tailor-made for her and what wasn’t made was purchased during our regular Saturday and Thursday shopping trips to Lord & Taylor and Neiman Marcus (her two favorite stores).
Deb: What is the biggest dressing challenge being a curvy woman?
Carol: Proportion and fit are always a challenge. I have a triangle body shape and am considerably smaller on top than the bottom; however, most ready-to-wear plus size clothes seemed cut to fit an hourglass or inverted triangle. Luckily, I have a tailor who can remedy any fit challenges I may have.
Deb: Do you think retailers and designers are doing a good job creating clothing for women with fuller figures or is there still a huge gap?
Carol: I think retailers and designers are getting there, but a gap remains. There have been huge strides made, upon the insistence of younger bloggers like GabiFresh, Garner Style, Jessica Kane and others, by retailers in offering a greater selection of plus size clothing. The style, color, and creativeness of the clothing on a whole, still leaves much to be desired.
However, in addition to being a curvy woman, I’m also a 50-year-old woman, and I have to modify or re-purpose some of the clothing items to fit my style and ever-changing body. I’m not saying an older woman should dress in a matronly fashion, but I do feel there is such a thing as age appropriate, stylish clothing and wish more designers would cater to this ever-growing crowd.
Deb: Do you have favorite brands, stores you think do a good job?- why?
Carol: I have several favorite brands, but my particular favorites are Michael Kors, Vince Camuto, and Ralph Lauren because the quality and fit are incredible. My favorite places to shop are Lane Bryant, ASOS, City Chic, and Nordstrom. Lane Bryant is perfect to shop your staples like jeans (their Tight Tummy Technology jeans are brilliant), tanks, pants, jackets, etc.
ASOS Curve and City Chic (which is also available at Nordstrom) keep me on trend and provide a fabulous variety of clothing options. I shop Nordstrom primarily for shoes (because they carry my size) and have a great selection of designer labels to choose from. I do visit Torrid every now and again and can find a few fun pieces to add to my wardrobe. But for the most party, they are very, very trendy, and their brand is geared toward a more youthful audience.
Deb: How would you describe your look?- Favorite styles, colors, preferences?
Carol: Fundamentally it’s my twist on casual elegance. I like quality garments, structured shapes and soft lines and love to mix and match fabrics, texture, and prints to accentuate a unique look. Comfort is key for me so I could wear a t-shirt and jeans every day but that would get boring (although my jeans would be Not Your Daughter Jeans and my t-shirt would be some fabulous Alexander Wang creation). I’m partial to black and not just because I think it’s slimming. There’s an elegance and minimalistic allure to the color that I really enjoy and find flattering.
Deb: If you had to spend your life in one outfit what would it be?
Carol: It would be jeans, a t-shirt, and a blazer or leather jacket!
Deb: Jewelry seems to be a big part of your signature style. Why is it important to you?
Carol: To me jewelry is as important as the clothes you’re wearing. In fact, I have purchased pieces of clothing to accent my jewelry! Jewelry can change the entire mood or look of an outfit that makes it a powerful accessory. I frequently tell my clients if you’re bored with an outfit before you toss it to the side, try layering a few necklaces and see what you think?!
Try mixed metals, wear silver if you’re usually a gold person and vice versa. Add pops of color or leather or horn and see what a difference it can make. Folks have fallen in love with their clothes again just by adding or changing out their jewelry. EVERYONE should have a jewelry wardrobe!
Deb: As a personal stylist specializing in curvy women, how do you help them get out of their heads and realize that size is no barrier to looking stylish?
Carol: The first thing we start with is self-acceptance and self-love! The key is to dress the body you have, not the one you wish you had, think you have or are working to have. There is truly a positive psychological shift that happens when we were clothes that fit well, complement our body, personality, and coloring (whether you have warm or cool undertones).
If you don’t like the number on the tag, cut the tag off. It’s that simple. As I mentioned earlier, I have to get most of my clothes tailored, so I’m not truly whatever size the tag says anyway. In fact, I often will buy clothes in larger sizes so my tailor can fit it to my shape perfectly, so what size does that make me? It’s not about the size of the garment it’s about the fit and how you feel in it. Once we start trying clothes on, and my clients see how fabulous they look, the size of the item quickly loses meaning and value.
Deb: What kind of practical dressing tips (top 3) that you give to your clients can you share with us?
Carol: 1) Shop for clothes that complement YOUR body type, 2) Disregard the label, just look for fit and how you feel in the item, and 3) Don’t impulse shop. Get what you need and know will fit in beautifully with what you already own.
Deb: Thanks, Carol, for sharing your fabulous style! Ladies, be sure to stop by Carol’s blog – Evolve Your Image to see more of her looks and find out about her many image services.
Thanks to Photographer: Lydene Robertson | Makeup: Beauty by Meghan