Lessons in 40+ Chic From A Key To The Amoire

Deborah BolandI’ve always maintained that the key to looking chic at 40, 50 and beyond is to mix classic pieces with some “of the moment” elements for a modern twist.

Recently, I came across Miami style blogger Susana Fernández from A Key To The Armoire who shares this philosophy.

I instantly fell in love with Susana’s fabulous taste and impeccable style.

Susana was kind enough to send a few photos our way, as well as share her thoughts on what went into putting these outfits together. Here’s how this university professor by day/fashion blogger by night describes her stand-out style.

classic dressing over 40

LOOK #1 Mixing Prints

Who doesn’t love nautical style? Adding a bit of leopard makes things fun and interesting. Many people shy away from wearing it, but the truth is that leopard can be considered a bit of a neutral when worn in small doses.

That’s why I say, when in doubt, always add a bit of leopard to give an outfit a unique twist!

I wore this for a day of errands around town. Florida weather is quite fickle, so there was a downpour in the morning that thankfully cleared up by the time I took these pictures in the afternoon.

A trench is always a great piece for Florida, especially during our “winter” months, when it can get a bit chilly, but…it’s Florida, after all!

 

 

LOOK #2 Navy is the New Blackclassic dressing over 40

I wore this outfit to dinner with my parents one summer evening. It’s a dressier option that could work quite well for a morning event, for example.

Rather than black, navy tends to be my “Dark” choice. I find it classier and less common. Besides, it looks fantastic paired with white.

This outfit is very “me” because it combines several things I adore: a monogrammed blazer; a true, embroidered circle skirt; an antique silver card box worn as a clutch; and piping.I love classic styles that are feminine and polished, and I also love pairing circle and full skirts, and this outfit is one of my favorites.

LOOK #3 Boho ChicBohemian dressing over 40

 

You know how some people practically live in jeans? Well, I practically live in shorts! I find them to be way more comfortable than jeans and love dressing them up or down. Obviously, it doesn’t hurt that I live in shorts-weather-territory!

 

I find that shorts can be a sexy, yet refined option for me. Wear them with flats, and they’re adorable; wear them with heels, and they have the capability to become more “deadly” than a mini-skirt!

 

What I really love about this outfit, it’s the ethereal and romantic vibe that throwing a see-through shift dress on top of it gave it. In this case, they serve as a backdrop to support the billowy shift dress.

 

I wore this outfit on a terribly hot South Florida day. I actually had to go pick up my passport, and since wearing a bathing suit was out of the question, this was the next best thing to deal with the unbearable heat.
Even though it’s quite casual, it still looks polished and pulled together, which is something I always strive for when choosing my outfits. Wearing my hair up in a super-easy ballerina bun was a no-brainer that worked with the outfit AND the heat!

LOOK #4 Professional Presentation

classic dressing over 40

In this outfit, you can see once again my love for skirts paired with blazers. You can also notice another big love of mine: brooches and pins.

Many people find brooches and pins old-fashioned, but I find that in an era of statement necklaces, brooches and pins can serve the purpose in a more original way.

I particularly love making vignettes or collages with them, and I have plenty of antique pieces to mix and match. I also love tortoise shell, and wear it ALL THE TIME! Just like leopard (which mixes beautifully with it!), I consider it an elegant neutral.

In this outfit, I’m wearing a vintage Lea Stein turtle brooch and antique ivory cuffs from the 1930s, both of which are favorites. I’m also wearing a lizard and tortoise bag that belonged to my mom.

In addition to being a university professor, I am also a professional and corporate speaker, so I wore this to deliver a workshop to a group of executives. I wanted to look polished and feminine, but also feel comfortable moving around, so this was the perfect choice. It’s classic, but still shows a bit of personality, especially with the ethnic print on the skirt.

LOOK #5 Dressy ShortsOrganza-Blouse-Shorts-over-40

I loved this outfit because it features this blouse that my mom made for me. I simply adore it! It’s feminine, ethereal, romantic, sexy, and unusual. I was going to pair it with a white silk pencil skirt originally, but it was so hot, that I relied on my favorite pair of shorts.

I also love ankle-tie shoes and sandals, whether they have straps or ribbons, which is why I usually tie ribbons to my sling-back shoes, like in this case.

I hate it when the strap on the sling-back shoes and sandals ends up falling, so tying ribbons in coordinating colors is a chic life-saver!

I also love being creative and relying on ingenuity to give alternate uses to things, so for this outfit, I’m wearing my antique, sterling silver card box, but this time around, I’m adding a napkin ring tassel from a home decor store. You never know when you’ll find something you can wear!

I wore this outfit for a brunch and fashion show featuring Keren Craig, from Marchesa at Neiman Marcus in Bal Harbour Shops. Given Marchesa’s evening pieces, I wanted to wear something dressy and with a bit of sparkle, but because it was a morning event, I didn’t want it to be too obvious.

The shorts, in this case, gave it a bit of an informal vibe that balanced the transparency of the blouse and the sparkle of the jewelry.

Deborah BolandQ. How Would You Describe Your Personal Style?

Susana: I would describe my style as classic and feminine, with a touch of preppy. I tend to gravitate towards the silhouettes of the 50s, mostly, as I consider it the most beautiful fashion era.

In my blog I feature lots of professional outfits, given my job, but even if it weren’t for that, I would say that I tend to gravitate towards pretty polished looks.

I am also quite colorful in my choices, although I just realized that I am sharing mostly white outfits today! Must be the weather!

Another thing that I do quite often is to play with contrasts. For example, giving a masculine look (which I love!) a feminine twist, or an innocent look, a sexy edge.

Contrasts make things interesting! Another thing that characterizes my personal style is the use of scarves and neckerchiefs, as well as incorporating vintage and antique pieces, many of which belonged to my mom.

And of course, there are the sunglasses…I have lots of them! It’s true that because I live in South Florida, I “really” need them, but the reality of why I wear them in my outfit posts is much simpler…I’m a bit shy!

Q. Best Style Tip/Advice Ever Received?
Susana: The best style tip or advice I have ever received would be to dress in order to complement the occasion. It’s simple etiquette, really. Etiquette exists to show respect and appreciation for those around you. It’s a matter of humility and kindness. When I dress, I always think about where I am going, and how I can contribute to making the occasion special.

I also think about how I feel, naturally, which is the reason why I never plan my outfits in advance. There’s nothing worse than wearing something that is not “you”! Another style tip I received early on is to know what quality is, regardless of brand, and take exceedingly good care of everything you own. Doing that ensures that your pieces will always look, and feel, new.

I have featured pieces on the blog that I have had since I was 16 years old! This is the reason why that whole blogging culture of glorified shopping horrifies me! It makes everyone look exactly the same, rather than showing some original style.

Q. Who Are Your Style Icons?

Susana: It would be easy to say that my style icons are people like Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelly or Olivia Palermo, but the real style icon who started it all for me is my mom. She always has impeccable style, and knows exactly what to wear where and how. Because she knows how to sew (couture, of all things!), she has taught me to understand the difference between real quality and “brand” quality.

When I think of an icon, I think of someone whom you look up to for guidance; someone who influences your views and perspectives on fashion and style, and no one does that better for me than her. The best thing that my icon has shown me is that style is a language through which you express yourself, a reflection of who you are, as well as who you want to become.

**Want more? To see other outfits from Susana check out her blog at  A Key To The Armoire.

 

 



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Comments, Feedback, & Opinions:

  1. Rebecca Saffer says:

    Great interview! I had never heard of Susana or her blog but intend to follow them now. I agree with you that she has wonderful taste and style. I can’t believe her mother made that beautiful white blouse!

    • Hi, Rebecca,
      Thank you for your encouraging words! Thank you, also, for the kind words regarding the blouse…I’ll make sure to share with my mom :) I look forward to interacting with you on the blog!! :) Thanks for liking it and for deciding to follow! :)
      Regards,
      Susana
      http://www.akeytothearmoire.com

      • Rebecca Saffer says:

        Hi Susana,
        Since your interview, I have had an opportunity to look at your wonderful website. I love it (and those deserts you made are to die for!)
        I am very curious about your mom, whom you describe as your style icon. Since I assume that she and I are very close in age, I was wondering if you ever post her outfits or style advice on your blog. I would love to see that as well. By the way, I grew up part of the time in Coral Gables, Fl. so the pictures look so beautiful of that area.
        Thanks!
        Rebecca (from NYC)

        • Rebecca, thank you so much, again, for your sweet comments! Hahaha…I guess you checked the cooking blog too? Yes, I kind of abandoned that one a bit :( although I still cook and bake a lot! Regarding my mom, no, I never post her outfits…she’s way too shy and wouldn’t do it! She does take my pictures, though ;) Yes, Coral Gables is so pretty, although I live much more to the north, near Ft. Lauderdale!
          Take care,
          Susana

  2. Congratulations, Susana! Wonderful interview, I really enjoyed it. I love it that you wear pieces from your Mom and for so many years (since 16). I wish someone gave me that advice when I was younger! :) You are a true beauty. Sincerely, Natalia

  3. Paige tucker says:

    She may be on the right track but needs to reconsider these looks for average women over 40. The white tunic is cute but way to short to wear anywhere alone. Definitely no on the shorts and white blouse. That 1950’s printed skirt needs to be traded in for an A line version.

    • Hi, Paige,
      Thank you for your feedback. I understand that some of these looks may not be for the “average” woman over 40, but they work for me, more specifically, for my body type, lifestyle, and where I live, which, in my opinion, are essential factors to consider when choosing what to wear. As for the printed skirt, I favor full skirts over A-line skirts, especially when worn with blazers. It’s a matter of preference, really, because A-line skirts may look pretty too. Again, this is just my style, so it may not feel natural or comfortable to other people.
      Regards,
      Susana
      http://www.akeytothearmoire.com

      • Hi Susana,
        I am currently obsessed with your gallery and the beautiful way you put your outfits together. I especially love your A line skirts. I carry most of my weight around my thighs and pencil skirts can be not so flattering. However, A line skirts, slightly flared skirts/dresses always look so much better ( and I am old thing at 57 yrs). I think you look fantastic in both the shorts and the dress, but then I live in a city where this summer we had 10 consecutive days of temperature around 110 degrees F where comfort and keeping cool is the only consideration. Why do we shy away from wearing colours which are more flattering than dour old black/khaki/camel?

        • Thank you so much, Susan, for taking the time to leave me such encouraging words! It’s always very nice to hear that you enjoyed what you saw on the blog! :) And, yes, I totally agree with you regarding the use of dark colors, especially in sunny places! :) Hope to see you around the blog! :)
          Regards,
          Susana
          http://www.akeytothearmoire.com

  4. Lesley Handyside says:

    Susana has impeccable taste and a great figure. The floaty white tunic top over shorts was nice but shorts…. hmmmm. I have problems with shorts over 30. They are rarely flattering on older legs and can reveal stuff that needs to stay in the bedroom or be viewed only by candlelight.
    Just cant recommend shorts unless you are home alone.

    • Hi, Lesley,

      Thank you for your kinds words :) I completely agree with you regarding the use of shorts. It truly depends on your figure and, obviously, the state of your legs! I’m 43 (as of tomorrow!) and they work for me, both weather and figure-wise, but I agree that shorts can never be a blanket recommendation. However, I don’t think their use should be restricted based on age, necessarily, since there are some younger-than-30 women that should not really use them either. I guess it’s a matter of being realistic about your body and works best for you!

      Regards,
      Susana
      http://www.akeytothearmoire.com

  5. Susan Mitchell says:

    Having checked out her gallery, I love her style. Susanna has a great eye for mixing colours and textures to create very chic ensembles. I would love to emulate some of her styles, but alas, I think Susanna must only be in her 30s as she looks so great.

    • Hi, Susan,

      I’m so happy to hear that you enjoyed browsing through the gallery :) Thank you for taking the time to share your feedback! Also, thank you for thinking that I look as if I were in my 30s!!! Since tomorrow I turn 43, I’ll take that as an early birthday present! LOL!! :)

      Hope that the blog inspires you to, at least, try mixing some colors and textures in a different way!

      Regards,
      Susana
      http://www.akeytothearmoire.com