Whether you’re 24 or 54, it really doesn’t matter. Looking stylish at any age is about knowing who you are. Glenda Harrison is proof of that.
The “49- years-young” fashionista and creator of the popular blog So What to Twenty has a confident, modern style that is winning rave reviews with followers.
With a degree from the Fashion Institute of Design in Los Angeles, and years of retail management under her belt, Glenda stays true to herself by making intelligent fashion choices that have nothing to do with any age-related rules.
I recently chatted with Glenda to find out more about where her life and fashion intersect. Here’s my interview with this Fabulous After 40 Styleblazer.
Deb: What’s your definition of true style?
Glenda: I believe Cornel West and Rachel Zoe sum it up best with these quotes, “Style has to do with the ways in which you’re able to orient your critical intelligence, your spirituality, and your sense of character.” – Cornel West
“Style is a way to say who you are without having to speak,” – Rachel Zoe
I believe these statements wholeheartedly. Most believe that style has only to do with fashion, when in actuality, fashion is just a small component of the big picture. Style is the opposite of fashion. Fashion is out with the old and in with the new.
Deb: How would you describe the way you like to dress?
Glenda: I describe my style as classic with a touch of boho and bit of quirk. All of which represent who I am as a person. There is a side of Glenda that respects order, good taste and details (classic). I’m also very organic and artsy (bohemian), and I enjoy non-absolutes and interest (quirky). I enjoy the longevity of classic pieces, but then I like to funk it up with interesting touches (the quirk). On the weekends, I have the tendency to lean more toward my bohemian side.
My clothes have to be comfortable. I don’t think I would feel very fashionable if I were uncomfortable in what I’m wearing.
Deb: Any famous fashionistas who inspire you?
Glenda: I adore watching old footage of Jackie Kennedy in the Oleg Cassini designs during her White House years. I’m always inspired by the clean lines and ensemble dressing he used to create her look. I have a coffee table book called, Jacqueline Kennedy – The White House Years. I find myself thumbing through this book often. The designs were exquisite.
And yes, I adored the classic looks worn by Audrey Hepburn on and off the big screen.
For the current generation, I am inspired by Nicole Richie. That young lady has great taste. She does bohemian very elegantly. British Vogue’s quirky Lucinda Chambers for her adventurous spirit and finally, I love the elegance of 75 years young, Costanza Pascolato, contributor of Brazilian Vogue. When I grow up, I want to be like her.
Deb: I love all the bright colors you wear from canary yellow to poppy red to cobalt blue. How does color fit into your overall fashion philosophy?
Glenda: I have a Cheshire cat grin as I read this question. Not until the last year or so, color really wasn’t a big part of my wardrobe. I was a diehard neutral lover. It wasn’t until I began blogging that I challenged myself to expand my color horizons. I made a fashion resolution for 2014 to begin adding my color. I think I’ve done pretty good incorporating the rainbow into my wardrobe. But still, I hesitate on some purchases. Recently I was so indecisive about purchasing a kelly green color purse. Finally, after days of contemplation, I made the purchase, and I’m so glad I did. I’m amazed at how it goes with so many pieces I own.
Deb: How has growing up and living in California influenced your look?
Glenda: Growing up in California in the 60s, the bohemian look is a part of my DNA – It just seems to come naturally. Native Californians or persons who have lived here for quite some time seem to adopt an ease to the way we dress. For myself, wearing something that I have to fuss with is out of the question. I don’t want to think about what I’m wearing throughout the day. My clothing should be a natural part of Glenda. If they are distracting or detract from who I am, then I have missed the mark.
Deb: You make styling outfits seem easy and effortless. What are some challenges you have faced choosing clothes that best flatter your figure or personality/lifestyle?
Glenda: For sizing, my biggest challenge is being about 5 feet tall, but I’m curvacious. Clothing manufacturers seem to equate petite with having zero curves. Often I have to buy misses sizes and then have it taken in. In other words, I always make sure I have a great tailor on speed dial.
For my typically casual lifestyle, I make sure I don’t ever become lazy in my appearance. Even if I’m spending the afternoon on high school bleachers watching my sons participate in marching band or sports, I take the time to represent myself in a good way.
Also, my lifestyle has such a wide variety of events that I attend from art openings, fashion weeks, to high school events. I have a well-curated wardrobe. I don’t buy things for the sake of buying. I make sure that what I’m spending money on will have a great place in my wardrobe. I’m able to do this by using the Plus-Three rule, which is, I ask myself, “Will this item go with at least three items in my existing wardrobe?” If not, I normally put it back. However, there have been instances when an item was so extremely mouth-watering gorgeous, that I’ve made the purchase and then proceeded to build a wardrobe around it.
Deb: Shoes seem to be a big part of your overall style. You have a fabulous collection.
Glenda Thank you so much! As Rachel Zoe would say, “I Die!” Yes, I adore shoes, but mostly sandals. I have this crazy feeling about having my feet completely covered. It makes me feel like I’m suffocating, and that is why you see me in lots of sandals.
Deb: Any tips for women who have trouble pairing shoes with outfits?
Like accessories, shoes can make or break an outfit, and it can be a tricky subject. When I select my shoes for a particular look, I make sure they have the same feel as what I’m wearing… meaning, do the shoes flow with what I’m wearing? It’s hard to explain. I’m not a believer in being overly matchy-matchy. Sometimes I enjoy having a statement shoe, but then there are times when I want the shoes to blend effortlessly with what I’m wearing, whether that be with the shape, style, color, contour or heel height.
There are so many aspects when selecting the right shoe to complete a look. Here’s an example: Recently I purchased a pair of soft white, linen, cropped wide-legged pants. Because I’m petite and cropped pants can often look awkward or dowdy on petite women, I would be very careful when selecting a shoe. I would never wear them with a chunky loafer. My choice would be to pair the pants with a heeled sandal or a heeled boot. By doing this, I’m creating an illusion of length to my legs.
Deb: Please fill in the blanks. I think it would be great if women over 40 ……
Glenda: I think it would be great if women over 40 would stop paying so much attention to their age and just enjoyed being themselves. Personally I’m offended when I hear discussions that put women in a box about what is age appropriate. If you know YOURSELF, then you should be able to make the correct decision on what to wear. But to put every women of a certain age in the same category…nope, I’m not buying into that concept.
Here’s an example of what I’m talking about. Just last week I ventured into Loft to buy a pair of their adorable shorts that come in a variety of colors, patterns and inseam lengths. I was daring and tried on several lengths. I tried on the shortest of them all, I wasn’t comfortable with wearing them, however, a length that still showed ample leg was chosen. I didn’t buy the shortest pair because I didn’t feel comfortable, not because of a rule book. The pair that I chose was short, but not too short and showed quite a bit of leg. I feel confident in showing my legs. I work hard at keeping them in shape.
Deb: You come across as a very grounded, confident dresser. What advice would you give to women who want to develop that same confidence?
Glenda: I know Glenda very well and I know what she likes and what fits her body. I don’t follow trends. Sure, I watch them, but I’ve been in the fashion business for so long that many of them have come full circle. Gauchos, yeah, I remember my mom wearing them in the 70s. I think she even made me a pair.
I believe the confidence you see is a woman who feels great about who she is, both emotionally and physically. I don’t let popular opinion, sales people, or magazines sway my opinion on dress. There was a quote by Lucinda Chambers that said and sums it up quite nicely, “”When you watch the fashion shows you have to look at them saying, How do I fit the fashion into my wardrobe? Not, I want to completely reinvent my wardrobe for that fashion.“
Deb: You have a degree from FIDM and a lot of fashion retail management experience. Any words of wisdom on wardrobe shopping to impart?
Glenda: Don’t use shopping as a form of therapy. Shop mindfully and meticulously. Build a wardrobe that you’re proud of and represents you. Sure, it is interesting to follow trends, but don’t go gallivanting out to by the latest trends if they have nothing to do with who you are. As an example: When the color of the year is announced by Pantone, if you don’t like the color, then why buy it? I couldn’t stand Radiant Orchid and didn’t purchase a single item in that color.
Just because something is presented doesn’t mean you have to own it. Make the determination and select what you truly appreciate, and not because everyone else is wearing something. I believe that if it doesn’t fit then you shouldn’t force it to fit.
Deb: Before we go I wanted to compliment you on your skin. It’s lovely. How do you take care of it?
Glenda: My skin has its issues. Growing up I suffered with eczema and from time to time I still breakouts. I finally found a dermatologist that took care of me. For years doctors would prescribe steroid creams that only worked for a short time. My doctor had me do a allergy test where they pricked my skin and tested my blood to see what I’m actually allergic too. My goodness, the results were crazy. Many of the things that made me break-out were a part of my everyday life! Because of this discovery, I am very careful about what I put on or next to my skin.
My skincare routine is as basic as it gets. I wash my face twice a day with Sensitive Skin Dove Soap (the bar), then I swipe with Witch Hazel for an astringent, and currently I’m using Dermalogica’s Intensive Moisture Balance. For my body, I use Dove Soap. Once a week I detox in an elixir bath of Epsom Salt and lavender, and I swear by Vaseline as a moisturizer. If I’m feeling extra special, I’ll moisturize with Origins Smoothing Souffle. And I drink tons of water every day. For makeup I only use Clinique. I’ve never had any problems with their products and they have a great match for my complexion in a foundation, which is Sienna.
Deb: Finally, you have been lucky enough to combine two of your life’s passions, writing and fashion, into one successful career. What advice would you give women over 40 who want to pursue a passion or a lifelong dream?
Glenda: Yes I do, “Get out of your way.”
Deb: Thanks Glenda for sharing your personal style philosophies and glimpses into your style with us! Ladies, be sure to visit Glenda’s fabulous blog, So What To Twenty!