Is there such a thing as age-appropriate dressing?
Catherine Summers doesn’t think so. Catherine is a 40-year-old British blogger who marches to the beat of her drum and has dubbed herself the Queen of Clash.
A self-professed “black clothes avoider” Catherine loves lots of bright colors, mixing patterns, textures, and styles to create some very eclectic looks over 40. Here’s a look at her style and where she gets her inspiration from.
Deb: Catherine, I would say you have a bold, creative, and somewhat rebellious style that not everyone could pull off, but it seems totally in sync with your strong spirit. How would you describe your way of dressing?
I’d describe my style is eclectic, but erring on the side of “Preppy with a Twist,” and always colorful. I made a conscious decision a few years ago to stop wearing and buying so much black, so my style has become more and more colorful over the years.
Plus, having a blog makes you see yourself differently, so two years of seeing myself online have honed my style and helped me realize what suits me (even better than a full-length mirror has)!
Deb: Where does your inspiration come from?
Living in the UK, the weather plays a huge part in what I wear – it’s the first thing I check before deciding what to put on! I get inspiration from all sorts of places, but mostly from other bloggers’ style, which is usually so much more spontaneous and creative than what you see in magazines and on celebrities.
That said, I’m a little bit obsessed with Rooney Mara right now – she looks so fabulous and polished in everything, and I love the fact that her look is so unique, not just her clothes but her hair and makeup too.
Can you tell us a little bit about the looks you are showing us today?
I’d love to Deborah…
This unique top and skirt are by Lithuanian label Freak Factory. They lent me the outfit to wear to the Bath in Fashion blogger awards in April, where I was a finalist.
The nautical pattern features the waves of the sea, sailors, and mermaids, and I love the gorgeous magenta color.
This shirt is a vintage 1950s silk shirt. I’m a big fan of vintage and love to mix it with modern pieces, like the on-trend white blazer and leopard print skinny jeans I’ve worn it with here.
I think it’s essential to wear vintage with modern pieces to stop yourself from looking too costumey unless, of course, you’re going for the full-on retro look, which I love but am too afraid to wear!
I styled this outfit at the Reiss Spirit of Summer event they held a few weeks ago, and I challenged myself to create the perfect beach wedding outfit.
This maxi dress is a universally flattering style, which I think would suit most body shapes. The panels are beautifully cut, and a maxi is perfect for the beach when heels are impractical.
Black and white are on-trend for 2013, but I think it can be quite harsh sometimes. This dress is more a subtle blend of lovely soft greys.
I now own the wide brim hat (couldn’t resist buying one). I love the color combination of tan and coral, which will work with many pieces in my wardrobe for summer.
Deborah, you can’t go wrong with a perfect white shirt, and for this outfit, I added classic pearls and a sparkly brooch at the collar, but then dispensed with classic style altogether at that point by wearing it with the brightest, highlighter-yellow skinny jeans.
The cobalt of the shoes and belt add a color punch to the outfit and stops it looking too insipid. A smart, but practical look that’s just right for our chilly UK spring weather!
This is typical of my style for the office, where I have little to no dress code.
The outfit started with the bag (which was new), and I wanted a colorful contrast to the yellow, so I chose my wine-red skinny jeans. I chose a simple, neutral sweater to keep the attention on the other two bright colors, and the two-tone brogues were a practical and striking finishing touch.
Deb: What’s the best piece of style advice you can give to women over 40 who are looking to find their style?
My number tip for women of any age is to use a full-length mirror – don’t even attempt anything except pajamas without one! Plus, as you get older, your body shape tends to change, so it’s essential to work with that and always, always wear what flatters you… easier said than done, however.
I think the best way to do this is to photograph yourself in your outfits, upload the images, and study them on a monitor. It’s a bit of an effort, but it’s the only way to see yourself objectively, even more so than seeing your reflection in a full-length mirror. As already mentioned, posting pictures of myself online and regularly seeing myself on a screen is how I’ve found my style. It can be a shock, but I guarantee it works!
Thanks, Catherine! To see more of Catherine’s engaging style, you can visit her blog: Not Dressed as Lamb. Interesting Note: for those of you not familiar with the phrase, dressed as lamb, it’s from the British saying “mutton dressed as lamb,” which is a derogatory way of describing a mature woman who deliberately wears in a young style to try to look more youthful. Catherine tells me that is what she wants to avoid being, and that is why she called her blog, Not Dressed as Lamb.