Looking stylish at midlife and beyond can be a challenge, but Erin Busbee makes it look easy. Erin is a professional stylist and the creator of Busbee Style, a popular blog she created six years ago “to help you get your act together (even if you don’t).”
This 41-year-old fashionista from Boerne, Texas has a modern, edgy way of dressing that has attracted thousands of followers.
I got a chance to talk to Erin about her style and the challenges that come with dressing over 40. Here’s my interview with this Fabulous After 40 Styleblazer.
Deb: What inspired you to be a personal stylist?
Erin: I lived and worked in New York City for a decade. While I was there, I worked in a fast-paced, television news environment for CBS. I used to cover all the fashion trends and events, including interviewing celebrities on the red carpet. I was always so excited to see what the celebrities were wearing.
Additionally, I have always been styling and shopping with other women. It is a passion of mine, but it never occurred to me I could create a business out of my love of fashion and style. I perceived it more as a “hobby”.
After I met and married my Texan husband, Chris, we decided to move to Texas. I knew that I did not want to continue a career in television, but I wasn’t sure what was next.
A little lost, I turned to my husband for guidance. He asked me what I loved to do, and what would do for free.
I told him I wanted to, “help women look pretty.”
“Well, that’s what you should do,” he said.
I’ve been doing exactly that… ever since.
I haven’t always known where this road is taking me, and my business has certainly evolved a great deal over the years, but one thing has remained constant… I never feel like I’m ‘working’.
Deb: What are some of the problems your 40+ clients come to you with?
Erin: Name the fit issue; I have tackled it. I would say one of the biggest challenges my clients over 40 grapple with…is finding a style that is modern, but also age appropriate.
Deb: How would you define your style?
Erin: Edgy Elegance – I love classic pieces, but they always have an edgy or modern twist.
Deb: You say you’ve perfected the art of easy attainable style. Can you tell us more about what that means and the steps to achieve it?
Erin: Just like your home, your wardrobe needs a solid foundation. That begins with basics. If you don’t have all of the wardrobe basics, you will struggle. Having well-fitting, high-quality basics is the key to great, effortless style. In an effort to save time, it is also essential that you are organized, and can find pieces easily in your closet.
Deb: Are there certain colors, styles you find yourself always attracted to?
Erin: I’m still an NYC girl at heart, and I love black! That said; I also have a weakness for pink (all shades), red and royal blue. I think royal blue looks wonderful on everyone.
Deb: Any trends you love right now and why?
Erin: Right now, I’m really into flared jeans, over-sized sunglasses, lace-up shoes, and lace!
I think flared jeans make my petite frame look longer and taller. The over-sized, round, 70’s inspired sunglasses are incredibly glamorous and fun. The lace-up details on shirts, dresses and shoes are sexy and cool. I love to buy basics with a modern twist. I have also recently purchased a lace dress, lace shorts, and a lace pencil skirt. Lace is just so incredibly feminine and chic, and the texture adds so much interest to your overall look.
Deb: You lived in New York and now Texas – How did the move change the way you dress?
Erin: Wow… the way I dress has changed dramatically since my move from New York to Texas. For starters, I was not a mom yet when I lived in New York, so I wore heels 24/7. There is no way I could wear heels all the time now, and still chase after kids. It’s just not practical. I was also much more formal when I lived in New York. I dressed up most evenings when I went out…and I went out at least three nights a week. Now, living in Texas, with two children under six, I rarely go out, and I have a much more casual lifestyle. My style reflects these major life changes as well as cultural differences.
Deb: You say that every once in a while you like to push the envelope. What is the biggest fashion risk you’ve taken and did it pay off?
Erin: I think it depends on your definition of success. For me, a look “pays off” if I feel wonderful and confident while I’m wearing it. When I take a fashion risk, I feel empowered. It’s a way for me to express myself to the world, without having to say a word.
A couple of risks I took recently… I wore matching, menswear-inspired separates, a vest with culottes. It’s not a look many women would wear. I also love rompers and jumpsuits, which are considered a bit risqué for the 40+ crowd, but every once in a while, you just have to go for it!
Deb: Age appropriateness is a hot topic. Many 40+ women now feel anything goes at any age. As a stylist, would you agree, disagree?
Erin: Ultimately, I think the most important thing… is for women to feel confident and empowered. Women should wear what makes them feel great. That said, I think there are things that are tough to wear after a certain age. Mini skirts would be at the top of that list. I try to adhere to the one skin area rule as well. If I’m showing a lot of leg, I keep my upper body pretty covered up. If I’m showing off my shoulders or chest area, I keep the lower half covered.
Deb: What five items do you recommend every woman has in her wardrobe?
Erin: I would say the five items every woman should have in her wardrobe are: 1) Dark wash, boot-cut or flared jeans 2) Tailored, black blazer, 3) Black trousers 4) Little black dress, and 5) a pair of comfortable, ballet flats
Deb: You highlight your favorite stores on your blog. Who are some of your favorite designers? Do you think there are specific designers who speak to the mature audience?
Erin: As a stylist and lover of fashion, I glean so much excitement when I find obscure, up-and-coming designers. I usually discover them through major city boutiques or online stores like Asos.com and RevolveClothing.com.
I do believe some mainstream designers work better than others for mature women, much in the same way some stores do. I think Michael Kors and Ralph Lauren offer great options for mature women. More and more, I see Vince Camuto pieces that are modern and wearable for us 40+ ladies. And, in terms of jeans, no one beats NYDJ…Not Your Daughter’s Jeans. I can’t tell you how many clients I’ve put in these jeans. Too many to count.
Deb: Best advice you can give a woman 40+ struggling to look put well put together every day?
Erin: First…. breathe. You’ve got this. Second, weed out clothes, shoes and bags in your closet you are no longer wearing. Third, make sure you have all of the basics. If you have the basics, it will be much easier to add some modern, trendy pieces. Throw on a trendy piece with your classic basics, and everyone will be convinced you are super stylish, and know exactly what you are doing…. or as I’m so fond of saying… you will look like you have your act together…. even if you don’t. Erin xo
Deb: Erin, thank you so much for sharing your style and inspiration with us. You are Fabulous!! Ladies, be sure to visit Erin at her blog, Busbee Style.