If you’re on Instagram, then you’ve probably run across Mandy Wiebenga. The 45 -year-old fashionista with a pretty smile is always popping up modeling her latest looks.
Mandy spends much of her time in the closet. It’s the backdrop for many of her outfit shots, and her place of business. You see, Mandy is a wardrobe stylist in Davenport Iowa who visits women’s closets and helps them organize their wardrobes.
I recently got a chance to chat with Mandy about her polished, modern style – a favorite of many midlife women. Here’s my interview with this Fabulous After 40 Styleblazer.
Deb: How would you describe your style?
Mandy: I would say that my style is simple and elegant with a bit of a classy edge.
Deb: Who or what has inspired your style over the years?
Mandy: Being from the Midwest, I have always drawn inspiration from magazines and looks I have seen on television. However, one of my favorite hobbies is going shopping! Not always to purchase items, but to see what the latest trends are. This would be my main source of inspiration!!
Deb: Has your style changed much over the years? If so, how?
Mandy: My style has remained classic and structured to a point, but now integrates more denim and “fun” pieces. I like to invest in pieces that are higher quality and seasonless so that I can intermix them in my wardrobe throughout the year.
Deb: Favorite current trends? Trends that are not for you?
Mandy: I really like to utilize distressed denim along with booties or a nice classic pump. I also enjoy long sweaters and structured jackets. Trends that are not my taste include skinny jeans; I instead prefer skinny boyfriend jeans.
Deb: In your styling business, what is the most common problem/issue you encounter with women over 40, and how do you help them move past that?
Mandy: The most common problem I find with women over 40 is that their closets are cluttered and full of items they are not wearing. The first step to solving this issue is to complete a wardrobe edit by removing items they are no longer wearing, no longer fit or are no longer in style.
I find that some of the women I work with do not know how to shop in their own closets to put multiple outfits together from the pieces they own. I have my clients try on different outfits to show them the versatility they already have available in their own closets. I help them to remember the options by taking photos and creating lookbooks for them to reference.
Deb: One of your goals with clients is to help them “build their best wardrobe”. What basics do you recommend that every wardrobe should have at a minimum?
Mandy: Everyone should own pieces that they feel comfortable and confident wearing. Properly fitted undergarments are the foundation of every good outfit. A fitted, black, or navy blazer can easily be incorporated into many different lifestyles. Dark denim in a fit that best suits the wearer is another item that I suggest. I also recommend white or ivory flowy tops for layering under jackets or sweaters. Another item I encourage my clients to purchase is a nice pair of nude or black pumps.
Deb: You have a fun pixie cut. Have you always had short hair? Any advice for women who are looking to make the switch from long to chic and short?
Mandy: I have always had short hair, with the exception of a period of time in the late 80s when big hair was in! I feel that my hairstyle is an important element in my own personal style. When done right, the right hairstyle could be your signature look! I would encourage anyone looking for a short haircut to go for it! I also suggest they keep in mind the commitment required to maintain a short haircut – I get mine done every three weeks.
Deb: One of your favorite casual style recipes is jeans, a sweater, a blanket scarf, and ankle booties. What do you love about this preferred look? How does it work with your lifestyle?
Mandy: I feel that layering different pieces, such as a scarf, add interest to any outfit. I love that it is a pulled-together, polished look while still remaining casual. It is very important to me that I look my best at all times whether I’m meeting a client, checking out the latest styles and inventory at my local boutiques, or just running errands or to the gym.
Deb: I love the variety in your wardrobe. From colors to prints to stripes to solids and pants, jeans and dresses, you wear it all. Tell us about some of your favorite choices. Are there any prints or colors you stay away from and why?
Mandy: Some of my favorites are distressed skinny boyfriend jeans, ankle booties, pumps, long vests, and jackets. I also love to dress up an outfit with a nice scarf, long tassel necklace, and other trendy jewelry. I usually like to start with a classic color palette for my base layer, such as black, white/ivory, or denim blue. But I’m not afraid to mix brown in with my black. This is actually one of my favorite color combinations! I purchase items based on the fit and how I think the piece will work with my existing wardrobe.
Deb: You do not shy away from things like ripped jeans, short shorts, and rompers. What is the key to pulling off these looks (as you have) in a tasteful, mature way?
Mandy: I feel that I know my body and what looks good on me. It is all about having confidence in what you wear. I enjoy combining different elements to create everyday elegance!
Deb: I noticed you have a lot of great bags. Can you tell us about a few you love, plus give us some tips on how to know what bag to wear with what outfit?
Mandy: For me, my bag choice is about function. I choose my bag based on what I had going on that day. I want my bag to compliment my outfit, but not necessarily “match”. I choose classic bags in classic styles that are an easy addition to my outfit. Two of my favorites are my Louis Vuitton Epi – I love the pop of red! I also love my Louis Vuitton Speedy 30 Bandouliere in the Damier Ebene pattern – it is so versatile and classic. However, I’m a sucker for a fun leather backpack!
Deb: Three best tips for dressing over 40 that you have picked up since becoming a stylist?
Mandy: 1) If you don’t love it, don’t buy it. 2) Have a list and shop with a purpose. 3) Keep it simple and classic – just because it is a trend doesn’t mean it will work for you! 4) Shop for the body you have and not for the body you want.
Thanks, Mandy for sharing your fun and energetic style with us. Ladies, be sure to visit Mandy on Instagram to see more of her fabulous style.