I recently started following a blogger whose story is so similar to mine that I instantly felt a connection. For many years Nikki Garnett had a remarkable career in London as editor of Selfridges magazine. (I enjoyed a successful career as a TV producer/host in Toronto.)
We both had fabulous wardrobes and invitations to all the “it” parties and were always surrounded by creative people. But after our children were born, it became difficult to juggle career and family, so we decided to step back and focus on our families.
After a few years away from the corporate world, something happened. Nikki describes this as her “Once I was…” period. She missed her job and interaction with like-minded people, so to bring some creativity back to her life, she reinvented herself by starting a blog.
At Midlife Chic, Nikki shares her journey to regain her style in the hopes that it might help anyone else who might also be in the same place.
I got to talk to Nikki about her favorite outfits and learn what makes her a Fabulous After 40 Styleblazer.
Nikki opted for a lightweight striped sweater, a coordinating navy blazer, slim jeans, and a pair of leather booties for a Saturday spent in Newcastle, England. Her red leather clutch adds flair to this casual outfit.
Black Tie Chic
This lace dress was Nikki’s choice for an awards ceremony. She had her heart set on two dresses but eventually chose this one from Milly because she adored the lace detail at the neck and hemline of the dress. Nikki’s choice of simple accessories, such as velvet strap heels, a beaded clutch, and pearl stud earrings, are the perfect complement to the exquisite lace detail of her dress.
Not in the mood for a dress for your next boardroom meeting? Try a chic business suit instead. Nikki adds feminine touches in the form of a fitted jacket and a pretty necklace. The pointed-toe heels are a stylish addition to the professional vibe of the outfit.
For an evening garden party at the exclusive Lancaster Castle, Nikki contemplated her outfit until she finally decided on this Ponte dress from Boden. Nikki loved this dress for the excellent quality, fully lined, and the Ponte fabric clings in the right places but is cut so that it doesn’t reveal too much. She loved the hint of sexiness that this dress offered while still saying that she meant business.
For casual days at the office, Nikki pairs her favorite leggings with a suede jacket that was a special gift from her husband. This is a dressier option when you aren’t in the mood for jeans.
For a pre-birthday dinner, Nikki stepped out of her comfort zone in this sleek black jumpsuit. She originally purchased it for a holiday in a tropical climate but soon realized that it could just as easily be adapted to her lifestyle in England. After wearing it to the birthday dinner, it has become one of her favorite wardrobe pieces.
On this particular occasion, Nikki chose black heels, but she also loves to pair them with a leopard print heel.
For a casual night out for pizza, Nikki pairs boyfriend jeans with a classic oxford shirt and her trust black blazer. It was a dismal day, so Nikki brightened her outfit with a statement necklace, a few colorful bracelets, and leopard print shoes. Nikki’s outfit perfectly combines style and comfort for a casual dinner at a local pizzeria.
It’s always interesting to hear the inspiration behind a woman’s style and blog. How does Nikki develop all these great looks and put them together for her blog readers?
Nikki: Midlifechic is about being aware of your body and knowing how to dress it well but (most importantly) with attitude. It is about having the confidence to cherry-pick from the trends; after all, most of us have seen them before and know how to add a slight nod to fashion without needing to follow it slavishly.
Deb: Who are your role models?
Nikki: Without a doubt, my biggest role model is Ines de la Fressange. If I am thinking about buying something, I always ask myself, ‘would Ines buy it’ and if the answer is yes, I go for it.
Deb: Do you think there is such a thing as age-appropriate? Why, why not?
Nikki: I might make myself unpopular here, but I do to an extent. Of course, I think women over 40 should enjoy fashion and keep experimenting, but they look their best when they show a specific intelligence in their dress. Our advantage over younger women experiences, and with that comes wisdom. Therefore, I think we should be displaying that by buying fewer things of higher quality.
Like diamonds, clothes are about the ‘Cs’ – cloth, cut, and color, and if you use this as a maxim, I think you end up dressing age appropriately. If you’re wearing something beautifully cut, made from a cloth that has texture or interest, and in a color that lights up your complexion, you’re going to look great.
Deb: What’s the biggest mistake you see women over 40 make when dressing?
Nikki: I hate to see women over 40 in distressed jeans. In my view, this is a prime example of madly following fashion and not dressing intelligently. Not only is it insulting to the people in the factories that make them have to take a perfect pair of jeans and then rip and shred them, but it can often be unappealing to see glimpses of older flesh – the thigh and knees are rarely the best part of any of us.
Deb: What is the simplest thing women can do to have “midlife chic”?
Nikki: Keep an eye on shoe shapes. It has taken a couple of years to go mainstream, but there has been a significant shoe shift this season from the rounded toe with a platform to the pointed toe with a single sole. I have completely replaced my shoe collection, but it has enabled me to spend less on new clothes because the shoes have updated every outfit I own.
Deb: What’s the one item in your wardrobe you can’t live without?
Nikki: So hard to choose…great blazer? …perfectly cut white shirt? No – it has to be a pair of well-cut indigo-dyed jeans – you can dress them up and dress them down; they don’t have to be expensive; you just need to keep on going until you find the pair that suits you.
Nikki, Thanks so much for joining me today on Fabulous After 40. I look forward to your future posts!
To see more of Nikki’s fabulous style, drop by her blog, Midlife Chic.