There’s fashion at any age

Tish Wells / McClatchy Newspapers /

Published Jan 25, 2013 at 04:00AM

“The Wardrobe Wakeup: Your Guide to Looking Fabulous at Any Age” by Lois Joy Johnson (Running Press, $23)

The key phrase in this book comes on page 64 —“Fashion life after 40.”

This is what “The Wardrobe Wakeup” promises and provides.

Former fashion editor Lois Joy Johnson has written a helpful handbook for those of us 40 and older who sometimes haunt modern department stories, thinking the pretty clothes are only for the younger generation, and mourning our lost youth.

Johnson is realistic about aging. In the introduction, she says bluntly, “After a certain age women and their clothes just don’t get along anymore. Changes in weight, hormones, work, finances, lifestyle, attitudes, opinions and needs have had a major impact on your closet and style. Even when the scale makes us smile we notice stuff has drooped and shifted.”

Also, “we need clothes for divorce court, wakes, and memorial services.”

Then, in a breezy, no-nonsense, no-holds-barred way, she suggests ways out of the conundrum about what to wear on your body whether for every day work, play or going out on Saturday night.

One annoyance is that while the text is wonderful to read, the book’s layout can be confusing. The easiest way to navigate is to skim through, then mark the pages that apply to you. For example, if you’re a woman who prefers pants over skirts, ignore the parts about pencil or A-line skirts, and the same with high heels versus flats.

“The Wardrobe Wakeup” includes photographs of many accomplished women whose dress-for-success is their own comfortable style. Valerie Monroe, beauty director at O the Oprah Magazine, wears a black tailored pantsuit with trendy bulky bracelets. Edris Nicholls, owner of her own salon and Atelier Director at Shu Uemura, wears a stunning patterned white dress with a floral splash of color and a vibrant purple scarf.

Scattered about are fine tidbits like sizing in today’s market. “You can wear a size 4 at Ann Taylor, an 8 at J.Crew, and a 6 at Michael Kors. In recognition of our weight and diet obsession, the smart fashion biz keeps rolling out smaller sizing to appease our vanity.” Johnson suggests taking the size tags out so you aren’t hung up on the number.

In the foreword, supermodel Cheryl Tiegs says, “If you know a beautifully dressed woman, someone whose fashion sense you admire, watch what she wears, notice how she combines colors and fabrics, how she puts her clothes together and how she uses jewelry, belts, scarves to create her own style.”

This will help you find your own personal style.