Bolder and Braver: Why wardrobe confidence increases with age

— by Alyson Walsh

Photos: Claire Pepper

While life’s happiness curve is U-shaped (hooray, I’m 54 and on the up again), I would suggest that personal style follows a continuous, upward trajectory. I’m not bragging when I say that I’m more stylish now than I’ve ever been. And if you’d seen some of my younger get-ups – tomboy hand-me-downs (my dad’s old shirts and cardigans, my brother’s military trench coat), jersey skirts whizzed up in five-minutes flat on the overlocker at college, DIY hair – you’d probably agree. Fortunately, there were no smart phones in the 1980s….

Wardrobe confidence increases with age. And I do believe that style is something that can be learned. When I interviewed former Vogue fashion director Lucinda Chambers for my latest book Know Your Style, she concurred, ‘The most stylish women I know are older, one is in her 80s and the other in her 60s. I think it takes time, and that’s all right. I can’t be doing with the idea that ‘you are born with style’. That’s nonsense, you should experiment and play around and make mistakes because it will get easier if you practise!’

Here are six easy ways to be bolder and braver and infinitely more stylish as we get older:

Spend money wisely

Choose clothes and shoes that are designed to last. These days I’m much more particular about what I wear; comfort and quality matter. I’ve started to seek out decent vintage, again, and try to eschew fast-fashion for investment pieces. That’s not to say I’m blowing all my money on designer goods (a bargain is not a bargain unless you’re going to wear it, a lot) but I have become an expert style stalker. I’m pretty good at picking out seasonal favourites, biding my time and then picking up a bargain in the sales. Having said that, I am equally likely to wear a pair of Levi’s 501s that I’ve had for at least 15 years.

Double breasted jacket, The Fold

Focus on the fit

Fit is the most important thing. I have no time for clothes that misbehave and involve a lot of faffing: a skirt that constantly rides up, bra straps that spend more time off-the-shoulder than on, an armpit-bothering shirt or jacket. Well fitting-clothes are ‘it’. Put them on and forget about them. And it’s always good to know a decent tailor who can alter off-the-peg purchases.

Know Your Style

Confidence comes from knowing what suits your lifestyle, personality and body shape. While I prefer to keep things minimal, chic and gentlewomanly – other women go full-on Advanced Style. I LOVE what the artist and Fabulous Fashionista Sue Kreitzman calls the ‘Old Lady Revolution’. Fashion freedom fighters like Iris Apfel, Linda Rodin and Beatrix Ost styling it out on the streets of New York, not sitting at home in elasticated waist slacks and slippers.

Jumpsuit Joy

Give yourself options

Have a number of go-to outfits lined up for everyday occasions that can be whipped out when you’re in a bit of a rush in the morning. Style is personal – my go-to outfits are the jumpsuit, or a boyfriend jacket or shirt, and jeans with flat shoes or trainers. Yours might be a go-anywhere shirtdress and slingbacks. Having reliable combinations and being more organized helps – I’m no longer throwing things on and hoping for the best, as I did when I was younger.

Carry on experimenting

Style is a work in progress. Even when you have settled on a uniform, of sorts, it’s important to keep experimenting. Trying new silhouettes, items, fabrics, colours – a winning formula could be right around the corner. Be willing to try new things (and lots of them), start with a good base layer  – long sleeve t-shirts and leggings or a flattering pair of jeans – and then you’ll find you can wear all kinds of items over the top:  a shirt dress, an oversized jumper, a looser tunic or blouse.

Making a subtle statement

Bring on the bling

The Advanced Style Brigade celebrate life with equal measures of energy and eye-popping accessories. Their motto: go big or go home. This flamboyant, peacock-style is all about individuality and enjoyment. It might not be everyone’s cup of tea but I think it’s brilliant. A gang of pensioners with a punk rock attitude – you can count me in.

Style tip: if you want to avoid the everything-but-the-kitchen-sink look, try layering a couple of fine necklaces, wear a pared-down outfit with a pair of statement earrings, or go for everyday elegance with a plain, long sleeved t-shirt and a long beaded necklace in the same colour.


This is a sponsored post. Ryvita has teamed up with Alyson Walsh to be part of their Positivity Panel alongside Davina McCall. The panellists were handpicked to help inspire women across the nation to feel confident and happy, whatever their age, through advice, tips and tricks.

Head to to find out more.

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