Jackie Burger, elle magazinedb8495db2eaeb6e559
Jackie Burger, Elle magazine editor at large. Photo; Woman & Home

I hate all those style rules. That’s what I told the Telegraph when they asked me for advice on ‘navigating fashion through the menopause.’ Style is an individual thing. It’s not about dressing your age, it’s about dressing for your body shape. And being comfortable. Yes, body shape changes around the menopause – mine has, I have that ring of flab around the middle and so I’ve adapted, a bit (basically I’m less inclined to wear a figure-hugging t-shirt) but there’s no one-size-fits-all just because you’re older.

So, as part of my research, I Googled ‘menopause style’ and whoosh, up came a screen full of images of women wearing pastel clothes:

Dear Advertisers, that’s not how my menopausal friends look…

Photo: Express

I prefer Christa D’Souza’s approach, like most of my pals, the journalist and author of The Hot Topic, is wearing what she’s always worn. For 56-year-old D’Souza, that means strappy heels and mini dresses, sleeveless tops, denim skirts, platform ankle boots and blonde balayage hair. Meanwhile, I’m sticking to my uniform of jeans, flat sandals and a Lovely Blue Shirt.

christa-da souza
Christa D’Souza photo: get the Gloss

Obviously, during a full-on Hot Flush Fest – and I do find mine come in phases – adapting what you’re wearing makes sense. Small tweaks here and there improve comfort. I’m not going to wear that polyester top from COS or heavy cotton drill boiler suit because I’m feeling FLUSHED, and I’ll be boiling. Tops that are open around the neck, layers that are easy to remove, looser styles, natural fabrics like cotton, silk and linen all get a mention in the Telegraph advertorial piece; as do chandelier earrings over a sweat-inducing statement necklace. But then, I wear them anyway. It’s down to individual choice and what works for you. Try to stay calm and not freak out during a flush; as my friend Amelia Bullmore says, ‘An opportunistic hot flush can piggy-back a moment of embarrassment.’ I’ve also invested in a new duvet from The Wool Room that helps keep me cool and calm, all night long. Brilliant.

I liked Christa D’Souza’s book The Hot Topic – a life-changing look at the change of life, it’s honest, informative and funny. She reckons that we smell a certain way during menopause, ‘You could almost call it a pathology, the ability I have to smell smells seemingly unsmellable to the average human nose… If I were a dog I’d almost certainly have a coat on my back and be employed in an airport.’ Going on to say…’Correct me if I’m wrong, but wouldn’t an unhappy vagina* and increased propensity to sweat automatically have an impact on the way you smell?’ It’s full of interesting research on the menopause – including a visit to a San Franciscan convent to meet some menopausal nuns. The Sisters of Perpetual Adoration who have synchronised hot flushes. Imagine that.

*D’Souza is referring to dryness caused by falling oestrogen levels

Ultimately, wear what makes you look and feel good. Here are some clothes that I like. And yes, I know some of the models are pubescent – I didn’t choose them – something else to discuss with the advertisers:






35 thoughts on “Hot Flush Fashion – are we supposed to dress a certain way during menopause?

  1. All these cloths are suitable for casual wear. I would tend to wear tighter fitting clothing (not tarty) as I just don’t feel feminine in this sort off clothing so I am in a pickle. Aged 53yrs.

  2. Layers! After ten years I still keep pulling cardigans and jackets on and off. At least I can now wear polo necks in the cold (my neck gets cold nowadays).

  3. Going through round two with post breast cancer hormone treatment and agree natural fibres and layers are doing the trick (looser shapes only due to menopausal/treatment weight gain) . One problem with layers – is what do you do with the removed layer? A crumpled wrap? A cardigan?
    I now also have a collection of fans for extra hot flushes. Was a bit shy to use at first but now whisk a fan out when needed – bliss.

  4. I have been using hand fans for years – they are quite an accessory if you coordinate with your outfit. I bought three of them some years ago when on holiday in Majorca from a little shop in Soller. I am desperate to get replacements, but can’t seem to track the shop down now. They weren’t cheap, are made of Pearwood and I bought a black one (now wrecked!), a tan one and an ivory one. There is a website called Spanish Plates and fans, but am a bit reluctant to buy from it, not sure about security.

    1. Muji sell hand fans, Hilary. I’m sure they’re not as special as your Mallorcan purchase but they are plain and simple and do the job!

    2. You can also get amazing fans (think feather and burlesque ) from vintage shops and those that sell repro vintage – my fave came from What Katie Did a few years ago. scarlet feathers and black er fan bits. Cool, stylish and drop dead glam – mind I did leave a trail of feathers wherever I went…much to my amusement

  5. Great selection of outfit choices, your blue shirts are lovely.
    I think this whole issue is manufactured by magazines and doesn’t make any sense to me . After all everyone has to cope with fluctuating body temperatures when in a hot country , and I don’t see anything special in menopausally induced heat changes.
    My mother never complained during menopause though she was phenomenally ratty at times and I do think the current way of dwelling on these things is unnecessary in the scheme of things.

    1. While I was able to control my emotions and not tear anyone’s throat out (unlike a former co-worker), I could not control the wild temperature swings. The nights are the worst, and I have been going through this for fifteen years, although it has been lessening. At their worst, I could not have stood up to find an open window. The heat and weakness were overwhelming, but it would eventually pass. It did make my cats happy, little heat seeking missiles that they were. Each of us has a different story.

    2. Menopausal flushes are different to coping with fluctuating body temperatures in a hot country. You dress appropriately to cope with the ambient temperature, then suddenly may feel claustrophobic, nauseous, faint, dizzy, from inside a volcano of heat starts to surge through you and your body goes into overdrive to cope, flushing and sweating. You may become breathless and shaky. The heat is over and above the ambient temperature, then it passes and your body has over worked on the cooling and you feel cold and shivery, tired, clammy. Gradually you adjust – then it starts again- every day, every night. It is not like normal ‘feeling hot’. It is more like ‘flu. Hot flushes may not have ever affected you personally, but that does not mean that they do not exist and affect many women, who can benefit from open discussion and advice about them.

      1. Wow, Lynn, I could not have explained this better myself. It’s almost a comfort to find someone putting my own experience into words that way. My immediate thoughts on Zanna’s comments were that either Zanna had not reached menopause yet or she was having a very easy time of it/suffering other symptoms instead.

  6. Great post – thank you! I for one do not identify with the stereotypical ‘mature woman’ images in advertising. Always on my radar but now front and centre as a style role model is fashion designer Norma Kamali – ageless lay cool at 71!

  7. I agree with Zanna , far too much fuss about a natural time in ones life . I remember a scarf was handy & easily unwrapped when necessary . ( I’m not one for pastel colours but I think those three ladies look quite nice really )

  8. My answer to hot flushes are shawls. They can come off in a split second and I can tie them to my hand bag in order to get them off my hands. They keep me warm in our cool Scandinavian evenings and on flights. They are lovely for colour as well and be used to dress up or down any outfit. They can even be used for cover up at the beach. To sum up:: I love my shawls. All 50 of them.

  9. This is what I’ve experienced, specific to menopause…

    I had to stop wearing turtlenecks in my late 40’s.
    I also had trouble wearing synthetic fabrics next to my skin… especially for sleepwear.
    And I gained weight. After making some changes to drop some extra pounds with relative ease, I accept that I still cannot be slender without deprivation. So I’m one size up in my 50’s compared to my 30’s and early 40’s.

    The idea of rules for menopausal dressing is a bit odd.

  10. The clothes picks are really really nice. You have my sympathy though Alyson…. I know that ” he who pays the piper calls the tunes ” but who on earth thought “navigating style through the menopause ” was a serious use of a proper journalist or even a real topic . As if we are totally defined by our hormone levels. What next, how to style your period? It’s hard to imagine a more patronising subject. Ladies, know your limits! FFS .

  11. Pastels. Good grief.
    I ditto whomever it was that said they needed to dress in natural fabrics––I do as well because I live most of the year in a hot climate. However, I wear whatever I want and haven’t been arrested or ticketed so I assume it’s okay for my menopausal years. I don’t have hot flashes (never did), but someone told me I don’t because I’m vegetarian––whatever.
    Side note: my ninety-year-old mom wears bright pinks and any pattern she can find––as she always has––and that color and those patterns don’t seem to have affected her menopausal years either.
    The rules people come up with…

  12. The chief effect of menopause on my clothing choices is that I have not worn anything made out of wool (even though I live in a climate with clear seasons) since perimenopause started.

  13. Being comfortable is now at the absolute top of my list when I get dressed. Jeans, shirts, sandals in summer, jeans, boots, jumpers in winter. Nothing too heavy – H&M is perfect because they do not do “feminine” and are much more free-for-all. Fans, yes. Having said that, I managed to leave every one of mine (and I have six) at home when I went on holiday to northern Spain recently. Mistake. Those ads…so patronising, so determined to make us good and pretty even as we age. Combined with the phrase “skim your curves” and it is enough to bring on a hot flush with accompanying bursts of fury. Oh, and doing Zumba with a dodgy pelvic floor but being able to carry on (laughing) because of Tena Lady. Please don’t start me…off to drink tea in the garden and read Joan Didion.

  14. I consciously layer more, and avoid high necklines, chose crisp outlines and avoid the aging hippy draped drooping ethnic look. I never wear pastel colours, loden green or beige, despite fading hair and skin colour I don’t want to conveniently fade into the background. Oddly, I find that fit and flare dresses which emphasise my small waist somehow look too girlish and young, as do many floral prints. I keep a bottle of water handy as drinking water during a hot flush does seem to help, as does a cool wet wipe or flannel on the back of the neck.

  15. I hit 54 and had two heart attacks. That overshadowed my menopause and now at 58 I think I might be through it? Apparently as soon as my oestrogen plummeted my arteries decided to go on strike! Nonetheless, despite buckets of medication that make me COLD all the time I am enjoying my silver streaked hair and wearing more casual clothing on a daily basis. I agree that H&M are terrific for great basics and I take more care of my dehydrating skin and nails and use fab accessories more than I ever used to. I wear more neutral clothing (no patterns or prints) but add glorious touches with ‘out there’ jewellery, huge scarves and the best (comfortable) shoes that I can afford. I am actually having fun being ‘a certain age’.

  16. I agree with Wendy, way to much fuss about a natural time in our lives. I really don’t pay attention to hot flashes, they happen I move on. Strangely enough, when I started a hot yoga practice hot flashes became less intense and frequent. I generally don’t wear pastels but I also agree with Wendy, the ” pastel ladies” look quite lovely. What I love about 57 is that I can embrace and not fight with the simple style that has always felt comfortable. I was in the mall the other day and a sales associate commented on how simplicity in dress actually stands out more and is very refreshing. Leonardo di Vinci put it perfectly “Simplicity is the ultimate form of sophistication”.

  17. As far as I can see, the only rule is that there are no rules. Each one of us is different and will experience the menopause in a different way, just as we experienced the menarche and menstruation differently, too. I am now on my second summer and really do believe that hot flushes + heat wave = some kind of cosmic joke, but other than that I am feeling fairly relaxed about this latest ride on the hormonal rollercoaster.
    Why not wear dove grey and whisper pink, if that’s what suits you? One factor which may govern choice of clothing colours is the deep burning red that some of us go during a hot flush – definitely not conducive to wearing bright “hot” colours or even that pink-to-red paisley top shown above. The blues, whites and khakis are great, though, particularly if your menopause coincides with the sense of wish to pare back, simplify and introduce an air of grace and control to counter your body’s haywire tendencies at this time.

  18. I was perimenopausal in my mid 30’s and done with the whole shebang by 44 according to the bloodwork by gynae did. So yea, not quite ready for a nice pastel muumuu. I actually feel healthier than ever, lost 30lbs and walk/run five miles every day. With age has come common sense so my diet is now so much healthier than it has ever been which in turn has benefited my physical shape, my skin and hair and general well-being. I still have hot flashes but dont really think anything of it, they pass, it’s no big deal. Like some of the other ladies have said there seems to be a little too much fuss made over the whole thing.

  19. Besides all the things already mentioned, I find I need vents. I never tuck shirts in anymore because I need an air gap around my middle, and I rarely wear actual socks because I need another gap at the end of my trousers or jeans. Collars are for winter only so my neck will stay cool. As for fans, I bought some cheap hand fans at a Chinese grocery store and I have them strategically placed in my house and handbag.

  20. Menopause dressing = coming home from whereever I am. Taking my bra and panties off. Throwing a sleeveless and lightweight maxi dress on my hot body. It also means relying on my J. Crew schoolboy blazers as “winter coats” and taking them off while driving. T-shirts under those blazers. No socks or panty hose. Not now. Not ever. Never! Jeans only in winter or when it is very cold out or when I don’t shave my legs for a while. But–when I do wear jeans I go commando.
    Enjoying the beaches in France so I can frolic in the sand and water topless!
    Going to the supermarket and spending a lot of time in the frozen foods department opening and closing doors.

  21. I must have missed all this hot stuff. I am always COLD. I would love to feel warm sometimes! Does ANYONE else feel cold???

    1. Maudie, have you had your thyroid function checked? A constant feeling of coldness can be one of the giveaway symptoms of low thyroid function, alongside weight gain, dry skin and hair, hair loss, lowered libido and menstrual disruption.

  22. Some women seem to get by with warm flashes while others get hot. I get hot flashes – but I do find that relaxing into it all does help. I take DHEA and use estriol cream and progesterone cream. I learned only recently that nausea during menopause can sometimes be from low progesterone -and for me, it seems to be correct as I was continually feeling that way until I started using more progesterone cream daily.

    Regarding how to dress for the ups and downs of temperature – I agree with natural fibers and slightly looser fits. And if you can manage it, depending on your support needs, go for cotton blend bras or bralettes.

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