Turning 40 is a milestone that women typically face with some apprehension. "As the adage goes, age is a state of mind," says Leah Steffens, owner of Impact Image Consulting in Medford. "However, after 40, it seems to also be a state of transition, confusion, and well, let's face it, identity crisis. You may be wondering 'How will I know when my appearance is screaming, I'm not ready to get older' or 'I give up?'"
Well, let's start at the top.
Black is a recommended staple in any woman's wardrobe. It's slimming and it goes with anything, right? But sometimes, cautions Leah Steffens of Impact Image Consulting, it's not as forgiving as we think. "Women love black all over. Women over 40 tend to start wearing all black thinking it will make them look thin," observes Steffens. "And it can… but not from head to toe."
Part of the difficulty is that not all blacks are created equal. It can have different tones ranging from greens to grays to yellows, so often it is difficult to "match" our blacks. The cleaning process will also fade blacks in natural fibers making them look dull.
The real challenge to black is the effect it has on our skin. Black absorbs light. What does this mean for women's complexions?
"There's no light reflection to bounce on their face and give them that youthful glow," says Steffens.
She recommends choosing brighter, light colors around your face, whether in the top over your black pants or as the accent scarf with your little black dress. You'll look and feel better for it.
"Long gone are the days of you-turn-40-you've-got-to-cut-your-hair-off," says Gail Meyer, co-owner of Beauty Biz in Phoenix. "Forty is not what it used to be." But grey hairs and changing texture are becoming a reality. Keeping in mind that hair color should always complement your skin tone, what color is best? "Usually going a little bit lighter (than your natural color) is what looks most natural," advises Meyer. "The darker colors are kind of harsh against aging skin."
She recommends accent highlights for a multi-tonal effect to minimize the "regrowth" appearance. As far as style, says Steffens, "getting a fresh cut, an edgier cut, can take years off your face."
When it comes to makeup, "after 40, less is more," says Steffens. "It's more about skin care."
"I recommend that women keep a more natural look," says Meyer. "Mineral makeups are wonderful for that. It doesn't look like you're trying to hide something. It just looks like you have great skin."
Keep eye shadow colors lighter to keep your eyes from looking tired, Meyer reminds, and "don't cake on that black mascara." Lastly, both Meyer and Steffens agree, is to avoid glittery makeup. "It's for toddler beauty pageants and teenage girls," says Steffens.
Some wardrobe choices should be left to younger women, too, says Steffens. "Ladies, there is (or was) a time and a place for minis and tube tops, but let me just say, that time has probably long passed us by." Amy Maxwell, owner of LaStrada and Papillon Rouge boutiques in Medford, agrees that there often is a question of appropriateness. "You've got to dress for who you are."
"It does not take a lot of clothes to have a full wardrobe," says Steffens. Maxwell suggests that every woman see her wardrobe as an investment. "Buy quality," she says, "not quantity," for a wardrobe that will carry you through any occasion. Where to begin?
Then add scarves, rings, handbags, shoes, jewelry, eyeglasses and key color pieces for your own individual touch of style. "Accessories are the frosting," says Maxwell, and they provide a great way to add individual style or a trendy edge to any look without a major purchase.
The real key, says Maxwell, is confidence. "A lot of women can wear anything," she says, "if they look confident." Knowing the styles that suit your body type, getting the proper fit and feeling good with your choices will all give you that air of confident beauty. It's time to flaunt that you're 40.