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?'"

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.

HAIR
"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."

MAKEUP
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.

WARDROBE
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?

¦ "Your little black dress," says Maxwell. Far from plain, she says, the "LBD" is completely versatile. Add a tailored jacket for a business look or rhinestone jewelry for a special night out. ¦ A pair of darker colored jeans. "Today's denim choices are unlimited," says Steffens. "The fabrics, colors, and fits are so advanced that you are guaranteed to find a flattering pair regardless of your size and shape." ¦ Other must-haves? Black slacks and a classic white button-down shirt. "Everybody needs them," says Maxwell. Steffens also recommends a femininely cut solid color suit and quality white T-shirts. And, of course, proper fitting undergarments.

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.