Following on from last week’s introduction to the ‘My Style over 50’ series, Style and Confidence Coach Julia Rees is the first of our stylish readers to share her personal style story – and her tips to look and feel fabulous over 50!
I am a Style & Confidence (Life) Coach and I am passionate about helping women transform their personal and professional lives by (re)discovering their style, confidence and inner beauty so that they can become the best version of themselves, tap into their true potential and live their lives fully.
I grew up in Liverpool, England before moving to Cambridge where I studied Pathology. I moved to France in 1993 and retrained as a secondary school teacher, before becoming a Personal Stylist in 2016.
I took an online life coaching course during the Covid confinement so I could add more value to my services, and I am now a Style & Confidence Coach.
I have been through many of the life changes that women commonly face: I have had two children (and I wasn’t one of the women whose body bounces back to its pre-pregnancy state a mere 6 weeks after giving birth), I have moved my life to another country (and one where I didn’t speak the language to begin with) and I have suffered my own share of health and confidence issues.
I have also changed careers with the corresponding need for a change in image from pathology student to Finance Director to High School teacher and finally to Style & Confidence coach.
I believe that all these life events have led me to an understanding of the problems we all face at various stages in our life and I have developed a six step process to help women find their style, confidence and inner beauty so that they can look and feel their best every day and live their lives to their highest potential.
My unique approach to Styling means that I don’t just tell you what you should be wearing, but I give you the tools to discover your own unique personal style, and the process to change the way you look and feel FOREVER!
“I’ve learned ‘how to’ find my style and my confidence and now I want to help other women confidently step into their new style, and see the woman they always knew themselves to be when they look in the mirror……. forever! I’ve been where you are! I understand your struggles as I’ve had them myself and I know my step by step process works.”
How would you describe your style?
I think I would describe my style as classic with a twist or a hint of fun, as I would say that about 80%of my wardrobe comprises timeless, classic pieces but I love to integrate new trends into my look.
The key advantage of having a wardrobe that is made up of predominantly timeless, classic pieces is that it’s really easy to combine them in lots of ways to create outfits.
When your wardrobe is predominantly made up of fashion trends you can end up with a lot of disjointed pieces that then makes it very difficult to create cohesive outfits.
What are the favourite items in your wardrobe and why?
I have so many pieces in my wardrobe that I love, but I think that overall it would be my “collection” of pencil skirts. I have a lot of skirts in this shape in different colours and fabrics, and the reason I love these items is because this form really flatters my body type.
Which items do you wear the most?
I like so many different looks and I love to mix things up a bit depending on my mood – although I do have a disproportionate number of black dresses and pencil skirts in my closet!
I think these are also the items that I wear the most as they are so versatile and easy to transition from a day to night look.
What item have you had the longest- do you still wear it?
I definitely have a dress that I’ve had for at least 8 years, because there is a photo of me in 2012 wearing it, and yes, I do still wear it! Another advantage of buying classic silhouettes is that they never go out of fashion.
What was your most recent purchase – why did you choose it?
My most recent purchase was this sequin jacket (see photo), and I purchased it as I loved the colours and I’ve always wanted to try a sequin jacket.
However, I’ve always wondered whether I would get enough wear out of one to make it a worthwhile investment, so when I saw this one in the sale I jumped at it, and I have actually got a lot of use from it already, as it’s very elegant for an evening look with a dress, but it also really dresses up a pair of jeans for a chic daytime look! So, I definitely don’t regret my purchase.
Heels or flats?
Mostly heels, although I will wear flats if I’m spending the entire day walking (exploring a new place or for a full days shopping experience).
Have you had any recent style disasters?
I’ve had my share of style disasters in the past, but I can honestly say I haven’t had any recent ones (at least not that I’m aware of !)
Do you mostly shop in store or online?
In store – I like to try on as sizing can be so variable, even within the same brand. Also, I really like to touch the fabric as I’m quite fussy about quality and I don’t think you can really tell by looking at a publicity photo.
However, I will buy online from brands I know, where I’m sure of the quality and I know that they accept returns. I will also buy items online that I’ve already tried on so I know they fit and flatter me and that I love the fabric (for example, when I’ve already tried a piece on but wait for the sales to purchase it, then I will be online at the sales start time!)
What are your favourite brands/shops and why?
I think that after over a quarter of a century in France, I have adopted a more French Style, and most of the brands I now love are French brands (some of which are available in the UK and/or online).
My favourite brands and shops are Sezane, Sessun, Suncoo, Rouje and Sandro, as they have so many pieces that I feel suit my style personality and which reflect the French “effortless chic” style.
Whilst we can’t and shouldn’t “copy” anyone’s style, there are some tips and tricks we can learn to get the effortless, understated elegance that the French are renowned for, and I offer free webinars for “How to get effortless French chic” and “How to dress like a Parisian”, and you can find out more about these in my Facebook group.
How has your style changed since turning 50? (if it has! ?)
Yes and No! I do not believe in the so-called “age-appropriate” dressing, and “silly” rules about skirt length and hair cuts!
But, I DO believe in 5 basic style pillars, which are
- dressing for your body shape
- wearing colours that flatter you (and knowing how to adapt your make-up and accessories if you want to wear colours that don’t flatter you)
- dressing to match your “style personality”
- dressing in accordance with your lifestyle , and
- dressing appropriately for the situation.
I believe if you apply these principles at any stage of your life, you will always be chic, elegant and appropriately dressed.
As your body shape, coloring and lifestyle may change over 50 then if you follow the above principles your style would change in accordance.
For example, I believe my legs to be one of my assets, and so I will happily wear shorts and/ or short skirts on holiday, but I would not wear them in a business situation, where I think a longer length skirt would be more appropriate.
Another important factor is not so much what you wear but how you wear it. An example here would be the case of distressed denim, which could be considered inappropriate for the over 50s. I would definitely not wear distressed denim with a crop top (or even a slouchy jumper), but I believe it looks fabulous with a crisp white top and a structured blazer.
Do you regularly ‘cull’ your wardrobe or are you a hoarder?
Both ! I do regularly “cull” my wardrobe, and I do try everything on but most of it ends up going back in! I guess that’s the disadvantage of buying timeless, classics!
Sometimes, I remove items that I’m not sure about and put them in a “time capsule”.
If I go to look for them and wear them within 6 months, then I keep them! But, if I don’t then I will get rid of them! Unfortunately, I DO usually end up going to “rescue” them!
Who have been the biggest style influencers in your life?
A number of factors influence my outfit choices, as I love to get ideas from other style blogs as well as taking account of street-style.
I’m not sure if it’s since I started blogging or took the personal stylist course, but I find I’m constantly noticing what other people are wearing. Sometimes, I take a mental photograph to try and find something later! Of course, I also love reading style magazines and wandering around the stores. (the latter activity usually comes at a cost!)
But, I think the biggest influences on my outfit choices are my mood and my daughters’ opinion! Having two daughters in their twenties is like having an inner critic, and I trust and value their judgment (even if I occasionally ignore it!)
Has your style changed as a result of lockdown?
Well, I guess it’s the first time that pyjama bottoms have been considered appropriate workwear!
But, joking aside, I would say not really! I try to make the effort to dress “well” each day as I believe that when you make the effort to look good, you feel good, and when you feel good, that’s when the magic happens.
That’s not to say I haven’t spent the occasional day in slouchy clothes, but I can honestly say that I am sure I am less productive on these days.
Do you have any style icons?
Not really ! That doesn’t mean I don’t look at what celebrities are wearing but I tend to be more influenced by outfits I like rather than following specific people.
I then analyse what all these outfits have in common, so I can get more awareness about what I like and what I don’t like to develop my “signature” style.
What 3 style tips would you share with other women over 50?
1 Wear what makes you happy and what makes you feel good.
I think the most important advice for women over 50 (or any age) is to wear what you love and feel good in, and don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone.
What you wear sends a powerful signal to yourself about how you perceive your self-worth and directly impacts your confidence, your interaction with others and your esteem.
When you make the effort to dress your best, and show your body it is valued and respected, you will feel good about yourself, your confidence will soar and the ripple-effect will impact every aspect of your life.
We’ve all had days when we feel a bit down or depressed, so we throw on a baggy jumper and sweatpants, and then we catch a glimpse of ourselves in the mirror and we feel even more depressed, so we nestle down in front of the TV with our two favourite guys ‘Ben’ and ‘Jerry’, and the cycle self perpetuates.
It’s like the ‘chicken and egg’ scenario: because you don’t feel good, you don’t take care of yourself and make an effort to look good and yet not looking good affects how you feel about yourself.
I encourage you to do the exact opposite when you feel a bit down. Put on your favorite outfit – the one that shows your curves to their best advantage and that wouldn’t make you hide behind the couch and pretend to be out when someone rings the doorbell!
When you make the effort to look good, you feel good and that encourages you to step out of your comfort zone and that’s where the magic happens
Make a vow to yourself to wear something every day that boosts your confidence!
2 Don’t wear anything that doesn’t fit or flatter you.
I think that many women don’t know and dress for their body type. They want to stay in fashion and wear the latest trends, but many of these trends just don’t work for them!
I’m convinced that when you have mastered the art of dressing for your body type, getting dressed in the morning will be just that much easier, and this is why I offer a “how to dress for your body type” coaching program, as I think that many women overlook this and a few simple tweaks can instantly elevate your style.
If you’re uncomfortable and worrying about what you are wearing it’s probably not the best choice for you!
3 Adopt a 80/ 20 rule between timeless classics, and fashion trends.
If you love it, buy it BUT don’t rush into adopting a new trend if it doesn’t work for you (i.e. suit your body shape and coloring) and pair any new trends with trusted favorites to make sure you keep your personal style.
Invest (splurge) on classic, timeless pieces and have fun (steal) with new trends, and make sure that whatever you choose flatters your body shape (highlights what you love and hides what you don’t)
Lastly, have fun. We are so lucky to be over 50 at a time when there are so many fashion trends out there and such a great source of inspiration from all my fellow mid-life bloggers!
My mantra is “Look Good, Feel Good, Live your best life “
How you can find Julia
Instagram: @ julia.rees_
Facebook: @Style, confidence and travel with julia
Linked’In : Julia Rees
Website : https://www.stylewithjulia.com