Archive | April 2012

Gold – In or Out of Favour

Psychology of Colour GoldOur usual impressions when thinking of the colour ‘Gold’ are power, richness and abundance. Gold ties were common on men during the prosperous years. Now after the global financial crisis, tie colours are more subdued to reflect thrift and care for each other.

Gold is associated with the sun, the wonderful colours of autumn and deciduous trees and shrubs.

In its association with the sun, gold is related to higher ideals, wisdom and understanding. As a positive energy force it clears and sharpens the mind. In this way gold is said to be excellent for depression.

Gold in clothing is mostly decoration or for evening wear. Springs love sparkly gold; Autumns prefer a burnished or matt gold and Summers and Winters look fabulous in white gold or rose gold.

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Three Steps to Being an Adventurous Shopper

You are out with your girlfriends and it is time for lunch. Where do you go? There are lots of cafes to choose from. Will it be ethnic, organic or the café in the bookshop? In the end, you usually choose the tried and true café where you know what to expect. The lunch is nothing special.

How often do you do something similar when it comes to choosing where to buy your clothes? Back to the tried and true, usually a retail or chain store most of the time. You get clothes that look okay yet you feel that your wardrobe is full and you have nothing that you really want to wear.

It is time to become more adventurous.

Like cafes, there are dress shops everywhere. It is time to play and explore. Most of the advice in magazines is about tried and true classics or they highlight the trend of the season. The slightly different clothes that add excitement and personality to your wardrobe are often found in small, secret places.

Here are my three modern dressing tips for business and professional women over 40 to make your adventurous shopping easier.

Step 1 – Explore Your Local Suburb and the Neighbouring Ones

It is easier, closer and hidden gems are often right under your nose. Remember the feeling of excitement when you found a new coffee shop that had just opened in your local area? It is not long before you go in and taste what they offer. You cannot walk in and out. You have got to stop, have a coffee and cake and then decide if you will return.

So it is with the little dress shops in your neighbourhood. Pick a street or shopping centre to explore. Check out the ads in your local paper and make a list of new shops to visit. Stop at that dress shop you have always driven past because you have pre-judged it by its name or its location. Be daring and ask a well-dressed local where she shops.

Step 2 – Get to Know the Owner or Saleswoman

It is time to face your fear of being talked into something expensive you do not really want. Take a friend if it makes you feel safer.

Go exploring with a goal in mind – either to find a certain item of clothing or to find a new shop that stocks clothes for your work, lifestyle and personality. You are looking for a shop that also gives great service. You are over 40 and old enough to speak plainly. Age has its benefits.

Tell the saleswoman why you are there. A good saleswoman cannot help you if you do not know who you are and what suits you and your whole lifestyle. You want someone who will only suggest small changes to develop your unique style. Walk away from someone who wants you to make a radical change. She has not made a real effort to listen and understand you. If you feel comfortable with this person and you get a gut feeling that you can trust her, you will be more open to suggestions about new styles and colours to try on.

Step 3 – Expect Some Failures

Not every new coffee shop meets your expectations. You move on without feeling guilty. So it will be with exploring new dress shops. There will be some successes and some failures.

You will have to walk away from some shops. Say thank you and then politely tell them why that shop is not for you (be it the clothes or the service). Be a mature adult rather than a scared child afraid to speak your truth.

Staying with the tried and true is doing the same and expecting different results. Being a little more adventurous is about finding a new dress mentor who helps you become a more definable and shining you. Together you both enjoy sharing the adventure.

(Article sent to subscribers of The Fashion Translator eZine’ on 8 April 2010. Click here to sign up for The Fashion Translator eZine.)

Are Plunging Necklines Worth It?

And How to Make It Work For YOU.

Making Plunging Necklines ModestRules are meant to be broken – especially by the young for whom most fashion is created.

Today many young women, and I am including those up to the age of 40, seem to be happy wearing plunging necklines for everyday wear (evening wear is a different topic). What happens if you want to look smart but for whatever reason, you do not feel comfortable wearing a plunging neckline? What do you do?

Here are three modern dressing tips for baby Boomer women so that you do not have to miss out on wearing some lovely modern fashions. These dressing tips can also apply to girls and women of any age who feel that the plunge is not for you.

Wear a Cami or Singlet Top Underneath

If you find a dress or top that plunges past your comfort point, consider buying or wearing a smooth-fitting cami or singlet top underneath. Both of these look smart and you can match, blend or contrast with the colour or pattern to your dress, skirt, pants or jeans. A fitted cami gives you the modesty you want. Make sure that the cami or singlet covers just the top of your bust.  One that ends close to your collar bone looks old-fashioned.

If you prefer a cami to a singlet top, ignore those that have stretch material straps as these do not hold the cami firmly in place. The cami can slip over time and you are back to revealing more of the plunge than you may prefer. This can attract unwanted comments from some men, especially if you are short like me. Yes, I learnt that lesson from experience. Stretch camis with built-in bras are a better alternative. If you want good support, wear a proper bra under these camis. As long as no one will see your bra straps, it does not matter.

I am not a fan of lace-top camis for a professional or business look as I believe they come across as either too casual or too sexual for a professional situation.

Be careful of beige and skin-toned camis or singlet tops as your neckline will still look plunging from a distance. Beige and skin-toned camis are great to wear under normal white tops, blouses or shirts when you do not want your bra to be visible.

Wear a Strapless Cami or Boob Tube Underneath

Some women wear boob tubes or strapless camis under revealing V necklines and low sleeveless underarms. You see the cami at your bustline, under your arms and across your back. Try them to see if you feel comfortable wearing them. If you have to keep hitching them up, do not buy them.

Ignore Plunging Necklines

Sometimes you just have to say – ‘It is lovely but not for me’. Even when you were young you rejected some fashion styles as ‘not you’. Be prepared to reject some plunging neckline styles and go look for something else.

Modest flattering swimwear can often be hard to find. One-piece swimwear and bikinis plunge a lot. Check out one-shouldered designs or swimwear with sheer front inserts that give a veiled glimpse of a plunge rather than an obvious view.

Bonus Tip

Nordstrum Jersey BodyconTry a classy back neckline plunge like this Bodycon dress from Nordstrom for one or more outfits. The depth of the plunge is your choice, depending on whether you are wearing the top or dress in a professional, casual or night-time situation. A plunging back is unusual enough to be stylish, individual and timeless.

Rules are meant to be broken with style by smart women. Good quality camis and singlet tops can be very versatile fashion items. Let your personality shine as you turn plunging necklines into modern business dressing.

(Article sent to subscribers of The Fashion Translator eZine’ on 6 April 2011. Now renamed the ‘Baby Boomer Personal Style’ Ezine, Click here to sign up for your weekly dose of simple tips for the modern Baby Boomer.)

Fashionable Winter Wardrobe for the Everyday Woman

A friend recently sent me the above media query so that I could reply to it and possibly get some free publicity.

In theory this topic seems simple and one that crops up every winter and summer. But is it?

When women’s employment choices were limited not so long ago, a winter wardrobe article was relevant. We dressed more formally and in a limited variety of classic pieces. Times have changed.

Today, women work in all fields and our clothing has become more casual and relatively easy-care. Who is the everyday woman? Is she a corporate worker, a professional, an entrepreneur, a part-time worker or a retired person? Women will dress differently for each occupation and often different for organisations and businesses within those occupations.

What is winter? Depending on where you live, the winter climate is different. Go closer to the Equator and it is warmer. Go towards the Poles and it is colder. Even within these general zones, winter still varies from place to place. Some years winter is almost non-existent and sometimes it is freezing or miserable or both.

Generalised topics like this promise a lot. In the end they only deliver to a few.

What are my wardrobe suggestions and modern dressing tips for business and professional women over 40 for a major change of season like the coming winter?


A major change of season is a good time for a wardrobe de-clutter. Get rid of those clothes that are fading, that are too tight or too loose, whose care is too time-consuming or too expensive and anything you do not really love or wear often. De-cluttering leaves room for the new. Thank them for the wonderful memories they have given you, pack them up and dispose of them as soon as possible. Do not hide them in another wardrobe or cupboard. You are divorcing these clothes not hoping to get back together with them soon.

Go looking for some new clothes. Look for modern classics –something different not a copy of what you already have or have just got rid of. Look for tops with interesting necklines and/or ¾ sleeves, something with texture, a trench coat as a change from formal coats and jackets, skirts or pants that skim your body shape and a new colour or pattern to lift your spirits.


It will be the accessories that make each clothing combination look different. They are the fastest way to lift your spirits and a well-chosen colour, texture or style makes you feel modern and stylish.

Jewellery can be worn all year round. If your spending is limited, a new well-chosen accessory can lift a lot of your outfits and make them feel new again.

Winter is the time to buy a scarf. Choose something to match your personality – an animal print or something elegant, dramatic or feminine. Look for a tartan, wool or faux fur scarf. All three are classic winter styles. Learn new ways to wear your scarf to feel stylish and elegant.   Buy a new pair of shoes that suit your climate or wear boots because you can.

My Secret Tip

Delight yourself. We can all become far too serious and stuck in our ways as we age. Make the change of season an opportunity to re-create yourself a little or a lot. A new hairstyle, a new handbag, a fashion personality consultation, some personal training, a massage, a facial or go exploring internet sites like or that new shop you keep promising to enter one day.

Fashionable winter wardrobe for the everyday woman – NO!!!

Update winter wardrobe for a special woman – YES!!! That woman is the one and only you.

Go now and find clothes and accessories that bring out more of your personality and make you shine.

(Article sent to subscribers of The Fashion Translator eZine’ on 19 April 2012. Click here to sign up for The Fashion Translator eZine.)

Medium Rise Jeans – What Was I Thinking!

I am in the change room of the jeans shop. They look good these medium-rise jeans. They are three-quarter length and give my legs a slim shape. As I am 150 cm or 5 foot tall, I can wear them as full-length jeans. Fantastic – I do not have to take them up. There is only a small muffin shape at my hips. No problem – my tops will cover that. The jeans do not hide all my vertical caesarian scar but my tops should easily cover that challenge. Price is right. I bought two pairs. Feeling pleased with myself as they are just perfect for the holiday we planned.

Thought I was on to a winner here – something trendy I could share with my clients.

Alas! What was I thinking!

Now the reality when my vanity lost the fight.

I forgot. Denim gets softer and looser with use and wear. The medium-rise jeans slip down at the front but not at the back. Why do they stay firm over my bottom but not over my tummy? As the jeans fall down in the front, my tops do not cover the gap and my scar shows. I am constantly pulling up the jeans and pulling down my tops. I am waiting for my husband to ask – why are you always hitching up those jeans?  – or maybe something worse.

I also forgot that the smooth fitting tops I wear over my jeans ride up as I walk. So now there is even more tummy and scar exposed every time I move. I need a belt.

These medium-rise jeans that fit snugly over my bottom and back when standing, gape at the back when I sit down. It is okay if the back of the chair is covered but not good if it is not. Suddenly my tops do not cover this bare skin at the back. I bought these jeans for a holiday in a cold climate. I am getting colder that I thought in unexpected body parts. One good point – I am not exposing my g-string because I do not wear one. Well only on special occasions which I will not explain here.

Lastly, there was my pride in my tiny muffin top. That has now gone. Standing in the change room, I forgot that life involves a lot of sitting down. Where did that new muffin top come from? Every time I sit down, I see and feel not a tiny but a big muffin top. Oops! Vanity has disappeared. Meanwhile, every time I sit down, the denim stretches and the jeans fall down even more when I stand up. I am doing Groundhog Day with the same problems over and over again.

What was I thinking when I bought those medium-rise jeans!

Okay. I still love the jeans. Maybe I will buy a belt but I am not sure that will work. What if I buy some men’s braces to hold them up? No! Individuality is one thing. Looking just plain silly is another.

The things I do to teach others.

My modern dressing tip for women over 40 – If there is a seat or bench in the change room, use it to test out any hipster clothes before you buy.

You have been warned.

(Article sent to subscribers of The Fashion Translator eZine’ on 6 April 2010. Click here to sign up for The Fashion Translator eZine.)

Does My Tummy Look Big in This?

‘Are you pregnant?’No, that’s just my expanding tummy.’

Oh dear! Where did that trim figure of your younger days go? Probably hidden under layers of the good life – chocolate, good food, alcohol, working too hard, stress, age and anything else you can come up with.

Yes, exercise, strength training and less food will all decrease your tummy or size. In the meantime, here are some smart modern dressing tips for business women over 40 to minimise or flatten your tummy and look slimmer.

Go Diagonal or Uneven

While vertical lines are slimming, diagonal lines are your smartest dressing tip. Diagonals – either in the pattern or the design shape – go across your body at an angle so your tummy appears less noticeable. Skinny or medium-sized diagonal patterned fabrics are best. Softly merging diagonal colours give the effect without being obvious. Crossover tops, jackets and dresses are a very modern way to add slimming diagonal lines.

Ruching across the tummy, gathers at the side seams, lots of vertical pintucks or angled or uneven hems at the bottom of tops or jackets all break up the horizontal line across your tummy. All of these features give the impression that your tummy looks smaller than it is.

Wear Flat-front Pants and Skirts

This style of pants or skirt means that the eyes have nothing to stop and focus on. Flat-front pants with no pockets encourage people to look down the line of your body rather than across it. Add a centre back zip rather than a front or side zip and you have another smart dressing tip to disguise your tummy.

Look for a flat front skirt with a bit of stretch in it for comfort and no centre or front seams or pockets. Other people do not notice your tummy as much when you wear styles like this. If you like pleats, have them start from the hips not the waist.

Both these styles are more effective in darker colours or subtle pin stripes.

Leave Only a Small Space in Your Middle for People to Look At

Your tummy cannot look big if people cannot see all of it. Wear a cardigan with the buttons undone below your waist. This creates a small A shape that draws attention upward away from your tummy. Undo the top button or two if you like, to draw attention even further upward.

Wear a soft top or jacket that has no buttons or if it has buttons, undo them so only a small vertical section of your dress, blouse or cami shows down the middle of your body. Viola! Tummy shrunk. Add a belt under a cardigan or jacket and people will see only the belt or the whole outfit not your tummy. Belts are a sign of confidence and women usually assume that a woman wearing a belt has a small waist and a flat tummy, even if they cannot see the entire belt.

If all else fails, wear shapewear especially shapewear that go higher than your waist and cover your midriff. A slim midriff makes your bust look larger and your tummy look smaller.

Remember that most business women over 40 are too busy thinking about their own body faults to actually notice the size of your tummy. These hints are only to help you feel good about yourself.

(Article sent to subscribers of The Fashion Translator eZine’ on 24 March 2011. Click here to sign up for The Fashion Translator eZine.)

A Smart Male’s Perspective on the LBD

Smart male's perspective on the LBDAt a networking event this morning, a male gave me a compliment on my appearance. He not only said I looked lovely but added a short explanation as to why, what I was wearing was very effective. I replied with a simple ‘thank you’. A minute or two later, I realised that I had been given a wonderful insight that I would now like to share with you.

I was wearing the LBD – the little black dress.

LBD – from a Woman’s Perspective Every woman knows that the little black dress is our fall-back option for any business networking event, conducting business and for formal and semi-formal occasions. The theory is that ‘you can’t go wrong wearing a black dress’. We are taught from an early age that black will suit every women (more on that later). Black is often our safe choice when we can’t find anything to buy in a colour that we like and that suits us. As a result, we wear the little black dress and think nothing more of it.

LBD – from Paul’s Perspective Paul is very smart. He has learnt from his daughters a secret benefit of wearing the little black dress. Paul is in marketing. This may have helped him remember what his daughters told him. Either way, it’s now your secret.

The LBDPaul complemented me on wearing a simple, modern classic style black dress and commented that because nothing stood out on it, his attention was immediately drawn up to my face where I had added colour. I was wearing a simple dramatic necklace in colours that complimented my hair colours and thus, drew attention to my face (as in this Mc Calls pattern 5890 on the right).

Smart Dressing Tips to Make the LBD work for You

Here are four modern dressing tips for business women over 40 to make you shine in your little black dress.

The first tip is to choose black or a colour close to an all-black colour. A solid black dress is not the most flattering colour for every woman. It can be harsh and draining on many women, especially as you age and your skin colour lightens. There are alternatives. Grape which is a black/purple, rich dark chocolate brown, red/black, dark deep grey, french navy which is a black/navy, dark green or a dark teal green are colours that may be more flattering for you. These colours are not always easy to find but when you do notice one, try it on.

The second tip is to choose a simple, modern classic style that suits your body shape and personality and that leaves some skin space below your neckline. You want your face to shine rather than be drained by a very dark colour.

The third tip is to choose your little black or dark dress in a matt fabric and with minimum distractions. Pleats, frills, lace, buttons etc take attention away from your face.

Lastly, add an accessory (necklace, scarf, brooch, flower or earrings) large enough to draw attention to your face. A fine gold or silver chain won’t do the job. Black or any of the dark colours above are a perfect neutral background to add a light or bright colour to give a medium or high contrast effect that draws people and compliments to you. Wear something in one or a combination of your best eye, hair or skin colours and you will shine and stand out from all those other women in their boring LBDs.

Final Words

Paul was smart enough to not only say ‘you look lovely’ but also to add an explanation. Those types of compliments are the best ones to either give or receive. They are a personal acknowledgment of the other person’s strengths and pride in themselves. Listen carefully to those compliments because it is more enjoyable to develop your strengths than be deflated by criticism.

Thank you Paul and Paul’s daughters. Wisdom does not always come at an older age.

We can all shine. You must want to do it and then seek those who can teach it to you.

(Article sent to subscribers of The Fashion Translator eZine’ on 5 April 2012. Click here to sign up for The Fashion Translator eZine.)