By Lynda Wallas

Advice from a Personal Stylist

Sally MacKinnon is a personal stylist and wardrobe consultant here in Melbourne. I interviewed her to get some styling makeover tips for women of menopause age.

Lynda: If there was one piece of styling advice you could give to all women around the age of 50, what would that be?
Sally: Choose clothing that you love and feel fabulous in. Dress for your assets – don’t get too bogged down in what you don’t like about your body, instead accentuate what you do like. Long legs, pert bum, great boobs, sexy décolletage, toned arms, slim ankles… drawing the attention to the parts of your body you’re most comfortable with will immediately distract the eye from any not-so-good bits.

Lynda: What are the core staples that you would hope to find in our wardrobes?
Sally: A great jacket or coat, a fabulous fitting pair of jeans and a beautiful handbag.

Lynda: How do you think we can and should be utilising the season’s trends at this age?
Sally: When deciphering the season’s trends, it’s still about choosing pieces that suit you and suit your body shape. If a trend compliments the pieces already in your wardrobe, is your favourite colour or doesn’t show too much skin, by all means give it a go. But don’t invest too much money in trends – instead invest in classic pieces that will see you through many seasons to come – and use trends to update your style season to season.

Lynda: What are 3 items of clothing that become ‘no, not ever’ at our transition age?
Sally: A mini skirt, leggings and strapless dresses.

(Lynda: hmmm, leggings are a no, really? I’m not sure I agree with that entirely. I think they are very useful with tunic tops, and a cropped legging with a tunic makes a great summer outfit if you no longer want to expose your legs. I do understand however, that seeing ‘too much’ of the leggings…. and the outlines that they can show, if you know what I mean…. is a definite no!)

Lynda: How do you assess which colours best suit a mature women, and should she still wear bright colours if that’s what makes her happy.
Sally: The most important thing with colour is to ensure the colour you wear closest to your face contrasts with your skin tone. Too little contrast will make your skin appear dull and washed out, whereas too high contrast will drain the colour from your face. You CAN wear every colour; it’s about choosing the shade of a colour that works for you. For example, choose a red that balances your skin tone. This might be a blue-based, deep red rather than a bright, fire engine red. And remember that black becomes less complimentary worn close to the face as we age.

Lynda: The word ‘classic’ makes me think of twinsets and pearls (not that there’s anything wrong with pearls, I adore them)… but what does classic mean for you, and is this the direction we should be heading?
Sally: The word classic (as I’ve already used above!) does not mean daggy and boring. Classic pieces are things like a great pair of dark denim jeans, a black, navy or beige trench, a black blazer or a white cotton shirt. They are the pieces that don’t date – they’re always in style. They’re also pieces that as a general rule, are most flattering on a woman’s shape. Of course, just like any piece of clothing, it’s about choosing the style most appropriate for you. For example, when choosing a dark denim jean, choose a style that flatters your leg shape and height. If a skinny jean highlights your heavy thighs, opt for a slim or straight leg that will balance out your shape.

Lynda: How do you have your wardrobe organised?
Sally: I like to organise my wardrobe in categories and sub-categories. This allows me to see exactly what I’ve got and access it quickly and essentially makes deciding what to wear every day a whole lot easier. For example, I will have all my coats hanging side by side, then my jackets and blazers, then sleeveless jackets or vests, long sleeve tops,
shirts, short sleeved tops and so on.

Lynda: When you are contemplating buying a new piece of clothing, what are the questions you ask yourself?
Sally: 1. Do I really love it and feel great in it? This is usually the question I ask clients also. It’s really important for clothing to not only make you look great, but feel great too. Life’s too short to wear clothing that doesn’t make you feel comfortable, confident, sexy, strong, feminine… however you want to feel! 2. What do I already have in my wardrobe to wear it with? As a stylist, I have a skill that many people don’t; the ability to visualise a variety of outfits in my head. So when I try something new, I immediately think of all the pieces I already own that will work with it. This isn’t necessarily something everyone can do, and therefore many women end up with a great new item of clothing with nothing in their wardrobe to wear with it.

Lynda: Are there any common themes with regards to women of menopause age that come to you for styling advice?
Sally: One of the biggest concerns of my lovely clients of menopause age is hot flushes and the need to be able to remove layers quickly. As you all well know, a hot flush comes with no warning and brings with it an overwhelming sense of fluster and bother. It’s really important to help clients build a practical wardrobe of pieces than can be layered for warmth and stripped back when the need arises. This also includes choosing fabrics that breathe. Menopausal women are also frustrated by stubborn weight gain around their middles and an increasing bust size. I help clients choose clothing that disguises the tummy while still flattering their shape. Again, this comes back to showing off a woman’s assets while minimising the parts of their body they are not as confident about. Most women don’t have a positive approach to the way they think
about their bodies; it’s our job at Styled by Sally to change that mentality.

For a consultation, contact Sally at Styled by Sally –

Lynda Wallas
Lynda Wallas
About me

I’ve always been interested in health and fitness…. which turned out to be a good thing when fertility treatment in my 30s took a toll on my health, leading to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and early onset menopause. More about Lynda...

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