By Lynda Wallas

Wardrobe Essentials

While it’s great to have some standout pieces that showcase your personality, it’s also imperative to have the classic pieces as the canvas for your style. Classic black, white, cream, grey, taupe and denim pieces allow you to add the splash of colour, statement necklace, sexy shoe or eye-catching handbag, without it looking too much, too cluttered, or too disorganised. A simple silhouette is best for 50 plus; clean lines that look classy and fabrics that drape well for a smooth transition from top to bottom.

Here are some wardrobe essentials to build your canvas and provide maximum versatility:

The Basic Tee

Choose a good quality tee shirt that stays in shape and is finished nicely at the edges, that can be worn out or tucked in and has the right sleeve length for you. Remember, a v-neck (or scooped round neck) are the most flattering. Wear it under a blazer with a pair of jeans for a casual look that’s classy and confident.

Find a brand that you like and buy one in black, white and soft grey (as well as a brighter colour that rocks on you!)

Making a basic tee go further….

Add a scarf in a similar or contrasting hue. Check out how to tie scarfs on the Internet for some fresh ideas.

A long chain/pendant type necklace (or two) makes a casual look more interesting.

Wear a waistcoat over the tee, or a blazer or knitted jacket.

The Essential Blazer

A well cut blazer is a necessity. It can be dressed up or down, worn with pants, skirts or dresses, and it’s great for the in between days weatherwise or the potential hot flush days when you can easily remove it. You will always feel appropriately dressed in a blazer; it’s a great choice if you are not sure what the dress code is. A blazer with a shirt or fine knit underneath will take you from day to evening, no problems.

Are there blazers you used to wear for work that could be altered or re-brought to life? A brooch is always a great addition to a blazer too.

The right silhouette….

A short blazer that’s softly tailored to cut in a little at the waist is feminine and flattering for most body shapes.

A longer, looser blazer is best with straight leg, firm fitting pants.

The Black Pant

This is a no-brainer! A well-tailored pant (or trouser) with pockets and belt loops is a wear anywhere staple. There is something very classically chic about tucking a blouse into a nice fitting black trouser, adding a belt and heels. Complete the look with your hair in an up-do (and your specs on, for maximum ‘librarian’ effect!)

There are probably two types of staple black pants these days. The other is a straight legged, slim fitting pant, without belt loops, that sits flat for adding layers over the top. These pants are great for wearing with longer tunic tops or with longer length cardigans, blazers or jackets. With a slim leg, these pants can be worn tucked into boots.

Options for all year round….

Add a cropped (just above the ankles) straight leg black pant to your wardrobe for Spring/Summer styling too (as well as a white pair). They look great with a flowy tunic or blouse and can be ‘summer-ised’ with turquoise jewellery… or keep it simple and classic in mono.

The Trench

Classic, versatile and practical, you will get lots of wear out of a trench…. think Spring, Autumn and warmer days in Winter, it’s a great transition piece. A women in a well-fitting, well-made trench always turns heads on the street, it’s just synonymous with style and class (and, well, French-ness).

A classic black trench takes you to work and beyond, and in a mid-length with a removable hood it will have you covered when the rain is coming down sideways. A beige trench is very versatile; it goes anywhere and with anything (and if you wear a lot of black, then beige will provide a good contrast).

A trench in a fabulous colour with extra detailing, or in a shorter swing length, can be a cute personality piece to wear with jeans in the weekend.

Keep it smooth….

Your trench is best worn with slim fitting tops and fine knits, rather than chunky sweaters. Keep the silhouete smooth and chinced in at the waist. A pencil skirt or slim leg pant will give you the best shape beneath the trench, and a heel will give you the sexy French look you’re going for!

The White Shirt

This classic staple suits everyone. It’s age appropriate yet still chic and sexy. Look for a fabric that doesn’t crease too easily and a style that doesn’t bulge or gap at the buttons.

A crisp white shirt can be worn under blazers or knits in the winter, but I think it is summer where it comes into its own. A white shirt with cropped pants in the summer is effortless but striking; think a relaxed fitting linen pant, or a firm fitting coloured jean rolled up to reveal your ankles for a cool carefree feel. White pops against your skin and just feels…. well summery!

Wear it Your way….

Browse the Internet for white shirt ideas that will suit your image. There are longer length shirts that look fabulous with firm fitting pants (even black leather if you are up for it)… and an uneven hem can work. Some look great done up to the neck for a quirky style, especially with a dramatic short hair do. There are lace inserts, Chinese collars, rouched sleeves or those that do up off centre.

The Well-fitting Jeans

A dark, solid colour is best; think dressy and slimming (and comfortable). A classic/straight leg width that will go with flats or heels is great, while a boot-cut will lengthen your legs and look great with all the winter boot styles. If you need extra lift, look for a pair with built in support or a stretch fabric that moulds and shapes. Forget low-rise, make sure your stomach isn’t on show and isn’t being cut in two!

Keep the detailing simple (no rhinestones!) and because jeans give a younger vibe, keep the rest of your outfit simple and classy.

Finding your jeans in the wardrobe….

If like me you hang your jeans side by side in the wardrobe and then can’t easily determine which is which without pulling them out to check the leg width, brand etc, make up some sticky labels for on your hangers.
I write the brand name and either ‘skinny’, ‘straight’ or ‘boot’. Too easy!

The Black Leather Jacket

Nothing feels more fabulous to wear – nor as comfortable. It’s one of those items you can trust; it will always make you feel good, young and sexy…. It works day or night, you can dress it up or down, you can go black on black, or black with white or with denim, you can wear it with a dress (casual or out for dinner). It’s tactile, it smells good, it’s your old reliable friend!

A go to piece you will wear over and over again, so don’t be afraid to spend a little extra to get the style you want. Shop around online – even if you won’t buy without trying on, you will find the style you like and can go from there.

What are the rules with leather….

If you think about it, a black leather jacket that you might have had for 15 years is still classic, so why wouldn’t it be appropriate at a ‘classic’ age on a women who is dressing smartly?!

If you feel a bit challenged by leather, consider a black jacket that has some leather panels; breaking up the leather in this way won’t feel too much for you. It’s about moderation, and a leather trim might be all that’s required (there are plenty of options like this available currently).

If you don’t feel comfortable in a leather jacket, then perhaps a leather skirt is for you… wear it with an oversized jumper and tights in winter. Leather tops and pants are a bit more edgy and require more styling confidence to get it right in mid-life.

The other option is to go for a cream leather jacket, or a pastel shade… if black is too harsh for you. Pick a colour that will work with your wardrobe, not just with jeans but with other outfits too.

The no-expense-spared Handbag

Just the one…. the one you couldn’t take your eyes off or couldn’t stop thinking about. You had to have it and you keep it in its little fabric bag to protect it. It can change an outfit all by itself and it always makes you smile.

It could be a standout colour to pop against your classic staples or it could be neutral – beige or taupe for maximum versatility.

It does matter….

Christopher Hopkins tells us in his book Staging Your Comeback that your handbag tells a story about you and your style. So don’t go cheap (or fake) because people know… go neutral and opt for the classiest looking version you can get for the money you are prepared to spend. Then treat it well and it will last.

The Classic Heels

You’ll need basic black of course, then navy if like me you like to wear navy outfits. Brown is versatile and a neutral tone is essential. Medium heel height, good quality leather – plain or with a slight pattern in the leather. A small amount of detailing can be good so long as it’s still classy.

A medium heel height is the 3 inch heel, in either stiletto or block heel (in fact you should probably have both of these choices in your wardrobe basics).

Check out Shoes of Prey for a guide to heel height:

And the happy heels….

Because shoes are a feel good item that can pretty much turn your mood and put a spring in your step, you absolutely must also buy a couple of pairs of heels that can make you smile. A bright red or electric blue in a suede pump…. A floral pair that transform an all black outfit…. A pair with a bow or a stripped heel or metal detailing. So long as they are good quality leather they will be tastefully chic and ready to lift your spirit whenever you are having a ‘rainy’ day.

If I were to add a couple more of my personal favs to this list they would be:

  • the pastel coloured suede Oxford (wear with jeans slightly rolled up for a casual look)
  • the white sneakers (worn as per the Oxford, with jeans or white pants)
  • the soft silk/angora/cashmere sweater (a neutral or pastel shade is best)
  • the waistcoat – I adore these – whether short or long, plain or patterned, they are smart and flattering
  • the string of pearls… actually, don’t stop at one!

Check out the ideas on The Me in Menopause Pinterest page at

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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