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    Photo by Katherine McMorran

I went shopping in Exeter last weekend with my sister. I like shopping and usually go with an idea of what I’m looking for. This was no exception. I was all buoyed up for getting some Spring knits and lighter clothes, with a view to looking forward to warmer temperatures and lighter evenings.

Now I like shopping as much as the next person (woman!) but as my age increases, I look at the clothes on offer and wonder where I fit in. Being 40 is no bad thing. In many ways it’s great. Clothes wise though, I feel like I’m in the grey area. I find myself referencing my age when I walk into a store, considering whether I am too old for something before I even try it on.

There’s the whole thing about “dressing your age,” whatever that means. In fact, what does that mean? What is someone 40, or 50, or 60 years old meant to dress like? There are so many inspirational women out there who look amazing regardless of their age. I would love to have their confidence to try something new and carry it off. I want to look cool (I feel even that sounds middle aged), a bit edgy or quirky. Just a little different.

Shopping style changing room

Changing rooms.

I look at some of my favourite Instagram accounts, like Funky Forty and Gail Painter and feel they have their style nailed. They are, in their own way, spot on. When I look at their boards I can see they look at home in what they’re wearing and are championing their individuality, regardless of their age.

I find that I tend to play it safe and I want to stop. Are others the same? I would like to leap out of my comfort zone but I’m not sure how or where to start. Admittedly, some stuff just doesn’t suit me, whether it’s my personality or body shape. I like to invest in clothes too and find pieces I can wear year after year. For me this isn’t necessarily about spending a fortune, but finding pieces that nod towards a trend but are more likely to stand the test of time. There is no way I could wear all the wonderful frills that are around right now, but I can carry off this little tee from Topshop. It’s subtle enough but not overboard (blatantly still in comfort zone). And yes, I bought it.

TOPSHOP Frill t-shirt

Topshop Frill Tee

Have others had this experience? Maybe it’s not an age thing, maybe it’s more about identity and how we use clothes to express (or conceal) ourselves. Body-wise, maybe I can wear things, but I don’t feel they suit my personality.

Case example. me and my sis went into Urban Outfitters which has got to be one of the coolest shops around. I walk in and feel like I am more likely to buy a mug than a jumper. I found a jumper I liked but it was crop. I said I couldn’t possibly try it on because it would show my mid-drift. I was also acutely aware we were in a shop aimed at people about half our age. When I voiced this to my sister, she put me right with a “Who cares?”


And when I think about it, who does? Ironically, the jumper was too big and it had sold out in my size (after all that!).

I think I need to adopt my sister’s approach more and not be apprehensive about trying something new.

I want to experiment, find my style, and let it grow.

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Photo By Katherine McMorran