Embracing Style in Midlife & Beyond – Visible is the new black

Personal styling expert Jane Vandermeer and founder of Finesse Your Style is on a stylish mission, empowering women to discover (or rediscover) their personal brand through fashion. Get It Magazine’s Holly Bartter speaks to Jane to learn the tips and tricks to styling success, visibility as we age and embracing our midlife wardrobes.

Your niche is professional women – do you find women in this space can dedicate themselves so much to their work, families and other commitments that they forget to nurture their personal image and brand? 

Oh absolutely! It’s one of the reasons why I love working with women in this space. We innately give so much of ourselves to others, whether that is our careers, partners or families. We put ourselves last or lower down the list. One day we come up for air and wonder who we are, possibly still doing our makeup in the same way that we did when we were younger (or purchasing ‘the same’ outfits each year). We lose our sense of fun and experimentation, we play it safe, almost robotic. I find it is at this point that women know they need help but aren’t sure where to start.  

 

Tell us about midlife styling, do you find this can be an age where women need to realign with their style vision or find their style identity again? 

Absolutely. This is also now me too – that stage of wanting to look ageless. Embracing our wisdom, not wanting to look 20 or even 30 but also not older than we are either. 

My view and approach to fashion and styling is much more holistic – I am often asked ‘what do we need for the season?’ or ‘what are you must haves?’ or something along those lines. I don’t believe in sweeping statements like that. As women, we are multidimensional. Our identities are a tangle of connections to activities, places, interests, values & aspirations. We are so wonderfully diverse. So how can the ‘must have little black dress’ look amazing on all shapes, sizes and colourings? 

What does the phrase “visibility is the new black” mean to you? Can you share a little about how you work that into your business? 

I observed long ago that women are often brilliant at their craft, their professions, they can be at the top of their industries however deep down there was still an undercurrent of challenging self talk about themselves and their bodies. Many I have met and still meet struggle with being visible. They would rather stay behind the scenes and play it safe. In styling terms, I call it ‘wearing beige’ Not because beige can’t be gorgeous but because they want to fade into the background and not draw attention to themselves.  

 As someone who is now embracing midlife, I feel passionate about playing a role in inspiring others to do the same. I wanted to challenge stereotypes about midlife women, and instead of being a part of the problem, I chose to become a part of the solution by developing a personal styling business that would empower midlife women to become highly visible.  

How important is personal brand for our business and the impression we make on the world? 

Very! Our screens are our shop windows. If we each had a bricks and mortar shop, we would carefully curate our shops with visual merchandising. Well our screens, our personal presentation and body language is our shop window – we are also a constant walking advertisement for our businesses.  

So, every time we are visible we are representing our businesses. How many times have you popped onto an online call with someone who looks nothing like their picture? For a minute you think that you are in a meeting with the wrong person!  

The other thing to consider is, as business owners we are always being watched, particularly online – you never know who might be looking in.  

Can you share a client styling success story? 

One beautiful client who comes to mind is a lady I will call Sally – Sally came to me by referral, and she’s in the midlife age bracket. When I met Sally, she would barely make eye contact with me, she was sitting quite hunched. Her body language was saying ‘I’m not owning or taking up space’.  

 However, the biggest thing that I could see and feel with her was her lack of confidence.  

The magic is giving women the tools they need to understand their bodies and shape. These skills are life skills that we are never taught! By the end of the program, Sally had the confidence to find a beautiful dress, jacket and jewellery that was completely out of her comfort zone. She also “took up space, owned her space” on screen, and she had a sense of self-assurance and an inner glow. 

Sally’s weight hadn’t changed, but her focus and sense of self had. She was really shining brightly. The world was completely optimistic again! She was also full of ideas, telling me “Jane, I have had multiple business ideas. I am ready. I have made things happen!” 

 

What are your top 3 pieces of advice to a woman in midlife who is struggling to find her style compass, especially when there are more places to shop than ever before? 

  • Carve out some time to invest in yourself – gather knowledge rather than a ‘quick fix’. 
  • Invest in some help – find someone who you align with.  
  • Invest wisely – some of my very favourite pieces in my wardrobe I have had for many, many years.  

 

 

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