When it comes to the sartorial choices of women “over a certain age”, it used to be that fashion was a bit ageist. Disparaging whispers about “mutton dressed as lamb,” were often heard about older female celebrities who dared to bare.
Madonna, in particular, has faced unwarranted criticism for dressing as she pleases.
The expectation seemed to be that famous ladies over forty or fifty should just quietly fade into the background, covering up their cleavage and pulling down their skirts as they went.
But recently a whole slew of stars have been challenging out-dated boundaries and calling out the age-shamers, as they strut their stuff in the styles they’ve been wearing since the early days. And boy do they look good.
From JLo, 51, still wowing in an updated version of that plunging Versace gown, to Amanda Holden, 49, regularly setting Insta alight with her flesh-flashing frocks, some female celebs struck upon a signature look in their youth and are continuing to rock it, no matter how many candles they’re blowing out on their birthday cake.
Leading the charge of this inspiring new fashion-rule flouting pack is Suzi Quatro, who recently admitted she’s still killing it in her iconic leather catsuit at the grand, not-so-old, age of 70.
“I still wear the jumpsuit,” Quatro told the Guardian. “At 70. I zip it up and feel like me.”
She's not the only one who has found a style that works and is sticking to it. Jennifer Aniston, 51, Elizabeth Hurley, 55, and Gwen Stefani, 51, are all examples of slightly older ladies still rocking the red carpet in their signature sartorial choices.
“Gone are the days when age-appropriate dressing was a thing and women had to cover up their figures when they reach a certain age,” says fashion stylist, Miranda Holder, who lectures on the subjects of fashion, celebrity and personal styling at the London College of Style.
“The new fashion rules are: there are no rules. If you look good, you feel good, and that’s the end of it.”
Holder says women such as JLo and Quatro look fantastic and know it.
“They stand in their feminine power, and wear clothes that look incredible, they are role models for females out there of all ages,” she adds.
Part of what makes these celebs’ style so fabulous, according to Holder, is the confidence they have in their own skin, which often increases with age.
“It’s about not apologising for who you are, but embracing it, flaws and all - this kind of confidence usually only comes with maturity,” Holder explains.
According to Holder, this particular band of female celebrities know their style personalities and fashion formulas, and have the confidence to continue carrying it off.
“They aren’t a slave to the trends, but have spent years developing their current sense of style - their style personality - so automatically reach for what is going to make them feel great,” she explains.
Helen Marsden, buying director at clothing brand Kit and Kaboodal, says that though we are often made to think that our style will change drastically throughout the decades of our life, we are seeing that this no longer the case.
“When we look at powerful female celebrities such as Jennifer Lopez, known for her accomplishments in music and film, but also her bold and iconic style, we can see that she has established the fashion features that work for her body and this really is the golden rule,” she explains.
“For example, she has always worked hard on her fitness for performing and has fantastically toned legs, which is why we have come to recognise a daring thigh-split as a signature look in the JLo red carpet creations throughout the years.”
As JLo and Quatro perfectly illustrate, these signature stylistas have all learnt to hone their best looks.
“Confidence and style starts from within,” Holder explains. “A leather jumpsuit can suit anyone aged 16-96 - it’s how you wear it and how it makes you feel.
“Suzi Quatro still looks amazing in her leather jumpsuit because for her it’s a ‘power piece’ in her wardrobe - when she wears it she feels invincible, so she looks great.”
Of course, with age comes wisdom in knowing what works and what doesn’t.
“These ladies have been around long enough to know what does and doesn’t suit them, they made their fashion mistakes in their youth, so they innately know what is going to make them look and feel great,” Holder adds.
“They know their best colours and the most flattering silhouettes for their body shape.”
Watch: Suzi Quatro feature documentary teaser.
How to find, and rock, your signature style like JLo and co.
Marsden says finding your signature style is about getting to grips with how elements such as shape and colour work for your body.
“Understanding the small adjustments you may want to make as you age really is the trick to carrying your style throughout your life,” she explains.
“It’s also the reason that we recognise countless celebrity style moments currently, for example, the incredible outfits from the inauguration, because they have honed in on their outfit types and are really embracing them,” she adds.
Ultimately, fashion is a celebration and we should wear what makes us happy and feel comfortable, but it is possible to maintain a signature style and adapt it for changing seasons and trends throughout a lifetime.
“Women should understand what suits their bodies and how they feel most comfortable in order to determine their fashion,” says Marsden.
“Some women may find that as they get older they may want to show a little bit less skin with longer hemlines and higher necklines, however, this is not a rule!
“For others, they may find that in their youth they would gravitate towards animal print and throw together pieces for an outfit that feature the desired print, however, as they grow and learn more about fashion they may still use animal prints, but in more cohesive outfit looks.”
For anyone who is unsure if they can still work their signature style as they grow older, Gok Wan shared some brilliant sartorial advice last summer.
After an 83-year-old caller to This Morning explained she was struggling to find clothes that were right for her age, the fashion presenter issued the perfect response.
“There is no choice for us older ones,” the caller lamented. “They’re going for the young ones, which we can’t really wear”.
Appearing as a guest in the fashion segment of the show, Wan reassured the caller by telling her it was all down to confidence.
“We own our own bodies. We can wear whatever we want to,” he said.
“A long time ago, I sat talking to a woman and she was saying to me, ‘over the age of 50 you’ve got to lower your hem line, you’re not allowed to show as much clavicle, you’ve got to cut your hair shorter,’ and it was like women have been told for their whole lives when they’re allowed to wear make-up, when they’re allowed to do this..."
“So I would say the total opposite to that. If you want to go into a shop which is probably geared at a slightly younger crowd, if you like the clothes, then you should wear it because you've got every right to put onto your body and show the world exactly who you are.
“And I don’t have the right to stop you and nobody else does either. So you’re only bound by your own restrictions.”
We couldn’t have put it better ourselves!