Where to Shop – Capsule Wardrobe Essentials for the 40 Plus Woman

Earlier this week the headline for this article in The Guardian grabbed my attention as I thought it might have some good advice I could share with my readers. What a can or worms it opened up! Read some of the comments from readers saying they won’t be told what to wear, that they wouldn’t shop in Topshop or Cos (recommended by the author of the piece) because of poor quality, body exposing items (Topshop) or bland sacks (Cos) and that rather than having found their personal style by 50 they are more confused than ever because of the changes to their body shape.

A good number of my clients are aged 35 plus and I often get asked for recommendations that don’t “look like their mother or their daughter” they want stylish outfits that have a nod to the current trends without being a fashion victim. The article also says “there’s an abiding perception that the high street doesn’t serve older women very well, but in my view it’s better than it has ever been” and I would agree with this, but at a price. Much of what I and my clients like and want to wear does tend to be at the higher end cost wise of the High Street. Those of us who have “mummy tummies” want fabrics that drape well and the last thing anyone experiencing hot flushes needs is polyester. Unfortunately the less expensive brands do use more manmade fabrics. What can be frustrating too, is that when you do find natural fabrics they are often labelled dry clean only, adding to the lifelong cost of the garment.

If you are at that stage in your life where you have lost confidence in what looks good on you why not consider a Style Boost. I’ve created this service in conjunction with the lovely ladies at Life Begins At to show you what and how to wear to give yourself that boost of confidence to take on the new season.

Don’t despair, because there are some wonderful brands out there for those of us who won’t see 40 or 50 again. And as far as style is concerned I think it comes down to really knowing what suits you so that you look your best, because at the end of the day what we really want is to feel happy and confident in what we are wearing. As Marilyn said:

“Give a girl the right shoes and she can conquer the world”

Here are a few of my favourite brands for the 40 plus woman and some of their Hero pieces.

Baukjen – We flatter the bits you love… (and even the bits you don’t)

What they are good at: Jersey – they use premium quality jersey that “hugs” you and is double lined so there is no embarrassment of showing your underwear. They also have hidden bra strap loops and are experts are rushing and draping (read more here). Also fabulous investment leather.

Service: Efficient, friendly and always beautifully packaged.

Buy online here.

My picks:

What to wear 40 plus What to wear 40 plus What to wear 40 plus

The classic double lined wrap dress in heavy weight jersey that won’t show lumps and bumps. The biker jacket in butter soft leather and the curve enhancing jersey pull on skirt. Wearable leather leggings styled with a longer shirt to draw attention to slim legs and away from those areas you don’t want to show off.

How to wear:

Where to shop 40 plus

I love these print tapered trousers for easy day wear with a loose fit top and trainers then dressed up for evening with heels. Try a jumpsuit, this one isn’t skin tight and has gentle gathers over the tummy area. Smarten it up with a blazer and the mules in blue.

Boden – New British

What they are good at: Casual staples with the Boden twist of English eccentricity. Colour – more than any other brand I use Boden for my clients when I’m looking for colours to add to their wardrobe.

Service: Cheerful packaging and efficient service. Often have free deliveries and returns.

Buy online here.

My Picks:

Where to shop age 40 plus

The 7/8 chino in 8 colours, 9 sizes and 3 lengths. Cotton with stretch, machine washable and £49.50 – what more can I say?

Where to shop 40 plus Where to shop 40 plus Where to shop 40 plus

Their interpretations of the current shoe trends, from size 3 to size 9 and half sizes in some styles too.

How to wear:

Where to shop age 40 plus

Easy separates with a twist – channel a 70’s vibe with flared jeans and wedges for endless legs, add a boho top and this season’s must have jacket – choose the pink if Khaki isn’t one of your colours. Choose an updated Breton with a little daytime sparkle and the denim skirt which is back in fashion. Mix your prints with a leopard espadrille.

Weekend Max Mara – Max Mara’s off-duty diffusion line is the ideal foundation for a stylish weekend wardrobe

What they are good at: They are Italian, need I say more? Chic every day quality clothes with Italian flair.

Service: I buy from Matches and their service is excellent with parcels packed in beautiful printed boxes (I keep mine for storage)

Buy online here.

My Picks:

Where to shop 40 plus Where to shop 40 plus Where to shop 40 plus

Easy wear summer dresses in cotton, linen and jersey. Check out their unusual jewellery and scarves too.

How to wear:

Where to shop 40 plus

Let the Italian style do the talking with well thought out accessories.

Eileen Fisher – Motivated by a mantra that dressing should be simple. (Probably my favourite clothing brand at the moment)

What they are good at: Making simple look stunning. Beautiful fabrics and shapes that work.

Service: Good in store service at Eileen Fisher shops. Online buy from Harvey Nichols or Harrods. (EF site does mail order but comes from the US) The one downside is you pay for the quality, it’s a luxury brand but if you are heading to the US buy there at the same price in $ as you pay in £.

My Picks:

Where to shop 40 plus  Motivated by a mantra that dressing should be simple  Motivated by a mantra that dressing should be simple

The silk trousers and culottes. They drape beautifully and the culottes literally swish (I’ve tried them) sizes are generous too.

How to wear:

Where to buy 40 plus

Keep it very simple the fabrics are so gorgeous they would almost be spoiled by over accessorising.

Toast – clothes for modern living. Unique – designed with great care, made of exceptional materials – and to present them in simple and inspiring ways.

What they are good at: Natural fabrics and unusual styling. This is the place to buy linens, hemp and cotton staples.

Service: Thoughtful and considerate service.

Buy online here.

My Picks:

Where to shop 40 plus

A great place to find holiday items from a simple linen dress to espadrilles, easy tops and a scarf that doubles as a sarong.

How to wear:

Where to shop 40 plus

Mix textures; linen, hemp, silk, wooden beads and leather in neutral colours.

Before this post gets so long you give up I will just add a few more High Street names that you already know that I use regularly:

Hobbs – great summer linen and a favourite for knits and shoes.

LK Bennett – shoes, on the high end budget wise but beautiful quality and great range of colours and styles. Also a favourite for knits and their leggings which stay in perfect shape.

Autograph from Marks and Spencer – a little more on trend and “grown up” than other Marks and Spencer brands.

ME+EM – see my blog post here – simple, elegant and on trend styles.

If you are in a style rut and would love a complete overhaul, why not consider the capsule wardrobe dossier with every item chosen for you colouring, body shape and lifestyle?

Have you found brands that you love that cater for stylish women over 40? Please share them in the comments below.


  1. Liz
    March 18, 2016 / 9:07 am

    I love Great Plains, especially for dresses

  2. Ruth
    March 18, 2016 / 11:06 am

    I like Phase Eight – especially for trousers – they sit on your waist and have plenty of stretch!

  3. Michele
    March 18, 2016 / 3:04 pm

    I like COS, there is a lot of variety, fantastic value and great cut and drape in the clothes