Great Style in Your 20s, 30s & 40s

FLARE's fashion team shows how to dress with confidence at any age

Great Style in Your 2Os, 3Os & 4Os
FLARE’s fashion team shows how to dress with confidence at any age

Fiona Green

Fiona Green

Fiona Green, Assistant Fashion Editor, 22

My personal style is a work in progress. Your 20s should be about experimenting with style, so I try to have fun and not overthink my look. At the moment, I’m wearing drapey, deconstructed and layered pieces. I steer clear of overly frilly, lacy or girlie pieces; with my red hair and freckles, I’d look like I was still in junior kindergarten.

What I’ve learned so far in my 2Os
• My on-the-go lifestyle demands a flexible wardrobe. Spin a look that takes you from school to work to a party.
• Choose a signature accessory that will withstand the test of time, and start collecting them now, such as a pair of black Louboutin pumps or a Chanel timepiece. Don’t spend much on trendier pieces.
• Shop secondhand for the latest ’80s-inspired runway looks on a budget. Seek out power-shoulder blazers, bandage dresses and classic leather motorcycle jackets from your favourite vintage haunt.
• I never preplan what I’m going to wear the next day. For me, style is a very instinctive thing, so I’ll dress for the moment.

Rules I live by
• I can’t live without wicked high-heels. I’ll happily wear amazing bargain finds from H&M and Zara if it means breaking the bank on this season’s black lace-up sandals from Ann Demeulemeester.
• I love shopping online and in consignment shops for clothes and shoes from the late 1990s/early 2000s. It’s like discovering a band for the first time that already has a lengthy discography—there’s a whole history to dive into and enjoy before the next album drops.
• Every season, I buy one wardrobe staple. Many women have collected these already, but I’m only just getting started. Last summer, I bought my first pair of designer sunglasses and, this season, I bought my first designer bag.

Elizabeth Cabral

Elizabeth Cabral

Elizabeth Cabral, Fashion Director, 32

The beauty of fashion in your 30s is you’re young enough to push the envelope and have fun, and you have the maturity to be confident in your personal style. My style sensibility is simple: I prefer minimalist pieces—aside from that year I experimented with bohemian florals and girlie empire-waist dresses. I now base my wardrobe on long-lasting classics and versatile trend pieces that have an edge. I describe my style in two words: “artfully undone”—louche but polished. I have a collection of investment blazers and jackets I wear with everything from cheap denim to dresses (I’ll even wear a shrunken leather jacket over formal attire). Because my frame is petite, I find looser, fluid silhouettes work best as a base. And I avoid girlie pieces or I risk looking too young.

What I’ve learned so far in my 3Os
• Invest in as many pieces to wear forever as your budget allows. I’ve been wearing the same Chanel jacket for seven years now.
• Be fashionable, not a fashion victim. That means no bare-legged minis in the middle of winter or skyscraper heels you can’t walk in.
• Confidence is your No. 1 accessory—without it, you’ll never be able to pull off that bondage-inspired dress.
• Work it while you can. You won’t see me in a cropped top ever again, but I’m going to wear microminis for a long time yet.
• Narrow your focus. Experimenting is fun but, by now, you should have an idea of how to express your individuality. Fashion is a reflection of you, so find your look—fierce fashion warrior, carefree boho or classic pearls-and-sheath gal—and stick to it.

Rules I live by
• Every season, I pick up a few one-season items from stores such as H&M, Club Monaco and Urban Outfitters. They update my look without a serious cash commitment.
• Designer shoes are a must to elevate a mall-finds outfit.
• Modern dressing means mixing it up, so I contrast my look: classic (black blazer) and trendy (acid-wash jeans); tailored and distressed; formal and casual.
• Don’t fall victim to the “it” bag or “it” shoe. Look for more unique pieces from your favourite designers that still have a signature look.
• Don’t save your pieces; wear them. I wear my designer pieces to death and have even worn a fancy cocktail dress to the office.

Tammy Palmer

Tammy Palmer

Tammy Palmer, Senior Market Editor, 41

My style has evolved from classic preppy to an eclectic but sophisticated look, with a mix of pretty feminine separates and colourful sporty pieces. Now that I’m in my 40s, I like to highlight my figure with tailored pieces, as opposed to unstructured, shapeless clothes or anything too girlish. I love the look of a soft blouse with a vest or a sharp-shouldered jacket, and a high-waist denim trouser with a pretty heel—it’s my signature go-to look for day and night. I keep my style fresh with unique accessories that completely transform whatever I wear.

What I’ve learned so far in my 4Os
• I stock my closet with preppy work-to-weekend pieces from Banana Republic and Club Monaco. I love high-waist denim trousers from Rich & Skinny. If something fits really well, I often pick up the same piece in different colours.
• I absolutely love jewelry and feel naked without it. I scour vintage shops and the local mall for cocktail rings and ’70s-inspired necklaces that give my look edge.
• Dresses really suit my lifestyle and they’re so easy. I love anything in an exotic print or crisp military style that I can belt and pair with a sexy heel.

Rules I live by
• Each season, pick up key pieces that mix with your classics and also bridge the office-to-cocktails gap. I pull my look together with sharp accessories.
• Focus on your best assets with great-fitting pieces, regardless of the trends. I like to play up my shape with shorter skirts and one-shoulder dresses.
• I ignore the “don’t wear that over 40” rule. Instead, I focus on what looks great on me and how it makes me feel.

Hair and makeup, Veronica Chu, Photographed at White, Toronto.

Great Style in Your 2Os, 3Os & 4Os has been edited for FLARE.COM; the complete story and where-to-buy appears in the May 2009 issue of FLARE.