Welcome to Style Stories, where we celebrate the style and multi-dimensional nature of inspiring women over 40
With my 44th birthday approaching, it’s only fair that I kick off this series, with my own style story! Born in the North of England, to Polish heritage, I’ve lived and worked all over the world, from Shanghai to London to Los Angeles and the Arctic Circle, styling for magazines such as Vogue, Harpers and Exit, as well as creative directing for luxury brands in Paris and beyond – taking inspiration and memories with me as I go. Wherever I am, I love a little comfortable glamour, to elevate my everyday.
What is your style story?
I never saw my mother in trousers growing up. The glamorous Eastern European ladies at church, where the aisle was their catwalk, wore furs and frocks, and were eternally elegant – in my mind at least…It was the early 80s, so a dash of bedazzle definitely came into the mix.
It’s no wonder then, that a mini me delighted in taffeta, and was drawn to a white faux fur jacket in the local department store Kendals, even if my mama phoo phooed the idea. It’s funny, as I’ve always been drawn to a touch of glamour, and feel the most comfortable in a soft long dress, and was thrilled to discover that Jerry Hall was my neighbour when I lived in London.
As a child I had wide feet, and was desperate to wear the patent pointy shoes of my peers – especially the ones with the strap that could move from the back to the front. Instead I was forced to wear frumpy boys style shoes and slippers. The school uniform shoes of over 11 school were brown, which felt even dowdier.
Today I indulge in all sorts of glittery, bejewelled and distinctly feminine footwear, even if Birkenstocks are also a wardrobe staple!
The story of a few of your favourite things?
My favourite things are not the most expensive, but rather those infused with emotion and memory.
A small jade green candle bowl that glows when lit. It came from my first trip to China, and reminds me at once of the Blade runner reality of the neon skies of Shanghai, and of my exotic dreams of the Orient when I was little, and my mother first bought a prawn cracker from the Chinese restaurant home for me in the middle of the night.
When I light it today, it reminds me of all of this, and of my time working with Chinese magazines, brands and celebrities in Shanghai several years ago – such an experience!
I’m obsessed with jewellery, and have loved working with brands such as Van Cleef and Arpels and Chanel fine jewellery. The rings I wear everyday, such as my Art Deco gold and emerald piece, which are from all the female members of my family. I am reminded of them each time I see my hands.
When I work with clients, we infuse new possessions with meanings and mantras, to empower your everyday, because what you wear, and what we choose to surround ourselves with should support and uplift us, as well as make us feel fabulous.
Describe your style in 3 words
Elegant and chic, with an eccentric touch
Do your home and your wardrobe style reflect each other?
My style is part of me and so all pervasive. It’s an expression of my soul. Whether for home or wardrobe, gift wrapping or table-scaping, there is always a common thread.
How has your style evolved, and are you happy with your style now?
As I spend time in England and Paris, I’d like to think that I take the best of both cultures, and that balance has evolved over time, and with experimentation.
Working with brands such as Chanel and Celine, I love those foundations of French style such as the tweed jacket, wide leg silk pants or Chanel 2.55, but at the same time, love a dash of English eccentricity to spice things up!
That could be my signature tights with mid height sandals come Autumn, or an off-coloured silk scarf, some colour clash, a gown with a jumper, or a sequinned handbag with daywear.
Did you change when you hit 40?
I used to worry that if I wore something like a bow in my hair, that people wouldn’t take me seriously, so I held back. Now I no longer care.
There’s that paradox with getting older -with the wisdom and confidence of experience on the one hand, and on the other, mid-life curve balls such as divorce, menopause… and the influence of a society that sometimes seems to be obsessed with youth on the other…I try and focus on the good stuff.
It’s also important to redefine ideas on things…such as sexiness – which is definitely not the preserve of the young!
What are your views on ageing -have they changed as you get older?
I give myself more grace, and cherish imperfection more.
How have you changed your style regime as you hit 40+
During a period of unexpected depression in my early 40s – I’m a happy and positive person, and was totally wiped out and shocked by it – I found peace, and came through it by implementing daily rituals of stylish self care…
Putting lipstick on, even if I really just felt like staying in bed in my nightdress, lighting a candle for a few minutes in the evening and finding something positive – no matter how small – before blowing it out, rubbing body oil into my legs every day, sorting out my underwear drawer – finding small pleasures and gentle beauty that little by little relit my life.
I still use style rituals as self care today, and it feels great helping others with theirs.
Your thoughts on mid-life style
More than before I want to feel chic and comfortable, and for my surroundings to support me. A little more polish is needed than before, and better quality fabrics and constructions serve me well – be that for hiking, everyday or entertaining!
Mid lifers are so busy, with plenty of responsibility – much of which is invisible – and it’s great to implement simple style tips and rituals to help feel like the sexy, amazing women we are!
What is the worst thing about modern mid-life and modern mid life style?
The gradual acknowledgement that time is short and finite.
Any favourite style tips?
Be true to you.
What do you do in your own words please!
Having worked as a Stylist, Consultant and Creative Director for brands including Chanel, Celine and Tom Ford, Gucci, Vogue and Harpers for over 20 years, I bring my expertise, and European heritage to private clients, as the style-whisperer, helping modern mid life women to evolve their personal style and up-level life, to attract more love and abundance and feel more elegant, relevant, confident and vavavoom!
How would you like to be remembered?
Kind, elegant and inspiring
Your Favourite life advice?
Head in the clouds, feet on the ground.
Has your confidence increased as you become older and wiser?
Since a spontaneous surf trip when I turned a significant age (I’m a city dweller, and terrible surfer,) I love wearing bikinis, and as little as possible.
I appreciate my body more, and all it does for me, and that gives me more confidence. I am still constantly re-evaluating notions of sexy though…whilst I adore Mrs Robinson, I’m also wiser to the idea that there are different versions of sexy to explore, especially over 40…
When you look in the mirror what do you see?
It depends on how I’m feeling, and how much I’ve slept
Favourite brands right now?
Gabriella Hearst for finally making ethical fashion desirable, The Row for chic timeless classics, and Goossens – the Chanel owned jewellery company that I worked for – I adore their collaborations, as well as their homeware (Yves Saint Laurent collected it in the 1970s, need I say more!)
I also adore Columbian designer Johanna Ortiz and Valentino for the joy and love of colour. And, of course, Chanel.
Do you think the French approach to fashion and style is different to the rest of the world?
For me fashion is a cultural reflection – which is what makes it so intriguing and all encompassing! When I’m trend predicting for luxury brands, I’m a cultural sponge absorbing art exhibitions, films, the socio-economic zeitgeist…
True style isn’t just clothes, it’s about art and literature and tv, and the way we hold ourselves and what we want to put in our homes and how we speak and what we believe about ourselves…the French understand this – the elegance of living, very well.
There’s a historical precedent for that – with the history of Haute Couture for example…Cardinal Colbert wanted to make France the capital of luxury under the reign of Louis XIV, and poached the best craftsmen from Italy…it’s no wonder the French dominated the fashion world for decades! And of course, there’s a resulting mythical allure to the idea of French style, that anyone in the world can access today.
The English are better known for their wonderful eccentrics – Edith Sitwell, Isabella Blow…as well as a touch of moth holed practicality and tweed.
French style may be chic, and well put together (no matter how apparently nonchalant it may appear,) but lets not forget that the first Haute Couturier to put his name on his garments, Charles Frederick Worth, was English, and that French Guipure lace was made on looms from Britain!
Any tips for modern mid lifers on unleashing your vavavoom?!
Make time for yourself, to get to know and explore all the wonderful and ever evolving versions of yourself.
At mid-life it can be all to easy to focus on everyone else – your career, your kids (even if they’ve left home) your parents, and to stay in a one sided comfort zone of what you’re used to – and busy busy busy!
Surround yourself with uplifting clothes and items with positive connotations – your style should support you!
Also, we need to make sure we make time for being as well as doing.
If you’ve enjoyed this article, please share it with your friends, and if you’re ready to explore your modern mid-life INSIDE OUT STYLE IDENTITY, then lets chat! Book a complimentary style session here.
Lots of love, xoxo Aleksandra