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5 Kiwi celebrities share their secrets to ageless style

These five women share their secrets to looking and feeling great at any age.

It was the late, great Yves Saint Laurent who said, “Fashion is fleeting… style is eternal.” And how right he was. Keeping up with current trends is one thing, but finding your own individual style is another.

The hard part about style is you have to let it naturally evolve as you age, so it can complement not only your changing lifestyle, but your personality too.

Thankfully, we have some great role models for being chic at any age. Think Iris Apfel, the thick-rimmed-glasses-wearing New York socialite who became the face of a MAC cosmetics range at the ripe old age of 90.

Even one of Karen Walker’s eyewear campaigns has featured images of women who are much more heavily lined than the models you’d usually see gracing major advertisements. More recently American author Joan Didion has become the face of French label Céline at 80.

And it’s not only about what clothes you layer up day to day; every outfit, every accessory, in some way or another, is a decision. It’s how we live our lives, and how we arm ourselves to face the world.

There are various challenges that come with getting older, and dressing can certainly be one of them, but it’s also an opportunity to get more creative.

NEXT spoke to five women who all have very different styles, each the result of the different stage they’re at in their life.

Here, they talk us through what they wear every day, their style secrets and how their look has improved with age.

**Ashleigh Good

Model, 24**

In your 20s

I think my style would be classed as ‘fashion mum’. I have designer pieces like Alexander Wang sweaters that I mix in with my ‘mum’ wardrobe of jeans. I like to wear jeans and be comfortable most days. But I like to wear heels too – although most days I’m in flats. My style depends on my mood. Sometimes I’ll be a bit ‘tough girl’ in a leather jacket and boots, and sometimes I’ll be very feminine in a dress.

As a mum you can get used to just throwing on a jumper and going out. But there’s nothing wrong with wanting to look good. Just because you’ve spent some time doing your makeup and selecting your outfit in the morning doesn’t mean you’ve let your children go hungry. There’s nothing wrong with the bun up, trackies type of mum but if you put time and effort into yourself you feel good for yourself, your husband and your children.

That’s what the whole fashion industry is about – making people feel good by looking good.

Ashleigh walked the runway with Karl Largerfeld while pregnant with her daughter.

I’ve been lucky enough to pick up quite a few pieces from overseas designers. A lot have been gifted to me through modelling jobs; it does change your style a bit because you get given what the designers think suits you. You can end up giving something different a go and finding out you like it.

My style has definitely evolved. Growing up, jeans and tees were my thing; I’m still a bit of a tomboy, but I like girly-girl clothes too. I love to wear men’s clothes. Sometimes I ‘accidentally’ put my husband’s T-shirts in the dryer so they’re still too big for me but he can’t wear them anymore so I inherit them.

My closet has pieces in it from around the world. I’m a sucker for Uniqlo, Zara and Topshop. I have more jackets than anyone ever needs. I’ve got Kate Sylvester jackets, Chanel and Givenchy, then I have jackets from Kmart. So my wardrobe goes from $5 to $5,000 in one row.

I feel more attached to some labels because I’ve worked with them, like Chanel and the bridal gown I wore for [them] when I was seven months pregnant. I went there two weeks early to do some fittings and I saw the veil before it was embroidered. In two weeks these people had hand-embroidered this piece that was just so beautiful.

I think you can have style at any age. I see young kids who have better style than me. Then there are women in their 90s who look amazing.

**Renee Wright

Weather presenter, 35**

In your 30s

I wear my ‘mum uniform’ Monday to Friday, then I get the treat of dressing up a bit to read the [TV ONE] weather at the weekend.

My mum uniform is black jeans, either a singlet or a long-sleeved top and Nike shoes of some sort. With three kids under five, I need to be able to run around. It needs to be comfortable and practical; I have a little person who might be vomiting on me!

I feel most like myself when I’m in a maxi dress or something tailored. I always like to go back to the classics. I admire Coco Chanel and Grace Kelly – understated but with a bit of glam. I like a very feminine style; I like my dresses below the knee.

My mum has always said, “Love is in the details.” Because style isn’t just your clothes, it’s your home, it’s in the way you do things. That attention to detail is what makes the difference. It’s not just a matter of putting on a dress and hoping for the best with everything else. You dress from the top down: your lipstick, your nails, your shoes.

I remember my favourite fashion moment – it’s also my worst fashion mistake! It was my 13th birthday party and we were all going to see Jurassic Park at the movies. I wore this horrendous pair of bell-bottom Lycra pants with a cow print all over them; I wore it with a crop top and a really bad quiff ponytail. I remember thinking I was so cool and very fashion-forward. My mum shouldn’t have let me out of the house, but it’s my first memory of thinking, ‘Yes, I can dress myself.’

Style is a reflection of self… and I thought I nailed it that day.

Back in the 80s, my mum ran the Miss Waikato beauty pageant and she had this pair of shoes my sister and I were convinced were Cinderella shoes. They were white heels covered with Swarovski crystals. We used to sneak into her wardrobe and parade around in them with her pearls on.

I’m a magazine junkie – that’s where I get a lot of my style inspiration. I like looking at what younger people are doing – they seem so creative. The key is to take inspiration from them then adapt it for your body shape.

**Miriama Kamo

Presenter, 42**

In your 40s

My style is eclectic, I suppose. Somebody recently said I have a boho style, which is probably true. I like a lot of soft, flowing shapes, and I particularly love a good sleeve.

With TV, it’s quite different. What I wear on TV 80 per cent of the time isn’t something I’d wear off camera. On air it’s much better if you have clean-fitting lines; you need stuff that shows your shape. Tight and bright – that’s what [the stylists] say at work.

I know whether something will work for me before I put it on. So when I look at racks of clothes I always go for colour and texture. I never pull out anything I don’t like the look of immediately.

Your outfit is important to how you feel. My weight goes up and down by 10kg quite regularly; I’m at the higher end at the moment. If I’m on the heavier end of the scale, what I wear changes how I feel. If I’m at the heavier end, I might be wearing skinny jeans but I’ll pair a cape or lovely long coat with it.

Growing up, there were five of us kids and one of the great things my mother did was go to the second-hand stores. She used to come home from the Methodist Mission in Christchurch with these massive bags of clothes and we’d rummage through them. She always bought us clothes she could adapt in some way. So when puffy skirts came in, she’d buy these ankle-length hippy skirts from the mission for 50 cents and then she’d sew them up into puffy skirts.

I think I took more fashion risks when I was younger because I was figuring out what I liked. Over the years I’ve really discovered what works for me and I don’t need to go shopping in every store.

I think having ageless style is about being comfortable with the choices you make. I hate that old saying ‘mutton dressed as lamb’, because it’s really limiting. It’s a derogatory phrase. I know some incredibly stylish older women who wear clothes that you might typically see on someone in their 20s. But they look amazing.

I think you can break fashion rules as you age. You should just dress to feel comfortable. If you can look in the mirror and think, ‘Yup – rocking it’, I think that’s the main thing.

**Carol Hirschfeld

Radio NZ head of content, 53**

In your 50s

Clothes have mattered to me for a long time. My sister once told me that when I was about three, the first sentence I said that the whole family really admired was, “I’d prefer to wear my red shoes today.”

My mum passed away when she was 36 but I can still remember going through her wardrobe when I was a toddler and feeling the different fabrics of her dresses. I also remember the thrill of finding new clothes hanging in her wardrobe.

It’s really interesting being the mother of a teenage girl and watching how she’s finding her way to her own style.

The best style advice I’ve ever been given is to make sure what you’re wearing fits you perfectly. It’s all about how clothes fit on you – it’s not about the trend. That, and you’ve got to love it.

Style can be very empowering. I think we’ve all used what we’re wearing as pieces of armour when we’re going into difficult situations. When I was younger, if I was feeling anxious, I’d put my highest heels on so I could be the full 6’1”. And… maybe sometimes I still do that.

Like most women, my body has changed. At different times – like post-children – I’d think, “I’ve lost my identity. I have to be someone else.” Then, as you get older, it happens again. Reaching my 50s, I was like, “Is it okay for me to wear that?”

What I wore in this shoot is what I feel the most comfortable in – a well-cut jacket and a pair of trousers. I have a couple of pieces I wear every day, one of which is this diamond bracelet that I never take off. The story behind it – it’s deeply sentimental – is that I’ve jammed the clasp and I can’t actually take it off. So I wear it all the time!

My favourite style memory is my wedding dress. It was made by an Auckland designer, Annie Bonza. I walked into her shop and she said she’d seen me on TV and had always hoped I’d come in. She envisaged a ‘Ginger Rogers dance dress’ for me and she pretty much made that. It was a very romantic dress.

My greatest memory was walking down the steps and the silk chiffon floating out around me. I remember feeling like I could dance all night.

**Paula Ryan

Designer, 67**

In your 60s

I love simplicity, I love clothes with stretch and I love comfortable clothes. Sexy, stretchy and simple – the three s’s. It’s easy to achieve that; it’s about good-quality fabrics and then you can be simple with your designs.

When I look back at the 1970’s, I remember loving being ‘in fashion’. It was very important to wear the latest colours. And then in the 80s fashion just went over the top and it was very flamboyant. I started working out that being trendy is not the way to go. It’s more important to develop your own style and be true to it, because then it’s more enjoyable.

The key to ageless style is about not trying too hard. If you overthink it, you always over-express your style. I think women can get stuck in a style rut and they play it safe, and so they’ll tend to repeat the style for decades and sometimes past the use-by date. But simplicity works every time.

We all put on weight and take it off and that’s life. If you get obsessed with that, then you’re not going to have a lot of fun.

Women also worry about the ageing process too much. I think they need to embrace it. No one was ever rejected or died from a few wrinkles. So wrinkles don’t matter – they don’t make a person.

Over time, I’ve learnt to downsize. Keep a small wardrobe of really beautiful quality. I once bought a Chanel jacket and almost had to mortgage my house for it. I bought that in 1984, and I still love it. But I don’t wear it every day.

Think about what you buy. Don’t treat shopping for clothes as a hobby because when you start doing that you’ll buy things you never wear. So you need to almost plan it, in the same way you’d plan a room if you were redecorating. If something doesn’t work with the rest of your wardrobe, you’re wasting your time.

My style has evolved with confidence. It’s not about being paid compliments, it’s about feeling really good in a garment so when you walk in the room you know you feel good and you’re not self-conscious because it fits well.

When you get confident, you know what sort of style suits you. My legs are an asset so I wear leggings quite often under tunics. It took me time to realise that.

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