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Fashion for the over 50s with books and beauty

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Sunday 12 August 2018

Six Tips for Must-Have Accessories

Image showing an over 45 woman showing how to add great accessories to a plain black outfit

When I revived Is This Mutton? two years ago, one thing I quickly noticed was my lack of accessories. I had just two handbags in black and brown, hardly any belts, one or two necklaces I wore all the time, and no hats at all.

The only area where I was "accessory rich" was shoes, where I already had silver and gold boots and several pairs of my signature quirky shoes  (see more of the collection here).

Adding more accessories has been key to creating stylish looks and making outfits more versatile.

My "signature" look, if you like, usually includes chunky pearls, a wide waist belt, something leopard-print, and interesting footwear. Above I combine all four, adding over-the-knee boots.

Here are my six top tips.

Accessories don't need to be expensive

Outfits can quickly be updated with the latest accessories, and I don't spend too much money on them. Personally I find designer handbags, covered in logos, a bit ostentatious. In the last year I bought a few cross-the-body bags and I love these because it's a great way to keep your cash, debit cards and phone close to you with everything else (laptop etc) in a tote. In summer I use clutch bags.

You can update outfits by adding the latest style of bag and shoe. I keep an eye on trends in Grazia and by looking at new arrivals and best sellers on Asos.

Spend more on belts

If they're a plain colour, belts need to be in leather. Plastic ones always look a bit cheap. I've shown several times the difference that wide belts make if you have an hourglass figure, or adding definition to a straight up and down figure.  

Essentials for me are belts in black, brown, leopard print and silver and gold. The last three are great neutrals.

Tips on how women over 45 can add style and personality with accessories, at low cost
A belt looks great worn over a jacket or coat

Have fun with jewellery or scarves

We all have much loved classic jewellery and if we're lucky, heritage jewellery that has been handed down to us. This jewellery can be very ageing though.

My approach now is to buy latest trends, cheaply, from places like Topshop or Mango. I recently bought several pairs of statement earrings from the Mango sale. I'm still not sure it's a look that suits me, but at sale prices I was able to experiment. I love chunky pearls too and found a great necklace on Etsy, along with the pearls in top picture which came from BHS for around 50 pence! The green necklace below I wear all the time with green jumpers and my green coat. It came from Etsy.

Find great jewellery to lift your outfits at places like Ets. This green necklace was made in Mexico

I don't wear many scarves because I'm not good at arranging them artfully. But I am a great fan of Rew neckwear, which is fastened with a button (above). Their scarves are real attention grabbers.

Signature style with shoes, boots and socks

A lot of women of all ages embrace nail polish in unusual shades to show personality, and choosing distinctive footwear is another way to do it.

I would never be without a pair of gold and silver ankle boots each winter. They go with everything. Again, I don't spend a lot of money on these: I buy them from Asos, Dune or Office. I can easily update them every one or two years, choosing the latest styles and heel heights  (but never very high).

I spend more money on the black leather boots that I buy usually once every two years. You can really tell the difference with quality when you're buying black or brown. Ox blood is a good alternative to brown, although brown is back as a fashion shade this autumn for the first time in ages.

Certain colours are usually big each winter for footwear.  It's often a passing trend. White is still fashionable for AW18, which is great because I didn't buy any last winter, thinking it would be too short lived a trend. I'm also on the lookout for purple and green boots.

Leopard and animal print is big for AW18 and if you're cautious about this trend, wearing it in footwear or a handbag is an easy way to buy into it without looking like Bet Lynch.

As well as gold and silver ankle boots, I always have a pair of metallic brogues. They are so useful. I'll be showing you my new pair from Vionic very soon.

Is This Mutton? has six top tips for accessory buying, including metallic boots or shoes like these gold ankle boots
The first time I wore my gold metallic boots, back in 2016

Gold ankle boots worn with white jeans and a black bomber jacket
The gold boots adding some edge to an outfit for a gig, including my favourite leopard print bag and a sequinned bomber jacket. 2017

Wear distinctive hosiery

Models in the September issue of Vogue are still wearing ankle socks as a trend. Nice. I love lurex and fishnet socks worn with brogues and trousers.  Sainsbury's are a surprise destination for lurex socks.  I stock up on funky tights in different colours and weaves here.  I like expensive tights for my black opaques because they don't stretch, they don't get bobbly, and they have a lux black finish. Everyone rightly raves about Wolford. I know the prices are off putting but they last for years.

Adding your own style with hats gloves and scarves

Winter gives us more possibilities with a panoply of warmers such as hats, gloves, scarves, muffs and ear warmers. I would love to be a hat person but while my collection has grown, I still don't feel fully confident in hats. In winter I wear snoods, hoods and beanies to keep warm. I adore faux fur so I love a tippet or fur hat to add glamour to a plain coat. Gloves can look very elegant and very Grace Kelly. I only wear leather gloves - again, it's an area where quality shows. I'm not keen on patterned scarves: I think the Dr Who look is great on young women but looks a bit dated on older ladies. I tend to stick to plain cashmere scarves which are so soft next to the skin.


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  1. I love those golden boots! Saw them first on my Styled by serie! Fabulous.

  2. I love accessories, and tend to not spend a lot on them normally. Got kids that grab and pull on things. Love your tips!

  3. I just realized how few accessories I have in my wardrobe. I should invest in more so that my outfits look like actual outfits. #AnythingGoes

  4. You can add to much to a look with little touches like these. I always find women who do wear accessories well particularly scarves turn my head but having said that like you I don't wear many as never know how to fix them #AnythingGoes

  5. I love the first outfit, the accessories just works so well together. I'm really pleased animal print is a big trend for A/W, but then it's never really out of fashion! I recently bought some silver lurex ankle socks and I'm looking forward to trying them out with a few outfits! Thanks for linking up!

    Emma xxx


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