Turning 40 your conscious clothing choices will become vitally important to your self-esteem. Most women only wear 15% of their wardrobes 85% of the time, because they don’t know what colours or styles flatter their skin tone or their body shape and following fashion can lead to disasters with wardrobes. With a changing body shape and a fading skin tone, it is important to discover your best colours and shapes, to look your best, highlight the positives whilst camouflaging the negatives.

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Your body shape is determined by your skeletal structure; you can change your weight, your muscle tone and also your posture but your height and body type cannot be altered. To be a stylish woman you need to capitalise on your natural body shape and use clothing in a harmonious and complementary way.

For instance if you have the classic hour glass curvy body shape, dressing in softly curving clothes is best and not hiding behind stiff straight lines, which will naturally suit the more boyish and straight up and down figure.

Some top tips for a super body shape in your 40’s:


Signature Style

Aim to highlight the waist, elongate figure and show off curves.

  • single breasted soft/fluid jackets that float over curves best
  • belted styles, vertical lines and wrap dresses all flatter curves
  • v-neck and scoop tops will compliment a full bust

Nigella Lawson shows off her hour-glass figure to maximum effect in low cut fitted tops and dresses that show off her waist.

Big Tummy:

Aim to re-focus attention from middle to legs and/or face.

  • wear tops with fullness that drape but don’t cling, empire style
  • avoid waistbands, belts and front pockets on trousers/skirts
  • one colour outfit with a colourful scarf will detract upwards

Fern Britton looks fabulous by covering up her tummy with empire style dresses and tops.

Short legs/long waist:

Aim to create illusion of higher waistline/longer legs.

  • choose high waisted clothes; dresses with belt worn high
  • heeled shoes/boots and tights should be toned to match bottoms
  • wear trousers slightly long

Trinny wears frock coats and well cut high waisted trousers to put her long body in proportion.

Short waist/long legs:

Aim to create illusion of lower waistline.

  • monochromatic outfits work well and wear low waisted bottoms
  • vertical lines on top lengthen area with narrow matching belt
  • v-necks will elongate the neck line

Princess Diana had famously long legs but her waist was short and she dressed beautifully to counteract this area and always looked perfect.

Broad Shoulders:

Aim to soften the shoulders and create balance with hips.

  • best styles are cuffed long sleeved tops and dark v-neck tops
  • buy jackets with less structure and more drape
  • vertical lines and small lapels take attention away from shoulder area

Maria Sharapova has broad shoulders like many female athletes and she wears clothes that compliment her well-toned physique when off court.

Broad Hips:

Aim to square shoulders to create balance with hips.

  • shoulder pads will be your best friends and horizontal lined tops
  • cap sleeves, puffed sleeves, boat necks, collared shirts are best
  • buy structured tailored styles with lighter shades on top

Jennifer Lopez is a classic pear shape and wears well cut stylish clothes that make her look slimmer and fashionable.

The importance of Colours

Now you are in your 40’s it is vital you discover which harmonising colours will bring out the best of your complexion, the ones that match your underlying skin tone making it look even, youthful and healthy. It is possible to take years off your age and give yourself that “wow you look well today” appearance that wearing great colours can do instantly.

Choose the shades that make you feel confident and get you compliments, and clear out the ones that make you look tired, drained and older!

Here are brief summations of the seasonal palettes, so see which one relates to you:

Cool Summer has a light colourless complexion – never red cheeks or broken veins although a general pinkness can cover the face. Eyes tend to be blue. This skin does not tan well. Colouring is delicate and pale including hair and best colours are cool pastel blues, purples and pinks which give the skin a fresh, soft glowing quality.

Cool Winter skin can be light or dark with a distinctive edge giving the appearance an unusual quality. Black is the key colour with the absence of dark lines under chin, shadows round eyes and lines on face – the other seasons will show signs of these when wearing black against their faces. This complexion has no high cheek colour, is very striking with a blue undertone and suits vibrant cool colours like rich reds and pinks combined with black and white for a dramatic look. Eyes will be very dark brown or cool blue.

Warm Spring skins tend to have a yellow/golden base which can vary from extremely pale to very dark but has a healthy complexion often with high cheek colour and sometimes broken veins and possibly a tendency to blush! Skin when tanned will be golden. Suits warm, clear, bright colours of coral, lime green, bright blue and yellow. Eyes are clear and either brown or blue sometimes with a yellow overlay appearing green.

Warm Autumn complexions tend to tan a deep golden colour, and can vary from very light to very dark but generally the colouring is rich and the skin appears to have a lovely metallic sheen to it being able to wear a lot of make up without looking unnatural. Wear strong muted earth tones of orange, olive green, gold and browns. Eyes can be green or brown and sometimes blue.

Some top colour tips for looking fabulous and feeling great in your 40’s:

  1. Match the right coloured make up to your own personal skin tone i.e. warm or cool and this will ensure your complexion looks its best.
  2. Scarves are your best friends. Choose colours and fabrics to suit your own personal colouring and style preference to bring out the best of your features.
  3. Choose coloured jewellery either stones in amber, turquoise, topaz or coral. Pearls or gold for warm skins and silver for cool.
  4. If wearing an LBD put a coloured shawl, cape or pashmina around your shoulders for instant colour lift against the face and added warmth.
  5. Dark jackets should be worn with a coloured or neutral shirt as the collar will then reflect well up against your skin and not black for a youthful look.
  6. If black trousers are your thing, then make sure you wear a lovely coloured top; plain, patterned, floral or striped.
  7. Coloured blazers and jackets are so flattering and fashionable and will instantly update an old wardrobe favourite.
  8. When looking to purchase a new dress for the winter season opt for a two-tone dress with either black on the bottom and colour on the top or for a really slimming look colour down the middle with black at the sides.

For more information on your seasonal colour palette and whether you can wear black, see Jules’ book “How Not to Wear Black”, and to discover how to choose your colours mindfully to enhance every area of your life see “The Essential Guide to Mindful Dressing, choose your colours – control your life” – both available at Amazon. Jules website is www.colourconsultancy.co.uk.

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