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Fashion Dilemmas of the Over 40s

28/01/2015 15:05 GMT | Updated 30/03/2015 10:59 BST

I've just been given an invitation to a bloggers' dinner party, which I was looking forward to receiving until I saw the theme - I have to go dressed as my favourite Gossip Girl character. I'm 42, I've never watched it and I don't intend to start now.

What should I wear? Seriously, I am asking you dear Reader, what shall I wear!?

This leads on nicely to a virtual conversation I've been having with one of my blogging counterparts across the pond. Meet Melissa from TheCentsOfStyle.com in Massachusetts, USA. She and I have been swapping stories about our current fashion dilemmas and I'm reassured to hear it's not just me.

Melissa is something of a style expert, so I'm delighted to have her as a guest blogger here to give us advice, along with my thoughts below:

1. Where on earth are we supposed to shop?

Melissa: High-end pricey boutiques? Department stores? The mall? Think about it, if you go to a boutique, chances are good you are going to get a beautiful item that you overpay for, and you end up 'saving' for some special occasion. Meaning if there isn't a funeral or cocktail party soon you aren't gonna wear it enough. Mall stores are so focused on vanity sizing and drawing in 20-30 somethings that you'll end up in a crop top and leggings with wedge sneakers. Not a good look at the grocery store. Be forewarned about getting sucked into H&M and Forever 21. My suggestion is get your basics at department and mall stores. Pick up one of a kind classic pieces at boutiques. And shop online for variety when it comes to trends.

Me: I'm definitely too old for Topshop, the designer shops and high end department stores are too expensive. All Saints is all ripped jeans and weird shapes. Cos looks mature and funky, but where are those straps meant to go? I don't remember the last time I did a big high-street shopping blitz. This year's mission is to start wearing the 80% or so of my wardrobe that gets pushed aside each day, because I'm feeling a bit 'blahh'.

2. Am I too old for this? Wait - am I too young for that?

Melissa: If I'm not supposed to be in leggings and a crop top, then what you ask? A large print flowered tunic with elastic waist polyester pants and sensible shoes? I think not! Try one or two trendy pieces and add them to the pants you already have that fit. The skirt you love can go with a new blouse or sweater. Blend the old with the new, but don't overdo!

Me: I'm not ready for elasticated waistbands on my trousers yet, but I like my jeans to be more denim, less gaping hole. I'm beginning to think I should cut my hair too. It's currently half way down my back - does this make me look like mutton dressed as lamb? I don't want to turn into 'crazy cat lady' with silver wiry hair in a bun. So many unanswered questions.

3. High heels.

Melissa: How high is too high? Start with, 'can I walk 3 feet without grabbing onto the nearest wall' and if the answer is no, then they have to go! For the love of the shoe god ladies, if you are teetering around just about to topple they aren't for you. 1-2 inches is a kitten heel. 2-3 inches is a mid heel. 3-4 inches is a high heel, and 4 inches and above is a super high heel. Be honest with yourself, will the stilettos work out as you run errands? Probably asking to fall on your ass. #Humiliating. Flats and boots are fantastic options. Save the heels you can walk in for the right time and place.

Me: I have fallen over in high heels, in the rain in Central London. I twisted my knee in the process and couldn't get up from the middle of the road. I was rescued by a charming man and had to toddle back to the office covered in mud. One of my friends was born in high heels. She could run for a bus in her heels faster than me in trainers. I have only once seen her without heels on and she's tiny in 'real life'. I'm more of a knee high boots gal, although I have some amazing killer heels which look just gorgeous in my wardrobe.

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4. Who is actually wearing the clothing in Vogue?

Melissa: Besides Kim KarTRASHian, not too often will you see someone walk into the office in a $4000 Lanvin sheer blouse, no bra and a slit up to 'there' leather skirt. Take elements of what you like in magazines and make it work for you and your lifestyle. No need to horrify your co-workers with a glimpse of your lady parts.

Me: I looked through Grazia today. It's a mid-market celebrity, fashion and lifestyle magazine and the clothes in the fashion pages are LUDICROUS! Space age dresses which look like they're made from silver foil; models posed in such contorted positions that you can't even see what they're wearing; layers upon layers of crazy materials and shapes. It's not for me. But who is it for?

5. Looking Good and Feeling good!

Melissa: Is this even possible? If I'm wearing a bra probably not, but since #FreeTheNipple hasn't gone mainstream yet I'll keep it on. Want to be comfy? Try a pair of good quality stretch pants and a tunic sweater. A fitted one, not a tent! Get a great pair of great fitting jeans - no muffin top allowed as that's never comfortable and means they don't fit! Add a pretty blouse or soft sweater. Pair either outfit with a cute pair of loafer style flats or a pair of riding boots. Easy peasy, classic and age appropriate. Ladies we are not meant to mimic the models in Vogue, nor, are we expected at this age to follow every trend that comes down the runway. We should embrace our bodies as they are, wear what fits that body, and fits your lifestyle. Make what you see out there work for you!

Me: I have said this before in a previous post, but I have finally worked out what shapes suit me and it has set me free! I don't need to look at aisles upon aisles of sleeveless tops and dresses because I know they are for other women. The ability to just move along without stopping is liberating. Fabrics that hang well and dresses in bold but un-patterned colours are what I've settled on.

And several layers of Spanx.

This article was a collaboration between Lifestyle Maven in the UK and The Cents of Style in the USA

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