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Great style at any age

Created date

May 30th, 2009

Tips from celebrity stylist Sherrie Mathieson

By Michele Harris

Editor s note: Last month was the last installment of a three-part series on fashion for the mature woman. But we ve had such a positive response from readers we ve decided to add one more feature focusing on how to create a classic style that works for you.

People call Sherrie Mathieson "the thinking women s stylist" because she advises her clients to make intelligent style choices. Mathieson has dressed actors, celebrities, and athletes, and now she brings her professional expertise to everyday folks with her new book, Steal This Style: Moms and Daughters Swap Wardrobe Secrets. The book is unique in its approach to style and opens up a world of fashion possibilities for older women in particular.

Real women have issues!

Mathieson s style philosophy is rooted in the concept that all women, regardless of age or size or shape, can look stylish and up-to-date. One of the best things about the book is the fact that the photos are of real women, not professional models.

"Everyone wasn t small and easy," she says of the mothers and daughters who fill the pages. "Within a set, either the mother or the daughter had some sort of issue. I know from my private practice that real women have issues. There was no point in having a book where you show people of different ages, but yet they all have model-like figures."

The basis of great style

While many older women tend to gravitate toward brands and styles marketed specifically to them, Mathieson encourages older women to branch out and get inspired by some of the designers their daughters like to wear. Once you do, Mathieson believes you ll have an easy time creating a look that is both modern and classic. (Mathieson includes a list of her favorite stores, designers, and other resources in the back of the book.)

None of the models in the book had ever worked with a professional stylist before. "The daughters were especially delighted with the changes they saw in how their mothers dressed," she says. And the mothers? Mathieson says that to some degree, all of the mothers in the book continue to use her makeover suggestions in their daily style choices.

"This book is basically about style," she says. "I want people to be able to learn to walk before they can run. Running is fashion. It s something that you need a certain expertise to do. Most people don t know the essentials of good style. That s why we see a lot of bad clothes out there. Because people strive to be fashionable, but they don t understand the basis of great style."

All black trousers are not created equal

Just about every woman owns a pair of black trousers, but, as Mathieson points out, not all black trousers are created equal. To be stylish, Mathieson says that first and foremost, the pants must be "in the current cut and in the current fit. Things have to work with your shape, not just your age. A black pair of pants means one thing for a 50-year-old woman who is a size six and another thing for a woman of 70 who wears a size 18."

By focusing on classic style rather than fashion, Mathieson hopes to help people avoid becoming the unfortunate fashion victim. She cautions against becoming too devoted to any particular designer or line of clothes. For example, Mathieson says she usually loves Ralph Lauren, but this season he is showing a lot of harem pants, which she abhors.

"Never go for a look that you don t like or that doesn t suit you just because someone of authority says it s fashionable," Mathieson says. "That would make you a slave to fashion and that is never stylish."

With the economy slowly emerging back into green territory, Mathieson knows that many consumers may want to curb their spending on clothes. "My feeling is that the silver lining of this economy is the extreme sales that they have right now," she says. "This is a great opportunity to get top quality for less money. I can t say enough for buying the best you can possibly afford."

For more information about Sherrie Mathieson, visit