Being a woman in my late forties, the subject of the menopause has come up a lot recently amongst my group of friends. And I don’t think it’s just me; according to NHS England over 1/3 of the female UK population (that’s around 13 million women) are currently menopausal or perimenopausal.
Some of the more unpleasant effects of the drop in hormone production have been well documented. But as well as the physical symptoms a woman can experience, there is often a marked shift in her sense of identity and how she wants to express herself. Many women talk about a sense of freedom and heightened creativity, while others experience it as a time of feeling less confident or feeling unsure of themselves.
The connection between who we feel we are and what we wear is a strong one. And when the connection is disturbed, we can sometimes feel it as a sense of not knowing or understanding ourselves anymore. Often, we can open the doors of the wardrobe and utter “I have nothing to wear!” not because there’s nothing in there, but because everything hanging there reflects who we felt we were and we have shifted away from that identity.
During menopause, a woman can often feel uncertain in her identity as everything she is experiencing is new and unfamiliar. On top of that, her world might be shifting as big life changes can often occur at this time. Coupled with physical challenges like hot flushes and bloating and it’s no wonder many women struggle to find clothes to wear that they love and feel great in.
Recently in our free Facebook group, we talked about the menopause and what practical clothing suggestions we can make to help alleviate some of the less pleasant menopause symptoms, but also how we can tap into identifying our style in this new phase of life we find ourselves in.
1. If you overheat frequently, look for natural fibres. Cotton, linen, slub linen, bamboo or viscose fabrics will keep you far cooler than polyester or man-made acrylic fibres.
2. Invest in a good bra! It can make all the difference to your shape if you have a well-fitting bra. Again, a natural fabric if it’s possible to find will help with heat, but the support is crucial to get clothes to sit in the right place and look well fitted.
3. Wear light layers that you can take on and off at a moment’s notice can be helpful. Think vest tops with open shirts, light tees with lightweight jackets and cardigans can help you feel more ‘dressed up’ than a vest or t shirt on its own.
4. Keeping your temperature down with open shoes/ sandals, a v or scoop neckline and a bit of arm exposed can help the skin to regulate overall body temperature.
5. Finding shoes that are comfortable and feminine is a real challenge for many women. If you're like me and no longer find heels comfortable, but don’t want to wear ‘boring’ flats it can be hard to find a happy compromise. Look for funky styles or opt for classic neutral shapes. Vionic are a brand that have an inbuilt insole that gives additional arch support and offer up some great styles.
1. Don't be surprised if the colours you are drawn to, or the colours that look great on you changes. We have a deep energetic connection with colour, and our complexion looks brighter and clearer when we wear colours that mirror and reflect our own natural tones. You might start to prefer softer or brighter colours for example. It's a great time to see a trained personal stylist for a session on colour analysis to really help you find a palette you love that works for your natural tones.
2. It might feel natural to cover everything up if we feel uncertain about our body. However, in terms of dressing visually, creating outfits is all about balance. So if a loose floaty top is something ideal for you right now, pairing it with a slim fitting pair of trousers will work better than pairing with a wide leg pair of trousers. Similarly if you want to wear a floaty skirt or wider pair of trousers, balance it with a more fitted or structured top half.
3. Draw attention to the parts of the body you want to draw attention to by using colour, pattern or accessories. Necklaces, collars and colour on the top of the body will draw attention up to the face, while patterned skirts or coloured shoes will draw the eye down to the legs and feet.
4. If you're not feeling confident about your shape or if you are feeling suddenly fuller around the middle of the body, use vertical lines to draw the eye down the centre of the body to slim and elongate the frame. Use long lightweight cardigans and jackets worn open to achieve this helpful optical trick. Asymmetric hems and wrap dresses can also help draw the eye down through the centre of the body.
5. Keep tabs on how your sense of style is shifting – regularly create a style board or a Pinterest board gathering images of styles you love. Use celebrities for inspiration of outfits and combinations you like and see what similarities you can identify in the images you save. This is a time to be creative around clothes, and getting a visual sense of what you want that to look like in advance will help once you're at the shops. Don't be afraid to experiment and explore to find a style that you love and can really enjoy wearing.
If you need style or practical help on what to wear, do get in touch to see how we can help you.