Staying Visible July 23, 2021 09:00

Staying Visible...Finding your Style

Jennifer Morgan 

I remember a moment….I was round about 40 at the time (so a while ago now) and wanted to get a tattoo but was nervous about what people would think!

So… if you know me now it probably seems hilarious that there was a time when this was an issue for me…but back then it was a real consideration

I had a client (who was a few years older than me) and I remember discussing it with her. Her response was classic. She literally said to me “oh FFS” what are you worrying about, you have your own business (so you don’t have a boss to come down on you) or a job interview to nail. You own your own home…so its not like you have to impress a bank manager any time soon. You work in a creative industry, do you think anyone will actually care…..and if they do, does it matter to you?

And you know what, she was right. So I took myself off and got a tattoo. The rest (as they say) is history!

The bigger point that she made to me was that there is a certain stage in life when the opinions of others have to begin to matter less
At some stage we get have earned the right to say do and think what we like and hopefully have the experience to back it up

But (and its a big but) it would seem however that when it comes to how we look, we often lose courage as we get older and become way too concerned about how others see us.

Daily I will have a clients ask me if the style they are thinking about is "appropriate" as if there is a rule book that says we need to present ourselves in a certain way ant any given age.


Western society has a strange relationship with age that often leaves us confused and sometime even embarrassed of the process. I don't know why we are not embracing our lives and experiences (I suspect it has something to do with the use of the fear of ageing in big brand marketing campaigns) that have left raging as something we should be ashamed of. 

Its one of the real benefits of time and age, is that you get to a point where you understand yourself, your life and have the awareness to stand up for what you believe why not extend that to how you dress, do your makeup, style your hair?

Women are at the forefront of every field in New Zealand, running the country and unafraid to speak out, yet for many dressing (and styling themselves) has become more of a problem than a pleasure….and creates a definite lack of confidence in how we look

I wonder if in part, our self-deprecating 'tall poppy' mindset extends to how we look. A lifetime of wanting to blending in and stay 'understated' can be hard to change...but if not now, then when?

Talking to clients, as they enter into the second part of their life (no matter how brave they might be feeling about themselves) certainly where style is concerned; one word recurs when women describe themselves: "invisible"

Statistically; since the human lifespan has almost doubled in the last 100 years and we can now reasonably expect to live another 30 or more years beyond our 50th birthday, and so this this ‘second—staged’ woman has absolutely no intention of living out the rest of my three or more decades sidelined in some invisible wasteland.

I plan on living larger than I did in my youth, taking more chances, being more opinionated and doing whatever I have to do to ensure that the next part of my life is better the first…and I refuse to be invisible!

When I talk to clients about why they lack of self-confidence in their appearance, most cited things like greying hair, having to wear reading glasses, and being confused about fashion and what to wear.

It doesn’t seem that complicated - nothing that could be fixed by simply colouring their hair, get contacts, and go on a little shopping spree - so there is more to this dilemma than meets the eye

For many women after years of putting themselves behind the needs of their children, work, husband, lives the common conversation is a sense of being lost and unsure as to how they should present themselves and where to start.

There is at first glance a distinct lack of role models for women over the age of 40 but it doesn’t really matter who’s to blame for middle-aged women feeling invisible and disregarded.

If you want to reinvent (or even find) yourself in the second part of your life, research is part of the assignment. There are a whole bunch of women out there who are in their 40's, 50's, 60's 70's and even 80's who have life and style lessons to share

There are also great stores here in New Zealand who focus their business model on providing advice (and service) to the Baby Boomers and Builder Generations and providing advice and brave suggestions with fashion

As a professional hair stylist with over 30 years experience, I feel a huge responsibility to my clients to have a conversation around image and offer advice when needed.

I don’t care if our youth-centred culture is primarily to blame, and I don’t care if some women are alienating themselves by relying too much on others attention for validation, or playing it too safe in life, when now is the time taking more risks.

I simply don’t care, because if most women feel invisible and disregarded, then something has to be done about it.

And since I don’t see society rushing to our collective aid anytime soon, I believe that each individual woman is responsible for finding a solution that works for her and her unique life circumstances.

I also believe that as a group, women can be mutually supportive of one another by supporting each other’s right to age however we choose.

This means that I support your right to grey naturally and you support my right to get a neck lift in a few years. And if you want long, or pink, or shaved, or grey or coloured hair...then do it! Its up to you!!

The point here is that we must make a choice about how we’re going to age and hopefully that choice involves being true to ourselves and placing our own wellbeing as a priority.

We also need to embrace the opportunity that fashion presents for us. Many women have actively played it down, or even dressed done in their busy earlier years…so why not now that you have the time take a minute to shine and create a personal style that actually represents you and who you really are

For the record though, I don’t think that ageing well has anything to do with competing with younger generations of women, and I don’t believe it has anything to do with conforming to unrealistic youthful standards and ideals.

I also don’t believe ageing well has anything to do with the colour of our hair, the quality of our skin tone, or the size of our bodies.

Ageing well is an attitude that translates to action in a number of different ways. But forget appropriate! Most of all, banish this from your vocabulary, its not a word that serves anyone!

Its up to you...get a tattoo...or don't, colour your hair...or not, grow out your locks to an 'inappropriately' long length or cut into a short sassy style...whatever you decide NOW is the time to express yourself without giving a damn what anyone else thinks.

Who cares what our mothers or our grandmothers thought and really who cares what society with your look and find a you that you love!

Looking for style inspiration?

Well that's where technology and social media can offer a helping hand. From a style point of view there are a surprising number of amazing women who are rocking it well into the advanced old age

They have brains, beauty and life lessons to spare, these are the women that prove age is a trivial matter, indeed.

Get stylish inspiration from some of the marvellous ladies I want to grow up to be just like.....check out these style icons!

 Susan “Honey” Good 

Susan “Honey” Good serves as the voice of women after 50 all over the world. Years ago, Honey started a diary hoping it would help her find a new purpose in life.She has dedicated her life to showing other women how to keep taking a big bite out of life with optimism and style

Lyn Slater

The Accidental Icon, a fashion blog or magazine that offered an urban, modern, intellectual aesthetic but also spoke to women who live what I call “interesting but ordinary lives” in cities. Women (like me) who are not famous or celebrities but are smart, creative, fashion forward, fit, thoughtful, engaged, related and most importantly clear and comfortable with who they are.

Maye Musk

Maye Musk is a Canadian-South African model and dietitian. Also the mother of Elon Musk, Kimbal Musk, and Tosca Musk, she has been a model for 50 years appearing on the covers of magazines including Time. The New York Post asserted her self-earned fame by declaring she is "a star in her own right"

Vivienne Westwood 

Vivienne Westwood DBE RDI, British fashion designer and businesswoman, largely responsible for bringing modern punk and new wave fashions into the mainstream and at 77 shows no sign slowing down

Maxine Waters

Congresswoman Maxine Waters of the 43rd District of California is adored and admired by people who care about social justice and is oh so eloquent in letting the world, particularly the white men of Congress who dare test her acumen, know that she is not here for any nonsense.

Carmen Dell'Orefice

Carmen Dell'Orefice is an American model and actress. She is known within the fashion industry for being the world's oldest working model as of the Spring/Summer 2012 season. Her daily motto is to enjoy herself, at no-one else's expense

Helen Mirren

She is unquestionably an icon. After more than 50 years in the business, she's achieved the triple crown of acting (Emmy, Oscar, Tony), making her one Grammy away from an EGOT. Oh, and she's an actual dame

Ines de la Fressange

Isabelle de Seignard de La Fressange, born 11 August 1957, is a French model, aristocrat, style icon, fashion designer and perfumer. She was named to the International Best Dressed List Hall of Fame in 1998

Jane Fonda

At 77, fashion icon Jane Fonda is the most mature woman to ever be on the cover of W Magazine.

“I had a vision. I wanted to give a cultural face to older women,”  she told W Magazine, proving that your later years can be the best years of your life.

Linda Rodin

Linda Rodin believes in keeping things simple. The beauty mogul’s signature Rodin Olio Lusso oil has become a mainstay in the medicine cabinets of cool girls everywhere, and this unfussy yet unapologetically glamorous approach to skin care translates into her wardrobe.

Yoko Ono

Few 79-year-old women would be brave enough to pose in front of the camera wearing hotpants and a low-cut top, but then Yoko Ono has never been typical.
Nearing her 80th birthday, the artist and performer was photographed by Nick Knight for the July issue of British Vogue

Sarah Jane Adams

Sarah Jane Adams is just like any in-demand model — jetting from Sydney to New York, Paris or India is all in a day’s work. And like many of her peers, Adams’ modelling career started via social media, when she began posting selfies and quickly amassed tens of thousands of fans of her quirky style.

Dorrie Jacobson

Dorrie will not let age get in the way of looking absolutely amazing and becoming a style star online at 80+

The former Playboy bunny  decided to become what she describes as the “world’s oldest lingerie model”. At the age of 83, Ms Jacobson felt that it was important to imbue older women with a sense of self-confidence and inspire attitudes to change

Patti Gibbons

Do you sometimes feel invisible? Patti Gibbons did, but she didn’t let it put a damper on her love of fashion. Instead of “receding gracefully”, Patti burst online and started a blog that she playfully named, Not Dead Yet Style.

Wendy Packer

Wendy Packer is a New York fashion blogger, one of the first fashion bloggers to talk about women over 50. According to Wendy, fashion is just a way to feel good about yourself and others and increase your self-esteem.

Melanie Kobayashi

Mel Kobayashi is the author of style blog,  Bag and a Beret. Her comedic approach to her closet, and life, has attracted a dedicated online following inspired by her exploits and earned her a place on the world’s top-style-bloggers-over-40 lists, as well as coverage in major fashion magazines and websites.


Real name is Helen Ruth van Winkle, she's an Instagram influencer with more than 3 million followers; she's been featured by two major cosmetics lines; and she turned heads when she wore a bedazzled nude bodysuit to the 2016 MTV Video Music Awards.

Catherine Summers

Catherine Summers is a British over 40’s style blogger and winner of the Individual Fashion & Beauty Award 2017 - 2018 UK Blog Awards
Her blog opposes the term "age appropriate" and encourages women to be fabulousat any age #iwillwearwhatilike

Cathy Williamson

Full of fashionable tips and inspiration, Cathy began blogging after being discouraged that most fashion and lifestyle bloggers were in their 20’s. She wanted something just as fun, but perhaps a little more mature.  The Middle Page has also been a place for us to follow her breast cancer journey after the diagnosis she received in June.

Alyson Walsh

"It’s not about age, it’s about style. And this is for every woman who refuses to be invisible" 

A freelance journalist, former magazine fashion editor and author. That’s Not My Age began in 2008, when she noticed a space online to celebrate women (and men) of all ages.

Iris Apfel

Born in New York, Apfel, 96, went to art school before working on Women’s Wear Daily. Having co-founded Old World Weavers with her husband in 1950, she became an authority on antique textiles and she has modelled for MAC makeup, and at 91, made the cover of Dazed & Confused magazine.

Evaline Hall

Hall is a sought-after model at the age of 67. She's been an actress, a ballerina and a Las Vegas showgirl - and only started modelling a few years ago.

Judith Boyd

Judith Boyd runs a fashion blog known as Style Crone, which is dedicated to giving women who are 70 years old and older an embodiment of what it is like to be an influencer within the fashion industry at her age. In her opinion, we are usually presented with the adventures of influencers in their 20s and 30s on social media