Cultivating Everyday Elegance: Where to start for women learning later in life

How to Cultivate the Elegant Life on Over 50 Feeling 40

Hello, everyone, and welcome to my weekly focus on Cultivating Everyday Elegance as a woman over 50, who was not raised amidst elegance and desires to learn it later in life. This choice to become a woman of elegance is real and at times not that easy! I am working to change thought processes and behaviors which have steeped inside over the past 67 years.  But, I am determined to learn.  One of the benefits of the past four months has been the gift of time….especially time at home.  Time allows us to look more closely at decisions from the past and to consider if those decisions were made with prudence or in haste.  I am beginning to understand how detrimental my overly active lifestyle has been to my personal style.  This is another reason why I long for the elegant life.



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With that determination, I must constantly reset and also be willing to say when I messed up and learn from my mistakes…of which there are many.  But, humility is required in order to be teachable.  In order to go forward, I have had to look intently at the past.  Right now, I am speaking mainly about what I wear. I was asked this week to give an opinion on Jennifer L. Scott’s 10- piece wardrobe philosophy.  This exercise caused me to also go to a couple of other “capsule wardrobe”  systems, which all  led to the same destination…my closet.  It is a little scary in there. (And I already removed a chunk of it! That’s sobering.)

I truly want to become a woman of elegant simplicity.  A woman who lives by LESS IS MORE.  Therefore, there is much to be done.  I am still pondering and processing all of the information I have been gathering.

However, I am willing to admit where I think I got off track in the last few years:

  1. Dressing for the Job: I have been dressing for work with the sole intention to appear younger than I am.  I wanted to be respected but was trying (maybe too hard) to appear younger since I was the oldest employee in my office at that time. I used the adjectives against me each morning by asking if I looked youthful before leaving and if not, I adjusted. My best looks happen when I ask myself if I communicate all five adjectives in one outfit….not simply one.
  2. Dressing for the blog: Too often in the last ten years, I have dressed for the audience and not me. I have dressed for collaborations…or certain themes…or trends…that were solely for the blog and not for me.  But, when you do that often enough, messaging can get murky if you hang on to everything. 
  3. Dressing with too much emphasis on my creative bent: I love all of the creativity associated with communications…I love photography, graphic design, and art.  But too often I have allowed my creative life to direct what I wear….which can be a little out there.  I just need to calm it down a bit.

I believe this whole idea behind Scott’s theories have opened my eyes to some new realities and to many mistakes.  The first and biggest mistake being that I have been dressing lately more for others than for myself. (Elegant women courageously stand by who they are)  Of course, when I write a post which I say features an outfit I created with my five adjectives, I have truly done that.  But, there are times when other outfit photos were meant for reader requests or a collaborations, and not for my personal life.  I know this happens with all bloggers, but I want to truly look deeply at how that has affected me. I am being very real and honest, so you can understand where I am coming from when I begin to blog about wardrobe changes and what stays and what goes. 

Also, over the last ten years my weight has gone up and down.  So, I have a couple of boxes which hold clothing that is currently too small to be flattering, but which I hold hope I will return to soon.  Still deciding what will happen with those clothes.  I am trying to garner the courage to pass along oversized clothing which I often hide in.  I want to once and for all put hiding behind me and focus more on enhancing.

Going forward, I will let you know up front if the outfit is for a special blog promotion, theme, or created for certain types of readers or is it something I truly am wearing in my new elegance focused life.  If it is for promotions or themes, then I may even host a giveaway for the garment (s) so that they do not live in my closet and create confusion.

Today’s outfit features pieces that will stay in my wardrobe: a short EF jacket and V neck tank from Dillard’s; INC skinny jeans and Clarke pewter flats from Macy’s.  I am still wearing my new Beaded Shell Pendant from James Avery Jewelry with silver bracelets from James Avery.  I know many of you do not like to wear black.  But, I am showing you what is Pam-style and that includes black.  There will still be color and a touch of creativity, however toned and refined going forward.



Today's News for Women over 50 on Over Thinking on over 50 feeling 40

One of my life goals has been to be considered a woman of strength and dignity.  Strength is shown in many ways, and one is willingness to listen to criticism, evaluate it, see if any truth lies within it and then learn from it.  That is exactly where I am with this new journey.  It is not easy for a scrappy fighter like me, but grace, kindness, teachability, and humility demand willingness to listen and learn from experts and other women I know.

One of my early style mentors, Stacy London, writes to forget trying to be cute over 50 and go for elegant. “When women recognize and radiate the knowledge of their own value, others will appreciate it and feel drawn to it.”   She wrote, “Reverential allure comes with a woman’s power, wisdom and experience.”  At this age, it is all about knowing who we are and what we are capable of.  Forget the younger women at the office…or anywhere.  (The Truth About Style)

That is what I am going for…elegance with reverential allure.  Which means I need to display courage and strength and just be me!  I feel more like me when I wear elegant, simple styles which balance and stay true to my style adjectives. That is when I really communicate confidence. As recent as four years ago, I felt youthful and fun in very creative styles.  But, not so much anymore…it just may be time to ease some of the creativity and go for simple elegance. I have been walking this fine line for a long time, but it is now time to step over it.

So much more to say…stay with me now…I am set on the goal to prove that any woman can learn to be elegant. I know that I promised to discuss posture today, and I will do that on Monday.   I was so convicted by some of my mistakes lately that I wanted to “come clean” and confess this new journey to elegance was changing me in many ways. As we get more into defining my wardrobe, I will have more to write about the process.   For now, enjoy this retail information with a slide show and join me as I…..


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Pamela Lutrell for Goli GummiesThere are several ways that I generate income through this blog in order to cover business expenses and give myself much needed income.  Purchases through the slideshow links is one way, ads on the page is one way and a new way is through ordering or re-ordering the GOLI Apple Cider Vinegar gummies through me with my GOLI LINK HERE.  Again, if you are not familiar with the benefits of apple cider vinegar, you should speak with your personal physician.  My husband and I are sold on the benefits and I am proud to represent this product.  I am going to leave this at the bottom of my posts so that when you, friends or family would like to order you can use my link.  Thanks for the support.  This is a great product; as well as, the ones below!


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  1. Well said. Good luck with the journey, and towing us along with you. I am all ears as to what is next. There is something to be said for giving up the idea of ‘cute’ at our ages and going for something stronger.

  2. I agree, Diane. I kind of bristle when someone says I am cute… though I know they mean no harm. Thanks for being here.

  3. All good comments today! I love prints–blouse,jackets,pants. However, just not all together. Usually one with coordinating blouses,pants,etc-whatever is necessary. You have shown photos of some jackets/tops I would love to have in my “collection”(as my husband calls it!) In fact. I have ordered from your blog many times because we seem to have similar tastes . Think you are right on point with your discussion of elegance. To many out there, dressing is just throw on whatever and they certainly look it. One can look well(presentable) at any price point… a denim jacket goes well with most anything today. It does not have to be expensive clothing,just well thought out. Keep up the good posts. Looking forward to tomorrow(I am not in my bathrobe right now either!)

  4. Bravo! So many of us need to employ the self-examination you have. Thank you for modeling for us your thought process. Being yourself brings self-confidence and elegance.

  5. To be elegant while remaining authentic to yourself. I can identify with that! I am thoroughly enjoying following along on this journey with you.

  6. Thank you for stopping by, Cassandra! Self examination is sometimes difficult, but if we learn and grow by it, then it is so beneficial.

  7. That is true, Susan…we do not need to be wealthy to be elegant. I hope to bring affordable options to elegance throughout this journey.

  8. Pam, your journey is really interesting and I’m looking forward to following it as you go along. By the way, this photo of you in the shorter black top and the green pants is very slimming and I don’t think you have any reason to hide under big tops! Thank you for your transparency.

  9. I am really excited about your journey! I have many of the same questions as you, I have struggled with my weight too. I have one size smaller and one size larger clothing always. I am trying very hard this year to get to a place that I can maintain and get rid of the extra clothing. I love black clothing, but now that my hair is all “senior blond “ I don’t care for it next to my face. In the cold weather I can add a scarf to offset the effect, but in the summer I just wear cooler colors. I love that you are going to stay true to yourself, you are a great example for all of us. Thank you !!

  10. Thank you Beth..for your excitement and encouragement. Sounds like you are ready to add some navy into your own wardrobe if you are struggling with black. The neutrals I posted yesterday are so beautiful and excellent options for black. Thanks for being here.

  11. Thanks for sharing your personal journey, Pam! I am so excited with this direction you are taking and allowing us to ride along!!! As a young woman in what was the best shape of my life and looks-wise – I was almost paralyzed at times by my lack of confidence. Looking back at pictures from over the years, I can actually remember thinking at that time that I was so big and needed to lose weight (I see now that I did not!) or I hated that outfit or whatever. I always felt like I didn’t measure up to others around me at work or at church……I didn’t like my hair or my clothes or my style or anything……..on and on! We are our own worst critics! Like you, I’ve pretty much decided that at this stage of my life (60’s and looking at retirement soon!) – I’m over all that! I am a Mimi now, with 3 precious grands. I’m healthy – a healthy weight and no major health problems – and I’m happy with choices I have begun to make. That’s why I can’t wait to read where this journey will take you, because I plan to go along with you! Be happy and blessed, Pam!

  12. You too, Shirley! I appreciate you sharing this…I have been there. As Gigi, to five with one on the way which makes 6, I do want to be healthy and leave a powerful legacy of love for them to remember.

  13. I love that you keep growing. That encourages us to explore ways we want to grow. I think settling into a rut is one of the hazards of aging. So thanks. P.S. I also love you in those well fitting slim fitting jeans— the bit longer, narrow at the ankle leg is leg lengthening and very flattering.

  14. I appreciate your honesty, I like your basic look that you are wearing today, but part of it is a colorful coffee mug. I guess I would prefer just a bit of color with the black and jeans, but the fit and styling is great.

    It is tough to clean out closets!

  15. Wow! That took a lot of introspection and I think you’ll be gratified with the results. One of my fashion fails is when I put together an outfit thinking of the compliments it will receive. I’m quite confident in my style choice and feel that I have a pretty good handle on who I am……..but sometimes, I think more of what others will say/think about the outfit, than is it truly me and am I 100% comfortable in it.
    Keep up the hard work. I’ve noticed that you’re starting to get away from a lot of “stuff” from the shoulders up. You look good without all that around your neck and chin allowing more face visibility (and smile). And altho’ you were already aware of the importance of a V neckline for women of a certain bust stature, this clear scoop neckline that you’ve been sporting lately is much better at slenderizing and drawing the eye up and away from the bust to the flesh and face.

  16. I like adding a bit of color as well, Dee and my colorful accessories will remain in my wardrobe! Thanks so much…I know it is going to be difficult to purge…probably why I have been avoiding doing a severe one!

  17. Thank you, Sue. I do love these jeans. I hope to keep growing my entire life!

  18. What a great post Pam! Your honesty makes it easier to seriously think through some things and realize that honesty is helpful, not scary! #1 in your list was me for 46+ years. Dressing to look either “of the moment”, and as time went on to look younger because I, too, was the oldest in my office and it bugged me. Kept me youthful on one hand, but it bugged me. I have always had a classic style and worked in very formal offices, so that played well into my comfort level. Still, being oldest is difficult and it was a great thing, sad to say, when a younger lady would tell me she loved my outfit, or “I need your wardrobe.” That’s sad because it falls into the category of pride, and that’s not good at all. I read this with a lot of thought today. You know what happened? I asked myself if true elegance is what I am after. I want to BE elegant, graceful and exhibit character traits that say I’m calm, collected and thoughtful. I’ve always been somewhat outdoorsy and having had two sons and three grandsons and no girls, I’ve been kind of playful and sporty. Can that work with elegance? I have to think through that. I do definitely want to be calm, collected, pause and ponder and quiet down. I’m working on it and am really glad you are doing this. It is SO helpful!! I love this outfit on you Pam. You look like you are in great shape, those jeans with the jacket are so flattering, and your James Avery pieces are classics that definitely add elegance to a look. They just look classy! Black will always have a place in my wardrobe too, though I’m trying to add more navy. Still paring down, but I have space in my closet now. It’s really quite a challenge to get out of the “going to the office” mindset, took me more than a year. It’s hard to part with clothes until you honestly, mentally, make that break with going back. Just the other day I saw a gorgeous seersucker suit on a huge sale at Talbots. I love blue striped seersucker and was thinking of putting it in my cart online then thought again. Work mode still crops up. I don’t need that suit so logged off in a hurry! It’s a process. Sorry to have gone long here!

  19. Great Advice here, Karen…it is a process and may take awhile…though I have promised Mr. B to make a major hit on it soon and I want to as I process the capsule wardrobe ideas. BTW, it bugged me too!

  20. Thank you for your thoughtful post. I am on this journey with you and appreciate your insight.

  21. I was in NYC in the fall of 2018. I saw so many people—men and women- in close-fitted black trench coats. It seemed the height of chicness and elegance to me. But…I knew it would not fit into my Southern California lifestyle. Nor would it work when I went to visit my outdoorsy Colorado family. Neither would it work with my fun-loving Latino family in San Antonio.
    I’m wondering to what extent locale plays in defining elegance.

  22. One of my early style icons was Delta Burke of Designing Women, a plus size professional character at the same time I was starting my career. She always said to wear body skimming styles and that oversized clothing did -no- woman any favors. She was also an early adopter of the concept of the third layer. Anyway, I do agree that you were often wearing clothing too big. That said, you always looked nice. When one has an ah-ha moment, it’s easy to be a little too hard on yourself and to get too fired up and anxious to let it all go. Make sure that in your search for elegance, you are kind to yourself (and your past self), because a truly elegant woman is kind. I would encourage you to keep more of your accessories and to first purge the oversized clothing and some of your prints (big prints are not often elegant; I would put them in the “fun” category). Accessories take up little room. And even Coco Chanel (or Diana Vreeland?) said an outfit needs a touch of deliberate bad taste. I put the funky jewelry into that category for myself. It gives that elegance a little riff. If in a year you find you don’t wear it, then get rid of it. I’m looking forward to following you … I’m on nearly the same path, except for the oversized clothing. I have too much work wear for sure, much of it purchased to be comfortable, presentable, washable and above all, modest as a junior high teacher. It was all bought on deep discount and I like almost all of it … and love almost none of it.

  23. This really hit home today! I have always noticed the elegant woman and wished I could look like that. They always seem to be simply dressed! I believe like you I have tried to look younger and cuter. Time to grow up and be who I want to be ! Thank you for taking us on this journey with you.

  24. Thanks Linda…I followed a little of Delta Burke’s journey…she has always been so encouraging and kind to over sized ladies. I am going to be purging, thoughtfully, because I do not want to have a lot of regrets. My accessories…I love…and it is good advice to keep them longer before they are completely gone…I am not ready to say goodbye to them just yet. Thanks for all you shared.

  25. Interesting Linlee… I believe your surroundings does have any impact. I am more open to color and creativity living in a vibrant Latino community…San Antonio is where I live. And I love that about living here. I do believe you can be elegant and colorful and creative at the same time. I am seeking the balance and the best way to communicate my love of the creative. We will see where I land.

  26. Pam, first of all, I must say that you are such an excellent writer! I always enjoy reading your blog, and especially enjoyed this today. I love your honesty and vulnerability. Thank you for being honest and real. I’m excited to be on this journey with you. Have a blessed day!

  27. Good Morning! I enjoyed reading your comments today, as well as those of all the readers. This idea of self evaluation and modification of style is so relevant to all of us transitioning from the workplace to home. That’s what I was looking for last summer when I found your blog, having just retired. I found much more than anticipated and while the fashion ideas are fun, what I most value is your exploration of the goals or motives behind our choices. By the way, I took a big leap the other day and had my shoulder length hair cut quite short. This is something I had been wanting to do for such a long time, but had let fear deter me. I LOVE the new look, and am enjoying the way my natural waves are now able to do their thing! Anyway, I mention this because I feel sometimes that a step like this is so freeing, and becomes the catalyst for revamping other style or image choices.

  28. Excellent post today, Pamela! It made me stop and think about who’s styles I have admired, and guess what? It’s almost always been an elegant older woman who was confident and looked and felt comfortable in her own skin. I’ll bet many younger women you worked with really looked up to you. Somebody has to be the oldest!
    I struggle with what my “style” is from time to time. I dress for myself and am usually the happiest when I feel the most confident and comfortable. Sometimes that’s classic and sometimes that’s more eclectic. I know I’m not boho or feminine. So at least I’ve pared down what I’m not. Maybe it’s ok to have more than one style. 🤷‍♀️

  29. Oh, Pam, never have regrets about giving something away. Always think of the pleasure that others get when wearing something new that you have donated. That said, I know how difficult it is to let go of things especially when you paid a lot for them. Wear clothes that make you feel good – maybe I should say elegant! Actually, I think you always look polished, nicely dressed, happy, and confident, which is what elegance is all about.

  30. That is why I use style adjectives to help me refine and define my style…that way I can combine different looks. My new adjectives…what I want to tell the world about me with my clothing…are elegant, intelligent, confident, approachable, and creative…which is really a combo of classic and eclectic just like your said, Susan. I may go a little softer now on the creative!

  31. Thank you so much, Sharon. I will remember what you said about giving things away!

  32. Wonderful, honest, and insightful post, Pam! Thank you for being so honest and open about where you’re at and where you’re going. Good luck with paring your closet down to the real, authentic you. I believe that there’s a big difference between having a vibrant, youthful attitude and trying to look younger than we are.

  33. I agree, Elaine. I think when we display that youthful attitude with joy, optimism and confidence then others believe we are younger than we are!! Works way better than a message sweatshirt!

  34. Thank you for your honesty. At different times in my life, I have dressed to please others, too. This works when you are a teenager or even a twenty or thirty something, but there comes a time when we have to face the mirror & see who we really are. I am drawn to simple classic styles. To me, that is elegant & fits who I am today. I have seen women over fifty wearing distressed jeans & blinged out clothing. If that is who they are, I applaud them, but that is not who I am. I am here with you as you move forward.

  35. Thank you, Becky. I wrote a post warning against distressed jeans years ago and got blasted (mostly by other bloggers)…so I will not say a word!!

  36. Wow, So much to think about if I am truly honest about being elegant. Everyone has eloquently responded and I totally agree with their comments, especially how well you write. You are an inspiration and I am glad to come along.. Thank you.

  37. What a great post, Pam. I love your forthright honesty — with yourself as well as with us. I’ve always found it interesting (& often annoying) how I so often have ideas that are outdated & stale & need to be retired, are other people’s ideas that I’ve lazily taken as my own, are wrong because I based them on wrong information or are simply safe & familiar & need shaking up. Older women should never wear black. Put white pants & sandals away on Labour Day, Dress to look younger/thinner/richer/whatever. Dress your age (whatever that even means!). I think we all go through life with a lot of wrong ideas in our heads & I also think elegant woman question these ideas at intervals. But we get into ruts & need to be reminded to do that. Covid-19 has done that for many of us. And blogs like yours do the same thing in a much kinder way 🙂

    A friend the other day said she thinks of this time as a rehearsal for retirement. She & her husband were planning to retire in 3 years but have moved that up a year (“none of us is guaranteed 3 years”) & have made changes to their plans based on what they’ve learned about themselves. For instance, they planned on doing a lot of travelling because they just figured that’s what retired people do. But they’ve found they much prefer staying home & spending time with each other & family, & so are spending their travel $ on renos to their house & garden. Without this Covid “interlude” they may never have taken the quiet down-time to figure this out.

    One of my big take-aways from this time is that life’s really short & stuff happens. I’ve never been inclined to worry about what other people think, but have become even less so over the past few months. I’m very tired of women soothing their own insecurities by criticizing other women on what they wear, their weight, how they behave, what they say or how they live their lives. I’ve been guilty of this myself but have sworn to stop. I think the first step to embracing “elegance” is deciding what it means to us & being true to that, not worrying about what it means to someone else & how THEY embrace it. You’re the first stop on my crazy train these days, Pam. Thank!

  38. I love being the first stop on your crazy train. I agree that the pandemic has changed so, so much and that old rules need to be retired. Slowing down to appreciate, ponder, evaluate, and refine has been so valuable for me! Thanks for being here, Janet.

  39. I really enjoyed your blog today! You are so refreshingly honest and a wonderful writer. I’m looking forward to your journey. I think that we all have to wear what feels right for US at the moment. For me that usually means simple, classic, casual and comfortable. I like to add color with accessories and shoes. When we feel good we look good! You are on your way. If we stay true to ourselves we can’t lose. I love your skinny jeans, and I wish I looked as good in black as you do!

  40. Thanks Dawn…you are so kind and I am glad you are on the journey with us!

  41. Out shopping today someone told me I was elegant and “always looked so pulled together.” It made me realize that details have much to do with elegance. I won’t wear ruffles, bows, peasant styles or Boho clothing and have never owned Birkenstocks or UGGs. I have no hoodies, velour running suits or ripped jeans. Even my workout clothes are loafer style athletic shoes and slim fitting exercise attire. I love color, jewelry, purses and shoes. I still believe any style can be assembled and accessorized to be elegant. No one can not say Iris Aphel with her oversized glasses, mounds of bracelets and colorful clothing that are pieces of art in themselves, is not elegant. So don’t throw out the prints, jewelry and clothes you love because they don’t say elegant to you now. You have been through a shocking adjustment as well as going thru a pandemic and being unable to see friends and family that we all are missing. Elegance can be setting your table to dine, not just eat, expressing gratitude and kindness with notes and small gifts, or encouraging others with our words or deeds. You already have elegance Pam, you are only struggling with ways to show it on the outside.

  42. Very introspective article, that I know I can certainly relate to, as |I work towards purging my own closet. The outfit you are wearing looks very good on you. The reason I think the outfit looks great on you, is because the first thing I noticed when I looked at the photo was you and your lovely smile. You are the center of attention – not your outfit. I think that if you are wearing colors and styles that flatter you individually, then the first thing that people notice first of all is you, not your outfit. They may eventually take note of your lovely outfit, but should notice you as a person first. The jeans you are wearing by the way are very slimming on you. I think you absolutely nailed this outfit; it is a fabulous look on you. A great choice in your new path to elegance!.

  43. Hi Pam,
    I am really enjoying your blog with Jennifer and especially your cultivating elegance series.
    Thank you for your insights. You write so beautifully it is such a pleasure to read. I think you look absolutely wonderful in that Eileen Fisher jacket:)
    All the very best,

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