Say goodbye to your wardrobe struggles!

portrait of a woman over 40

Style for Over 40 | The Art of Aging Unapologetically

Today, I’m having Denise, a portrait photographer & blogger from AndBloom, who’s passionate about inspiring women over 40 with self-assurance and style, share her life and style journey. Welcome, Dee!


My name is Denise; friends call me Dee, born in 1975. I am a portrait photographer with the fuel to capture beauty. In 2018 I started “my beautiful journey into aging.” After a long and exciting career in fashion, first as a model and then as a fashion photographer, I decided to focus on the beauty of aging with a new project called AndBloom

denise and bloom
Denise from AndBloom

The first portrait I took was of my then 69-year-old mother and published it on an Instagram account called @And.Bloom. From that first day portrayed women over 40. I also interview them and posting their portraits and life stories on Instagram. The project was quickly picked up by women worldwide, which confirmed that I was not alone in need of this kind of content.

The first time I ever started to look for media inspiration from women in their 40’s was when I reached the end of my 30’s. What now? I regularly thought then. But my long searches in magazines or online (social) platforms often came to nothing.

There was so very little beautiful, modern, and fashionable content that inspired me. And looking to young women for inspiration was not what I needed anymore. I quickly learned that equaling yourself, with fashion style and beauty, with a younger woman is often tricky because you can no longer mirror yourself.

I just wanted to see what life would be like in the future. What do you wear when you are in your 40s, fashion, makeup, lifestyle? What changes when you get older? What stays the same? It was almost nonexistent, and I am talking about five years ago. 

I just turned 40 when I became a mother, and for two years, I only had an eye for my beautiful baby. After all the sleepless nights, breastfeeding, and almost wholly ignore me, I slowly started to see the outside world again.

I resumed the exact search for inspiring women over 40, 50, and 60—examples, muses, women who preceded me, with self-assurance and style.  It was a search with an unanswered outcome. Long story short, what I searched for was not there. 

I decided not to return to my career as a fashion photographer but to focus entirely on my target group, the 40+ women, with a new project called AndBloom. With my portraits, I capture women’s fierceness over 40 (+++), with their fine lines, some with silver, grey hair and mostly just the way they naturally are, beautiful “older” women.

Today almost three years later, and with an Instagram community of 160,000 female followers, I am daily creating content for the 40+ women. Fashion and beauty are a considerable part of my passion, leftover from the time of my modeling career and fashion photography.

The best thing about this project is that I not only work with models, but I portray a lot of “normal” women. Women you don’t see in the media are the women of every day; you see them on the street, in the supermarket, in the schoolyard. They are the mothers, daughters, sisters, grandmothers.

These women usually all come to my studio, where they are treated like fashion models. A makeup artist is present; they are dressed by a stylist and photographed by me—all in the “AndBloom” style that now stands for itself.

September 2021, a book will be released with more than 100 portraits of women called “The art of aging unapologetically”.

The AndBloom message? Live your life and be proud of your age. I love women so much who represent their age with confidence. Women with a fashion style that is not bound by age. I am a massive fan of dressing to your body. Your body shows what it can best carry; the shapes speak for themselves. 

Live your life and be proud of your age.

DENISE BOOMKENS

Many women go through physical changes during perimenopause, not just inside but also outside. Weight gain is often a problem, but you can also dress very well in a fashionable way. I always find it helpful to go through my clothes with a style coach once in a while. To see what is and what is no longer “possible.” A lot is possible; styling is often the trick.

A lot is possible; styling is often the trick.

DENISE BOOMKENS

My style is extensive; I like to wear jeans with a simple white T and sneakers. My flower dresses are my absolute favorite. Over the past year of lockdown, I have come to appreciate my tracksuits; I have many by now, work from home and hang out on the couch. I see fashion as fun, an art form even. By dressing in a certain way, you express how you feel, I love fashion, and in my opinion, there is no age limit to that.

I don’t think there are do’s or don’ts really. Look at your body type and shape is the best tip I have. Other than that it’s all about fashion is fun and a form of art. To use plain items is wonderful but it’s often much more interesting to style them with layers or extra items like glasses or jewelry, scarfs or a hat. Make sure your accessories are up-to-date. There are no limits to combination you could make.

But, the body shape is important. So maxi-dresses when you are tiny isn’t going to work for you. Be careful with black clothing, it can be a bit harsh when getting older but that’s depending on your skin tone. Go for quality instead of quantity, a beautiful coat can be combined with lots of basics. Or a fabulous handbag or glasses can finish an outfit and give it a WOW factor. And yes, a red lip is an ageless style must-do.

“Fashion you can buy, but style you possess. The key to style is learning who you are, which takes years. There’s no how-to road map to style. It’s about self-expression and, above all, attitude.” —Iris Apfel

What strikes me, but fortunately is becoming less and less, is that women, due to the hustle and bustle of life, sometimes neglect themselves. By changing their body, they no longer know what to wear and therefore opt for simplicity. I think that’s a shame to see. What I also think is fantastic is “the positive body movement” in which you now see all kinds of body shapes in the media. So being thin is no longer the trend, and the curves can be seen; hooray for the 40+ woman.

If you want more style for over 40, keep reading!
Up Next: How to Have Style in Your 40’s, 50’s, & Beyond

Carolyn Arentson
Carolyn is the founder and creator behind My Chic Obsession. When she's not dreaming up new content, you can find her watching a funny tv show with her husband, raising her two boys, or planning her next trip to Paris.