Photo: @Baddiewinkle/Instagram.

Huda Cade scoffs at the notion of dressing your age.

“It’s ageist! That phrase means women of a certain age should dress and act in a certain way, but who makes that decision? Who says what that age is, or what appropriate attire is?” asks the owner of Eveline Street Clothing in Lockport, MB.

For 25 years, Cade has maintained a strict code inside her cozy shop: Negative self talk is not allowed. The majority of her customers are in the 45- to 65-age range, and at least half wear plus sizes.

Boutique owner Huda Cade says that the concept of dressing your age is outdated and ageist. Photo: Shel Zolkewich.

“Every single person who comes to the shop is beautiful. Maybe they don’t feel that way when they walk in. But it’s my job to make sure they feel that way when they walk out,” she says.

Cade’s attitude toward age-appropriate clothing—or the elimination of it—is echoed by her long-time friend and Canadian fashion designer April Cornell.

“I think people adjust their styles to changing body shapes all the time. Maybe a sharp waist doesn’t work anymore, but feminine silhouettes work for all ages so a soft waistband (thank you elastic) is important,” Cornell said. “Wear what you love and what makes you feel beautiful.”

While regarded by some as frivolous, fashion can make us feel relevant and beautiful. British Vogue’s fashion editor, Lisa Armstrong may have said it best: “The art of fashion as you grow up is to master it, to let it help you project the person you want to be, to use it as a tool that fills you with confidence.”

Cade couldn’t agree more.

“What we really want is to have the freedom to choose, to be creative, to express our unique selves, and to be comfortable and proud of how we look using our own eyes rather than the eyes of some arbitrary external (usually male) force that wants to determine not only our wardrobe, but also our actions.”

How to discover your own personal style
We asked Hade to share her top tips on dressing to feel your best.

Q: We all want to look our best, but for some of us, finding a look that suits us best is difficult, at any age. What should we do?

A: Honestly, it takes a bit of trial and error. Most importantly of all, a piece has to feel like it belongs on you, both in terms of the fit and the look. Comfort is key. And if a plaid shirt and a pair of jeans is an extension of what feels best for you, then embrace that. Make it work for you with the best fabrics and fit.

Q: What’s the biggest mistake women over 50 make when it comes to their wardrobes?

A: The biggest mistake is feeling like they need to fit into a box. Remember the 80s? That was a terrible time for trends and fashion in general. All those inflated angles and constraining fabrics made it impossible to be comfortable. Let’s not go down that road again. So if you’re 75 and you love wearing short skirts and leggings, wear them. If you feel sexy and beautiful in what you wear, that spills over into how you feel about yourself in bigger ways.

Q: You open your closet and realize your wardrobe sucks. What can you do?

A: Go to a shop that you like and spend some time there. Let the shopkeeper dress you and choose things for you that suit your frame and colouring. See yourself through someone else’s eyes. An expert guide is everything and can help you see what works for you. You’ll learn a few things and it’ll be much easier to choose pieces in the future.