Fashion over 40: Trinny and Susannah style tips

trinny and susannah

Fashion stylists and businesswomen Trinny Woodhall and Susannah Constantine have plenty of insight into what makes today's woman tick. And they've gone global, with TV shows in over 31 countries and half of their underwear sales coming from markets outside the UK. But the issues facing women are the same the world over they claim.

‘Once you pass 40 you are in one of several situations,' says Trinny, looking super-streamlined today at a breakfast to talk about the pair's ever-popular Original Magic Knickers shapewear range.

‘Maybe you're single and childless and panicking. Or you've had your children young, they're about to leave home and you're getting your life back, wondering just who you are outside ‘mother' and ‘wife'. Or maybe you've split up with your husband and are facing an uncertain future, building new relationships and worrying about supporting yourself. You could be facing early menopause - I'm 46 and starting to see the effects of low oestrogen. All of these issues can challenge your self-image and confidence, and your whole identity as a woman.'

Women are the same the world over

The duo's latest TV series - Trinny & Susannah Makeover Mission - has taken them around the world; they've just completed filming in Belgium, Holland, Australia and Israel. But the issues faced by the women they meet - about ageing, about appearance, about confidence, about life-changes - are the same wherever they go, they reveal.

‘We were shooting in Israel and this woman was speaking to us in Hebrew,' says Trinny. ‘We had a translator but I didn't need him to tell me what she was saying. I knew what she was saying from how she looked, how she spoke and how she was dressed because I have heard it from so many women before.'

The pair now believes there's lethargy in the UK about style makeover programmes - everybody has seen it all before. ‘We did them for 10 years,' says Trinny, ‘and we will never do them again in this country, we've said everything we need to say.' That's why they turned last year to the spoof mockumentary ‘Trinny and Susannah: What They Did Next', and hope to film a second series later this year. Read more here.

Control underwear - so not sexy?

But what about shapewear? Is there still a stigma attached to wearing control underwear, the Bridget Jones big pants syndrome? ‘No,' says Trinny firmly, ‘there isn't because now we see women wearing it under glamorous dresses on the catwalk all the time. We all still have our favourite Bridget Jones style ‘comfort pants' that we wear during periods, but this is not the same thing.'

'Finding the right control underwear for you is a matter of knowing which bits of your body you need to work on, she explains. ‘For example I've got a really long back and legs, no tits, and my bottom tends to sag - I'm bottom heavy. So today I'm wearing the bum, tum and thigh lifter, which lifts and shapes my bum and gives me curves.'

Following fashion trends post 40

The girls agree it is important to know your shape when deciding what fashion trends to follow and warn firmly against slavishly following trends once past a certain age - ie 40!

 ‘When it comes to trends ask yourself "will this look flatter me",' advises Trinny. ‘If the answer is no, take elements of the trend - for example, wear a fashionable colour. Or if the clothes don't suit you, buy the shoes. It's really important to be aware of your shape. I can't wear a low scoop neck top for example, because it makes my breasts look like raisins, but a plunging v-neckline is very flattering and makes the most of my shape.'

Make do and mend

‘Recently Susannah was wearing a dress I thought was new but it was an old one. She had just raised the hem, added a belt and wore it over legging. I think women should be clever with their clothes, it's not always about adding to your wardrobe, sometimes it's about working with what you have.'

And she's following her own advice by not buying any new clothes this season. Instead she's re-worked a few existing pieces - cutting the arms off a Zara tweed coat and adding cup sleeves, wearing over a long-sleeved top and fitted trousers, dressed up with a belt and skinny scarf.

‘Find a good alterations person,' she advises. ‘Or just do it yourself. Women of our age did Home Economics in school; we can all sew a hem or add buttons. It's amazing how self sufficient it makes you feel, it's very empowering.'

Shapewear range

Get more information on the Trinny and Susannah Original Magic Knickers range and buy online here.

The official Trinny and Susannah website is currently undergoing a facelift - but you can read more about the style duo here.

More fashion advice

Fashion over 50: Lynda Bellingham's top style tips


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