Author wants women to dress with style at every age

JoAnne Klimovich Harrop
| Monday, Feb. 4, 2013, 8:48 a.m.

As a woman ages, often, what's in her closet gets older, too.

It could be time for some changes.

“The romance is over,” says Lois Joy Johnson, author and former fashion and beauty editor. “The body you've dressed and shopped for has evolved, but your wardrobe hasn't. Clothes and looks that made you feel sexier, more confident, successful, well-dressed and put together in your 20s, 30s and early 40s suddenly don't do it for you anymore. Changes in weight, hormones, work, finances, lifestyle, attitudes, opinions and needs have had a major impact on your closet and style.”

So, open up those doors and see what needs to be updated, says Joy Johnson who offers help with her recently released book “The Wardrobe Wake up: Your Guide to Looking Fabulous at Any Age,” (Running Press, $23).

With more than 20 years experience in the fashion business, Joy Johnson has worked with women to help redefine how they dress after 40.

“ ‘The Wardrobe Wakeup' is a realistic, honest fashion guide that crunches all my experience and knowledge into practical lessons and tips,” she says.

In writing the book, she chose to feature 18 real-life women, “who have survived trends, fads of the minute, weight changes, husbands, jobs, grown-up kids and life's little lemons with wit and style.”

“Find yourself in them, or maybe, like me, you'll be a combo,” says Joy Johnson, 63, who believes age is a major accomplishment.

Within the pages, women will learn hundreds of body-enhancing, style-boosting, closet-reviving, money-saving tricks. Some of those include getting more style and flattery from your same old clothes, looking contemporary but not silly, spending less but looking better, and dressing for comfort without giving up on fashion. Women will find solutions to the fashion dilemmas specific to their current life.

As one of the founding editors of MORE magazine and its beauty and fashion director for more than a decade, she has interviewed and photographed hundreds of women who changed the way women dress, shop and think about clothes. The list includes trend-setting designers, top news anchors, iconic models and stylish celebrities. Among them are Norma Kamali, Diane von Furstenberg, Lauren Hutton, Christie Brinkley, Susan Sarandon, Diane Keaton and Ann Curry.

“There has been a kind of quiet revolution in fashion in terms of what women really wear, in terms of lifestyle clothing, because what you see on the runway is not what real women wear,” says Joy Johnson, who is the beauty and style director for AARP, for which she also writes a blog.

“What women wear on the runway, real women don't wear,” she says. “This book is about women still staying in the game and a lot about women in transition from divorce to traveling to a new career.”

Older women still strive to be stylish and attractive. There are viable options such as JCrew, and where women can find quality clothing at affordable prices.

“These places have changed the way women think about price and quality clothing,” Joy Johnson says.

An item that never really goes out of style is the dress. It has become a big go-to item for everything from a job interview to a date to a wardrobe that needs refreshing.

“They are easy to wear and solve a lot of body issues,” Joy Johnson says. “Dresses aren't complicated, and there are no issues, because you can choose sleeves if you want to cover your arms or sleeveless if not. You can go belted or not belted, and you can wear fairly low heels and still look good. The dress works for every woman.”

Wearing color, she says, is energizing and adds warmth to your skin tone. Color makes everyone look alert and cheerful, she says.

Joy Johnson believes women in the age-40-and-older demographic are largely underserved and ignored by the fashion community, and she hopes her book will help these women find their way in the style world.

She says when she sees an older woman such as actress Helen Mirren look stunning on the red carpet or in a movie or on the street, it is refreshing.

“She looks amazing, and she looks sexy and grown up,” Joy Johnson says. “We have in our heads a role model we think of like Helen Mirren, but I wanted to show real women in the book and show them with their own clothes so readers can find someone who resonates with them. Women need to feel confident and need to feel they are staying in the game. I hope this book inspires a lot of women to do just that. We are multitasking from caring for an ill parent to parenting grandchildren to juggling a career and a family.”

JoAnne Klimovich Harrop is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at or 412-320-7889.

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