4 Cool Women Making 40 Fantastic

UPDATE: Judd Apatow's This Is 40 officially makes its debut today, and in honor of the movie we're pretty very excited about, we're revisiting our own homage to the new 40. These four women — as well as the movie's lead, Leslie Mann — are loyal friends, enterprising businesswomen, cool moms, and — yep! — all over 40. This story was originally published on May 8, 2011.
There's no question, getting older can be a little disconcerting. We all remember turning 18, turning 26, turning 30 and feeling super excited, but also kind of freaked out about not only how far we'd come, but also how much more we needed to accomplish in our lives. Milestones are major moments for reflection, and turning 40 is probably one of the biggies in a woman's life. But these days, the 40-year-old woman sure doesn't look like she used to. Inspired by my best-friend Eden, who's in her mid-40s and seriously eternally ravishing, I began to pay closer attention to what 40 looks like of late. Having recently turned that big corner myself, we decided to go in search of other cool 40-something women to find out what amazing style really means as you get older, how it changes, and, ultimately, how it comes to define you. So, even if you've got a LONG way to go before you reach this pretty awesome precipice, read on to get a look at all the coolness you have to look forward to. Because when it comes to amazing, audacious style, age is nothing but a number.
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Brooke Williams, Artist

Hail from/Live now:
"Grew up in Manhattan, am now a grown-up in Brooklyn."

On an ordinary day, describe your style:
"I’m a sentimental dresser and still wear things that I bought in high school or that belonged to my grandmother. My wardrobe is a classic but eclectic mix of vintage and modern. In terms of shape I lean towards the styles from the '40s and mid '60s. In terms of color, I'm into brights, and I’ve always been drawn to stripes—ever since I was a little girl."

On a special occasion, describe your style:
"Same, but with lipstick and high heels."

How has your style changed over the years?
"Lets just say that Lacoste and Tretorn have been with me since the beginning. My love of skinny jeans came from my time as a post-punk New Waver. The Mitsuhiro Matsuda store on lower Fifth Avenue in the late '80s opened my eyes to the world of the Japanese romantic and sent me hurtling down the path toward Comme des Garcons and Martin Margiela. Run DMC cemented my love of Adidas. But I have always been more of a regular at the Salvation Army than Bergdorf Goodman and have been mixing it up style-wise for as long as I can remember."

Was turning 40 scary, thrilling, both, and why?
"When I was 29, I went to an incredible dinner party filled with interesting, open, stylish, creative people all of whom were in their mid to late 30s. I wanted to be them so badly. And I remember them all telling me that my life was only just about to get good. And they were right. So, I figured my 40s had to be even better. So far they have."
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Do you think there are any rules to dressing in your 40s?
"Hopefully by the time you are 40, you know what you are all about and can dress in a manner that is true to yourself. The only mistake you can make is to try and be something that you're not. Unless it’s Halloween."

Do you have any pieces in your wardrobe you'll never stop wearing, no matter how old you are?
"I have a huge, fuchsia faux-fur hat by Lola that I bought when I was 26. I still wear it every cold day. It makes people smile. And I’ll wear my Agnès B plaid mini-skirt that I think I’ve had since 1986 for as long as I’m showing my legs. My new favorite wardrobe item is a pair of flat, pale-green suede ankle boots by Eileen Shields for Maria Cornejo."

What are some favorite pieces in your closet right now?
"A black wool Tess Giberson poncho thing, a vintage black and tan wool tweed knee-length pleated skirt, silver cuff bracelet by Jill Platner, striped long sleeved Thakoon for Target T-shirt, not one, but two yellow Lacoste cardigans, previously owned by the grandfathers of two of my closest friends (one of whom is my husband!)."

Who inspires you in terms of how they dress and how they carry themselves?
"Evelyn Cunningham, an African-American political journalist, Harlem resident and Bill Cunningham favorite (she died just last year), because she carried herself with style, grace, and intelligence into her 90s. Sonic Youth’s Kim Gordon because she’s not a kid, isn’t afraid to go out on a limb style-wise, and always looks amazing."

What's the one amazing thing you've learned about yourself through fashion and style at your age?
"I think I’ve learned to stop fighting that part of me that is the crazy lady who wears lots of different striped things at the same time. Or combines odd colors and breaks lots of rules. I’m happier if there is a little something left-of-center about what I’m wearing, even if I’m the only one who notices it."

What's the best thing about being in your 40s?
"Not being in my '20s."
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Yvette Quiazon, Global Ethnographer, founder whY-Q Inc., a global insights, marketing and brand consultancy

Hail from/Live now:
"I was born and raised in Vancouver, Canada, and I have lived in downtown NYC since the mid-'90s. We have a second home and office in Venice, CA, but I travel and am on the road in hotels about five months of the year."

On an ordinary day, describe your style:
“Teens to CEO. A few weeks back I was in Dallas during an ice storm in the morning, and I had to interview an affluent woman in her palatial home for a luxury watch brand. In the afternoon I interviewed male high school varsity soccer players about shopping in sportswear stores. What I wear is part of my job. I tend to gravitate toward Alexander Wang, Rick Owens, Zero + Maria Cornejo, and Margiela. These designers transcend age and culture. I have a huge vintage collection that I rotate around when I get the energy to shop my archives. I still have perfectly worn '80s 501s that were gifts from guy friends in high school."

On a special occasion, describe your style:
"Since I never spend a ton of time getting ready, I like to pull on something simple that's high impact but still unassuming. Most of my dresses tend to be timeless styles from Marc Jacobs, Pucci, Zac Posen, or vintage. I have a really special vintage Geoffrey Beene gown I bought from Resurrection that I cherish."

How has your style changed over the years?
"Since I can remember, I have always had a stable of good black basics in my wardrobe. I think of it as my canvas, and frankly it's just a wise choice for my lifestyle. At this age, I have cycled through trends sometimes several times over, which is fun especially if I kept items from the first round. I still have a studded black belt from high school that is currently in rotation."

Was turning 40 scary, thrilling, both, and why?
"110% thrilling because I realized I never let go of anything I loved since I was a 17-year-old teenager, like fashion magazines, staying up all night, laughing, martinis, traveling, running, and learning. I have completely rejected the idea that I need to ever give up my youthful mindset. I am also probably the longest continuous reader of Seventeen Magazine. If I had to choose to read Vogue OR Teen Vogue, it would be Teen Vogue without hesitation."
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Do you think there are any rules to dressing in your 40s?
"I think at any age you need to work with what you have. I also think you can work on what you have. This means staying healthy and taking good care of yourself inside and out. I have seen plenty of 20-year-old women looking atrocious in a mini-skirt and plenty of 60-year-old women looking chic and fabulous in a mini-skirt. There somehow seems to be age dressing rules, but instead I think there should be three body-dressing rules for women of all ages. Rule one: Use a good mirror. Rule two: Have common sense. Rule three: If you don't feel good in it, you won’t look good."

Do you have any pieces in your wardrobe you'll never stop wearing, no matter how old you are?
"Everything is fair game until it starts breaking the above three rules."

What are some favorite pieces in your closet right now?
"Balenciaga leather pants, a perfectly floppy vintage patchwork suede hat I scored at the Rose Bowl flea market, a black chain-mail Isabel Marant necklace, and Margiela gray-oiled pumps. The new favorite about to go on high rotation is my new Burberry Gabardine Biker Trench. Thank you Teddy, you just won husband of the year for that Valentines Day gift!"

What's the one amazing thing you've learned about yourself through fashion and style at your age?
"My philosophy is always to focus on CPW or cost per wear and what you love. I think pretty carefully about what I buy, so I spend on what I will really enjoy and use."

What's the best thing about being in your 40s?
"If I were to sum it up it for those not yet 40, for me it would be knowing who you are, knowing what you want, and having all the tools to head straight for it."
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Magda Berliner, fashion designer

Hail from/Live now:
"Hollywood, CA, then and now. "

On an ordinary day, describe your style:
"Skinny Cheap Monday jeans, Isabel Marant or The Row tee, ballet flats by Lanvin or Repetto, some kind of cardi (it's always cold in the Canyon...) usually by Balenciaga, Opening Ceremony, or Rugby."

On a special occasion, describe your style:
"Short dresses that I have tailored to fit: Rachel Comey, Markus Lupfer, Magda Berliner, Balenciaga...always with heels, either booties or pumps (I love Lanvin for H&M or Isabel Marant), and platforms but always high!"

How has your style changed over the years?
"I still wear lots of shorts and short skirts as I am petite. Tailoring is essential! I seldom fit into anything off the rack. I love color, though of late I have been more appreciative of the diversity of black."

Was turning 40 scary, thrilling, both, and why?
"I had been telling people I was 40 for so long that I was used to it already!"
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Do you think there are any rules to dressing in your 40s?
"Same rules that apply to body type for sure. Plus, having a teenager in the household is a good barometer as to whether you have outgrown certain styles."

Do you have any pieces in your wardrobe you'll never stop wearing, no matter how old you are?
"Shorts! Though I'd probably wear them with tights as I age and my legs don't cut the mustard! Pilates!!"

What are some favorite pieces in your closet right now?
"Super-soft shrunken sweatshirts that I pair with leather skirts, platform sandals (Opening Ceremony/Chloe Sevigny and Rachel Comey), and vintage Levi's with silk button-front blouses."

Who inspires you in terms of how they dress and how they carry themselves?
"Women who carry themselves with confidence and good posture; regardless of their age."

What's the one amazing thing you've learned about yourself through fashion and style at your age?
"Having a 'signature' look. It's harder to let go of because I've been known for that. I was a 'skunk' (blond hair in front/dark in back) for YEARS and peeps still don't recognize me, though I haven't rocked that look for a while. I think I will always experiment with different hair though. It's fun and it grows back. As for dressing philosophies, tailoring is key, and use a full-length mirror always!"

What's the best thing about being in your 40s?
"I enjoy being admired for my personal style by young peeps that I meet. I think I'm a bit of an example that you can exercise self-expression, have fun, and still look appropriate."
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Christene Barberich, Editor-in-Chief of Refinery29.com

Hail from/Live now:
"Born in Bayport, a sweet little town on Long Island, and now live in big bad Brooklyn...my New York accent only gets more interesting with age."

On an ordinary day, describe your style:
“I am most certainly a creature of habit. Vintage pleated trousers from the '80s, high-waisted jeans, vintage boy button-ups from Brooks Brothers and Land's End, cashmere sweaters from Inhabit, boots and platforms from Rag & Bone and Rachel Comey, and always lots of interesting vintage coats, belts, bags, and jewelry by Chanel, Kenzo, Rochas... the list goes on."

On a special occasion, describe your style:
"It's funny, because I have a lot of really pretty long new and old dresses by Vena Cava, Geoffrey Beene, and Moschino, but for some reason, I always lean toward dressing something a little casual like a pant-suit way up with heels, jewelry, and bright lipstick. There's something about dressing up for special occasions that just seems too obvious to me."

How has your style changed over the years?
"I won't lie...watching Charlie's Angels as a kid in the '70s really had an impact on what I always thought confident, powerful women should wear. The biggest thing that's changed about my style over the years is definitely that I dress for myself now. I know what flatters me and what I feel good wearing, and that kind of trumps any other pressures or influences from the fashion world. I'm lucky that so many designers now are drawing from the '70s, since that's so my era. My job also really helps to keep things interesting. I also get a lot of inspiration from my co-workers, specifically Piera (our creative director) and Connie (our global editor). They both have excellent taste and really have fun with what they wear."

Was turning 40 scary, thrilling, both, and why?
"To be honest, it was a relief. Because even when I was 19 in college, I felt like a 40-year-old woman was in there messing with my shopping and dressing radar. I know there are a lot of other women out there who can relate to this, but I somehow feel like I grew into myself...this time in my life is really, really special. It's a lot more interesting than my 20s ever were."

Do you think there are any rules to dressing in your 40s?
"It's definitely all about knowing who you are on the inside and dressing to complement that. You have to wear what you feel amazing in, whether that's a pair of jeans or a crazy Lanvin gown. That's what radiates real beauty...embracing what you love about yourself and what you love wearing."
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What are some favorite pieces in your closet right now?
"Several Rag & Bone blazers, cotton tanks from Petit Bateau, Rachel Comey high-heeled combat boots, many pairs of black silk trousers (I collect them) by Rochas, Rachel Comey, and Phillip Lim, a vintage leopard overcoat, an Alexander Wang camel coat, and a vintage Adolfo hat with feathers in it that I worship. I am in the market for a new handbag, but I still haven't found one that I love...suggestions are welcome!"

Do you have any pieces in your wardrobe you'll never stop wearing, no matter how old you are?
"Black and white Keds, flat leather Jacques gladiator sandals, high-waisted jeans and other wide-leg trousers, lots and lots of long cool coats, vintage and new, hats, and big necklaces. I have so many now—at least 100 or so—that it feels strange to leave the house without wearing one."

What's the one amazing thing you've learned about yourself through fashion and style at your age?
"So many things, but mostly that even though I'm already tall, I love wearing really high heels...they can literally transform your mood and your look. And that no matter how much I love cropped jackets, they just do not look good on me. I love them on other women, I always pine for them when they show up during Fashion Shows, but without fail, if I buy one, it will sit in my closet until I give it away. They just don't speak to me."

What's the best thing about being in your 40s?
"Feeling like I am exactly where I am supposed to be, and that my life (the really good parts) is somehow only beginning."
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