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Simplicity and Style

“As I get older, I’m less and less interested in ornamentation and more drawn to simplicity.”

My boss, the head of the design department, said this to me a few years back. She’d just bought a vintage midcentury home designed by Joseph Eichler and was describing the process of decorating it and her taste for clean-lined, non-frivolous things.

Though it was an offhand comment, for some reason it’s really stuck in my mind. In the intervening years, I’ve come to realize how much my own tastes have changed as I’m pulled more and more toward simplicity.

Less clutter. Less frilliness. Less fuss. More subtlety. More ease. More looking closely at things.

I don’t know if this is something that happens to many people as we get older, but I think I can understand some of the reasons for it.

When you’re young, you’re forever trying on different identities, trying new things to find what suits you. You’re drawn to things that feel new and different, you enjoy changing and are influenced by everything around you. You like things that are loud or trendy or that make a bold statement. At least, I always did (well, except maybe the trendy part).

But I think that evolves as we get older. We realize what works and what doesn’t for us, and we’re more likely to stick to it. This can manifest itself as choosing classic styles, or perhaps just having a defined look and specific tastes.

So part of it is that I feel more confident in my own style and less interested in experimentation. But I think there is also an ability to appreciate simple design more as I get older. I’m not sure why this is. Perhaps you are just more exposed to things over time, so that you’re able to appreciate subtlety more? Or perhaps there is just more of a desire to feel sophisticated as you age? What do you think?

Images above of that master of simple and timeless beauty, Audrey Hepburn

Sarai Mitnick


Sarai started Colette back in 2009. She believes the primary role of a business should be to help people. She loves good books, sewing with wool, her charming cats, working in her garden, and eating salsa.



February 14, 2012 #

The beauty of simplicity is timeless. Perhaps it is something that one can appreciate more with age, but I think it is more innate than that.

Sewing Princess

February 14, 2012 #

I agree with Cheryl, it is also personal preference. I see around me people that age without their style becoming any simpler. I love those pictures and Audrey´s style (whether made up or real)


February 14, 2012 #

This has been the theme of my thirties- simplify. I am gravitating toward it in dress, art, decor, and state of mind. I completely identified when I read this today. Thank you!


February 14, 2012 #

As a woman getting older (mid 50s), the first thought I had when I read this post was “then why not show some images of the older Audrey….I never see this.”

She didn’t disappear from life as she aged, but no one shows it when discussing Audrey Style. She gained wrinkles, but did she lose her style sense?


February 14, 2012 #

I completely agree, even when she was older she was still stunning!


February 14, 2012 #

Good point, I should have included some of those as well. She was the epitome of grace at every stage.


February 14, 2012 #

I agree in that I gravitate towards simplicity in all areas of my life…I always have. My grandmother always said “less is more” and I believe that.

Interestingly, I have a theory that one’s sense of fashion is reflective of their view of life. For me I am completely comfortable in black capris, sling backs and a crisp white shirt. My accessories are typically my wedding ring, diamond earrings and bracelet du jour. For someone else, my style would be as nakedness!

Great post. Thanks for sharing…(Audrey is one of my favorites too.)


February 14, 2012 #

arrivée à vous par le ” peter pan collor”, merci pour le tuto!! je vous découvre et j’aime beaucoup votre blog, même si la langue… i don t speak well english, one year ago my daughter was in Vancouver, nous sommes allés jusqu’à San Francisco en voiture, Seattle Portland etc… i love America!!
Audrey représente pour moi la perfection, l’élégance, la simplicité, la beauté intérieure et extérieure…douces pensées du sud de la France!!!


February 14, 2012 #

Hmmm I’m not sure, I might be attracted to more classic designs, but in terms of de-cluttering I’m not really there yet…. A quick glance at my craft room will tell you that!


February 14, 2012 #

I’m a lot older than you and, sorry, I still think more is more, especially for creative folks like us who have the ability to dazzle with our own handcrafted, talented touches.


February 14, 2012 #

I was speaking more in the general. Clearly, every individual is different so of course our styles will all evolve differently.

I love maximalist styles and people who wear them often look incredible. But now I’ve also come to appreciate simplicity, and I simply wonder if others develop this taste over time too.


February 14, 2012 #

I think maybe it has something to do with discovering who we really are and letting that shine through (whatever it is) as we become more confident and wise – in other words, instead of trying to fabricate a personality based on our style, we let the style reflect our personality.

Some would find my dress style boring, as I have forever been drawn to simplicity and minimalism, I mainly wear solid colours and simple, classic styles, but for me I feel it suits me well and gives my personality a canvas to shine from :)


February 14, 2012 #

I find simplicity allows me to appreciate things more. I marvel at complex and ornate fabric, furniture, paintings, etc., but I think that uncomplicated objects provide an immediate understanding of craftmanship and style. And it’s often easier to hide mistakes in complicated designs? But that’s just me as someone who is subject to sensory overload. =)


February 14, 2012 #

I think as I get older, and of course I’m still in my twenties, so not very old at all, I become more interested in quality, and quality can often mean simplicity. I think that in the fast fashion world embellishment is often a way to cover up poor work with things that might distract you. But I have to say, I still love beautiful details, like a plethora of pleats or ruffles or something special that makes a simple garment somehow out of the ordinary.


February 14, 2012 #

For every Audrey, there is a Cher. It’s about personal style and some people will always want the simple lines and others will always look for red hats and tiers of ruffles. I do agree with trying on different styles when we are younger, seeking out the one that works. And maybe what works for the Chers of this world is Bob Mackie.
I like simplicity in clothing, art deco furnishings, but in reality, my home is a lived in mess but my clothing is still more classic than trendy.


February 14, 2012 #

Hear hear!

I hope it didn’t sound like I’m suggesting that one style is superior to any other. Women like Audrey and Cher both looked amazing because they had a fresh eye and were able to dress in a way that conveyed something about themselves (or at least how they wanted people to see them).

I guess for me, I’ve always loved the eccentric and over-the-top, and I always will. But it’s taken me longer to truly appreciate minimalism to the same degree.


February 14, 2012 #

I’m currently going a bit of a style metamorphosis (hello the start of my 30s!) and am finding while I like simpler cuts of clothing or white walls in my house I am loving pops of crazy colour. It’s this weird melange of simple but crazy and I’m loving it. I can’t wait to see what happens with my style next- it’s an adventure for sure!


February 14, 2012 #

I think I’ve undergone the same transition you’re talking about. A lot of it has to do with being able to appreciate good design, smaller details and the quality of an object that I wasn’t attuned to when I was younger. I still love flamboyant clothes and styles at times, but balanced with simpler and more elegant elements. I think that transition might also have to do with income– when you can only afford cheap clothes, I think often the way I shopped, at least, was to look for items that still had personality despite not being very well made, etc. In effect, their boldness obscured their less desirable qualities.


February 14, 2012 #

I have found myself doing to same thing as I get older – gravitating more and more towards simplicity. I have done it for all your reasons above plus one. As I get older, my life gets more and more complicated and chaotic and I think a part of me wants to dress more simplistically to contrast my hectic life.

Maria M.

February 14, 2012 #

I love today’s posting! I view the paring of stuff from my own personal life along the lines of ‘quality, not quantity’. A well made pair of trousers, a tailored jacket, quality shoes —- all have the ability to last the different seasons, year after year. Dressing with quality, and simpler items, helps me be a bit more focused, while the chaos of family life, work, etc. swirls around me.


February 14, 2012 #

I think there’s a lot of truth in what you write here. It’s also a question of time. My 30’s and probably my 40’s too are a busy busy time with lots of people and a huge house to care for, demanding school schedules and endless endless laundry! Simplicity is necessary wherever possible. Simple aesthetics give offer me some much needed calm.


February 14, 2012 #

Hmmmm, I think this is an interesting question, and I’ve had what I hope is an interesting thought about it as my 2 cents ;o)

I’m entering my mid-30s, and while I have most certainly settled down quite a bit since my 20s (no more ‘Sailor Moon on crack’ hair extensions for clubbing, lol) and I flatter myself that my style has become more sophisitcated, I wouldn’t call it simpler – you just have see my wedding dress from August to tell that!

However, what I do think has happened is that I’ve *found* my style. And what this means is that much of the experimentation is over, thus the schitzophrenia of my closet and decorating sense have been resolved into greater harmony. I’m now more ‘streamlined’, even if not simplified – but perhaps this gives a certain appearance of increased simplicity. That’s my 2 cent thought.


February 15, 2012 #

This is so interesting, I’ve really enjoyed reading all the comments. I am currently in the second half of my 20s and feel I am undergoing some sort of journey, sifting through what is me and what isn’t, definately simplifying and streamlining, and through all this I’m hoping I will find a renewed knowledge of who I am and a confidence in this too. I definately find myself reflecting this in my wardrobe, I’ve scratched my head over what one should wear when you’re not a ‘young person’ anymore, but am realising it is about finding out, and simply being, who you are and allowing this to show in every area of your life.

Teresa Dickson

February 15, 2012 #

It’s funny…….for my own personal style I agree – less IS more. I adore simple well cut clothes and veer towards neutrals such as black, grey, cream, nude but for the home I have an eclectic mix of vintage, bursts of colour and modern bold prints – the total opposite! It seems I am more daring and bold within the home – is anyone else like this?


February 15, 2012 #

Thanks for sharing my link!


February 15, 2012 #

I’ve actually gone in the other direction. No one would call me a wild dresser now, but when I was younger my style was minimalist to the extreme. I like simplicity, but I think that my minimalism came partially from a worry about being judged and taking risks. Now that I’m older and more confident I feel more comfortable with a little flare.

Signe Marie

February 16, 2012 #

Interesting to read everyones comments! I think this fascination of decorative details and embellishments of all sorts is especially profound in sewing circles. First, because it’s so easy to get caught up in the beautiful colors and prettiness of it all. But also because sewing clothes that are perfectly tailored and thereby beautiful in all their simplicity frankly requires so much more work (and skill) in the drafting+cutting+sewing process. The good part of course is when you get that perfect fitting pattern and can make it over and over again. But getting there, wow, that’s a real challenge, one that I’m not always up for. And that’s when a drawer full of fancy trim and ribbons and buttons and pearls and prettiness comes in handy.


February 16, 2012 #

This is definitely me as I am getting older! I think it was always there under there somewhere but I am more confident in what I want now. I know what I wear a lot of. What colors (or lack of color) that I wear. I love sparkly things and always look at vintage jewelry but except on a special occasion I never wear it and when I do it is one piece. Most of my clothes are simple and solid colored. This simplicity has bled into the rest of my life too. I want less “stuff”, only what I need and use and the best quality I can handle coughing up hte dough for! Great post Sarai, glad I am not the only one!


February 16, 2012 #

Thank you, Sarai, for this great post. In fact, these style posts have been some of my favorites over the past year, the ones I keep returning to. I’m certainly trying to pare down my closet (I just donated a 130 garments!) and am finally understanding that I love simple clothes, I just need to do a better job at making/buying quality.

And I particularly appreciated the comment from Signe Marie who says “this fascination of decorative details and embellishments of all sorts is especially profound in sewing circles.” Yes! So much to get distracted by and simple—but beautifully made—can be so hard.

On my quest for simple, I may try the Oolong soon in a solid or small print, without the sleeves. A simple silhouette, but I bet a bias dress will feel like heaven on.


February 17, 2012 #

Hm. I think this really depends where you start from. As someone who was a somewhat creative/out there dresser as a kid and through my 20s, I am beginning to feel an appreciation for the elegance and sophistication that comes from THE perfect cut or an understated but chic garment. However, I would say that many woman start out at the other end – minimalist, or perhaps less sure of what their flamboyant side looks like. For them, I think that part of the process of growing into their personal style may be to embrace the creative, colorful, zany etc. Personally I think both are great looks, but everybody comes to the discussion from a different starting point!


February 19, 2012 #

I agree we refine our tastes but I also think less styles look good on our peri or post menopausal bodies. I dont necessarily think we are getting more sophisticated but rather we are choosing more wisely. A crisp pique looks much better than silk or rayon jersey on our bodies, that are most likely holding a few more pounds than they were in our thirties and early forties. A trim cut flatters our natural droops better than a loose or flowing cut. There is a fine line between a graceful drape (oh how I miss them!) and poor camouflage!!


February 21, 2012 #

I have also expereinces a yearning for simplicity and clean lines as I am getting older. I am an employee, a grad student, a wife, a mother of two young children, a sister, friend . . . My life is brilliant and loud and messy. I enjoy making it neat and simple where I can.