Seema Malhotra on turning 50 and what style should look like at any age
- Credit: Forever Unique
Fashion powerhouse and reality star Seema Malhotra is facing a new time in her life and her message to other women is to wear it well.
When Seema Malhotra opened her Forever Unique fashion store at the Trafford Centre in December, she kept a close eye on the shoppers coming through the door. And the one who stood out wasn’t a cool teenager, a twenty-something fashionista, an elegant 30-year-old or a confident woman in their 40s or 50s... ‘A woman who was I would say, past her mid-60s, came in, she says. ‘She had on the most amazing outfit: paper bag jeans, a boyfriend blazer, and trainers. Her hair was completely grey, and she was so funky. Some people might think she's trying to dress too young, but for me, she looked a million dollars. That's the beauty of fashion – you can adapt your style as you grow older, but still make it reflect your personality.’
The evolving ages of style are a subject on Seema’s mind this year as she approaches her 50th birthday. The Real Housewife of Cheshire, who is also mum to sons Aaron, 22, and Neil, 25, is known for her fashion sense and her refusal to let age stop her from dressing the way she wants. But when she started to have perimenopausal symptoms three years ago it was a knock to her self-belief and usual good spirits. ‘The only way to describe it was this overwhelming feeling of tiredness. I was constantly exhausted, but I just put it down to a bad sleeping pattern, at first,’ she says. ‘I started to get night sweats, and I began to question where the old Seema had gone. Because I was always tired, it began to affect my emotional and physical wellbeing. I would cry over everything – even my husband telling me I was gorgeous would set me off. It was draining, I lost all motivation, and I couldn’t concentrate on work at all.’
After diagnosis and finding a successful treatment strategy, Seema began to feel like her old self. ‘Menopause isn’t a disease, it's just another stage of life. We live in a world where body image is a huge thing. I’ve gained weight, there was a time where my skin went dull, and, initially, it did feel as though menopause had stripped away my femininity and youthfulness. I can’t lie, it was a difficult stage in my life. But once you understand your symptoms, and how to control them, you begin to feel better, and more like yourself.’
Having founded luxury fashion brand Forever Unique with husband Sandeep, fashion is very much part of who Seema is and she is on a mission to help women of all ages and stages in their lives to dress to make themselves feel good. ‘Your body does change, and that’s ok; you learn to adapt. I pick clothing I'm comfortable in, but that still makes me look and feel confident. Women going through hot flushes know to avoid wearing anything with a high neckline, so I'm more aware of what fabrics I dress in. I choose more breathable materials such as cotton and silk. I don’t think that once you reach menopause or a certain age, you should be dressing like a fuddy-duddy. We're allowed to feel good.’
Like most women, Seema has items in her wardrobe that make her feel amazing whenever she puts it on. ‘For me, you can’t beat a classic blazer. You can dress it up, or down. If I'm going to work, I can wear it with a pair of distressed boyfriend jeans and trainers. Or with a dress or skirt and heels if I’m going out in the evening.
‘I’m loving floaty skirts at the moment, which may be due to the menopause because they're breathable. Anything breathable or easy to remove is good for a hot flush. I used to be very into power dressing, but now I’m all about combining comfort and style. I still wear my blazers, but pair them with skirts and dresses,’ Seema says. ‘Who would’ve thought loungewear would become as popular as it has? People are very into being comfortable, no matter your age.’
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Style adapts with age; you can still express your personality, feel confident, and look stylish, she says. ‘I used to think I couldn’t wear a mini skirt because of my age, and I was going to eliminate them from my wardrobe, but instead, I found a way to adapt how I wore them. I added over-the-knee boots, and it worked. My shape has changed since I was in my 20s, like everyone's does, but it’s all about embracing your body as you grow older. You find other ways of wearing your clothes.
‘You can’t beat a little black dress. Every woman should have one in their wardrobe, no matter their age. I have around 10, for different occasions. A thin strap slinky number is perfect for date nights, or a black jersey dress is great for going to work. When styling them, focus on accessories,’ she explains. ‘I recently wore a black leather skirt with a black sweater. I then paired the look with emerald green heels and an emerald green headband. It’s all in the accessories.’
Seema who has designed beautiful pyjama sets and loungewear during lockdown is sticking to Forever Unique’s DNA of luxury occasion wear and hoping that spring/summer 2021 will be the time we can embrace all things glamour.