I turn 49 today. To my 88 year old Dad I’m a spring chicken. To my 19 year old nephew I’m ancient. To me, I’m exactly the age that I’m supposed to be. I refuse to think of any age as anything but fabulous, because life is too short. I appreciate the good things in my life that make me happy, and the bad things in life that make me stronger, wiser and more empathetic. I’m grateful for good health, new adventures, comforting old habits and routines, affection and support from loved ones, and the companionship of doggies.

I want to find and celebrate the beauty and good around me, be surrounded by what is beautiful-to-me, make a meaningful difference to others, identify and enjoy the moments in life that count, create more of those important moments, remember that the little things make the biggest difference, create things from scratch, learn new things, have fun adventures, go to bed at night with a clear conscience, and wake up choosing joy. This is quite the ambitious list of wants! Hopefully, with each passing birthday I’m closer to achieving what I want out of life.

When it comes to fashion and style, I feel as empowered and relaxed as can be. As a 49-year-young fashion professional, I appreciate enormously that I don’t feel the pressure to look, say, do, or be a way that’s unnatural or inauthentic to who I am. This was not the case when I entered the rag trade 27 years ago. Back then I felt pressure to look, dress and be a certain way, because I was impressionable and self-conscious. I compared and despaired, and doubted my ability. Thankfully with age comes experience, confidence, self-respect, self-acceptance, the wisdom to separate what is important and what is not, an ease in one’s own skin, and an increased ability to laugh at oneself. I’ve enjoyed growing older and feeling this way because it’s made me a better and happier person.

I wear white when most wear black. I feel calm and serene in brights when most prefer neutrals. I love wearing high-contrast clothes, and don’t feel flat-footed in flats. I wear pearls when I walk our Yorkie Sam, and white in the pouring rain. I travel with a dressy satchel and happily check luggage into the hold. I am not a wardrobe minimalist, and I buy items at full price when they are within my budget. I’m not a big sale shopper, and prefer to shop early in the season. I wear fancy dresses and separates with pearls for an at-home workday, because why not! I sport short hair when most have long. I wear make-up and style my hair every single day. I don’t wear shorts, T-shirts, sleeveless items, leggings, nail polish, heels, dark lipstick, or jewellery other than a few custom-made pearl pieces. I don’t leave my pretty clothes for good because life is too short to not feel fab and dressy. I am extremely kind to my feet and have zero tolerance for shoe discomfort. I’m polished but not precious. I dress modestly but feel alluring. I look like I won’t rough it, but I do — and in my pretty clothes.

I have enormous fun with my style because it’s one of the least stressful aspects of my life. I rise above the thought that looking older is the enemy. I fully accept how I look and enjoy how I dress. I laugh at the ridiculousness of the fashion industry from time to time, and won’t let fashion or the aging process boss me around. Most of all, I enjoy lifting the spirits of others and helping them find their personal style so that they feel empowered about that part of their lives too.

My birthday message to you is to be the best version of yourself and not a less-than-fab version of someone else. Do your own thing, and rock the looks you love, your way. Be proud of your sartorial preferences, and don’t let anyone make you feel bad about them. Empower others to do the same.