How do you find your own personal style in a world where trends are constantly changing?

Luckily, we have Tania Sterl, one of New York City’s finest fashion experts, to help us revamp our wardrobes. With over 20 years of experience in fashion, Tania has helped countless women dress for success. In this episode, she shares her secrets for finding your own unique style by investing in timeless pieces and staple outfits. 

When done right, fashion isn’t just an outfit—it’s a confidence boost, a celebration of your amazing self. Read more about Tania’s story, and how she empowers women to feel confident and fabulous, no matter what the trends are!

Early Influences

Tania Sterl reflects on her journey from childhood creativity in Chicago’s suburbs to pursuing fashion in New York City. From an early age, it was evident that Tania was creative. Her parents encouraged and supported her creative endeavors, giving her the confidence to pursue her interests and experiment with her own style. 

She started designing clothes for her Barbie dolls, emphasizing Barbie’s influential role in her imaginative world. Barbie symbolized endless possibilities—her dolls were rock stars and fashion icons, shaping Tania’s aspirations.

Despite facing bullying in high school for her unconventional style, she found inspiration in supermodels like Linda Evangelista, admiring their individuality. Tania’s admiration for Linda’s distinctive features and bold style empowered her to embrace her uniqueness. Her resolve strengthened, leading her to New York City’s Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) to study fashion design and modeling.

Early Career

Following her dream, Tania reached New York City and dove into her studies at FIT. She went on to pursue fashion design and modeling. Initially working behind the scenes as a right-hand creative director in a women-owned business, her journey shifted when she began traveling for trunk shows. Engaging directly with clientele transformed her role, placing her at the forefront of interactions. The collections she designed garnered attention, appearing in notable magazines like More Magazine and being worn by figures like Deborah Norville from Inside Edition.

Seeing her designs on TV was an absolute thrill. Witnessing her creations come to life on influential platforms provided Tania with immense satisfaction.

The Power of Fashion

Tania highlighted the transformative impact of clothing that perfectly aligns with a person’s essence. The right cut, color, and style, when in harmony with an individual’s personality, can be a catalyst for confidence, enabling them to radiate on platforms like television or during significant moments like interviews or photo shoots.

Transitioning from designing to styling during trunk shows, Tania witnessed women’s remarkable transformations. She recalled a real estate agent, initially in casual attire, whose self-perception shifted dramatically as she was styled head-to-toe. Witnessing this change fueled Tania’s passion for fashion’s power to boost a woman’s confidence, prompting her pivot to become a personal stylist for private clients.

Christina resonated with Tania’s message, acknowledging how clothing can influence one’s entire day—feeling frumpy versus feeling confident and ready to conquer the world. Together, they emphasized the profound impact of fashion on one’s confidence and outlook, reinforcing Tania’s dedication to her platform centered on embracing confidence through fashion.

Dress to Express

Celebrating the era where age no longer dictates a rigid dress code, Tania and Christina explore the evolving fashion standards for women over 50. Reflecting on her own 50th birthday celebration in St. Thomas, Tania shares how women in their 50s feel empowered to define their own narrative, disregarding societal norms. They agree that this generation embraces freedom from societal judgment, paving the way for individual expression through fashion.

Acknowledging the persistence of ageism, Tania asserts women are challenging limitations, echoing Barbie’s “don’t put me in a box” sentiment. This age brings unparalleled success, experience, and self-awareness. It isn’t about becoming better but about embracing one’s wholeness and showcasing individuality through fashion choices.

Dispelling the idea of rigid fashion rules, Tania emphasizes personal preference and self-expression. She notes a trend toward “quiet luxury,” embracing neutral tones and sophisticated, less busy prints. She shares anecdotes of clients, like an executive coach who embraced her natural gray hair, illustrating the trend of confidently owning one’s unique style.

Tania encourages women to redefine themselves on their terms, using fashion to express and celebrate the new phase of life they’re entering. The conversation underlines the liberation and empowerment women feel in crafting their style beyond conventional boundaries as they step into this new chapter of life.

Styling Your Lifestyle

Many women are seeking advice on navigating style changes in their 50s. Tania suggests aligning wardrobe choices with one’s lifestyle, emphasizing the importance of identifying the various events one dresses for. Events go beyond special occasions—they encompass everyday commitments. Considering if the dress code leans toward a CEO’s confidence or a household CEO’s practicality is vital.

Tania encourages defining one’s quality of life on personal terms, emphasizing dressing not just to impress others but also for personal fulfillment. She delineates wardrobes for work, leisure, and vacations, tailoring each to suit different needs and settings. For corporate wear, she nudges clients to add a pop of color, diverging from standard black or gray. However, vacation attire allows for playful experimentation with fun pieces like flowy dresses.

Personal branding is crucial—deciding the image one wants to project to the world and shaping a wardrobe to reflect those defining traits. Tania’s approach involves crafting a style statement that aligns with the image one desires to convey in different scenarios—work, social outings, or vacations. She underscores that each facet of life deserves a distinct yet reflective style, offering tailored advice for various occasions.

Investment Pieces

The essence of fashion is more than just appearance—it’s about the feeling it evokes. Encouraging a shift from fast fashion to investing in timeless pieces, Tania highlights key items like a quality leather handbag, statement accessories, or shoes, considering them as timeless investments. These pieces, like a Cartier watch or elegant gold earrings, transcend trends and can last a decade or more.

Acknowledging the importance of staying current, she advises against clinging to outdated styles. While current trends lean toward clean, sleek looks and layered jewelry, she suggests blending luxury items with high-street fashion for a unique style. Tania stresses the significance of making the most of fewer items while daring to experiment. 

One way to incorporate these investment pieces into our wardrobes is through the concept of high-low fashion. This involves investing in high-quality pieces that stand the test of time and comfort and pairing them with more affordable pieces to round out the ensemble. Tania and Christina highlight the transformative effect of mixing high-quality pieces with more affordable fashion to create a sophisticated yet practical wardrobe, allowing for versatility across different facets of life. They encourage the playful use of fashion to express various aspects of one’s personality, advocating for smart investments in timeless pieces that elevate an entire wardrobe.

Staple Pieces and Translating Trends

Tania discusses wardrobe essentials for women over 55, emphasizing pieces suitable for different climates. She highlights the importance of well-fitted pants or jeans, particularly favoring slightly higher-rise jeans that provide comfort as bodies change. Current trends like straight, palazzo, and wide-leg jeans coexist with her occasional preference for skinny jeans, often paired with varying silhouettes for balanced proportions.

She recommends five core pieces: a great pair of jeans, a quintessential t-shirt, a leather jacket or bomber that offers versatile styling options, chic sneakers for both comfort and fashion, and the timeless little black dress. Tania also mentions the significance of an updated blazer, favoring boxy blazers with a hint of waist shaping. She emphasizes investment pieces like Veronica Beard jackets and the versatile white shirt that can be styled in multiple ways.

When it comes to trends, Tania suggests translating them into a personal style rather than blindly following them. She recalls a YouTube video where a woman discussed runway trends for women over 40 without intending to adopt them herself, highlighting the need to filter trends based on personal preferences, lifestyle, and body type. Tania views trends as inspiration, encouraging experimentation while advising discernment to ensure suitability and comfort.

Sustainable Fashion

A newer consideration is sustainable fashion. Many of us did not focus on sustainability growing up, but it is important to consider. Reflecting on her years in fashion design, Tania notes the increasing importance of sustainable practices and ethical sourcing. However, she understands it’s challenging to overhaul one’s wardrobe immediately to all sustainable fabrics.

Tania advises a gradual approach, recommending brands that prioritize organic or sustainable production. She mentions innovations like mushroom leather crafted from mushrooms as a sustainable alternative, and she encourages exploring smaller batch farms and sustainable cashmere brands from Ireland and Scotland. Additionally, Tania champions the idea of buying from designer consignment or resale shops, minimizing the necessity for entirely new items.

A lesser-known tip is to participate in fabric recycling. To avoid contributing to landfills, Tania gets rid of worn-out clothes through fabric recycling centers. Tania highlights the ease of contributing to fabric recycling at farmer’s markets or through online services, offering a way to repurpose garments that might not be suitable for donation. 

Ready for a Style Refresh?

Celebrating the 10-year anniversary of launching Sterl on Style, she reflects on the impact of her work, celebrating the accomplishments of her clients, styling them for significant events like political campaigns and award ceremonies.

If you’re looking for a style refresh or style reinvention, you can schedule a free discovery call through her website, She also regularly posts relevant styling tips on Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn under @sterlonstyle.

See Tania’s full episode here:

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