Gina Kieslich knows a thing or two about the ageless magic of reinventing yourself. The fashion connoisseur-gone-Instagram queen has had a passion for style since she was young and believes in the agelessness of our energy and the true power behind what our clothes and accessories say about us.

Gina Kieslich: On the Ageless Magic of Reinventing Yourself- Photo Credit: Gina Kieslich’s Instagram Account

At 59, Gina is social media icon with over 80 thousand followers. Her Instagram account (@ginamkstyle) is so fabulous, chic and gloriously bright that it leaves one thing clear: she has no interest in living up to ageist style expectations.

The Red Shoe Movement talked to her about breaking style barriers, her need to flex her creative muscles, and the joys of finding ways to match her ageless style and the energy that fuels it.

RED SHOE MOVEMENT –– Tell us a little about yourself. How did your passion for fashion begin?

GINA KIESLICH –– I have always loved fashion. My mom worked in a department store, so I was exposed to retail at a young age. I worked there in high school as well. All the “rich” girls would come in and buy whatever was on the mannequin. They all dressed and looked alike. I thought of dressing as having a canvas that you could put whatever you wanted on; a playground to express yourself.

I also walked in mall runway shows and worked as a booking agent at a modeling agency during college. For a moment I thought that I wanted to be a designer, but I was afraid of the idea of being in NYC. Not surprisingly, my first degree was in Fashion Merchandising and Retailing.

While my career turned toward marketing, I always stayed stylish and continued to dress how I wanted to dress, for whatever occasion.

Reinventing Yourself at any age- Photo Credit: Gina Kieslich's Instagram Account
Reinventing Yourself at any age- Photo Credit: Gina Kieslich’s Instagram Account

RSM –– What made you create an Instagram account showcasing your ageless fashion style? Were you surprised to get such a positive reaction?

GK –– I have realized that about every five to ten years, I go looking for something new to flex my creative muscle. A nine to five corporate job can only be so rewarding. So, five years ago I manifested that I wanted to find a new creative outlet. A few days later, random people started coming up to me and commenting on my style. I took it as a sign and thought Instagram and a blog would be the way to go. I dropped the blog after a year, as it was too much to take on, but kept the Instagram account.

I was so surprised that any of it worked! I remember hitting 500 followers and running around the house like a kid who just got a new toy. A few years ago, I exposed my age and realized that people were surprised by it, but also inspired. It has become part of my focus: the value of personal style at any age.  But it’s not just the follower count now, it’s the community and conversations that keep me going. I am part of a group of like-minded people who support each other.

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RSM –– What inspired you to bring your fashion sense to a new format with a coffee table book?

GK –– I feel like Instagram is great, but it could go away tomorrow, or your account gets wiped out and you have nothing to show for it. The book is another way to share but in a format that I feel has lasting appeal. I am old-school! I still get print fashion magazines and I have a large stack of fashion coffee table books I love to sit and flip thru. Something very different happens when you turn the page of a book instead of flipping through squares on your phone. Also, there are images in the book that you will not find on my account. My Instagram is not about photographic artistry, so the book also allowed me to go in that direction; photo styling is something I have always had a passion for. The cover is a great example of that.

Gina Kieslich inspires people to reinvent themselves at any age- Photo Credit: Gina Kieslich's Instagram Account
Gina Kieslich inspires people to reinvent themselves at any age- Photo Credit: Gina Kieslich’s Instagram Account

RSM –– Is it ever too late for a professional woman to make a radical wardrobe change?

GK –– It’s never too late for change… Change has no age limit and I think it’s healthy to continue to explore who we are and to manifest that by experimenting with change in our wardrobe. We are a dynamic, ever-evolving breed and as we reach new heights, or new places in our life and career, we can celebrate with a style change. The world “radical” worries me. If it truly is radical, then something radical must have happened in your life, or job, or way of thinking. “Radical” makes me wonder if you were true to yourself before the change or if you had been hiding yourself all along and then took a 180? It may be difficult for others to understand who you are and who you were before, if the change is radically different. If you have a good sense of personal style, changes can happen as minor adjustments or experimentation.

RSM –– Do you feel a strong sense of style can positively impact women over 50 professionally?

GK –– I feel a strong sense of style can positively impact women of any age professionally. With that said, after 50, the expectation of what we should or should not wear starts to rear its ugly head. Keeping true to our style and continuing to show up as our authentic selves is essential. When you are trying to make an impression, professionally, what your clothing says about you is as important as what you say out loud. Using style as a means to communicate your confidence, position, and energy can work to your advantage. I find people accept us easier and faster when how we look on the outside aligns with the inside. That’s personal style.

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A sense of style is ageless- Photo Credit: Gina Kieslich's Instagram Account
A sense of style is ageless- Photo Credit: Gina Kieslich’s Instagram Account

 RSM –– What are some basic style rules for women looking to embrace an ageless fashion style in their workspace?

GK –– Workplaces often have a top-down culture of expected dress codes, and it may depend on your industry as well. Understand if there are any boundaries you need to respect, like actual written codes of conduct or dress. Depending on your place of work, find a spot along the casual to business casual range, or traditional business attire and dinner party etiquette. You can work within the category that applies best and then add your own personal touches.

RSM –– As a professional woman over 50, have you found people respond better to certain fashion choices than others? Is ageism something you encounter often?

GK –– Yes. I think the expectation is that we wear styles in muted colors and silhouettes that make us shapeless or are not flattering, nor expressive. It’s ok to be in a room with a 20-something with a flattering dress in a bold color, but not a 50-something. We are not allowed to draw attention to ourselves, or perhaps there’s the notion that because we are later in our career, we can’t be as adventurous somehow. You can’t be taken seriously in a floral two-piece suit because it’s not associated with senior-level traits. There is a lot of history and male-domination and intimidation in this notion, which is thankfully shifting, and we are not only breaking glass ceilings, we are breaking style barriers as well. Fortunately, it doesn’t happen where I work. But it is definitely evident in certain industries, like fashion and modeling, where inclusive representation is not embraced across the board.

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Gina Kieslich inspires you to explore and play with style at any age- Photo Credit: Gina Kieslich's Instagram Account
Gina Kieslich inspires you to explore and play with style at any age- Photo Credit: Gina Kieslich’s Instagram Account

RSM –– Has age brought more confidence with it? Have you always been comfortable making bold style choices?

GK –– I have always had a strong confidence and have never been afraid to be someone who stands out in a room. I think that now, another layer of my confidence comes from the certainty of knowing that everything will work out somehow. I am also more daring because of it. I take more chances than I ever have and am excited for new things in my life. Coming this far has made me appreciate that this is my time, my energy, my story, and it’s ok to be seen.

It’s not always about comfort, sometimes is just necessity.  My style choices have not always been “bold” per se. When I was immersed in being a mom of four, a wife, and a professional, I had no mental bandwidth or energy to focus on my personal stye. It was easier to have a set wardrobe of neutrals (and maybe a bit of red) that I knew I liked and could mix and match without having to think about it every morning. I knew it worked and that I looked presentable, but I was definitely drawing within the lines. Now that life has moved on from that time, exploring my personal style has been a rewarding journey. I find immense pleasure in my bold style matching my personality and the energy that I let slip for about a decade.

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