Today's fashion lines are blurry, and it's not my old 60-plus-year-old eyes that are the problem. No, I see the confusion among many of my fellow baby boomers when it comes to what fashion look is right for our age.
Today’s fashion lines are blurry, and it’s not my old 60-plus-year-old eyes that are the problem. No, I see the confusion among many of my fellow baby boomers when it comes to what fashion look is right for our age.
Is the line between what is “too young to wear” fading? Have the rules that our moms once held about how to dress for our age group vanished? Are we mystified about how to dress when the media typically only shows fashion ideas more appropriate for a 20-year-old? Yes to all.
Blame it on the Internet and Photoshopped models and movie stars gracing magazine covers. The obsession with looking young has created a whole new problem: What does an over-50-year-old realistically look like today, and what trends can she wear?
As a stylist, fashion show coordinator and wardrobe consultant with more than 40 years of experience, my business is fashion. I visit hundreds of closets of women of all ages, but especially those of women over 50, who are frantically seeking assistance in finding a look that is contemporary yet age-appropriate. I’ve learned over the years that the key to the right look is balance: Don’t dress too old or too young. But what’s the trick to finding this balance?
Our model Irene, a busy mom of two, is just days from hitting the half-century mark but exemplifies how the “over-50” crowd can wear summer trends without having to reach for those reading glasses to find the just-right fashion look.
The trend: Neon colors, and mixing prints with patterns
The body challenge: “Batwing” or out-of-shape arms; sallow, aging skin; heavy hips and legs; and hot flashes!
The fashion solution: Try a lightweight, neon sweater with three-quarter-length sleeves — great cover for arms, plus the neon adds a splash of much-needed color. The capped-sleeve V-neck linen tee is breathable, cool and more edgy than a solid tee when coupled with the skirt. The stitched-down pleated, printed skirt hides larger hips, while the hemline ends just below the knees in a flattering spot for thicker legs. The low-heel, patent linen wedge is a comfy, go-to choice. Geometric jewelry and layers of bracelets add summer fun to the outfit.
Shop the look: Sweater, $65, J.Crew; T-shirt, $39.60, Madewell; skirt, $89.50, Talbots; Arturo Chiang wedge shoes, $59.99, Dillard’s; Kendra Scott drop earring, $60, Lawrence’s; pearl and gold bracelet, $55, Lawrence’s; gold bangle bracelets, $98, Lawrence’s; L’Oreal Colour Riche Caresse Stick in “Fiery Veil” on lips, $9.99, CVS Pharmacy; OPI Nail Lacquer “Hot & Spicy” on nails and toenails, $9, Beauty Brands.
The trend: Lace, black and white, capri pants, statement jewelry
The body challenge: Large calf muscles, “cankles” (unsightly folds of skin on top of your ankles), petite and extra tall shapes, hefty lower body, thickening waistline, large upper arms and fuller neck
The fashion solution: This lightweight sweater in stylish black-and-white print captures the trend while keeping you cool in Texas heat. The lace top has a cami beneath that smooths, while the lace lies flat across your waist and stomach. The slim, cropped capri pant hits at the perfect spot on our 5-foot-9-inch model’s legs. A standout statement necklace brings more attention where you want it: the face. A patent, wedge shoe with an open front further creates leg length. Remember, gladiator sandals and ankle straps cut across your ankle, making your legs appear shorter. The laser-cut leather bag is trendy yet roomy enough to hold summer essentials.
Shop the look: Sweater, $89, Chico’s; lace top, $58, Ann Taylor; cropped pant, $49.99, White House/Black Market; statement necklace and black flower pin, $99, and drop earrings, $29, WhatchamaCallit Fashions; Elaine Turner leather tote, $350, and Kate Spade patent wedge sandal, $328, Stanley Eisenman Fine Shoes; Maybelline Color Sensational Vivids in “Fuchsia Flash” on lips, $5.54, Target; Rimmel Lasting Finish Pro in “Bare Naked” on fingernails, $4.99, CVS Pharmacy; Essie “Secret Story” on toenails, $8.29, Target.
The trend: Bright lips, smoky eyes, nail art and wild colors
The body challenge: Thinning lips, sallow skintone and disappearing eyes
The fashion solution: Use bold lip colors to brighten your skintone. Also, try color that is infused with lip plumper. Forget the gloss; it slips into wrinkles and emphasizes unwanted lines. Use matte eye shadow to highlight eyes and mask the “hooded eye,” that pesky skin that gathers between your brow and eyelid. Avoid wrinkle-maximizing frosted shadows and heavy-handed shades combined with harsh eyeliner. Blend thoroughly to create softer, more forgiving shades.
Go for classic nail colors like red, coral and pink, or go nude. That means saying no to your daughter’s funky nail polish. Skip the artsy pastel shades, nail art enamel or darker teen tones.
If you want something fun for summer, try brighter colors or coral and hot pink shades that work well with aging hands.
Where to shop
Ann Taylor: www.anntaylor.com
Beauty Brands: www.beautybrands.com
CVS Pharmacy: www.cvs.com
White House/Black Market: www.whitehouseblackmarket.com
Top 10 anti-aging tips
1. Show less skin. Highlight your silhouette and shape more than showing skin. Remember, less is more.
2. Emphasize the best parts of your shape today, not the shape you had 30 years ago. Focus on your best features. Yes, you still have them.
3. If you have lost or gained weight, visit a bra specialist for a proper fitting. As we age, we droop, but the correct bra can lift you in a way that will make you look like you just “lost” five pounds. And while you are at it, invest in a bra designed to be worn under T-shirts. It should be smooth with no show-through lace or “spillage.”
4. Think like the French: Wear basic clothing that fits well, then add accessories to update classic items each season.
5. Wear narrow pant legs. The rule: The older you are, the slimmer the pant leg. It narrows your silhouette so that you appear thinner.
6. Don’t sacrifice good looks for comfort. Say no to pants that are too loose, too tight or too bejeweled. And the unmentionable “mom jeans” — don’t go there. There are jeans and pants that can be comfortable and fashionable on your body.
7. To wear or not to wear Spanx? If you feel more comfortable with some support underneath, look for lightweight shapewear. Today’s offerings breathe so you can, too.
8. Don’t try to keep past trends alive. Say no to crop tops, Peter Pan collars, glitzy nails, see-through and clinging fabrics, belly buttons on show, tattoos, piercing and writing on shirts (just to name a few don’ts).
9. Those fun-loving, cool-for-summer capri pants can make your legs look shorter instead of leaner. The style is sized for women at least 5-foot-9. If you are shorter, the pants will usually be too long. Hem them to the best place on your leg.
10. The best footwear choice is a platform, wedge, sandal or flat shoe for both comfort and style. Speaking of feet, put on those reading glasses and check your feet for hair. Yes, shaving those tootsies is a must.
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