As the mother of a 22 year old, I’m at that stage in my life when some styles just aren’t attractive or appropriate anymore. My two biggest fears are looking like my mother and looking like my daughter.
Stylish, mature women follow the major trends while staying within their own look. As we go along, we have to redefine what constitutes an up to date look and let go of old fashioned ideas, but there is a fine line between looking current and looking like a fashion victim. Everybody has a different idea of what is frumpy. As with most things in my life, I figure out what’s right for me by eliminating what’s wrong. These are on my “no-no” list:
- Wearing your pants too short-this is a look killer that I see often. The modern way to wear pants is very long-almost brushing or brushing the floor.
- Wearing tucked in blouses and tops-this one is hard for me to resist because I love my belts! Untucked tailored shirts and (layered) t-shirts look modern. If you choose to tuck and wear a belt, don’t do it the old fashioned way-mom jeans that sit on the waist and taper at the ankle with a 1″ belt-yuck! Pants that rest 1″ below the waist are flattering for most of us and a wider belt (around 2″) is slimming
- Dressing too “matchy-matchy”-this is a tough one for women of my generation because when we were growing up the perfect outfit was a plaid skirt picked from a rack with coordinating sweaters and finished off with matching Papagallo shoes and purse. It’s just not that easy anymore. The women who still subscribe to this method of dressing wear a head to toe “look” from one designer. BORING! It takes a little creativity, but basically you want to mix palettes and textures. Look at color combinations in magazines and in stores to keep up to date. You may see color combinations you never though of as “going” together and they look modern and chic. Even the simplest outfit can look great by mixing textures; think nubby wool with velvet or linen with silk. If this is very uncomfortable territory for you, wear suits but update them with shoes and tops
- Wearing sleeveless tops and dresses without the benefit of regular exercise-when I attended my daughter’s high school graduation on a sweltering June day, I saw lots and lots of flabby arms; I was thanking my Total Gym! I don’t mean to say you have to exercise, but if you’re not blessed with toned arms, wear short or long sleeves
- Trying to look too pulled together-if your clothes are sophisticated and impeccable, tone down the hair and make-up-that’s a modern look. And in a similar vein…
- Wearing too much make-up-this is particularly important as we get older. Go for a polished look in neutral colors for day and ramp it up a little with color or a heavier application at night
- Wearing too little make-up-I don’t go anywhere without mascara, blush and lip gloss at a minimum. Most days I add taupe eyeshadow and dark brown liner and a little brow tamer. It takes 5 minutes and makes a world of difference!
- Looking totally un-put together-when I see women at the mall in sweats or shorts and a baggy t-shirt, I wonder why they’re shopping if that’s how they go out of the house. Even when just wearing jeans, you can look pulled together by paying attention to your shoes and other accessories. Or, throw a jacket over just about anything and look instantly pulled together
- Purchasing a dress for “special” for special occasions-of course there are some functions, for example if you’re the mother of the bride, when you have to buy a special dress. But for most semi-formal occasions it’s more chic to collect a wardrobe of fancy separates-silk slacks, blouses and skirts, velvet skirts and jackets, dressy cashmere sweaters, embellished jackets and maybe a tuxedo to mix and match. It makes more sense, too if you don’t dress up often because you can update your pieces one at a time
- Out of date glasses-glasses are a fashion accessory and if you have to wear them you may as well keep them up to date. It’s worth the money when you consider cost per wear!
- Wearing too many “jewels”-I’m not into costume jewelry, I’d rather have a few pieces that reflect my personality and that I’ll love forever. Make one thing your focal point, if you wear too many pieces it’s distracting
- Wearing unflattering silhouettes-there are certain clothes that are not good for some body types. Nobody can escape this, even what we regard as a model body cannot wear every style. Sometimes it’s easier for a good buddy to point out what doesn’t work for you; it’s very difficult to see yourself without prejudice. If you’re going to spend the time and effort to wear nice clothes, be a good editor and stay away from what doesn’t work for you. This has nothing to do with size!
- Wearing “cheap” clothes-when I shop with my daughters at stores like H&M and Forever 21, I’m tempted by the price tags, but inexpensive clothing looks really bad on mature women. Again, I’d rather have 10 things that I love than 30 things that are so-so
- College hair-if you’re still wearing your hair like you did when you were 19 and you’re over 40, it’s time for a change. And if you got the cut of the moment-the “Dorothy Hamill”, the “Rachel”-and you still have it, it’s time for a change. Trendy haircuts are just that, they are meant to be constantly updated
- Lady-like suits and small stud earrings-I know when women see this look with the “new” Chanel style suits and dresses they think, this is a look I can relate to. Thing is, this is a look for young women-it looks hip on them. Like they say-if you wore it the first time around, think hard about wearing it again. Simple, structured suits with a bend toward avant guarde look much more stylin’ for us over 40’s
I find that when I follow these guidelines, it reduces my options, making it easier to pull together stylish, ageless outfits.