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Fashion at Any Age

Fashion Over 50


Woman looking in window at boutique shop
Gary John Norman/Taxi/Getty Images

The problem isn't being comfortable in your over-50 skin: wisdom, maturity and fulfillment boost your sense of well-being.

Instead, the challenge is simply finding wearable, modern clothes to fit your lifestyle, budget and figure.

Pros may tout fashion now as being ageless, but that's no consolation when you have to pick through racks of miniskirts and low-rise jeans to find styles you love.

Keeping up with trends can be even more difficult because many fashion magazines ignore women over a certain age.

And even when the glossies try to address the issue, they tend to forget that mature women can be just as fashionable as young girls. (In August Vogue's "The Age Issue" the cover promises to show you what to wear from "17 to 70." A typical spread showed a suggested ball gown for a 60-something, with 23-year-old Maggie Rizer wearing it.)

Can I wear that trend?

Designers and magazines show styles on youthful models, but realistic merchants know not everyone sports taut forearms and flat tummies.

So while it may seem that stores are packed with teenage clothes, you can still find fresh, current looks that can work for you.

Stores like Chico's  (updated separates) and Talbot's (classics) are currently some of the most successful retailers, which shows that you are not alone in your quest for real fashion.

As a matter of fact, practically any fashion trend can be adapted if you know some general guidelines.

Quick tips to keep current-Let the very young think (mistakenly) that dressing sexy means you have to bare every body part. Instead, you can show your sensuality with luxe fabrics (silk, leather, cashmere, fur) and rich colors (wine, chocolate, plum, champagne and midnight).

-Watch your handbag: it is usually a dead giveaway to your age. Have some fun with your handbag choice by trying lively colors (red, denim) and different shapes. The key here is to find a bag in a good proportion to your size. Shoulder bags that fit under the armpit (not too tiny or huge) are generally the most flattering.

-Know that today you don't have to trade style for comfort and ease. Shop for wearable, updated shoes. Wear stretch fabrics whenever possible.

-Use accessories to create maximum impact. Costume jewelry expert Isabelle Bryman suggestslooking at your accessories in new ways: wearing pearls as a belt or a dress clip on a beret.


Getting older and looking great while you're getting there


By Marilyn Kirschner, editor-in-chief, The Look On-Line. This originally ran in her excellent "Week in Fashion" feature in December '00. Used with permission.


1. Don't get too skinny (think Nan Kempner, who looks like a "Best dressed" bag of bones) and don't gain too much weight!

2. Don't wear baggy, shapeless clothes.

3. Don't wear ditsy and fussy prints like tiny florals.

4. Don't wear overdone, fussy styles or details (gold buttons, gold trim, etc.). They are terribly aging.

5. Don't think you have to wear skirt suits to look well dressed. Even though they may be "in," some skirt suits can be very aging. Pants are generally much more youthful, so a better choice would be a pantsuit or a pant and coat ensemble.

6. Don't shy away from all black. It looks great, especially when textures are mixed: leather, crocodile, patent, fur, vinyl (this lightens it up a bit and gives it life).

7. Don't expose your upper arms and neck: these are both tricky areas for most women over a certain age.

8. Don't wear your skirts too short.

9. Don't overdo the grooming. Helmet hair, and too much color -- red nails, red lips, eye shadow and blush (especially when used together) -- are terribly aging.

10. Don't think you have to cut your hair: a chic ponytail always looks smart and youthful.

11. Don't wear fussy, frilly evening attire. Go for tailored instead!

12. Don't wear shawls (too granny) or capes.

13. Don't overdo the glitz! Despite the fact that maximalism is in right now, you don't want to look like a Christmas tree!


1. Think young. Be unpredictable.

2. Effect a natural look in beauty.

3. Choose solids: camel, red, gray, khaki and especially black and white. In fact, when in doubt, go for black and white. You can't go wrong with this combo. Think Tom Ford for YSL: eternally elegant, modern chic.

4. Go for bold, classic patterns in black and white: houndstooth checks, stripes, argyles. They are very "snappy," as Bill Blass would say!

5. Choose classic shapes (they're "snappy," too!) Shirtdresses, trench coats, pea jackets, car coats, balmacans, jean jackets and jeans are eternally youthful in spirit.

6. Go for unfussy chic: minimalist, functional designs and details. (Hint: zippers are far more youthful than aging gold buttons).

7. Wear short skirts if you have good legs (but not too short -- they should fall around the knee).

8. Invest in several fitted black turtlenecks! They are indispensable, flatter everyone and they always look great for day or night.

9. And finally, follow the old adage: Aging is a case of mind over matter. If you don't mind, it doesn't matter!

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