Yes, you might now be “a woman of a certain age”, but the only thing that’s really aging you is a few fashion mistakes. “By letting go of older trends and embracing current age-appropriate styles, you can look 5 or even 10 years younger,” says Doreen Dove, a Boston-based stylist and spokesperson for Style for Hire, a nationwide network of personal stylists. Some easy style updates to help you look younger:
Break up with your black bag. Using the same old black handbag makes you appear set in your ways (remember your Grandmother’s pocketbook? Enough said.) Dove suggests taking inventory of the bags you have—if they’re all black (or brown) it’s time for something new. “Your bag does NOT have to match your shoes, so add some color!” says Dove. For spring and summer, pick a pale color or a straw tote. In fall, opt for jewel-tones such as royal blue, red, forest green or an animal print.
Step away from sweats. Yes, baggy clothes and stretch fabric equal comfort, but they can also make you look, well, frumpy. Instead, choose fabrics that have some stretch but are also fitted so they flatter your body. Check the label and look for elastane or spandex—but make sure the fabric only contains about 4 or 5 percent; a firmer fabric will actually hold you in and make you smoother. Choose stretch jeans or high quality leggings—which are form fitting but still stretchy—and long jersey tops. “Many high-quality brands feature elastic waistbands on stylish pants,” says Dove.
Embrace flat-front. We’re going to say once and for all: Pleated-front pants with a high waist are not flattering. “When women started wearing pants, they were designed just like men’s pants and fit the same way,” Dove explains. But today it’s easy to find a good fit. Have a tummy and think those pleats are hiding your pooch? Reality check: “Pleats are actually accentuating the negative,” says Dove. Instead, look for slimming flat-front trousers with a straight or boot-cut leg, which hangs straight down from your hip. As for the waist: An inch under your navel is universally flattering. To make your legs look really long and thin, wear a pair of shoes with a pointy toe, suggests Dove.
Add new scarves. Tying a silk scarf—even one that might have cost a bunch—around your neck is an instant ager. Still, a good scarf is like adding frosting to a piece of cake, says Dove—it can add color, texture, and shine to an outfit. Today’s scarves are more sheer and longer, so wrap them around your neck several times. Also, look for lightweight knits in solids and floral and geometric prints. Don’t want to ditch your silk scarves? Roll them up and wear them as a headband or belt, or tie it to the handle of your handbag to bring a pop of color.
Switch to stylish shoes—that are also sensible. “There are shoes with extra arch support, shoes that are made wide for bunions, shoes with non-skid bottoms and more,” says Dove. “And those same shoes also don’t have to be just black or white and plain. There are plenty of choices that have color, and texture (think snakeskin or patent leather), with embellishments (such as grommets or buckles). Metallics, bows and wedge boots will be hot this fall.
Say “yes” to shape wear. Girdles? Is that still even a word? Today it is called shape-wear, and that’s what it does—it shapes you by moving, containing, and controlling, in a less painful way than girdles of yesteryear. And they can make you appear up to 10 pounds thinner—and therefore younger. A piece of shapewear can cost anywhere from $20 to close to $100, depending on the style and brand. Ask a sales clerk at your department store’s lingerie department for some help in finding the right piece. And while you’re there, get fitted for a new bra: “A properly fitted bra can take inches and years off of your frame,” says Dove, who suggests getting fitted every two years. Common problems: spillage, sagging and gapping. Also tackle the lower half. “Panty-lines are unflattering no matter your size or age so get some suggestions on well-fitting underwear,” says Dove.