Fashion & Style for the over 50s
Fashion and style for women aged over 50 doesn’t necessarily come in a neat package labelled for each day of the week or each different occasion.
Unfortunately, it can come with a big list of questions which start with “Will that suit me?” and go on to “Is that too young for me?”
Most women do know pretty well about their general style by the time they hit middle-age. And what they don’t automatically want is a plethora of elasticated waistbands, dowdy long cardigans and unflattering brogues – nor are they likely to opt for figure-hugging leggings and bottom-skimming mini-skirts.
Dressing well these days is really all about developing a sense of your own style …. and having confidence in what you wear. That alone lets you lift your head up, walk taller and look better!
It’s very easy to be put off by nubile young figures in the Topshop changing rooms when you’ve got an expanding waist, a less-than-pert bosom and thighs that you’ve studiously ignored for the past five years.
But, the key really is not to rule out anything, new or vintage, because fashions can often be adapted to suit you as an individual. Again, we’re back to that confidence in yourself, and acknowledging what does and doesn’t flatter you.
There really has never been a better time to be an older woman wanting to look fashionably fabulous. Think Lulu, the Duchess of Cornwall, Jane Asher, Twiggy or Lynda Bellingham. In fact, the last two are actually fronting well-known fashion labels.
Twiggy who, after over 40 years in the fashion business, had her own Marks & Spencer range and has become a fashion icon for older women. And actress Lynda Bellingham long ago shrugged off her homely Oxo mum persona to emerge, chrysalis-like, as a Calendar Girl happy to strip down to just her pearls and her comely shape – all in the cause of theatre, of course!
Lynda was also the public face of online fashion shopping range isme, with regular TV adverts keeping both her and them high-profile. Her chic looks are being copied by many women who previously might have thought particular styles were not for them.
She believes that we shouldn’t dress “differently” as we age, but realistically.
“Look for shape-enhancing details like cap sleeves, stretch in the right places, different trouser cuts, and built-in panels to make you look and feel great,”
Lynda suggests embracing colour rather than shying away from it.
“Wear colours that compliment your skin tone and hair colour,”
she says. And try substituting black for purple or deep berry tones for a welcome change.
Control your wardrobe properly and have attractive, staple items that look good. These could include a classy mac, a pair of wide-legged trousers, a glamorous top or a classic shift dress which you can dress up or down with suitable accessories as the occasion demands.
However, Lynda is a member of the “less is more” school of fashion when it comes to accessories and advises against overdoing it. Instead, it’s better to opt for one or two statement pieces of jewellery like a necklace or earrings that can look simply sophisticated and very stylish.
She knows that sometimes you need to try something new to develop your own personal style,
“So don’t be scared to try different looks,”
Do you ever wear prints, for example? There are plenty around to choose from this year, and if you’re still a little wary you could pair plain trousers or a tailored skirt with a printed top.
In general, investing in, for example, a smart, well-cut jacket that can go anywhere makes sense. In a block colour, it can be teamed with a plain shift dress underneath or something printed. That kind of jacket can take you to a meeting or informal social occasion or can be worn with something more dressy for an evening out.
Look at your accessories in the same way. Many older women seldom buy belts, but these can make a plain outfit look terrific and don’t need to emphasise waists not quite as trim as they used to be. View the outfit overall, perhaps employ that smart jacket with toning shoes and a bag plus a colourful scarf.
It’s also worth keeping in mind the impact of neutral-coloured shoes like the fashionable Duchess of Cambridge often wears; teamed with flesh-coloured tight these are real leg-lengtheners.
You don’t need to wear a very short hemline to pull off this kind of look or very high heels if you don’t want to. A knee-length or just-below-the-knee dress length with kitten or other low heels can be equally flattering. And pretty flatties like the current crop of ballerina pumps can also look exactly right with some outfits, especially the more informal and fluid.
A FEW DO’S AND DONT’S
Do give today’s fashions a chance – you don’t have to follow trends slavishly but there might be a look or style worth trying, especially when the catwalk is translated into high street lines
Do be realistic about your shape, height and colouring
Do go for good-fitting clothes that flatter your shape
Do look at your daily lifestyle and what sort of clothes suit it
Do ensure that any “special occasion” buys are fairly versatile – why spend a large amount on something you can only wear once?
Do look at multi-buys in the same range if you like them and they look flattering – this is cost-effective shopping and gives you a better “capsule wardrobe” of complementing outfits
Do factor in comfort – if you’re uncomfortable or uneasy in your clothes it shows
Do de-clutter your wardrobe and see what you’ve got that you want to keep and will definitely wear – if you’ve not worn any item for 12 months, will you ever again?
Don’t wear baggy clothes in the mistaken idea that they make you look thin – they don’t
Don’t assume you can wear an outfit just because it looks good on a six-foot tall 17 year-old model – the mirror doesn’t lie!
Don’t dismiss high street brands because you’re not a tiny size – many stores now stock 16-plus in their season’s ranges
Don’t forget the value of accessories, especially the latest ideas that can make a plain outfit look sensational