Fashion Rules for the Over-55 Set; Common Sense for Everyone Else

Handmade Fridge Magnet-Mary Engelbreit Artwork-A Fashionable Woman

I love my clothes. No, really, I love them. They bring me joy. I spend entire afternoons with them, putting outfits together with jewelry and scarves, considering shoes versus boots, and ironing a repertoire of ensembles for the upcoming weeks. However, as I get older, I find myself striving to keep things simpler and more direct. And as I create these outfits, I realize that my style is changing in subtle and “appropriate” ways. That word – “appropriate”! I use it only because I was once told that my attire was always appropriate… for my age. That thought prompted me to create my fashion rules (opinions) for women of “my age”. (I thought about writing a book but apparently what I need to say can be expressed in a page.) But then again, they really apply to anyone and I feel it is my duty to share with the world my style opinion – whether or not it asked.

Shoes: First of all, heels – the best friend of the height impaired.  Unfortunately, there comes a day when heels become the enemy. Feet just can’t take it anymore (not sure they ever could) and now they let you know it loud and clear. I used to force the issue but now there is no leeway. Flats or bust!  Or is there an alternative? In some cases, I have adopted a bit lower heel, sometimes with a hidden platform in the front of the shoe.  Otherwise, I embrace the wedge as an option and if all else fails, a flat with a small heel. After years of loving my heels (and all my 176 pairs of shoes, garnering a nickname of “Imelda” in my family), it has been a difficult transition but it sure beats a broken ankle!

Pants: Next, let’s consider bottoms… pants, trousers, leggings.  In the case of a tailored pair of slacks, never underestimate the power of a hem tailoring. It’s a quick fix but so many people (ok, the younger ones) think nothing of letting their pant cuffs drag. What the heck! That’s just messed up! Your pants are worn, and worse still, filthy! Think of all those ladies rooms with the manky floors! Yuck!

While we are on the topic of bottoms, who doesn’t love leggings? However, they were never meant to be pants! And unfortunately, too many people wear too short a top with them. Honestly, it’s shocking for the rest of us so please cover your bum.  A lovely tunic or longer sweater can polish your look and save the world the need to look away.

Accessories: – In my opinion, the name of the game. When you choose an outfit and there is something that’s not quite right, in many cases all that you need is the right necklace, a scarf, or some great earrings.  I tend to buy a lot of fun necklaces and earrings, as well as scarves and sweaters, that can help pull a look together. The key is in how you store these gems so that they can be easily tapped when needed. I separate by color – reds, greens, blues, etc. – and metal – silver or gold.  I buy containers intended for other uses – embroidery threads, nails and screws, crafts – and I adapt them, labeling each compartment for easy access.  I am still working on a compact storage solution for my scarves (aside from winter versus lighter weight) but I’ll keep you informed on the progress.

Hair: Now this is a dicey one since for many, including myself, hair is a defining element of a persona.  Let’s start by focusing on hair color – and I won’t even consider the trend of dying hair colors found in the rainbow. In no case is this acceptable – it’s frivolous and certainly not “cute”, a bit of fun, or a means of self expression. It’s just dumb!  Now on to the more serious and sensible – depending on your natural color (original, birth, or what you remember it to be before you started down the hair dye rabbit hole), go lighter. Roots – they will own you so just give in and take it up a few tones. You will be able to stretch the time between touch ups. In the meantime, invest in a good root touch up (aerosol is great, there are also powder forms).  You will be able to tip your head without fear that your roots are staring someone in the face. It always amazes me when people seem to have the exact width of gray roots…all the time. What’s with that?  Cover it up, girl!

Now cut and style – there comes a time when hair length screams “I refuse to get old so I will leave my hair long – that should trick them!”  Sorry, honey! Your dry, frizzed aged locks do not shave years off – they just beg for a hot oil treatment.  I often hear that people keep it long and simple because they just wash and leave the house with wet hair. Hold, please! Nothing says “I don’t give a damn!” like wet hair on arrival at work.  A few well placed layers and a tutorial and you will be a “new you”! The hair dryer is not your enemy and, better yet, take a spin with the straightener or the curling iron. Your well styled coif will give you a well deserved pick me up!

Skin care and Makeup or lack thereof: My best advice to the mature woman is to go to a reputable non-commission cosmetics store like Sephora and sit yourself down to a makeover. With age, skin changes and so should our skin care routine.  A few years ago, my daughter treated me to a makeover with an older makeup artist and it was life altering! She understood the issues of older skin and changed up my entire routine. I purchased the products (there was no pressure to buy) and I have maintained the process. The big take aways: the value of primer and no more creme blush. And highlighter! It makes for a fresh face and a dewy glow that’s natural looking when it doesn’t come naturally. A good moisturizer is also key – mine costs $75 but I am a believer.  (My skin care roots go deep. I started at 27 to apply Mary Kay daily and I do believe that it made a difference – I mean, have you ever seen Mary Kay, when she was alive, that is!)

I could go on forever…but before I risk becoming more impassioned than I already am on some of these topics, I will end this rant. I am sure that I will return to whine more on the subject but for now, I will be watching.  And trying not to judge – although that is not my strength. And when I see your style evolve, I will know my work here was not wasted.


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