Most of my clients are between the ages of 45 and 65. This is a fantastic time of life for many reasons, not the least being you understand yourself better than you did in your youth. Therefore, it is a prime time for dressing for yourself, dressing in a way that expresses who you are and the things that are important to you. It is not a time to start dressing old. Heaven forbid! May we never do that.
I remember my grandmom’s style. She always looked stylish, but her style also looked “old.” Funny enough, the things she wore are things I wear now: blouses, trousers, and sensible heels. Yikes! Am I aging myself? In some ways, yes. I dress differently than I did in my 20s and 30s. My style has evolved, and I’m not 35 anymore. However, my style does not look old because the cuts and fabrics I wear are modern, which was not available to my grandmom. Back then, you had your “old lady” brands and stores, and there was no blending of ages in fashion as there is today.
What ages a person varies by person. Although I am giving you a list of top offenders, I know people who look fantastic in these items. They are not aging themselves. Please don’t skim this list, take it as gospel and trash all offenders in your closet. Use this list as food for thought. I hope it encourages you to take stock and, if needed, move in a slightly different direction to keep your style modern and fresh. At the end of the day, that’s what we want – to look like the best version of ourselves, current, happy and confident.
Clothes that are much larger than your own frame add weight and years. 20-somethings can rock an oversized tracksuit. Oversized clothing over 40 sends a different message. In some cases, it says you don’t want to be seen (but you are), and in other cases, it says you’ve given up.
As Karl Lagerfeld once said: “Sweatpants are a sign of defeat. You lost control of your life, so you bought some sweatpants.”
I know oversized clothes are everywhere, and they’re comfortable. However, there is a happy medium. The solution: For comfort clothing like joggers and sweats, wear your typical size in “normal” clothing. Body skimming styles are ideal. I’m a big fan of the Farallon Jogger by Athleta.
If you own oversized pieces (I do!), keep your body balanced by wearing something slimmer on one half of your body. Avoid oversized clothing all over.
Bermuda shorts stop just above your knee, sometimes touching your knee. The main reason they are problematic is they cut your leg in half, causing you to look shorter and disproportionate. The solution: Several retailers offer shorts where you can choose your perfect length. Boden carries my current favorites, these pleated linen shorts. They have a 4″, 6″ and 9″ option and lots of fun colors.
The 6” shorts hit me mid-thigh, which is perfect for me. The right length varies according to your height and leg length. You might decide shorts aren’t for you any longer. In that case, opt for ankle-length cotton pants (see below) or breezy dresses that end just below the knee where most of us are narrow.
Capri pants have been on my hit list for as long as I can remember. The eye goes to horizontal lines. When you place a horizontal line in the middle of your calf where most of us are widest, it makes calves appear larger and our legs shorter. If you have long legs and thin calves, go for it. The solution: Ankle length pants are a better choice. I love these drawstring linen/cotton pants by J. Crew Factory. They come in oodles of colors and many size options.
Neon Bright Colors (and Black!)
As we age, our coloring softens. Wearing super bright colors near the face takes away from our natural beauty. We should not have difficulty seeing you for the color you are wearing. If a brighter palette is your jam (raising my hand), don’t abandon it completely. A piece here and there is fine, especially if it isn’t directly by your face. The solution: Begin to introduce softer colors into your wardrobe. If you aren’t sure of your best colors, let me do a custom color analysis for you.
Much like Capri pants, I’ve preached against wearing black for years. (Confession: I own plenty of it myself.) Black is severe, and it adds shadows and accentuates lines on our faces. The solution: Introduce softer neutrals into your palette. Warm blonds look amazing in camel, neutral brunettes look wonderful in taupe and warm brunettes are lovely in rusty browns (in other words, look for neutrals similar to your hair color).
Long, Flowy Tops
I love boho style tops. My issue is with tops that extend beyond the bottom of your rear. This length makes your torso appear overlong and your legs short. Overall, you appear chopped in half and, dare I say it, frumpy. The solution: Opt for a high/low top where the front hem is around your leg break, and the back hem skims mid-rear. These are great with slim-fitting pants or leggings. I have friends who love the Sojourn Top by Athleta (below). I love the drama of the pleats! Breathable SPF protecting fabric makes it perfect for summertime. This top is ideal with a heel because the back is rather long.
The women who wear caftans well are typically tall. Most often, they look great on women with large breasts, which give the caftan shape and structure. Everyone else looks like Mrs. Roper. The solution: Look for dresses around knee length or just below the knee. If you have curves, look for a shapely dress like Athleta’s Playa Linen Wrap Dress.
If flowy is your jam, opt for a shorter cover-up style dress like this one by Velvet by Graham & Spencer.
You might not think of a ballet flat as an “aging” offender. It’s simply that there are more modern options for comfortable, stylish shoes. For starters, I recently spotted a similar tennis shoe as this funky Converse on a lady at the airport, and I couldn’t take my eyes off them. She could have worn a ballet flat with her top and jeans, but she would not have looked as current.
This soft pink Kate Spade loafer is reminiscent of a ballet flat but with a more modern shape. A slight heel is always a nice choice as it gives you a touch of height, and it improves posture and presence.
Use Your Intuition
Since the pieces that “age” a person varies by person, it is important for you to be aware of how you look and feel in a garment. If you feel like a piece looks too old or too young, it does. Regardless of others’ opinions, a garment must feel right on you. Tune into your intuition and allow it to guide you toward modern choices.
When you get dressed, I want you to feel supported and confident in what you are wearing. If you can put it on and forget about it, that’s perfect. If you are tugging on it or otherwise feeling self-conscious, chunk it.
I’m here to help. If you’re wondering how to make sense of your closet and step out as the best version of yourself each day, message me. You deserve to look and feel your best every day.
Keri DeTore says
Love this! And I have been thinking about contacting you for some shopping help! We should touch base.
Keri, I would love to help you! Please do anytime you are ready.