Looking great over 60 isn’t as hard as you think when you follow these expert fashion tips with a nod to your personal style.
What do you see when you open your closet? Is it full of clothes that make you feel good about yourself when you wear them? Or, like most of us, do you have an assortment of shapeless tops to cover up batwing arms and the fat that moved straight to your midsection when you turned 50?
The good news is that the basic rules for your wardrobe haven’t changed. Classic looks with a great fit are still the basis as we age. Putting together those looks is easy once you know the simple rules that can help you pick outfits that enhance your shape.
Will your choices be limited to frumpy or too-young? What can make fashion choices harder is a lack of age-appropriate images in print. If you want to see how aging actresses define their style with aplomb, check the photos here . However, there are plenty of ways to make your own look, and it’s not as hard as you might think.
The first step to a style makeover is putting aside the muumuus and mom jeans (or the too-small pants that give you muffin-top extreme). Embrace the body you have, and the rest is simple.
Love Your Curves
Where to go for Senior Fashion
Maybe you already have your favorite store, but you’d like to branch out to push your style boundaries. Or you’re ready to change your look, but your budget says no. Here are some of the best places recommended by other older adults to find fashion that works.
Fall in love with the looks at Sundance , but don’t buy unless you have a few thousand to toss away on a wardrobe. Sundance offers super-comfortable elastic waistbands in many pants, combined with interesting textures and a modern Western vibe. Identify styles you like, and see if you can replicate them with thrift store finds.
If you have money to burn, Net a Porter sells designer looks online. One hot fashion tip is to spend a lot of money on a great pair of shoes and fancy purse to make your whole outfit look expensive.
Other stores that get kudos from seniors includeZulily,Soft Surroundings,Chicos and J.Jill. Hundreds more exist, and you can check them out online to get ideas for what’s trending, or what length top looks best with capris, for example. Then, you’re ready to go on the hunt.
Thrift and consignment stores offer the most bang for your dollar anywhere. Here’s where you can get double-ply cashmere for under 10 dollars, or a silk blouse for half that. Be open about sizing, and search the racks for pieces put in the wrong place or that simply run large or small. If you love it, try it on.
Hint: Natural fibers such as cotton, wool and cashmere can be stretched (as much as one size up) by immersing in water with a few capfuls of fabric softener or hair conditioner. Squeeze gently, then place on a towel to dry. Stretch the fabric by pulling firmly several times in the direction you want it to “grow.”
ARC, Goodwill and Salvation Army stores offer racks of clothing that are a deal any day, but especially when they are cut to half price. (Check individual stores for half-price days.) You can also get a deal with a senior discount that varies by store and region. Ask if the chain has an upscale outlet such as Denver Goodwill’s Deja Blue where shoppers pick through designer brands in good condition.
You might be able to get some shopping cash by consigning clothes in good shape that you no longer want. Check your area for consignment stores, but be sure to check what age and size they cater to. Consignment stores targeting working women will likely have basics that will work for you, and it’s always worth perusing accessories and handbags.
Don’t forget eBay! Shopping is a 24/7 experience for new and used items on this giant mall-and-garage-sale in the cloud. This is a great spot to snag anything from a bright red purse to an art deco scarf, as the possibilities are truly endless. Remember to keep an eye on seller satisfaction ratings and return policies to avoid disappointment.
A common misconception is that you need to cover up unwanted curves, leading many women to hide in bulky sweaters or shapeless tops. But wearing clothing that’s too big for your frame can make your proportions look worse, not better. This is especially true if you are plus-size and petite.
To draw attention away from upper arms, wear bell sleeves or long flutter sleeves. Another flattering look features close -fitting sleeves that end just below the elbow. For cooler weather, choose shirts with long sleeves that you can roll up the forearm if the temperature warms. Add a kimono-style jacket over a knit top to give a pop of texture and color.
An easy mistake is purchasing outerwear that’s boxy in shape. Puffy down jackets are warm, but not the best look (unless you’re camping). Instead, choose a belted wool coat or a form-fitting long sweater. Browse designer Stephen Hadley’s Generous Fashions site to spark ideas for new looks.
Shape Up Your Wardrobe
Many older women gravitate toward baggy pants and maxi dresses with no waistline. This is a mistake, according to fashion blogger Catherine Brock. She recommends garments that have a defined shape. An A-line skirt looks good on almost any size frame, for example.
Choose sheath dresses that give your body a smooth silhouette. Throw on a jacket or kaftan if you’d like a little more cover, but watch the fit: A huge jacket can overwhelm a slimming dress.
Knowing the best style for your body type can help you feel confident about clothing choices.
If your body is pear-shaped, with great curves and a slender torso, choose clothing that draws attention to your shoulders. Embellished tops that clinch under the bust and flow out over hips work well. And don’t forget that a great necklace draws attention up toward your face and pairs well with a simple shirt and pair of jeans.
Apple-shaped bodies don’t need extra volume around the midsection. A long, floaty coat over a monochromatic base layer flatters this body type. You can also try a high-waisted flounce skirt to add some bulk down below for a balanced outline.
If your hips, waist and bust size are similar, you have what’s known as a banana shape. Flatter your figure with ruffles at the bust of a shirt or dress, or try some tapered pants that get slimmer at your ankles.
For more ideas on how to dovetail your personal style favorites with your body type, check out the Stitch Fix style guide on how to dress for your body shape. The trendy site can send outfits chosen just for you to your home, where you can try them on and decide to buy or return. Although not specifically for seniors, many of their styles are ageless, and they have an “ask an expert stylist” button for help with decisions.
Face Up to the Facts
Did you know the shape of your face influences what collar styles look best on you? For instance, if you have a long, thin face, a rounded collar is a better choice than a V-neck, which looks best on a wider face.
In fact, you should consider the shape of your face when choosing sunglasses, jewelry and even how to wear your hair. If this sounds confusing, use the lifehacker blog to decide which of six face types you have, and how to make the most of it. Men can check it out for flattering beard styles and shirt collars, too.
In the Swim
Sigh. Searching through the racks of bathing suits at many stores can be one of the most depressing acts known to older women. The sisterhood agrees that the mall does not have enough suits made for older figures. But take heart, there is an answer.
Online stores such as Swimsuits for All cater to those of us with less than bikini-ready bodies. Here, you can buy a top a size smaller than the bottom, or choose boy shorts instead of a French cut bikini bottom that exposes every inch of cellulite.
At these specialty sites, larger busts get maximum support. Mix and match for a fashion statement that flatters every body, such as combining a solid bottom and print top. Or, choose from one-piece creations with interesting cutouts, or darker side panels that boost the illusion of a slimmer shape.
Budget-friendly choices include using whatever you have and pairing it with a pair of solid shorts or Capri tights, perfectly acceptable at the beach or pool. If you’d like a little more coverage, choose a long, flowing cover-up like this one on sale at Venus .
For more tips to get you in the water, or at least at the shoreline, peruse this article on how to find a flattering suit .
Know Your Best Colors
Guys Can Dress Better, Too
Older men have it easy at work. A suit and tie just don’t change much from age 20 to age 70. But what about leisure time and casual Friday? What’s in and what’s out? We can help!
Perhaps the first thing to mention is a ban on socks with sandals. Don’t do it. Second piece of advice: no calf-length athletic socks pulled up high, period. You are looking 99 percent better already! Third: Solids and subtle patterns flatter everyone. Fourth: Whatever you wear, make sure it fits. Tight pants and a huge top do not hide a big belly. Just like the ladies, you need to flatter whatever size you are with a perfect fit.
Men need to pay attention to general style trends, such as if pleated pants are out or in. Trouser leg widths change over time, just like tie width. But guys have it pretty easy in the color department, with khaki, navy, browns and greys the eternal wardrobe staples.
However, men are more likely to be colorblind than women. If you can’t figure out whether to pair that coral polo with your black shorts or the maroon pair, it’s time to consult a fashion expert.
Enter the Nordstrom Personal Stylist . This is your fashion angel who will set you off on the right track for every occasion. You don’t have to buy an entire new wardrobe, but your stylist can show you pieces that mix and match well (and those that don’t), guide you to current trends, and artfully steer you away from an overly youthful look. In sum, your stylist can make you look great. Click on the link above to make a free appointment so this wonderful person can trot to your dressing room with styling suggestions and pieces to try on for a whole new you.
Not in the mood for a department store? Trendy StitchFix sends clothes to your door, and their personal stylist will work with you online. You can read up on fashion at their men’s style guide, which answers such pressing questions as, “How do I build a business casual wardrobe?”
Take the tips you learn there to make better decisions wherever you buy your clothes.
Hint:Natural fibers always look rich. Linen and cotton for summer, wool gabardines and sweaters for winter. Take them to the dry cleaner. You’ll look like a million bucks.
All of us have colors that complement our skin tone, hair and eyes. If you don’t know what your best colors are, have a friend help out as you hold different fabrics under your face. Or, try this http://www.colorenalysis.com/ online to get started.
Knowing your colors doesn’t mean that, say, yellow and pink work, but you should never wear blue. Rather, it’s understanding the shades of colors that are best. Pink, for example, can range anywhere from a deep orange tone (coral) to the lightest pastel rose. And while you may look fantastic in a salmon shade, it’s possible that something similar, such as bright orange, isn’t flattering.
You don’t have to discard clothes that aren’t in your color palette. But knowing shades that suit you best gives guidance for future purchases, such as when you love the fit of a blouse but can’t decide whether to buy it in red or turquoise.
Finally, you need basics (a black jacket or white cotton blouse, for example) that will pair with just about anything.
What Works for Everyone
There are some styles that suit older women across a wide range of body types and style preferences. Think of these as easy go-to pieces that you can dress up with a jacket or jewelry. Blazers and cardigan sweaters go great with V-neck tops, shift dresses and button-down shirts.
“In warmer months, V-neck tops with elbow-length sleeves are the new T-shirt for seniors,” says Brock.
She emphasizes the need for older women to have wardrobe staples like a black blazer, dark-wash jeans, straight-leg trousers and T-shirts in various colors with different sleeve lengths and necklines.
Dressing your best doesn’t mean looking like everyone else. If you love to travel, add a unique piece of jewelry from a trip. Maybe you love vintage pieces and can incorporate them into your personal look. It doesn’t have to be jewelry; a 1930s dress or retro beaded sweater can turn heads.
It’s never too late to get your own style, or change it up. Dig around in your jewelry box to find pieces you haven’t worn in years but still love. Or, bring a friend to a bead boutique and make your own personalized bracelet. Maybe you adore funky shoes that make a statement. Spend a bundle on a pair of awesome boots, and get the rest of your clothes from the thrift store.
Are you afraid to stand out and look different than everyone else? Take courage by watching Iris, a documentary about eclectic New York style icon Iris Apfel. At age 93, she sports glasses frames that dwarf her face and wears enough costume jewelry all at once to decorate five lesser women. Go big or go home!
Apfel chugs out in her wheelchair to bargain for accessories with a street vendor, or answers questions for adoring fans at a fashion retrospective featuring, of course, Apfel’s closet and sartorial style.
“I like to improvise,” she says, and so will you after seeing her flaunt a bevy of bold, wild selections.
“Embrace Your Curves! Why Covering Up Isn’t The Answer After 60,” Sixty and Me.
“The Budget Fashionista,” The Budget Fashionista.
“How To Find Flattering Bathing Suits For Older Women,” Sixty and Me.
“The Complete Guide to Dressing for Your Body Type,” What to Wear.
Blog posting provided by Society of Certified Senior Advisors