How to modify fashion trends to suit any age and any figure
Bend a Trend, forever stylish… How to modify fashion trends to suit any age and any figure.
Dear Sharon: I am a 36-year-old business woman and mybest friend is ten years older. Every time we go shopping together she makes fun of what I pick out and tells me, dress your age, you’re not 26!ö But, I am not 46 either.
She always tells me, “if it’s not classic, you can’t wear it.What to do? I am not a fashion expert. I need help about what not to wear at my age to look good?! —Can I, Should I, Could I? (Lockport, NY)
Dear Can I, Should I Could I: Yes, you can be stylish at any age! I’ve seem to become the style maven of age-appropriate clothing thanks to all of your letters and feedback. So since you ask for it, here’s more fashion advice about how to dress appropriately and stylishly at any age.
My personal belief is to forget about the year you were born and dress for the physical shape you are in today. Dwelling on your chronological age and obsessing about self-imposed fashion rules is positively stupid and aging. Get a life and you’ll enjoy life, and you’ll look better for it!
You can be sizzling at 46 or like an out-of-tune train wreck at 26. Age has nothing to do with physical shape, spirit, or the desire to move forward and stay vital. There are 50-year-olds who can look hot in short skirts and 25 year olds who carry themselves like Great Aunt Tilly, the poor things.
Having great personal style is more about understanding yourself and being realistic about how you come across. Any style can be tweaked to look great on you– it only takes a pragmatic peek in the mirror and theknack to know how far you can take it. Modify trends to remain modern and understand your fashion limits.
If classic is your thing, keep it fresh. Do pick pieces that reflect your personality instead of following some social sense of what’s right. Today it’s appropriate to wear jeans with vintage pieces and an evening bag, says Gucci designer Frida Giannini in Glamour’s Big Book of Dos and Don’ts (Melcher Media/Gotham Books). Classic doesn’t have to imply plain– it’s all in the pieces you go for and how you put them together. Just look at the classic chic way a French woman recognizes just how to wear a blazer.
Appear professional when the occasion calls for it and look stylishly casual for the weekend. But never fall prey to being caught in a fashion rut because you are afraid to experiment with something new that will surely put years on your appearance and even bore the Peter Pan collars out of your closet! It’s better to take the risk and err on the side of tacky than to be fashionably dormant and dull.
As a business person, you want to appear office appropriate for the type of business that you are in. No matter what your profession, you have to avoid wearing overtly teeny bopper clothes with lots of over the top gimmicks. Avoid exposing too much flesh. Keep your look pulled together and you’ll be perceived the same way. If your clothing style is all over the place, you’ll be perceived as scattered.
Now let’s get back to short skirts, the most obvious article of clothing with an expiration date. They are back in style, before you don a short skirt at any age, the question to ask is how do your legs look? Are they in shape to stand a shorter skirt, with or without the help of dark slimming tights? Then, there’s short and there’s short. Flashing some butt cheek is simply too short a skirt for just about any occasion that doesn’t involve pole dancing. A woman over 50 or 60 who still has it going on can look stunning in a skirt about an inch or so above her knees that skirt length would offer the feeling of legginess without appearing like she’s stealing her wardrobe from the local dorm. The same shorter, but not mini length skirt will look job appropriate and chic on a woman of 25, but anything shorter than that threatens on being too revealing and inappropriate for work. I was once dumbstruck when a 50-ish publicist showed up at a get-to-meet TV producer’s meeting in a skirt that barely covered her pupick. She had just had liposuction and was thrilled with her new figure, but first off a skirt that miniscule is just wrong for a serious meeting and even more so with bare legs and high heels. Then there was the rest of her she just looked like a desperate attempt to regain her youth that the end result was embarrassing and aging.
Know the skin you are in and accept it. If you need a visual of women who look gorgeous and professional regardless of age, go no further than Paula Zahn and Diane Sawyer.
When it comes to fashion trends, become a master at tweaking them and dissecting the right amount of nuance which flatters you. If there’s a trend that you love, but honestly feel like you’ve missed its prime, skip it. When a style trend reappears that you have clearly worn 15 or 20 years ago, rethink it and reinterpret it with just one addition to your wardrobe rather than the full-on retro effect.
Keep up your skin care regime, don’t forget an up to date haircut, stay true to your personal style, and not take yourself too seriously. If you take care of yourself, stay healthy and fit, and maintain an open attitude about life there really isn’t that much of a style difference in what a modern 35 or 45 year-old could wear– it really is the cut that’s tweaked to suit a changing figure. As we mature, well-cut clothes are better than fussy layers and crazy prints. Who says you need to always dress classically when your style is a bit more downtown or bohemian? You need to dress in a way that flatters your figure and individual style, not your friend’s personal taste.
Be sure that your so-called best friend’s fashion advice is sincere and not self-serving to have you come across frumpier than her so she can shine. And, who says you need a friend who makes fun of you? That sounds more like bullying and with friends’ like that, you don’t need enemies.
–October 5, 2006