When editor Mark Evan Chimsky asked me to write a ‘Master Your Look’ essay for the anthology 65 Things to Do When You Retire, 65 Notable Achievers on How to Make the Most of the Rest of Your Life (Sellers Publishing), I couldn’t refuse.
Besides having the opportunity to share my senior style tips for a time in your life when coveting the latest it thing is not as relevant as revitalizing your most age-appropriate personal best, my essay would be in the book along such esteemed notables as my feminist idol Gloria Steinem, former President Jimmy Carter, Jane Fonda, John E. Nelson, (What Color Is Your Parachute?), and a host of other experts and achievers on how to make the most of the rest of your life.
Notwithstanding that all royalties from book sales will be donated to nonprofit organizations dedicated to preventing and curing cancer.
I encourage you to pick up a copy of 65 Things to Do When You Retire even if you are not at that time in your life as it is always the right time to inspire. My essay…
Master Your Look
Some may think that fashion is wasted on the (very) young. Trends come and go. Taking risks is merely a part of any day. Money, well, more will come later, so why not spend away now?
Fashion is fun. It’s frivolous and it’s something that should not be taken too seriously or you will miss the nuance, the thrill, the change of it all.
But style, oh style, that mysterious combination of what works and what is magic on the wearer… what flatters as it shields and only shows you in your best and most effortless light of the perfection that is unique to you. That kind of style is something that comes with time, with experimentation, with understanding your body (and its changes) and your lifestyle.
It’s your time to shine.
But just as you master your look, your life adjusts or your figure repositions itself. Then what? Are years of honing, years of perfecting are down the drain?
Every modification can lead to a better, more fine-tuned, more vital version of you. For some that have lived a life within the confines of a professional dress code, it may mean that now is the time to finally take that fashion risk to discover the new, more stylish, sophisticated and even younger looking you. It’s time to take the challenge to celebrate you in the purest form of your style — where you are in control, and most important where you don’t look old.
NOT TOO OLD, NOT TOO YOUNG
Nothing saps the spirit more than looking dated, dreary, and dowdy. So many get carried away with sudden found freedom from dress codes that they resort to wild and crazy extremes for sudden self-expression.
Avoid the classic “mutton dressed as lamb” look by trying to pull off teenybopper styles in a sour effort to dress young. No matter how youthful you think you look, there’s no greater slap of truth than bright daylight. Accept sophistication and tear yourself away from fads and overexposure.
Don’t forget that style is more than just what you wear, but how you present your self as a whole. By now, you have evolved into the person you are and it’s a matter of keeping up appearances to maintain your visual vitality. Style is what’s realistic for you, your lifestyle, and for the shape that you are in today. At my Web site FocusOnStyle.com, I share my tips on how to master ageless and timeless can-do chic. Sit up, take notice, and be proud, but most important, take control of your chic style.
BEAUTY STARTS HERE
Never forget to moisturize your skin and condition your hair. It’s seems so easy, almost second nature. Sadly, many instantly add years to their appearance by having lifeless hair and dull skin. The right moisturizer, anti-aging products, and regular deep hair conditioning are easy steps to help you look fresh and vital.
Avoid getting stuck in the same dated hairstyle that you had in your high school yearbook photo or one that is over-dyed and dry in an attempt to cover the gray. Look at some social media avatars of boomers for instant visual proof of what being trapped in a hair time warp looks like!
This is not the time to forgo makeup but to understand how a light touch can compensate for the loss of facial volume that comes with age. Apply a bit of blush to flush the cheeks and a tint of lipgloss; lightly define your brows, and use some cosmetic help to make your eyes sparkle so they don’t look drained.
Avoid crazy makeup trends and experimenting with glitter, goop, and heavy-handedness that accentuates wrinkles. Keep makeup dewy and natural by highlighting your best features.
WHEN IT COMES TO WHAT YOU WEAR
Keep the theatrics down and the sophistication up. If you were not one who could pull off being showy in your youth, it’s probably not best time to start now. Looking effortless is the key to looking chic. Clean lines, well-executed silhouettes, and the best quality that you can afford in investment pieces will always look chic.
You have probably amassed a fantastic collection of clothes by now. Rethink how you wear what you already own to better suit your new life. Mix and match different combinations. Think outside of your comfort zone and shop your closet for new and different ways to wear what you already have.
When you do go shopping, stick to classic styles with some design details that aren’t boring. You may want to save by buying very inexpensive clothing but avoid cheap and trendy items. Nothing beats a good sale to find the best for less.
Solids, particularly neutrals with a pop of either primary or muted color, provide a very sophisticated look for women of a certain age and don’t come with a built-in style expiration date. Monochromatic separates with added texture for interest are best.
Prints, oh prints. I have no idea why the misses department is flooded with either garish or dipsy prints. Somewhere, there is an evil fashionista who thinks that women over 50 want to drown themselves in the most hideous prints, patterns, and embellishments imaginable. Resist the urge to succumb to fugly clothes that will age you.
Don’t show too much but do strut what you have with style. After a certain age, you may still have a fantastic figure, toned legs, and a bountiful bustline. Just because you still got it doesn’t mean it looks appropriate to bust it out all over. It’s better to have clothes that graze the body instead of being clingy. Necklines that reveal a bit of skin are more flattering than those that overexpose.
When it comes to hemlines, err on the side of sophistication don’t go too short. Use discretion in selecting silhouettes.
Don’t try too hard. Trust your own sense of style. Kick back and remember, it’s all about can-do chic!
Sharon Haver, founder and editor in chief of the online fashion magazine, FocusOnStyle.com, turned her love of shopping and style into an expansive 25- year career in the glamour industry as a New York-based photography fashion stylist, Scripps Howard New Service syndicated newswire columnist, on-air television/radio fashion expert and spokesperson. She is every woman’s fashion, style, and beauty guru and believes in effortless can-do chic. Sharon is frequently quoted and seen in national media, including the Los Angeles Times, Martha Stewart Radio, Real Simple Magazine, ELLE magazine, iVillage, USA Today, New York Daily News, CNN.com Living, CNBC.com, Chicago Sun Times, Lifetime TV online, and starring as herself in her own national commercial for Macy’s. She lives in New York City with her husband, son, and toy poodle. Copyright ©2011 Sharon Haver; Poodle Productions Inc. All rights reserved.