Well, Happy Birthday! 50 is the new 40, you know. And in your lucky case, probably the new 35! You ask a great question that too many people don’t ask until they’re already looking frumpy and grumpy or even worse, are deep into trashy territory.
Two things will age you faster than the sun – Mom Jeans and dumpy shoes. If either of these style assassins currently resides in your closet then part of your 50th birthday present to yourself should be to replace them. So with that said, let’s list the most important things to know.
- Mom Jeans. It bears repeating! Please refer to the Mom Jeans post for why and what to replace them with.
- Dumpy shoes. I worked with a woman a few years ago who we all thought “looked good for almost 60” and she was actually 43!! Her frumpy clothes and hairstyle added about 10 years but the real nail in her coffin was her shoes. She wore black granny shoes with Velcro straps! You know the ones – laces for nurses, Velcro straps for grannies but otherwise the same. At the Christmas party, I saw her in a lovely pair of pumps and excitedly declared that she should wear them more often. Her answer was that her “comfy shoes are just so hard to give up.” Too that I say, “Then don’t start!” Until your feet declare war on every other type of shoe avoid anything remotely granny or nurse-like. Keep the heels as long as you possibly can! At 5’8” they don’t have to be super high to have impact. Incorporate flats in fun colors. Modern sleek sneakers (think Puma!) in fantastic colors. If ever there was a time to choose sleek, fun, statement-making shoes, it’s now!
- Holiday sweaters. Strictly verboten for everyone over the age of 10. Revisit these when you’re 80! (I’ll still say no, but we can revisit them!)
- Too-long hemlines. Too short is probably not an issue. For most modest dressers, the hemlines are too long. And especially as we get older, those hemlines should hit that knee!! It’s elegant, ageless, and extremely leg flattering. Don’t worry about buying all new skirts. Most long ones can be hemmed up to the better length.
- Anything baggy. From here on out it’s all about shape! Get it, create it, fake it. Whatever it takes. For some odd reason, the older people get, the more shapeless their clothes become. So, no oversize blazers, boxy tops, shapeless sweaters and dresses, etc.
- Anything with shoulder pads. If the pads can be removed without the garment losing shape, fine. If not – consider the item donated.
- Overly tweezed eyebrows. Pencil thin or drawn on eyebrows are detrimental to looking fresh. Fuller, well-shaped brows are much more youthful. There are about a million tutorials out there on how to shape and tweeze your eyebrows but it’s not rocket science. Click here for a general step-by-step. Another tip for filling them in – use powder!! I like Stila Brow Sets myself (check them out here). Powder is by far easier to apply and looks much more natural than pencil. Stila makes super easy to use sets and they last forever!!
- Retro trends from your childhood. This is a tricky area. It can look great because you have original pieces or it can look like you never grew up. If I’d grown up in the 40’s and 50’s say, I’d absolutely want to pull out my full skirts and nip-waisted shirt dresses and join the current trend, upstaging the newbies on the street with my originals. But I might look a little silly. My formative fashion years, however, were the 80’s, so I’ll never know the joy or trauma of fashion revisited. Peg leg jeans and parachute pants didn’t look good the first time and never will. There is merit to the adage, “If you wore it the first time around, you can’t when it comes around again.”
- Dark lipstick. It can so easily draw attention to the fine lines around the mouth. Pale pinks and peaches (NOT lighter than your natural lip color) with some gloss will always look youthful.
- Old lady swimsuits. That would be anything with a skirt attached! A classic one piece with bust shaping and support is the only way to go.
- No flannel nightgowns! Not that the rest of us are going to see it – but your husband will. And you will. PJ’s are the last thing you see at night and the first thing you see in the morning. Bookending your days like that leaves an impression. Even Victoria’s Secret makes cute pj sets with short-sleeved t’s and fun printed bottoms. And whip out the sexy lingerie every once in a while!
- Really great bras! No matter how large or small the cup size – gravity will do a number on those girls! Lift ‘em and love ‘em! Find a nice, shape-enhancing bra with underwire and BUY SEVERAL!
- A great pair of dark wash trouser jeans. Have I made the point yet? At your height, watch out for short jeans. When standing barefoot the jeans should just touch the ground. That length lets you wear them with flats as well as heels.
- A splash of current trends. Wearing 20-year old clothes when you’re 50… makes you look 60. And trashy. As a slender woman you still have the figure to wear anything you want so keep up with the trends – just a bit. Never updating your wardrobe or incorporating anything new will backfire on you as well.
- Keep what you love – tweak how you wear it. Don’t lose the things that are unique to your personality. For example, if your whole life you loved leopard print – just don’t wear it all over. Refine it to shoes or a scarf. If your signature color is pink – ditch the track suit from earlier years and get a nice, sleek, v-neck tee in that color instead.
- Break up the structured suit occasionally. You probably have one. It’s more timeless to pair the jacket with jeans and the skirt with a twinset or more casual top. You want to keep folks guessing about your age.
- Don’t be afraid of brights! Senior-citizen pastels (you know the shades when you see them!) start to creep into wardrobes at about this age. Brighter colors will provide more contrast for your skin and hair, keeping you fresh and bringing out your eyes.
You know what will probably keep you young the longest – that “immature” streak you mentioned. Saucy and sassy are key elements to style. If only everyone could stay fun as they age. It would keep us all so vibrant. Never lose that part of you and you’ll be in great shape.