Today's fashion lines are blurry, and it's not my old 60-plus-year-old eyes that are the problem. No, I see the confusion among many of my fellow baby boomers when it comes to what fashion look is right for our age.
Is the line between what is “too young to wear” fading? Have the rules that our moms once held about how to dress for our age group vanished? Are we mystified about how to dress when the media typically only show fashion ideas more appropriate for a 20-year-old? Yes to all.
Blame it on the Internet and Photoshopped models and movie stars gracing magazine covers. The obsession with looking young has created a whole new problem: What does an over-50-year-old realistically look like today, and what trends can she wear?
As a stylist, fashion show coordinator and wardrobe consultant with more than 40 years of experience, my business is fashion. I visit hundreds of closets of women of all ages, but especially those of women over 50, who are frantically seeking assistance in finding a look that is contemporary yet age-appropriate. I've learned over the years that the key to the right look is balance: Don't dress too old or too young. But what's the trick to finding this balance?
Our model Irene, a busy mom of two, is just days from hitting the half-century mark but exemplifies how the “over-50” crowd can wear summer trends without having to reach for those reading glasses to find the just-right fashion look.
The trend: Neon colors, and mixing prints with patterns
The body challenge: “Batwing” or out-of-shape arms; sallow, aging skin; heavy hips and legs; and hot flashes
The fashion solution: Try a lightweight, neon sweater with three-quarter-length sleeves — great cover for arms, plus the neon adds a splash of much-needed color. The capped-sleeve V-neck linen tee is breathable, cool and more edgy than a solid tee when coupled with the skirt. The stitched-down pleated, printed skirt hides larger hips, while the hemline ends just below the knees in a flattering spot for thicker legs. The low-heel, patent linen wedge is a comfy, go-to choice. Geometric jewelry and layers of bracelets add summer fun to the outfit.
Shop the look: Sweater, $65, J.Crew; T-shirt, $39.60, Madewell; skirt, $89.50, Talbots; Arturo Chiang wedge shoes, $59.99, Dillard's
The trend: Lace, black and white, capri pants, statement jewelry
The body challenge: Large calf muscles, “cankles” (unsightly folds of skin on top of your ankles), petite and extra tall shapes, hefty lower body, thickening waistline, large upper arms and fuller neck
The fashion solution: This lightweight sweater in stylish black-and-white print captures the trend while keeping you cool. The lace top has a cami beneath that smooths, while the lace lies flat across your waist and stomach. The slim, cropped capri pant hits at the perfect spot on our 5-foot-9-inch model's legs. A standout statement necklace brings more attention where you want it: the face. A patent, wedge shoe with an open front further creates leg length. Remember, gladiator sandals and ankle straps cut across your ankle, making your legs appear shorter. The laser-cut leather bag is trendy yet roomy enough to hold summer essentials.
Shop the look: Sweater, $89, Chico's; lace top, $58, Ann Taylor; cropped pant, $49.99, White House/Black Market
The trend: Bright lips, smoky eyes, nail art and wild colors
The body challenge: Thinning lips, sallow skin tone and disappearing eyes
The fashion solution: Use bold lip colors to brighten your skin tone. Also, try color infused with lip plumper. Forget the gloss; it slips into wrinkles and emphasizes unwanted lines. Use matte eye shadow to highlight eyes and mask the “hooded eye,” that pesky skin that gathers between your brow and eyelid. Avoid wrinkle-maximizing frosted shadows and heavy-handed shades combined with harsh eyeliner. Blend thoroughly to create softer, more forgiving shades.
Go for classic nail colors like red, coral and pink, or go nude. That means saying no to your daughter's funky nail polish. Skip the artsy pastel shades, nail art enamel or darker teen tones. If you want something fun for summer, try brighter colors or coral and hot pink shades that work well with aging hands.