In fashion, there are no hard and fast rules anymore. It was easier when work meant a wearing a suit, after hours meant a cocktail dress, and weekends meant a shirtwaist or pantsuit. It can be difficult to determine what is age-appropriate for us 50-something gals, but the good news is that there are lots of options, even including bootleg jeans and bermuda shorts.
What does age-appropriate mean?
This advice is geared to women whose objective is to look modern and stylish. This is for women who don’t want to appear to have raided a daughter’s closet, nor look like a fashion plate circa 1965 from “Peyton Place”. Remember that color is fun, fabrics can be luxurious, stretch is comfortable, solids do not age like old florals, and handbags can be trendy.
The old fashion stakes
When we baby boomers were in our youth, shoes and handbags had to match, as did lipstick and nail polish, remember? Our mothers reached for a hat and gloves to feel properly dressed. Well, times have changed and matchy-matchy is no longer. We are even free to leave the house without wearing hosiery. But, this doesn’t mean that anything goes for 50-plus.
What’s too short?
There’s nothing wrong with showing off great legs. However, generally speaking, just a smidgen above the knee is about as high as looks good. If you want to wear short items in your closet, pair your outfit with dark, opaque hosiery. Below the knee with a back center slit looks especially good. Midi and maxi are terrific for mature women who prefer to cover up, but avoid a wide, floaty skirt with longer lengths.
What’s too bare?
It’s tricky, but only you know how you feel about your arms and neckline. The golden rule is balance. If your hemline is shorter, cover up on top with long sleeves. If you choose a more revealing neckline or sleeveless, you’ll need a longer length to balance it out. Too much skin doesn’t look good, even on 20-somethings. Go easy on jewelry, the dangly earrings mustn’t brush your shoulders. But, a fun statement necklace or a traditional strand of pearls are both great looks.
What about sleeveless?
It is a bit disheartening to go shopping and see racks of sleeveless dresses. Start experimenting to determine your favorite coverup look. It may be a beaded cardigan, an embroidered ethnic shawl, a solid pashmina, a cashmere throw, a blazer. Once you find it, you’ll be happier with sleeveless. No spaghetti straps, no gaping views in through the sides. You want width at the top of the shoulder and an armhole that fits, no bra straps showing.
Best foot forward
Flats, wedges and heels under three inches are fashionable for all ages. Sky high heels are not only silly, but dangerous, and are not age-appropriate. Chunky, stacked heels will give more stability than thin, spiky ones and still add height. The comfort shoe brands with comfy insoles are showing some very stylish lines these days. What fun to see our beloved 50s penny loafers re-invented as a casual shoe this fall.
Beyond the girdle
Figure control stretch undergarments are available with so many options, we can focus on trouble spots, or vary the undergarment according to the outfit. Compared to the girdles and corsets of our mothers and their mothers, we are certainly lucky.