When I turned 40, I stopped wanting to look older than I was. I’d wanted to look sophisticated and elegant which I thought meant looking older. As the saying goes, “be careful what you wish for” because…fast forward to now, and I no longer want to look younger. I want to look the best I can for my age.
Dressing to feel youthful is a powerful tonic to banish the blues and remain visible, but there are pitfalls to avoid. No one wants to look like mutton dressed as lamb but there are other clothes that can make us look older than we are.
Here are a few things to be aware of:
Too many pastels
Our skin tone fades as we get older so wearing softer shades can be more flattering. But you should know that wearing too many pastels can make us look older. If you want to wear to light colors from head to toe, opt for pale neutrals like nude, ivory, light gray, or beige. Baby blue with soft pink is a classic combo but hard to pull off over a certain age. If you love pastels near your face, anchor it with a stronger color on the bottom. Baby blue looks great with navy and black or brown and charcoal. Ditto for soft pink, butter yellow, pale peach.
Too Much Black
Head to toe black is always chic, stylish and easy to coordinate. It makes packing a breeze and enables you to have a smaller wardrobe. It can also leach the life out of your complexion which makes you look older. Since black is such a huge part of many women’s wardrobes, here are a few tips to make it more flattering.
- wear a flattering colored scarf near your face
- wear a v or deep scoop neckline so the black isn’t too close to your face
- bump up your makeup to balance the black (think brighter lipstick and more eyeshadow)
- wear colorful earrings and/or necklace in colors that do flatter you
- wear black from the waist down and flattering colors on top
Many brands aesthetic is oversized and loose, think Eileen Fisher, some J.Jill collections. It’s a popular look that’s very comfy but tricky to get right. Choose pieces that are loose but not overwhelming. Only wear oversized on one half of your body at a time. Voluminous tunics paired with oversized pants make you look like you’re trying to hide something. Opt for slim-fitting bottoms with an oversized top. Or a slim fitting top with oversize pants. Some part of your body silhouette needs to show or you risk looking larger and older than you are.
Out of date eyeglasses
If your eyeglasses are dated, you look older. Check out how to choose the best frames for your face here. Frame shapes change slowly but if you haven’t updated yours in several years, they may be aging you. On the subject of glasses, very few frameless ones don’t make you look older. Frames actually help cover undereye wrinkles and camouflage dark circles. Choose a modern frame that makes a fun statement.
Wearing out of date trends
Herein lies the problem with trends. They change rapidly so if you’re wearing outdated trends you look out of touch and older. Better to invest in styles that nod to a trend that will always flatter your style. Outdated trends make you look outdated so beware or wear ones that are perennial favorites like polka dots, stripes, riding boots, animal print etc.
Wearing the wrong bra
The wrong bra can leave your clothes looking lumpy and your breasts sagging. Get a professional bra fitting and ensure it’s perking things up so your clothes hang properly. Bra’s that dig in will leave bulges and loose ones give no support.
These can be dangerous territory so indulge carefully. Choose classic prints like stripe, leopard, or polka dot or opt for modern prints. All over tiny floral print will age you as fast as large cabbage patch fabric a la Laura Ashley. Abstract patterns are often a safer bet because they don’t date and look modern. Prints are also memorable which makes them less versatile.
These are totally out of date and scream out of touch. Many women aren’t comfortable with bare legs so try self-tanner, or opt for opaque tights, sheer black, navy, or grey stockings. If you’re wearing open-toe shoes be extra sure the toe seam is tucked under the front of your toes.
Too many matching accessories
Coco Chanel is famously quoted as saying “before you leave the house, look in the mirror and take one thing off”. The truth is, too many statement accessories can age you. Matching accessories can do the same thing. Break your jewelry sets up. Don’t wear matching earrings, necklace, and bracelet. There are many women who love the bohemian aesthetic and believe “more is more” This is personal taste so wear what makes you feel confident. If you can pull off full-on accessories, go for it and enjoy it.