There is a lot of information in books, magazines, blogs, online and on TV, on how to look more youthful and improve your sense of style. I have noticed that overall, they seem to cut off at 50.

Why is that? Are older women supposed to go through the rest of our lives wearing sensible shoes, track-suit pants and baggy t-shirts? If what’s available in the shops is anything to go by, the answer is yes.

Thumbing through a women’s magazine or watching a make-over TV programme using baby boomer celebrities as examples of how to dress age-appropriately is not particularly illuminating. If we’re honest, it would (or should) be almost impossible for these women to look bad.

 
 

We are often provided with advice from a gorgeous young thing whose sole knowledge of women our age is probably provided by her Mum. And Mum, like many of us, may be totally in the dark!

Age Appropriate Dressing?

It’s almost impossible nowadays to look through a fashion magazine without coming across a feature article for “women of a certain age” on dressing in an “age-appropriate” way.

How do you describe articles like these? Condescending, ageist, sexist, patronising, supercilious? They are almost guaranteed to raise your blood pressure by a couple of notches.

It’s All Over After 40

Apparently it’s all over after 40! For years we’ve seen articles written on how to dress, what to think, what to do, and how to save ourselves from the curse of the 40. For some reason – except their age – the fashion police have decided that after 40 we have no right to dress “on trend,” or even “fashion forward.”

Who made that decision? Who decided it’s just not acceptable, but de rigueur to tell us what can we wear and what we can’t?

I plead guilty to using “women of a certain age” as all-inclusive for those of us over 50. It’s easier than using “older women” for example, which offends some people!

Being Over 50, 60 or 70 Makes No Difference

So what if we’re over 40? We still want to be stylish. What designers and fashionistas forget is that we have more disposable income to spend than younger generations.

I am not advocating some looks that are better suited to a younger demographic, I am advocating the constant refinement of our own personal style. I read the other day, “It’s not what you wear, but how you wear it.”

Style Over Fashion

You can take different pieces of fashion and wear them in so many ways. This is where your own style comes into play. Being older doesn’t mean we must disappear into the walls or wear boring, sensible, nondescript clothing. For me, this is aging disgracefully.

Dress as though you mean it! Creating your own personal style is fun. It’s not always easy, but it is fun. Start by looking at colours by bringing them next to your skin. You’re a smart woman; you can tell which colours makes you look washed out and which colours add vibrancy to your skin.

If you really don’t know what suits you, find someone who does. Go to a colour expert, someone who didn’t know you when you were young and is not trying to replicate your favourites from days of yore.

In fact, if you really are stuck, find a personal stylist who will walk you through everything – including what bags suit you – and even help you choose the right shoe shape.

Invest in Scarves

Scarves are the answer to many a maiden’s prayer and can turn something beige, bland and boring into something chic, stylish and sexy. Again, think of colour. A multi-coloured scarf may be ideal but it may not. You can pick out different colours to tie it all together and create a ‘look.’

Buttons

One very simple trick is to buy an inexpensive shirt and change the buttons. Replace the plain el cheapo buttons with something more expensive and exciting. I recently changed the buttons on a grey top.

They were plain and white, and I replaced them with nine different coloured and shaped buttons. The top immediately gained a more stylish and expensive look.

The same goes with coats and jackets – add different buttons. It’s all about standing out, not blending in.

Zips, Zippers

A big zip starting at the hem of a dress and running to the top can make a statement about your style. Replace the subtle, can’t-be-seen zip with something that can’t be missed.

Jackets and coats of any description often benefit by the replacement of buttons with a zip. Of course, the garments need to have the room to add a zip.

This is real fashion forward stuff!

Shoes

If your shoes are plain, find some old clip-on earrings and use them as shoe decoration. If your trainers (walkers) are a tad dreary, buy some different coloured laces.

Be bold, be daring, be original.

Yes, you may be a woman of a certain age, but now is the time to dress in a way that suits you, not everybody else. Do you do that?

I love Zara, which many people will say is too young for a woman flirting with 70. Wrong! I think we all know when we are wearing something that is too youthful. They have great leather pants and jackets which are not supposed to be for older women – I love them and wear them.

We should be honest with ourselves and acknowledge when something we have or want to have is better on a mid-twenties girl.

Coco Chanel said, “Fashion changes but style endures.” She was right.

Do you think that there is such as thing as age-appropriate dressing? Do you believe in that careful balance between fashion and style? Do you follow fashion? Do you worry what other people think about the way you dress? Please share your thoughts below!

Penelope Jane WhiteleyPenelope Whiteley is a coach and mentor. Her lifestyle blog for women over 50, focuses on beauty, fitness and fashion and travel for the solo woman, as well as lifestyle and anti-aging.

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