Actress and model Isabella Rossellini told a story a few years ago about an incident that occurred with her while she was perusing items at an antique store.

As she turned a corner, she suddenly caught sight of what she described as “an old woman.” And then she realized she was looking at a mirror and the “old woman” was herself.

I think many of us have had this experience. What makes it particularly shocking is that it can even happen on a day when we feel pretty good. That disconnect – between how we feel on the inside and how we look on the outside – can be very jarring.

How Fashion Can Reverse Aging

One of the most effective ways to avoid looking and feeling “old” is to change how we dress. Simply embracing a new, fashion-forward style, even in a small way, can make us feel fresh and, well, younger!

Blessedly, the fashion runways are showing models who are over 50, over 60, and over 70, demonstrating to the world that we are not invisible and that we can be very chic.

But sometimes we need to ignore the style messages we get, even from close friends. Yesterday one of my readers asked me for help about what she should wear. She was dismayed, she said, because “everyone wants to put me in dull old lady clothes.”

Her blonde hair had turned gray and she had just celebrated her 71st birthday. But innately, she still had a lot of playful and high-spirited qualities in her facial features and bone structure.

I gave her permission to continue to add those elements to her wardrobe. They worked perfectly for her. And because her coloring was bright and lively, I also encouraged her to check out the wonderful array of cheerful new colors on display this spring.

Her response: “This is helping. I feel like I’m still young and vibrant, like I still have a life to live.”

Finding Our Own “Youthful” Style

Well, not all of us have innate youthful-looking features. That doesn’t disqualify us from dressing in a manner that shows we still have youthful-thinking minds. Barring super short skirts which are once again on the rise, literally, there are a lot of options, especially this year.

For someone with a natural, casual, and laid-back style, the new khaki carpenter pants and safari-type jackets are fun ways to spruce up a wardrobe. And, of course, there is the benefit of all those useful pockets!

You can affect a fashion-forward look by simply throwing a khaki jacket over a dress or wearing it with a nice tee and pair of jeans. Better yet, pair it with a blouse or dress in a cheerful print, such as the currently popular liberty-print florals, a trend that is still going strong.

For classic types, just adding a pretty scarf to your blazer and tailored blouse can freshen up your look. Scarves show we put thought into the entire outfit.

If you’re after an even more upbeat look, swap out the blouse for a striped Breton tee to wear with that scarf. Nautical themes, botanical prints and even smaller polka dots are new (but of course, old) trends in scarves this year.

Rounding Out Your Bag

The new shapes in handbags offer multiple options for a wardrobe update. But they require some careful analysis. There are a lot of playful circular bags around (made popular by Meghan Markle) but just make sure you match that much round playfulness in your personality.

If you don’t want to go full circle, there are a lot of circle-handled square bags. Another great choice is one of the artsy-looking basket bags for the summer, if you want to make a more creative, dramatic statement.

Then there are the squishy, softer leather pouches and sacks. These work if you have softer, romantic qualities in your overall look.

And believe it or not, fanny packs are making a comeback! Just avoid them if you have an ample tummy. They tend to bounce up and down as you walk and call attention to your mid-section.

What Else Makes Us Look “Old” and How to Avoid These

Now, of course, looking old is not just a matter of having a dated fashion sense. There are certain changes to our faces that just signify the march of time. For one thing, our skin no longer reflects light as it once did. There’s an easy fix for that: moisturize and add a bit of makeup.

For another, our hair color and texture are changing. Another easy fix: either color it or get a new, chic haircut – and be sure to keep it up.

One of the most telling signs of aging is a drooping mouth. Crinkles and wrinkles around the eyes add a bit of a character to the face, but a drooping mouth says, “Gravity won.”

Don’t despair though. There is even a simple solution for that one: smile – which is one of my favorite cards in Margaret Manning’s Aging Gracefully card deck. In addition to changing the way you feel when you smile, turning up the corners of your mouth can actually change the way you look, over time.

Your face contains 43 muscles. Just like your abs, quadriceps, and biceps, you face responds to exercise. So you might even practice keeping a smile on your face while you exercise! You’ll confound the other people sweating and grunting at the gym!

How do you avoid looking old? Or are you simply grateful to have made it to this age and wear your years proudly? Give us a glimpse of what keeps you feeling younger as the years go by! Please join the conversation!

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