Great style isn’t just for the young. In fact, the more birthdays you celebrate the more comfortable you become in your own skin—which can, and should, translate to your look. There is no reason for 50—and beyond—to be synonymous with “frumpy.”
One thing I’ve learned as an image consultant is that spending some focused time and attention on updating your look every once in a while is well worth the effort. Not only will you love what you see in the mirror every morning, your image can also affect how confident, energetic, and balanced you feel throughout the day.
If it’s been a few years—or even a few decades—since you put serious thought into your style, read on for eight tips to help you reveal a chic, authentic new you:
First, clean out your closet. Many women have items in their closets that are years, if not decades, old! In order to create a style that honors who you are now, you have to get rid of clothes that haven’t truly fit or flattered since you were 45…or 35! Remove clothes that don’t fit; pieces that are worn, stained, or out of date; colors that don’t make you look your best; things that don’t match your current lifestyle, etc. Be sure to try on everything as you go so that you’re making an accurate assessment of each piece. It might be a good idea to hire a professional or to ask a trusted, non-judgmental friend to help you with this task.
Build a foundation based on quality, not quantity. Don’t be afraid to invest in foundation pieces, whether that’s suits for work or denim and blouses for weekends. By this point in your life, you know what your “go-to” pieces are—and you deserve to own staples that are durable, flattering, and well-made. Select the highest-quality fabrics you can afford, because these pieces will hold up longest, travel well, and won’t need to be dry cleaned as often.
…that applies to accessories, too! Especially if you’ve owned the same things for years, this may be a good time to invest in a few key pieces of jewelry and/or scarves that will give you a distinctive look. Keep in mind that spending a little more money on fewer statement pieces will set your look apart. And the dollar-per-wear ratio will be in your favor over the long run. Personally, I love Alexis Bittar’s acrylic cuffs, which are accented with silver, gold, and crystal. And on a recent trip to Paris, I treated myself to a fabulous Hermès scarf that features some of my favorite colors.
Don’t be afraid to get colorful. I see a lot of women who, over the course of their lives, have packed their closets with blacks, grays, browns, beiges, whites, and other muted tones—and I understand why. Neutrals are easy. It’s almost impossible for them to clash with one another. But do you really want to disappear into the urban jungle? The good news is, you don’t have to wear head-to-toe color every day to make a statement. Even a small pop, like a bright scarf, handbag, belt, or piece of jewelry can go a long way in making you more memorable.
Consider column dressing. Sometimes women “of a certain age” avoid ensembles that are matchy-matchy. After all, we don’t want to become our mothers and grandmothers, for whom every piece of clothing had to coordinate! Allow me to assure you that column dressing (in other words, wearing a top and pants or a skirt in the same base color) will not make you look dowdy or dated. Not only is column dressing vital in extending your wardrobe, but it will also make you look taller and thinner. Keep it interesting by adding a different color jacket, sweater, shoe, or belt. Or you can really make a statement with bold jewelry or a scarf.
If you’ve got it…flaunt it. No matter how many birthdays you’ve celebrated, it’s always encouraged to use your natural assets. For instance, if you have great arms, don’t be afraid to choose sleeveless or cap-sleeve shirts and dresses. If you love your collarbones, be sure to stock up on boat-neck shirts.
Take your clothes to a tailor. When your clothes are properly tailored and fit you perfectly, you’ll look great, you’ll feel even better, and you’ll get more wear out of the pieces you own. And guess what? When you love what’s in your closet, you won’t feel compelled to shop as often, meaning that the cost of tailoring will pay for itself. Almost everyone needs alterations to take pieces from “fits well” to “fits perfectly,” no matter what size they are to begin with. A few seams, tucks, and hems can take your look from okay to WOW!
And finally, face yourself. Your look isn’t all about what you wear. Your face is one of the first things that people notice when they meet you, and it’s also what they primarily look at as they interact with you. Unfortunately, beauty rituals pertaining to the face are one of the easiest ruts for women to get stuck in! Think about it: When was the last time you changed your hairstyle? Have you updated your makeup this century? And when was the last time you switched your glasses frames? If you haven’t addressed any of these areas in a while, plan a visit to your favorite makeup counter, your hairstylist, and/or your optometrist. Explain that you’d like to update your look in a way that’s fresh, stylish, modern, and that plays up your natural beauty. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen the right makeup, hair, and glasses take years off my clients’ faces!
Ultimately, when it comes to updating your image (or making any change in your life, for that matter), avoid things that make you feel uncomfortable, negative, or fake, no matter how trendy or in style they may be. Regardless of what you wear or how you style your hair, the best accessories are always a confident attitude and positive outlook that come from being authentic and true to yourself.
*Marla Tomazin, Certified Image Consultant, established her image consulting business in 1990 with the goal of helping clients identify an authentic image and develop its effective expression. Marla utilizes her abilities in evaluating body shape, movement, and coloring as well as synthesizing optimal cuts, lines, colors, and textures. This results in balance and proportion that accentuate attributes and conceal flaws. Her clients include women, men, and corporations seeking external revitalization that mirrors their internal development. www.marlatomazin.com.