Monthly Archives: April 2016

The Art of Dressing Elegantly – For Women of a Certain Age: Rule No. 7

Rule No. 7:  You’re never too old to look good!

Some women give up on themselves just because they are “old”.  Age is a state of mind.  I am reminded of a friend in her early 90’s who lived on a limited budget.  She never failed to stretch and exercise every morning.  She walked almost everywhere.  And, when she did, she was always immaculately dressed – not expensively, just elegantly.  She kept her gray hair short and complemented her clothes with lovely silver jewelry.

I can never forget the time she showed me a lovely Kenzo scarf she bought on sale at Filene’s Basement (remember it?).  She was so excited about how drastically reduced the price was.  She was 92 at the time.  Through all the years that I had known her, she had always carried herself with grace in both dress and manners.  She had always been the epitome of a lady to me.

The woman below illustrates a style that is simple, classy, and timeless.  Even carrying a cane did not detract from the elegance she exuded.
 mature woman with cane
Photo from Pinterest

 

The Art of Dressing Elegantly – For Women of a Certain Age: Basic Rules 5 & 6

Rule No. 5: Keep it simple!

This is the most important rule to remember. Understated elegance is simplicity at its finest. Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelly, and Katherine Hepburn had it. Lauren Bacall has it. A lot of us work hard to achieve it. Think minimalist!
Spend what you can on clothes of good quality because they will last you a long time. The simpler the lines or style, the more versatile it is.

About 15 – 20 years ago, I saw a lovely sleeveless woolen dress in chocolate brown, with a matching jacket in a shop in England. I fell in love with it, but the price was more than I was willing to spend. It was a Valentino design. I could still kick myself for letting that go. The tailoring was just beautiful. If I grew too big for the dress, I could have had it altered. The swing jacket would have lasted me for years.

Most women wear black because it is easy to work with. Choose a few basic colors that you like and look good on you. If you are dark-skinned, the world is your oyster. If you’re on the pale side, perhaps, camel brown, tan, and pastels will suit you better. You can get wild in your choices, but make sure your colors and patterns don’t clash. Solid colors are a safe bet but you can mix-match them with more adventurous designs.

Here is a woman dressed in well-coordinated attire. She could have gotten away with a chunky silver bracelet in addition to her dangling earrings, but she opted to keep it simple. Casual? Yes! Elegant? Yes! Achievable? Easily!

Street Style - NL
Photo from Pinterest

The few times that I have traveled to Italy and France, I always marveled at how well mature women there dressed despite their age. They don’t apply lots of makeup on their faces or wear clothes meant for younger women. They simply wear clothes that fit right – not too tight nor too loose. And, they carry them well in spite of the extra weight on their bodies. So, where do we find these clothes?

Rule No. 6: Watch out for sales!

You don’t have to travel far to buy good quality clothing. Several times a year, shops sell their merchandise at reduced prices. Scour the clearance racks! I would avoid shopping online or by catalog unless you are familiar with the company’s sizing and the quality of its merchandise. The following is a list of shops where you can find affordable, but stylish clothing. These stores may not be your cup of tea but do shop around and find your style that agrees with your budget.

CHICO’S (https://www.chicos.com/) – Visit Chico’s sales racks when you have a chance. They carry nice separates and accessories in various colors and sizes.

H&M (www.hm.com/us/) – Believe it or not, you can find inexpensive, but stylish sweaters, tops, skirts, and accessories from this store. They may cater to youngish clientele, but one can find lots of separates which can be suitable for all ages.

T.J.MAXX (http://tjmaxx.tjx.com/store/index.jsp) – This store can be a mine for good bargains if you know what you’re looking for.

MARSHALLS (http://www.marshallsonline.com) – Again, I would advise against shopping online just because you want to be sure of the fit of the clothes. If there is a Marshalls store near you, then you are in business. They offer lots of choices at reasonable prices.

JJILL (www.jjill.com/) – Their clothing and accessories are pricey, but if you check out their sales, you may be able to find some classy outfits within your budget.

DRESS BARN (http://www.dressbarn.com) – Here is another store where one can find affordable clothing and accessories. They carry women’s clothing in both regular and plus sizes.

ZARA (http://www.zara.com/us/) – Zara is pricier than H&M, but you’ll find stylish clothes of good quality and lovely accessories at reasonable prices here.

Go through the sales racks at Lord and Taylor, Macy’s, Nordstrom, and their outlets. Shopping requires a lot of patience so it is never a good idea to shop only when you need something. It puts a lot of pressure on you to find it quickly and even pay a hefty price for it. Shop leisurely and you will probably find a “keeper” and a bargain at that!


Next: Rule No. 7

The Art of Dressing Elegantly – For Women of a Certain Age: Basic Rules 3 & 4

Rule No. 3: Be Foot Smart!

In our younger years, we used to run around in high heels without any problem. As our feet get older, we are faced with the usual dilemma of either wearing stylish high-heeled shoes in pain or ugly flats in comfort. Years ago, older women were given a measly choice of sneakers, chunky flat shoes, and podiatrist-prescribed comfort shoes. Nowadays, shoe manufacturers like Easy Spirit, Clarks, Naturalizer, Aerosoles, Merrell, etc. have incorporated style with comfort in their collections. Most are expensive, but you can invest in a good pair that can last for years, or wait for sales, or order them online. I suggest you first go around the shops and try the ones you like. Once you have identified the brand, style, and size that suit you, look for it online.

Be sensible in your choice of footwear. If you must wear heels for a special occasion, choose a pair you can walk in comfortably. You don’t want to party with pain written all over your face. You want to be able to walk easily and gracefully. Besides, you cannot afford accidents that can wreak havoc on your bodies.

For casual occasions, flats or low wedged styles are advisable. For walking or exercising, sneakers are your best friend.

Rule No. 4: Accessorize!

My accessories have saved me from spending lots of money on clothes. I have a big collection of belts, beads, bracelets, earrings, rings, brooches, and scarves of various colors and designs that help expand my limited wardrobe.

There are so many ways to dress up your attire without looking like a Christmas tree. A sparkly brooch or a colorful scarf can perk up a dark solid top or dress. Add jewelry that will not overwhelm the rest of your outfit. Dangling earrings can look lovely with an open necked top. If you must wear a necklace with it, choose a matching chain or something low-key.

In the image below, the timeless Catherine Deneuve wears a beaded black short jacket with black satin top and trousers. She chose simple hoop earrings, a bracelet and red nail polish on her nails and toes. The emerald green clutch bag she carried made her whole ensemble a success.

Catherine-Deneuve-012

Combining accessories with your outfit is a skill that can be learned. Practice in front of the mirror days or hours before you go out. It will give you an idea of how your whole attire looks. Do not pile up the beads if you have a short neck. You’d look better in chains or long necklaces. If you’re petite, avoid chunky jewelry that can be overwhelming. This doesn’t mean confining yourself to pearls or dainty designs. Medium-sized beads will work for you.

A bright-colored scarf can bring a plain dress to life. You can tie it around your neck or hang it loosely around your shoulders. Use a plain brooch to fasten it on your dress if it doesn’t stay in place. Remember when women used to tie a small scarf around their necks? It looked good with an open-necked top or a white shirt with a standing collar. Practice and experiment on ways to wear one! Be creative!

Whatever accessories you choose to accompany your clothes, remember that less is more, which leads us to the next rule.


Next:  Rule 5 & 6

The Art of Dressing Elegantly – For Women of a Certain Age: Basic Rules 1 & 2

Below are basic rules to follow in developing the art of dressing elegantly:

Rule No. 1: Do not wear tight-fitting clothes.

Can we really look good in our autumn years? Yes, we can! Women come in all colors and shapes but we all get the extra flab in our bodies as we age. We should not put our mature figures into form-fitting clothes that may have looked good on us in our 20’s and 30’s. Be realistic! If you have clothes that you really like and don’t want to part with, have them altered to fit you better. If you decide to wear leggings to go to the corner store or a yoga class, make sure you wear a tunic, a long shirt, or a cardigan that covers your bottom.

Rule No. 2: When in doubt, wear separates.

Take a look at yourself in the mirror. Be honest but don’t despair with what you see. You may be top-heavy and slim at the bottom; slim at the top and heavy at the bottom; top and bottom heavy, etc. Whatever your shape is, it is almost always safe to wear separates.

A woman who is top heavy and slim at the bottom will look good in a loose top that covers the hips, and a slim skirt that is just below the knees (or a pair of slim trousers that will balance the big top). It is probably time to donate all the mini-skirts you still have in your closet. However, if you’re lucky enough to still have a good figure, you may get away with “doing” the usual list of “don’ts”. Be adventurous and bold if you please, but keep it classy.

In the image below, the British actress Charlotte Rampling wears a simple pant suit, black handbag, and black wedged heels. She is very slim, but her jacket grazes her figure just right – not tight nor loose. Her standing collar could have allowed a small string of pearls but she chose not to, thus emphasizing her long neck. She could also have worn a bracelet, a ring, and a watch, but her style is relaxed and unfussy. It is a very simple outfit, yet rich and elegant. You don’t have to follow Ms. Rampling’s style. Just take a cue from how she carries herself and develop your own.

Charlotte-Rampling-027


Next: Rules 3 & 4

The Art of Dressing Elegantly: For Women of a Certain Age (Introduction)

Aging can be traumatic for both men and women. The pressure to look good, however, is mostly placed upon women by an unforgiving society. Magazines, TV programs all feature women with flawless skin, lustrous hair, and gleaming smiles, wrapped (or unwrapped) in clothes that emphasize their shapely figures.

The process of getting old is unavoidable. No matter how much we fight nature’s course, time will make its mark on our faces, hair, and bodies. Those who can afford it spend a fortune on plastic surgery or regular non-invasive procedures to slow or counter the aging process. Some look terribly different from their former selves; others just look worse than ever.

Yet, women don’t have to take that direction. There are more reasonable options available to us. We really need to correct our attitude towards aging, but we don’t have to surrender to it. We can fight it gracefully. Mature women no longer struggle with the meaning of life or agonize over what they want in life. We know what we want. It doesn’t matter that we weren’t blessed with great beauty. We want to look good!

Sure, women have different tastes and styles in clothing. What we strive to achieve is elegance, whether casual or not. How does one explain elegance? Merriam-Webster defines it as refined grace or dignified propriety; dignified gracefulness or restrained beauty of style. It basically means propriety in both dress and manners. This article will attempt to focus on how we can dress elegantly without breaking the bank.

Whether we are in our 40’s, 50’s, 60’s, 70’s, or older, we need to take care of our health. Practice good grooming, eat right, exercise, and stay active. Wear pajamas all day if you want, as long as you’re in the privacy of your homes. Once you’re outside those boundaries, you need to consider the propriety of your appearance. Make sure your clothes are clean and free from wrinkles; and your shoes clean. A little vanity never hurts. It can motivate us to take pride in ourselves.

We do not have to be slaves to fashion or spend a lot of money to look good. Choose clothes in classic styles that fit well and hide the flaws in your body. A simple wardrobe can consist of tops, skirts, and trousers in neutral hues (black, brown, gray, white); a few dresses, and jeans for casual wear. Your shoes and handbags can be in any color that will match or even enhance your clothes. What you buy depends on your personal style and finances.

Next: Rules 1 & 2