As a woman of (ahem) a certain age who has always had an interest in fashion, I struggle with redefining my personal style to reflect the passing years. Because I’m still active in the business world, I consider it important to look contemporary…to look like some thought went into my clothing selection…to look fashionable while still being age appropriate.
But as I get older, the challenge becomes greater. What exactly, constitutes age appropriate? Most of us know the obvious rules: avoid too-short skirts, too much skin. But what about wearing shorter skirts with tights in winter? Showing off toned arms in a sleeveless dress in summer? If you spend hours each week in the gym, should you be able to flaunt it a bit? And who decides the answers to these questions anyway?
Then there’s the issue of what elevates an outfit to sophisticated and what plunges it into the realm of frump. Here’s an example.
If you add a classic cardigan and a black 3-inch heel to this basic plaid wool sheath, the look is totally fine, but blah. However, if the dress is left uncovered, the cut-in sleeve (as opposed to classic sleeveless) reveals a more modern look. A higher heel helps keep it from looking too conservative, and a shoe with a pop of color, like the pair on the model, adds an unexpected punch.
If you feel the need to cover your arms, try a brightly colored cropped cardigan. Choose one with 3/4 sleeves, since showing a bit of forearm adds a feminine touch and prevents you from looking too covered up. Don’t match the sweater to your shoes, since matchy-matchy always looks contrived. In this case, opt for black stilettos instead. Toss a long necklace and a bracelet into the mix, and you have a look that’s elegant without looking grandmotherly.
I welcome suggestions from readers who’ve made it though their 50s, 60s, and beyond with fashion solutions that look fresh and interesting. We’re all in this together, and I think the best advice comes from women who’ve been there and figured it out.