One of the most fabulous things about turning 50 is our newfound freedom to forget the fashion rules we felt confined to in our youths. That doesn’t mean, however, we have to let ourselves go entirely. With most of today’s fashion catering to the under-30 set, it’s more important than ever to fight the frump. A few simple guidelines and go-to pieces in your closet will keep you styling through middle age and beyond, with minimal effort.
Running hot or cold at any given moment is one of the “perks” of middle age, so being able to add and remove clothing with temperature fluctuations is key. Thankfully, these days it’s easier than ever to layer up. There are endless varieties of cardigans and cover-ups to suit any size and shape. Just make sure you go with “flowy” silhouettes that fall below your hips. Boxy shapes add unnecessary bulk.
When you have a perfectly tailored white shirt or two in your wardrobe, you’ll never again wake up wondering what to wear. This basic foundation piece goes with everything. It can follow you from day to night — dressed up with jewelry and heels, worn under a business suit, or dressed down with jeans. If you’re worried about looking too “buttoned up,” keep the top few buttons undone and roll back the sleeves.
Neutral colors are a critical component of any stylish wardrobe — but as with anything in life, playing it too safe can be downright boring. Think of your neutrals as a blank canvas in need of a bright splash of paint. A lively jolt of color, like a citrus-hued skirt or a tomato red handbag, will breathe life into your outfit.
Comfortable, breathable, figure-hugging jeans with a straight or bootcut leg look fantastic on women over fifty — and anyone, for that matter. Dark wash denim looks far more polished than faded colors and will make your jeans both work and weekend-friendly. Avoid baggy, high-waisted “mom jeans” and opt for a universally flattering mid-rise.
It might be time to consider quitting your contacts, and not just because you’re over fifty. These days, glasses are one of the trendiest accessories, and finding the perfect pair is easier than ever. Websites like Warby Parker deliver frames to your door for free that you can try on right at home, at your own pace. Have fun, and go with something a little unexpected — you’ve earned it!
There is no age limit on the LBD. The perpetually elegant wardrobe staple can be dressed up or down, looks just as good with a cardigan as with a leather jacket, and flatters any shape, size or style. Every woman needs at least one little black dress in her wardrobe, whether she’s 18 or 80.
Big, chunky jewelry might add a fantastic focal point to your outfit, but it can also add years onto your style. The visual effect of heaviness can weigh your whole look down, dragging you down with it. The jewelry of today is very minimalist, so opt for daintier pieces for a fresher, lighter look.
Jewelry sets look especially dated. If you have matching necklaces and earrings you can’t bear to part with, you can still wear them — just not at the same time.
While silk neck scarves can make you look like an air stewardess from the 1960s, soft-knit scarves that are long enough to wrap around several times are youthful and fresh. The pattern is important, however. Avoid paisley, sailor or equestrian themes, which can make you look years older, and opt for geometrics and florals instead.
Just because you’re over 50 doesn’t mean you have to tone down your lipstick. Darker colors, like burgundies and deep plums, can be aging, but caramel, coral, or a classic red can brighten up your entire face. Choose a long-wear lipstick with a satin finish, instead of matte, to make your pout look a little plumper.
Whether it’s sleek black, supple brown, or daring red, a leather jacket adds a timeless edginess to any wardrobe. As long as you stick with styles that are more tailored, and steer clear of too much hardware, you’ll have an endlessly versatile wardrobe item that can be worn day or night.
Though most people only wear them in the summer to shade their faces from the blazing sun, hats should really be a four-season accessory. Not only do they cover up bad hair days, but they’re pretty trendy right now. Don’t match your hat to your shoes or bag or anything like that. Think of it as an accent to your look, not the main focus.
Turtlenecks are cozy and hide those neck “issues” that come with getting older, but they can be a little stifling. Go for a knit shawl instead, which is more versatile and won’t muss up your hair every time it goes on and off. Shawls also draw people’s eyes up to your beautiful face, and away from any extra weight around your midsection.
A well-cut, slightly cropped, single-breasted blazer that nips in at the waist is the ultimate wardrobe workhorse. It looks just as chic layered over flowy dresses as it does over basic T-shirts and jeans. The smooth, crisp lines running down your torso will flatter your figure’s best features, and be forgiving of any lumps and bumps.