I’ve been interested in fashion for as long as I can remember. Even as a small child, I loved pretty dresses and all the accessories to go with them. When I got a brand new pair of shiny, patent leather shoes, I wanted to show them off to everyone I came into contact with.

As I went through my teen years, I enjoyed the fashion of the time. At some point during my mid-twenties, I realized that I needed to adopt a different look that was more professional and not so trendy. Yes, I know that Cher (who is older than me, by the way) ignores all rules and guidelines for a woman her age, but remember that she’s a performer who has to get attention any way she can.

I still love fashion, but I know that I can’t dress like I did as a much younger woman because some of the styles would look silly on someone my age.

When I flip through fashion magazines, I have to take a step back and imagine how to make the fashion-forward styles more appropriate for a woman with grown daughters and grandchildren. I don’t want to look like a dowdy granny, but I do know there are boundaries.

Remember that the fashion magazines present ideas that every woman should look at and think about how to make the look her own. Most of us – even very young women – would look ridiculous walking around in a dress from a designer runway show. You can be stylish, but if you have a job interview, work in an office, or have any other reason to present a professional image, you need to make sure you don’t come across looking like the latest fad-gone-bad.

It’s really not difficult to tweak fashion to make it age appropriate. Here are some tips:

  1. Be careful with plunging necklines. Many women show their age in their neck and décolleté, and a neckline that is too low actually makes them look older. Unless your chest is perfectly smooth and without age spots, select a high V-neck or a high scoop-neck top for the most flattering look. Cowl necks and turtlenecks are also timeless and provide the coverage you need in cooler months.
  2. Watch the hemlines. I’ve seen middle-aged women wearing skirts and dresses that are way too short for legs that have seen better days. Even if you have shapely legs, choose a length that doesn’t show off the areas above the knees that have started to sag. It’s more flattering to have the hemline end at the narrowest part of the leg.
  3. Leave the suggestive sayings at home. It looks silly and often desperate for a middle-aged or older woman to wear something with a come-hither statement scrawled across her chest or on her rear. If you like that type of clothing, save it to wear when you’re alone with your husband.
  4. Cartoons are fun but not on your T-shirt. You might be a huge SpongeBob fan, but you don’t have to advertise it by wearing his fan club shirt. It’s fine for sleepwear, but you’ll look like you’re trying too hard to recapture your youth when you go to the mall wearing it. And that only makes you appear older. If you are determined to show off your favorite characters, wear a brooch or necklace over a plain top.
  5. Look pulled together. Teenagers have the advantage of looking cute when they run around in mismatching sweatpants and a tank top. It’s fine for college kids to look like they just rolled out of bed to attend a class. However, as a woman matures, she needs to look like she put more effort into being presentable, even when you want to dress casually. You can avoid looking like you just finished mopping your floors by slipping into a stylish pair or pants or jeans and wearing a nice watch from watchshopping.com before running your errands.
  6. “Little” is in the eye of the beholder with the LBD. When you shop for your next little black dress, remember that the word “little” doesn’t mean skimpy. Yes, you can look sexy, even if the dress covers all your saggy, wrinkly body parts. In fact, I think that a more covered-up look is often even sexier than one that shows everything.
  7. Don’t let your fashion overwhelm you. As a lover of prints, I know that some patterns overwhelm my small frame and make me look older. Before going out of the house, I stand in front of a full-length mirror and try to look at myself objectively. Most of the time, I’m fine with one print piece (blouse or scarf), but head-to-toe print is too much.
  8. Start with classics. When I was younger, almost all of my clothing was based on the latest trend. Now that I’m more seasoned, I start with a foundation of classic pieces (straight-leg or boot-cut pants, a shell or tank, and a lightweight jacket or over-shirt) before adding a trendy piece or two. Select the finest quality classic pieces you can afford.
  9. Pick the right handbag. A tiny handbag might not hold all your stuff, but an oversized purse will make you look like a bag lady. You don’t need to be matchy-matchy, but your handbag shouldn’t clash with whatever you’re wearing. A well constructed satchel style in camel, taupe, gray, or black will go with almost everything.
  10. Edit your wardrobe. Every piece of clothing has an expiration date, so you need to go through your closet periodically to weed out what is out of style, what doesn’t fit, what you have shoved to the back of the rack, and what doesn’t make you feel fabulous. Remember that no matter how trendy something is this year, in a few years, it will look stale.

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