Adapting personal style to celebrate age instead of denying it

by Michelle Seitzer


My new love affair with skinny jeans has nothing to do with following trends. After ditching my own flawed notions (they’re only for waify high-schoolers, not professional thirty-somethings), I found the streamlined cut and tapered hem to be just right for my short legs and curvy, petite frame.

When it comes to dressing your age, Astrid Brucker, a fashion stylist and designer in New York City, says: “It’s important – no matter what the brand or price – for a garment to fit and hang right.” Fit has a lot to do with foundation too. “A properly fitting bra and Spanx can come in handy,” says Brucker, who advises women to steer clear of clingy knits, which “tend to accentuate rolls no matter what the age.”

Spanx or not, this advice means you may have to bypass current trends. “Know and love your shape, play up your assets, and admire the trends but don’t be afraid to do so from afar,” says Kirsten Koromilas of Bethel, CT. Once an Los Angeles-based TV and film makeup artist who now runs a specialty boutique dedicated to helping women feel beautiful during and after cancer treatment, Koromilas firmly believes that “class and poise are ageless.”

It’s important to transition your wardrobe gradually with age, says Toni Laielli of White Plains, NY, is a recent college graduate who now works for top designer Michael Kors. “I try to mix boring black dress pants with bright sheer blouses and statement necklaces. It allows me to look conservative enough to separate myself from a college student yet still gives a sense of youth.”

For Katherine O’Sullivan, creator of the New York-based fashion technology start-up Klickpicks.com, it’s all about the “mixing and matching of styles.” She loves vintage finds – particularly from her glamorous grandma’s closet – and incorporates them in a modern way. “I would pair a structured blazer with a maxi skirt and some edgy jewelry to create a fresh age-appropriate look while still keeping a little bit of that old school charm.”

Flaunting your best features at 23, 43 or 83 also means bypassing those revealing duds. “Showing too much skin is never sexy. Stick to highlighting one area of your body,” recommends Chelsey Lutz of New York, NY, who founded YourStyleSavior.com, a site that teaches women to maximize their wardrobes at minimal cost.

While she advises women not to fear integrating color, Lutz does advocate using sassy shades sparingly over the years. “Allow the color to stand out via one boldly colored accessory,” she says. Doing so “packs more of a punch than dressing in color from head to toe, like a child.”

By the way, hitting your daughter’s favorite stores is a fashion don’t. “If you feel too old to shop at Abercrombie & Fitch, then you most definitely are,” says Koromilas.

Anna Pereira, a 40-year-old artist from Union, NJ, concurs: “I no longer have the body of my more youthful years, but I do have more confidence.” Pereira accordingly opts for accessories that make her happy (beaded dangly earrings), pieces that are functional and fashionable (a bright scarf), and a sexy wedge or stiletto for special occasions.

No matter what your age, always put on confidence… and remember, beauty is defined by you.

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