Please welcome guest writer Louise Hudson, who loves to ski and loves her fashion!
When a 20-year-old fashion student recently told me she wanted to be me when she graduated, I was flabbergasted but flattered – as a 55-year-old fashionista, I need all the compliments I can get!
Clothing and new trends have always been my passion, right from the 60s when I would go shopping every Saturday with my mother and sister, scouring the stores for the latest styles. Just because I’m now classified a ‘senior’ doesn’t mean this obsession is obsolete, it just means adjusting the guidelines.
Here are some of my tips and tricks.
Learn how to sew
The advantage of knowing your way around a sewing machine – and these days a serger, too – are manifold. Not only can you then make your own clothing but you can buy poorly-fitting garments and reshape them to contour your body exactly. This makes a huge difference – even a cheaply made garment can look chic when it fits and flatters the figure. Another benefit is that when you hit a sensational sale only to find that all the best bargains are in the wrong size, you can buy misfits and re-size them. Another of my favorite things is to buy a garment which I half like and then customize it, changing the silhouette, neckline or sleeves and embellishing the design. And – a real plus as you age – you can add cover-up sleeves to all those arm-baring tanks and sundresses!
Alternatively, find a seamstress
For those who really don’t want to start sewing in their 40s, however, finding a local seamstress is a must. And, as you age, my advice is to make fashion a higher priority rather than leaving it to the young.
Understand your body
Spend time researching your figure and which shapes and styles suit that outline. Be honest with yourself: use the mirror and a tape measure to try to create an indelible mental and three-dimensional picture of your figure as it is now. That way you will avoid picking items that used to flatter you when you were younger but may not now.
Explore new shapes and silhouettes
And then spend even more time exploring options in a wider range of stores – don’t stick to old faves, they may not work for you any longer. Also, every store, every brand comes up with new lines all the time – do a wide search. Much of shopping is not actually purchase but pursuit, the quest for that perfect pair of pants or the most flattering dress.
Always take armfuls of different clothing into the fitting room – once you’ve undressed, you may as well try everything that caught your eye rather than dressing again and going back out to retrieve more outfits. Try on styles you’ve never tried before. We are naturally programmed to go for the same safe things, same colors, same fabrics season after season as a kind of security blanket. Be brave, try new outlines, new shades and new textures and you might find something surprising that looks great on you.
Wear the right underwear and shoes
When trying on clothing in stores, make sure you are wearing good underwear and the right shoes (bring them with you if you hate trekking around malls in heels) and always bring a small hand mirror so that you can see your rear view.
Don’t listen to shop assistants
Never listen to shop assistants: they are sales people, usually younger than you, and will tell you anything they’ve been trained to say in order to make a sale! And to avoid hurting their feelings, recruit them to go and get different colors, sizes or accessories for you. That way they will realize you know what you’re doing but they will be gratified to be enlisted to help you in some way. Instead of falling for the sales patter, listen to your own research, lovingly culled from your years of experience and from surfing the net – especially dedicated blogs like Sylvia’s, full of relevant information, updates, tips and guidelines.
Don’t cut the sales tags until you wear the clothes
When you get your items home, keep the shop tags on and retain the receipts until the very day you plan to wear them. Retail regret really ramps up as you age and you might find that what looked amazing in the trendy boutique atmosphere, just doesn’t fit into the reality of your lifestyle.
Be sensibly selective!
But don’t think that older equals frumpier. In fact, being more mature often frees us from the couture cowardice of yellow youth and we become more confident in projecting our inner self to the world. Know yourself, know your style and find looks that make you feel both fabulous and comfortable. But be sensibly selective. For example, right now the look is boho and 70s.
Great – we are the generation that inspired that trend so we can legitimately carry it off, wearing the gypsy tops, long floaty cardigans, fringed vests and flattering flares. But pair kimonos with capris, pants or long dresses rather than mini skirts and micro shorts – unless your limbs are unusually long, flab-free and uninterrupted by cellulite or visible veins.
Some things are just for the young: Try as I might, I haven’t found a way to wear flowery festival headbands yet. I have to content myself with teaching teenagers how to make them and sending the ones I make to my sons’ girlfriends!
What are your best tips for dressing over 50?
Louise Hudson is a freelance travel and ski journalist. Since 2005 her ski articles have been published prolifically across the USA, Canada and England. She is also an author and blogger: One, Two, Ski!