How to dress youth­fully, and what not to wear af­ter age 50

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - LIFE - LIZ JONES

THE FE­MALE news­reader who smiled at me from across the wait­ing room of a TV stu­dio last week was beau­ti­ful, with lovely plump cheeks and a toned, stat­uesque fig­ure.

Yet she looked ev­ery one of her 50-some­thing years, and more. Why? Poor style choices had added years to her.

Her dress was too red, too lacy and too low-cut, re­veal­ing an over-baked decol­letage. Her sil­ver-buck­led shoes were also red. Her tan tights were too orange, her hair too blonde, her nails too long and she was cov­ered in more gold baubles than a Christ­mas tree.

Pan­cake make-up had set­tled in the lines on her face, and her heavy mas­cara had smudged. It all com­bined to make her look in­cred­i­bly dated.

It’s an all-too-com­mon sight, es­pe­cially at this time of year. Too many ma­ture women make the most ba­sic style er­rors that can make them look at least a decade older.

You might put in the time at the gym, count ev­ery calo­rie that passes your lips and in­vest more than you spend on your mort­gage in the lat­est an­ti­age­ing prod­ucts, but if you make cer­tain style clangers you might as well go out with your date of birth tat­tooed on your fore­head.

So here’s my com­pen­dium of the most com­mon age­ing style mis­takes. Learn from them and you’ll see that you don’t have to be a fash­ion­ista or have a big bud­get to look fresh and youth­ful… THERE is some­thing about a hefty neck­lace made up of gi­ant baubles that screams: crepey decol­letage – look away now! Which, of course, only serves to high­light the prob­lem area. So many older women do this: fem­i­nist Ger­maine Greer and News­night pre­sen­ter Kirsty Wark, to name just two.

Another com­mon mis­take is to wear too much jew­ellery, es­pe­cially if it’s made of gold. On a plane the other day, I sat next to an older woman whose deeply tanned skin (again, an ab­so­lute no-no), was be­decked with heavy gold rings and nu­mer­ous gold ban­gles and bracelets.

This is so old-fash­ioned. Plat­inum, white gold or sil­ver will give your look an in­stant up­date. And in­stead of plas­tic baubles, try a state­ment neck­lace of Swarovski crys­tals on a wide black rib­bon.

And no mat­ter how tempted you are, never, ever wear a brooch. When I had din­ner with 90-year-old Ju­dith Kerr, au­thor of the chil­dren’s book The Tiger Who Came To Tea, she looked el­e­gant and sim­ple in a white blouse with a pie crust col­lar over a vel­vet maxi skirt, her only adorn­ment a rope of pearls. Per­fect. DON’T make the mis­take of think­ing a heavy liq­uid foun­da­tion, topped off with pow­der, will cover your wrin­kles. It will just sit in them, cre­at­ing ugly creases that stand out like the Great Wall of China.

Cos­met­ics have moved on, and ev­ery­one should move on with them. Why not try min­eral make-up? It looks like a pow­der, but goes on like a cream and is very light. And you should only use translu­cent pow­der, al­though never around your eyes, as it will clog the del­i­cate skin there.

You should also never ap­ply mas­cara to your lower lashes (it will in­vari­ably smudge, mak­ing your eyes look droopy).

Another age­ing howler is over-thin eye­brows or pen­cilled-in brows. In this day and age, no one should pluck their own eye­brows.

Go to a pro­fes­sional threader in­stead – it’s a ser­vice of­fered by most beau­ti­cians th­ese days and can cost as lit­tle as R50 a pop. The cor­rect eye­brow shape can re­ally roll back the years.

Even if your hands are wrin­kle-free, you can re­ally let your­self down with bad nailcare.

Wear­ing false acrylic nails and hav­ing an old­fash­ioned French man­i­cure will make you, and your hands, look older. Try

clear pol­ish on fin­ger­nails and pink or red on your toe­nails. FAB­RIC faux pas by the mid­dleaged fall into one of two cat­e­gories. The first makes you look older be­cause they’re too young for you, like most gar­ments in leop­ard print and dresses made en­tirely of lace. Any­thing more than a smat­ter­ing of red is also high risk.

Linen will make you look older be­cause no one un­der 40 wears it.

Yes, it’s crisp and cool and comfy, but it has no give or stretch and will make you look like you’re on your way to a Saga pic­nic. WHY DO so many older women still wear orange-hued tights, com­plete with thick gus­set at the toe? You won’t catch any­one un­der 50 sport­ing them.

The rem­edy can slice a decade off your age. In­vest in a pair of shape-up tights. They are sheer but matt, so dis­guise thread veins, and give sub­tle sup­port right up to un­der your bust-line.

What’s un­der your clothes is also im­por­tant. A badly-fit­ting bra will only make you look heav­ier and older.

Fab­ric tech­nol­ogy in un­der­wear has been rev­o­lu­tionised in re­cent years, so there is no ex­cuse for a VPL, a mono-boob (where your breasts are squeezed back into one by ill-fit­ting un­der­wear) or, worse, a quadra-boob (where a too small bra cuts your breasts in half).

Nearly all depart­ment stores now have qual­i­fied bra fit­ters who will mea­sure you with­out charg­ing. It’s a ser­vice worth pay­ing for. AS WE AGE, our skin be­comes paler, so a black dress can be too harsh, ac­cen­tu­at­ing dark shad­ows and wrin­kles. Black is slim­ming, but navy works just as well and is more for­giv­ing. French navy (which is a brighter shade), olive, grey and creamy camels and nudes work well, too.

If you must wear black, have some­thing sil­ver or bright at the neck­line to avoid all colour be­ing drained from your face. And what­ever colour you go for, don’t wear it with a hem­line that is too long. So many older women worry about go­ing too short. Too long is just as bad – it can make you look droopy. Try this test: sit down, and if your skirt just cov­ers your knees, it’s per­fect. A MATCHY-MATCHY look is in­cred­i­bly dated. So many mid­dle-aged women still ac­ces­sorise out­fits as if they were go­ing to a wed­ding in 1975 — beige shoes with a beige bag; navy shoes with navy bag.

Th­ese days, the trend is for colour block­ing, clash­ing colours and crazy flo­rals. If you are too co-or­di­nated, you will only look older than your years. This ap­plies to nail pol­ish, too; never use the same colour on hands and feet. Be dar­ing — mix it up! TO AVOID look­ing like an oldie, make sure your jeans have the right amount of stretch. They must not sit too high on the waist and should be cigarette­shaped. Af­ter all, the boot cut went out with the ptero­dactyl.

Most of all, fo­cus on your bot­tom. A pouch of fab­ric around the bum will only il­lus­trate how your but­tocks have col­lapsed. So choose a pair of jeans that en­hance the but­tocks, such as those with added bot­tom lift, and find a pair that skim the thighs. Af­ter all, if you’re over 50, roomy boyfriend jeans are not for you. GONE are the days when you could get away with one black or navy hand­bag. For evening, a bag has to be small, and it can be a bright colour: flu­o­res­cent or baby pink.

The way you carry it counts, too: hold­ing it in the crook of the arm is far too old lady. If you can’t face a clutch be­cause you want to keep your hands free, then a tiny pouch on a long shoul­der chain works well. And don’t stint on qual­ity. Noth­ing screams “granny” like a bar­gain base­ment bag. SHOES can be the most age­ing item of all. Navy courts should be banned, and no woman over 50 should wear a block heel. They just look too or­thopaedic in your later years: go for a kit­ten heel or a low stiletto. A pointy toe is al­ways more el­e­gant than a round one. And don’t be scared of low plat­form soles. THE BOXY jacket that only just passes your waist should be in a mau­soleum, as should those ghastly 1960s swing jack­ets with three­quar­ter sleeves. The first cuts you in half, ac­cen­tu­at­ing a thick­en­ing waist­line, and the sec­ond adds bulk.

A longer line, with a kick pleat at the back and a nipped in waist, is much more slim­ming, while a sub­tle shoul­der pad will give your pos­ture a boost and sharpen your sil­hou­ette.

This is also the time of year when women de­vote hours of prepa­ra­tion to look­ing their best for the new year’s party – then ruin it by sling­ing the day cardi­gan they wear to work over the top.

Far bet­ter is a cashmere shawl, a tuxedo blazer: it must reach be­yond your hips with a sub­tle flare), or an evening coat (this is usu­ally cashmere, gos­samer thin, with a smat­ter­ing of se­quins at the hem). – Daily Mail

CREPEY DECOL­LETAGE! Big bauble neck­laces high­light the prob­lem area.

OLDIE LOOK: Bag­gy­bot­tomed jeans.

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