Make your style statement
An expert shares dressing tips for women in their 50s, 60s, 70s and beyond.
BY: Gloria Tam
Women in their 50s and beyond do not need to disappear into a fashion wilderness and feel a sense of loss. This is the time for these women to embrace and establish a signature style of their own in terms of their fashion sense.
Gone are the days when women in their 50s and beyond would wear unflattering grandmother sweaters and shawls. Today’s fashion for women in this category is classy, elegant and even a little trendy.
In your 50s
Whilst a woman in her 40s can get away with many fripperies of youth in her dressing, her 50s is a time for re-evaluating her wardrobe. It may be time to ditch her mini-dresses, shorter-than-short shorts, jumpsuits and the like in favour of staple items such as a good quality well-cut pants or jeans, a classic shift dress, and hemlines that end on the knee rather than high above them. It is often recommended that she let one key fashion trend be the focus of a look without trying to embrace many.
In your 60s
Now is the time to embrace more classic pieces in simple but well-cut styles. A woman in her 60s should still keep the figure in proportion. She can get away with baring skin on one or the other, but not both. When wearing a dress with a short hemline, then her arms should be covered. Conversely, if her cleavage is revealing, then the dress length should be longer.
In your 70s & beyond
The guidelines for the woman in her 50s and 60s still apply here though due consideration will be given to the choice of colour and the texture of the fabric. She could rely on simple stylish pieces in well-cut textured fabrics. Layering an outfit with monochromatic colours or colours in the same colour family such different tones of gray, purple or blue, can be calming and friendly. The skilful use of colour, print and some fashion accessories can jazz up one’s dressing and also make a style statement.
Additional food for thought for women 50s & beyond:
• Colours – Wearing one colour from head-to-toe visually elongates the body and makes the woman look taller as well as slimmer. In addition, brighter colours on top will draw the eyes up and elongate her frame. If she is top heavy, make sure the bottom half of her outfit is in a solid dark colour.
Generally, combining bright colours with neutral shades is a safe option. Avoid mixing two dark colours as the heavy effect would make her look dowdy. For instance, if she wears a brown top and a black bottom, she can throw on a green jacket to spruce up the look and break the monotony.
• Pants – Make sure the pants are of the appropriate length, as pants that are short tend to shorten one’s legs and also age the wearer. The ‘skinny jeans’, hip-hugger pants and ‘leggings’ may not work for most women in this category; however, pants that allow for greater comfort with less restriction are increasingly popular.
Loose-fitting pants accented by wider belts may return to the fashion scene. If leggings are to be worn, they should only pair with tunics, skirts or dresses, and not with T-shirts.
• Skirts – The miniskirt may not be so appropriate as a woman matures. Skirts are generally most flattering when the hemline ends at or at the base of the kneecap. Nonetheless, the long skirts have also become all the rage with some women in this category. Such skirts can be worn with flat shoes and sandals.
• Tops – A well-cut blouse where lines are kept simple can flatter the figure. Bold solid colours and classic silhouettes look great on women. Stay away from shapeless outfits. Consider selecting tops that disguise problem areas, such as a three-quarter sleeve to disguise flabby arms or opt for a V-neck or scoop neckline to flatter that décolletage. Avoid tucking in the top if the waist area has broadened. Instead, ensure that the top is fitted with darts and princess seams.
• Accessories – Wearing an accessory can reflect a woman’s personality. Jewellery can make or break an outfit. Pearls and fine gold jewellery are elegant but do try mixing it up with some light dangling earrings and pendant necklaces. Instead of waist belts (unless one has a defined waist), try curved hip belts to add some interest to the outfit.
Scarves are worn for warmth and for fun. They have become a fashion statement for women of all ages, and they are especially used to conceal unflattering areas for matured women who are sensitive about their necks.
• Make-up – With make-up, the rule of thumb is – less is more. Bright red lipstick and dark eye shadow can be unflattering for women in this age category. Thick, creamy foundation, while smoothing out one’s complexion, tends to emphasise fine lines and thus, makes one look older. The better option would be loose powder bases and natural-coloured eye shadows. The lipstick can be replaced with a tinted gloss.
In this time and age, the fashion rules for the older women are more likely to be set by her figure and personality, and not so much by her age. Many older women tend to have a few physical issues they want to hide, and thus most look for fashions that hide arms, knees and the neck.
Gloria Tam is a professional etiquette and image consultant. She was first trained and certified by First Impressions, an image management consultancy that spans across Europe and Asia, and went on to train with Carla Mathis, a leading image master and Christina Ong, Singapore’s image doyenne; and finally with the Emily Post Institute (US), a pioneer in business and social etiquette. She has been conducting corporate training in communication skills, image management, cross-cultural business relations, business etiquette and customer service for corporate organisations, Government ministries and universities.