But what if you've never left? (Age - Appropriate Fashion Part II)by Mary Sheehan Warren on 02/03/11
I love to discuss Christopher Hopkin's Staging Your Comeback with other women. It seems to come up whenever we discuss books:
Friend #1: "I'm reading Dostoyevsky's The Brothers Karamazov, how about you?"
Friend #2: "Funny you should mention it, but I am reading another fabulous Russian named Leo Tolstoy. How about you Mary?"
Me: "Oh I'm on to the heady and esoteric: Staging Your Comeback, by Christopher Hopkins!"
But what if - as I considered after a while- one never left? Suppose your style mostly worked for you through the years and you're not really staging a comeback, but trying to just stay on the stage?
You're perhaps the very same woman who reads More magazine and never missed an Oprah. Yet, even within the landslide of fashion information, you've lost track of one vital fact about yourself:
You have earned the right to appear as if you are at the top of your game... even if you aren't. (And anyway, if you dress the part, you'll rise to the top!)
So what follows is what I advise clients to key into when arriving at the reading demographic for Mr. Hopkin's book:
1. Be picky about fit. Demand that a garment up for consideration is just right. If it's not, get it altered or don't buy it.
2. Good fit also means that any item doesn't exaggerate a certain area of your body or sabotage correct proportion. For example, if on you the current skinny jean/chunky top look calls to mind an apple on tooth picks (perhaps because your legs have become thinner through the years or your breast size has increased) then ignore the trend. Consciously seek vertical, proportioned looks in your wardrobe.
3. Less skin; More great fabrics. Wrinkled cleavage is best replaced with cashmere or silk. A beautiful drape which flatters the chin line will do wonders at keeping the focal point on your face, and a good wool gaberdine pencil skirt with hosiery will clean up the poly-wrinkled-mini-freezing-leg look that the youngsters are sporting.
4. Older style? No, just more tasteful. Tasteful doesn't have to bring to mind "old" and remember it's okay if it does indeed bring to mind "mature." You are more mature. You may also be someone's mother or grandmother or aunt or great aunt. That's okay. Allow yourself to look the part: You worked darn hard at it.
5. Wear your best colors around your face, soften the makeup to your currently softer facial tones, but maintain your playfulness with color by layering and/or accessorizing.
6. So how exactly do you accessorize in a world where "matchy-matchy" is treated like the moral equivalent of a crime against humanity? Well, avoid buying things in sets. The nice thing about the current trend is that there is a bit more room for individuality. So, for example, use the brown croc-embossed satchel you love so much and wear it with the black boots you chose with so much consideration. Don the pearl earrings, but opt for a pink scarf instead of the corresponding pearl necklace. Embrace blue and black or even brown and black in single ensembles and attempt to vary texture when inspired.
7. Pare down the "standby classics" as you call them. Keep the pointed toe pumps, but move along the long structured equestrian blazer. Show off the gorgeous silk scarf from Rome, but send away the circa 1990 handmade leather vest. In other words, hold on to the classics that truly stand the current test of time. If it makes you feel better, create a time capsule for your "vintage" peices and leave them to a youngster in your will.
8. Update your hair style, but ensure that it flatters your face shape. Long hair gets tougher to pull off as you age, but you can opt for a graduated style which frames your face in front, and is longer toward the back and sides. Generally, too far below the shoulders is just too far.
9. Coloring gray hair does indeed maintain a fresh and ready appearance. Your natural hair color with highlights or a slightly lighter hue (for those with naturally very dark hair) is generally the most flattering.
10. Smile. There might be a lot more stress than when you were thirty, but you probably recall to yourself that you finally know which "battles to pick." Smile at that thought. Often.