Staying in Fashion While Dressing for Your Age

How do you incorporate fashion trends into your wardrobe without looking like a teenage girl?

Invest in classic pieces, add on-trend accessories and update your hair and makeup for a great modern look at every age!

My mom’s 40 year high school reunion was last Saturday and, about a week prior, she called me and asked if we could go shopping together and pick up a little something for her to wear. I should probably first start off by saying that my mom is a size 4 and in fantastic shape with arms comparable to Madonna’s but without the creepy zombie veins.

I immediately pictured a knee-length, sleeveless sheath dress with a simple round collar and maybe a seam or built in waist with the option of wearing a belt or not. A great-fitting sheath dress is flattering on most body types and, with only her shapely calves showing, I thought there would be no need to add stockings, especially since it’s particularly hot in Southern California right now. Adding a fabulous statement necklace and a great pair of heels, I thought she’d look modern and age-appropriate, yet with a hint of sexy confidence that would make her feel great about herself when in the company of women she knew when she was 40 years younger. When I spoke with her on the phone, she said she had the same thing in mind.

The following day I got an excited call from my mom saying she went shopping and bought a few dresses she wanted to get my opinion on. Being that her house is about 2 minutes away from mine has its ups and its downs but in this case made it fairly easy to stop by quickly and approve her dress choices. I was excited to see what she picked out.

After chatting for a bit I could sense that she was stalling and I finally asked her to show me what she bought. I followed her into her room where she slowly pulled out two empire waist, round-skirt mini dresses with ¾” sleeves made of a poly-cotton blend. One was black and white striped and one was teal and black striped and clearly from the Junior’s section.

I said “This is what you bought!? FOR YOUR 40 YEAR HIGH SCHOOL REUNION, YOU BOUGHT NIGHT SHIRTS!?” Then immediately and straight-forwardly stated "NO. I’m sorry mom but YOU CANNOT WEAR EITHER OF THOSE!"

She begged, “Just let me put one on and show you.” I stood there and waited while she slipped this t-shirt dress over her head and then said “You don’t think it looks cute? Wouldn’t it be cute with tights and boots!?” she argued.

“No Mom,” I said “It’s not that I you don’t look cute, because you do, but you cannot wear that mini dress, made for a 13-year-old girl, to your 40 year class reunion!” I went on to tell her that just because it was flattering on her body did not make it age-appropriate. In fact, it made her look older than her years, desperately trying to look young. I was honestly secretly baffled that my mom -- once a woman who knew how to pull herself together and, with confidence, look like a modern woman -- now in her late 50’s, thought that she could wear a $14 Junior’s mini dress for anything but pajamas, let alone her high school reunion.

She didn’t understand my negativity at first because when she tried the dresses on all she saw was how flattering they were on her. In her mind, they hid her “bat wings” {which she doesn’t have}, they made her back and waist look small {because they are} but what she didn’t see was how un-age-appropriate they were and how ridiculous they made her look. Just because something fits and may look cute on your figure does not always mean you should be wearing it out of the house.

As a 35 year old woman, I cannot wear what is trendy for the early 20-something girls. The same way my mom, at age 57 cannot wear what is trendy for 30-somethings. However, there are certain key pieces that are age-appropriate for every generation.

Take the sheath dress I mentioned above. A simple sheath dress in a solid color may seem boring but it spans the generation gap from girls in their 20’s to women in their 70’s. Depending on how you style and accessorize it, you will be effortlessly age-appropriate with a classy and timeless look for day or night. No one will notice your age, only that you look fabulous.

The key to looking fresh and modern and stylish always begins with stocking your closet with basic, yet classic pieces that bridge all generations. Even if you’re on a budget, you can find great items in all different price ranges however, knowing a great pencil skirt or classic sheath dress will last you 20 years or more, investing in a higher quality piece that fits really well is a smart idea. Each season buying a few on trend accessories like shoes, belts, bags and jewelry and pairing them with your classic items can keep you looking fresh for the season and age-appropriately, modern.

In addition to your clothes, it’s not a bad idea to reevaluate your makeup and hairstyle every few years. Finding what works well for your face shape, eye and skin color is key but keeping it fresh and modern actually keeps you looking fabulous and younger than your actual years.

How do you incorporate fashion trends without looking like you are trying to copy the young women who model them? Please share your best tips and tricks in the comments!

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