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Appropriate Cool

Appropriate Cool, how to dress appropriately for your age, dressing in middle age
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BY DEVON ELLINGTON

We’ve all seen them — the aging men with receding hairlines and pony tails, stuffing themselves into beat attire that barely fit them when they were twenty; the women wearing clothes their teenage daughters would think is tacky.  But how do you stay fashionably, age-appropriately cool without looking dowdy or (heaven forbid) old?

Play.  How are you going to find out what looks good on you? By playing. Make a play date with a friend to go “dressing.” You’re not there to buy, unless it’s a piece you fall in love with. You and a friend you trust are going to go to favorite stores and try on all kinds of things, including things you normally wouldn’t. You’re in the dressing room, you’re playing dress up. Some of the stuff is going to look terrible on you. Some of it will look great. Some of it will surprise you. Take notes. If you want, take photos (make a pact not to post anything on social media and delete anything embarrassing). Try new styles and colors to see what you like.

Comfort.  It needs to feel good as well as look good.That means it needs to fit properly. According to the UK store Debenham’s,  85% of women wear the wrong bra size. If the bra isn’t right, what goes over it probably isn’t either! Stop looking at the number on the size label.  Different manufacturers size differently, and stuffing yourself into a size 8 instead of a size 10 because you want to wear a single digit over a double digit doesn’t make you look better. You don’t want to look like you’re wearing a tent–you want the fabric to drape and shape over you in a flattering, comfortable way.

Honesty.  What are your best features? If you’re Tina Turner with those great legs, your age doesn’t matter; you can show them off. Pick cuts and styles that flatter your assets and hide your flaws. Sometimes playing coy with a bit of lace and hiding a bit of the asset makes it even more interesting. You don’t have to let it all hang out to get attention–get attention for the right reasons.

Go Vintage.  Every era has beautiful, classic designs that are both nostalgic and timeless.  Pour over fashion books, magazines from your favorite eras, even old pattern books.  Then haunt the thrift shops and garage sales to find flattering cuts and fabrics to fulfill your fantasies.  The workmanship on many vintage pieces is often better than on modern, off-the-rack clothes.

Use Technology.  We live in the Age of the App.  That encompasses virtual dressing room technology, such as Swivel, Webcam Social Shopper and, for retailers, Fits Me.

You don’t have to dress like a twenty-year-old to look fantastic. You need is to wear colors, fabrics, and styles that make you feel terrific.

 

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