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5 Style Moves to Look Just a Little Bit Edgy

Are dark nails and biker jackets 'just so 2015'?

Madonna sports a black leather jacket

EDB Image Archive/Alamy

Madonna rocking "Warm Leatherette," which never goes out of style regardless of age.

I'm not trying to look young — I've done that.

Nor am I trying to look "ageless": I have no idea what the term means.

Instead I just want to look like me. OK, perhaps a slightly edgier me.

Which is why I've worn this inky-dark nail polish and black leather jacket for the past 10 years. Together they made me feel rock-star glam — morning, noon and night — with no need to bare my skin, get a tattoo or dye my hair aquamarine.

But has this two-step trick become a style cliché for women age 50+? Not if you ask me: I maintain that it still telegraphs a mildly subversive charm. So if you like the look as much as I do, don't abandon it just yet. Instead, try seasoning it with these age disruptors.

1. Swap your leathers. Tough-girl touches sharpen our looks and confidence, so why not step things up with a form-fitting leather skirt? It's a sexy but classy way to keep your swagger and show off your shape, no matter your size.

A leather skirt looks chic with heels and a blouse, but it can always be dialed down to casual-dress level when paired with flats and a T-shirt. And if that price tag has your heart palpitating, fret not: A faux-leather look-alike is a smart choice this season, not only because it costs less, but also because it's comfier in summer, is often machine washable and shows your do-good side.

For a sophisticated fit, keep the length at the knees and the band at the waist. Stick with black, ivory or beige, and you'll always look fashionably fierce.

2. Keep the leggings, but lose the fabric. When black leggings became street wear back in the early '90s, I wavered for a week, then never looked back. Here's why: Worn with a tailored jacket, black leggings looked risqué in a nice way; they were "dress for success" meets A Chorus Line.

But now that they've worn out their welcome — to say nothing of their spandex — consider switching to urbane, polished leggings in a washable stretch faux suede. They offer style and substance without depriving you of comfort. Mid-tone neutrals (camel, olive and cinnamon) look seasonally chic with metallic sandals or kicks, tunic-length popover shirts and relaxed long tops.

3. Make one bold jewelry statement. Multiple ear piercings … studded leather cuffs … chains with dangling skulls: Are you really that much in need of attention? Not only is that look outdated, it's impractical. Overdone jewelry can be heavy and uncomfortable, making it a nightmare to change your outfit or try on clothes in a fitting room.

Instead, curate your accessories to showcase stand-alone pieces that will have real impact. An oversize ring worn on a finger or thumb, for example, makes a simple but unforgettable statement. So does a one-of-a-kind cuff rather than a messy stack of bracelets, a symbolic pendant on a slim, delicate cord, or teardrop earrings in turquoise. By the same token, wear a white pearl stud in one ear and a black pearl stud in the other, and I guarantee they'll be talking about you long after you've left.

4. Muted tees, please. Slouchy T-shirts in black, gray or white are the Benjamin Button of tops: They can make any skirt — any pair of jeans or pants — look 2016 new. Give preference to longer lengths, rounded fronts or drop-tail back hems, shallow ballet or boatnecks, three-quarter or long sleeves, lightweight soft cotton jersey or modal. But, if you please, no pastels or brights!

5. Lead with your nose. When you really crave attention, spray on a mysterious, gender-bending scent. Fruity florals may smell delicious, but edgy they are not. So test-drive a fresh new fragrance (designed for women, but wearable by genders from A to Z) containing hints of citrus via lemon, lime or bergamot; spicy licks of licorice, tea or pepper; or green herbal notes of vetiver, moss, herbs or mint. You'll hear plenty of this: "You smell amazing. What is that?"

For more beauty and fashion tips, take a look inside my book The Woman's Wakeup: How to Shake Up Your Looks, Life, and Love After 50, as well as AARP's new Beauty & Style digital magazine (available on iPad).


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