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We're not bears who have to store fat for hibernation, yet most 50+ women say they gain 5 to 10 pounds every winter.
They have every reason to — or at least four main reasons I can think of:
1. Cold weather makes us crave all sorts of heartwarming comfort food, from pasta or mac 'n' cheese to fancy lattes and Girl Scout cookies.
2. The elements also tend to erase, or at least erode, our motivation for long, brisk walks — or icy drives to the gym.
3. You've been binge-reading thrillers or watching TV from a cozy couch. (Don't think I haven't seen those extra snacks!)
4. Extra layers of clothes disguise — and keep us from divesting — what lies beneath.
Whether you decide to lose or overlook any recently acquired pounds, hear me out on these five tricks for dovetailing weight management with fashion sense:
1. Match tops and bottoms. A single vertical column of color, from head to toe, guarantees sleek chic, no matter where extra pounds tend to settle on your particular shape. Individual hues tend to differ by fabric, dye lot and brand, so just match colors close enough to avoid obvious shade breaks at the waist, hip or thigh.
Think about wearing winter white, gray or navy — perhaps even a blue denim shirt and jeans — as "season-agnostic" alternatives to black. Whether you're a size 12 or a 24, all of these shades are every bit as flattering — and slimming — when paired monochromatically. (To simplify decision-making, try organizing your closet by color.)
2. Open that cardigan. Everyone's favorite wardrobe piece for climate control needn't be wrapped or buttoned up. Instead, wear any thigh-length cardigan open, strategically framing that toned-to-match column of separates you've created to trim hips, thighs and muffin tops. A contrasting shade of the same hue will enhance the effect: a light-gray cardigan over charcoal-gray pants and top, for example, or vice versa.
3. Define your waist. No dieting is required to make your legs appear longer and leaner. In fact, I can think of five quick ways to pull off this trick:
a. Add a belt (even to that column duo).
b. Count on wrap or fit-and-flare dresses.
c. Wear higher-rise jeans and pants.
d. Have a tailor nip your structured blazers at the waist for a contoured look.
e. Slip a pair of high-waist shapewear shorts under them all.
4. Stand up straight — but add slouchy pieces. Want to look trendy and contemporary while giving your body a break? Try wearing relaxed proportions in asymmetrical midi and pleated skirts, A-line or swingy-bottom sweaters, and cropped wider-leg jeans and pants. And don't even think of reaching for those boxy, baggy old clothes you've been saving for just this situation. Instead, check outlets such as Everlane, Zara and H&M for inspiration, then consider buying new clothes better fitted to your body.
5. Size up. Your body is lush, ripe and deluxe. So, for heaven's sake, stop obsessing and go up a number or letter, already — no one will know but you! Also keep in mind how the explosion of online brands and websites has nibbled away at the standardization of sizing: You could be an 8, a 10 or a 12, so just wear what fits your current body. Check out cool plus-size sites like Eloquii or Ashley Stewart. Fashion sites featuring plus lines include Violeta by Mango, Charlotte Russe and Asos.
For more beauty and style tips for women age 50+, check out The Woman's Wakeup: How to Shake Up Your Looks, Life, and Love after 50, as well as AARP's new Beauty & Style special edition for tablets.