Coco Chanel — who knew a thing or two about looking good after age 50 — said, "Fashion changes, style endures." I agree, Coco, but would add: Your body changes, your proportions endure! Body pride at any size sounds great on social media, but whom are we kidding? As realistic, pragmatic women, we know weight gain and hormonal shifts affect us emotionally. Let's all admit to a little vanity, and get on with wearing what we want. But first — a crash course in strategy, from yours truly. These seven tips will make you wonder where the worry went.
Get positive. Think of your 50+ body as your new everyday basic outfit. Consider the inevitable extra pounds, bulges and bloat as accessories that will get layered on and off due to changes in estrogen levels, slowed metabolism and stress. You will not be the same weight every day for the rest of your life, and that's OK — just keep an eye on it. Skip the fat shaming; toss the scale; and use fast fixes like those below.
Keep that waist. If we boomers learned one thing from Kim Kardashian, it's this: Major curves — bust, booty, hips, and thighs — are show-off fabulous if you have a waist. That hourglass effect is key. But at 50, extra subcutaneous belly fat (the inch you can pinch) and deep visceral belly fat (that buries itself around organs) show up like uninvited guests. Kick them to the curb with wrap dresses and wrap tops. Also, eat smarter, and practice portion control. Ramp up the workouts from one or two to three or four times a week, if not daily.
Ignore the obvious. If your body proportions include wide hips, short neck, full calves, short legs or big breasts — they are not going away. Compensate for all by wearing (in order): one-piece dresses, V necklines, booties (not tall boots), high-waist pants and tapered-toe shoes, and a perfectly fitted support bra.
Have a tailor nip and tuck. Custom fitting your clothes to your proportions eliminates excess fabric and bulk. It's worth doing — even for fast fashion or classic pieces. The top three changes:
- Jackets. Remove shoulder pads, and trim excess fabric; narrow the sleeves, and raise armholes; lift the shoulder line, and nip the waist for a sculpted sleek look. (Nipped waist blazers make legs appear longer!)
- Dresses. Take them in at back or side seams, and raise the shoulder line for a smooth look across the chest. (Amazing trick if you're busty.)
- Hems. Shorten ankle pants and cropped jeans to just above your anklebone. Leg proportions vary enormously, and revealing the narrowest part of your legs is elongating. Pair them with a tapered-toe flat — heels not necessary. Hem skirt and dress lengths to the top of the knee bone or an inch above.
Buy new lingerie that loves your body. Get a molded cup bra with seamless microfiber and seamless hipster girl-shorts or briefs. The bra deals with increased bust size and sag, and lets you wear thin fabrics with no nipple show-through. The underpants don't bind or grab fleshier bits at the hip or leg.
Choose top or bottom. You can't have it all, so focus on something fabulous. Great legs? Stick to skirts and dresses, and match shoes to skin tone. Smooth décolletage and slim forearms? Choose V-necks with three-quarter sleeves.
Let clothes skim, not cling. Save second-skin fit for tights, shape wear, bodysuits, base tanks and leggings. Anything too tight that creates ripples or pinches makes you look flabby. Aim for a more relaxed slim fit — with a little airflow or movement between skin and clothes. Loose, fluid and generously cut items — like tunics, soft vintage wash boyfriend jeans, A-shaped or full cropped sweaters, silk blouses — make it appear that there's a slimmer you beneath. Liza Minnelli once told me during a photo shoot that she liked her clothes to move a second after she did.
For more beauty and style tips for women 50+, check out The Women's Wakeup: How to Shake Up Your Looks, Life and Love After 50 by Lois Joy Johnson and AARP's Beauty & Style issue
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