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Can we all stop fiddling with our smartphone filters and beautification apps for a minute? It’s time for a healthy heaping of irreverence, gratitude and common sense. First off, thank you to Spanx for creating shapewear arm tights that compress upper-arm dangle (but we've got it covered); New York Fashion Week for giving models over age 50 a record 10 runway appearances out of 2,601 (but you can do better); and France for passing a law stating all altered advertising photos must carry a "retouched" warning (but we know a fake when we see it — from a phony Chanel bag to a filler-enhanced face). Instead, here are 10 age-positive ways to start the holiday season.
1. Think of gray and white hairs as glitter. Blend in those sparkly strands with cool silvery or warm golden salon highlights. Ask for balayage — a free-form technique where highlights are painted on with a brush for an irregular root line — that looks natural and won't leave a ring of regrowth at the scalp. And major bonus: Highlights around the face also brighten tired, ashy or sallow skin tones for a no-makeup-needed radiance.
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2. Get skin-tone glasses. Remember how skin-tone shoes elongate your legs? Skin-tone glasses restore structure to the face in the same way. Nude glasses are the fastest way to update your looks — especially in shades of amber, whiskey, honey, taupe or blush that are close to your own skin tone. See for yourself: Check out Kyra Sedgwick's stylish glasses in Ten Days in the Valley. Stay loyal to classic modified cat-eye and angular "nerd" styles. Case closed.
3. Dig out your '80s clip-on earrings. Earlobes keep growing and piercings keep stretching with age, so either do as Jane Fonda does and cover up with clip-ons or opt for cuff earrings. The latter require no piercings and hug the ears like cuff bracelets cling to your wrists. Sparkly, shiny, colorful or pearly earrings hide long lobes and bring a twinkle to your eyes.
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4. Dress age-irrelevant. Who says you can't wear a black fisherman cap, short-sleeve or message T-shirts, funky sneakers, slouchy Army-green cargo pants and your hair in a tousle? A little infusion of urban, hippie or eclectic style makes every wardrobe, from classic to casual, a little cooler. Celebs like Meg Ryan, Lisa Bonet, Sharon Stone, Téa Leoni, Robin Wright, Halle Berry and Calista Flockhart all dress in age-irrelevant but supercool ways in their private lives.
5. Switch to black jeans. Black jeans sharpen your silhouette and add an urban edge. They look dressier than blues (even dark-blue washes) and can substitute for real pants. Worn monochromatically with a black T-shirt, sweater or jacket and black booties or loafers, it's a strategy that's polished and pulled together, but comfy. Pick up a pair of black velvet jeans for extra-effortless glam this year.
6. Get a new everyday hobo bag. Just say no to achy neck and shoulders, small ladylike handbags (even ones with a designer logo), heavy satchels with a zillion pockets and buckles, or changing bags day to day. Treat yourself to a medium-sized hobo of soft natural leather that's flexible enough to hold all your items — even your iPad, smartphone and Kindle — yet snuggles on your shoulder and under your arm for security in crowds, elevators and airports. It sits easily on your lap at movies, and has a full-zipper closure, inner pockets and at least one outer pocket for keys and mints.
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7. Wear bangs. Whether straight and full, long and feathery or sideswept, a fringe is a game changer. Bangs camouflage three things: the vertical creases between the eyes that create an angry look; forehead creases that make you appear stressed; and thin and skimpy brows that require extra makeup. Full bangs give your face definition, create the illusion of higher cheekbones and draw attention to the eyes. Sideswept bangs hide a receding hairline, make hair look fuller and blend in easily.
8. Find your new perfect bra. Get fitted for the breasts you have now — not the 34B you think you are (and were in college). Head straight for the lingerie section of a department store or find the perfect size by following an online quiz at ThirdLove. Weight changes, gravity and fitness routine (or lack of) affect your chest size. If you wear the right bra, your clothes will fit better and your entire silhouette will look longer and trimmer. Buy two: one to wear, one as a backup for laundry days (and always hand-wash and hang dry). Bosomy celebs keep their breasts up and off their midriff. You should, too.
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9. Wear lipstick. Even if your smile is more like the pursed-lip grin of Mona Lisa until you get serious about whitening your teeth or finishing your dental work, a little color energizes your face and brings attention to what you say. And if you're dashing around doing errands or working from home, lipstick may be all you need to perk up the day. Be it a rich nude caramel, sheer sandy pink, rosy tan or go-for-it red, find your best shade and forget about trends.
10. Master getting in and out of a car. This is a move we all need to know, and it is crucial when wearing skirts or dresses. To get in a car, seat yourself first while facing the open door. Then keep your legs together and swing them in before scooting over a bit. To get out, keep your legs together and swing them out. Then grab the door and gracefully stand.
For more beauty and fashion tips, 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 digital magazine (available on iPad).
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