Dress Like a Star for Your Class Reunion
10 tips to take you to the head of the class
by Lois Joy Johnson, AARP, October 25, 2018
If we've learned anything from celebrities, it's how to steal the show. Popping up 30, 40 or 50 years after graduation looking better than ever is an ego boost. It can reignite old friendships, forge new ones and avenge the girl who stole your boyfriend or the guy who dumped you for a cheerleader. But you're not the person you were at 17 or 21 and these events are loaded with a mix of nostalgia and anxiety. How you dress and look tells your story. Make it a tale to remember with 10 sneaky tips gleaned from red carpet divas.
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PHOTO BY: Getty Images (3), Tara Ziemba/WireImage; Leon Bennett; Johnny Nunez/WireImage
1. Make a color-friendly entrance
If you have to choose between "black makes me look thin" and "red" makes me look warm, approachable and upbeat" do you even have to ask? For some women though, wearing black is like having a security dog by your side and if that's you, go with it. Otherwise, white or a vibrant color is flattering, makes you stand out in the crowd and is easily identifiable as in "you can't miss her, she's wearing a white pantsuit." Generally, any bright — especially white, red, pink, yellow or orange — energizes your skin and overall look when you're stressed out or tired.
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PHOTO BY: Getty Images (2), M. Brown; Paul Archuleta
2. Give your skin a healthy bloom
Check out celebs and note how their faces and any exposed skin (including neck, chest, arms, legs
andhands) gleam with baby-like freshness. They prep before a party at a fancy day spa, cosmetic dermatologist or facialist. But you can pop into any drugstore and DIY. Even if the reunion's tomorrow, 20 minutes with a bunch of gentle exfoliating or brightening masks (use them on your chest too if your neckline is low) and a line-plumping hyaluronic acid cream or botanical oil restores a satiny pre-makeup glow. Make your last out-the-door touch a cream blush in a vibrant pink to keep it going all night.
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PHOTO BY: Getty Images (3), Jim Spellman/WireImage; Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic; Ryan Emberley
3. Tweak your hair
No big spontaneous changes, just a little boost. You might add bangs or some long layers for movement and the illusion of thicker hair, touch up your roots, get highlights (or refresh old ones) around the face. FYI: "lights" illuminate your skin and work for any shade of hair, including brown and gray. A little self-indulgence makes us feel invincible. Go to a blow-dry "bar" or your favorite stylist — your hair will last three days before needing a shampoo, and it'll provide an extra shot of adrenaline.
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PHOTO BY: Getty Images (2), Presley Ann; Steve Granitz/WireImage
4. Heat up your smile with cool lipstick
Most celebs over 50 have veneers or do professional whitening treatments that involve high-concentration peroxide gels and laser or light at the dentist. While a regimen of at-home teeth-whitening strips, gels, rinses, kits and pastes may subtly improve stains — especially if you're a big coffee, tea or red wine fan — results are mild for mature teeth and require weeks, even months, of diligence. For an immediate fix simply swap any warm lipstick for a blue-based shade since cool tones counteract yellow champers. Choose from rosy or pink neutrals to rich berries, plums and chilly reds.
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PHOTO BY: Kevin Winter/Getty Images; Paul Drinkwater/NBCUniversal via Getty Images
5. Own your size and the way you have aged
Don't explain or apologize for your weight, gray hair, hearing aids or any other signs of change. You're way cooler and smarter — and self-confident about your looks. Skip the extreme diet. You don't have the same body you had in high school or college (and neither does anyone else there). You'll just end up cranky and irritable and feeling deprived instead of peppy and up. But do lay off the alcohol and sodium in advance since the resulting bloating of tummy or breasts, puffy face and under-eye bags will not enhance your selfies. Eat healthy and skip the extra snacks — your clothes and social media photos (there will be plenty posted!) will thank you.
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PHOTO BY: Getty Images (3), Jesse Grant; Dave Benett; Daniele Venturelli
6. Know the dress code, but be yourself
Let the venue, time, place and general theme lead the way but don’t buy something new unless it fits your real lifestyle. Besides, most likely no one has seen your wardrobe so it's all new! Being comfortable will boost your confidence. For a dressier night, you can't go wrong with a little black dress like Mira Sorvino or Kylie Minogue, or black dress pants with a tux jacket or a sparkly top like Gloria Gaynor.
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PHOTO BY: Getty Images (3), Taylor Hill/FilmMagic; Jamie McCarthy; Neilson Barnard
7. Wear a conversation starter
You don't need a tattooed vine running down your arm or blue streaks in your hair — but if that's the real you, go for it! Add something that provides an opportunity for introverts to comment and a "friend me on Facebook” opener for everyone else. How about a zebra print dress, an oversize statement necklace, or "wow" earrings? Wear a scent that upgrades your mood and initiates a "you smell delicious, what is that perfume?" comment.
Scentis a powerful people connector. Try an uplifting fragrance with summery notes like grapefruit, vanilla or coconut that transmit a feel-good vacation vibe throughout the festivities.
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PHOTO BY: Getty Images (3), John Wolfsohn; Dimitrios Kambouris; John Lamparski
8. Make ordinary extraordinary
More informal “dress casual” reunions call for day looks upgraded with accessories. Being overdressed comes across as trying too hard, especially if the get-together is at a cool bar or seaside bistro. Start with jeans (black, white, gray or blue) or everyday black pants and add a trendy transformational top. You can even sport faux leather jeans or leggings and just add a special jacket or blouse.
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PHOTO BY: Getty Image (3), Amanda Edwards/WireImage; Hollywood To You/Star Max/GC; Daniel Zuchnik
9. Flaunt it
Your brain and people skills are the catalyst, but do yourself a favor and show off something visible — still amazing legs and trim ankles, toned arms, great shoulders, shiny lustrous hair, mesmerizing eyes rimmed with liner, beautiful hands and elegant wrists stacked with rings and bracelets or fearless edgy style — whatever is your personal best.
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PHOTO BY: Getty Image (2), George Pimentel; Julien Hekimian
10. Body language is major
While ex-supermodels, dancers and actresses with a fitness obsession have this down cold, many real women don't know how to "work it!" Don't spend the party hunched over your mobile or slouched in a chair. In group shots, do the model cling — stand sideways and hug the person next to you, bend your near leg in (like you're trying not to pee) and laugh. Stand up straight, make eye contact, and smile (with eyes and lips). Look like you're having the time of your life and if you're not ... fake it until you make it.
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PHOTO BY: Paul Bradbury/Getty Images
Also of Interest
Prepare for your class
reunionat least a month in advance
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 by Lois Joy Johnson and AARP's Beauty & Style issue.