Did you overindulge a bit during the holiday season? Are your stretchy jeans feeling the Flab-uary cinch and pinch? Here's how to divert, distract and enjoy your body (even with a few extra pounds), with some lessons from several fashionistas over age 50.
1. Wear a soft print shift dress. You can't miss with a combo of straight, feminine above-the-knees dress and an allover print. Check out designer icon Diane von Furstenberg (photo above), who makes this her uniform. Note the extra attention-getters: neck and collarbones always open, trim forearms with statement bracelets, and a long, light card-coat (you could substitute a long V-neck cardigan, too).
2. Wear thin, long layered tops.Keeping soft top layers (tanks, tees and sweaters) thin and in a flat knit eliminates bulk, but you do gain stylish coverage. The bottom line should be uneven so the layers show, with the longest being a relaxed tummy-covering one. Mix neutrals like brown, gray and black to shake up the look. A narrow bottom makes the looser, wider top work, and unexpected cardigan layers and colors break the rules.
3. Show your shape. Major curves — bust, butt, hips and thighs — are always show-off fabulous, but an hourglass effect is key to making curves (that include a belly) beautiful. Be sure to wear a good underwire contour bra to lift breasts up and off your midriff for extra room at the middle. Then, showcase your silhouette.
4. Wear an A-line skirt with volume. Whether you choose separates or a fit-and-flare-style dress, the full triangular shape of an A-line looks chic, with no one the wiser to your tummy. You might even skip the Spanx and belt the waist. Designer Carolina Herrera wears a crisp black A-line skirt with a fresh white shirt popped open to a V-collar and sleeves rolled to 3/4 length for extra attention on top — right where it helps most.
5. Pair a longer jacket and shirt with a long dangling scarf. Create the illusion of length and provide a diverting focal point. Try a long, black tailored jacket and white shirt worn out as a tunic to provide shapely coverage for the middle, paired with slim black pants. A scarf slung around the neck is where the eye goes, but it also adds a long vertical line.
6. Dress tonally in black head to toe. Wearing black is the ultimate belly buster, as it creates the illusion of a flatter, smaller shape — whatever your size.
7. Frame a base of head-to-toe black with a white cardigan or jacket. Adding a white edge to a sleek column of black is a great way to diminish your middle because your body is pared at the sides and benefits from the brightening effects of white. Lifestyle-dressing pioneer and designer Eileen Fisher shows how a vanilla cardigan over black makes the illusion easy.
8. Let clothes skim, not cling. Save second-skin fit for tights, shapewear, bodysuits and leggings, and let there be a little airflow or movement between skin and clothes — especially in top layers. And remember to show some skin at the neck and ankles, too, to keep the emphasis away from the center!
9. Just do and wear what makes you happy. Ignore a little extra padding and forget the forbidden f-t word (which we no longer use). Get inspiration from Wendy Williams, the talk show host and HSN designer who wears whatever makes her happy — from short skirts to bold colors and figure-hugging dresses. No one tells Wendy what's age or body appropriate, so don't body shame yourself, either.
For more beauty and style tips for women age 50-plus, 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.