10 Fashion Tricks Every 50-Plus Woman Should Know
Insider secrets from celebrity stylists
by Lois Joy Johnson, AARP, September 26, 2019
En español | Have you ever gotten dressed, left the house feeling like a million bucks and an hour later your shoes hurt, your zipper gets stuck, your blouse buttons are gaping and you want to go home? We've all been there. Fashion faux pas can be prevented or fixed with a little know-how. Here are 10 of the most useful tips fashion stylists rely on for celebrity clients.
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1. Lose five pounds instantly by wearing shapely black.
Black slims you down and firms you up best when it's head to toe and shaped at the middle by a belt, a tucked-in top or a waist-nipped silhouette like a fit-and-flare dress or curvy blazer. Since black also disguises cheap fabrics, uneven stitching and seams, we get to wear our fast fashion markdowns with attitude and edge.
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2. Break in new shoes and boots with sock training.
Sometimes we buy shoes impulsively at a final sale or buy and never wear till we need them and discover the “ouch” factor. Here's the trick pros use: Slip on a pair of socks and wear them and the shoes around the house for an entire week before going public. Then on the first outing, pad the insides with inserts and gel liners at strategic points of irritation — small toes, heels and balls of feet — and rub a clear gel deodorant on any potential hot spots that might get red or sore too to create a slip barrier.
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3. Learn how to do a good temporary hem with tape.
Ever snagged a hem on your heel stepping into a dress or getting out of a car? Or bought new pants that are an inch too long? If, like me, you hate sewing and ironing, simply fold the hem in place and apply a strong temporary adhesive tape like Hollywood Temporary Hem Tape 18 Strips ($7, amazon.com) or Scotch Essentials Adjustable Hem Tape 24 Strips ($6, amazon.com). I've used staples and glue in a pinch, but tape holds for an entire day or evening and removes without residue. When you have time, you can head to the tailor.
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4. Help your neck-lengthening V necklines look PC.
A V neckline is the most flattering one to wear, but a too-low dip doesn't do you any favors. The lowest any V should go for daytime wear is right to the tippy top of your cleavage. The easiest and best solution is to slip a matching V camisole underneath to add just a little extra security when you bend, sit and move.
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Also, good to have are precut small strips of clear tape designed for sensitive skin like Commando Women's Matchsticks Double Stick Tape ($12, amazon.com) or Fearless Tape Double Sided for Clothing and Body ($10, amazon.com) to control any plunging neckline and prevent buttons from gaping and bra straps from slipping, too. Just be sure to apply them to dry skin — not over body lotion or oils.
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5. Know the ladies’ room secrets to avoiding clothing mishaps.
Jumpsuits and voluminous midi skirts are great but not in a tiny restroom stall. The goal is to avoid anything touching the floor or getting a dunking. For jumpsuits, slowly slip the top down and tie sleeves together below your knees, then sit and keep the fabric and sleeves scrunched together under your knees — not loose and sliding to the floor. Pull the hem of skirts up and together (like folding a sheet) before you sit. For zippers that get stuck, gently tug along the sides of the zipper to dislodge any fabric. Then rub the tip of a pencil or lip balm over the teeth of the zipper. The graphite or balm work as a lubricant to get things moving; reapply inch by inch till you get the zipper up or down.
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6. Always opt for ankle jeans and DIY when necessary.
While jeans trends cycle from skinny to wide, flared to boyfriend, mid-rise to waist-high, distressed to dark keep one thing constant: the length. A cropped at the ankle proportion makes the most sense for every jean's width, shape or rise and for any shoe height or style. Forget long lengths that puddle on the ground (dirt magnets!) or bunch up at the hem in a bulky bulge. Frayed hems are cool so take all your long jeans and crop away with scissors. The best length is two fingers above your ankle bone. Snip straight across, toss them in the wash, dry, trim the thread-y ends and wear
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7. Let the bra safety pin trick improve your shape in seconds.
Nothing replaces a good support bra but this last-minute stand-in is great for an instant lift when the one you're wearing is letting your down. Simply grab your bra straps together at the center of your back to form an X and pin them together. The extra tension eliminates sag and repositions your breasts and especially your nipples midway between shoulder and elbow, right where they belong for a firm silhouette. I've used this trick on thousands of models, celebs and real women when they showed up for photo shoots in stretched out, saggy or ill-fitting bras. It works!
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8. Style up gym leggings to never feel underdressed in public.
Wearing gym/yoga clothes in public is the new normal for women 50-plus so give it some style. For real life errands and to-and-fro-ing, start with matte opaque leggings in a neutral color and pair with a neutral relaxed top or sweatshirt. (No sports bras or cropped tops for us.) Then tone sneakers to leggings or the top and you've created a fashionable look that's clearly not haphazard. FYI: There's only one way to wear leggings as pants and that's to choose the thickest most opaque matte black ones or a pair in faux leather and wear with boots, booties or sneakers. No leggings and high heels — ever!
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9. Just add a black leather jacket.
No more hoarding pashminas and cardigans, shivering at work and parties or waiting on coat-check lines. A black leather cropped jacket is the only chill-busting, arm covering, style-boosting topper you need. If you don't have one, get one already. They are now super-affordable in faux leather. Toss it over jeans and cargos, froufrou cocktail dresses or big-deal gowns.
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10. You and your clothes can look better if you pose.
Learn to frame your body and angle it to look sleeker and confident in whatever you wear on social media, in photos and at parties. Celebrities instinctively do the hand on hip thing but the secret is to push your bent elbow back not straight out (which looks like a chicken wing!), and turn three quarters to the camera (bent arm always at the rear) weight on one leg or cross your legs. Of course, you can loosen up a little, but body language goes a long way toward camouflaging clothes discomfort, too.
For more beauty and style tips for women age 50-plus, check out The Makeup Wakeup: Revitalizing Your Look at Any Age by Lois Joy Johnson and Sandy Linter.