En español | Shopping is the grownup woman's super power. Once we get going — spurred on by the adrenaline rush of sales alerts — there's nothing we can't buy. Unfortunately, in our zest to spend, we sometimes forget to balance love at first sight with our actual lifestyle, body or budget. One impulsive Sunday my online cart included a tie-dye cashmere sweater (that resembled a bad laundry accident) and stiletto mules marked down 40 percent that spelled disaster for an accident-prone woman with osteoporosis like me. Of course, we try to be mindfully frugal, but it's so easy to get carried away. Here are 11 new classics you won't return.
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1. Statement earrings. Forget the practical studs and buy some can't-miss chandeliers or oversized hoops. They're the accessory you can stash in your bag to pop on and elevate whatever you're wearing — the bigger and lighter on your lobes, the better. Look for eye-catchers in terms of size, shape, color and design. Classic danglers dripping in rhinestones, intricate chandeliers with clusters of crystals, pearls and gemstones, bold sculptural hoops and big lollipop-hued drops that frame your face are all good choices. Opt for oversized clip-ons to save stretched piercings from further damage and to camouflage long lobes (since our ears continue to grow and lobes stretch with age!).
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2. Dressy heels. Buy “party shoes” you can actually stand and walk in for hours. Blisters and bunions taught us a tough-love stiletto lesson. Now with spiky heels in our past, restock with lower/chunkier heel versions of closed-toe pumps and Mary Janes. This is one item that's truly hard to find spur of the minute when you need them. Stay within the 1-inch to 3-inch height with sturdy block or low kitten heels — depending on your feet, preference and comfort. You can't lose with black or blingy metallics.
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3. A black leather jacket. This is another closet-crasher that will linger long after your current jeans are history. Leather — real and faux — gets better with age (just like us!), so look for buttery soft jackets with streamlined moto style that hug the body. It's perfect for midwinter car-to-door dashes and anytime you want to look cool wearing classic clothes indoors or out. Toss your “biker” over a simple black sweater or any dress — from tailored to flowing midi — for endless edge year round.
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4. Animal-print anything. Although spotty leopard (or cheetah) is the first choice favorite for flattery thanks to the small, allover swirly print, don't rule out tiger and zebra, either. Choose a classic item like a fit-and-flare dress, blazer, blouse, pencil skirt, long scarf or shoulder bag in neutral authentic colors for versatility and longevity. Once you get started collecting it's hard to stop, but resist mixing. One animal-print item per outfit is all it takes.
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5. A sequin jacket. A sparkly blazer or knit sweater-jacket covered in spangles covers all your dress-up bases. Look for tailored blazers or softer, semifitted “cardigan-jackets” with simple lines, slim sleeves and a high-cut armhole, and let the sparkle do the work. Pair a sequin jacket with low-key matte pieces and accessories. Wear it rock-star edgy with jeans, a tee and sneakers or Hollywood glam with a simple black jumpsuit, dress or skirt. Black will always look classy not flashy, and something you'll turn to year after year.
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6. A special-event bag. Unlike your daily bag that gets shoved under a desk or table, special-event ones are meant to be seen. You don't need logos or a big splurge to snatch up a bunch of useful clutches. In fact, inexpensive, embossed leather bags for day and beaded ones for evening look just as great as the pricey ones. Black, gold and silver are always good buys; red and pink are fun, too, for an unexpected accent. Look for a soft-sided bag or one with rounded edges rather than boxy if you plan to tuck your clutch under your arm. Be sure it comfortably fits a lipstick, credit card, keys, tissue and mints.
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7. An updated little black dress. There's a good reason LBDs (little black dresses) stand the test of time. They make us feel slim and polished, and work in any situation day or night. Choose your best style — a sheath, fit-and-flare, coatdress, shirtdress, shift or wrap — and then look for new details that will make it fresh at the sleeve, neckline, waist or hem. You want a fit that's not too loose and not too tight, as well as a length at the knee or just below. That way it will easily survive changes in fashion and your own weight fluctuations.
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8. Leather pants or leggings. Before you say “no,” listen up. What used to be a wild card in fashion is now a new staple, thanks to faux leather. Leather leggings or pants with a jeans-like fit are the alternative to a biker jacket. They look sophisticated on everyone — regardless of size — in black with a black tee, sweater or turtleneck. Throw on a long, relaxed sweater or a blazer and flat boots for a contemporary look that will add a spark to your same-old wardrobe all year long. The search online for just-the-right pair will be well worth the effort.
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9. White blouses. These wardrobe keepers come in simple, pared-down, silk and button-down styles, with fancier vrsions featuring extras like ruffles, puff sleeves, wrap waists or lace trim. A white blouse will elevate a pair of plain black pants or jeans to “fashionable,” work with A-line or pencil-slim skirts, and can always be counted on to brighten mature skin tones when fatigue sets in. Just look for a substantial fabric that's not sheer, and start stocking up.
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10. A dark tailored blazer. A well-cut blazer always makes us look pulled together, so put this on your list. Oversize “boyfriend” styles (which are trendiest now) are roomier, slouchier and look balanced worn with pants — relaxed or slim. They're best in double-breasted styles. Single-breasted fitted blazers with a subtly nipped waist flatter almost everyone. Look for solid tailoring, shoulders that fit your own, a hint of stretch in the fabric, and neutral colors you won't tire of and that will hold up for years.
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11. A down coat or jacket. Unless you live in a tropical climate, these updated toppers are a must-have — it's like wearing a cloud. Newer styles are way more fashionable than those from the ‘80s and ‘90s, and now come in lighter but toasty weights and a variety of lengths, from cropped to ankle. Choose a filler you like, from down to synthetic (and consider recycled materials, too); a matte or shiny finish; and a look you prefer, from parka to cropped puffer to A-line coat. Black, navy and silver are the colors to count on.
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.
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