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Dress Bolder as You Get Older

Forget safe fashion choices and opt for some all-out fun


Take a good look around. Women 50-plus are not aging gracefully, quietly or invisibly. Instead, like a stylish team of rebels, we've decided to skip the clichés, toss out the rules and go in the other direction. We're all for embracing change, but we don't want to look young or even like we're trying to. Ignore our youth-obsessed society and resist the knife and needle. You don't need to get some “work” done — just an amped up attitude and style. Here are 10 tips that do all of that.

spinner image Celine Dion, Donatella Versace, Vivica A. Fox, Helen Mirren
Celine Dion, Donatella Versace, Vivica A. Fox, Helen Mirren
Edward Berthelot/Getty Images, Jerocki/GC Images, Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images, Karwai Tang/WireImage

1. Wear what you want, no matter how extreme. Being over 50 is a free pass to going a little wild — without a thought to what's “age appropriate.” Forget about what makes you look thin or even what makes sense. Just go straight to the “because-I like-it” part like Rita Wilson, Vivica A. Fox, Celine Dion and Donatella Versace. A floral track suit? Sequins for daytime? Snakeskin tailoring? Exaggerated sleeves? Over-the-knee boots? It's all good.

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spinner image Renée Zellweger, Jane Seymour, Mary Steenburgen
Renée Zellweger, Jane Seymour, Mary Steenburgen
Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images, Paul Archuleta/FilmMagic, VALERIE MACON/AFP/Getty Images

2. Call wrinkles “laugh lines.” You really don't have to look eternally 40. Why think about getting your cheeks plumped and your wrinkles smoothed when even Hollywood superstars with million-dollar contracts and faces that get blown up to Imax proportions are letting it all hang out? Work on your glow instead, like Renée Zellweger, Sharon Stone, Mary Steenburgen and Jane Seymour, and just add blush.

spinner image Helen Mirren, Cicely Tyson, Annette Bening
Helen Mirren, Cicely Tyson, Annette Bening
LOIC VENANCE/AFP/Getty Images, Frederic J. BROWN / AFP) (Photo credit should read FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images, V E Anderson/WireImage

3. Color your hair with glee. Who cares if it looks natural or not. If anyone is checking your roots, that's their problem, not yours. Feel free to change it up, too — blonder to redder to brownish like Annette Bening, streak it blue like Cicely Tyson, go pinky-blonde for an evening like Helen Mirren, or multicolor it like the aforementioned Fox. Act like you're the star of your own movie!

spinner image The ever-changing hairstyles of Iman.
The ever-changing hairstyles of Iman.
David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images for Eco-Age, Gotham/GC Images, David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images for Eco-Age, Paras Griffin/Getty Images for ESSENCE

4. Make your hairstyle a continuing adventure. If you don't give it a shot, how will you ever know what looks amazing? Why not try a bob or lob, bangs, an undercut or a choppy end? Even extensions — including straight, wavy, curly, dreads, locs and twists down to there — make adding length or fullness easy for all, and they are the new normal. And let's not forget wigs: They are an easy, stress-free way to try a new look.

spinner image Halle Berry, Julia Roberts, Paula Abdul
Halle Berry, Julia Roberts, Paula Abdul
RB/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images, Vivien Killilea/Getty Images for SiriusXM, Allen Berezovsky/WireImage

5. Make your motto “Who says I can't?" Wear a cheerleader high ponytail, pink lipstick, blue eye shadow and a bun the size of a bread loaf, as well as a miniskirt or distressed jeans, with strappy heels. This type of beauty and style “dare” is a cheap thrill and will get you out of your business-as-usual rut. It made Iris Apfel a fashion icon.

spinner image Minnie Driver, Jennifer Aniston, Loni Love, Laura Dern
Minnie Driver, Jennifer Aniston, Loni Love, Laura Dern
Rodin Eckenroth/FilmMagic, Steve Granitz/WireImage, Jerritt Clark/Getty Images, gotpap/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images

6. Take your black leather “edge” to the next level. Now that we all have a black leather biker jacket, it's time to amp it up. A black leather dress is now officially the most dangerous item you can own ... unless you're Halle Berry — who flaunts black leather rompers. This little black dress is a cheeky conspicuous look for day or night when you want stand out.

spinner image Julia Louis Dreyfus, Cicely Tyson, Paula Abdul
Julia Louis Dreyfus, Cicely Tyson, Jennifer Lopez
Raymond Hall/GC Images, Arnold Turner/Getty Images for Freedom Road Productions, Jose Perez/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images

7. Dress in attention-getting colors. Who needs to be invisible? While we can always count on black for looking slim, it's not exactly going to make you memorable or perk up your tired face. Vibrant colors such as red and pink make a splash, bring warmth to your complexion and make us feel like dancing (even if we're going to the dentist).

spinner image Lauren Hutton, Marlo Thomas, Nicole Kidman
Lauren Hutton, Marlo Thomas, Nicole Kidman
Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Harper's BAZAAR, Ann/Getty Images, Daniele Venturelli

8. Decide what to bare — and then go for it. There's a difference between courage and common sense when it comes to necklines and hemlines. But do you really care what anyone thinks of your bare arms or bare legs? Start with bare shoulders — we all have those, and they're worth putting on display as much as possible. And work up to a discreet glimpse of leg or more — evenings out and dimmer light are made for that.

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spinner image Julianne Moore, Martha Stewart, Emma Thompson
Julianne Moore, Martha Stewart, Emma Thompson
Christian Vierig/GC Images, Raymond Hall/GC Images, Dave J Hogan/Getty Images

9. Let your body be its own happy size and self. Of course, there are moments when shapewear seems nonnegotiable (say, at your daughter's wedding, your big job interview, your first online dating date.) But why not skip the dress-slim idea and hang out in looser stylish clothes? Wide-leg pants, full skirts and loose dresses might be your new favorite wardrobe.

spinner image Rita Wilson, Mary J. Blige, Lauren Hutton
Rita Wilson, Mary J. Blige, Lauren Hutton
Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images, Ethan Miller/Getty Images, Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

10. Take few calculated risks and dress for them. We're not waiting to be noticed when our experience, sense of humor and self-confidence are peaking. While you might not perform on stage, wear a bikini in the next Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue or walk the runway during Fashion Week — strut your stuff every day. Have the guts to let your inner style out. Who says you can't have it all?

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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