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How to Get a ‘You Look Great’ Compliment

With just a few small style and beauty tweaks, the flattery will come pouring in


spinner image Two women wearing sunglasses while sitting in the back of a convertible.
The Good Brigade/Getty Images

“You look great!” These words are music to 50-plus ears, so long as they are not followed by “… for your age!” No matter what we privately think about our wrinkles, thinning hair or weight, compliments about our looks provide a heartwarming emotional boost. Whether gushed as a conversation starter between friends, a comment on a Facebook photo or as an admiring appreciation from a total stranger, a compliment creates an immediate feel-good link between the giver and receiver. Here are six compliments that bring on the smiles and what you can do to inspire one:

spinner image EyeglassesUSA Muse Eloquence in Tortoise/Beige; Warby Parker Haley in Jet Black; A.J. Morgan Honestly Readers in Black; EyeBuyDirect Women’s Morla Glasses Round Tortoise Eyeglasses
(Clockwise from top left) EyeglassesUSA Muse Eloquence in Tortoise/Beige; Warby Parker Haley in Jet Black; A.J. Morgan Honestly Readers in Black; EyeBuyDirect Women’s Morla Glasses Round Tortoise Eyeglasses
GlassesUSA.com; Warby Parker; A.J. Morgan Eyewear; EyeBuyDirect

1. ‘Love your glasses!’

If you’re still wearing rimless or wire frames, switch to a full-frame acetate style for a more contemporary aesthetic that will win kudos. Whether prescription glasses or readers, the swap has an immediate Benjamin Button effect. Though bold frames come in a variety of colors, the strong lines of black or tortoise give mature faces instant definition and structure. The right frame shape also contributes to the effect. Angular frames such as the A.J. Morgan Honestly Readers in Black, Tortoise or Brown ($42, ajmorganeyewear.com) or EyeglassesUSA Muse Eloquence in Tortoise/Beige or Shiny Black chisel in cheekbones and firm up round or saggy faces, while modern cat-eye glasses such as the Warby Parker Haley in Jet Black or Opal Tortoise ($95, warbyparker.com) give the eyes a lift. Rounded frames such as the EyeBuyDirect Women’s Morla Glasses Round Tortoise Eyeglasses ($39, eyebuydirect.com) can flatter long or thin faces and help soften expression lines around the mouth and chin. Second glances coming right up!

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spinner image Closeups showing the different hairstyles of Viola Davis, Sharon Stone, Lucy Liu, Kris Jenner and Alyssa Milano.
(Clockwise from top left) Viola Davis, Sharon Stone, Lucy Liu, Kris Jenner and Alyssa Milano
Taylor Hill/WireImage; Tibrina Hobson/Getty Images for The Elles Collective; Michael Loccisano/Getty Images; Arnold Jerocki/Getty Images; Emma McIntyre/Getty Images

2. ‘You changed your hair!’

Cut it, layer it or grow it, and wait for the accolades to roll in. Your hair is one of the first things people notice about you. Sometimes it’s a total pivot — say from long to a bob or pixie — or adding bangs or layers to a signature one-length style you’ve worn for years. Maybe you’ve decided to let your natural waves and texture do its thing instead of blow-drying sleek or vice versa. Even one change can make a big difference in your private personal approval rating. A feathery fringe or sideswept bangs can hide forehead creases and thinning at the hairline, cropping to a bob or lob can make long stringy hair appear instantly thicker and snipping shaggy layers can hide breakage. However, the honeyed words coming your way from others are the worthy public payback!

spinner image Mango Women Puff-Sleeve Knitted Sweater in Red; H&M Women Knit Sweater in Cerise; J.Crew Regent Blazer in Royal Tanzanite
(Left to right) Mango Women Puff-Sleeve Knitted Sweater in Red; H&M Women Knit Sweater in Cerise; J.Crew Regent Blazer in Royal Tanzanite
Mango; H&M; J.Crew

3. ‘That color looks great on you!’

Wearing a hue that makes you stand out in the crowd is a foolproof compliment-getter. Though lighter-toned neutrals such as gray and beige give clothes an upscale look and dark hues such as black and navy create a sleeker silhouette, they do have a downside. Wearing dark tones near the face — especially when you’re fatigued or stressed — can emphasize discolorations, under-eye circles and wrinkles, and pale colors can wash you out if your skin looks sallow or ashy. Having a couple of color-saturated sweaters and jackets on hand for what I call “bad mirror days” is the best antidote. Trendy, bright orange and hot pink are energizing people-pleasing colors. Warm reds, roses and corals give skin a juicy fresh look, and cool blues and violets counteract yellow and ruddy tones. Consider the Mango Women Puff-Sleeve Knitted Sweater in Red ($70, mango.com/us), the H&M Women Knit Sweater in Cerise ($33, www2.hm.com/en_us) and the J.Crew Regent Blazer in Royal Tanzanite ($228, jcrew.com) for a real boost.

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spinner image Old Navy High-Waisted Power-Soft 7/8 Leggings for Women in Pink Swirl; Zella Relaxed Long Sleeve Slub Jersey T-Shirt in Pink Bright; Superga 2750 Metallic Sneakers in Silver
(Left to right) Old Navy High-Waisted Power-Soft 7/8 Leggings for Women in Pink Swirl; Zella Relaxed Long Sleeve Slub Jersey T-Shirt in Pink Bright; Superga 2750 Metallic Sneakers in Silver
Old Navy; Nordstrom; Anthropologie

4. ‘How do you stay in such terrific shape?’

With politically correct speech on everyone’s mind, compliment givers are careful about mentioning exactly why your body might look so great. For example, a “Wow, you look great — you’ve lost weight!” comment may not be PC, but being in noticeably healthier shape and showing it off in trim workout wear and sneakers still feels good. Whether you’ve been on a diet and exercise kick or simply decided to make peace with your weight and shape, highlight your body-positive attitude with new workout wear and kicks. The feeling will be contagious. Spark your usual black tees, leggings and joggers with color, print and metallics such as the Old Navy High-Waisted Power-Soft 7/8 Leggings for Women in Pink Swirl ($35, oldnavy.gap.com), Superga 2750 Metallic Sneakers in Silver ($110, anthropologie.com) and Zella Relaxed Long Sleeve Slub Jersey T-Shirt in Pink Bright ($45, nordstrom.com) — worn one at a time, of course.

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spinner image Essie Fall Collection Nail Lacquer in Lights Down Music Up; Ann Taylor The Audrey Pant in Faux Leather in Black; Spanx Leather-Like Slim Straight Pants in Luxe Black; Journee Collection Tenlee Chelsea Boot in Black
(Left to right) Essie Fall Collection Nail Lacquer in Lights Down Music Up; Ann Taylor The Audrey Pant in Faux Leather in Black; Spanx Leather-Like Slim Straight Pants in Luxe Black; Journee Collection Tenlee Chelsea Boot in Black
Target; Ann Taylor; Spanx; DSW

5. ‘You’re so cool! I wish I had your style!’

Dark nail polish and kitten heel booties make any outfit a little more edgy, a little cooler. It’s a confident duo that many women 50-plus rely on to accent everything from a business-like silk blouse to a flowing midi dress. It’s also a recipe for discreet sex appeal that’s way more modern and flattering at 50 than cleavage and minis. Start with the basics — Essie Fall Collection Nail Lacquer in Lights Down Music Up ($10, target.com) and the Journee Collection Tenlee Chelsea Boot in Black ($70, dsw.com/en/us) — then update the menu by adding the sophisticated Spanx Leather-Like Slim Straight Pants in Luxe Black ($168, spanx.com) or the Ann Taylor The Audrey Pant in Faux Leather in Black ($119, anntaylor.com). Expect to be noticed.

spinner image La Roche-Posay Ultra-Fine Face Wash Scrub for Sensitive Skin; L’Oréal Paris Sublime Bronze Self-Tanning Facial Drops Fragrance-Free; Jones Road Beauty Miracle Balm in Bronze; Osea Dayglow Face Oil
(Left to right) La Roche-Posay Ultra-Fine Face Wash Scrub for Sensitive Skin; L’Oréal Paris Sublime Bronze Self-Tanning Facial Drops Fragrance-Free; Jones Road Beauty Miracle Balm in Bronze; Osea Dayglow Face Oil
Target (2); Jones Road; bluemercury

6. ‘You look amazing! Were you on vacation?’

A genuine offseason tan used to be the basis for these words. That was before sun exposure and UV ray dangers made sunscreen diligence mandatory. But having a well-rested glow gets similar raves. Bumping up your complexion with a few skin care products can produce a radiant sun-kissed effect overnight (so no need to do a full DIY self-tan). First clean out the clutter. Once a week, swap your usual cleanser for a gentle exfoliating one such as La Roche-Posay Ultra-Fine Face Wash Scrub for Sensitive Skin ($20, target.com) to buff away dry dead cells on the surface that make skin look dull. Daily, add L’Oréal Paris Sublime Bronze Self-Tanning Facial Drops Fragrance-Free ($17, target.com) with hyaluronic acid to your day or night moisturizer, or apply a cream bronzer such as Jones Road Beauty Miracle Balm in Bronze ($38, jonesroadbeauty.com) over moisturizer or makeup. Either way, the natural-looking bronze tint will knock out ruddy, ashy or sallow undertones, blur dark spots and minimize any morning puffiness. For a final radiance boost, pat nongreasy Osea Dayglow Face Oil ($58, bluemercury.com) with nourishing argan oil on dry areas and cheeks. You’ll look lit from within. Flattery incoming.

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