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Fashion Tips for 50+ Dieters

Ways to dress and look stylish while shedding extra pounds


spinner image From left to right Mango Print Wrap Dress in Black; Chico’s Utility Jumpsuit in Black; Spanx The Perfect Pant Hi-Rise Flare in Classic Black; J. Crew Women Garcon Cotton Poplin Shirt in Stripe in Crisp Begonia
Left to right: Mango Print Wrap Dress in Black; Chico’s Utility Jumpsuit in Black; Spanx The Perfect Pant Hi-Rise Flare in Classic Black; J. Crew Women Garcon Cotton Poplin Shirt in Stripe in Crisp Begonia
Mango; Chico's; Spanx; J.Crew; Getty Images

So you’re on a diet? Join the club! Whether the motivation is fitting into last year’s jeans, an upcoming big event or a desire to be swimsuit-ready by June, it feels like everyone wants to be a loser. This situation is a toughie, especially when you’re shopping for new clothes. What will work at your present weight and still look good as you drop pounds ... and maybe long after? As we head into 2024, here’s my guide for women age 50-plus on the most flexible and flattering buys for every dieter, regardless of size and weight goal.

spinner image Fenty Beauty by Rihanna Cheeks Out Freestyle Cream Blush in Pinky Promise; Revlon Insta-Blush in Candy Kiss; Soma Embraceable Perfect Coverage Bra in Adobe Rose; Warner’s This Is Not a Bra Cushioned Underwire Lightly Lined T-Shirt Bra 1593 in Toasted Almond
Clockwise from bottom left: Fenty Beauty by Rihanna Cheeks Out Freestyle Cream Blush in Pinky Promise ($24, ulta.com); Revlon Insta-Blush in Candy Kiss ($16, cvs.com); Soma Embraceable Perfect Coverage Bra in Adobe Rose ($49, soma.com); Warner’s This Is Not a Bra Cushioned Underwire Lightly Lined T-Shirt Bra 1593 in Toasted Almond ($20, macys.com)
Ulta Beauty; CVS; Soma; Macy's

1. Revise your bra and blush.

The scale may not show a big difference, but your face and breasts say otherwise. This is where mature women often notice weight loss first. Everyone gains and loses weight differently, but aging faces and breasts are not exactly strangers to the effects of gravity. Dieters often notice droopy cheeks and a change in the way their bra band or cups fit. Kick off your diet proactively by buying a new body-boosting T-shirt bra and applying cream blush higher on the cheeks — two moves that elevate more than your attitude. Here’s why: Any bra that pulls your breasts up and off your midriff to expose a couple of extra inches of upper torso is a dieter’s best friend. It creates body-lengthening space between your chest and waist/belly area for a trimmer-looking torso. (As weight loss continues, monitor the fit of your bras.) The blush switch — moving application high on the cheekbones instead of on your “apples” — not only counteracts sag (those apple cheeks drop the minute you stop smiling) but creates a slightly chiseled look of “bone structure” and adds a healthy radiant glow.

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spinner image Banana Republic Factory Volume Sleeve Blouse in Bright Pink Dahlia; H&M Women Wrap Dress in Black/Beige Patterned; Gibsonlook Rib Tunic Sweater in Jet Black
Left to right: Banana Republic Factory Volume Sleeve Blouse in Bright Pink Dahlia ($55, bananarepublicfactory.gapfactory.com); H&M Women Wrap Dress in Black/Beige Patterned ($45, hm.com/en_us); Gibsonlook Rib Tunic Sweater in Jet Black ($55, nordstrom.com)
Banana Republic Factory; H&M; Nordstrom

2. Use color and prints to highlight and hide.

Wearing head-to-toe black is a tried-and-true strategy for anyone on a diet. It works. But don’t stop at black. Any color worn monochromatically creates a similar sleek chic effect, such as a navy top and medium wash blue jeans. That doesn’t mean you should never wear color or prints. One of the toughest parts about dieting is deprivation — and that often includes clothes. Give tonal tactics a break by swapping in white or a bright color where you want attention and wearing dark colors (including black) where you don’t. For example, you might wear a black tunic sweater with white jeans if you’re top-heavy, or a bright pink or fuchsia shirt with wide-leg black pants if your lower body is the issue. Prints are another way to play this game since the patterns optically blur away bulges. This works especially well in dresses with a combo of voluminous fit (a wrap or fit-and-flare silhouette) and allover pattern that attracts the eye but keeps your diet under wraps.

spinner image Black Label by Evan Picone 3/4 Sleeve Midi Wrap Dress in Navy; Knox Rose Women’s Balloon Long Sleeve Blouse in Black; Soft Surroundings Take It Easy Tunic in Medium Heather Grey; Lands’ End Women’s Tencel Tie Waist Midi Skirt in Soft Indigo; Loft Lou & Grey Signature Softblend Wide Leg Pants in Deep Space Blue
Left to right: Black Label by Evan Picone 3/4 Sleeve Midi Wrap Dress in Navy ($63, jcpenney.com); Knox Rose Women’s Balloon Long Sleeve Blouse ($27, target.com); Soft Surroundings Take It Easy Tunic ($99, soft surroundings.com); Lands’ End Women’s Tencel Tie Waist Midi Skirt in Soft Indigo ($60, landsend.com); Loft Lou & Grey Signature Softblend Wide Leg Pants in Deep Space Blue ($56, loft.com)
JCPenney; Target; Soft Surroundings; Lands' End; LOFT

3. Go with the flow.

Allover weight loss is the goal, but every dieting person has one or two specific spots where her extra pounds tend to settle. These spots are what we focus on when getting dressed. However, choosing items that flow, drape or billow exactly where extra camouflage is needed gives you back control in a stylish game of hide-and-seek. The trend for volume is on your side, so take advantage of A-line tunics and midi skirts, untucked tops with full sleeves, wider leg pants and midi dresses with elastic waists or wrap styles that fit and flare. All are fashionable choices that won’t scream “diet” but make the process easier, and all will likely stick around through thick and thin.

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spinner image Loft Rib Trim Cozy Split Neck Tunic Top in Black; J.Crew Women Garcon Cotton Poplin Shirt in Stripe in Crisp Begonia; June + Vie Long-Sleeve V-Neck One + Only Tunic in Pink Whisper; Loveappella Plus Faux Tie Wrap Top in Burgundy
Left to right: Loft Rib Trim Cozy Split Neck Tunic Top in Black ($25, loft.com); J.Crew Women Garcon Cotton Poplin Shirt in Stripe in Crisp Begonia ($98, jcrew.com); June + Vie Long-Sleeve V-Neck One + Only Tunic in Pink Whisper ($42, catherines.com); Loveappella Plus Faux Tie Wrap Top in Burgundy ($52, nordstrom.com)
LOFT; J.Crew; Catherines; Nordstrom

4. Emphasize V necklines.

Yes, turtlenecks are trendy, cowls are cuddly and crews are cozy, but V-necks are the real power neckline for dieters. That simple inverted triangle strengthens your shoulder line to balance width at the hips and thighs and gives a bigger bust lift and separation. It also lengthens and slims your neck and torso and highlights the bony ledges of emerging collarbones. Which Vs are best? All flatter curvy shapes, but wider Vs (often found in wrap dresses and tops) are best for balancing proportions top and bottom while deeper Vs flatter generous breasts (no need to go super low and show cleavage!). Turn shirt necklines, Henleys and polo collar tops into Vs by unbuttoning them and tugging the sides open to form that reverse triangle base. Neckline runners up? Wide, shallow ballet scoops and boatneck tops.

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spinner image Chico’s Utility Jumpsuit in Black; Terra & SkyWomen’s Plus-Size Mesh Peasant Midi Dress with Smocked Waist in Black Soot; Mango Print Wrap Dress in Black
Left to right: Chico’s Utility Jumpsuit in Black ($129, chicos.com); Terra & SkyWomen’s Plus-Size Mesh Peasant Midi Dress with Smocked Waist in Black Soot ($23, walmart.com); Mango Print Wrap Dress in Black ($40, mango.com/us)
Chico's; Walmart; MANGO

5. Wear clothes with a waist.

Before you say “No way!” hear me out. There’s no need for a belt or an hourglass silhouette, just a slight indentation that implies a waist exists. Though layers and loose, relaxed and oversized clothes are on-trend, losing belly fat and restoring a waistline is a key goal for many 50-plus women. The right clothes provide plenty of cheerleading assistance. Look for pull-on pants, midi dresses with gentle smocked elastic waists, wrap-style dresses with crossover tops and jumpsuits with soft tie waists to loosely bow. Keep modifying outfits, adding, subtracting and swapping in fitted pieces such as straight-leg jeans and body-skimming tops. Then try adding a belt to your dresses and jumpsuits to build incentive and keep going.

spinner image Spanx The Perfect Pant Hi-Rise Flare in Classic Black; Eloquii Women’s Plus Size Sweater Wrap Dress in White Smoke; Ellos Women’s Plus-Size Ponte Knit Blazer in Black; Liz & Me Women’s Plus Size Ponte Knit Dress in Black; H&M Knit Dress with Collar in Navy Blue
Left to right: Spanx The Perfect Pant Hi-Rise Flare in Classic Black ($148, spanx.com); Eloquii Women’s Plus Size Sweater Wrap Dress in White Smoke ($44, target.com); Ellos Women’s Plus-Size Ponte Knit Blazer in Black ($67, walmart.com); Liz & Me Women’s Plus Size Ponte Knit Dress in Black ($61, walmart.com); H&M Knit Dress with Collar in Navy Blue ($55, hm.com/en_us)
Spanx; Target; Walmart (2); H&M

6. Shape up with knits.

I’m betting you avoid knits, thinking they reveal every pound, bump and bulge? Well, there’s been a serious update, partly due to the prevailing body-positive attitude and partly due to improved knitwear that hugs the body without showing your lunch and snacks. Sweater dresses that can be worn loose like a shift or belted as you gain confidence can expand and shrink with you but mold to body shape too for visible instant gratification. For a sharper silhouette, head for structured knits that contour your outgoing and incoming shape. They’re stretchy enough to accommodate curves but keep things in line. Thick double knits such as ponte (usually a blend of polyester and spandex) show off your new and constantly evolving figure and can be a motivating part of your diet process. They make pulling together a polished look easy without falling back on old boxy or oversized blazers and shapewear.

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