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Ten Things Not to Wear After Fifty

By: Hsin-Yi Cohen BSc, MA, MSt - Updated: 20 Jan 2013 | comments*Discuss
Fashion Middle-age Avoid Age Older Women

One of the greatest advantages to growing older and gaining maturity is an increased confidence and belief in yourself – your own opinions, tastes and beliefs. This especially applies to fashion and appearance. As you get older, you stop caring so much about what others think or peer pressure decides and can choose your look and wardrobe according to your own preferences and comfort, confident in the development of your own sense of style.

However, while it is good to not be a slave to other’s opinions and to be confident of your own choices, there are a few fashion items and styles which you would be well-advised to avoid as you approach and pass middle-age.

So here is a round-up of 10 things to avoid wearing after you reach 50:

1 - Crop tops and midriff-baring T-shirts

These items are best left for your aerobics class, jogging route or lounging at home on a hot day. Even if you have been faithfully doing Pilates and have a stomach flatter than an ironing board, this is still a difficult look to pull off well as you approach middle age. Most women will not have such toned abs and there is nothing worse than the sight of flabby flesh spilling out from beneath a too-short T-shirt – the dreaded “muffin-top”.

2 – Hipster or low-rise jeans

The previously derided “builder’s crack” seems to be an infectious disease taking over the general population, often only relieved by the thinnest of G-strings, as women share far too much of their lower anatomy with the world every time they bend over in hipster or low-rise jeans. This is not a good look for any age but particularly not for those whose buttocks may not be as “pert” as they once were. Do yourself a favour and choose jeans in a more flattering ‘relaxed fit’ – these not only give you a more classic, modern look but also help with areas that need more coverage and room as your figure matures.

3 – Sleeveless or strapless tops

Unless you’re Madonna, your triceps and biceps are unlikely to be your best feature as you approach and pass your 50’s so it is best not to wear items of clothing that highlight these areas. Likewise, a sagging bust is best not highlighted by a clinging strapless top. You can still choose tops with interesting sleeve details, such as bell-sleeves, which will help you stay in fashion without worrying about sagging, flabby excess.

4 – ‘Granny pants’

Granted, mature women may need more “control” on their underwear, particularly if you are attending a special occasion and need a slim silhouette underneath a certain dress but in general, hitting middle-age does not mean it is time to bulk order over-sized, high-waisted underwear. While no one may see these, your underwear can affect how you feel about yourself and wearing ‘granny pants’ can age you mentally, which will transfer to the way you present yourself. While G-strings and tiny bikini bottoms may not be your cup of tea either, you can still opt for comfortable but attractive underwear in luxe fabrics with beautiful trims.

5 – Plunging necklines

Most women’s décolletages in middle-age do not resemble the smooth, full expanses of their youth. They are more likely to have wrinkles, pigmentation and rough skin on the skin of their neckline, chest area and cleavage. So while a hint of cleavage is more than acceptable, a neckline plunging to your navel is likely to be more ‘sad’ than sexy.

6 – Too much make-up

Leave the experimental colours and catwalk copycat looks to the girls in their 20’s – as you approach middle-age, less really is more. You want to use your make-up to highlight and enhance your natural features, as well as cover any blemishes. You certainly don’t want to look like you’re trying to audition for a part in a stage musical or worse, look like you are “trying to hard” with a caked mask of foundation in an (useless) attempt to cover wrinkles and discolouration. Heavy make-up is actually one of the quickest things to age you.

7 – Skinny jeans or skin-tight leather pants

Unless you’re an ex-supermodel with still super-toned legs, anything which clings too tightly to your thighs, calves and ankles is a bad idea. You can achieve a similar look with black leggings under a loose tunic top, which is far more comfortable and more flattering.

8 – Overly fussy floral prints

Girlie florals and other ‘cute’ prints are better for the younger woman who is just emerging from girlhood, rather than those on the other side of the spectrum. This does not mean you can’t wear florals but choose the colours, size of the flowers and style carefully.

9 – Ruffles

Ruffles can be hard to pull off even at a younger age and are definitely a look only for the very brave when you are approaching or have passed 50. It inherently suggests “girlishness” which can sit very awkwardly with the duller, more sagging, wrinkled skin of middle age, even if you have retained your slim figure.

10 – Micro-mini skirts

Even if you still have fantastic legs with shapely calves and toned thighs, micro-minis are probably not the best choice of skirt for a lady over 50. In some cases, even if you may still have the figure suitable for these styles, you still run the risk of looking like the proverbial “mutton dressed as lamb”. As you gracefully approach your middle age years, there are other ways to look sexy and attractive without attempting to be a clone of your 21-year old niece

While there may be exceptions, in general, these 10 items or styles will not flatter most women over the age of 50, with the usual changes that occur to their skin and their bodies. There is still a wealth of other styles, however, that will ensure you still look trendy, attractive and modern, without calling attention to your age.

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