Home Australia The 13 Style Rules Every Middle-Aged Woman MUST Follow (And Yes, Beige Really Is Banned!)

The 13 Style Rules Every Middle-Aged Woman MUST Follow (And Yes, Beige Really Is Banned!)

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Intertwined flower earrings, £295, gucci.com

Shoes are your secret weapon, forever.

There’s nothing you can’t wear on your feet forever (although your ideal heel height may go down and, personally, I’d give Mary Janes a whirl). More specifically, you can and should get maximum Wow points with your footwear, whether it’s a leopard-print kitten heel or a wooden-soled sandal.

Since Prada made velvet platform sandals several years ago, platforms and wedges have shed their glam rock image and become acceptable year-round at any age: quirky, leg-lengthening, and great for those occasions when you are on your feet for hours. Just keep them more on the Prada scale than Slade’s Noddy.

50+ means: Find the shoe that keeps you looking like a fashion contender.

It may be time to retire

I would love to say that you can still get away with a giant organza bow at the neck or a big bow on the back of a dress or a thick bow on some flat shoes or lots of sparkly crystal bows running down the front of a dress. (Wait… that may not be prohibited, if we’re talking about a Saloni dress) but ninety-nine percent of bows are in the Baby Jane category.

Instead of neck ties, get serious about scarves, whether squares of silk tied French-style at the collar of your shirt or large cotton or wool scarves. They add texture and color and cover imperfections from the neck to the upper arms.

50+ means: Less bows, more scarves.

That girl with the pearl earring was right.

Pearls flatter the skin and add something mysteriously illuminating to the complexion. We have shied away from them for decades, but now we are in a golden moment with everything.

Intertwined flower earrings, £295, gucci.com

You can find pearl earrings and necklaces everywhere from Accessorize to Gucci.

50+ means: Increase the impact of jewelry and wear it more times.

Sort your specifications

It’s strange that we can spend weeks searching for the right dress to wear to the wedding and then show up that day with six-year-old glasses that dull the glamor by about sixty percent. Look at the photos from the King’s Coronation, Oscar Night, Victoria Beckham’s 50th birthday, what do they all have in common?

Gillian Anderson in New York last month, who selected her glasses to match her outfit.

Gillian Anderson in New York last month, who selected her glasses to match her outfit.

Few women wear glasses, and if they do, they are designed to match their outfit. Some of us have yet to look into contact lenses, but that’s an oversight. Take your eyes out from behind your dirty glasses, at least on special occasions, and you will look ten years younger.

50+ means: Working your specs or getting rid of them. (See Gillian Anderson)

Take your underwear seriously

The condition of your bra makes a difference now: Bra bulging and bra sagging (when a bra has stopped providing support) are two absolutely unnecessary consequences of not wearing the correct fit. Everything that has to do with underwear matters 100 percent more as you enter your fifties.

As a general rule, deliberately visible underwear, whether under something transparent or peeking out, is no longer a good idea. The exception is summer, when you can show off the bikini tops you no longer wear to the beach under linen shirts. A good plain black swimsuit can also serve as a bodysuit on vacation. (See Nancy Shevell)

50+ means: Correctly fitting underwear.

With jeans you should never rest on your laurels

There are the classic Levi 501s, which officially never go out of date, but are not so easy to wear in real life. Otherwise, you should be prepared to change up your jeans regardless of whether or not you’ve found your perfect forever fit.

Fashion never sleeps and if you ignore the jeans trend you will be left behind (witness the predicted shift from baggy to skinny boyfriend styles). If you do one thing and one thing, just keep a close eye on the current shape of the jeans and adapt accordingly.

50+ means: Moving forward with the times of denim. (See Kristin Scott Thomas or Julia Roberts)

Goodbye black leather biker

Your black leather biker jacket, no matter how much fun you had with it, needs to be handed in. There’s no ‘what if’ with this (you can wait a bit if it’s olive or brown, but there are better answers). The cool looks we used to go for are now tough and aged and the whole rock vibe is very high risk since the basis of the rock ‘n’ roll style is a certain carelessness that is incompatible with adult clothing. We’ve all seen it, some of us in the mirror. One day you’re channeling Blondie on his last period, the next you look like you just rolled out of bed after a bout of the creepy flu. It’s okay to look casual, but now we must also look elegant. It’s all over for disheveled.

50+ means: Much more care and change of biker leather for soft, tan sheepskin.

It’s worth it to find something amazing that really suits you… despite your age.

Maybe it’s a jumpsuit or white jeans when you’re 63 (see Julianne Moore at last year’s Cannes film festival). There’s a whole category of clothes (much bigger than what you need to save after 50) called Get Bonus Points for Looking Good in These 50 Posts.

Maybe tank tops fit you with bare arms? Maybe you have legs for urban shorts or look great in a plunging neckline.

50+ means: Find your unexpected good looks and work hard.

Bring on the black and white

Julianne Moore at the photocall for her film May-December in Cannes in 2023

Julianne Moore at the photocall for her film May-December in Cannes in 2023

Some people can wear black forever, depending on their color (faded blondes not so much), but now everyone benefits from a black lifter, whether it’s a leopard bag strap, a statement brooch or necklace, or a bracelet ( see Jamie Lee Curtis in Oscar Night). Black needs to shine after 50.

As for white, it looks best complemented by black or a block color: a white collar or white blouse with a leopard-print skirt, but a plain white dress not so much (unless you’re on vacation with a tie-dyed coat dark pink knotted dress and red espadrilles). Now black and white look better together than apart.

50+ means: Shining in black.

Just say no to riders

For some reason, middle-aged women are attracted to bike riders. We looked great in them in the early ’80s and think they’re incredibly flattering, but no. Pedal pushers are on the list of garments that have a half-life and are best avoided after age 50.

Also on this list are off-the-shoulder Bardot necklines, peasant tops, tiered dresses, mini skirts, and high-neck dresses. It’s perfectly fine to reveal some back or cleavage or whatever you feel like, it’s feminine styles that flatter you and too much coverage can be just as bad as too little.

50+ means: Shorts above the ankle, not below the knee.

Turbo charge your colors

This one is interesting because, of course, everyone is different, but the older you get, the more striking the colors are for you and the less useful you are in shades of brown, olive, beige and gray. Pastels don’t flatter people over fifty: swap baby blue for butterfly turquoise, primrose yellow for canary, and muted minimalism is wasted on us. Swap out the barely-there gold earring for a sparkler.

Get your subtly striped shirt in white on forget-me-not blue. Give away your pale pink dress with a floral print and show off an emerald green zinger and red shoes, or the other way around. You get zero points for subtlety these years.

50+ means: Trying new colors.

Puckering and other tricks

A dress with a gathered line along the torso is one of those tricks that allows you to wear bodycon clothing until you are sixty and beyond. Likewise, bracelet-style and elbow-length sleeves keep your arms covered while exposing just enough skin to keep the look light and summery. (Long-sleeved dresses may look strange in summer.) Roll up the cuffs of a shirt and roll them up to instantly look cooler.

50+ means: Wrists and feet outside in summer.

Beware of the aged hat

Could Meghan have left the Royal Family because she looked bad in a hat? Just a theory, but the wrong hat has the ability to disfigure and age you faster than a surgical boot. For instructions on how to wear a hat (especially as it comes from the brilliant milliner Philip Treacy), it’s worth looking to the Queen. It’s also worth avoiding wide-brimmed patterned hats and instead opting for the small saucer on the side, or going up grade with a fascinator. Let us think of the Prime Minister’s wife, Akshata Murty, at the king’s coronation.

50+ means: Prettier hats.

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