Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about bread. Maybe that’s because I’m not eating any. You see, for years, my passion for bread has been well-documented. It was my main food. And now, rapidly approaching a milestone birthday, I’ve decided that the baguette and I need to break up for a bit. And it’s pretty devastating. I’m not going to lie. It’s like losing an old friend. Also, it has severely hampered my ability to consume cheese, my other food group. And what’s avocado toast without the toast? The fallout has been far-reaching.
This might have been spurred by a recent study that shows that healthy choices we make before the age of 50 have the greatest effect on our long-term health. Which gives me 6 months. A year to undo a lifetime of chronic couch-sitting, bread-eating, and exercise avoiding.
Fortunately, for you and for me, it’s never too late to start, and if some of our choices and daily habits stop working for us, we can change them. Not all at once, but little by little, day by day. By replacing an old, tired habit with a new one. For example, perhaps your style habits include underaccessorizing, or wearing the same outfits on repeat. And maybe you don’t have a birthday, or an anniversary, or some other milestone this month. Maybe you just have October. Or maybe you’re looking forward to a new job or a new town or an exciting vacation, or coming out of a pregnancy or a bad relationship or an unfulfilling career. Wherever you’re at, it’s never too late to upgrade your life by updating your habits and upgrading your style. Here, 10 quick ways to instantly look more stylish.
Mix, Don’t Match
There’s nothing that simplifies style more than a matched set, and they are back in a major way. Two-piece dresses and pant sets offer the cohesiveness of a single item with the versatility (and easier fit) of two, and who doesn’t love that? It’s only when everything starts matching in an outfit that we start to look overdone, and, as a result, too mature. Wearing a matched set of jewelry, for example, or adding a pop of color in multiple places throughout an outfit, or always matching your shoes to your bag (unless they’re neutrals)… these are all examples of a good concept taken a step too far.
Choose a Focal Point
Life is about balance, and so is accessorizing. Busy, colorful outfits (like the suits above) need simple, streamlined accessories to work. Simple, neutral, streamlined outfits look fabulous with colorful, statement accessories. While this principle doesn’t apply every time, and for every occasion, it’s a useful one to keep in mind to create balance in your outfits.
Shorten Your Skirt
Ah, the midi skirt. How I’d love to love you, especially since you’re everywhere. Unfortunately, with my diminutive stature, midi skirts end up being slightly short maxis, and not flattering at all. While a maxi at the right length and in the right proportions will flatter women of every height, a midi is best reserved for tall ladies with long legs. For the rest of us, a classic skirt length hits right around the knee, or even more ideally in the little indentation below the knee where the leg goes in. You can go slightly longer or shorter to suit your specific shape and your comfort level with your legs, but once you find that length, measure it in inches and commit that to memory. That is your classic, go-to skirt length.
Add Some Edge
An unexpected touch to an outfit instantly subtracts years. Try throwing on a structured jacket with a floaty dress, evening shoes with jeans, or some sparkly jewels with a tee. Breaking some rules, and injecting your personality into a look, will instantly make you look younger! In the picture, above, the pink puffy vest elevates this preppy striped sweater outfit.
Show Some Skin
I am all about modest dressing, but covering up head to toe is aging and unflattering. Many women are tempted to hide under layers of fabric or shapeless silhouettes as they get older, but this will only add pounds, and years. Instead, show some skin in small, strategic ways: roll up your cuffs, undo the top two buttons on your shirt, or wear a strappy sandal.
Pick Pretty Shoes
Many women think of shoes as an afterthought to an outfit. They throw on any pair of neutral, comfortable shoes just before slipping out the door and don’t give them another thought. But shoes are an integral part of any look, and the wrong pair can wreck an otherwise cute outfit. Also, cute and comfortable can go hand in hand, as I proved here. Choose a favorite color or print and invest in a cute pair of flats, pumps, or even casual slip-ons, and see how much they elevate your everyday outfits.
Banish the Boring Bag
Just as shoes should combine form and function, a boring bag is a missed opportunity to express your style and enhance your outfit. If you have a wardrobe full of colors and prints, then choose a sleek, solid-colored bag. Neutral wardrobe? Add color and interest with a fun, statement-making patterned bag.
Use Color Strategically
When you’re very young, you can pull off practically any color and still look bright and perky, but as we age, color becomes a tool in our arsenal. Knowing the colors that flatter you and make you look healthy, rested, and refreshed. Depending on your Color Code, soft, medium shades, poppy brights or pale pastels might be your go-to. You might also find, if your coloring is Warm or Soft, that chocolate brown is more flattering than a harsher black.
Choose Modern Prints
For some reason, a lot of prints aimed at “older” women are overly busy, flashy, and dated. I LOVE prints, but I choose them strategically. Color, scale, personal style, and trends all play a role in the prints that I choose, particularly when it comes to florals. Both sides of the size spectrum can be tricky. For example, a tall woman can pull off splashier prints, whereas a petite may benefit from smaller scale prints. Tiny, ditsy prints in soft colors can be aging, but oversized, bold prints that are dated or too busy has the same effect.
Try Sleek Shapes
Strong, clean lines and artful draping, gathering, and ruching are going to be flattering no matter what your age, whereas boxy, dowdy, and shapeless styles are going to be instantly aging. Sounds obvious, but it’s amazing to me how many brands forget this. Shapeless clothes are always going to be less flattering than more fitted styles, so if you prefer easy, boxy shapes, keep it from being overpowering by showing a little bit of skin. A shorter skirt, open neckline, or even a strappy shoe can make all the difference.
I hope these strategies have demystified style for you, at least a little bit. Great style is really about the details, and making small, chic, thoughtful choices that culminate in a stylish wardrobe. Which of these tips have you already tried? Which are you most excited to try? Comment below and let me know!
Nada Manley says
Thank you Mary!! That means so much to me! I hope you enjoy the rest of the posts!
MARY kATHERINE says
EXCELLENT points! These are more than “tips” but style basics we should all remember every day. This is the first post of yours I’ve read – I’m a fan!