Are You Dressing Your Age?

Stay age-appropriate with these tips from style expert Kim Johnson Gross

Do you have a closet filled with clothes but feel like you have nothing to wear? It's because you've transitioned from one part of your life to the next without letting your closet know what's now appropriate and what no longer is. Suddenly that mini-skirt and body hugging top no longer feel as sexy to wear as they once did. Or, those "classics" you relied on for so long are feeling dowdy.

Dressing age appropriate means not getting stuck in a style rut by keeping your closet up-to-date with the changes in your body and life. You are dressing your best to flatter who you are at this very moment.
 

20+: Transition from School to Workplace

BIGGEST MISTAKES: Starting your career path, but dressing like you're still in school -- clothes too short, too tight, too bare, too casual, too trendy (trendy is okay in a creative environment, but not when interviewing for the job). If your clothes are making more of a statement than you are, reconsider what you're wearing during office hours.

SMART CLOSET: Look professional! You are the brand and what you wear is the packaging. Dress for the job you want. Keep it simple until you have the experience to decide what's appropriate to wear in your office environment. Then express yourself with accessories and color.

YOU CAN'T GO WRONG: with a tailored jacket, and pants or skirts in neutral colors for versatility. Build on these few pieces for an ideal working wardrobe.

STYLE MENTORS: Look to professional women who dress with style and confidence. Find them in the office, politics or on television, the news and movies about your industry. Check out Rachel McAdams in Morning Glory for inspiring work clothes; Jenna Bush, correspondent on the Today show; and for nights out, Alexa Chung, DJ and style muse; and the Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton.

 

30+: Get Your Style Down

BIGGEST MISTAKE: Your closet is in chaos because you haven't dejunked since your twenties when you were trying on different styles in search of your own.

SMART CLOSET: Hone your style. Trust what you like and feel comfortable wearing. Lay your favorite things to wear on your bed. What do they have in common? These are your personal style clues. Banish from your closet those things that you don't like, that don't fit as well as they did or that now feel inappropriate.

YOU CAN'T GO WRONG: by upgrading and expanding upon your closet favorites with things that easily mix and match. Go for quality over quantity.

STYLE MENTORS: Working mom Gwyneth Paltrow; journalist and author Rula Jebreal (watch for Miral, the film by Julian Schnabel based on her latest novel); and China Chow, host and judge of Bravo's reality show, Work of Art: the Next Great Artist.

 

40+: Get Unstuck from a Style Rut

BIGGEST MISTAKES: Does your daughter complain that you're dressing like her, or have you settled into a uniform that no longer gives you confidence to wear? Those things you relied on wearing to get you through your every day life have been taken for granted and need to be energized.

SMART CLOSET: Pair down to the basics. Fit is paramount. Then add an element that expresses how you want to feel: A colorful bag, a leopard print sweater, a decorative jacket, a stylish boot, a fabulous faux in-your-face piece of jewelry.

YOU CAN'T GO WRONG: by getting out of your comfort zone and experimenting with new shapes and styles and colors. Move slowly, but with focus. Dress up your favorite jeans with great shoes, a pretty blouse and tailored jacket.

STYLE MENTORS: Michelle Obama; Jennifer Lopez; Queen Rania of Jordan; and the new incarnation of Courtney Love who has embraced classic elegant style.

 

50+: Am I Too Old to Wear This?

BIGGEST MISTAKES: Life changes, our bodies do too. Time to reassess and tweak what you wear before you feel that you are disappearing down the aging trail.

SMART CLOSET: Assess your assets and dress them up. Know that comfort and style are not mutually exclusive -- wear clothes that fit and shoes that feel good. Ignore the style police. Trust your gut. Dress to feel. Be more expressive in what you wear. Rethink your colors. As our hair and skin texture changes, so do the colors that cast the best light to our face. Pearls and scarves often do the job.

YOU CAN'T GO WRONG: with a new bra that fits properly. It will take off years and pounds. Accessorize -- the bolder the better. Soften your look -- choose suede over leather and navy or gray over black.

STYLE MENTORS: Ann Curry, host of the Today show or Meredith Vieira, former host; Ines de la Fressange iconic French model; Oprah (dress your curves); designer Diane von Furstenberg, who's forever sexy; and Diane Keaton in Something's Gotta Give and in Morning Glory.

 

Style Quick Tips for All Ages

Choose style over trend. Dress to flatter your body rather than wearing a trend that doesn't.
Build a closet based on the classics. They're ageless. Then accessorize!
How much flesh to flaunt? Less with age, but play up what you have. Even 60+ year olds are showing off their fit defined arms and ageless legs.
Go for fit rather than size. Tight is too tight whatever your age.
Trust your gut. If you don't like how it makes you feel, don't wear it. Confidence is the best thing you can wear at any age.
Be inspired. Find your Style Mentors -- contemporaries or those women a bit older that have the style thing going for them.
Last of all, know that style doesn't age -- it evolves!


Kim Johnson Gross co-founded 'Chic Simple,' a book series selling over 1.5 million copies, which has helped women dress for every stage of their lives. Read her latest book, 'What to Wear for the Rest of Your Life' -- it will change your life! Got a question for Kim? Visit her expert page and ask away!

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