Do you want to be perceived as forward thinking and able to keep up with the times and technology?
One of the issues some of my older clients will mention when they’ve hit that certain age, that if their workplace is downsizing their workforce, that because they are a bit older they don’t want to be put out onto the scrap heap and seen as a dinosaur. To ensure that this doesn’t happen to you, it’s important to keep your appearance modern and youthful (but not young). There is a big difference between being “mutton dressed as lamb” and youthful and modern.
How to Modernise Your Style
What is modern?
Well it’s not about following every fashion trend slavishly, that’s for sure. But fashion does come into the equation. Avoiding fashion altogether will generally have you looking older and out of touch.
Modern related to the current silhouette. You need to be aware of what is happening in fashion and relate your current style to it. Relate is the word. It doesn’t need to be the most extreme example, for instance, when very low rise trousers were in fashion, wearing a high rise pant would make you look dated and out of touch, but a mid rise would have you looking more modern.
Modern relates to fabrics. Particularly man made fabrics. The technology of fabric has changed markedly over the years and fabric technology has really improved. A garment in an old unnatural fibre will appear dated and the opposite of modern. Don’t hang onto these old pieces.
Patterns also date. Yes florals have been around for decades, but the floral of today is the not the floral of a decade (or more) ago.
Modern Hem Lengths
Modern relates to hem lengths. From tops to jackets, to skirts and pants. Garments that are either too long or short (depending on the current fashion) will have you looking out of touch. But, you need to be wary. Sometimes the current trend, which may look great on a teenager, harks back to something that is considered dowdy on a woman over a certain age. The current midi trend is one such fashion trend that I would tell women who don’t have super long legs, and who are over 50 to be very wary of wearing, if you’re not going to put it with a high heel (which is how the current trend is being worn!).
Modern relates to grooming. As we age we can get into a comfort rut which has us doing less and less in the grooming stakes. It’s good to reassess your hairstyle every 5 years. Ask your hairdresser what the latest styles are and what would suit you. Consider when you updated your makeup colours or technique. Sometimes it’s good to reassess what you’re doing (particularly if you’ve been putting on your makeup the same way since you were a teenager!). Think about your oral health. Teeth yellow with caffeine, red wine, smoking and age. If your teeth are looking decidedly yellow, or the edges are darker than the middles, it’s time to go to the dentist and have them professionally cleaned. This may be enough, but for some, a professional teeth whitening may be necessary to remove years of built up discolouration.
Modernise your wardrobe, go through it for everything you’ve not been wearing in years. Ask yourself why you’re keeping each garment. Is is still in great condition? Is it a modern fabric and style? If it’s dated, it will make you look out of touch and older (and most likely frumpy too!). If you don’t love it, if it’s no longer serving your current needs and style, let it go! Clear out the clutter so you can really see what you have so you can figure out what you need. There is an easy process to work through in my free ebook 5 Step Formula for a Fabulous Wardrobe on a Budget which you can get access to by subscribing to my newsletter.
We all need to reassess our style, and ensure we’ve not slipped too far into our comfort zones every few years. The style that was once your go-to favourite, may not be representing who you are today. There is nothing wrong with letting go of past favourites and moving onto the new, more modern you, ready to step into your future.
Tell me, what in your wardrobe needs to go so that you look modern and youthful?
Thank for this helpful article. I am a woman over 50 and I would like to update my look. I am wondering – how does one figure out what is “in style” this season? I can’t imagine buying a bunch of teen magazines and scanning the photos. What would be a good strategy to figure this out?
Just walk around the stores – a major department store is a great place to start. Avoid the ‘teen’ section of the store, but have a look at the clothing you’ll find in the main section of womens wear.
Magazines are useless. I gave them up when hotpants featured as office wear.
Good blogs are the answer : Imogen’s is excellent and also The Vivienne Files.
If you’re in Australia, Sportscraft and Trenery are very good. Just try on lots of things and walk away if you don’t like them. (Sportscraft has good outlet stores if you find out where they are.)
Depending on your style, Blue Illusion and Rodney Clarke can be good.
It can get depressing wandering around Department stores who don’t cater for anyone over 40.
I find there are plenty of places to shope when you’re over 40 or 50 (or older). Sportscraft, David Lawrence, Veronika Maine, Jigsaw, Diana Ferarri, Jacqui E, Laura Ashley, Max Mara, Basque in Myer, Saba etc. The only places I’d avoid for this age group is Sportsgirl, Dotti, Supre etc. But you can find great pieces everywhere.
Imogen, I’ve always felt more comfortable in skirts and dresses but feel pants more modern. Do I have to adapt to appear modern, or find a skirt style more in tune with today?
I don’t think pants are more modern necessarily I’d say just keep your skirts no longer than knee length (even though the current trend is for midi skirts, when you are older, they make you look frumpy).
Wonderful article. I work p/t in a retail store that used to cater to mainly older women. The company is trying to now appeal to a much younger customer and has introduced more trendy pieces. Many of the older clientele feel they are being left out but others embrace the changes and keep trying to look current. I agree with all of your points on keeping up (within reasonable limits) with fashion so that you continue to look modern and still “in the game”.
I’m in the U.S. and also think that so much of what is in department stores has changed, even in the past year, to be more trendy and teen oriented. Whole lines have been taken out and replaced with “cheap-wear/skimpy-wear.” There are also overall runway trends that look teen trendy — sheer, cut outs, ripped jeans. Lately I find there are mostly two extremes presented — dowdy vs. trendy. Hard to find a middle ground. Have to hunt. A piece here. A piece there.
Would love another post that would talk more about modern fabrics and elaborate on that more.
Perhaps Im overthinking this, but Ive never understood the point of looking “current”, like whats so bad if lets an older person who is petite wear long skirt with flats – IF they like it and goes with their personal style? The reason why Im a bit bothered by it is because Im often told that Ive an “unmodern” hairstyle and wearing frumpy heels or dresses.
But Im wearing them because I LIKE them, not because Im stuck with a old rut. I cannot wear high heels due to ankle problems, plus I love vintage kitten heels so there is no way I would change that just because the society dont find it fashionable for my age (25), where I live, you rarely see girls my age wearing those 4-5inch platform heels that seem so populare among young adults in english countries (like those Lita heels). I cant count how many women interested in fashion complain I should wear shorter and tighter dresses or showing more cleavage in puplic or complain classic clothes are too office-y and boring or more suitable for “grannys”. 😐 I guess this is why I love classic pieces so much, because Im not interested in fashion or “current” style. A lot of people seems to confuse why I dont dress younger everyday. But that doesnt mean I dress like a 10 or 50 years old because I wear what I like to wear and feel comfortable even if its consider being “frumpy” to somebody else). Vintage (e.g. flared midi skirts with flats or kitten heels with pencil skirts) is a style younger people seems to associate with “frumpy”ness.
Is there a different between looking modern and wearing clothes that reflect your personal style? When people write all the articles about looking modern, it feels a bit misleading and an excuse to make people buy more clothes. I dont see anything wrong with people who actually want to look age appropriate or in a extreme cases like middle age woman that dress like their daughters. But looking current seems to affect people who only dress a little bit younger/older. Looking age appropriate has always seems like a subjective matter to me. Ive no problem if an older woman wear more young items or a teen dress older if THEY like them and feel comfortable in them, not because the garment itself is more “young/old” nor because someone told them to do so. Like whether an older people person wear a shorter hemline or not, if she is confident with her bodyshape and its appropriate for the occasion/season or a younger person feel most comfortable when she is more “cover up/Classic” why not? 😛
(and yikes, I def. cannot summarize my comments. Too opinionated! xD)
You are very young Lina – when you’re over 50 you’ll discover the answers for yourself! Classic doesn’t change as quickly in fashion, but the classic garments of the 1980s are nothing like the classics of today – and wearing them makes you look out of touch. When you feel that you may be made redundant when there are cutbacks, these things really matter.
I am in my mid 50s and find knowing what to wear very confusing. The older lady (of which I am) shops like Perri Cutten are depressing, Country Road too young, upmarket, trendy clothing such as as Husk looks ridiculous on a short, middle aged woman. Armani and Max Mara, whilst lovely are too expensive for me now I am retired. I wanted to buy an Ann Taylor moto jacket, but my sister said I was too old for such an item. I just purchased 3 Veronika Maine skirts that I thought looked great and fit well, now I am not so sure…that this brand is too young for my age. It is a very fine line between looking classic and simply looking frumpy. But how can you tell the difference?
Veronika Maine is great, also try David Lawrence, Jigsaw, Diana Ferrari. Mid 50s is not old! The only thing you want to avoid is showing too much skin at once and anything very short! Other than that, play and enjoy clothes.
Hard to see how you could go wrong with a skirt as skirts are ageless (except for midis, as Imogen says.)
In general, brands depend a bit on the size you need. The ones Imogen mentions are all good if you don’t need larger sizes. Of course some styles can fit any size and the current blousey tops are great and mean you can shop many brands successfully.
Howevery Trenery (big sister of Country Road) and Signature (luxe line of Sportscraft) cater for older ladies who are looking for more relaxed fits without going into Plus sizing, which doesn’t suit everyone, and a high standard of fabric and tailoring. Similarly COS, big sister of H&M, has a great range of stylish but not tight fits but I don’t know if it is available in Oz yet.
As Imogen says, you should have an open mind about almost all labels. If someone looks chic, I just ask them what label they are wearing and they never seem to mind but take it as a compliment.
Thanks to both Imogen and Michaela. Luckily, I am about a size 8 to 10 so generally don’t have a problem in that area – except my thighs are my problem area (being the largest part of my body). I recently went to H&M in Melbourne, but was disappointed by the very poor quality and faddish designs
I had a style and colour session a few years ago and it was the best and the worst thing….the best because now I buy my best colours I look good….the worst because some seasons my colours are not trending. I try to get Classic Natural items that express me so it doesn’t really matter if I can’t get anything for a season or three.
I remember reading that once we used to fit the dress to the body now we try to fit the body to the dress….so to save continued trauma I have deemed it necessary to dust off the sewing machine and get creative.
I have 10, 12, 14 and extra large in my cupboard but I have to get a size 20 to 22 pattern when I sew…..that is how much ‘they’ have adjusted the sizing to placate us. I have a size 12 dress pattern that I used when I was 18 and it is probably a 6 or 8 by todays standards.