Dressing Stylishly In Middle

By on Sunday, 15th August 2010 875 views

Turning 40, 50, and 60 isn’t about getting older, but getting better, according to author Christine Schwab.

Her book, “The Grown-Up Girl’s Guide to Style: A Maintenance Bible for Fashion, Beauty, and More” dispenses her modern outlook on aging, along with beauty and fashion tips to help you look your best.

She visited The Early Show Monday to talk about it.

Schwab says dressing as you get older doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice style. On the other hand, that doesn’t mean you should dress like a teenager, either!

As Schwab sees it, aging gracefully is really about embracing who you are, loving what you have, and downplaying what you don’t love about your body.

She says it’s important not to waste your time and energy on outfits and accessories that don’t highlight the best of you. For instance, don’t wear things that are inexpensive, because investment pieces last a long time and help you look refined. You get many more uses out investment pieces.

Style, Schwab observes, doesn’t mean “trendy.” It really means having good taste. And if you’re not born with “style,” you can certainly learn it along the way.

As women get older, their tastes are more “settled,” Schwab points out, but fashion trends can and do tempt us ? and this is where you need to restrain yourself. Don’t go overboard. Figure out how to make trends work for you. Women over 40 need to look at trends in a different manner. You can’t wear them head-to-toe; you don’t want to look like you’re wearing a uniform.

There are a number of options this season in styles of pants, dresses, and skirts, and you will certainly find something for your body type, Schwab notes.

Adapt the trends to your personal style, she advises. With each decade, use a little less of a trend. Remember: Magazines want to please their advertisers, so they tell you everything is great. Designers want to sell, as do stores. They’re more interested in making the sale than in how you look.


From the 60’s: bold prints, graphic prints, op-art waves, and stripes. Mixing different sizes in dots and stripes.
From the 80’s: bandage minis, florescent elastic dresses, metal and mesh, shift dresses. Color blocked fabrics (updated patchwork).
This is a tricky one. Metal and mesh are out unless used in accessories or very small touches. The golden rule “if you wore it the first time around, don’t wear it the second” is a little outdated. You can still wear bold, graphic prints but my question is where do you put them? By your face they take away from you. On your hips they make them look wider. Do you really want this in your shoes? If you love them how about a scarf, a vest a handbag, an armful of bracelets.
And mixing patterns is always fun and can be quite sophisticated if you keep the patterns small. Too big and they begin to look like clown suits.

Back to the future, A line dresses, metal & chains, star wars looks, plastics, jerseys. Graphic prints.
Leave this one to the twenty-something’s and the thirty-something’s that are adventurous.

Cotton and jersey layers. Tanks under Tee’s, Tee’s under blouses, Tees over tees (mix fabrics and textures), slim pants under skirts or dresses but all in lightweight fabrics. Skirts over tulle slips
This trend seems made for the grown-up girl. Layering is fun. You can mix colors and textures. And all those sleeveless tops and dresses can now work for you in a new, trendy way with a tissue Tee underneath. The secret is you must use natural fabrics. Cottons breath, synthetics stifle.

Not the predictable red, white and blue, but a subtler nod to things nautical. .
Nautical always denotes spring/summer and this is an easy and lovely trend year after year. A classic trend. Don’t go for a nautical outfit unless you live or work on a boat. A jacket with epaulettes and brass buttons OR a blue and white stripe Tee, a woven belt with a brass buckle. One or two items. Any more and you are over done.

Swingy, geometric dresses & skirts, little girl silhouettes, jackets and coats that flare out from the bust, stovepipe pants, bare legs with sandals.
The best use of this for the grown-up girl is in a lightweight coat or jacket. The secret is to pair it with something slim so you don’t look like a tent. This shape can hide figure issues if used correctly with slim pieces. Used with full pieces and it adds bulk. Only the very slim can use this trend in skirts.

Match metallics with subdued neutrals. The glitzier the metallic item the more subtle what you pair with it. Silver with white or gray. Gold with army green or khaki. Evening or day.
Everyone loves a little sparkle and shine and that is the secret?..a little. Mix your metallic with casual fabrics and items for day. A dress out of metallic fabric unless it’s in black is too much of this trend for the over 40 woman. Don’t match shoes, bags and belts, pick one. The sophistication of this trend comes from the other interesting fabrics you mix it with.

Return of the suit with unexpected tops underneath, wide waist cincher belts, loose and lean or fitted. Vests worn under suits in lieu of a blouse or top. Belts with watch fob chains.
I personally love this look and have adapted menswear items in my wardrobe for years. This season it’s not about the tie; it’s about the vest in small print menswear fabrics. The mix is in putting that with a ruffle blouse, a pair of trouser pants, a swing skirt. The mix of masculine/feminine.

Hollywood’s golden age.
40’s influence, Betty Gable, high waisted, boxier-cuffed trouser pants and shorts, menswear inspired blazers with shorts. Retro, satin bedroom pieces for day, dolman sleeves, turbans.
I find these trousers to be very forgiving and flattering IF you wear the right undergarments so you don’t have that dreaded panty line. And you buy they so they fit loose enough not to hug the body. They are meant to fall straight from the hips. Bedroom pieces must be mixed with daytime pieces so you don’t look like you just got out of bed. A silky top over cotton pants or skirt. A satin skirt with layered Tee’s.

Florals, petals, tulle used in skirts, oversized flowers at waist, ankle straps on shoes, shoulder or wrist. Roses and peonies. Eyelet, ruffles. Baggier-fuller trouser (wide-leg).
Romantic is a very flattering trend to the grown up girl. Soft ruffles by the face or hands are a lovely way to frame. Flowers are always romantic but try to keep too many petals away from your face where they take the focus off of you. The smaller the print the more flattering by the face and on the body. The tip is not to many flowers nor ruffles. We want to enhance, not over power.

Body conscious pieces. Track pants, hoodies, shirtdresses, tunics with leggings, ballerina looks, active sportswear that doesn’t look like a team outfit. Layered dresses over athletic pieces. Ballet class cardigans.
What female doesn’t love touches of a ballerina? That soft, delicate pink color is flattering to everyone, especially when worn by the face. And active sportswear has become a staple in almost every woman’s wardrobe. The secret is to keep your outfits looking great. No baggy, tired sweatpants, no oversized, sloppy hoodies. The new track pants that fall straight from the hip are more flattering than many sweat pants and fresher looking. Don’t go for an “outfit”. Pair your track pants with a short cotton or canvas jacket. Layer your hoodies under jackets. Mixing them is the key to style. And leave your favorite sports logo items for the games, either in the stadiums or in front of the TV’s. We don’t need to advertise anything other than ourselves when we dress.


Baby dolls, kimonos sleeves, and shirtdresses, wrap dresses, jersey. Fairy-princess dresses. Wispy fabrics. Brights, faded pastels, bold or feminine prints.
Baby dolls should be left for babies?.or at least under 40year olds. And while the baby doll dresses worn over jeans look “cute” on the models, they look bulky on most everyone else unless they are model size and age. They simply look like you are trying to hard to look “young”. Wrap dresses, or as I call them “gap” dresses because it’s so hard to sit and move in them without revealing all. But now with the great cotton leggings all of this has changed. And the shirtwaist dresses work both as a dress and as a layered coat alternative worn over Tee’s and pants. Think ultra light trench coat!

Puff sleeves, girly (the more ruffles and flounces the less color) graphic prints, kimono, and longer hemlines peaking out of shorter jackets, tunics.
You can have so much fun with blouses and shirts. I love the longer ones that peek out of a jacket, especially if it’s a pleated or ruffled hemline that does the peeking. And the crisp white shirt, cuffs rolled up just works for every grown up girl?thus it’s on the cover of my book. Foolproof dressing.

Maximum volume (poufs) to short minis, everything goes. Fuller skirts that look blown up-puffy. Layered tier skirts. Swing skirts that are belted. Pair flirty skirts with tailored tops/jackets.

It just feels good and fresh to wear skirts. The key is the length. With all the short,mini skirts being featured everyone is telling us this is what we should wear. ONLY if you have the legs to wear them! And then at some point you have to give them up. They just look too young, too trendy, too inappropriate. A good way to wear short skirts if you have the legs is with cotton Capri leggings under them. A little more coverage, the same style value. Best length is mid-calf, or just below the knee. Can’t find enough? Buy long skirts and have them shortened.

Short waisted retro jackets, three-quarter trenches, swing,
Hi-tech fabric and trim jackets. Tailored, cropped, flouncy, sporty or boxed.
For spring buy the cotton, canvas, linen jackets. Some of the hi-tech fabric jackets look great but be aware that they are warmer, especially when layering.

Unskinny is the newest. Menswear inspired trousers-slightly slouchy. High waist. Skinny pants under dresses and tunics.
Really, everything goes. You can still go skinny, looser fit or full trousers. It’s a great time to buy pants, buy for your figure, not for what’s in. Capri or cropped pants are the grown-up girl’s alternative to shorts.

Fringed trims on bags, shoes, belts.
Vests-menswear fabrics, styles and colors.
Metallic clutches
Oversized bags
Bolder, chunkier jewelry
Large, layered cuffs.
Transparent lucite on shoes, totes, necklaces, bracelets and eyewear.
Head pieces: patterned scarves, turbans, fabric flowers, and bow tied scarves. Layered headbands.
Bolder fishnets with short dresses.

Belts: wide waist cinchers (over coats, sweaters, inside of jackets) for an hourglass silhouette.
Shoes; wedges, stiletto heels, flatter than flat flats, sandals in heels and flats, flip flops dressed up, roman lace up shoes and sandals. Heels of wood, Lucite, metals, woven straws, cork and fabrics. Color, decorations, prints enhance everything from flip-flops to heels.

Sunglasses with attitude: from bold and oversized to retro
Techie colorful watches.
Bows and Ties on shoes, bags, belts, in the hair.

To read an excerpt of “The Grown-Up Girl’s Guide to Style,” click here.

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