Top Ten Things To Avoid So You Don’t Look Old

too skinnyIt seems like I’m constantly stumbling across references to “The New 50.” “50 is the new 40″ articles and posters crop up online and on Facebook seemingly by the minute, assuring us to whom it matters that we may be 50-something, but we can look 40-something. Not as easy as it sounds.

For many of us, our 50s are an age where we begin to struggle with issues that seem to have cropped up overnight. (I swear I gained 10 pounds the day I turned 50, and they’ve permanently parked themselves across my midsection with the tenacity of chewing gum in a toddler’s hair.) Suddenly phrases like “age-appropriate” filter into our clothes shopping, makeup we’ve worn forever now looks somehow wrong, and we’re wondering if we should grow our super-short hair into a more flattering length, but aren’t quite sure what that is.

Having been in the retail beauty business since the invention of lip gloss (I was teaching for Estee Lauder in Canada the year they introduced the first Clinique counter into the country. God, I’m officially older than dirt), I’ve learned that the best source of beauty advice is, not surprisingly, other women. Women are wonderfully willing to share insider secrets and tips, and I’ve yet to meet a beautiful woman who’s tired of being asked how exactly she got that way. I’ve collected dozens of tips over the years on how to age well, and what I’ve learned is that what you don’t do is as important as what you do. So I’m sharing my most-repeated advice from gorgeous women with you (because I’m generous that way).

Top 10 Things to Avoid to Not Look Old:

1. Mom jeans. High-waisted, tapered or cropped at the ankle, and made of heavy denim that adds the equivalent of a backwards fanny pack right where most of us need it the least. The belly. You don’t need to pay $175 for flattering jeans, but you do need to shop at stores whose names don’t end in “Mart.”

2. Bad bras. Ill-fitted, with not enough support for two Chiclets, much less gravity-assaulted beagle ears. By your 50s, it’s time to start buying bras that actually fit and that get ‘em up there. Keep the lacy, dental floss styles for the bedroom.

3. Overdone makeup. Heavy foundation falls into the cracks, red lipstick bleeds, and thick eyeliner starts looking a little “Elvira, Mistress of the Dark.” Lighten up. You’ll look years younger and your pillowcases won’t look like a four-color Rorschach test every morning.

4. Mall hair. If your bangs resemble a large cauliflower floret attached to the center of your forehead, it’s time to rethink your stylist. I’m not sure why hair schools teach that unfortunate cut, but they must, because it’s everywhere in rural America. Repeat after me. Bangs should not look like they sprouted from your forehead, independently of the rest of your hair.

5. Baggy, oversize clothes. If you could fit a hamhock up under your shirt, I guarantee you that you look heavier and older than your years. Baggy clothes don’t hide middle-age weight gain. They draw attention to it by suggesting you’re actually filling up all that space. Think maternity clothes. What woman ever looked thinner in anything called a “smock”? Find a style that flatters your shape, then buy every color they make.

6. Conversely, your daughter’s clothes. This is a epitome of “just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.” Yippee for you (and I mean that. Really, I do) that you’re 55 and still wear a size 2, but this does not give you free rein to root through your size-2, 17-year-old daughter’s closet for what to wear to your high school reunion. Trust me, everyone will know how tiny you still are, even without the midriff-baring top and the vagina-peeking skirt.

7. No sunscreen. Very few things turn our faces into the backside of a saddlebag faster than sun exposure. Wear a minimum of 15 SPF. Every. Single. Day. And don’t be saying, “Well, I use sunscreen in the summer.” Swell, except that 80% of premature aging comes from UVA rays. The year-round ones that cut through clouds and glass, that we’re exposed to when we go get the mail. In February. And for those of you still using tanning beds… STOP THAT.

8. Church Lady clothes. Skirts longer than your va-jay-jay doesn’t mean a drab A-line down to your mid-calf, and less cleavage doesn’t mean buttoned up to your upper clavicle with a white Peter Pan collar and matching self-belt. If Laura Ingalls Wilder wore it to church on Little House, youshouldn’t be wearing it, ever. There are lots of choices out there that celebrate our shapes and sexuality (gasp!) without shoving it all up people’s business. If you’re not sure, grab a well-dressed girlfriend to go shopping with you and agree to try on every single thing she brings you. You’ll both have a ball.

9. Too thin. I added this one because I love you. Yep, too thin can be aging. The body and face need a little padding to soften lines and smooth the skin, making us look healthier and (there is a God) younger. After raising six kids, my mother mastered the art of brevity in life lessons and told her girls, “At a certain age, a woman has to choose between her face and her ass.” Bless you, Mom. So have a piece of cheesecake. And a glass of wine. Your face will thank you.

10. Woman on Top. Then there’s my Grammy, whose pithy wisdom I still miss every day. Years ago, she instructed me to grab a large mirror and lay it on the floor, then kneel over it on all fours. Look down. That’s what your partner sees when you’re on top. (Go ahead and try it. We’ll wait.) If your face skin falls forward like a TV ad for the Life Style Lift, or your boobs dangle like two sock puppets on a clothes line and your belly drops low enough to sway to the beat, it’s time to get underneath or consider dimming the lights. Hubs and I have been doing it in the dark since I was in my 40s. He blames it on childhood nightmares. He has no idea.

(Author’s disclaimer: I don’t follow all of these rules, so don’t take lessons from me. Most of the time, I’m an insecure mess who does as much wrong as right. But fortunately, I have a lot of beautiful friends.)

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  37 comments for “Top Ten Things To Avoid So You Don’t Look Old

  1. September 17, 2013 at 6:43 am

    No on top? You are a riot. And yep. It’s true about being too thin and your face. Even Iman said either your ass or face have to go.

    • JULY
      September 18, 2013 at 5:59 pm

      My 23 year old daughter told me once, Momma, I am not going to be skinny when I get old…I replied, and what brought this on? She said, skinny old women are just ugly! Thank God she wasn’t talking about me! LOL! Great article BTW.

    • December 4, 2015 at 6:33 pm

      Oh! Oh! (raises hand, classroom-style). Kathleen Turner said that years ago and it’s stayed in my mind ever since. Granted, I think I got a little carried away on the size of my backside, but still … lol

  2. Sharon Metcalf
    September 17, 2013 at 6:53 am

    Great Read, Made Me Laugh And It’s All So True!

  3. paisley
    September 18, 2013 at 5:20 pm

    Loved it! Sunscreen contains chemicals but carrot oil has a high SPF and coconut oil is a 4 ;D

  4. Cheryl Nicholl
    September 18, 2013 at 6:25 pm

    Sooooo true. I once was prescribed Celebrx (for bad knee) and after only 1 pill I swelled up like a hippo. However, 24 hours later, when most of the reaction had worn off- I looked 10 years younger with just a tad of the swelling left. Guess the wine will have to do it. Yippie!!!!

    • Gillian
      May 10, 2015 at 1:22 am

      its the red wine. Take it from a hot 55 year old. I swear its why my 92 year old Mum is still chic, plus alive! Sorry brother & sister, your inheritance is on hold!

  5. lauree
    September 19, 2013 at 2:45 am

    rolling. on. the. floor. laughing.

  6. September 19, 2013 at 8:57 am

    I am TERRIFIED to try #10! And thank you for admitting the rules are made to be broken sometimes; I can get a little legalistic with my life and need to know to lighten up.

  7. Annette
    September 19, 2013 at 1:12 pm

    Number 10 – If he wears glasses take them off, dim the lights (way low if you have to, or turn them off), and have fun.

  8. September 23, 2013 at 10:34 pm

    LOVE this! Still laughing after a few reads…and yes, it’s the ass or the face…after an unintentional weight loss even my dermatologist mentioned that I could stand to add a few pounds…God bless her…and whole milk lattes!

  9. June 29, 2014 at 11:36 pm

    I am a mom of many {12, 9 adopted from all over the world} and I rarely get time to read blogs….but was delighted to come across yours today as I am in bed sick! Thank you for giggles! Laughter is truly the best medicine!

    By the way, I love, love, love your hair!!

    I let mine go natural, after 20+ years of coloring, and now call it “silver” – so much nicer than dowdy sounding ‘gray’ and refer to it as “my head bling” – which makes me smile since I am so-not-a-bling gal!

  10. sandy
    April 17, 2015 at 5:57 am

    So funny so true great read

  11. Bageane
    August 3, 2015 at 3:31 pm

    So…I got it….the’s never to late to dress like a slut…just a toned down slut……..nice…….nice world this has become ( gasp!)

  12. November 1, 2015 at 8:05 am

    I had the same feeling when I turned 50, like I suddenly gained so much weight. I realized being over 50 means taking more care of your body. Your hair, nails, hands, all need more maintenance. I also agree, too much make-up will make you look Halloween-scary.

  13. Jenny
    December 20, 2015 at 1:24 pm

    Interesting to say the least . I have five children all grown and am 52. Never dyed my hair( still Auburn not grey at all) had loads of stress over the years and not much money nor even a holiday but apparently I am glamouress and chic! ( others view not mine) never been on a diet size twelve. I can only say you ladies have been wasting a fortune on useless products and hair dye( which destroys your hair)

  14. AussieGina
    January 9, 2016 at 4:48 pm

    Found this and it cracked me up. I don’t feel to bad about chucking on the extra Christmas kilos now. My face does indeed look younger, but my arse is having issues with my favourite pair of jeans. Time for a new pair. Ha ha!

  15. January 9, 2016 at 7:26 pm

    For me anything “too much” is simply too much. I always felt older whenever I had too much make up, wore too much hairspray etc. I just think it’s one of the key components for looking and feeling old. That’s how we all got fake IDs,right? 🙂

  16. February 4, 2016 at 7:53 am

    I agree with those tips and advice, just because you have a certain jeans size, doesn’t necessarily mean they will look good on you. I have experienced this myself. Over-the-waist jeans are definitely a no go pair!

  17. February 23, 2016 at 2:23 pm

    Such a funny read. Love it. Skinny and old just don’t mesh.

    • savannah
      March 4, 2016 at 11:07 am

      I really hate when 60+ women are dressing in teen clothes. Teen years are about being outrageous and funky and so they look rather adorable. But in the grandma phase, GET over trying to relive your teens it just looks STUPID and embarrassing. You don’t have to be matronly but c’mon…

  18. Stuffyd
    February 24, 2016 at 3:46 pm

    Umm, scuse me,but high waist jeans are in high style right now… The key is having a waistline you want to highlight…hiit cardio, anyone? 50+ yr olds have to keep it moving, it’s the key to health and good looks, it’s the only thing that really works

  19. Anna L
    February 25, 2016 at 8:58 pm

    Great tips! I had been trying red lipstick of late, thinking it would be glamorous – but alas, I ended up looking like I was going out for a late night “feed”. Guess I should ditch the black liner, too. Come to think of it, I break all these rules! And I just thought I had “invisible woman syndrome”. Thank you for these tips! Now….where to shop?

    • March 25, 2016 at 8:18 pm

      I had no idea what had changed about my face. It just didn’t look the same anymore and I was not happy with my makeup. It was the black eyeliner! I’ve been wearing since high school, really cant live without it lol.. The black all of the sudden seemed too harsh. I ditched it for a smokey dark brown and it made all the difference. I love it!

  20. Debbie Dey
    May 3, 2016 at 9:17 am

    Sorry, Ladies – I refuse to give up my long, blonde hair and eye-defining black eyeliner. What I have done, however, is trade-out my blue eyeshadow for brown tones, use a khaki liner on the lower lid (with a lot of blending – no raccoon eyes here), and change out my bright, red lipstick for a more mature wine color. The best, brutally honest advice comes from my 24-year-old daughter – if she says it’s ok to wear, I’m sure I’m good to go. 🙂

  21. dan
    May 3, 2016 at 11:41 am

    I think being to thin is the worst thing a woman can do as she ages. I mean, it’s ok to be thin, but sometimes you see these women and they are just skin and bones. That doesn’t look healthy.

  22. Mary
    May 7, 2016 at 2:19 pm

    Try as I might I just cannot put weight on! I agree with the ladies who say abound red lipstick an black eyeliner. I tried it and wouldn’t have looked out of place at Halloween fancy dress party! My problem is IF I do put on a few pounds it goes straight into my tummy and nowhere else! I’ve no ass that went a long time ago! So now find myself struggling to find clothes to suit my age (whatever they a are). I just don’t know how I should dress now. I’ve the skinniest legs you’ve ever seen to boot! If anyone has any suggestions I’d appreciate it! Please help!

    • May 20, 2016 at 3:25 pm

      Advocadoes! Healthy and if eaten in excess WILL add pounds to your legs, butt etc. I have to keep the kilos on due to lots of previous illness and advocadoes are my saviour when I get ill and shed kilos daily. Hope they work for you too. X

    • Brenda Miller
      June 15, 2016 at 1:43 am

      You can get a butt implant, fat injections. Makes you look like you have a shape. 🙂

  23. Julie K.
    May 18, 2016 at 10:28 pm

    My hubby of 35 years is sitting beside me as I read/type. Very tempted to ask him how I look “on top”. Betting he would say, with a bit of a sexy growl, “So great…..can I see it again tonight?”!! As my own worse critic, I had noticed my belly “sagging” a bit — he has never said a word!

    Thanks for the laugh (and tip about not getting too thin!).

    I also enjoyed the comments — lovely group of ladies here!


  24. Kara
    May 22, 2016 at 7:02 pm

    Why are people assuming being too thin is always a choice? I know I’m too thin but I don’t want to be. My problem is, I’ve almost completely lost my appetite. I want to eat, but I always feel like I just ate. I did finally gain ten pounds by last December, but I lost it again because I went back to my usual eating habits. The effort to gain the weight was very difficult. It doesn’t help that so many foods bother my gastrointestinal system that I’ve lost interest. But then again, I’ve lost interest in everything. After reading this article, I feel even worse.

    • Lisa
      June 16, 2016 at 12:36 pm

      Omg, this is not funny at all! It only serves to make women feel like shit about themselves.

      • OlderWIser
        June 19, 2016 at 6:05 pm

        Totally agree.

        First the suggestion is to do something about dressing to cover your fat – then it is slamming the leaner sisterhood and denouncing them as ugly. That is absolutely unkind.

        I run road races and very lean – I would rather be able to run and be in physical condition than be ugly inside and making fun of other’s looks.

        If you don’t like the way you look that is one thing – trashing others is an exercise in ugliness

  25. Kim
    July 9, 2016 at 5:59 pm

    What a wonderful read I laughed out loud!!! It’s fun to read these comments and no I am not alone. Getting older isn’t easy but darn it I going to enjoy every minute with a martini in my hand. “Thats to keep the face fuller of course.”.

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