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mom jeansYou’ve probably seen those spreads in fashion magazines advising you how to wear this season’s new colors and fashions if you are 30, 40, 50, 60 and older. Uh huh…riiight.

This is one of my pet peeves: you just can’t lump everyone in a generational pool.

It’s not that there isn’t value in dressing appropriately for one’s age. I totally get that.  But to think that certain color families and silhouettes speak more to certain age demographics is to completely ignore the differences in our coloring and personal style.

The scale, cut, and color of an article of clothing should always be what determines if something works for you or not. In the photo here you’ll see that jeans work for women of almost any age (no comment on these specific jeans, however.)

So, in a nutshell, don’t let anyone tell you what you should or shouldn’t wear. But if you need some help figuring out what’s flattering for your body now, that’s another subject. In that case, here are a few common sense guidelines:

1) The younger you are the more skin you can bare; more mature women benefit by creating a little mystery and covering up whatever keeps them guessing. The one area that stays pretty safe for exposure is the shoulder area.

2) If your legs look great well into your 50s, 60s, or even 70s, why not show them off? Just don’t go too short with your skirts. If you’re not thrilled with the texture of your skin, the shape of your knees, or your roadmap veins, that’s what colored stockings and tights were designed for. (Well, maybe not designed for us, actually, but they work.)

3) Ditto for arms – show off your toned arms, but if you’re not crazy about what my friend’s trainer called her “kimono” arms (a gentle way of addressing the flab where her triceps should be) avoid sleeveless tops. Besides, ¾ length sleeves are universally flattering anyway – the one general rule that works for all older women.

4) Shoes: everyone’s source of joy – or suffering. The heel height of your shoes should be determined ONLY by the following: are they comfortable, can you walk safely in them without toppling, and do they enhance your overall look? That pretty much covers all the bases from sneakers to stilettos.

So, when you see something in a magazine that calls out to you, run it past these guidelines, and then ask yourself if it will go with anything else that’s already in your closet. If it does, that’s an indication that it suits your coloring and personal style. If it doesn’t, forget it. You’re likely just being lured by marketing hype.

And if you want help figuring out your unique color palette and individual personal style, you’ll find a multitude of detailed information in my book Shopping for the Real You.

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