Age-Appropriate Fashion

Hi Annabel, 

My question is about style and shopping resources. I’ve always loved fashion but I am a dismal shopper these days. How does one dress when one is 63 and not quite ready for thegwyneth-paltrow-stella-mccartney-book-signing-h724 rocking chair but doesn’t want to look like she is age-inappropriate?

Thank you, 
L in FL

Dear L,

What a timely question. I recently read a piece by the L.A. Times fashion critic Booth Moore about Gwyneth Paltrow, age 40, who wore black Lycra hot pants to a book signing in Beverly Hills. Ms. Moore asked readers whether it’s time to re-write the rules of age-appropriate fashion. As I responded via Twitter: Technically Gwyneth can pull of those hot pants, but as a fashionista, she’s better than that.

Getting older doesn’t mean succumbing to a lifetime of low heels, frumpy tunics, and St. John suits. On the contrary, it’s a time to invest in fine fabrics and fabulous pieces you’ll love for years to come. By now you know what complements your figure and your lifestyle. I think it’s possible to play to your strengths while staying innovative and au courant.

As for how much is too much, I offer women over 60 the same advice I’d give women under 30. Make judicious choices. Wear the short skirt OR the racy neckline. Not both. If you have beautiful arms or lovely legs, showcase them in a way that makes you feel confident and divine.

The factors that determine what works and what doesn’t are specific to the wearer and highly subjective. Take, for example, 40-something Jennifer Aniston, who looks unsurehelen-mirren-boband uncomfortable wearing a Dior playsuit on a recent red carpet. Meanwhile, Helen Mirren (23 years her senior) can still wear a bikini with the best of them.

For style inspiration, I suggest subscribing to emails from the online retailer Net-a-Porter. You’ll get a regular peek at what’s new and fresh, all presented like a magazine spread you can shop. Imagine buying an entire season’s worth of glorious new things while wearing your silk pajamas! You can try on everything at home and send back whatever fails to delight.

Here are a few ideas to ignite your next shopping trip, virtual or otherwise:

1. A too-die-for evening dress by Alexander McQueen.

2. A Jimmy Choo clutch your daughters will beg to borrow.

3. A chic, monochromatic outfit from Gucci.

4. Fabulously utilitarian summer shorts by Marni. (Side note: The sandals shown with this outfit are not recommended for anyone of any age.)

Hope you find some truly fantastic things!

Graciously yours,

ANNABEL MANNERS

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