I love — love! — receiving emails from my Magpie tribe, and I respond to each and every one of them as quickly as I can. The other day, I received a kind email from one of my Magpies that read as follows:
“You write about your mother with such affection and she obviously has been a great influence on your sense of style. If you are looking for ideas, could you possibly consider writing a blog post about fashion (and/or beauty ) for women in their 50s and up? I believe we are an untapped market of people who want to look classic and current. We are willing to spend some money for timeless pieces but also enjoy a good sale!”
It reminded me that my mother routinely emails me links from my posts to ask whether such-and-such product looks “too young” for her. She especially loved one floral chiffon dress I featured over the summer, but decided it was just “junior” for her.
Today, I thought I’d share some thoughts on stylish picks for women in the golden years of their life. I’ll state that, to begin with, I think women over 50 have several advantages over us young and inexperienced folk when it comes to dressing ourselves:
- Older women can pull off bright colors much more easily. (See below for insanely chic examples.) Sometimes a bright red looks a little…kindergarten? on me, but my mom looks sophisticated in it. Let’s just say that a red twinset on me reads “first grader at a piano recital” whereas a red twinset on my mother reads “possibly the wife of an ambassador…maybe related to a Kennedy?”
- Older women can wear costume jewelry to greater effect. There’s something about a woman with salt and pepper hair that always has me second guessing whether it’s real or not. “Could that oversized pearl ring be REAL?” I gasp. “No…no way. But maybe. Yes. Wait a minute, is that Van Cleef and Arpels? It can’t be. It’s the size of a gumball! No…it might be.” By contrast, a twenty-something in a statement necklace will always look like she’s just made a nice score a TopShop or BaubleBar. Nothing against those brands (I wear them often), but costume jewelry just looks more expensive on an older lady.
- Older women can pull off monochromatic styles with a lot more panache than us younguns. Sure, I’ve seen street style starlets at the tender age of 25 wear an all-cream ensemble (I’m looking at you, Miroslava Duma), but, as a general rule, there’s something far more sophisticated about the look on a lady over 50 — it reads “put together” rather than “matchy mcmatcherson.” (Cf: photo at the top of this post. I mean GOD DAMN that woman is chic.)
- Older women can also wear leopard print and it somehow looks expensive and appropriate. On the younger set, leopard can look gaudy if not framed carefully.
One great source for fashion inspiration for women of a certain age is Ari Seth Cohen’s fabulous street style blog, Advanced Style, which is devoted to “capturing the sartorial savvy of the senior set.” All of the pictures in this post are from his blog. I met Ari through my sister-in-law, with whom he is very dear friends, and have been hooked ever since. His work is proof that great style is not the province of the young — in fact, many of the women and men he features are far more adventurous and loud in their sartorial decision-making than many younger than they.
I’d do well to even remotely resemble the chic peas above EVER IN MY LIFE, let alone when I reach my 50s. Below, a few picks for I’d dog-eared when imagining dressing myself when I’m over 50:
Look No. 1: All Red Everything
I love the unique cut/shape of this blouse ($80) paired with some tone-on-tone red cigarette pants from Roland Mouret ($720 — get the look for less with these). Finish with the Aquazzura pom kittens ($650)
Or, pretty much anything by Emilia Wickstead is…to die for. Uber sophisticated. This dress is everything, especially with these oversized floral earrings ($100, the same as the ones the lady is wearing in the first snap above!?) and these Manolos ($865).
And either of these looks with this Gucci scarf = $$$$$$$$$$$$. (#MONEY)
Look No. 2: The Retired Ballerina Vibe
I like the idea of an all-black silhouette with a nipped-in waist and a full skirt. The look below screams: “I used to dance for The Bolshoi Ballet.” Pair this ribbed J. Crew bodysuit (on sale for $39 — love the button detailing at the cuff; if you’re not into the bodysuit, check out these sweaters, in a range of colors) with this silk organza midi skirt ($395). Important note: the skirt is unlined, so be sure to snag a slip to sport beneath. Finish with these incroyable Ganni slingbacks ($235).
Or, simplify things and sport this silken, flattering jumpsuit (on sale for $224).
Look No. 3: Age Spots (Not What You Think)
As noted above, I’ve noticed that women over 50 can really pull off leopard print. Below, a few pieces worth considering: Adam Lippes leopard dress ($1,090) with these incredible black suede booties ($138). P.S. — If you think you can’t pull off booties on a bare leg, check out the hottie mctottie above in the hot pink midi number. I really need these booties in my life. (You can get the look for less with these.)
Look No. 4: Le Casual
OK, I’ll admit it: this may be what I’m planning on wearing all weekend long, but I also think it’d be chic on a woman of any age!: a chic cape ($118) with J. Brands ($178) and my Tod’s ($425) and UGHHHH I WANT THIS BAG ($2,300).
Miscellaneous Other Picks…
+This Adrienne Landau faux-fur leopard stole. P.S. — I’ve had GREAT luck with buying gently used or never used pieces from Real Real. So much more trustworthy than eBay (everything is inspected/vetted for authenticity!) and it’s one surefire way to track down looks/pieces that have long since sold out. I bought a pair of Chanel espadrilles from them when they’d sold out at every other Chanel boutique on the planet and have positively lived in them for the last four summers!
+A very loud flat that an over-50 could pull of with jeans and a navy sweater or crisp white button-down with great panache…
+The cheery tangerine hue of this dress reminds me of that happy orange top the lady in the street style snap above is sporting, to great effect…
+Dying over these. DYING.