What’s Aging You: Playing It Too Safe
Tan pants, a cream shirt, brown shoes and you’re out the door, right? Yawn. There’s a fine line between creating a signature classic look and getting stuck in the fuddy-duddy zone.
The more youthful approach: That same neutral palette can ooze style if you choose pieces with interesting details and shapes instead of cookie-cutter basics. Alternatively, stick with a simple outfit but inject a dose of fun with a boldly colored jacket or metallic flats. “Take chances—style begins where the rules end,” says Boston.
What’s Aging You: Overly Sensible Shoes
Granted, no one enjoys suffering through stilettos, but footwear with thick rubber soles or wide, squarish toe boxes can frumpify even the chicest of ensembles.
The more youthful approach: Keep feet happy with wedges (which balance weight along the entire foot), pumps with comfort features (Cole Haan and Kenneth Cole offer these), or flats with built-in arches and sturdy construction. (To test the comfort level of flats, hold the toe and heel areas and try to twist the shoe. If the sole twists halfway around, it most likely won’t give you the support that you need.) And when opting for a pointy-toed style, “make sure to go half a size larger for more toe room,” recommends Rothman.
What’s Aging You: Underperforming Undies
Visible panty lines make for a lumpy rear, and an unsupportive bra can drag you down. A dead giveaway that yours isn’t holding up: The band rides up in the back above your shoulder blades, so your breasts drop in front.
The more youthful approach: First, get a better bra. Before you try one on, check the profile of the cups—they should slant upward, not downward like teardrops. In the dressing room, make sure the band sits level from front to back and fits snugly (meaning you should be able to comfortably slide only one finger underneath it). As for those pesky panty lines, banish them by selecting a bottom with laser-cut edges. For more heavy-duty smoothing, try shapewear: “It helps you feel more in control and makes clothing fit better,” says Charla Krupp, the author of How Not to Look Old ($16, amazon.com). Find a body shaper that doesn’t create a muffin top or an unsightly bulge where the garment ends. Krupp’s pick: high-waisted bike shorts.
What’s Aging You: Clinging to Past Trends
It’s natural to feel an affinity for onetime fashion favorites, like twinsets, nude hose, and mock turtlenecks. “When women hang on to what they perceive as a winning look, they get caught wearing something that’s expired,” says Boston.
The more youthful approach: Alas, some items need to be sent to the big fashion heaven in the sky. The mock turtleneck has given way to the regular turtleneck; mules have been swapped for flats. And since nude nylons make even the dewy-faced Duchess of Cambridge (née Kate Middleton) look mumsy, stick with opaque or textured tights or bare legs (use self-tanner on pasty gams). You can salvage the twinset by wearing each piece separately.