Paging Tootsie: Below-the-knee skirts, bow blouses, and pearls may be forever coming back into vogue, but that doesn’t mean you should put them all together. “When you wear pieces exactly like they were worn the first time around, it’s as if you’ve been stuck in a look,” says Lloyd Boston, a stylist in New York City and Los Angeles and the author of The Style Checklist ($23, amazon.com).
The more youthful approach: “The classics can be refreshed when you style them differently,” says Boston. Pair that secretary blouse with jeans, tuck a long-sleeve tee into a calf-length skirt and add a cashmere scarf, or layer pearls with a mix of chains in different lengths.
What’s Aging You: Boring-Belt Syndrome
You know the one: that leather workhorse with a nondescript buckle that’s not too wide and not too thin. Remember: A belt should be an accent, not serve a function. If you need one to hold up your pants, it’s time to visit the tailor, says Lauren A. Rothman, the founder of the Washington, D.C.–based fashion-consulting firm Styleauteur.com.
The more youthful approach: Stock up on a kaleidoscope of thick and skinny belts to liven up the outfits in your closet. Trousers or dark jeans work well with a thin belt in a contrasting color. Wide belts are great for cinching dresses, jackets, and cardigans; if they’re dark-colored, they can even make your waist look smaller. If you can invest in only one, opt for a slim belt in a shimmery metallic, brown leather, or an animal print, so it goes with everything.
What’s Aging You: Silk-Scarf Misstep
Whether or not you like your neck, tying a silk scarf stewardess-style or draping it over one shoulder is an instant-ager—even if the thing cost as much as your iPad. “The silk scarf can be a fashion fossil,” says Rothman.
The more youthful approach: “The coolest scarves are made of an ethereal, lightweight knit, are long enough to be wrapped around several times, and come in unexpected colors and prints,” says Boston. Florals and geometrics tend to look most current, but “paisley, equestrian, and sailor themes can add years,” says Boston. However, you don’t have to ditch all your silk squares. What’s most important is how you wear them. You can roll the scarf up and use it as a headband or tie it to the handle of a purse. Or try it “backwards,” in place of a necklace: Fold a large square scarf into a triangle. Tie the ends around the back of your neck with the “tail” positioned in the front—picture John Wayne—leaving several inches of drop space around your neckline for the fabric to drape. (Watch this video for the easy how-tos.)