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9 Fashion Mistakes That Make You Look Older

9 Fashion Mistakes That Make You Look Older

When I turned 40, I stopped wanting to look older than I was. I’d wanted to look sophisticated and elegant which I thought meant looking older. As the saying goes, “be careful what you wish for” because…fast forward to now, and I no longer want to look younger. I want to look the best I can for my age.

Dressing to feel youthful is a powerful tonic to banish the blues and remain visible, but there are pitfalls to avoid. No one wants to look like mutton dressed as lamb but there are other clothes that can make us look older than we are.

Here are a few things to be aware of:

Too many pastels

Our skin tone fades as we get older so wearing softer shades can be more flattering. But you should know that wearing too many pastels can make us look older. If you want to wear to light colors from head to toe, opt for pale neutrals like nude, ivory, light gray, or beige. Baby blue with soft pink is a classic combo but hard to pull off over a certain age. If you love pastels near your face, anchor it with a stronger color on the bottom. Baby blue looks great with navy and black or brown and charcoal. Ditto for soft pink, butter yellow, pale peach.

Too Much Black

Head to toe black is always chic, stylish and easy to coordinate. It makes packing a breeze and enables you to have a smaller wardrobe. It can also leach the life out of your complexion which makes you look older. Since black is such a huge part of many women’s wardrobes, here are a few tips to make it more flattering.

  • wear a flattering colored scarf near your face
  • wear a v or deep scoop neckline so the black isn’t too close to your face
  • bump up your makeup to balance the black (think brighter lipstick and more eyeshadow)
  • wear colorful earrings and/or necklace in colors that do flatter you
  • wear black from the waist down and flattering colors on top

Baggy everything

Many brands aesthetic is oversized and loose, think Eileen Fisher, some J.Jill collections. It’s a popular look that’s very comfy but tricky to get right. Choose pieces that are loose but not overwhelming. Only wear oversized on one half of your body at a time. Voluminous tunics paired with oversized pants make you look like you’re trying to hide something. Opt for slim-fitting bottoms with an oversized top. Or a slim fitting top with oversize pants. Some part of your body silhouette needs to show or you risk looking larger and older than you are.

Out of date eyeglasses

If your eyeglasses are dated, you look older. Check out how to choose the best frames for your face here. Frame shapes change slowly but if you haven’t updated yours in several years, they may be aging you. On the subject of glasses, very few frameless ones don’t make you look older. Frames actually help cover undereye wrinkles and camouflage dark circles. Choose a modern frame that makes a fun statement.

Wearing out of date trends

Herein lies the problem with trends. They change rapidly so if you’re wearing outdated trends you look out of touch and older. Better to invest in styles that nod to a trend that will always flatter your style. Outdated trends make you look outdated so beware or wear ones that are perennial favorites like polka dots, stripes, riding boots, animal print etc.

Wearing the wrong bra

The wrong bra can leave your clothes looking lumpy and your breasts sagging. Get a professional bra fitting and ensure it’s perking things up so your clothes hang properly. Bra’s that dig in will leave bulges and loose ones give no support.

Prints

These can be dangerous territory so indulge carefully. Choose classic prints like stripe, leopard, or polka dot or opt for modern prints. All over tiny floral print will age you as fast as large cabbage patch fabric a la Laura Ashley. Abstract patterns are often a safer bet because they don’t date and look modern. Prints are also memorable which makes them less versatile.

Nude Stockings/Pantyhose

These are totally out of date and scream out of touch. Many women aren’t comfortable with bare legs so try self-tanner, or opt for opaque tights, sheer black, navy, or grey stockings. If you’re wearing open-toe shoes be extra sure the toe seam is tucked under the front of your toes.

Too many matching accessories

Coco Chanel is famously quoted as saying “before you leave the house, look in the mirror and take one thing off”. The truth is, too many statement accessories can age you. Matching accessories can do the same thing. Break your jewelry sets up. Don’t wear matching earrings, necklace, and bracelet. There are many women who love the bohemian aesthetic and believe “more is more” This is personal taste so wear what makes you feel confident. If you can pull off full-on accessories, go for it and enjoy it.

BTW- here are some grooming mistakes that are making you look older.

What do you think makes a woman look older than she is?

Thanks for reading and be sure to wear what makes you feel confident.

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52 Comments

  1. Susan Bartlett
    January 8, 2020 / 1:14 pm

    Great post and great comments! I agree with just about everyone.
    Another thing I think is aging is small petite jewelry, especially if you are not small or petite. My sister says it’s a classic look. I guess you have to be careful that classic looks modern, not just old.

    • Jennifer
      Author
      January 8, 2020 / 2:56 pm

      Small jewelry can be tricky, I agree.

  2. Karen
    January 8, 2020 / 12:03 pm

    Why are frameless glasses aging?

    • Jennifer
      Author
      January 8, 2020 / 2:54 pm

      As we age, our personal coloring fades so frameless glasses blend in. They are discreet but they also don’t have any “presence” on our face.

      • Valla
        January 18, 2020 / 1:53 pm

        It seems to me that frameless glasses just scream “Granny!”, and not in a good way.

  3. Patricia Watters
    January 7, 2020 / 10:49 am

    Frumpy footwear always makes me sad when I see it. I know not everyone can wear heels, and many people do have to wear shoes with inserts or to accommodate other considerations, but I think there are many brands of shoes trying to make comfortable footwear for all. Even if you have only one or two pairs of really high-quality, nice-looking pairs shoes, it’s just so much better than a pair of white running shoes worn with dress pants (unless I suppose, that’s a trend you are going for). I work with a woman who wears pantyhose and the ugliest pair of brown brogans you ever did see. It’s just sad.

    • Kay
      January 7, 2020 / 6:52 pm

      Maybe she’s disabled and must wear custom shoes that cost a fortune. I try not to judge people’s worth based on their choice of footwear.

  4. Kay
    January 7, 2020 / 12:30 am

    I turned 70 this year, so I’m not sure how much older I’ll look if I wear baggy pastels. I like to think of it as looking as put-together as possible rather than “younger.”

  5. Katrina
    January 5, 2020 / 8:56 pm

    Great list, great comments! We do enjoy our “ruts” don’t we!!?? I am now determined to wiggle out of my style rut. Thanks, ladies, for your inspiration!!

  6. Eileen Ternullo
    January 5, 2020 / 7:02 pm

    Great post. I think not staying current makes us look older, hair, clothes, shoes, bags, accessories, makeup and nails all need to be current. A trip to a personal stylist in a major department store every few years is helpful to me. As for hose, I’ve seen it worn in Europe by different ages of women the last couple of years, so we may be seeing it here as well.

    • Jennifer
      Author
      January 5, 2020 / 10:05 pm

      Things do usually start in Europe so it’s a good indication of what’s coming our way.

  7. Anne
    January 5, 2020 / 4:02 pm

    Great list. May I add outdated hairstyle? I changed stylists recently, and I look 10 years younger.

    • Jennifer
      Author
      January 5, 2020 / 4:31 pm

      Absolutely!! It make a huge difference.

  8. Penelope
    January 5, 2020 / 12:56 pm

    That was an interesting read. I agree with you that classics are timeless and ageless.
    I find that one thing that seems to age both men and women is posture. It rearranges the entire body and presence. So I work on mine. Standing up correctly makes me feel more energized and therefore, younger.
    The next thing is hair. I am still on a quest for my best haircut so have long periods between cuts when I’m assessing what to do with my hair next. During those times I feel frumpy and years older. I think it is totally unfair that a good stylist isn’t our female birthright!.
    For me, added pounds make me look and feel much older. So it’s a continual effort to stay a bit underweight. I feel much better, lighter, healthier, more buoyant .. younger.
    In fashion, belted dresses with full skirts look aging to me.
    As a colorist, I’m always checking out how colors lie against the skin and I see so many women look older with the wrong shades in make up and clothing.
    Makes a huge difference. Wrong colors and values ( (dark or light) can add age, weight, mood , can affect the wearers energy levels…. the right ones can work miracles.

    • Jennifer
      Author
      January 5, 2020 / 4:25 pm

      I agree about posture. So may of us slump as we get older and it effects everything. We do all deserve a fabulous hairstylist 🙂

  9. Cindy
    January 5, 2020 / 12:55 pm

    Darn it! I just bought a v-neck flowered blouse at the Loft. I always wear plain but my husband convinced me to get out of my comfort zone. Now I see I need to return it!! Thank you for saving me!

    • Jennifer
      Author
      January 5, 2020 / 4:21 pm

      Lol! I’m always careful of clothes my husband chooses.

  10. Connie
    January 5, 2020 / 12:08 pm

    I’ve noticed that clunky, heavy shoes can be very aging. I have had plantar fasciitis, have a high arch, a toe that points up like an elf’s, and have a heel spur, so I understand the need to be comfortable. It’s too easy just to don some athletic shoes and ignore their look. You mentioned your desire for supportive flat shoes… I have researched and tried many alternatives that are supportive and for me, actually more comfortable than athletic shoes. My best discovery was at Begg shoes in Scotland where I found Rieker shoes and sandals. I then ordered more online and also discovered them at Sole Society Shoes nearby. I shop for Ecco, Bourn, Natural Soul (Naturalizer), Ann Klein Sport and Vionic. Good luck on your hunt.

    • Jennifer
      Author
      January 5, 2020 / 3:30 pm

      Thanks Connie. I have had a pair of Reikers and they are very very comfy. Thanks for these other suggestions, I’ll check them out.

  11. Pamela Lutrell
    January 5, 2020 / 12:00 pm

    We both decided to focus on youthful dressing today! These are great tips to get us going for 2020!

  12. Jen
    January 5, 2020 / 11:53 am

    Great tips. I love black so scarves are my new friends. Xx

  13. Eve
    January 5, 2020 / 11:21 am

    I wish I had paid attention to my Mama who to,d me to always stand up straight. The older you get the more important good posture is to make clothes look right. I have to constantly remind myself not to slump. Good fitting bra makes such a difference in how my tops hang. It also increases the length of my mid drift,, I found I’m not as app,e as I thought, just needed better foundation garments. Here’s to all of us looking good in the coming year. Happy new year, Jennifer. Be blessed!

    • Jennifer
      Author
      January 5, 2020 / 11:40 am

      Oh I hear you Eve! Posture makes such a huge difference. Improving mine is one of the reasons I started going to Pilates. Happy New Year!

  14. Marcia
    January 5, 2020 / 11:16 am

    Great article! I agree with all the advice except for the bit about stockings. Very sheer nude panty hose seem to be making a comeback, especially in cold climates. And I must admit, I like the look. If I’m wearing a dress, I feel more comfortable and confident in hose unless the weather is warm. I’m afraid my legs aren’t what they used to be.

    • Jennifer
      Author
      January 5, 2020 / 11:39 am

      It’s funny but I feel more polished in hose too! That’s why style suggestions/rules are ours to ignore or not:)

      • Mary
        January 5, 2020 / 1:26 pm

        I do wish hose would come back! I see so many women in beautiful dresses and shoes, but then their lumpy pale knees and legs ruin the whole look. Not many women over the age of 25 look better with bare legs when in more formal clothes. I also have a personal dislike of bare skin between pants and shoes or boots when wearing winter clothing. Seems ok in summer, but bare ankles in the winter look like you forgot something. I’m really out of step on that one, apparently, but, like you say, I wear what makes me feel comfortable.

      • MRSBEN2
        January 5, 2020 / 2:29 pm

        @Marcia: My sentiments exactly about sheer/nude pantyhose. Also for many women they do help to camouflage Spider or Vericose veins plus there are those (of us) who live in colder climates whose skin tone of our legs, vastly differ from that of our other body parts which are constantly exposed to the elements. Also, I was discussing this subject with my son recently (who is in the Fashion Industry) about pantyhose being taboo and according to him ‘they are definitely coming back’ as a wardrobe staple but will also include colour and pattern.

        @Jennifer: Great article as ‘spot on’ and super advice to follow. -Brenda-

    • Ellen
      January 6, 2020 / 7:29 am

      I too would love to see more sheer hosiery. No desire for the taboo associated in my growing up years about going without them, but most women (myself for sure!) can’t pull off a polished look with bare legs. Seldom I need that polished look anymore, but there are times!

  15. Shelbee on the Edge
    January 5, 2020 / 10:48 am

    Jennifer, I love this list of tips because it’s not a list of what not to wear after a certain age. I am all for wearing what we love to make us feel vibrant and beautiful. Undergarments are definitely key when all these parts start to sag! And having on trend eyeglasses is huge for me. I do read a lot about certain colors not working after a certain age because our skin begins to fade. That worries me some since I am already super pale! If I fade anymore, I will be translucent! Wishing you all the best in the new year!

    Shelbee

    • Jennifer
      Author
      January 5, 2020 / 11:36 am

      Happy New Year Shelbee!

  16. Mollie
    January 5, 2020 / 10:19 am

    Good information here Jennifer! I am 83 but look younger but enjoy up-to-date fashions. I do wear all black, but always wear a statement necklace or a printed scarf. Thank goodness I am still slim but not too around the waist. Cannot wear belts. Love your posts.

  17. jmp
    January 5, 2020 / 10:17 am

    What great advice! Thanks

  18. Juliet
    January 5, 2020 / 9:19 am

    Spot on! xo

  19. 1010ParkPlace
    January 5, 2020 / 9:15 am

    Brava! You’ve given us a smartly curated list of things we shouldn’t do.

  20. Lois Williams
    January 5, 2020 / 9:02 am

    Voluminous clothes & I’ll fitting bras are my two pet peeves. You hit all the aging factors squarely on the head, great post!

  21. Jacqueline Bucco
    January 5, 2020 / 8:24 am

    Ohh this is soo interesting!! I agree with soo much of this…..and sadly to say I do it, and not even realize it ha!! The baggy clothes, yes i do….the all black, yes I do…..shop JJill a lot and find their top can be consuming, always have to remember with that brand to go down a size!! Have to wear very good athletic support sneakers for a foot issue…..but with some outfits, athletic shoes just look horrible….ughhh:( a lot of good hints in this article…..I will be paying more attention now….TY:)

    • Jennifer
      Author
      January 5, 2020 / 11:27 am

      I’m on the hunt for very supportive flat shoes which are not athletic shoes. I’ll keep you posted.

      • Catherine
        May 7, 2020 / 12:56 pm

        Try Vionc shoes, I have several pairs including sandals. They are great.

    • retro-roost
      January 5, 2020 / 8:17 pm

      I use to shop at JJill, but ultimately found that there clothing is almost to the point of plus size – their styles do little to enhance a figure, sadly.

  22. Dawn
    January 5, 2020 / 7:56 am

    Wonderful post, Jennifer. I think the older I get the more I favor classics with maybe a trendy bag or shoes. Fashion should be fun, but I never want to look ridiculous. Happy New Year!

    • Jennifer
      Author
      January 5, 2020 / 11:24 am

      Happy New Year Dawn!! I’m leaning back towards classic more and more myself.

  23. Lynda
    January 5, 2020 / 7:37 am

    Just my opinion, but I think extremes of any kind are not flattering to a “person of a certain age”. I am in my 70’s, so obviously I’ve made mistakes…lots. It now seems to me that any time you try too hard to ‘look young’, you wind up with the opposite effect. Softness in hairstyles and clothing make me feel the most comfortable.

  24. Bea
    January 5, 2020 / 7:13 am

    Happy new year, Jennifer! How about cropped pants? I like them for the summer (I can’t wear shorts any longer – 76 years old and legs are not the best), but I suspect they make me look older. Probably shorter too. I am only 5’1” tall.

    • Jennifer
      Author
      January 5, 2020 / 7:54 am

      Happy New year Bea! Cropped pants do tend to make us look shorter but here’s the thing, you need to be comfortable in your clothes. If you like them you should wear them. Clothes are a tool for personal expression but they need to make our life easier. We need to enjoy them and feel confident wearing them.

      • Sarah
        January 5, 2020 / 3:16 pm

        I have a Liberty print floral blouse that I have never really liked and didn’t know why. Now I do. Out it goes. Thanks Jennifer

  25. Susan
    January 5, 2020 / 7:00 am

    I agree with your list and have moved away from wearing so much black. Ditto for the oversized clothes (there is a brand similar to EF in Australia) and I spent quite a lot of money buying outfits which were not flattering – too oversized and shapeless. I do think older women wearing their hair extremely short isn’t very flattering, or long, grey hair which can look dirty and somewhat stringy. It was because of you, I bit the bullet and bought some wide legged linen trousers for summer, having seen you wear them. I receive so many compliments. Thank you

    • Jennifer
      Author
      January 5, 2020 / 7:46 am

      My pleasure Susan. When it’s super hot, nothing is cooler than linen and the looser the better for me. I often wear loose over loose with linen and don’t worry if it makes me look older:) I need to be comfortable in my clothes.

  26. MKMP
    January 5, 2020 / 6:42 am

    Too may pastels – I agree this is aging if you wear light blue capris with a baggy light blue top. Light blue tailored pants and light blue fitted blouse with a nice scarf + tasteful jewelery looks nice. There are exceptions to all these “rules”.

    • Jennifer
      Author
      January 5, 2020 / 7:42 am

      Proportion makes a huge difference in everything. I prefer to think of them as guidelines that I take or leave at my leisure. Getting dressed needs to be fun and we need to feel confident in our clothes.

  27. Rory
    January 5, 2020 / 6:39 am

    Wonderful blog Jennifer. Ever one of the items are terrific!!
    Thank you so very much!!
    On to 2020 with fewer grooming mistakes !!
    🙂 Rory

    • Jennifer
      Author
      January 5, 2020 / 7:37 am

      Happy New year Rory

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