I have a little secret, but don’t tell your 20- and 30-year-old friends … beauty just gets better after 40.
Sure, there’s that lovely glow of youth that we get to enjoy for a while. But once you turn 40, you start evolving into the real you; the mature, grown up, wise woman of the world you. And beyond that, you start becoming aged to perfection.
At least that’s how I like to see it.
When it comes to aging, the first “Don’t” is don’t think there are “Don’ts”, because there aren’t any really – there’s just “Do’s” and “Do Differently’s”. Don’t get me wrong, there are definitely fashion “Don’ts”, but these are universal and have more to do with good taste than they do with aging.
Think of it this way: when we’re children, we dress in pants, tops, and dresses, but they’re youthful. They have cute bunnies and Sponge Bobs, Peter Pan collars, bright rainbow colors. And we don’t even have to think about what flatters us, since humans are so darn cute when they’re little.
As we grow up, we still wear pants, tops, and dresses, but we wear them differently. At some point we have to leave the cutesy things behind. Otherwise, you’d look like you were wearing a costume, and that would just be weird. While we may not think of it in these terms when we’re in our 20’s and 30’s, this would technically be called being “age appropriate”.
It shouldn’t stretch our credibility too far to realize then, that at a later age, we can still wear the pants, tops, dresses, and so on, but we have to wear them differently – again because of the weird costume thing.
This doesn’t just apply to fashion, but also to makeup, hair, and self-care.
The French know this in their DNA. Aging is not an era of declining fashion, it’s an era of ascending quality. Being a mature adult is your opportunity to look your most cultured and refined, to put thought and class into your style, rituals, and wardrobe.
And while we may no longer be able to just wind wet hair in a bun and throw on a pair of yoga pants to go out (something you’d never see in Paris at any age, but somehow younger Americans can get away with it), I wanted to dispel a few aging myths –
At “a certain age”, you can’t …
Wear red lipstick
Anyone at any age can wear red lipstick, if they want to. The trick is wearing the right red for your skin undertone. Your skin may change depth of color depending on sun exposure, but undertones never change.
Warm undertones are peachy, yellow, or golden. To help you know if this is you, people with warm undertones tend to tan in the sun rather than burn. Reds with an orange base look great on this coloring.
Cool undertones are pink, red, or blueish. People with cool undertones tend to burn easily in the sun. The best reds for cool undertones are those with a pink-blue base.
And if you’re somewhere in between, you’re likely a neutral undertone, which is a combination of the two. These people get the best of both worlds, and you can generally choose the red that you like best.
And of course, with red lipstick, the rest of your makeup would be minimal.
Wear short skirts
Even if you’ve got the legs for it, a short skirt with bare legs is one of those things that belong to the young, like the bunnies and Peter Pan collars. And the super-short skirt? Well, that’s really more of a belt, isn’t it? That look says one thing, and I don’t think I need to say what that one thing is. Also short skirts with high-heeled pumps … no. Not at any age.
You can still pull off a modestly short skirt at any age by wearing opaque tights in the same color as the skirt, giving the illusion of one long line of color. Add some pizzaz by topping it off with a long coat or great jacket and boots.
Get in shape
Check out Ernestine Shepherd. At age 84, she’s the oldest living competitive bodybuilder. But she never lifted a weight before the age of 56.
While we do have muscle loss as we age, we can combat it with weight-bearing exercise. Weight-bearing exercise doesn’t have to mean heavy weights; it can be accomplished by using exercise bands or simply doing exercises that uses your own body weight as resistance (modified push-ups, tricep dips, squats, etc.)
You may have neither the time nor inclination to be the next Ernestine Shepherd, but you can improve probably a lot more than you may think, regardless of age.
Wear long hair
Long hair can be worn at any age, if long hair looks good on you. The key is to keep your hair healthy, keep it maintained with excellent, regular haircuts, and choose a hairstyle that isn’t too “youthful”.
If you’re unsure about whether long hair would be right for you, collect a few pictures you like and consult a well-trusted stylist or two. Almost all stylists will book a free consultation (tips are always appreciated).
Show a little cleavage
This is again a matter of taste, not age. Here’s the deal – at any age, if there’s a part of your body that has less-than-favored-nation status, disguise it. That could mean wearing a top or bodysuit with a sheer mesh or lace decolletage underneath your low-cut top. On the other hand, if you can wear something low-cut comfortably and confidently, go for it – in good taste.
I hope this has you thinking a little differently about what you can and can’t do (answer: anything / nothing) and helps you embrace your powerful beauty as you age like fine wine.