fashion for over fifty

Fashion for Over Fifty | What My Mom Has to Say About Fashion

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You may remember my mom from the first fashion for over fifty post I did on the blog. There was a ton of great feedback so if you haven’t checked it out yet, now is the time! Since then, I’ve been wanting to get her back on here but you know, life happened. A pandemic happened. All the things happened. So though meeting up and shopping for a wardrobe wasn’t totally a possibility or even all that relevant to most people in the world right now, I knew I still wanted to get more of her fashion insight.

There’s wisdom with age and though she doesn’t look like it, my mom has been around for almost 60 years! 58 to be exact. Though some of our viewpoints and style ideas may not be 100% on the same page, I know she’d have a ton of great tips to pass on to you and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little curious to see if and how my mom’s fashion thoughts shaped my style at all. Spoiler alert: moms always shape you. πŸ˜‰

Fashion for Over Fifty| What My Mom Has to Say About Fashion

Carolyn wanted me to give some tips based on the things I’ve learned about fashion in the 58 years I’ve been alive. Fifty-eight years on the planet adds up to a great many days of getting dressed! I’m not sure if these are fashion tips or more the loose ramblings of a fashion rebel, and you may agree, disagree and even roll your eyes if need be. πŸ˜‰ Here are some of the conclusions I’ve drawn:

Fashion for Over Fifty Tips

Carolyn here: Anything bold is emphasis added by me and I may occasionally interject some of my own thoughts as well just so my readers can get my side too! πŸ™‚

1. Simple is best. Not too many clothes, not too complicated of clothes, not too much make-up, not too much money, and not too much time should be spent on your outer appearance. (Most of us could stand to develop our inner person a little more, whether that’s reading more educational books or developing a more gracious, mature personality.)

Carolyn here: I love the focus on simplicity and making sure your “insides” are beautiful first. I don’t think you have to spend a lot of money to look good either. Of course, “a lot” of money is subjective. However, I do think there are some things worth investing in. Here’s my list of what those things should be!

2. When it comes to styles and trends, please yourself before you please othersWearing what you like makes you feel better. Not everyone should wear every style; find those that flatter you and buy them in lots of colors. (Just kidding; you might want a little more variety than that.)  You can pay attention to trends but not be a slave to them.  When in doubt, be timeless and classic.  Also, clothes shouldn’t cause more anxiety or add too much work to your life.  Most of your clothes should fit your everyday life and I don’t know too many people who like to spend their days running to the dry cleaners or having to baby their clothes.  Our clothes (with a little timely maintenance) should serve us; we should not exist to serve them!

Carolyn here: Yes, yes, and yes! Why spend your whole life (and your whole paycheck) dressing for the world of Instagram if you don’t even like the way you look? It’s so easy to feel influenced, but just make sure you like the way you look first.
Also, I love my cashmere and I love my silk, but it doesn’t make up my whole wardrobe either. I don’t want a ton of clothes that I can’t even wear because I’m too worried about my kiddos ruining them. Remember- the majority of our clothes should fit into our daily lifestyle!

Related: How to Build a Wardrobe from Scratch

3. There’s always a sale–wait for it!  There are so many places to buy clothes these days, and so much variety that no one should have to spend a fortune on their wardrobe. I like second hand for the fact that the garments there have generally been worn and washed and any that wouldn’t survive that first wash aren’t there. I also like that if I get tired of something or rip or stain it, I haven’t wasted much money. Plus, shopping at a second-hand store means you have access to all different brands and even some international clothes all gathered together in one place for you.

Carolyn here: Now do you see where I get my love of thrifting from? πŸ˜‰ Some of my favorite and best quality pieces have been from second-hand stores and it’s one of the most sustainable ways to build a wardrobe. However, I totally get that some people do not find thrifting all that enjoyable and would prefer to online shop. That’s okay! Start here if you’re looking for high-quality (yet semi-affordable) sustainable staples: Madewell, Everlane, Sezane.

fashion for over fifty

4. The problem I have with second-hand is that when women have doused their clothes with perfume, even after washing, the smell isn’t coming out. That leads me to another opinion: where scents are concerned, less is more. You want someone to like you for your personality, not your smell, for your inner person more than for your outer. You also don’t want to be THAT person in the room that everyone takes a step back from.  We tend to become immune to our own perfume and can’t smell it after a while but everyone else can. Also, taste in perfume can be pretty individualistic (one woman’s flowers are another woman’s weeds) and perfume does get stale after a while on your clothes. You also have scents wars going on when you have (starting at the top) highly fragranced shampoo, hair gel, face cream, perfume, deodorant, body lotion, essential oils, and scented laundry soap–all with competing scents. Stick with one scent for all your products or better yet, go unscented, and then you can add one nice little accent smell.  In times past (even before my time) scented water was a thing. Lavender grown in people’s gardens lightly scented their sheets and nightwear. Subtle and clean: sounds good to me! 

Carolyn here: The idea of less is more, from fashion to scents, reminds me of the French way. I have some products from L’Occitane En Provence that I love. They are based in Provence and their products are naturally fragranced- using lavender grown on their farm. French women also tend to use micellar water to wash their faces and that reminds me of the scented water my mom is talking about. I’ve also been using Beekman 1802 products a lot lately and they have no added fragrance. Being pregnant this second time around has been pretty telling about what should and shouldn’t be in my house. My nose could/can handle anything subtle, natural, and light. All the highly and overly fragranced things had to go! That’s not to say I don’t love my perfume still, however. Going unscented with an accent smell is a good idea.

5. Makeup ages your skin. Putting it on day after day pulls your skin and makes wrinkles. Chemicals in makeup don’t help, either.  A little mascara, a little lip gloss can enhance your features but put it on with a light hand. If someone doesn’t recognize or like you without your “face done” what does that say about them or you? I used to wear make-up when I was younger but except for special occasions decided not to for a few reasons: If I had an emotional moment I either looked like a raccoon or cried it all off so it was worthless (yes, I could have worn waterproof mascara but then I had to use chemicals and take lots of time pulling at my skin to get it off at night). I also never wanted to worry about someone falling in love with my made-up face and then when we were married seeing my plain, real face and wondering what they got themselves into! Of course, I am probably too real for lots of people πŸ˜‰

Carolyn here: Quarantine has shown me how nice it is not to have to rely on makeup every day. However, if I do feel like wearing it, I use Bare Minerals powder foundation. It’s simple, light, and natural, so I don’t have to worry about the long-term effects of a heavy done up face. Don’t underestimate the power of mascara- it’s my “feel good” weapon and my finishing touch! Just know that not much is needed to look put together, but it can be fun to experiment and be creative if you feel up to it. Just do it because you think makeup is fun- not because you think you have to look good for other people.

Related: The French Girl Beauty Guide for Effortlessly Beautiful Skin

6. It should not be a choice between comfort or beauty.  Be creative and determined to have both!  In summer I dress in layers so I can be comfortable inside frigid air conditioning or outside in humid conditions; and in winter I dress in layers so I can be comfortable inside hot dry rooms or drafty cold air.  Paying lots of money for paper thin winter shirts really irks me. I know Carolyn has talked about shopping in the men’s department and lately my husband’s Henleys have been migrating from his side of the closet to mine.  They are a perfect under-layer; plain, basic colors, long sleeved, not too fussy, and tend to be longer in the waist which is so much more comfortable than always tugging at a cami that wants to slide up. They are thin enough to sit nicely under a flannel shirt or pretty sweater, but thick enough to provide real warmth; one of us is going to end up getting some more this winter!

Carolyn here: Shopping in the men’s department or borrowing clothes from your man is a good way to expand your wardrobe and/or find extra pieces that would work in your wardrobe that you wouldn’t normally find in the women’s department!

Related: How to Borrow from the Boys

7. Also in the vein of comfort and beauty, I wear my dresses with tights, leggings or yoga pants. It gives me the feminine, dressy feel but lets me bend over and pick up grandkids or sit on the floor with them without having to worry about modesty. Another daughter was instructed in her schooling for her profession that outfits needed to pass the bend test—front and back. This is another example of how it’s better to be liked for your personality than for assets you may be “putting on display.” For myself, I hate having to tug things up or down or constantly be mindful of what I might be flashing. Less is more; classy versus having to call attention to yourself also applies here. Trust that you have so much more to offer than just a few seductive body parts and anyone who doesn’t want to get to know the real inner you isn’t worth wasting time on.

fashion over 50 camel coat outfit

Well, this is probably not your conventional fashion wisdom, but it’s tried and true with me, and in spite of adhering to these ideas, I still seem to have people in my life who love me and aren’t ashamed to be seen with me! (Of course, a great many of them are 12 and under but then again, those are some of my favorite people!)Β 

Happy dressing, y’all. πŸ™‚

Carolyn here: Thank you so much, Mom, for sharing your thoughts!
Even if you disagree with some things, it doesn’t matter if you’re 25 or 65, there’s still tons of great insight and nuggets in here from someone who has the life experience to back up what she’s learned!

Tell me what stuck out to you!

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fashion for over 50
fashion for over fifty
Carolyn Arentson
Carolyn is the founder and creator behind My Chic Obsession. When she's not dreaming up new content, you can find her watching a funny tv show with her husband, raising her two boys, or planning her next trip to Paris.