4 Easy Ways to Dress Young…without looking like teenager
The most common woe clients come to me with goes like this: “I don’t want to look frumpy because I feel young, but I also don’t want to look like my 16 year old daughter.” These middle aged women are often vibrant, active, and far from looking like how their mothers did at the same age. But, it’s one thing to feel young and another thing to dress young. Here are three easy ways to strike a balance between frumptastic and teenager.
- Stay out of the juniors department (and stores specifically geared at teens). This one sounds easy, but it can be challenging. Have you ever wandered into the juniors department thinking, “oh, that’s cute” without even realizing where you were? This happens all the time to me at Target. One minute you’re looking at work attire and then you’ve crossed the invisible line to juniors clothing. Additionally, try to avoid stores that are geared directly at teens like Abercrombie and Fitch, American Eagle, Forever 21, etc. While you can find suitable items in these places, it’s much easier to pick out age appropriate items in a place like Banana Republic than H&M.
Sometimes it’s hard to tell where Junior’s ends and everything else begins…especially during sale season.
2. Let quality and fit be your guide. Clothes designed for teenagers are made poorly. Companies know that teens and young adults rotate through clothing more rapidly than other age groups, so they don’t spend as much time and money on quality. If you can’t tell whether you’re in the juniors department or not, just ask yourself, “how well is this made?” Choosing well made clothing is going to make you look more age appropriate because it will actually fit you well. Designers go through lots of measures to make sure their clothing fits their target market properly. That’s why Aeropostale fits one way while Talbots fits another. If an item is too tight, too short, and generally ill-fitting you will look like you stole clothes from your daughter’s closet. On the other hand, if the fit is baggy and ill-fitting in the too big direction, you will look older.
3.Watch for the word Contemporary. Many nice department stores like Saks, Barneys, Bergdorfs, etc. divide their products by floor. As a result, you’re likely to step into an elevator and be given options like ‘beauty, shoes, contemporary, designer…” If you don’t understand what defines and differentiates floors like contemporary and designer then you’re already fighting an uphill battle before you’ve begun. Essentially, contemporary is the way to say ‘current’ without saying ‘trendy’. In a department store like Saks, contemporary clothing is less expensive (though certainly not cheap) and more current and mainstream. It’s not just big department stores that use the word contemporary. Forever 21 uses it to describe their more modern, looser fit collection (which fits more like…forever 31). Current but not trendy is exactly what will make you look your age and these pieces are often categories as ‘contemporary’.
4. Stay current with silhouettes, not patterns. Loud patterns, bright colors, and off beat prints will all make you look younger, but not necessarily in a good way. Instead of dressing younger through patterns, do it by keeping your silhouettes in style. For example, two trends for the fall include feline motifs and layering dresses over shirts. Unless you’re in a creative field or the fashion industry, anything with a cat on it is not age appropriate for anyone over 19. Instead, choose another trend and try layering a white button down shirt under a shift dress. Interpreting trends in a classic way will help you look current without giving off the impression that you are ‘trying too hard’.
If you’re still in doubt whether an item or an outfit is ‘too old’ or ‘too young’ for you, I always recommend erring on the side of caution; don’t purchase or wear the item/outfit until you can get a second opinion from someone you trust!
Dressing appropriately for your age can be tricky. In fact, I created a whole lesson in The Ultimate #STYLE E-Course that addresses just that issue because it’s so commonly asked about! For the complete guide of style tips, including how to dress for your body type, how to wear jewelry, and how to style scarves, click on The Ultimate #STYLE Course link above.
If you like what you just read, you’ll probably enjoy my best-selling ebook: Dressing Your Personal Brand. Go ahead and check out the (totally free!) first chapter below –>