I learned something new recently: we’re born with a certain shape. Sure, we can go up and down in size, but the basic silhouette seems to stick. Somewhere along the line, some clever soul decided that those of us with a little more in the middle could be compared with an “apple” or those with a bottom that’s, shall we say, overly endowed, a “pear.” For sure we want to try to maintain a healthy weight, especially as we get older, but one of the greatest gifts we could give ourselves is to embrace and celebrate our bodies for what they are, instead of trying to look like some media’s idea of the “ideal body.” The other thing I learned was this: instead of trying to fix my body, why not just make a few simple style choices that will enhance my post-50 curves?
The challenge we often face is many of us don’t change our style based on our changing bodies. We still wear clothes that worked for us years ago, instead of taking a really long hard look at our bodies now. I was guilty of that and I completely understand why; it can be daunting to embrace our bodies when we’re surrounded by media messages that tell us thin is best (thin and young, better still), and when we don’t always want to accept the fact that perhaps we’re a little wider now in certain places. And getting good guidance isn’t always easy.
Well, help is on the way.
I discovered a new book — The Wow Factor: Insider Style Secrets for Every Body and Every Budget — written by Jacqui Stafford, the international style expert, QVC queen, beauty and style fashionista for gobs of magazines, and a regular on the Today Show and Steve Harvey Show (as well as many other T.V. programs).
The Wow Factor is a lifesaver, filled with tips on how to dress for your body, budget and age. She asks the reader, “What shape are you?” and suggests five different silhouettes, each one called something infinitely more charming than a fruit. For example, if you have “a little more in the middle” think of yourself as a “Cocktail Ring” (not an apple! Yay!). If you are a little more endowed on top than on bottom, you could be a classic “Heart Pendant.” For each one, Jacqui recommends accessible, wearable and truly flattering styles that will enhance your body without breaking the bank.
One of my favorite tips from the book is “cut out the size label from every piece of clothing you have…” because, as Jacqui writes, “who cares about the size? It’s the fit that counts.” I had the great opportunity to meet with Jacqui (who is, according to her, a “classic Fragrance Bottle” shape) and asked her to please reveal the top secrets for looking fantastic after 50. Here’s what she said,
- “Embrace and love the shape you have.” (THE MOST IMPORTANT ONE OF ALL!) There are five body shapes. And while your weight may go up and down, we’re all born with a basic shape, and that’s what you must embrace, love and work with. It doesn’t matter if you’re a size 2 or 20… it’s your shape, not your size, that counts.
- “Only wear clothes that flatter your figure.” First assess your body and determine your shape. Look at the parts of your body you don’t love so much, and focus on those that you adore, because you’ll want to look at clothes that enhance those areas. I offer specific recommendations in my book about what to wear and how to wear it, for each shape, so all the frustration and confusion is taken out of the equation. There’s no reason for women to ever look awful in an outfit, no matter what size or shape they are. It’s all about loving your body and embracing your shape, first and foremost.
- “Ignore what your friends and celebrities are wearing because their body shapes are completely different than yours.” Too many of us buy and wear clothes that are wrong, wrong, wrong for us simply because others are wearing them (especially celebrities). Why, I ask women, do you love clothes that don’t love you back?
On top of all this, Jacqui gives lots of great information and tips about makeup, hair, jewelry, shopping and everything we need to truly look and feel great. It’s so rare to find a book that encourages readers to embrace our bodies and love our shapes, instead of trying to shame us into wanting to look like the media’s idea of ‘perfect’ (i.e., thin and young).
Here’s a snippet from the book, which has become my new style mantra:
So, my darlings, figure out your body shape and make that form the basis for everything you wear from now on. If there’s only thing you take away from this book it’s this: Forget your size –and embrace your shape.
I’m the National Osteoporosis Foundation ‘Ambassador for Bone Health’ and a fierce champion of positive aging. For more tips on living your best life after 50 (or 60, or 70…) check out “The Best of Everything After 50: The Experts’ Guide to Style, Sex, Health, Money and More” and www.bestofeverythingafter50.com. Keep me posted on how you’re doing by subscribing to me on Facebook and “tweeting” me on Twitter at @BGrufferman.