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Our 7 Biggest Fashion Mistakes

Mistake 1: Believing you are too old or fat to wear trendy clothes.

I call them “retro addicts”: women who buy and wear the same stuff over and over again, mistakenly convinced it’s possible to age out of new fashion trends. Try telling that to Iris Apfel!

Mistake 2: Still wanting to “paint it black.”

Give black a break, already! Navy blue, coffee brown, inky plum, maroon and charcoal gray all perform the same sort of slim-and-trim tricks.

You can select one color and go monochromatic from head to toe. Alternatively, pair any dark hue with any other.

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The secret is to keep the contrast level low: No color or piece should be significantly lighter or brighter than its fellows. A latte-brown suede skirt works with a navy turtleneck, for example, because they’re equally dark. Try squinting at the combo; if nothing jumps out, you’re good to go.

Mistake 3: Buying leggings or

Tailored pants are back — and ready to make you look 5 pounds thinner.

But there’s a problem: Our 50-plus brains see a pair of tailored pants and automatically think, “Ohhh — serious work clothes.”

So switch off that reaction loop and start treating tailored pants like your favorite broken-in jeans. Wear them with other “off-duty” pieces, such as a chambray shirt or a pair of slip-on sneakers, then simply add a silk blouse and booties to dial up the polish as needed.



ke 4: Sporting traditional pumps.

Choose booties with block heels. They provide the height and leg-extending benefits of classic, spikier-heeled pumps, but they also give you more stability — and a fresh attitude.

It may take time for your eye to adjust to the look and proportions of ankle-cropped boots worn with skirts and dresses, but they are well worth the instant update. If you want to ease into the trend, add a pair of opaque tights — we’re talking not just warmth but extra calf-slimming.

Mistake 5: Hanging tight.

I’m all about the liberating effects of showing your shape. But when you pour yourself into a pair of skintight jeans or a painfully tight pencil skirt or sheath dress, you’re guilty of “stuffing 50 pounds of mud in a 5-pound sack,” in the immortal words of country fashionista Dolly Parton.

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So stop denying yourself the wiggle room you — OK, we — need. Instead, find it in a swishy A-line dress, a skirt that wraps or pleats for movement, or a pair of straight-leg jeans. Not one of these three options demand a daily juice fast or industrial-strength shapewear.

Mistake 6: Hanging on to “puffers” and cropped outdoor jackets.

Wait till you see how a crisp tailored topcoat sharpens your entire silhouette; it will cloak or polish “what lies beneath.”

In my case, that could be anything from a fancy cocktail dress to a lazy-day mash-up — a pilled mini-sweaterdress (yes, I kept mine!) worn with opaque tights and over-the-knee boots.

Look for a weight and fit that suits your climate and preferences. A man-tailored coat with a V-neck and lapels works well with scarves. Mix it with other feminine pieces to lend it “trend appeal.”

Mistake 7: Failure


to scarf it up.

Accessories provide a welcome distraction from any perceived flaws, so never discount them. Scarves have become the new “fashion candy.” As a stand-in for that old standby, the statement necklace, they camouflage corded necks and sun-damaged chests, redirecting the viewer’s gaze to your fabulous face.

For more fashion and beauty tips for women 50-plus, watch for AARP’s new Beauty & Style digital magazine, coming to a tablet near you soon!

Photos: (1, 3, 4, 5); (2)



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