10 Tips to Look and Embrace Your Age – AARP

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Lois Joy Johnson,
Not long ago my beauty routine included Botox and fillers, a frequently highlighted blonde lob, weekly salon blowouts and a regular mani-pedi. I also wore stilettos, trendy clothes, full makeup and shapewear, which had me at 50 not looking quite my age. As a beauty and fashion editor staying youthful and semi-flawless was my job, but somewhere between 50 and 60 my attitude flipped. I still love looking good (who doesn’t?) but now live happily ever after with my wrinkles, age spots and a few extra curves. Here’s how you can do it too.
Think about all the newness you’ve already embraced — like iPhones, rap music, spinning class, kale and banana smoothies, rescue dogs and food trucks. Then instead of bemoaning the extra candles on the birthday cake or freezing your looks in place with help from Dr. Lookgood & Co., treat age as an opportunity to stop looking back and start looking forward. A quote to remember from designer Coco Chanel (who was no slouch about aging) sums it up: “You can be gorgeous at 30, charming at 40, and irresistible for the rest of your life.” Take a look at these celebs age 50-plus then and now for inspiration.
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So much of what we buy, apply and wear is tagged as “age appropriate” or (even worse) “age-reversing” — from night cream to support bras, shapewear and elastic waist pants. How boring! How daunting! Sure, less-than-perky breasts, wrinkles and belly bulge are part of the natural aging package, but let’s lose the tag. Try giving the essentials that hold down the fort a fun twist and make it more about “What makes me feel fabulous?” For example, instead of a ho-hum coat try one in red velvet; skip the little black dress and opt for a head-turning leopard fit-and-flare; and just say no to basic pants and choose a pair in leather like Rita Moreno!
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Another fabulous thing about aging is deciding what really suits you — and the heck with fashion trends. You can now ignore whatever your best friend/college roommate/pickleball chums wear, and dance to your own tune. After age 50 many women edit their closet and create a new core of clothes that suit their new lifestyle and preferences. No more skirts and dresses for you? Fine. There are plenty of pants, jeans, joggers, jumpsuits, pantsuits and leggings to choose from. No more pants or short skirts? No problem. Midi and maxi skirts and dresses work with boots or sandals all year round. Prefer an all-black wardrobe? Do it your way — edgy, tailored, sporty or a mix of all.
Wrinkles are normal, but decades of repetitive facial expressions can etch in lines good and bad. Deep forehead creases and between-the-brows grooves can make us look angry even on the happiest days. Loss of fat and collagen can also contribute to saggy cheeks and emphasize deep nose-to-mouth creases. Botox and filler can help, but there are two easier, cheaper solutions to perking up your face. Cut long, full bangs for stylish camouflage, and make your baseline expression a subtle Mona Lisa grin or a toothy smile. The two-step combo lifts your cheeks and lips, brightens your outlook and is contagious to those around you. Punctuate your efforts with whitened teeth and your favorite lipstick — and join this club of celebs.
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Flexibility is one of the gifts of being 50-plus. It enables us to do things like start a personal dog-walking service, donate a lifetime of clothes or move from New Jersey to Florida without freaking out. It also means being able to approach changes in the way you look, dress or shop without worrying what anyone else thinks. For starters, ban the phrase “Will it make me look older?” from your brain and conversations. Want to go gray or wear the coolest trendiest jeans? Do it. Wear a black leather dress to your high school reunion? Go for it. Role model Helen Mirren dyed her hair punk pink at 67 and decided to grow it long and silver at 77. Brooke Shields at 57 dresses with more edge than she did at 30 and has no problem wearing her glasses to galas, while Tracee Ellis Ross at 49 (she turns 50 in October!) makes wide-leg jeans look super cool.
This is an opportunity to flaunt your brains, beauty and adventurous spirit along with the enhanced status and privilege of being older. Try applauding the things you’ve come to call imperfections like a crooked tooth, neck creases, hooded eyelids (French women call them bedroom eyes!) and age-spotted hands with a positive spin. Attention-getting lipstick, eyeliner and shadow, neck-lengthening necklines (like a boatneck, square or V) and bold nail polish do it. Think of all your personal “beauty marks” as medals of a life well-lived.
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The scale may not be your friend at 50 and neither are the way-too-small jeans from 2010 still hanging in your closet. While a commitment to portion control, healthier eating and regular exercise is a smart choice, it is also important to take control of your style. Resist giving in to shapeless baggy clothes that hide excess pounds and start promoting a stylish attitude that shows off your fine points. Maybe it’s time to go sleeveless and highlight your toned arms, flash your midriff with a slightly shorter top, and wear an above-the-knees dress to display still-great legs or ruched dresses to celebrate allover curves. Showing your shape is ageless and sizeless.
Age can be freeing beauty-wise once you ditch the “musts” and opt for what makes you feel good. Some women decide to go more minimalist and swap a pouch of products for multitaskers like tinted moisturizers and tinted balms. Others skip the daily blow-dry and simplify their hair routine with a bunch of scrunchies and a more low-maintenance color solution like balayage. And then there are those who choose to reinvent their looks with a brand-new hairstyle (even if it requires frequent trims), enhanced color and a pro makeup lesson. The important thing to know: There are no rules. The only person you need to please is yourself.
Clothes can’t make the woman, but they sure can do a lot for your self-esteem and ability to say yes to any invitation or last-minute meetup. You need one outfit that makes you feel composed and powerful, and another that makes you feel totally gorgeous. Maybe it’s a sparkly cocktail dress that lights up your skin, a knit maxi that makes the most of your shape but discreetly covers, a flowy print blouse that elevates your pants, or an elegant pantsuit. These are your social “cocoon clothes.” They’ll save you on days when stress, weight fluctuations or a bad haircut try to snap your mojo.
Some savvy women 50-plus have a look they love that’s as much their ID as fingerprints. Simply adding a couple of contemporary pieces each season keeps them updated and refreshes old pieces from years past. Check out how designers Norma Kamali and Donna Karan continue their respective trend-forward attitude as they age without losing sight of their personal likes. Or look at Uma Thurman, who makes jeans and a jacket her go-to. Personal style is never about age so long as you keep it evolving.
Lois Joy Johnson is a beauty and style editor who focuses on women 50 and older. She was the beauty and style editor at Ladies’ Home Journal and a founding editor of More magazine. She has written three books: The Makeup Wakeup, The Wardrobe Wakeup and The Woman’s Wakeup.
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