Ready to dress to impress this party season? Here is our stress-free guide to a stylish Christmas. We celebrate generation FAB (50 and beyond).
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If there’s one time of the year when the pressure is on to look good, it’s party season. There are events and get-togethers galore as we celebrate the festive season with our friends, family and colleagues.
For many of us, wrangling a line-up of stylish ensembles can seem daunting, but according to personal stylist Meaghan Smith, it doesn’t have to be this way.
Ready to have fun and look great?!
1. What’s your style?
“The most important thing is to first work out what makes you feel comfortable and confident,” she says.
For instance, do you like structured clothes or do you prefer fluidity? Do you feel upbeat in patterns and colour, or do you feel more of yourself in neutrals? Once you’ve figured that out, Meaghan advises brainstorming some words to describe the style you’re aiming for at any parties you’ll be attending.
“It might be ‘playful and colourful’, or ‘chic and elegant’, she says. This tactic helps you hone in on the look you want to create, so it’s easier to pull together an outfit that works, and that you feel good in.
Here, Meaghan shares her top tips for how women aged 50 plus can easily look and feel fabulous this festive season.
Actress Sigrid Thornton looks absolutely fabulous in this vibrant jumpsuit! (Photo: Sassisamblog.com)
2. Shop your wardrobe first
Before you rush to the shops to find a party-worthy outfit, browse the clothes rack at your fingertips.
“There might be something in your wardrobe that you haven’t looked at for 10 years, like a jacket that you could freshen up with a new pair of pants or shoes,” says Meaghan.
If you do need something new, don’t expect to buy something on your first trip to the shops. “Instead, go to there with a view to ‘sample’ different things, so you can see what’s fashionable at the moment,” advises Meaghan.
3. You don’t have to wear a dress
Just because you’re headed to a party doesn’t mean a dress is compulsory.
“Not everyone feels comfortable in a dress,” says Meaghan. “Instead you could wear a beautiful pair of black pants and a metallic knit, a maxi skirt and a crisp white shirt, a tuxedo suit or a statement skirt and a nice jacket.”
If you do like frocks, wrap dresses are flattering for most body shapes.
Always a stunner, Meryl Streep makes wearing pants feminine and chic (Photo: Facebook/Meryl Streep)
4. Build good foundations
From a properly fitted bra to shapewear saviours like shorts and bodysuits, supportive underwear is the foundation of a polished ensemble.
“It’s not about making you look smaller, it’s about smoothing things out,” says Meaghan. “The best example of that is Oprah Winfrey; looking at photos of her you never see any visible lines and you can tell she’s got the absolute best underwear.”
If you’ve got your party outfit sorted, take it with you to the underwear section and try it on with undergarments to find the perfect match.
5. Be fashion-forward
Sometimes, in a bid to look ‘age-appropriate’, we can end up dressing older than we really need to. Another fashion faux pas? Wearing clothes that are outdated.
“Things like jackets with big sleeves or shoulders, pointy collars, or really sensible, conservative shoes can all look ageing,” adds Meaghan. Garments with frills, ruffles and heavily floral patterns should also be avoided. Think simple, modern and classic instead.
Buying something new? Think classic yet stylish. Then you will get a great cost per wear of every item.
You can look as good as Jacki Weaver with a classically cut dress (Photo: Reuters)
6. Discover the easy maths behind shopping
Sometimes it is worth splashing out but it is good to know how useful each purchase will really be.
Simply take how much the item costs and how many times you are likely to wear it. That equals the costs per wear (CPW). So if a brightly coloured party dress costs $100 and you are only likely to wear it once, then that is a hefty price tag of $100 per wear!
However, if you buy one great classic black skirt you can wear with a variety of tops and the cost is $100 but you are likely to wear it 100+ times then the cost per wear is $1 or less!
7. Accentuate your best features
Too often, we zone in on the aspects of our appearance that we don’t like, rather than focusing on our best features – which are exactly what we should be playing up.
“Regardless of our age or body shape, we all have something lovely about ourselves, so it’s about highlighting those areas,” says Meaghan.
You may have beautiful hands that you can show off with a sparkly bracelet or cocktail ring, or an hourglass shape that you can accentuate with a belt or wrap top.
“Shoulders are a good area for most women, so a subtle, feminine thing to do is to wear something slightly off the shoulder,” says Meaghan.
Actress and singer Vanessa Williams is beautiful in this off-the shoulder outift (Photo: Facebook/Vanessa Williams)
8. Go for quality and timeless style
“Buy the best quality fabrics you can afford,” urges Meaghan. “Also, I’d suggest buying fewer but better quality items.”
Beautifully tailored garments help create shape, so they are worth the investment. Rather than getting carried away by the latest colour or prints in stores, Meaghan suggests opting for classic navy blue.
“For a mature woman, navy blue is a good option because it’s softer on the complexion than black and goes with absolutely every colour.”
Helen Mirren always looks timeless and you can easily achieve this look! (Photo: Facebook/Helen Mirren)
9. Conceal 'troubled' areas
Unless you’re a retired supermodel, it’s likely that your tummy and upper arms are a little softer these days (ours are anyway). Thankfully, a few fashion tricks can help you conceal them.
For the upper arms, Meaghan recommends avoiding anything too tight and going for a garment with sleeves, or adding a wrap or pashmina. For the tummy, ruching (draped or gathered fabric) is your body’s best friend, as it skims over curves rather than clinging to them.
Aged 53, Malaysian actress Michelle Yeoh looks lovely in this maroon number (Photo: Facebook/Michelle Yeoh)
10. Put your best foot forward
A chic pair of shoes can completely transform an outfit, elevating it from casual to dressy.
“Parisian women are a good example as they live in small spaces with small wardrobes, and they might have one beautiful black dress that they wear to lots of different occasions, but they make the dress look different by changing their shoes,” observes Meaghan.
A classic nude pump with a pointy toe is a great option for parties, as it elongates the leg line and brings attention to what you’re wearing.
Princess Mary is one fashionista you can always turn to for a sophisticated yet modern look (Photo: Facebook/HRH Crown Princess Mary of Denmark)
11. Small touches make a big impact
You may not be able to afford a new outfit, but even just treating yourself to a manicure or spray tan will give you an instant confidence boost and help you look polished.
Splash out and visit a salon or do it at home. If you are using fake tan ensure you always use it a day or two before a big event to avoid any unfortunate ‘orange’ disasters and to avoid your clothes being ‘stained’ by the fake tan.
Similarly, adding one or two stylish accessories can take your outfit to the next level.
“For instance, if you have a simple black dress, think about how you can decorate it with sparkly earrings, a statement necklace, a great watch or a beautiful handbag,” advises Meaghan
Elegant as always, Julie Andrews just looks spectacular! (Photo: Facebook/Julie Andrews)
12. Be inspired by the pros
It’s no secret that women over 50 are having a stunning fashion moment right now. Increasingly, we are being featured in high-profile fashion campaigns and in the media, showing the kind of self-assurance and sartorial panache that younger women can only dream of.
TV presenter and jourmalist, Lee Lin Chin gives her outfit a cheeky, youthful flair that we just love (Photo: Facebook/Lee Lin Chin Asymmetrical Outfits)
Dubbed ‘Generation FAB’ (50 and beyond), these women are a lesson in dressing with flair. Think fashion-forward celebrities like Helen Mirren and Julianne Moore, and Australian style icons Carla Zampatti, Jenny Kee and Lee Lin Chin.
Another example? The flamboyant fashionistas in Ari Seth Cohen’s documentary Advanced Style. While you may not want to take your party season look that far, it can inspire you to have fun with fashion, which is after all what it’s all about!
Embrace your natural beauty and have a wonderful party season!
(Featured image: Twitter/Kate Cebrano)
What is your best tip for dressing well for parties?