If you think you’re starting to look older than your high school classmates, don’t blame your stress levels or beauty regimen. The trouble could lie in your closet.
Wearing ill-fitting, outdated or too-young styles can add years to your look. Here are the five most common style mistakes that age you – and how to fix them:
THE AGER: Trapping yourself in the past
THE FIX: Get an update
If you’ve worn the same hairstyle and makeup for the last 10 years, it’s time to refresh your look and take years off your face. Start by getting a makeover at a cosmetics counter, suggests Sam Saboura, style expert for YouBeauty. Then hit the salon for a new style or color. “Take risks instead of getting too comfortable with your beauty routine,” says Saboura.
You may also be aging yourself if you wear head-to-toe vintage styles, such as the “Mad Men” look or bohemian ’70s styles. “You don’t want to be mistaken for Doris Day, Nancy Sinatra or an extra in a period movie,” says Tracy Taylor, U.S. editor at Net-a-Porter. Instead of going for the tailored blouse/blue eye shadow/teased hair look, try mixing eras by accessorizing a pencil skirt with an oversized sweater, a ponytail and natural eye makeup. “You’ll look a decade younger,” says Taylor.
THE AGER: Daring to bare – or not daring enough
THE FIX: Cover up (a little)
As women age, they may be tempted to wear miniskirts and strapless dresses because they (mistakenly) think showing lots of skin makes them look younger. Or else they veer in the opposite direction and wear calf-length skirts and long sleeves, which add years to their appearance.
“Play to your strengths: V- or scoop-neck tops flaunt decollete, three-quarter sleeves show off forearms, and knee-length skirts show your shapely legs,” says Saboura. “Those areas look beautiful no matter your age. Too much coverage looks dowdy.”
THE AGER: Mom jeans
THE FIX: Get the right fit
Jeans that sit high at the waist add years to your look – not to mention being downright unflattering. (Just ask Jessica Simpson.) To avoid the problem, ditch pants that are too high or baggy, and update your denim almost annually, suggests Saboura. “That’s not to say you should wear low-rise, skin-tight, stretchy jeggings, but updating makes you more youthful. Right now, dark denim looks younger and more modern than light washes. And a little stretch holds you in.”
THE AGER: Old bras
THE FIX: In with the new
What you wear under your clothing can age you just as much as the ensembles themselves. Over time, bras start to give you less support and “your bust and tummy tend to merge,” says Saboura. “A supportive bra gives you more of an hourglass shape rather than a barrel one.” Replace your bras at least once a year – or whenever they stretch out.
THE AGER: Going too girly
THE FIX: Grow up!
Are you walking around in hair bows and rompers because you think it looks cute and youthful? Think again. Once you pass your mid-20s, it’s time to start moving away from anything that looks like it came from the juniors section.
Go through your closet and ask yourself, “Would Miley Cyrus wear this?” If the answer is yes, give it away. “Forty may be the new 30, but you don’t want to walk around like a teenager,” says Taylor.
“It matters where you wear something – a romper can be OK at the beach, but not the mall or office – and how you accessorize it.” A leather tote or flats, a beautiful watch and a sleek but natural ponytail are sophisticated without being frumpy. “Think Victoria Beckham more than Selena Gomez,” says Taylor.
When in doubt, consult your most honest allies: your husband or a best friend, says Taylor. “Experiment. Fashion is a great way to lift spirits. Just make sure you’ve got someone who’ll tell the truth about whether it’s right for you!”