Fashion advice for women: How to dress fabulously in your 60s without looking like mutton dressed as lamb

Jul 20, 2022
We spoke to an expert stylist for advice on how to look and feel young in your 60s and 70s. Source: Getty

As women, it can often feel like we are judged by society at every turn, especially when it comes to the way we present ourselves.

As we enter our 60s and 70s it can be hard to get the fashion transition right. Getting older doesn’t mean you suddenly want (or need) to dress like a frumpy old lady – especially when you often still feel young (and fun) inside!

So, how do we look youthful without going overboard and appearing as though we’ve raided our daughter’s (or granddaughter’s!) wardrobe? It’s a difficult balancing act, but there are plenty of over-60s women doing it well, and so can you. The key here is to highlight what you have instead of hiding it or, conversely, flood-lighting it!

To help you get out of your fashion funk, Starts at 60 spoke with personal stylist Ellen Daly from This with That Styling and got some inside tips for looking youthful in your 60s and beyond – without overdoing it!

Donate or throw out the following items (they aren’t doing you any favours):

  • Shiny or pewter shoes and bags
  • ‘Jesus’ sandals
  • Poorly fitted, white, three-quarter pants
  • Plain, elastic-waisted pants
  • Plain, oversized T-shirts
  • Blouses with Peter Pan or outdated collars
  • Knitted, unflattering jumpers or cardigans
  • Anything with traditional embroidery

5 wardrobe staples mature women should have in their closet:

1. A great pair of white sneakers

Why you should invest in them:

They can dress up a casual outfit, and dress down a fancy outfit. They are comfortable and will go with everything.

2. A white linen shirt

Why you should invest in them:

A great piece for layering under knitwear in the winter months and can be worn as a light jacket in the summer months over almost anything with the added bonus that it goes with every bottom imaginable.

3. A longline cardigan in a neutral colour

Why you should invest in them:

A great piece to layer over any outfit, and not too bulky for when those hot flushes strike.

4. Soft linen pants or skirt (your preference) in a neutral colour.

Why you should invest in them:

This will go with t-shirts, blouses or knitwear and can be worn year-round with a change of footwear.

5. A cotton or chiffon scarf in a shade or pattern that matches multiple items in your wardrobe.

Why you should invest in them:

This can also be used as a light covering over shoulders in the summer months and can be used to fix a neckline that is too high, or too low. It creates a beautiful flow of length from the neck and will draw the eye down through your outfit.

Mature style icons to look at for style insights

Remember, fashion trends may come and go, but true style is forever. If you’re looking for some daily fashion inspiration from more mature style icons, you’ll be pleased to know that over the past years, there’s been a growing number of mature women sharing their outfits and fashion tips.

 

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A post shared by Iris Apfel (@iris.apfel)

“When looking at mature style icons you can’t go past Iris Apfel,” Daly says. “She embodies authentic dressing, purely to make herself happy. She embraces her quirky, colourful style and doesn’t care what anyone else thinks.”

Other style icons she recommends are Diane Keaton and Dame Helen Mirren.

“Diane has a quirky, androgynous style and proudly styles herself for all her Red Carpet and TV appearances. I love how fabulous she looks in hats and she really understands how to use accessories to their best effect,” Daly explains.

“Helen is always a classic in beautiful, feminine style. She steals the show on most red carpets with her graceful outfits and beaming smile.”

More ways to dress and feel younger without looking like mutton dressed as lamb

When it comes to styling outfits for mature women, Daly says the key is to style trends with some simple pieces to make them look like your own, rather than “following a trend.”

“Luckily most trends have a few variations. If chosen carefully, these trend pieces can still have a place in your wardrobe for years to come,” she says.

Wear jeans

Jeans are always in fashion and can look great at any age – just make sure you get the right type for your shape. Trouser cut or boot-cut jeans in darker types of denim look better on larger women and, happily, a wider leg is on trend once again.

Try colours, prints and textures

Some well-placed colour instantly injects a youthful vibe.

“If pink is the colour of the season (which it will be for S/S23), choose the shade of pink that works best for you,” Daly says. ”

This will create a more timeless, authentic outfit than trying to choose the exact colour seen on the runways.”

The same goes for certain prints. Leopard print has been very popular in the past year and is best added in small doses, via a belt, shoes, bag or scarf. Don’t forget to mix and match textures too, to keep things interesting, i.e. silk with wool knits is a luxe, modern combo.

 

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A post shared by Ari Seth Cohen (@advancedstyle)

Avoid high heels

Sky-high heels are not making you look younger, they’re doing the opposite (and probably aren’t helping your feet or back either)! This is especially the case in recent years when flats have (finally!) become highly fashionable.

As previously stated, plain white sneakers have become a huge trend in the last 12-18 months and are being styled with everything. Pair them with long skirts and maxi dresses for an instant wardrobe update and evoke a more casual, modern vibe that’s also super comfortable!

Don’t be afraid to show off a bit of skin

Just because your age is increasing it doesn’t mean your hemline has to fall. You might be trying to hide veins or lumps, but a long skirt can make women look wider and frumpier. To find the most flattering skirt length for your shape, look in the mirror and note the slimmest part of the area around your knee – it could be right above, right below or in the middle. This is where your hemline should hit.

Avoid top-to-toe baggy/oversized looks

Stay away from top-to-toe baggy/oversized looks, as they can give off a frumpy vibe. Instead, pair a looser top with tighter pants or leggings; or wear a tighter top with a maxi skirt or wide-leg pants. If you don’t feel confident in fitted clothing, invest in some shapewear or tummy-tucking underwear to smooth out any lumps or bumps.

 

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A post shared by MK (M E L I N D A) (@chroniclesofmk)

Pay attention to your hair

An outfit can go from fab to drab if your hair isn’t looking great. Keep your hair as long as you want – if it’s in good condition. If you have short hair, texture it with some styling product, but stay away from bows and headbands. For more hair tips and ideas, see our article on the most flattering hairstyles for women over 60.

 

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A post shared by Char Blair (@art_of_healthy_aging)

And, above all, remember:

  • Always check in with yourself before you leave the house. Do you feel comfortable?
  • You don’t have to spend a lot to look good, you just have to be smart about it.
  • Match old with new. Don’t shy away from vintage clothing. Simply mix it with newer purchases for a more modern look.
  • Have a core wardrobe of neutral basics that you can liven up with scarves, jackets and accessories.
  • Keep a collection of your favourite looks that you can refer to for inspiration when shopping.
  • Shop online to find great looks and/or see what’s out there – especially if you’re put off by pushy sales assistants.

Daly’s biggest fashion advice for women wanting to look fabulous as they age is to see their own beauty.

“Your body is getting you through this life as best it can. It may have more bumps or marks on it than in previous years, but those bumps and marks are the roadmaps of your life. They are to be celebrated, not scorned,” she says.

“Don’t try and cover your perceived flaws as this will generally make them more prominent and can result in you looking bigger than you actually are…Be kind to yourself because you absolutely deserve it.”

What's your number one style tip? Tell us below!

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