More sizzle, less fizzle: How to dress youthfully in your 60s and beyond

Mar 10, 2021
Scarves are your friend! Use them to inject some colour and fun into your outfit - day or night. 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. But as we enter our 60s, 70s or 80s, 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!

But how do we look youthful without going overboard and appearing as though we’ve raided our daughter (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 highlighting what you have instead of hiding it or, conversely, flood-lighting it!

Here’s Starts at 60’s 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
  • Polo shirts and plain, oversized T-shirts
  • Blouses with Peter Pan or outdated collars
  • Knitted, unflattering jumpers or cardigans
  • Anything with traditional embroidery

Wear jeans

Jeans are always in fashion, and they 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 denims look better on larger women.

Avoid black near your face

You may have heard that black is slimming and appropriate for almost every occasion, but as women get older, their skin becomes paler, meaning black can be the opposite of flattering near the face. It can emphasise wrinkles and dark shadows under the chin and around the eyes. Earthy colours such as olive, grey and brown can make a great neutral base instead of black. But if you love black and can’t bear to part with it, consider adding a bright scarf or statement necklace around your neckline. (Black pants or skirts are still fine, of course.)

Designer Carla Zampatti expertly breaks up a black outfit with a statement silver choker and a white jacket. Source: Getty

Try colours, prints and textures

Some well-placed colour instantly injects a youthful vibe, as do 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.

Designer Diane Von Furstenberg knows texture is a great tool. Source: Getty

Wear less jewellery

Don’t fall victim to the over-60s women’s habit of wearing all your jewellery at once. Instead, focus on one statement piece with a few smaller accessories. Sounding like a rattle is not flattering, and it’s not making you look younger either.

Julie Bishop knows a pair of statement earrings and a clutch are all that’s needed here. Source: Getty

Add a scarf

A beautiful silk or cotton scarf with a modern pattern can do wonders for a plain outfit. It’s effortlessly youthful and chic and can be worn day or night.

Actress Candice Bergen adopts the leopard-print trend – and shows it can work at any age. Source: Getty

Avoid high heels

Sky-high heels are not making you look younger, they are 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. Sneakers – especially plain white sneakers – have become a huge trend in the past 12-18 months and are being worn 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!

Dare to bare (a bit)

Avoiding tight mini-skirts is a given but, conversely, just because your age is increasing 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.

Actress Sally Field’s bold red look – showing a bit of leg – is a winner. Source: Getty

Shop in places you never have before

One of the biggest mistakes mature women make is excluding themselves from stores that have a younger feel. No, the shop assistant won’t look at you strangely, and no she won’t judge you! Have a browse, you might be surprised by what you find. Some of the cheaper clothing stores, such as Valleygirl, Temt and Forever New, have some clothes that will suit any body shape or age, such as flowy skirts, basic tops, pretty dresses and chic three-quarter capri pants. Stores such as H&M have great basics and a fantastic clothing recycling program that offers you a 15 per cent off discount card for every three items donated (which can be from any brand).

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. (We have an impressive range on the Sassy Marketplace, which has proved very popular.)

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 hair 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.

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.
  • Shop online to find great looks and/or see what’s out there – especially if you’re put off by pushy sales assistants.
  • Match old with new. Don’t shy away from vintage clothing. Simply mix it with newer purchases for a more youthful 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.
  • Less is more.

What's your number one style tip? Do you follow some rules?

Please sign in to post a comment.
Retrieving conversation…
Stories that matter
Emails delivered daily
Sign up