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How do I dress my age without looking frumpy?

by Jo

Mother of the groom

Mother of the groom

I am about to turn 62 and until now have got away with looking and dressing much younger. However, my clothes and hair suddenly look too 'girly'. I am 5ft 7 ins (?168 cms) tall and weigh 59 kilos. I am short-waisted (not much waist, bit of a tummy), but with very long, thin arms and legs which make me look slimmer than I actually am. My hair is long, to my armpits, but if it is cut short my head looks small in proportion with my long limbs. I think my season is 'cool summer' and I am happy with my dark blonde hair colour.

Jane's answer... Hi Jo. Great question!
I'm assuming that's you in the photo? And that it was taken fairly recently? You certainly look decades younger than 60 in the photo!

Your hair

Your hair colour looks good and your hair looks in good condition. However, I suspect you've been wearing it in a similar style for quite a few years. It looks girly because of its length and cut. I suggest you update your hairstyle. You don't have to go too short, but shoulder length in a contemporary style will make you look less girly. You have an oblong face shape. Check the general recommendations for your face shape here. I suggest something like a contemporary layered bob with a fringe. Look for hair style ideas here.

Your clothes

I suggest you give yourself a wardrobe audit. Assess each item and work out if it's still appropriate for your current shape and lifestyle. If it's too 'girly' try and identify what it is that's making it feel that way. Is it...
  • The style?

  • The pattern?

  • Too short?

  • Too revealing?

If you can't work it out ask another style question here with pictures of some of the outfits and I'll see if I can identify what's wrong.

Occasionally look at fashion magazines and websites (especially around March and September when the upcoming season's trends are shown) to get an idea of which styles are current and collect pictures of the styles you like. Even though many of the models are young that doesn't mean the style is only suitable for young people. Cover the head of the model if it helps to try and visualize the style on you! Try and work out whether the style is right for your body shape or how you could achieve a similar look with a slightly modified style that does suit you.

Also look at women in the media and see whose styles you admire to get ideas.

How to avoid looking frumpy

These are things to avoid to stop you looking frumpy...
  • Wearing big, baggy clothing

  • Wearing skirts and dresses at unfashionable lengths. Currently the best lengths for you will be either around knee length or just above your knee, or below ankle length (if your vertical body shape is long legs and short body then ankle length will work for you as well)

  • Wearing unfashionable shoes -- shoes are one of the things many people notice and they can make or break an outfit. Even if you can't wear high heels make sure your low heels are in contemporary styles and have the right 'feel' for the outfit you're wearing

  • Wearing clothes that are more than a decade old -- even if the style has come back into fashion there are usually subtle differences to the current style. Check old clothing very carefully to make sure it's not dating you. It may be possible to alter it to make it work, but otherwise get rid of it and get something new

  • Wearing clothes that are associated with old age. The danger list includes...

    • Cardigans -- unless in contemporary styles

    • Pleated skirts

    • Peter Pan collars

    • Blouses buttoned right up

    • Lace collars

    • Small floral prints -- unless in contemporary styles

    • Long skirts

    • Elastic waists

You may also be interested in...

Check out my new article on how to dress well at any age. And also take a look at my answer to another reader's question on what to wear in your 60s.

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Dressing in your 70s & 80s
by: Jane of Style Makeover HQ

Thank you to the lady who's about to turn 75 and congratulations on your recent marriage.

Although I haven't yet got articles specifically for 70 or 80 year olds the same basic rules apply. See this article for the general rules.

It may help you to see the examples, linked to in that article, under 'What to wear in your 60s' for examples of translating the rules for older women.

To ask me a specific style question and send me pictures use this link.

how to dress in your 70s?
by: Anonymous

Great article about how to dress in your 60s but nothing about how to dress when even older. i will be 75 next month and just remarried. Naturally, I want to look my best! Also I notice some people send you pictures. How would i do that?

I won't look frumpy now!
by: Phyllis

I came to this page because I want to look good for my 50th High School reunion. I've been wearing all of the frumpy styles, especially since I'm 20 lbs lighter. Thanks for the great and helpful advice!

Pleased I could help!
by: Jane of Style Makeover HQ

Hi Jo

You're welcome, I'm pleased I could help! I don't think it will take you too much effort to get your appearance to match your current stage of life.

And I hope you enjoy the journey!

All the best


Thank you
by: Jo

Hi Jane

When I asked my style question I was experiencing a real sense of loss, knowing I ought to change my looks to suit my age and yet feeling as if it was all downhill from here.

However, I am now very excited about sorting myself out! It is going to be great fun and I can't thank you enough for your guidance.

With many, many thanks, Jo

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jane liddelow

"Your style makeover may require a few tweaks or a total re-think. Using a mix of science and art I show you how to discover your style and look great every day.

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