Looking stylish without worrying about dating yourself
By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant
If you’re stuck in a style rut or don’t feel confident wearing your summer wardrobe, try these tips to step out in style.
While hearing “dress your age” may make you feel old, there’s some truth to dressing for your body the way it is right now — not the way it was. It can take some honest appraisal from a forthright friend or an image consultant like Jackie Terribile, owner of The Small Town Stylist in Syracuse.
“One of the things I see as a mistake is, clients don’t evolve,” Terribile said. “They stick with a style that worked with them a decade ago.”
Most mature men should reconsider muscle shirts, short shorts and having several undone buttons, she said. Likewise, on most mature women, middrift-baring shirts, short shorts and deeply scooping necklines don’t flatter.
“When you’re in your 20s and 30s those looks were comfortable, but you may need more coverage now,” Terribile said. “You should still be able to look sexy and attractive. Think of style as constantly evolving, just as we are. As we age, bodies and lifestyles, families and jobs change so our style needs to change as well.”
The tailoring and shape of garments makes a big difference in looking classy.
Terribile advises women who like tunics to wear ones that skim their hips or belt them and to wear leggings or fitted pants under them.
“That shows you have a great shape underneath,” she said.
She said that most women don’t wear the right bra because measurements change over time. She recommends a bra fitting every six to 12 months.
Garments should cover all bra straps. Bras that match skin tone won’t show through thinner fabrics like white or colored bras.
Terribile also likes sundresses, if they provide enough coverage. Layering with a T-shirt underneath or a short-sleeved shrug offer more coverage and warmth for cool evenings or frigid air conditioning.
“You don’t have to think about what goes with what,” Terribile said. “Dress up with sandals or down with sneakers. It’s ageless.”
Fit-and-flare, sheaths or wrap dresses complement any figure and look nice for dressier occasions.
Terribile thinks that men should update their shorts and pants occasionally to avoid dating their look instead of sticking with the same clothing for years and years.
Cargo pants and shorts are still popular, but they should fit well and be wrinkle-free. Printed pants are in as well. Tall men can wear larger prints for casual wear, but average to shorter height men should stay with mid-sized or smaller prints so they don’t overwhelm their stature.
As always, fit is important. Shorter men should not wear oversized shorts that go well past the knees.
“Focus more on tailoring,” Terribile said. “As our bodies change and we put on more pounds, we look heavier the bigger our clothes are. Find things that are fitted well, not oversized.”
She added that extra pockets contribute visual size, as does tucking in a skin-tight T-shirt. Layering a well-fitting T-shirt with an untucked button-down shirt over it, and wearing a belt, “gives an illusion of a waistline but with coverage,” Terribile said.
She encourages men to try the layered shirt look with khaki shorts or pants as a go-to casual outfit.
Terribile likes brighter colors for summer as a break from the more somber hues worn the rest of the year.
Before wearing sandals, men should buff their feet smooth with a pumice stone and clip their toenails as needed. Wearing socks with sandals is a no-no.
Considering the fad of socks-with-sandals grew from wearing it ironically, only those on the cutting-edge of fashion should try it, not those wearing classic styles or slightly dated clothing.
Stylist Ann Marie Stonecypher-Bick owns AMS Models and Talent Inc. in Cicero. She urges clients to make sure that their clothing is the right size above all else.
“If the clothes don’t fit well, no matter how expensive it is or how much you love it, it won’t look good,” Stonecypher-Bick said. “Dress in what’s comfortable for you, not necessarily what’s in style.
“If a length or fit doesn’t flatter you, don’t wear it. Clothing should flatter your best parts, not just look stylish.”
She’s firm believer in finding great-looking clothing for every size and age, not clinging to a particular look that no longer works.
“Things that looked good on you 20 years ago may not look good on you now and that’s okay,” she said. “You don’t want to draw the wrong kind of attention to yourself.”
She said that many people who want to look smaller wear a smaller size, thinking that the clothing will obscure their size; however, the opposite effect is true.
“I once went shopping with a woman who refused to own something that said ‘size 14’ inside and the pants she bought in a 12 looked terrible,” Stonecypher-Bick said.
She encourages looking at current magazines and websites of clothing companies such as Banana Republic, and, for dressier occasions, Ann Taylor or Men’s Wearhouse.
“Look how they put the clothing together,” she said. “You don’t have to buy them but put together looks that are similar. But don’t go to Forever 21 or another site that’s not age-appropriate.”