Sometimes we make bad fashion choices because we still think older garments in our closet are relevant—like pleated pants. Other times, we’ve just gotten a little too old for certain choices—like thick, black nighttime eyeliner. Pleated pants look great… on Michael Douglas in the first “Wall Street.” On you, not so much. Thick, black eyeliner looks sexy and mysterious on a mid-20s Emma Stone. On you? Well, if you happen to be over 40, read the following paragraph…
1. You wear way too much make-up.
Make-up, in some form, is necessary for most women if they don’t want to look like they just rolled out of bed (if you don’t need make-up, congratulations—you’re an outlier). Too much can make you look like Bette Davis in “What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?” and brutally emphasize wrinkles. Same with dark lipstick and heavy eyes shadow—the dark hues magnify wrinkles.
Sound advice: Three words: Less is more. For lips, try the sheer colors in nude tones. For eyes, go with a natural hue and keep it off your brow bone.
2. You own pleated pants (which is OK), but you also wear them.
There was a time in the late ‘80s when you couldn’t find a guy in middle management not wearing pleats, but men’s fashion has evolved since then. We’ve learned that pleats make men hippier than Shakira. On women, pleats do nothing but produce the unflattering illusion of extra pounds. Why haven’t pleated pants been outlawed?
Sound advice: A properly-fitted pair of flat-fronts will always look better than their puffy counterparts. You’re trying to simplify your silhouette.
3. You wear comfortable shoes during inappropriate occasions.
Whoa, whoa—hear me out on this one. Everyone loves a comfortable shoe, I know I certainly do. I’ve been a grade school teacher for over 15 years, running around on my feet for 8 hours a day. If I wore the shoes I love (mostly heels), I’d be in a wheelchair today. In these cases, I opt for comfort. But heels can be a drag depending on if I’m standing or walking for long periods of time. It would be easy to wear a loafer or a sensible flat, but depending on the occasion, those shoes can ruin the aesthetic of a cocktail dress. Obviously there’ll be times when cute ballet slippers or tennis shoes are appropriate—just consider the situation you’re dressing for.
Sound Advice: Women, go with a wedge. Comfort, height, fashion, and leg definition all in one shoe.
4. You wear pantyhose when you don’t have to.
Sure, there are times when we all have to wear pantyhose—like when you’re forced to wear that tacky satin dress and the bride insists on matching teal hosiery for all bridesmaids. And I suppose there are some workplaces that still require “hose” as part of the dress code, but those appear to be diminishing fast.
Sound advice: If you must, choose a color closest to your natural skin tone. Anything else is awkward looking.
5. You’re not giving up your old hairstyle without a fight.
This is different for men and women. Women tend to cut their hair really short and dye their hair a color several shades too dark. Men make the mistake of either going with hair plugs, chancing it with the comb-over, or dyeing it unnaturally dark—none of these options ever look right.
Sound advice: Lighter hair on older women is always more flattering as women age and if short hair is preferred, choose a style that accentuates your features. Guys, if you’re going to dye, don’t be afraid to leave the temples gray—it’s still attractive and takes the years off.
6. Your teeth look like small yellow tombstones.
When I see yellow teeth, I think, “Geez, this person has probably spent decades doing nothing but drinking coffee and smoking cigarettes.” Sounds great if you’re a 1950s-era Beat poet, not so much if the first thing people see is your prematurely aged teeth.
Sound advice: There are dozens of inexpensive teeth whitening strips on the market, but if you want to get the same results at home at a fraction of the cost, try baking soda.
7. You pluck your eyebrows to oblivion.
I don’t think my grandmother ever had eyebrows—maybe she did at one time, but I’ve never seen them. She has the same problem many women do—over-plucking to the point of having no brows, then darkening up her barely-existent brow line with a pencil. As we age (and pluck), our brows get thinner and lighter, but painted on brows packs on the years.
Sound advice: Preventative maintenance is fine, but please stop plucking the whole brow. Find a shape that compliments your face and stick with it.
Photo: Getty Images