Forty & fabulous

Being 40 can be fashionably fun, actually. Vidula Rastogi Chopra offers some guidelines to make you look hip ‘n’ happening

Opt for dark jeans instead of light, faded ones.

Turning 40 doesn’t mean what it was decades ago. Today’s 40-year-old is fit, fine and fabulous. Here’s how you can welcome this marvellous age, and the years ahead, in style!

Women often find themselves at a crossroad at this stage. Questions such as how much skin show is acceptable, whether glitter, shine and sequins would still work, whether they should dress trendy or classy often cross their mind. Women this age don’t want to look like they’re dressing too young, but at the same time, don’t want to wear clothes that are too frumpy and will age them. So, what’s ideal?

The skinny on skin

One question foremost in most women’s minds once they turn 40 is whether they can still wear a mini, which is a skirt or dress that falls mid-thigh. Opinions are divided on this. Some believe women in their 50s, 60s and beyond can rock the mini, others believe that once a woman hits the big four-0, she should lay her minis to rest. “What looks good on you depends more on your body type and your level of comfort than your age. If you’re not comfortable wearing something, it will show up in your body language,” says Guneet Sachdev, designer at Tesoro. Pulling down your dress every now and then is not sexy. “If you have great legs and are confident in your skin, go ahead, wear skirts as short as you like.”

Pair short skirts with full sleeves, and a skimpy top with something at least knee-length or longer. Don’t show too much skin all at once.

Although most of us obsess over the size of our bellies and thighs, what can really age us are our upper arms. If they are not toned, cover them up. If you have toned arms, high neck halters work great at making you look sexy without showing too much skin.

Upgrade your wardrobe

Perhaps you can fit into your daughter’s clothes, but this doesn’t mean you should! Loud, trendy clothing is made from inferior fabrics which quickly fade or lose shape after just a few wears. This looks fine on teenagers, but not on their mothers. The last thing you want is to look like you’re in denial about your age.

Quality over quantity

“Pay attention to the fabric. Clothes made of quality fabrics will last a long time,” says designer Swati Garodia of Sartorial. “A great look for this age group is to wear shirts and tunics in natural fabrics, with cropped pants.”

Throw away anything that looks worn out and faded. You can carry off distressed garments in your teens and 20s, but not now, when you’re older and want to be taken seriously.

“Stay a mile away from 100% polyesters,” stresses Guneet, “unless you’re shopping for the beach!” She swears by flowing garments made from soft, natural fabrics that cover you up yet take the shape of your body and don’t look like a sack. “Opt for clothes that are comfortable, easy to wear, and look good.”

T-shirts that scream your thoughts

Ditch t-shirts with slogans - unless you’re doing couture and wearing a white tee with a tulle skirt, complete with fancy heels and clutch (not for the faint-hearted.) Tees with witty one-liners, abuses, or just brand names are fine for schlepping around at home or in the gym, but don’t work anywhere else. Not when you’re 40. Or 30. Or even 20. Leave them in your teens, along with your long lost past.

Now that you know what to avoid, here’s what you should invest in:

Skirts & bottoms

Bring flair into your wardrobe. Stop shopping for tops after tops, and focus on bottoms. Pick up colourful skirts, palazzos and trousers to wear with basic tops. Your regular black top will get a new lease of life if worn with a vibrant skirt and a chunky necklace.

Layers

Every woman over 40 should have a basic jacket that can go with everything. A light jacket can be worn through the year in Bangalore, and will immediately make you look more stylish and put together, not to mention, warm! Invest in a good quality, high-end jacket and wear it with everything, from flowing dresses to denims.

If temperature permits, layer your pieces. A singlet under a shirt, with a few top buttons left open, looks better than a plain shirt. This look also gives the illusion of a longer neck without showing too much skin. (Be sure to match the colour of your singlet to your jeans or skirt, not to your shirt.)

Capes

Every woman should have a cape in her wardrobe. Capes are evergreen, free size, and can elevate any look. “A cape over a solid top and pants or a skirt always works,” feels Swati. “Cropped capes can even be worn as sari blouses or over a fitted kurta or dress, making them extremely versatile.”

Dark wash denim

Opt for dark jeans instead of light, faded ones. Dark denim is elongating and can make you look taller and leaner. Stay away from ripped jeans. An unobtrusive rip is fine, but leave the drama for teenagers.

Colour

As you grow older, your skin will lighten, and colours that once suited you may not suit you anymore. Black can start looking harsh on certain skin tones. “To brighten your complexion and make you look more youthful and energetic, opt for colours in your wardrobe,” advises Swati. “You can’t go wrong with jewel-toned solid colours in natural fabrics. Don’t forget to add a statement necklace.”

Accessories

A statement handbag, jewellery, scarf or shoes can change your look from a regular one to one that stands out. And lastly, before stepping out, do remember to put on the most important accessory of all: a smile.

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