Aimée Gowland is a local fashion expert and stylist who specializes in personal shopping, wardrobe consultation and private shopping excursions. Email questions to [email protected].
Q. My mother is a beautiful woman in her 50s. She exercises, eats right and remains current in almost everything but her fashion sense. Her wardrobe is not consistent with her grace or personality, but how can I gingerly suggest that it’s time for an update? I heard that 50 is the new 40, but she is trapped somewhere between 1940 and 1950.
A. It is not unusual for a woman as she ages to get trapped in one fashion time period. She may have found a style that worked for her years ago and then gotten stuck in a rut. This was best demonstrated in the character of Marie on the sitcom Everybody Loves Raymond. Marie was seen wearing a dark floral top with black polyester blend pants in every episode. Being a woman in your 50s now is not like being a woman in your 50s a generation ago. After all, Madonna and Bette Midler are not slowing down physically or fashionably.
To diplomatically introduce a new concept of style, discuss her inner and outer strengths and how she can enhance her best attributes with a few modern pieces of clothing. The most uncomplicated items to add to her wardrobe are denim and accessories.
· Dark mid-rise trouser-cut denim looks sophisticated, polished and current. If you can convince her to purchase two pair, she can alter one to wear with flats and the other for higher heels.
· Women of a certain age have an advantage when it comes to accessories. Fun, chunky and showy faux pieces will balance an outfit, where a younger woman wearing the same thing will look as if she is playing dress-up.
· Draw attention to her best physical features. If she has toned arms and shoulders (see: Mommy in Chief Michelle Obama), show them off. Great gams? Advocate knee-length skirts.
Use the genes your mama gave you to convince her to throw away her “mom jeans” and start her new decade in style.
Summer Lovin’ (Not)
Q. I am avoiding the inevitable. I need to purchase a bathing suit. I am in fairly decent shape for a mother of three in her 40s. My figure could not do justice to the styles found on the cover of Sports Illustrated, but I am certainly not ready for a muumuu. What will make this outing less agonizing? Also, how can I find a flattering fit?
A. The fluorescent lights, the tiny dressing rooms, the thought of someone else wiggling on the same teeny bikini … the whole production can shatter a once-positive body image and leave you horrified. I recommend self-medication prior to torture. (Avoid alcohol, though, because that will make “the pooch” between belly button and pubic bone even poochier.) Good times, my friend, good times.
Steps to making this a less unpleasant excursion:
· Prior to your outing, avoid foods that cause bloat, such as soft drinks, sugar-free snacks or anything high in sodium.
· Nosh on veggies like spinach and cucumber; they reduce bloating.
· Have your landscaping done; take necessary steps to manicure your bikini area.
· Exfoliate, exfoliate, exfoliate!
· Try a spray/airbrush tan.
Before taking the plunge:
· Choose swimwear with nice fabrics and at least 15% spandex. The high stretch content will reduce flab.
· Pick a suit with quality elastic or that is seamless in the leg, hip and back areas. This will minimize “bulging.”
Hey, we’ve all got issues:
Less than ample?
Enhance a smaller chest with a lightly padded halter top or a demi-cup with underwire. Suits with textures like tiny ruffles, smocking or small prints in the bust region work well.
Your cup runneth over?
Minimize a full chest with a dark monochromatic top that has a high or square-cut neckline. A wider-cut bottom adds balance.
Nicknamed “Short Stuff”?
A petite frame can be elongated with thin, vertical stripes. A suit cut high on the hip lengthens the leg.
Waist not? Want not.
If you have a boyish figure, a maillot or a tankini presents the appearance of a waist. A darker color from leg to mid-ribs, with a lighter shade at the chest, will grant the illusion of a curvier silhouette.
Junk in your trunk?
A skirt/boy short or skort combination in a dark hue conceals a round bottom.
Got a gut feeling?
Conceal your tummy with a dark higher waist bottom or a print with blocks of color in a tankini or one-piece suit.
Be prepared for the ladies lounging poolside to secretly wish for a seagull to poop on your head.