Thursday, October 28, 2010

Over 50 Women Suit Up

Anne Klein One Button Blazer

Editor's Note: This post was updated in December 2012. If you're shopping after the post-2012 holidays, you might want to take a peek at the 17 End-of-Season Cyber Sales

Are women over 50 only interested in dressing comfortably? I was beginning to think—from listening to friends, looking around me, and reading women’s comments in various blogs—the answer was: “Generally speaking, yes.” But last week, I went to the More magazine “Reinvention Convention” in New York City and realized the answer may not be so cut and dry. The vast majority of the roughly 300 women over 40 (many of them in their fifties and older) in attendance were dressed to the nines in suits, beautiful sheaths or well-made skirts and sweaters.

And here’s the interesting part: The pre-event information suggested that attendees “dress comfortably and appropriately for the day’s activities.” At the convention, I couldn’t help but smile when I saw so many well-dressed women. Personally, now that I’m over 50, I feel more comfortable in a well-made dress than I do in a T-shirt and jeans. Could it be I’m not alone? Or was it simply that the women saw the event as a networking opportunity and wanted to make a good impression? Or do women dress as much for other women as they do for men?

Suits were by far the outfit-of-choice for the event. The convention attendees did a fabulous job of counterbalancing the masculine-nature of the traditional dark suit by wearing feminine blouses, jackets with a touch of shimmer, beautiful jewelry and shoes, and soft hairstyles. Take, for instance, the Anne Klein One Button Blazer above. The one-button design plus the camisole and jewelry keep the tailored jacket from looking at all manly. Click on the photo to go to the Anne Klein site, to see the matching Classic Trousers.

Jones New York had a booth at the convention's Expo. The clothier brought their collection of simple, pastel-colored man-tailored shirts and black suit jackets, skirts and slacks. On the back wall of JNY booth was the company’s current ad reporting that women now represent half of all workers, according to a 2009 Shriver Report. However, last summer, everyone was talking about an article in The Atlantic entitled The End of Men. That article reported that women have become the majority of the workforce. Clearly, there are lots of working women out there and regardless of their type of employment—corporate, non-profit, entrepreneur—most of them are going to need a suit for some occasion. After the More convention, I went searching online for suits and accessories. I wanted to find outfits like the ones I had seen on the fabulous-looking women over 50 at the More convention. Here’s a sample of what I found. As always, click on the links or pictures to go directly to the clothier for more details and to take advantage of possible sales!

The traditional skirt-suit or pants-suit have two things going for them: 1) they come with a top and bottom, so you don’t have to find matching separates and 2) the continuous color scheme from shoulder to hem is flattering; it makes you look longer and trimmer than an outfit with different color top and bottom. I'm happy to report that not all suits are the classic man-tailored suits. More and more, designers are adding feminine accents--peplums, thin belts, ruffling or draping--and/or beautiful fabrics to soften the suits.

I also love Channel-esque jackets with round-neck collars. Again, because they don't look at all masculine. Here's a Jones New York Jewel Neck Jacket

Jones New York Jewel Neck Jacket

Suit jackets made of crepe fabric are also more feminine, like the  Double Crepe Hanover Jacket below from Ann Taylor. There's also a matching Hawthorne Double Crepe Skirt

Double Crepe Hanover Jacket

Do you prefer something more traditional? If so, you're in luck. "Classic" styling is everywhere! For example, here's a Jones New York Washable Wool Alloy Suited Jacket (Grey, Size 10).  This suit jacket is available in a variety of sizes, including Women's, Petites and Plus sizes. There's also a matching straight skirt or slacks.

Jones New York Washable Wool Alloy Suited Jacket (Grey, Size 10)

If you choose a suit with more traditional styling, a top in a bright shade that flatters your complexion is great. For cooler days, a thin pullover sweater is a great choice. Or, if you need something lighter for the office, the shell like the  Jones New York Sleeveless Drape Shell below is nice. FYI--raspberry-colored blouses under suits were a popular choice at the More convention.

Jones New York Sleeveless Drape Shell

And don't forget the power of accessories. A lovely necklace and stylish pair of shoes, like these Anne Klein Mann Dress Tailored (black, Size 7) (also available in a solid taupe or yellow suede).

Anne Klein Mann Dress Tailored (black, Size 7)

Personally, I prefer wearing a separate jacket and skirt as opposed to the traditional suit. Dark suits are a nice contrast for the 20-something complexion and physique. However, since turning 50, I find dark suits are a little dreary—coffin-ready. A colorful jacket with a dark dress or skirt seems a little more energetic, a little less predictable. Am I splitting hairs? Probably. But you know what they say: To look good, you must feel good.  I love this next  Elizabeth and James James Blazer (was $465, now $325) for two feel good reasons. Yes, the color is vibrant (reason #1), but it's also made of lovely soft and fluid silk. 

Elizabeth and James James Blazer

I'm also a fan of tweed jackets. If you could find a sheath the same color as the top shown, that would be perfect. But a black dress would be equally stunning.

Femme Tweed Jacket

Femme Tweed Jacket

Here's an example of a possible sheath to wear with a suit jacket...

Jones New York Platinum Sheath Dress (Black, Size 14)

Perhaps, you prefer pants. Try a colorful jacket with a matching dark top and trousers.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Ms. Green Jeans

How many different color slacks and jeans do you own? My massive thighs preclude wearing anything but dark colors, so all my pants--dress slacks, cotton twills and jeans--are either black, navy, charcoal or chocolate. In fact, the last time I deviated from the standard dark colors was 1978, when I owned a pair of lovely Cerulean blue corduroy jeans. (Ah, the Seventies!) Needless to say, that’s a very long time to go without branching out. So I’m thrilled that designers are showing different shades of green slacks and jeans for Fall 2010.

This season’s green pants are a great way for women over 50 to look stylish without spending lots of money or going too fashion radical. And just to be clear: I'm not talking about Kelly or emerald green. I'd hate for any of us to look like an aging leprechaun. Instead, this fall's green pants come in muted shades with names like "safari green," "moss" and "smokegreen." While I would never recommend a trendy, masculine-looking military jacket for women over 50, I'm in love with stylish "military green" pants. Why? They're not black or navy. And the neutral shade makes it easy to match with a favorite top.

Here’s a sample of the green pants online.

Jones New York Straight Leg Twill Pant With Stretch (Green)
for $59.00.
Jones New York Straight Leg Twill Pant With Stretch (Green)

Also, take a look at... Vintage Twill Rome Straight Leg Pants in New Military Olive from Tommy Hilfiger for $98.00

Michael Kors Twill Cargo Pants in Dusty Sage at Saxs for $79.50.

Tall Stretch Twill Slim Cargo and Stretch Twill Slim Cargo pants in Safari Green at Anne Taylor Loft for $59.50.

Nordstrom has a great selection of green pants, including...
Not Your Daughter's Jeans® Straight Leg Sueded Denim Jeans in Moss for $108.00.

Worn Jeans 'Anna' Trousers in Greensmoke for $59.50.

Not Your Daughter's Jeans® Tummy Tuck® Corduroy Pants in Jade for $98.00.

Barneys New York has Vince Boyfriend Chinos in Olive for $195. There are other choices, if you want to spend more than $200 on green pants. Personally, I don't like green pants that much.

Looking for something with a smaller price tag? Target as Merona Super Utility Pants in Olive for $27.99.

And here's one last example...
Michael Stars Twill Classic Straight Leg Pant
(below) are available in "Army Green" for $128.00 at the online site of
Michael Stars Twill Classic Straight Leg Pant

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Fall 2010 Forecast: Fur Flurries


The fashion gurus are telling us that looking stylish in Fall 2010 is all in the details. Simple or minimal ensembles require an edgy accent—leather, feathers, sequins. A chunky fisherman's sweater might be paired with a delicate lace skirt; a sweet floral print blouse might be worn with a brash wide-striped skirt. The goal seems to be to create something unexpected, a outfit that requires a double-take. For women over 50, it’s an opportunity to have a little fun with fashion.

Many designers are creating unexpected looks by adding fur, faux fur, and shearling to, well, everything—hats, coats, sweaters, handbags, even high heels. In my mind, some of these faux fur-trimmed fashions are slightly ridiculous, but in a fun, good humored way. They remind me of the coats worn by Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon impersonating female musicians in Some Like It Hot (talk about a double-take!). If you’re a woman over 50 like me, looking for a stylish something to perk up what’s already hanging in your closet, a faux fur-embellished coat, sweater, pair of shoes, hat, or vest might be just the thing. Below are a few online examples. Click on the pictures or links for more details and/or to go to the clothing company’s site.

Tommy Hilfiger is offering a Fur-trimmed Coat this season. The Jones New York Quilted Coat With Belt (Khaki) shown below has the fur trim and comes in the trendy "new nude" color.
Jones New York Quilted Coat With Belt (Khaki)

At Macy's, you'll find a Faux Fur Trim Cable Knit Sweater from DKNY for $98. Here's a
Jones New York Faux Fur Trimmed Cardigan (Pattern)
, priced at $194.
Jones New York Faux Fur Trimmed Cardigan (Pattern)
The fur-trimmed vest is a great alternative to more expensive coats and sweaters. For example, the Jones New York Quilted Vest With Faux Fur, Ships 11/4 (Black) shown here is $99.

Jones New York Quilted Vest With Faux Fur, Ships 11/4 (Black)

Some of the fur-trimmed spiked heels I've seen in the mega-monster September fashion issues have made me laugh out loud. Shoes and boots are a great way to make a statement about being over 50 and still having energy and a sense of humor. (A couple of years ago, I bought a pair of biker boots. What possessed me? I don't know--I don't own a motorcycle. Turning 50, perhaps?) Anyway. There's a pair of Jeffrey Campbell "Daphne" Sandals at Nordstrom . The shoe is trimmed with real rabbit fur for $129.00. Michael Kors has a pair of Colette Clogs with a little bit of faux fur lining poking out.

Ankle-height and long boots with foldover fur flaps are popular like this BOOT W/FUR TRIM-10-BLACK from for $189.

Or the High-Heel Lace-Up Bootie from BCBGMAXAZRIA ($325.00). The designer also has a Platform Shearling Boot for $198.00. Juicy Couture has several boots with fur, including has a faux fur flap wedge boot, a couple of long shearling boot designs, and even a faux fur slipper for $60. There's a Rabbit Fur Ankle Boot for $240 as well as a long, wedge Pippa Rabbit Fur Boot for $330 at Saks. Looking for something a little higher-end? Henry cuir has a shearling cuff boot at Barney's New York for $815.00 or the shaggy Polina Fur Ankle Boots by Alexander Wang for $925.00. And on the other end of the spectrum, Target has some fur-embellished boots and slippers.

HATS has several furry hat designs. The KNITTED RABBIT FUR HAT-ONE-BROWN shown at the top of this post also comes in black and is priced at $98. Below are two more Max Studio hats, both available for $48. Click on the photos for details at the Max Studio website.