Super Wardrobe and Style Tips for Women Over 45

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“When it comes to looking good, it’s not your size or shape that matters but the fit of your clothes” says the lovely Ilse Justus, who’s an image consultant from South Africa.

Today on Lifestyle Fifty we’re talking about: Fashion for women over 45, Styles for women over 45,  and Wardrobe tips for women over 50 and beyond.

Style tips for women over 45 by Ilse Justus

Style Tips for women over 45

And I agree. So many of us get into an image rut as we get older, and I know that if it wasn’t for my trendy daughter I would probably still be wearing 1960’s bell bottoms or similar! The downside about being in a style rut after the age of 45 is that it affects your confidence and you might be looking around at other people who seem to be doing so much better while feeling frustrated that you can’t quite get it together yourself.

So without further ado, lets get talking wardrobe tips and style tips for mature women who might be stuck in a rut and now want to look trendy.

When you look good, you feel good

“Every woman can be fabulous and attractive regardless of age, size or shape with a little effort. You stamp your own value on yourself: you are made great or mediocre by your own free will.  Why not choose great?” says Ilse. “Every woman’s body is shaped differently but the thing that is true for everyone is that our clothes should and can give the illusion of a balanced body or a body that resembles a neat hour glass figure.”

Ilse kindly offered to contribute a guest post to Lifestyle Fifty, and I think you’re going to love her down to earth, easy to apply tips for looking good.

You might also like:

7 Style Tips for Dressing Well after 50

How to Wear Ponte Pants and Look a Million Dollars.

Top Wardrobe and style tips

Tips for looking good by Ilse Justus

In my business of analysing ladies’ wardrobes, making suggestions for an updated look and going shopping with them I’ve identified some trends amongst older women.  The number one principle to remember is that women, irrespective of age, should have curves.

While fashion magazines may be full of waif-like models with fragile, stick thin limbs and bodies as flat as wash boards, women are actually designed to have curves.  It’s natural, it’s feminine, it’s sexy – and most men say they prefer curvy women.

To give the illusion of a balanced body with a curvy hour glass figure you should try and make sure to do the following:-

  • Keep shoulders and hips in line
  • Have a defined bust – do make sure that you are wearing the correct size bra and if you need a push-up bra then acquire one
  • Show off a waist, even with a softly curved tummy
  • Flatter a curved bottom.

And ultimately, do not draw attention to figure challenges.

  • For example, don’t wear a belt if you have a large tummy.
  • Don’t allow tops to end at the broadest part of your hips if you have hips much larger than the breadth of your shoulders.
  • Don’t wear large horizontal stripes if you are short and stocky.

Before you leave the house

Before stepping out of the house, look in the mirror and check to see whether you have done your figure justice.  Heels often do the trick (even just a bit of a heel) as well as making sure shirt, pants and dress hemlines are ending at the right place to hide figure challenges or to make you look taller or slimmer. Visit VaVaVoom Image for tips on how to look slimmer in minutes

Good grooming

It does not matter what you wear but if you are not well groomed you could negate your entire look!

By good grooming I mean the bare essentials:

General wardrobe trends

When working with older ladies, I most often deal with women who want to have an updated wardrobe but who are afraid of looking like “mutton dressed as lamb” and so they stay with the same styles of blouses/tops (often loose fitting) and often in the same boring neutral colours, especially white.

My advice from the outset for these ladies is that the only times you can resemble mutton dressed like lamb is when you, for example,

  • Reveal too much flesh
  • Wear too tight clothes
  • Wear clothes that are clearly designed for teens – this is usually obvious by virtue of the cut, colour and texture of the clothing.

In addition, if you are wearing fitting trousers or jeans, opt for tops/blouses with a looser fit and if you are wearing a fitted blouse/shirt, opt for pants that aren’t too tight.  For example, if you have a good figure, you could wear skinny jeans with a loose feminine blouse that covers the bottom. If you are wearing a fitted shirt, then boot leg, straight-leg or wide-leg pants work well.

I have also observed that women neglect their underwear, especially beyond the age of 50!  In other words, they are wearing granny panties just because they have a grandchild.  And as one client said, “my husband says that there’s so MUCH bra!”  And then of course, the wrong underwear often also implies a visible pantyline or creases in the bust area under a sweater because of a bra that has too much lace/fabric.

Tips to freshen up your wardrobe

1. If you can, have yourself colour coded to ensure that you buy clothes (those that surround your face) in the correct tones.

2. Introduce colour to your blouses, tops and shirts.  Experiment, especially if you are used to only wearing white, black, grey neutrals.  Colour makes you look more awake!

3. Wear colourful scarves to complete your look and add an element of interest.

4. Ditch the cardigans sometimes and look for jackets that have some structure – even knits come with structure in the shoulder area.  Structure always demands more respect and/or looks more glam and “together”.

5. Every wardrobe needs a trench coat and a fabulous long pair of boots in winter!

6. If you are overweight be careful of wearing shapeless tops and trousers.  This just makes you look like a square box.  Rather go for more tailored garments.

7. If you are tired of your wardrobe all together, look at investing in a quality basic capsule which you can build on to.  All the clothes in the capsule must be able to mix and match with each other. A capsule consists of:

  • 2 “overtops”.  These can be jackets, long structured cardies.  Every wardrobe needs at least one blazer!
  • 3 “bottoms”. These can be jeans, trousers or skirts.
  • 3 “tops”.  These can be poloneck jerseys, blouses, shirts, even t-shirts in summer.  Choose one in a neutral shade like white, two in solid colours or one in a solid colour and one in a print.  It is not advisable to have too many prints because they do not mix and match well.

In winter, you would add a trench coat.  It is important that all the “overtops” match the “bottoms” and that the “tops” also match everything else.

8. Keep pace with what is trendy every season – Read magazines that have fashion/style sections suitable for “older” women.  Often just a small addition, can update your wardrobe season to season, e.g. by buying an item of clothing in the new colour trend or fabric trend.  Opting for a basic capsule that has a CLASSIC style will give your wardrobe more longevity.  It is also very important to opt for quality for your basic capsule.  You can then have fun experimenting with less expensive “fashionable” updates into the future.

9.  If your figure allows for it, ditch the regular waisted jeans/pants and opt for ones that aren’t any higher than a centimeter below your navel.  There is nothing that screams “old-fashioned” than super high waisted regular cut jeans.  They are also not flattering because they give you a “lot of behind!”  Elasticated waist bands are also a no-no!

10. A little denim jacket!  A denim jacket goes a long way to updating your smart/casual wardrobe by including a fun element. You can wear it with skirts, dresses or pants.  At our age I just wouldn’t recommend wearing it with denim pants as this could be too much.

Final word

Updating your wardrobe is supposed to be fun and not daunting. I would recommend that you first and foremost analyse your basic capsule elements, update them where need be and then enjoy building your wardrobe to work for you over time, i.e. you must want to wear everything in it and feel good about yourself at the same time!

Style tips for women over 45 by Ilse Justus

Ilse Justus (Vavavoom Image and Style) is an experienced Personal Stylist and professional Image Consultant, specializing in:  Personal colour analysis, face shape analysis, wardrobe analysis, personal shopping, make-up lessons, figure analysis, illusion dressing (play down figure challenges and highlight assets), professional/career image essentials. She also gives speeches at public speaking events, particularly aimed at motivating women to be the best that they can be! Vavavoom (Ilse Justus) is an accredited member of the Association of Professional Image Consultants of South Africa.  Visit  Vavavoom’s Website  or Vavavoom Image on Facebook for more information about Ilse’s services and exciting packages.

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  1. Sometimes it is just so hard deciding what suits our shapes as we age. I have boobs and a tummy and I’m very short so almost everything doesn’t fit me properly because clothing is made for tall Amazons! I do buy petite garments at times and they tend to fit me better but their range is very limited. I adore clothes and shoes and like you I love shopping with my daughter because she makes me try things on that I consider to be too young for me. Ilse has really hit the nail on the head and I think her clothing and grooming tips are spot on.

  2. I’m a 47 year old widow of 7 years and my new bf age 57 has bought himself a harley. I need help. What do I wear? My son said I need quit wearing granny clothes if I’m gonna be a biker chick but how can i dress without looking awful. I am 210lbs 5ft.4in. and I have no curves. No hour glass figure here. :'( Cursed with no butt.small breasts which only look a lil big cause I am over weight. I just need to know what I can wear without looking like I’m trying to be in my 20’s cause that’s not a pretty sight. I’m not a beauty. I just want to look descent and respectable for my age without wearing granny clothes.

  3. hate clothes shopping, i seem to always buy stuff that does not suit me. Have no idea at all.

    • Oh Ellena, it’s a hard call isn’t it. I think the trick is to really work hard at finding a brand that makes clothes that suits you, and fits you … and then try other things. I’ve been through stages of trudging from shop to shop and finding nothing that looks good on me and thinking it’s my fault – it’s not – some things work better than others. Please keep popping back to Lifestyle Fifty and let’s hope we can offer some helpful advice 🙂

  4. Great tips! I love that we don’t have to dress old or “our age” , we get to dress for fun with clothes that are tailored for us. I am grateful that i still love well-fitting clothes and haven’t resorted to stretch pants like my Mother! Virginia – FirstClassWoman

  5. Two staples – boots and a denim jacket! Glad you have them on your list 🙂

  6. Antionette Blake says:

    Brava – you nailed it – need to repost this from time to time – lol

  7. This has been a fabulous and popular topic Jo!

  8. I agree with that: “When you look good, you feel good”

  9. My daughter and I just went through my closet and she pitched 2 bags worth of clothes. I haven’t bought anything other than fleece and activewear in a few years and I don’t want to look like a dated old bitty. I like the idea of a denim jacket – and tomorrow we shop instead of hike for a change.

    • Ilse Justus says:

      Hi Leigh
      That sounds exciting! Let us know how fruitful the shopping exercise was!

    • I hope you enjoyed your shopping trip Leigh! And doesn’t it feel good to offload sometimes – gives you new wings I think if you strip away some possessions every now and then.

  10. I think as we get older we have to put more thought into what we wear. Once upon a time I knew what looked good on me – now it is trial and error (in the store dressing room that is). Things that I think will look fabulous on me don’t anymore. I find this interesting – it just means I try on more clothes and walk home with less 🙂 I love holidays because I pay more attention to make up and nail polish and feel much better for it. I know I should do it all the time 🙁

    • Yes, I think you’re right there Jan. I also find that it takes a lot more trial and error to find what I think looks good on me, both in the changing room and when I get it out of the wardrobe. When I was younger so much more seemed to look ‘right’ and ‘good’ on me … Maybe I was less pernickety, or maybe I was style foolish 😉

  11. Thanks Ilse for the great advice. I have been getting a bit desperate about my wardrobe for a while now and had jokingly thought about throwing it all out and starting again. However now I see that perhaps I should have a good hard look at what I own and cull it back to what truly suits me and then add from there. My main problem is that I hate shopping. Do you have any tips and sites for online clothes shopping?

    I can also recommend owning a wrap dress or two – they look good and are so comfortable (usually my main criteria for good clothing). As for the denim jacket, my daughter has left one in her wardrobe at home so I am going to go an try it on right now.

    • Ilse Justus says:

      Hi Carol
      Unfortunately I don’t have much experience in online clothes shopping. I’ve always been hesitant to do this for myself because I like to feel the fabric and make sure the fit is correct before I purchase. In South Africa, I know that many ladies enjoy Zando and Spree for online clothes and shoe shopping though.
      How did the denim jacket fit/look? 🙂

    • It’s great when we can wear things our daughters leave behind, isn’t it Carol. Mine turned out a nifty little jacket the other day which has found its place in my wardrobe!

  12. Rae Hilhorst says:

    Fabulous post thanks so much. Nice to meet you Ilsa, I am guessing your job is very rewarding, I know I have from time to time thought maybe I am getting to old to wear that and also maybe I am to young to wear that. My life savers are the full brief Jockey underwear that have the invisible band of elastic around the underside of the leg, so they don’t grab and show a panty line and the Triumph bras that don’t show the folds in your back. However when the strap parts ways it is a bit annoying but simply shortening them stops that. xxx Rae

  13. Ilse thank you for these useful tips and reminders. Just yesterday I was reviewing my between seasons clothes and realised that a jacket was the missing ingredient. I’m off in search of a navy one. Do you have any suggestions for essential items for between seasons?
    Also, Jo I tried to view Ilse’s website but an error 404 message occurred. Many thanks Jo, I’m enjoying the variety of your posts.

    • Thanks Jenny, I hope Ilse will pop by shortly and answer your questions 🙂 I’m going to check out the link as soon as I get home. Thank You for bringing that to my attention 🙂

    • Ilse Justus says:

      Hi Jenny
      Thank you for your question? First off I tested my website and all’s working fine. The address is
      Regarding between season essentials:
      I would say, a light-weight jacket is a must. Preferably in a neutral tone which depends on the overall colour scheme in your wardrobe. I like a white linen jacket which works with white linen trousers or any other solid cool colour. Or you could opt for a black blazer, again, depending on the tones already in your wardrobe. If you’re opting for navy, then you probably have a lot of clothes that will match and this can also work. Personally I find navy a bit limiting in most wardrobes since it only really blends with other navies, greys, white or blues.
      Light-weight cardies for a more casual look also works.
      A black pencil skirt is also useful as are boot-leg or straight-cut black trousers.
      On the casual front I like skinny or straight-cut jeans which can either be worn with long boots or in the warmer months be rolled up to just above the ankle and worn with pretty sandals.
      A wrap-dress also works well and is flattering. A-line tunic dresses can also work between seasons – with a shirt/poloneck under in winter and as is in summer.
      Scarves also work well since they can add warmth and/or add fresh lively colours to your wardrobe.
      I hope this helps a bit. 🙂

      • I’m going to try this too, thanks Ilse. I have three or four little jackets in my cupboard that I haven’t worn recently for the very same reason as Jill. I’m going to go out and source a long, neutral coloured top 🙂

        • I saw one the other day Jo in WLane, but then I bought a red one!

        • Ilse Justus says:

          Ladies, something I forgot to mention for between seasons like going from winter to spring and spring to summer, is the stone colored/off-white trench coat which works well with summer dresses and heals for a glam look, or with jeans/trousers!
          Have fun!


          • They are coming into the shops here too, Ilse. In fact I nearly bought one the other day. Maybe I’ll go back and get it. Thanks for bringing this to our attention 🙂

      • Have re-inserted the link and it appears to be working fine 🙂 Argh the vagaries of the internet 😉 Fingers crossed it’s all ok now. I love the tips that you’ve given here to Jenny, Ilse, and must admit that I’ve never really known how to wear skinny or straight cut jeans without boots. Now spring is in the air I’m looking forward to wearing them rolled up with sandals. Thank you 🙂

  14. thanks for the fabulous tips. I only have sons so they are not likely to keep me up to date or tell me when I do a fashion disaster!
    I would really love to have my colours done, so that I know I am picking something that suits my colouring. I have a problem with those low cut jeans – you know that little roll of mature padding that sits there like a soggy sponge cake threatening to roll over the top of the jeans!
    I love the idea of the little denim jacket – but these days jackets that cut off around waist height (which I used to love) seem to make me look shorter!
    Thanks again – I certainly think that having a makeover would boost my confidence. I always admire women who are beautifully, even if simply dressed.

    • Oh Jill, yes I know about the soggy sponge cake above the top of my jeans! Perhaps there are ways that you could still wear a little denim jacket – over to you Ilse?

    • Ilse Justus says:

      Hi Jill
      I know exactly what you mean about that little roll on the sides and at the back of the jeans. It seems that as we age our bodies redirect where those fat deposits go and its just irritating! The trick with the jeans is not to buy the very/extreme low-rise but just “low rise”. Sometimes the jeans are made cleverly (try Levi range) with the back rising a bit higher than the front. The alternative is to buy a size bigger so that the jeans don’t cut into the flesh and then wear a belt. A belt also prevents the jeans shifting down to expose that little roll and keeps it tucked under. I therefore always wear a belt.
      Regarding the denim jacket and the fact that it makes one look shorter: Jill, if you wear a short top underneath and/or button up the jacket you will look shorter. Something I, at 1.58m, avoid at all costs! The idea is to wear a longer top underneath (say that ends just below the crotch) and leave the jacket open. When you leave the jacket open – even over a longer t-shirt – and wear it with low-rise jeans, the jacket also camouflages any little roll that might exist! Good luck! And thank you for the questions.

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