Senior Style

By Sharon Naylor

August 18, 2014 7 min read

A great accessory can give new life to any outfit, even a basic outfit such as black pants and a white shirt that you've owned for a few years. Adding a new, stylish accessory to an existing outfit or dress from your closet can make it look brand new. And even more expensive. If you're on a budget, you can refresh your wardrobe without spending a fortune on trendy designer clothing just by accessorizing with a fun and perhaps flashy accessory or two. And there's something so exciting about wearing a stylish new bangle, necklace or ring.

If you've seen pretty accessories in magazines or on Pinterest, don't make the mistake of thinking, "I'm too old to wear that," and definitely don't make the mistake of thinking that chunkier jewelry will make you look older. Image consultant Brenda Kinsel, owner of the style and wardrobe consulting company Inside Out and author of five books, including "40 Over 40: 40 Things Every Woman Over 40 Needs to Know About Getting Dressed" and "In the Dressing Room with Brenda: A Fun and Practical Guide to Buying Smart and Looking Great," says that senior women can wear the trendiest accessories. "Remember, a little goes a long way to demonstrate your fashion sense without becoming a caricature," says Kinsel. If you're enticed by the fashion trend of leopard, but wisely know not to wear leopard print from head to toe, Kinsel suggests an item such as a leopard-print clutch to "add zest to your basics," adding that "animal print is very chic."

And Kinsel also suggests grouping items from the same color family, such as a bangle and scarf combination that adds color to the neutral clothing items you own. When accessories coordinate in hue, it creates a smooth and fashionable elegance. You can, of course, enjoy the trend of going colorful, wearing stacks of multicolored bangles or a necklace containing different shades of stones for a dramatic pop of color and a cheery color palette that's right on trend with fashion styles.

Kinsel suggests her 50 percent rule to help you avoid going too far with accessory trends. If you'd like to avoid 4-inch platform heels in a trendy color or pattern, use the 50 percent rule and wear the same color and pattern of shoe, only in a 2-inch heel. And wear a trend only on 50 percent of your body, such as a flowy patterned top with a simple, solid-shade pant. If trendy handbags are intricately detailed with studs, choose a style with half the accenting.

"The older ladies I meet use fashion as a way to express themselves. Style is an art, and accessories become their paints," says documentary filmmaker and senior-style reporter Ari Seth Cohen. When you "dial down" the details of trendy accessories, you become the artist of your own personal style. Kinsel says that balance is key: "If you have medium-to large-scale features, your jewelry should be the same scale. If you have delicate features, your jewelry should be delicate as well." And think about creating your 'signature' piece of jewelry -- a piece that complements your coloring, your style and the scale of your features, but also is very you. For instance, you might express your love of turquoise by wearing it often or citrine gemstones or rose gold (a particularly big trend in fashion this year). This piece becomes "your look," and makes you happy each time you wear it.

Here are some of the top trends in accessories, ideal for senior ladies of any style personality, from elegant chic to statement-making artsy:

1) Piles of bracelets. Experiment with wearing three, four, five or more bracelets. Create combinations of stone colors, go chunky or share your life story through charm or bead bracelets. Holly Daniels Christensen of The Original Beach Sand Jewelry Co. says that demand is up for bracelets made using sand from beaches ladies love, perhaps a favorite vacation destination.

2) Stone necklaces. Necklaces featuring different colors of stones add delicate pops of color to an outfit, and metallic necklaces are a top trend in fashion, wearable by you.

3) Color against a black ensemble. Black may be slimming and feel chic, but when you add a bright yellow, green, blue or red statement necklace to it, you're looking trendy and stylish. The same goes for brightly colored gloves worn with a black coat.

4) Hats. Hats are in this season, and they look good on everyone. Choose from a simpler, chic pageboy hat to show off your bobbed haircut or again go with a brightly colored hat or one with a vibrant bow or silk flower.

5) Brightly colored eyeglasses and sunglasses. Today's trendy eyewear is 50s-inspired, with colorful black-and-white cat-eye styles leading the top looks, as well as vibrant shades of frames from red to zebra striped.

6) Scarves. In intricate patterns or ladies-who-lunch houndstooth print, a scarf adds style to your look.

7) Pins and brooches. From a sparkling rhinestone brooch pinned to a jacket lapel, to a ruffly silk flower pin affixed to your shirt or hat, these eye-catching accessories add flair to an outfit.

8) Faux fur. In cooler weather, show your style with a faux fur hat, scarf and the trim of your gloves.

9) Leopard print. Add a touch of this animal print to your scarf. A leopard clutch is also a great, easy-to-wear accent to an outfit in all black or in dramatic reds, purples, blues or browns.

10) Handbag. Buy the pricy designer originals, perhaps during an outlet sale or in designers' clearance sales, or tap into the looks-expensive handbags at your favorite store such as Target or Kohl's to carry off the handbag trend. Choose from elegant tan or black as your main staple in this accessory category, and then also consider a handbag that pops, such as a fuchsia or cobalt blue for some vibrance during the dark winter months.

Kinsel says that the trend of mixing expensive accessories with budget-priced accessories is here to stay and that you can pack a lot of style into a lower-priced item. So if you have a wardrobe of pricier clothing, your accessories that only look expensive but are well-styled to your outfit, elevate your entire look.

And when you dress better, you feel better.

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