Staying Stylish

By Kristen Castillo

April 27, 2020 5 min read

Stylish senior celebrities like Diane Keaton and Tim Gunn always look well dressed and on point. They know what clothes and accessories work for them, and they rarely stray from their signature looks.

Dress your age, advises Patrick Kenger, personal stylist and image consultant at Pivot Image Consulting, who has worked with men well into their 70s who still are making an effort to look their best.

"Age comes with a lot of privilege, wisdom and respect. Don't work away from that," he says. "Trying to dress young makes you come off as insecure and unaware. For this reason, it's best to ignore trends and instead work to create your own personal style."

That's the key to staying fashionable as you age -- having a personal sense of style or a signature look.

"Aging does not mean giving up on style," says fashion expert Diane Roth. "One has to adapt to styles that work for our face and body, and it may mean a little extra time and thought."

When you're young, you can effortlessly throw on clothes and head out the door. But things get more challenging as you age. She reminds seniors, "What you wore 20 or 30 years ago does not work now, even if you have stayed in shape."

*Women's Style

Senior model Lynn Ventimiglia-Lobit, 57, says senior style should be "age appropriate, not stodgy."

She suggests women wear long flowing dresses instead of miniskirts; walking shorts rather than shorts hitting several inches above the knee; and one-piece or longer two-piece swimsuits instead of bikinis. She also likes camisoles with long cardigans, as well as chunky heels.

Brand-wise, Ventimiglia-Lobit's clothing picks include Anne Klein, Rafaella and private label by Talbots, L.L. Bean and Soft Surroundings. She likes accessories from Michael Kors, Brahmin and Ralph Lauren, as well as shoes from Franco Sarto, Me Too, Anne Klein and Bandolino.

*Men's Style

Stick to staple colors like black, white, navy and gray, suggests Kenger. Pairing those classic colors will make styling easy because everything in your closet will work together.

Next, dress more formally than you think.

"Dressing with a little bit of formality can make any man attractive," he says. "Most seniors dress in a manner that says something to the extent of, 'I don't care anymore.'

"If you just aim a little above what everyone else is wearing, you'll make yourself look like you care."

Kenger recommends heritage brands that are focused on quality, not trends. He says English brands also suit the elderly man well.

*Accessorize Well

Roth says the biggest misconception about staying fashionable at every age is thinking it can't be done.

"Use accessories to hide the flaws," she says, encouraging older adults to wear in-style glasses, as well as scarves to upgrade your look.

*Adaptive Fashion

Seniors, who have difficulty with buttons, snaps and zippers, can look for adaptive clothing. For example, MagnaReady makes dress shirts for men and women who have limited mobility in their hands and fingers. The shirts, available in both dressy and casual styles, have magnets hidden behind the buttons. So, in essence, the shirts button themselves. (Patients with pacemakers should ask their doctor before wearing the magnetic shirts.)

Seniors who want to protect their skin can choose sun-protective brands, like Coolibar. This company, which offers sun-protective tops, bottoms and accessories for men, women and kids, is the first sun-protective clothing company to receive The Skin Cancer Foundation's Seal of Recommendation.

*Total Look

Grooming impacts your overall look. Roth advises shorter hair for women and advises against overcolored hair for men. Senior men should skip the scruffy look, and older women should wear toned-down makeup.

Always check how you look from behind, ensuring your backside looks flattering.

"Pick what works for you and wear it, but always be honest as you look in the mirror," she says. "Ask, 'Do I look fashionable, or do I look like a fashion victim?'"

Roth also recommends good posture. Always wear clothes you can move in and shoes you can walk in.

For seniors trying to look their best, Roth has some words of wisdom: "Embrace fashion; it is your friend, not your enemy."

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