As regular readers will know, my Marvellous Mother In Law is the epitome of chic. Always well groomed and looking fit and healthy, people often comment on how amazing she looks. You won’t be surprised when I tell you that I decided to ask her advice on how to look perennially elegant. These are the top ten tips she gave me to share with you all. So, if you want to know how to look elegant…
TIP ONE: NEUTRALS
Keep to neutrals – cream, camel, white, pink toned beige, navy, black and nude. They all work together and so are economical. Just don’t add any primary colours to your outfit – each item of clothing should be a neutral. Monotones also work – ie a colour palette that is made up of different tints or shades of a single colour. If you are going for the luxe look, also avoid large loud patterns. Neutrals always work well, are always chic, and they never, ever go out of fashion.
TIP TWO: SIMPLE CUTS
Simple designs are timeless. They look the most expensive too. Good tailoring, material that hangs well, clean lines – all these elements combine to give you an instant wow factor. Co-ordinate them differently every time you wear them and you’ll maximise your cost per wear ratio. Good news is that these simple cuts don’t need to cost a fortune. For example, this luxurious looking oversized blouse from Mango.
TIP THREE: POINTY SHOES
Pointed shoes – whether flats or heels – look far more elegant than rounded or almond toes. Whether dressy or casual, pointed shoes elevate an outfit, uplifting your look. They are also rather sexy – just saying!
TIP FOUR: KNOW YOUR SIZE
We all want to be a size 10 but for most of us it just ain’t going to happen! So don’t try and squeeze into clothes that are too small for you. You’ll look more slender if you wear the right size. Remember – skim is better than cling.
TIP FIVE: ELEGANT JEWELLERY
Of course there is a time and a place for colourful, loud costume jewellery. It can bring an otherwise dull outfit to life. But if you are looking for a really high end appearance, keep your jewellery simple and elegant. Choose key pieces that will complement, not overpower your outfit.
TIP SIX: ENTRY LEVEL DESIGNER ACCESSORIES
If you haven’t got any – don’t panic. Entry level designer accessories are worth buying as they will really add a touch of class to whatever you are wearing. By entry level, I mean the less expensive items you will find in designer shops. Might be a narrow belt, a small silk scarf (great for tying around your neck or dangling from your handbag). Could be a pair of sunglasses. Any of these will elevate your outfit. There is, of course, some investment involved if you want to wear designer, but this can be achieved by treating yourself occasionally and really making sure the item in question is going to last you for years. ie by buying neutral colours which will complement so much of your existing wardrobe. And if you don’t fritter your money away snapping up every bargain you see without considering if you really, really need it, all those tenners quickly add up to hundreds.
TIP SEVEN: EXISTING DESIGNER PIECES
A distinct benefit of being older is that many of us 50+ women have, by now, a few designer pieces in our wardrobes. Might be a fabulous leather handbag, classic watch, or a couple of pairs of eye wateringly expensive shoes. When we want to make a really good impression, these are the treasured items that we haul out again and again over the years.
In the old days we would wear as good quality as we could afford from top to toe. Nowadays we are more savvy (and, to be fair, there is more choice). Mixing designer with high street can work amazingly well. There are some fabulously inexpensive clothes around that will look very high end when paired with your best shoes and/or handbag, not forgetting one of the aforementioned entry level accessories.
TIP EIGHT: CONSIDER INVESTING IN PERENNIAL CLASSICS
By this I mean a trench coat (like the fabulous version from M&S – currently £40), camel coat, or suede or leather jacket. They just never go out of fashion. Don’t keep whatever you’ve invested in for best. MMIL says she had a change of heart about the suede coat she is wearing here – instead of it languishing in her wardrobe unworn because she was saving it ‘for a special occasion’, she now wears it everywhere – even Waitrose!
If you want to cheat, my friend Penny and I tried on the most amazing faux suede coat in Zara last week – unbelievably realistic, great shape, fabulous neutral colourways – all for under £30. And they are generously sized – I usually take a L or XL in Zara clothes, but a M fitted me perfectly. Seriously, check this one out.
TIP NINE: GROOMING
Go easy on the slap: Neutral make up is a must with neutral clothes. The look is then head to toe elegance. However, there is one important exception – if you want to make a real impression – say an important meeting or a date night, wear red lipstick. Ask the make up counter assistant in your local store to find exactly the right shade of red for you – yes, there is a hue for everyone. Keep nail polishes natural colours, which include the softest pinks.
Hair: Remember to regularly update your hairstyle. A good cut can not only work wonders for your hair, it can take years off you and do wonders for your confidence! Goes without saying that lank dirty hair is not going to cut the mustard if you’re aiming for an elegant appearance.
TIP TEN: LOOK AFTER YOUR CLOTHES
All your wardrobe treasures need to be looked after. You don’t want to be let down by a missing button or stain.
Handbags kept in protective soft cotton drawstring bags
Shoes kept in shape with shoe trees
Jewellery kept in padded boxes. I clean my diamond engagement ring with my electric toothbrush dabbed with a smidgen of toothpaste. Rinse with warm water and dry – really makes your gems sparkle.
Hand finished dry cleaning for your very best clothes is worth the extra cost.
Handwash your cashmere and de-bobble it on a regular basis to keep your knitwear looking at it’s very best.
It is always worth ironing or steaming your outfit before you put it on. Creased fabric does not equal elegant.
Use a lint roller to maintain your fabrics.
It’s that easy. These ten tricks really are the key to looking elegant. Print them out and stick them on the inside of your wardrobe. You’ll be delighted you did when the compliments start coming thick and fast!