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Fashion After 40

With so many designers and trends targeting the svelte body of the twenty-something, is it possible to look fashionable as the years pass and your body begins to tell the tale?

Absolutely!

In fact, with a little ingenuity and sleigh-of-hand, it's easy to be fashionable and stylish regardless of how many candles are on your birthday cake.

Now let's be frank: unless you work out religiously, you probably don't have the same body at 40, 50, or 60 that you did at 25. Time, gravity, and pregnancy all take their toll on the female body, as does menopause. And when you mix a mature body with fashions obviously made for a younger person, it can lead to self-doubt, frustration, and confusion.

But it doesn't have to be that way. Getting older also means getting wiser, and like a fine bottle of wine, you're improving with age. So you don't have the same body as those twenty-somethings you see in magazines or on TV. So what? Would you REALLY trade everything you've learned since your twenties for the body you had back then? Probably no sooner than you'd like to re-live puberty, thank you very much.

So how can you be fashionable without wearing all those body-conscious clothes so en vogue these days? By remembering the "3 C's" when you dress: clean, classic, and coverage.

CLEAN

Clean lines create a clean silhouette which makes the body appear more youthful by skimming the trouble spots instead of calling attention to them. Complicated cuts, seams, and details usually call for a killer body to pull off, so if you haven't got it, steer clear of those styles.

CLASSIC

Classic styles are called classic because they remain in style year after year. Why? Because they look good on so many bodies! Sheathes, A-line skirts, flat front pants - all tend to flatter a variety of shapes. What's more, because they remain in style year after year, classics are easier on the budget than trends.

COVERAGE

Covering appropriately is the key to aging gracefully. If your upper arms, thighs, and d?colletage have all seen better days, it's time to cover them up a bit instead of sharing the wear-and-tear with the world. Now I'm not talking about draping yourself in a tent for the rest of your life. Far from it. I'm talking about wearing short sleeves instead of going sleeveless, Capris instead of shorts, and modest necklines instead of plunging necklines.

Now I know that covering up the parts that used to turn heads and draw envy can be tough to take for some women. Which is precisely why beautiful jewelry and fine fabrics are the revenge tools of choice for many well-dressed mature women.

So your bustline isn't as perky as your twenty-something daughter or granddaughter. So what? Add a beautiful necklace and draw envious glances from women of all ages. Don't have the same backside you did as a teen? Encase it in a fine fabric and see how many men go out of the way to hold the door open for you. People will look where you focus their attention, so use that knowledge to redirect their interest to the parts you want them to see.

Or, as actress Cybil Shepard once said, "I like to flaunt what I have left."

Don't flip through fashion magazines and bemoan the fact that you don't look like the models. Instead, look at the various fashion elements to determine what will and won't work for you. Are printed scarves all the rage this year? Grab a few and be trendy. Are mini skirts the style of choice? Pass and bank your money.

See how easy this is?

"A woman has the age she deserves," Coco Chanel once said. You don't have to go under cover and dress "like a little old lady" just because that's what your mother or grandmother did. You're your own person.

If you remember to dress in clean lines and classic styles and cover appropriately, you can still be fashionable - AND draw long, lingering glances from handsome men -- whatever your age. And if THAT doesn't make you feel like a blushing girl again, then honey, nothing I can say will!

Diana Pemberton-Sikes is a wardrobe and image consultant and author of "Wardrobe Magic," an ebook that shows women how to transform their unruly closets into workable, wearable wardrobes.

Visit her online at http://www.fashionsavvy.com.

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