Thursday, December 8, 2011

Five Items Every Woman Should Own, "In Her 50s" Edition

It was called to my attention that my previous “Five Items” post stopped with a woman in her 40s. I stopped there merely because that’s as far as I’ve gotten personally. But since that request to add a few more items, I’ve been keeping my eyes out for women in their 50s and making a note of the items that belong on their lists. So here’s my take on the next decade of fashion must-haves.

Many women in their 50s are entering the “empty nest” stage – and with it, the beauty of no longer having to pay for sports activities, college tuition, and things like the high auto and health insurance premiums that come with having teenage children. So the 50-something woman often can – and usually should –splurge on herself a bit more than she may have in the past. Also, women in their 50s have a certain elegance and dignity, and the items I chose for them reflect that.

I love real fur. Its softness, its luster, its elegance. For the 50-something woman, this is the time to invest in a beautiful fur. It doesn’t have to be a full-length mink coat (although that would be lovely); it could be a leather coat or a parka with a raccoon-trimmed hood, or a silver fox stole, or a pair of buttery soft leather gloves lined with rabbit, or a warm beaver hat. For those opposed to real fur, there are some amazingly realistic and beautiful faux fur items out there as well. But whatever it is, a bit of fashionable fur gives the 50-something woman some old-fashioned, classic Hollywood elegance.

Real Jewelry

By her 50s, most women have an extensive jewelry collection, mostly of costume jewelry. Now is the time to invest in a piece or two of the real thing: an emerald pendant, a ruby ring, sapphire earrings, an aquamarine brooch. With your kids out of the house, you don’t need to worry about someone borrowing (and losing) your good jewelry, plus you probably have a lot more opportunities to go to places where wearing gemstones is appropriate. So find a piece you love and splurge on yourself! Or, even better, start dropping hints and convince your family to splurge on it for you.

Great Hat

I love hats, so it makes me sad that so few people wear them nowadays. But just the other day I spotted a 50-something woman wearing a fabulous wool hat and it occurred to me that once you turn 50, it doesn’t matter whether or not other people are wearing hats – a dignified 50-something can work a great hat like nobody’s business. Like furs, the category of “hat” provides a huge variety of options: a summer straw hat, a simple wool cloche, an elaborately-trimmed Kentucky derby concoction. There is sure to be a beautiful hat somewhere that flatters every 50-something woman. If the Queen Mum can pull it off, so can you.


No, not a witch’s cape or a superhero's cape. A long, draping wool or cashmere evening cape that will make any outfit more refined and elegant. There’s something about the swish of fabric as a lady tosses a cape over her shoulder that oozes class and elegance. If your hair is white, brunette, or an in-between salt-and-pepper, go with a deep, jewel-toned cape like a royal purple, cobalt blue, or magenta. If you’re a blonde, a pure white cape is stunning, as are soft pastels like mauve and lilac. And if you’re a redhead, a deep pine green is sure to turn heads.

Cashmere Sweater

Nothing else feels as luxurious as a soft cashmere sweater. Choose a turtleneck if you’re self-conscious about a slightly sagging chin – or pick a deep V-neck if you’ve still got a great décolletage! Belt it, layer it, toss it over your shoulders, but however you wear it, its soft luxury will make you feel – and look - like a million bucks.

So all you glamorous 50-somethings out there, check your closets! And if you’re missing any of these items, it’s not too late to add them to your Christmas list. After all, Santa certainly knows about elegant fur trim and a great hat!

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