Style & Beauty

Empowering New Beauty Rules

Getting older brings with it opportunities to explore new definitions of what is beautiful

By Lola Augustine Brown

There was a time when women subjected themselves to all sorts of silly beauty rules attached to getting older, such as the notion that older women shouldn’t wear their hair long or their skirts short. Happily these old rules no longer apply. We can wear what we want to wear and be who we want to be.

“I feel that this is our era,” says Vancouver-based personal and celebrity stylist Kim Appelt. “Older women are all the rage. Designers such as Dolce and Gabbana are putting mature women in their ads because they know we have the money, and they want to capture this lucrative market.” 

You’ll have no doubt seen that grey hair is in fashion and that even makeup ads are featuring mature models. The world is ours, and there are a whole lot of empowering new rules to live by. 

Love the Way You Look

Not so many years ago, we were expected to age “gracefully.” Forget it! Once the kids are gone, enjoy yourself.

“Now there’s time for a more balanced lifestyle with more me-time, so you can enjoy who you are, whether that be through having more time to visit the hair salon or get your nails done or simply having time to apply lipstick,” says David Vincent, makeup artist for Lise Watier. “Show the world that you’re still seeing yourself as an entire person and not just as a mother or wife.”

If there’s something about your appearance that’s always bothered you but you’ve never had the time or money to address the problem, now’s the time. Many women (and men) finally get braces for their teeth or laser surgery to rid themselves of the need for glasses once they can afford to do so. And don’t feel guilty about it. “It’s no longer considered egocentric for older women to take care of themselves; it’s just part of a balanced lifestyle,” Vincent says.

Embrace the Confidence That Comes With Age 

One of the greatest things about getting older is the way you simply stop caring about many of those things you were so insecure about as a younger woman. The confidence we gain carries a certain sexiness, Vincent says, and we should channel that into how we dress and choose to present ourselves to the world.

“You don’t have this insecurity anymore, so have fun with your style. You’re not in the seduction dynamic of your youth—show the world that you’re a free spirit.” Want to start wearing big chunky jewellery or put purple streaks in your hair? Do it. Embrace the stylish inner-you that’s been waiting to come out and play.

Stop Comparing Yourself to Others

One sure way to get stressed out over our appearance is to compare ourselves unfavourably to others, such as that friend who has stayed slim or the one with the closet full of designer clothes. Even worse is when we compare ourselves to the women in fashion magazines.

“With a few exceptions, most such images are heavily retouched, so reading those magazines only makes us depressed,” says Louisa Jewell, a Toronto-based positive psychology expert who specializes in helping people and organizations become happier and more successful. “Focus on real examples of aging beauty around us instead. The best way to be happy and to have high levels of well-being is to focus on your relationships with other people,” Jewell says. “Focus on developing your personal relationships and worry less about how you look.”

Jewell says that many women make their self-worth contingent on their looks. This concept is known as contingent self-esteem. “You need to separate your self-worth from that and make it about what are you doing in the world. Be proud of yourself and your accomplishments, the things that you bring to your family and friends, your generosity—this is what makes us beautiful,” she says.

Be Fearless

You have to enjoy how you look. If you’re happy with the way you dress and wear your hair and makeup, then stick with it. But if you want to experiment, go for it.

“Changing up your makeup is a good way to have fun,” Vincent says. “Nothing is permanent: if you cut your hair, it’ll grow back, and you can always change the colour; that you’re wearing a bold lip colour one day doesn’t mean you have to stick to it every day.” Let the way you look reflect your personality and the life you’re leading. “When you show that you’re having fun with your look and your style, it shows the world that you’re having fun in life,” Vincent says.

Wear What You Love

Always wanted to rock skinny jeans or an A-line skirt but been told you don’t have the right body type? “Forget those rules; if you wear it, feel good in it, and get compliments in it, then it’s for you,” Appelt says. “Times are changing: it’s no longer about what you can and can’t wear; it’s all about how you pull it together.”

Develop your own sense of style by choosing pieces that you love. And if you’d like to be more stylish but don’t know where to start?

“Don’t be afraid to ask for help. We all have our thing that we’re good at. I can’t decorate my house and have to pay someone to help me do that, but I can make anyone look good and get them on the red carpet in days,” says Appelt, who recommends asking stylish friends for help if you don’t have access to a stylist or stores with personal shoppers.

Ignore the Haters

It’s a sad fact of life that we all have people in our lives who seem to derive great pleasure from making negative comments or judgments. Though it can be hard to let these things go, you need to do that.

“If somebody makes some comment about your weight, for example, then that’s pretty shallow on their part, and that’s their problem,” Jewell says.

Photo: iStock/LightFieldStudios.