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Wardrobe: Classy Summer Style

Looking stylish without worrying about dating yourself

By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant

senior wearing funny clothingIf you’re stuck in a style rut or don’t feel confident wearing your summer wardrobe, try these tips to step out in style.

While hearing “dress your age” may make you feel old, there’s some truth to dressing for your body the way it is right now — not the way it was. It can take some honest appraisal from a forthright friend or an image consultant like Cindy Kyle of Rochester to realize what works and what doesn’t.

“Be on trend but be mindful of not going for too young of a look,” Kyle said.

For most mature women, mid-drift baring shirts, short shorts and deeply scooping necklines don’t flatter. Likewise, most mature men should reconsider muscle shirts, short shorts, and having several undone buttons.

For women, ankle-length Capri pants are on-trend as are shorts hemline above the knee or two to three inches above.

“If you have good legs show them, but I wouldn’t go with Daisy Dukes,” Kyle said.

Kyle recommends long, flowing maxi and midi skirts and dresses.

If the top of a dress gaps, consider a light shrug or layering underneath for move coverage. Fit-and-flare, sheaths or wrap dresses complement any figure and look nice for dressier occasions.

Kyle likes gingham and lemon printed fabrics. In a similar, sunny vein, the color orange is also big now, as are espadrille sandals and those with block heels. Get a pedicure and don’t cram in those little piggies.

“Some people pick shoes too small or too big,” Kyle said. “The foot shouldn’t hang over the edges and it shouldn’t fit sloppily.”

Kyle likes every style of jean jacket, perfect for cool evenings or for frigidly air conditioned buildings.

She likes tops that are off the shoulder and those with bell sleeves, but warned, “don’t show cleavage if it looks sloppy. Go a little more conservative.”

Cover all bra straps and wear one that fits. Bras that match skin tone won’t show through thinner fabrics like white or colored ones.

For men: socks with sandals  is a no-no

Kyle thinks that men should update their shorts and pants occasionally to avoid dating their look. Cargo pants and shorts are still popular, but they should fit well and be wrinkle-free. Printed pants are in as well. Tall men can wear larger prints for casual wear, but average to shorter height men should stay with mid-sized or smaller prints so they don’t overwhelm their stature.

As always, fit is important. Shorter men should not wear oversized shorts that go well past the knees, as they make them look shorter. Shorts hitting the knee or slightly above are ideal.

Kyle encourages men to try peach, pink and other pastels for shirts, which coordinate with nearly every dark-colored pant. As with pants, fit matters. Tight shirts only make a thick waist look paunchy.

Before wearing sandals, men should buff their feet smooth with a pumice stone and clip their toenails as needed. Kyle said that socks with sandals is a no-no.

Considering the fad of socks-with-sandals grew from wearing it ironically, only those on the cutting-edge of fashion should try it, not those wearing classic styles or slightly dated clothing.

Overall, Kyle said that going with a white T-shirt and jeans or black cotton pants topped with a colorful, trendy accessory makes summertime casual dressing easy.

Right size

Stylist Ann Marie Stonecypher-Bick owns AMS Models and Talent Inc. in Cicero, near Syracuse. She urges clients to make sure that their clothing is the right size above all else.

“If the clothes don’t fit well, no matter how expensive it is or how much you love it, it won’t look good,” Stonecypher-Bick said. “Dress in what’s comfortable for you, not necessarily what’s in style.

“If a length or fit doesn’t flatter you, don’t wear it. Clothing should flatter your best parts, not just look stylish.”

She said she is a firm believer in finding great-looking clothing for every size and age, not clinging to a particular look that no longer works.

“Things that looked good on you 20 years ago may not look good on you now and that’s OK,” she said. “You don’t want to draw the wrong kind of attention to yourself.”

She said that many people who want to look smaller wear a smaller size, thinking that the clothing will obscure their size; however, the opposite effect is true.

“I once went shopping with a woman who refused to own something that said ‘size 14’ inside and the pants she bought in a 12 looked terrible,” Stonecypher-Bick said.

She encourages looking at current magazines and websites of clothing companies such as Banana Republic, and, for dressier occasions, Ann Taylor or Men’s Wearhouse.

“Look how they put the clothing together,” she said. “You don’t have to buy them but put together looks that are similar. But don’t go to Forever 21 or another site that’s not age-appropriate.”