As I enter my 50s, I am self-conscious about my upper arms and tummy. How can I still dress stylishly?
When you’re young, motherly advice to do stomach crunches or slather on sunscreen often falls on deaf ears because youth feels invincible and sagging or bloating just isn’t in your plan. However, they’re as much a part of ageing as streaks of grey hair. Luckily, though, we women are experts in disguise. This year a nod to sheer or very fine fish-net long sleeve T-shirts, which can be slipped under a short-sleeved dress, will become your saviour. Wolford does a beautiful peach-toned one, while Marks & Spencer lingerie does a fine netted tee in black. Buying one of each colour will revive all those long-relegated short-sleeved dresses. Or, swap undergarment for ‘over-garment’ with a cardigan from Miu Miu or Paule Ka, who often do feminine boleros. Avoid dresses with flared or cap sleeves and choose form-fitting cuts that hug your shoulder or upper arm. On the beach, use the subterfuge of a sheer cover-up that hints at what lies beneath. As for skirts, you can fake a midriff in multiple ways, but whatever you do, avoid the Kardashian girdle madness. A better trick is to make little adjustments like buying trousers with side zips, and cuts that gently hide the midriff until just below the belly button. Avoid swing and flared skirts and forgo the bandage dress, pencil skirt and other shape-accentuating pieces. Instead, highlight the shoulders, emphasise the legs and use optical illusions to create a smooth body line.
I really love purchasing pretty pieces of art and accessories but how do I ensure that what I buy will retain its value?
A thing of beauty is a joy forever, Keats famously told us, and I can’t argue with that when it comes to valued possessions. With regards to jewellery, diamonds are the king of gems but whatever stone you prefer, the rule of thumb is the same... always buy the very best, or the best affordable category in your budget. It’s also worth looking at historical jewellery, since provenance and the design of a master craftsman will add enduring value. Moving onto handbags, many houses are turning their designs into veritable art forms, with pieces created in collaboration with artists to become walking statements of wit, priceless as art often is. This leads me to the mother of all consumption categories; art. To me, the sacred rule is you must love what you buy. It is a complex world, so learn about the artist, educate yourself about what buying art means, find out about pricing and the market, and only buy with an eye for what appeals to you. Regardless of budget, acquire thoughtfully and tastefully and create your own legacy, as the joy of living with a piece of art that gladdens the heart is worth the trouble.
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This article originally appeared in the May 2017 issue of Harper's Bazaar Arabia.