CanadianLiving.com: What are some of the most common mistakes that women make when it comes to choosing age-appropriate clothing?
Karen Kwinter: The most common mistake is dressing too young. With our youth-obsessed culture, many fashion trends, from their very inception, are geared toward youthful, lean bodies. These styles usually don't translate well for older women. A few women make the mistake of dressing much older than their chronological age in an effort to look appropriate or cover figure flaws and insecurities.
CL.com: What are the solutions to these mistakes?
KK: The solution is to do a bit of body and soul searching to determine your own comfort level within a range of fashion choices. First, be realistic about the image you want to project and the shape of your body. Always go for the middle ground as you age and never for any extremes in fit, colour or trends. All ages look good in classic styles and neutral colours and the best way to add extreme styles and colours are in small doses like accessories.
CL.com: What are some of the guidelines for dressing in your 20s and 30s?
KK: 20s - Anything goes! This is the decade to have fun and go for the gusto. Find your style now and you will be able to adapt it as you age.
30s - Lifestyle changes like marriage, career and motherhood will mean that your wardrobe will change as well. Women in their 30s are still pretty open, with an 'anything goes' attitude when it comes to fashion, but will be a little more restricted based on their day-to-day wardrobe needs.
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CL.com: What about your 40s and 50s?
KK: 40s - Now's the time to get more serious with your wardrobe choices. Skirts should get a little longer (say goodbye to the mini, unless your legs are stellar). Take a good look at fashion trends each season and decide if they are appropriate for you. Channel Audrey Hepburn as a fashion icon.
50s -Think Katharine Hepburn now, with her tasteful mix of menswear-inspired separates, always with a feminine twist.
CL.com: What are some wardrobe essentials for women of all ages?
KK: Wardrobe essentials change with each new season and as fashion trends come and go. Every woman should have a wonderfully fitting pair of jeans; a few crisp cotton shirts in white or assorted colours; a great little black dress; a few merino wool sweaters in your most flattering neckline be it crew or V-neck; a cardigan for winter or chilly nights in the summer; a swimsuit that fits well and is flattering; a go-with-everything blazer (black or navy); a warm classic winter coat; a good-looking handbag; two pairs of shoes -- a comfy flat and a classic pump.
These might sound boring but they are the basis from which to start building your wardrobe.
CL.com: What are your top 5 tips for dressing age-appropriately?
KK: 1. Choose a store or department that actually caters to your age group. You're already ahead of the game.
2. Make sure you can return any purchase so that you have time to get a friend or family member's opinion.
3. Always err on the cautious side.
4. If you have worn a trend once decades ago and it is back in fashion again, sit it out.
5. You can never go wrong with classics!
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Natalie Bahadur is a regular contributor to CanadianLiving.com and the editor of StyleAtHome.com.