Judith Siegel of Chapel Hill threw down the gauntlet, and I couldnt resist the challenge. Hello, I am 73 years old and feel it would take a miracle to make me look stylish, her email said. I am about 15-20 pounds overweight. I am 53 and have a pear shape, plus the larger stomach thats common to older women. I have had two hip replacements and so cannot wear anything that hugs the hips. She also listed issues with thinning hair, a low forehead, compression hose, an orthotic device and sensitivity to heat. Ill take those on.
Drab before: This outfit, in the first photo at right, is functional and comfortable, but theres no style here. The T-shirt is plain and worn with no feminine embellishment. The plain skirt has little shape. The mary janes accommodate Judiths foot issue but sacrifice style for comfort.
Hair and makeup: The stylist gave Judiths hair a chocolate hue, taking the edge off a harsh brown tone and adding highlights on the crown to modernize it (see the second photo). She took off length and then added curls for volume. Judith got her first-ever eyebrow shaping, which tamed her brows so they frame her eyes nicely, then makeup to polish the look. Moisturizing cream helps the foundation apply smoothly, along with blush to accent her cheeks. Eye shadow provides dimension, and a soft lip color finishes the look.
Elegant for fall: Heres proof that stylish clothes can be comfortable and age-appropriate for someone in her 70s (also in second photo). The trendy Luii linen anorak jacket has a dropped waist, which adds height to Judiths short torso. Tabs on the sleeves let heat-sensitive Judith roll them for comfort. The Talbots ruffled-collar, paisley button-front top adds soft color and feminine style, and the Talbots linen pant has a comfortable elastic waist thats stitched down to minimize bulk. The Elliott Luca white woven bag, drop earrings and turquoise bracelet add panache. Judiths own shoes and necklace.
Well suited: This ensemble, in the third photo, can be a go-to for Judith this fall and winter. The olive blazer with defined waistband and wide-leg pants can be worn together for dressier functions or separately to mix and match with other pieces in Judiths wardrobe. The Anac top has sharp patterns that suit Judiths angled face and is stretchy for comfort. The Coach canvas bag is the right size for a petite lady. Judiths own shoes.
The reaction: Judith liked the suit so much she bought it (for only $33) and is considering the linen pants. I dont think Ive ever been fussed over so much in my life, Judith marveled after her shopping, hairstyling and makeup. I loved it. Its nice to know I can look like this. So for a special occasion, like a wedding, Id be willing to go to some trouble.