Sherrie Mathieson, style consultant

Press

Fashion Tips For Baby Boomers Who Have Been Living In The Past

By Korky Vann
Hartford Courant

October 2007

If the devil wears Prada, baby boomers are guilty of sins of fashion.

That’s the message from Sherrie Mathieson, author of “Forever Cool: How to Achieve Ageless, Youthful, and Modern Personal Style” (Clarkson Potter Publishers). Alarmed by the fashion faux pas of her 50-plus peers, Mathieson, a former Hollywood costume designer and stylist, penned the guide to help boomers develop a hip, yet age-appropriate appearance.

“People get stuck in a decade, and unfortunately, for a lot of people our age, it’s the ‘80s,” says Mathieson, a Ridgefield resident. “Too often, for men, that means the `Miami Vice’ look, for women, `Dallas.’ They stay with the same hairstyle and clothing they had 25 years ago with the mistaken notion it makes them look younger but the effect is just the opposite.”

While the “full Cleveland” - that often-lampooned male retiree ensemble of white shoes, white belt and after-dinner-mint-colored suit - may be disappearing with the Greatest Generation, fashion experts such as Mathieson don’t see the Forever Young generation as much less wardrobe-challenged than their parents.

“A guy over 50 with sagging jeans and a T-shirt stretched over a spreading middle doesn’t look young. He looks dreadful,” says Mathieson, 61, who took inspiration for the book from outfits she spotted on middle-agers at airports, malls and other public places. “For this generation, it’s a fashion gaffe as bad as the leisure suit.”

Each page in the book pictures a common “never cool” ensemble and beside it a “forever cool” re-do. Photos feature male and female models in a variety of sizes and body types, from ages 50 to 75. Styles range from casual wear to evening attire. Be warned, the “before” pictures will make you cringe as you race for your closet to toss out boxy blazers, too-tight jeans, clunky shoes, leather mini-skirts, gold lame bags, plaid sports jackets, cutesy holiday sweaters, “Flashdance”-era workout duds and Grateful Dead T-shirts.

“Life wears on you as you age,” she says. “Things shift and drop. Once you pass your late 50s, your body, your hair, your skin change with accelerated speed. You can compensate to a degree with exercise and diet, but you have to be realistic.”

Finding cool, hip, classy, age-appropriate clothing takes some doing. Though the country’s 75 million boomers (born between 1946 and 1964) spend $100 billion annually on apparel and accessories, manufacturers are still floundering when it comes to designing clothing for them.

Gap’s effort, Fourth & Towne, a chain of women’s apparel geared toward the over-40 set, closed earlier this year after a two-year run. Last year, children’s clothing retailer Gymboree closed Janeville, which offered casual clothing for boomers. The jury is still out on whether teen retailer American Eagle Outfitters Inc.‘s new Martin + Osa stores (Danbury) aimed at men and women 25-to-40, will be successful.

“There’s no correlation between how much you spend and how cool you look,” says Mathieson. “Taste is available at all price points. You can look great on a budget if you train your eye to spot classic styles and good design.”

Her tips? Study fashion magazines for trends and shop at stores featuring great fashions for all ages. (The book has a list of recommendations.)

Men: Update your hairstyle; lose the toupees, oversize aviator frames and gold chains. Buy pants that fit. Avoid the belt-above-or- below the-stomach-look.

Women: Update your hairstyle, choose stylish frames, pass on orthopedic-looking shoes and anything pastel. Trade in baggy or too-tight clothing for pieces that “skim” your figure. Choose colors that complement your hair color and skin tones.

Contact Korky Vann at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

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