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Finding fashion at 60, 70, 80 and 90

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February 27th, 2009

First in a three-part series on fashion for the mature woman

Makeover guru s secrets to looking great at every age

By Julia Boyle

Women s fashion may be a mammoth industry, but when it comes to older women, it falls short. And nobody knows that better than Christopher Hopkins, aka "the makeover guy," author of Staging Your Comeback, a Complete Beauty Revival for Women Over 45.

"Finding fashionable, affordable clothing as an older woman has been a problem forever," says the professional makeup artist who has devoted his 20-year career to helping older women look their best.

"The Makeover Guy," Christopher Hopkins, says the single most helpful thing every woman can do to boost her image is to have her eyebrows groomed. "Your brows create the expression of your face," he says in his book Staging Your Comeback, a Complete Beauty Revival for Women Over 45. "This is perhaps the easiest and least expensive way to lift your brows, widen your eyes, and create a younger, brighter look."

Here, Hopkins shares his lessons for looking your best at any age. Most importantly, he says, it s not about looking younger, it s about revealing the beautiful woman you ve become.

Foundation station

"Foundation is the key to any structure," Hopkins says, referring not only to makeup, but also to foundations of clothing and hair. From a body shaper, such as Spanx, to a classic hairstyle, these basic pieces set the stage for style.

His top three wardrobe foundations include a properly fitting bra; a body shaper; and black slacks, skirt, and tank. These pieces help "design your shape," he says, adding that 75% of women wear the wrong size bra. Specialty boutiques and Nordstrom are known for proper bra fittings, while Macy s is the place for classic foundation pieces at affordable prices.

Closet shopping

Once you have your foundation, it s time to find your personal style and pieces that complement it. In his book, Hopkins leads readers through an "image profiling" quiz, which helps them discover their style and body type: classic, casual, romantic, dramatic, innovative, or alluring.

He says once you define your ideal style, take your measurements and then go through your closet to find "classic lines that accentuate your body." (See "Four-question closet cleaning" below.) This project (and we do mean project it s an all-day event) accomplishes two goals: getting rid of what doesn t work for your style and body type, and rediscovering pieces that accentuate it.

"Shop in your closet," Hopkins says. It s a cheap way to stylize your wardrobe. Even if you don t wear something because it no longer fits or is slightly out of style, you can often get expensive items altered for an inexpensive update. However, Hopkins says it s important to let go of trends from seven or more years ago and to clean your closet biannually.

Finding fashion

Now that you ve cleaned out your closet, gotten rid of items that don t work, and kept or altered those that do, it s time to hit the stores.

Hopkins suggests Spiegel for affordable, trendier, but well-fitting items and Chico s for more expensive but well-made pieces. Pick up a few select garments from these stores to accentuate your style and your body, but head to Macy s for those classic pieces that form the foundation of your wardrobe.

When it comes to trends, use them to complement your style, not anchor it. And always, always "stick to classic lines that accentuate your body," says Hopkins. "If a trend is something that is flattering to you, be the first to discover and wear it!" No matter how your body has changed over the years, "creating a look for who you are now, not who you were, will keep you in line with your ideal personal style," he adds.

Julia.Boyle@erickson.com

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