Why grow old gracefully when you can mature sensationally? Middle age can be a golden time of life – you know what you want, you’ve developed your own style, and you’ve got the know-how to carry it all off.

Follow these basic guidelines about dress, health, beauty and mental attitude – and look forward to an even brighter future.

A stylish look

Clothes can be a problem at any age – but over 40 you must be extra careful to choose what’s right for you. Make for a fashionable but elegant look – a style the older woman can wear with confidence.

For instance, nostalgic styles may be all the rage, but don’t take a trip down Memory Lane to the fashions of the ’30s, ’40s and ’50s if you’ve already been there. Choose a subtle adaptation of styles from the past.

Avoid girlish clothes. That means pinafores, Peter Pan collars, puffed sleeves, little-girl shoes, dainty blouses with lace edging, ruffles in general (unless they’re big and dramatic).

Fabric losers are dotted swiss, organdie, gingham.

Avoid drab, conservative colors without accent – plain black or soldier blue, purple or wine and all washed-out pastels.

Never mix black with a pastel or beige with white. Worse still – beige and brown or camel and grey.

Choose strong, definite colors – red, yellow, orange, coral, turquoise, bright green.

Mix black and white, brown and white, black and white plus bright yellow or red. Team up the navy and white plus yellow or red or parrot green. Camel with black looks wonderful – and so does beige and black.

The majority of mature women wear clothes that add years to their age – what we call the well-tailored “English governess” look.

Avoid it by choosing the right, bright accessories.

Wear pearls – lots of them, but never one graduated strand.

Gold or silver chains look terrific – but don’t wear chokers.

Spectacles should be big, bold and beautiful. Discreet blue or lavender plastic frames are out.

Matronly is a beige suit worn with a beige blouse, a small gold brooch, beige flat-heeled shoes and a small handbag.

Ageless is the same beige suit worn with a tailored black shirt (blouses are old). Add a red and beige silk scarf and several gold chains. Get rid of brooch, bag and shoes.

How about a black patent shoulder bag and black and beige sling-back shoes?

One last tip – don’t be afraid to be fashionable and do experiments.

Facing facts

Nothing creates the illusion of age more effectively than out-of-date makeup. Nothing, that is, except the mature face with no makeup at all.

So, start taking advantage of the hundreds of excellent products on the market. Applied properly, cosmetics can work minor miracles.

Moisturizer

Absolutely essential. Never apply makeup direct to the skin. Moisturizer protects, gives an ideal surface for foundation and smooths those dry, flaky patches. It also helps conceal expression lines and wrinkles and lightens up dull or sallow areas.

Apply a moisturizer with a few drops of water, smoothing it over the entire face and neck area and paying special attention to eyelids and under-eye areas. Let it soak in for a few moments.

Cover-ups

Apply a conceal stick or cover-up cream to camouflage shadows and circles under the eyes. But be sure to choose a product which will be flattering to the mature face. Some cover-ups are too thick. They look great until you smile. Then that heavy paste turns into a thousand little lines and cracks.

For bags under the eyes, apply a light concealer to the indented area at the bottom of the eye bag. This will make the entire under-eye area look lifted and the eye bag will appear to vanish. Do not apply to the entire under-eye area as this will make the bag more prominent.

Foundation

You’ll look younger if you use beige tones to match your skin, or one shade lighter to reflect light and minimize lines. Choose translucent base with coverage.

Avoid thick, heavy foundations, opaque finishes, tones that are too tan, too pink or too dark. Apply foundation or makeup base by patting – don’t rub.

Color highlighter

Best are liquid or gel colors in tawny bronze shades; translucent gleamers, glossers and highlighters; pearlized products which lift the contours – in gold or beige.

Don’t use creams or powders in pink or red. Powder blushers are too opaque for mature skin. But no color at all makes you look tired and old.

Powder

No! The powder will only make you look older. Your face should have a healthy glow.

Eyeshadow

Winners are subtle, muted tones to brighten your own eye colour. Eyeshadow in the fold of the lid opens and enlarges the eyes. Losers are bright shadow colors that make your eyes look drab. Fad colors – for example pink and yellow – are strictly for the young.

Eyebrows

Follow the classic, bird-wing shape. Never mind fashion. Follow nature’s pattern, keeping brows tidy and plucking stray untidy hairs. Brows should be just dark enough to be seen if your hair is blonde or silver.

You’ll look older if your brows are too narrow (the thin pencil-line is a sign of the ’30s) and if they’re too dark. Never, never use black eyebrow pencil – always use shades of grey-brown.

Eyeliner

Wear subtle shades to match your mascara and keep the line soft. Use eyeliner to draw a few delicate lines among lower lashes to make them appear thicker. No-no’s: black eyeliner: continuing the line up past the end of the eye; lining the upper and lower lids.

Mascara

Use subtle shades of brown, grey-blues, grey-greens. Mascara lower lashes, too. This balances eye makeup, makes the eyes look larger.

Lipstick

Wear a bright, translucent lipstick and keep your lip line distinct. Use a lip liner pencil – much easier than a brush and it keeps lipstick from running into cracks. Have a relaxed mouth with full, curved lips.

You’ll look older if you wear an opaque or matte-finish lipstick in a dark shade.

Top notes

Hair that is thick and luxuriant implies health and vitality. Sparse, thin hair implies age and tired glands. If the latter is true of your hair, you need a regular conditioning program to restore vitality and repair the damage of years of neglect.

Apart from the condition, a flattering hairstyle and good cut are important to general good grooming.

You’ll look ageless in styles that create height at the top of your head and fullness around the face, giving the contours a lift.

You’ll look older in styles that are too neat, totally controlled, or teased into a wad then sprayed and lacquered until they become totally untouchable.

A time will come when you’ll ask yourself about your silver threads. Greying hair can be stunning when the original hair color is dramatic deep black, strong red or very blonde. But grey hair in an in-between shade looks drab and dull.

If you are devoted to your grey hair, how about having it highlighted around the face?

A temporary rinse in a golden blonde shade is an easy way to achieve a sun-streaked effect on greying brown or fair hair. Redheads might try one of the pinkish-blonde shades. A blonde rinse won’t work on all greying hair but is effective on most.

If you’re afraid of a complete hair color change and your mind is boggling at the expense of regular professional help to keep it that way, how about streaking? Streaked hair creates a healthy, sun-kissed, youthful look to boost sagging spirits.

We do think the decision to color your hair should be based on whether it will make you feel better.

But if you do decide to take the step avoid these common errors.

That old black magic won’t work for you if you’re over 30 unless you are of Oriental or Indian extraction.

Timid mouse: if your hair color change is too timid you could look as if skin and hair are all one color.

Keeping fit and trim

Correct diet and exercise are essential to make agelessness a physical reality.

Every weight-conscious woman has heard of the benefits of a high-protein diet. Keeping your body short of protein – meat, fish, eggs and cheese – results in aging symptoms: crepy eyelids, sagging facial muscles, flabby arms.

Of course, protein isn’t the only answer. The diet should be a well-balanced blend, including vitamins, minerals, and oil.

Here’s an eye-opener for you. Eating too little fat is probably a major cause of overweight.

There are several reasons for this. First, many women who seem overweight are just waterlogged. A nutritious diet that includes a modest amount of unsaturated vegetable oils often causes a seemingly miraculous weight loss because it helps the tissues release water.

Diet alone won’t correct your figure problems. You need exercise to tone lax and flabby muscles.

Your entire body, inside and out, needs a regular exercise program to keep it healthy, vital and in proportion.

Caution: If you’re not in condition, you mustn’t throw yourself into a program of strenuous exercise without working up to it. Chances are you spent at least 20 years getting out of shape, so it is only fair to invest about six months getting back into shape. Be prudent and progress gradually.

Start walking whenever you can. This doesn’t mean a leisurely stroll. It means a brisk but comfortable pace. At first, walk about 10 to 15 minutes without stopping. Then you might want to build up to 25 or 30 minutes.

We always think it isn’t necessary to mention good, supportive shoes until we see somebody trying to walk in floppy sandals. And, of course, comfortable, supportive shoes are absolutely essential if you are planning to jog.

When you’re walking a good body posture is essential. You can’t slouch along like a sack of potatoes and expect your body to perform efficiently.

This erect body posture has two benefits. It aids good breathing and it helps to develop erect posture even during the times when you’re not exercising, not even thinking about your posture.

When you’re able to walk, briskly but comfortably, for 25 to 30 minutes without stopping, you may comfortably work into jogging. Say, walk briskly for 25 minutes, jog for five, and then walk slowly for five (your cool-off period, which is very important, by the way).

As you begin to huff and puff a bit, encourage your body in this more vigorous breathing which will give a greater expansion to the lung cavity which, in turn, will help you to take in more oxygen.

Sometimes people worry about what to do with their arms. Just let the arms swing in a natural, relaxed way. They will automatically work in the correct rhythm with the movement of your legs and hips.

Diet and heredity play their part but medical research indicates that inactivity and premature aging go hand in hand.

No problems

Menopause begins at a time of other increasing tensions.

Our children are growing up, involved in their own problems and glandular discoveries. Some of our loved ones are nearing the end of their lives.

Our marriages are also undergoing a period of strain and all our personal relationships are in need of re-evaluation. And then we have to cope with the physiological fact of menopause.

Women often must wrestle with all those domestic crises while plagued with chronic sleeplessness, periodic hot flushes, cramps, headaches and heart palpitations.

Many of the symptoms we’ve been describing have been attributed to the reaction of the body to the waning output of estrogen by the ovaries.

Whether or not estrogen therapy is for you, only your own doctor can decide; but estrogen has made one precious contribution to every woman’s life. It has brought about a more realistic attitude toward menopause, taking it out of the realm of whispered tales of odd behavior and mysterious maladies.

Now we can see menopausal problems for what they usually are – deficiency conditions which can be corrected.

Calcium is the element in the body that aids in the transportation of nerve impulses. If the body is undersupplied with calcium the nerves become tense and you become irritable.

Another stressful result of calcium deficiency is fluid retention. When the body is undersupplied with calcium, salt and water are retained and contribute to all the symptoms of pre-menstrual tension.

There is no easy approach to the problems of menopause but these days doctors are experts on hormone deficiency, vitamins, and nutrition. Some women take the passive approach and spend years on tranquilizers; years that could have been spent living rather than merely existing in a drug-induced haze.

Knowledge is your best weapon. Go to your doctor. Tell him how you feel. Ask questions. Take an active approach and don’t settle for less than vibrant, energetic, joyous good health.

Changing your outlook

You are no longer 20 – so don’t try to compete with 20-year-olds. That wide-eyed, round-bodied, smooth-skinned animal magnetism is the sole prerogative of the very young.

Luckily for all of us, the primary quality of sex appeal has nothing to do with age.

The fun-loving, positive, enthusiastic woman will always attract men like a magnet. It’s only in novels that men like problem women. In real life, the woman who is a constant worry, unhappy and depressed, simply drives a man to distraction – or to his secretary.

Keep your mind lively, setting aside some time for yourself alone. Guard against feeling guilty about spending this time for yourself – and against any mawkish inner voices that assure you: “I’m doing this for the children.”

Because it is absolutely essential that you start to develop a healthy attitude about your right to a life of your own.

Attend classes, read, join groups that share your interests. Those interests should take you right outside the house – not only physically but mentally.

Enjoy the sensual pleasures – and not only sex. There’s good food, attractive surroundings, perfumes, the pungent smell of a crackling fire. All these contribute to zest for living – and to your appeal as a fulfilled, attractive, ageless woman – a real winner!

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