5 Tips for Wearing Pastels If You're Over 60
Stylists say you that these softer shades can elevate your look.
Your spring wardrobe likely includes some florals and maybe the return of your white jeans, but pastels are also a traditional look for this season. As we age, however, it's tempting to move away from these lighter, seemingly less forgiving colors. If you've been hesitant to try pastels after 60, style experts say it's time to take the leap.
"While aging is a natural process, embracing it can feel not-so-natural—especially when it comes to physical appearance," Elizabeth Kosich, a New York City-based certified image stylist and founder of Elizabeth Kosich Styling, says. "As we mature, pigmentation diminishes making our key features—skin, hair, eyes—soften, reducing our overall contrast and intensity."
Many people end up wearing stronger colors to compensate, but Kosich says that only makes the complexion appear drab in comparison. "It's much better to lighten your color palette as you age, which is where pastels can help," she says. "While it seems counter-intuitive, light colors can give your appearance the oomph it needs after age 60."
Kosich confirms that these soft hues are complimentary, but you might not know where to start when it comes to introducing or reincorporating pastels into your wardrobe. Thankfully, stylists have you covered there as well. Read on to learn five tips for wearing pastels if you're over 60.
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Choose the right pastel for your complexion.
We've been led to believe that pastels will inevitably "wash us out," but petite style coach Angela Foster says that couldn't be further from the truth.
"If you're thinking pastels don't look good on you, au contraire! Every woman can wear pastels—it simply depends on the shade and depth of color," she says. "Some women feel pastels wash them out—especially women who've let their hair go natural, AKA gray. Add in winter skin that hasn't seen the sun in months and months, and it's easy to see how this could happen."
To combat this, Foster's rule of thumb is to "think contrast."
"Fair skin tones benefit from more saturated pastels like orchid, azalea, or sea foam," she explains. "Medium skin tones get to have all the fun. Those lovely rainbow sherbet shades like mint green, peach, and apricot will look amazing."
If you have a deeper skin tone, find an option on "either end of the spectrum," Foster says. You can choose between bright pastels or those more subdued baby shades.
Start with neutrals.
According to style influencer Isabella Thorp, of the lifestyle website Midlife In Style, another tip for wearing pastels later in life is to incorporate neutral pieces.
"Start with a neutral base like a white, black, or gray pant, and then add a pastel color on top like a cozy cardigan, silk button-down, or a stunning blazer—allowing the statement color to stand out," she says.
Kosich and Foster agree that you can use neutrals to make a pastel shade "pop." Kosich recommends reaching for something taupe, tan or medium gray, or even chocolate brown or navy blue for a higher-contrast look.
Foster suggests white or gray if you want to avoid looking too "cutesy"—both colors will add a layer of sophistication to your outfit.
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Add a bold color.
Playing with color even further, you can also pair pastels with a shade that packs a punch. Foster suggests reaching for jewel tones and pairing a lavender blouse with a dark purple bottom for a "super chic" look.
Kosich also says you can "amp things up" with deeper colors. "Try a pashmina or silk scarf in the bright version of your pastel to create an analogous color story— [like a] pastel lavender with a pop of purple; pastel mint with a pop of emerald; or light, pastel pink with a pop of dark pink," Kosich says.
Thorp also suggests bold colors for contrast, recommending a pale green or yellow top paired with dark wash jeans and an espadrille or wedge sandal.
"I love this style hack, and you will be seeing this in my Spring 2023 rotation," she tells Best Life.
According to Thorp, metallic accessories can really "warm up" a pastel-forward look, so you may want to consider adding a "shiny silver strappy sandal, a gold clutch, or layered mixed metal jewelry" with your peach blouse or powder blue sweater.
But if you're still not ready to reach for pastel-colored clothing after 60, accessories are another way to sport a paler shade. According to Foster, they're also a great option in the event you want to wear a color that doesn't necessarily work with your skin tone.
"Accessories are always an easy solution for a seasonal update—plus, cheerful, colorful shoes are super on-trend this season," she says. "So, give pink kitten heels, a banana-hued crossbody, or sassy burnt orange earrings a test drive."
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Keep it simple.
In general, you don't need to overthink your pastel strategy in your 60s.
"Pastels are always a good choice for women at a certain age, particularly if you want to bring a softness to your look or add a youthful glow to your complexion," Thorp says. "Pastel tones tend to complement most skin tones, and pastels transition beautifully from day to night for all occasions."
But if you're ever worried about how to work these colors in, Thorp has a quick tip for you there as well. "If in doubt, stick with one [pastel] pattern or print and style it with a muted or neutral-toned piece to balance your look," she says.