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How to look gorgeous over 40

A new book gives women practical – and honest — style tips.
/ Source: TODAY

Looking good and feeling gorgeous over 40? You know the stars who can do it. Oprah, Sheryl Crow, Diane Keaton, and Goldie Hawn are just a few who have made it look easy. But you can do it too. Christine Schwab, a style expert and fashion consultant, just wrote a new book to show you how. Schwab was invited on TODAY to discuss her new book, “The Grown-up Girl’s Guide to Style.” Read an excerpt:

Who is the grown-up girl?
She is a forty-plus woman in the most unique position of any generation before her. She is living in unexplored territory where there is no precedent. Being in your forties, fifties or sixties is no longer what it once was. Forty is now tagged “the new thirty.” The forty-plus woman no longer fits the former labels of “mature, middle-aged or older.”

  • She is a grown-up girl.
  • She is empowered.
  • She wants to look her best.
  • She wants to feel her best.
  • She wants to project her best.
  • She wants to live her best.
  • She is a complex, distinctive individual, who is far from being on the downside of life. Turning forty, fifty or sixty is not about getting older, it’s about getting better.

I know. I am one of the vast numbers of women who are dealing with the various aspects of aging on a daily basis. But instead of looking at aging as a negative, I look at it as an opportunity. We have lived long enough to know who we are. We have experienced enough to know what we like. We are opinionated, smart and sassy. We are hardly the same at forty-plus that our mothers and grandmothers were. We want to approach aging with style and grace. We want to invest in our well being. We don’t need to look twenty.The forty-plus woman no longer looks, acts or realizes she is older. She has the choice to be young at heart, in body and mind. Unlike the generations before her, she has the ability to control many of her aging issues.

  • But she needs guidance.
  • And to date there is none.

Pundits say if it makes you feel good that’s all that matters. How wrong they are!

Many women over forty are walking around revealing skin that begs to be covered, wearing clothing suited for their daughters, combing hair that cries for updating and applying lipstick beyond their lip line for that trendy “pouty” mouth. They blame hormonal changes for their extra weight and PMS for cynical attitudes.In many cases, while trying to appear younger, they are actually making themselves look and act older, often foolish. And despite all the books, articles and television segments on the subject, no one is pointing to the obvious. No one is telling the truth.The media is aiming their messages at the 18–39 year olds. The Grown-up Girl’s Guide To Style is the book every forty-plus woman needs because it is the first book that gives honest solutions to problems that pertain specifically to a new generation wanting answers.

The New Forty-Plus

  • Oprah turned fifty and continues to change the lives of women daily.
  • Diane Keaton won the Golden Globe for Best Actress for her performance in Something’s Gotta Give.
  • Goldie Hawn became a “glam-ma” for the first time.
  • Madonna opted for English proper over her leather and chains attire.
  • Forty-plus is an age of opportunity.

In The Grown-up Girl’s Guide To Style I will take you on an incredible self-improvement journey. I will share my years of experience with you, as a professional and as a woman. I will teach you everything you need to know for you, the new over-forty woman. I will give you insight into all phases of style and fashion, balancing the very important line between current and appropriate. I will teach you about selective revelation, my most important fashion secret. I will guide you through the incredible new world of beauty, both cosmetically and medically. I will expose you to the advantages of a positive attitude. I will bring some of the leading experts right into your home. I will share lessons of life with you that will change the way you think about aging.Together we will work on your mind, your body and your appearance. I will give you honest answers to all your questions. I am not only concerned with helping you find just the right outfit for any event; I am concerned with every aspect of your physical and emotional well-being. Once we turn forty, it’s not as simple as choosing what color lipstick to wear. It’s putting together the entire package to make us stylish, fit, sexy, healthy and happy.I will challenge what fashion and beauty experts have been preaching for years. I might make some women angry, and others defensive, but those who listen will change the way they feel and look.

The Journey
This time of life can be your best if you make the necessary adjustments. The problem is most women are not addressing the changes that need to be made. They read fashion, health, and lifestyle books and magazines, but only a fraction of the advice pertains to them. Television shows are afraid to take a stand, so they waffle when they should be openly critical. Afraid to turn off advertisers, they say almost everything is okay if it makes you feel good. WRONG, WRONG, WRONG. Yes, you can do whatever you want, but my question to you is why would you want to do anything that makes you look foolish, inappropriate or older? Why would you want to look like you are trying to hard? Designers don’t design to make you look good, they design to sell merchandise. If we look foolish, how can we feel good? If we look frumpy how can we feel good? The answer lies between the young trendy foolish looks and the boring frumpy “I give up” looks. It lies between the pamphlet write up on cosmetic procedures and the reality of having them. It lies in realistic and healthy eating habits rather than diet books. It lies in getting you motivated to move your body in any way you can. It lies in surrounding yourself with positive influence, in always moving forward. The answer lies in education. I am going to provide you with that education. I am going to give you what you want, need and deserve.I have adjusted my style and beauty routine over the years as my body changed. I am still fashionable and still think I am thirty, even though I can no longer dress like I am. I watch women everywhere and am constantly amazed at their attempts to dress like they are twenty, only to look silly, and sometimes even worse than if they did nothing at all. I see them going to extremes with cosmetic dermatology treatments and plastic surgery, applying over the top makeup, wearing hairstyles that are either too young or too matronly and dressing to reveal what needs to be covered. I see them giving up and giving in to lifestyle choices that are no longer healthy. I see them settling for less when they should be pursuing more. I see them thinking they are too old, when they are actually just right. I have come to the conclusion that grown-up living is a compromise between what’s appropriate and what’s right for you. At forty, Lisa Kudrow is that same free-spirited love child we came to love on Friends. Look at Sharon Osbourne. She is an advocate of cosmetic treatments and plastic surgery, wears cool trends and adds bright red streaks to her hair and she looks incredible. She has balanced the rock and roll look that fits her lifestyle with what works for her body. Look at Diane Keaton who is a naturalist, loves kooky clothing and always creates her own style. She covers her liabilities with gloves and high necklines and yet allows her creativity to shine with cutting edge eyewear and vintage accessories. Look at Christie Brinkley at fifty. She still looks like the goddess next door with her fresh, wholesome style in both fashion and makeup. She has adjusted her look without losing it. Katherine Hepburn never lost her gender-bender style or her strong-willed outlook. Her classic turtlenecks and trouser pants worked for her well into her nineties. Her progressive thinking changed the way many females felt about themselves as women. Eleanor Roosevelt and Golda Meir used their ambition and intelligence to make a difference in public life. They taught prior generations that our brains were as important as our looks.

We are fortunate to live in an era of limitless options–to look, feel and be fabulous way beyond forty.

We don’t need to think like our grandmothers. There is not a chronological age that now determines we are past our prime. Our prime is a state of mind.

I am recommending that you open yourself to the possibilities of changes in your style, beauty, health and attitude. Below are some of the myths that kept previous generations from being ageless.

  • You’ve earned the right to do whatever you want.
  • You can’t wear long hair past forty.
  • Fashion and beauty are not as important as you get older.
  • The younger the outfit, the younger you will look.
  • If you’ve got it, flaunt it.
  • You can never be too rich or too thin.

Wrong, wrong, wrong!

We are bombarded with ideas on how to look and feel younger. We can no longer depend on our friends for guidance, for they too are searching. The mistakes we make are costly, both to our pocketbooks and our self-esteem. Otherwise why would women our age wear ultra-low pants with cropped tops? Skin-tight stretch pants over big bums? Baggy turquoise polyester sweatsuits? Poodle hair or 60s eyeliner? Talk endlessly about body functions and health issues? Or hook themselves up to gimmicky machines to spot reduce?

Throughout my career in television and writing I have helped hundreds of thousands of women with their beauty and fashion needs. I have worked with celebrities, politicians, socialites and homemakers. Regardless of their size or age, I have guided them to look and feel better. Now I am taking that thirty years of experience and directing it to a group in desperate need of direction. Desperate because they want to find the balance between the extremes of the trends and the boredom of the staid and frumpy; the secrets to being forever ageless in both mind and manner; the lifestyle to keep forever healthy in attitude and body.

Excerpted from “The Grown-up Girl’s Guide to Style” by Christine Schwab. Copyright © 2006 by Christine Schwab. Excerpted by permission of All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.