As a top fashion editor, I’ll confirm that the idea of "age appropriate" clothes for women is really and truly over. There are no more rules. Even the most conservative among us - politicians, CEOS, talk show anchors - have loosened up, shoved the stodgy suits to the back of the closet (or sold them on eBay) and are taking their cues from our relaxed global attitude towards dressing. While no one says they want to dress like twenty- or thirty-somethings, lots of women fifty-something can. We're in terrific shape - some in the best physical shape of our lives - thanks to an emphasis on staying healthy, fitness and better nutrition. The national everyday uniform has become black capri pants worn with ballet flats. We've learned to layer like pros. Those of us who work in corporate environments or need to dress up a little more depend on jersey dresses. These comfy knits with spandex or Lycra wrap, ruche and drape whatever we want to hide or flaunt. But there are five items that still make us wonder whether we look tacky or terrific, and I have the answers. Here are the dos and don’ts of how you can wear these styles:
A WARM FUN HAT: Skip the pompoms and festive Sherpa-style knits with ear flaps unless you are super-trendy and really dress in a hipster-chic downtown way.
What you're never too old for: A knit hat in black or brown toned to your coat- aim for a newsy slouchy beanie with fullness at the back or a big fur (real or faux) classic trapper.
A MINI: If you have great legs (and you know if you do) a couple of inches above the knee is fine, but we’re talking two inches or, for fabulous legs, three at most. Not five. Any shorter length looks weird after a certain age. Fall and winter are mini opportunities for all because you get to compensate for shorter lengths with tights and boots.
What you're never too old for: Stick to mini dresses rather than skirts to keep your body looking long and slim. Simply to avoid the sleaze factor, a body-skimming shift or A-line sheath is a better bet than a tight clingy dress.
A PUFFER: Skip short cropped puffers that expose your derriere, strangely colored down coats cut full and boxy like refrigerators (especially ankle-length ones) in shades of pink, raspberry or teal.
What you're never too old for: A knee-length black down coat with waist defining shape or a belt, and a big cozy collar or hood. Wear it with a simple black knit hat, black Wellies or warm knee-high black boots in microfiber or water-resistant leather or suede (with rubber soles), black gloves and dark sunglasses.
LEGGINGS: Thin black leggings -- the kind you wear around the house or to the gym -- don't work for the street. They’re not good even for runaround errands, especially not with a mid-thigh big chunky sweater and ugly white clunky sneakers.
What you're never too old for: Thick black dense super-opaque leggings with the hold and shape and density of riding pants, or jeggings (the blend of jeans and leggings). Wear with knee-high boots and butt-covering layers of tees and sweaters.
PANTYHOSE: Forget Kate and Pippa wearing sheer nude hose and the hosiery industry claiming a big comeback for sheers. Opt for fine mesh nude fishnets or opaques. You can finally throw out those dozens of nude sheers you've been saving- it's official. The one exception: black sheers still rock if you are wearing a very dressy LBD with heels.
What you're never too old for: Opaque solid color pantyhose make everyone's legs look longer and slimmer. Make sure you tone them to your skirt and boots or shoes to keep the look leggy and chic.
Lois Joy Johnson is a beauty editor and blogger and author of "The Makeup Wakeup: Revitalizing Your Look At Any Age."