16 Outfit Tricks That Will Make You Look Younger
The easiest way to turn back the clock has nothing to do with lotions, potions or pricey treatments—it's all about your wardrobe. Here’s how to dress to look younger instantly.
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How to dress to look younger
Age is just a number … but having the right clothes can make that number a lot harder to guess. Just like certain hairstyles and makeup tricks for older women will make you look younger, a few smart wardrobe tricks can also help you tap into the fountain of youth instantly. And learning how to dress to look younger can do wonders for your self-esteem, adding to the anti-aging effect with a simple attitude adjustment.
“Looking younger is a mindset,” says Alex Rivera, a stylist with Stitch Fix. “And if you have the proper tools to style an outfit, you’ll always feel confident.”
Even better? We have all those tools for you right here, with pro tips from stylists and fashion bloggers. These style swaps and accessory tweaks are incredibly easy—and make an even bigger impact than you might imagine. They can even help you look better in photos every time. Here’s what you need to know.
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Find the right balance between slouchy and polished
“Structured two-piece sets and other tailored pieces look polished, but that sophisticated look can also come across as more aging,” says Dina Scherer, owner of Modnitsa Styling. Go for pieces that fall off the shoulder a bit or have a longer, asymmetrical silhouette to shave years off your look. “If it’s a little oversized,” Scherer explains, “it can read as a little more casual and doesn’t hug the body the same way, so it has that message of a more youthful feel.”
Just don’t go too far past the line. Baggy jeans and sweatpants, for example, will swallow up your whole body. Instead, find oversized pieces with clean lines, avoiding embellishments or details. We love this oversized but polished O’Hara blazer from M.M. LaFleur. It’s great for the office but also works for a night out when paired with dark-wash jeans. Plus, it’s a simple fashion upgrade that will elevate your wardrobe in myriad ways.
Wear comfy pants
If you feel good, you’ll look good. You’ll never ooze confidence if you’re poking and pulling at a too-tight dress all night or holding your breath because of a restricting waistline. Luckily, pull-on elastic-waist pants are everywhere right now, so you can keep up with the trends while being super comfortable, says stylist Lauren Rothman, author of Style Bible: What to Wear to Work. “A pull-on pant can be very flattering and is not as dated as it once was,” she explains. “At this point, it’s so stylish that it comes in all silhouettes.” Think skinny ankle pants, cropped styles and culottes.
You can’t go wrong with these pull-on khakis from the Gap. The clean, straight lines exude a younger feel, and the cut is forgiving but not too baggy. Wear them with casual sandals in the summer or stylish walking shoes in the cooler months.
Ditch the all-black wardrobe
Black is popular because it’s versatile and slimming, but it can also wash you out. Wearing it, especially near your face, can make your skin look dull, and wearing it from head to toe can make you seem older. You’ll fare much better with browns, grays and navys, which are still dark, flattering and neutral but less harsh, which can make you appear younger and more approachable. “There’s not that intensity that ages you and makes you look a bit more strict,” explains Scherer.
Try this cute navy T-shirt dress from Lilly Pulitzer. It features a white design along the flattering neckline, which adds some extra brightness to your face, not to mention a youthful flair to your outfit. It’s a casual yet classic dress that you’ll reach for again and again.
Opt for bright, bold tops
What other colors can make you look younger? Bright ones. “When choosing colors that will make you feel vibrant, I advise my clients to play with bright shades such as red, purple and pink,” says Rivera. “Small doses of bright color add a visual interest and insert fun to every outfit.” And fun equals youth.
If super bright isn’t your thing, even just a pop of it will do the trick. Think brightly colored scarves over your favorite winter coat, or necklaces and brooches near your face, which will highlight your features and make you look fresh faced, says Scherer. You can also get strategic about color pairings. A soft neutral like beige or gold can reflect light on your skin, giving you a youthful glow, and that kind of more subdued hue can also balance out a hot-pink top, like this one from SkinnyTees.
Avoid matchy-matchy pieces
“Resist the urge to try to match everything in your outfit,” says stylist Erin Stoll, creator of Style Thief Fashion. A matching shirt-and-sweater combo is reminiscent of what grandma used to wear, even when your components are stylish on their own. “Bring some balance to your look with neutrals: Try pairing a simple white T-shirt with a printed skirt, or a pair of jeans with a floral top,” suggests Stoll. “The same goes for accessories. Choose simple silver or gold accessories instead of matching colors to your outfit.”
Pick up this elevated V-neck tee from Frame, which comes in a variety of neutral colors. You can put it under colored sweaters or patterned blazers, or pair it with just about any bottoms for a put-together, über-cool look. Bonus: The sleeves are incredibly flattering.
Simplify your accessories
As the old adage goes, less is more—and that’s definitely true with jewelry if you want to dress to look younger. Instead of piling on bracelets and necklaces, remove a few pieces before heading out the door. While older generations are huge fans of chunky jewelry, statement necklaces and large watches, the look for younger generations right now is very minimalist. Smaller pieces will give you a more streamlined look, even when you layer multiple pieces instead of wearing one large necklace.
This simple and modern bar necklace from Tiny Tags will evoke the perfect youthful vibe, and even better, you can personalize it. Bonus: Rose gold is huge right now among younger generations. It gives off a fresher feeling than yellow gold and a hipper one than white gold or platinum. Find out the best time to buy jewelry so you can stock up strategically.
Incorporate trends sparingly
Trends come and go, and it’s all too easy to look dated if you’re not completely on top of them. That’s why it’s a better idea to establish a timeless signature style, then add in a few on-trend pieces or accessories each season. (It’s also a lot more cost-effective and works well with a capsule wardrobe.) The key is to make sure your go-to pieces are well made and properly tailored. “Natural fibers, like cotton, wool, cashmere and denim, are classic, timeless and ageless,” says Stoll. “Avoid cheap and flimsy fabrics. Natural fibers hold their shape, give some nice structure to your frame and look polished.” Quality fabrics will also wash easier and last longer, so you’ll be able to justify it if you want to splurge.
What trends should you consider for 2023? Camo prints were recently switched out in favor of fun animal prints, and the new Pantone Color of the Year for 2023 is a deep, lush pink called Viva Magenta. These fun pops work well in shirts, scarves and other accessories.
Show off your best assets
As the saying goes, if you’ve got it, flaunt it. If you’re a dedicated yogi or an avid cyclist, don’t be afraid to show off toned arms or legs with a tank top or shorter skirt. Or if you spent your younger years in higher necklines or slathering on sunscreen, choose tops that highlight your décolletage. “If you’re lucky enough to be one of those women without sun damage, you won’t have wrinkles there,” Rothman says. “When you do choose to show that off, you’re going to win the war on aging.” This tip on how to dress to look younger is very individual: Direct people’s attention to your most youthful-looking spot, and that will influence their overall impression of your appearance.
This floral dress from Anthropologie certainly fits the bill. It shows off your neckline and collarbone, as well as toned arms. Plus, the single ruffle offers slightly flirty flair without going overboard, especially since it’s balanced by a sophisticated silhouette.
Try a cropped pant
Even if you’re too self-conscious to show your whole calf, don’t hide your ankles. “As we age, we’re so consumed with how many parts of our body we feel like we have to cover up, but a few don’t need to be covered,” Rothman says. “Elongating the leg a bit with that cropped pant is very flattering and sexy, and it’s a part of your body that doesn’t tend to show age.” Plus, the shorter hemline gives you the chance to show off gorgeous shoes, whether you like booties, flats or pointed-toe loafers.
Amp up the fun for a night out with these festive INC International Concepts sequin pants. The straight leg is flattering for everyone, the slight crop will show off your sexy shoes and the added sparkle adds a whimsical yet sophisticated flair to your ensemble, especially when paired with a more neutral top.
Pair skirts and cropped pants with pointy-toed shoes
If you’re opting for a shorter pant or skirt, make sure to wear the right shoe. “Update your shoes by choosing a pair of heels, boots or flats with a slightly pointier or almond-shaped toe,” says Stoll. “This will help elongate your leg line and helps you look more polished. Avoid short, rounded toes, since these can make you look shorter and frumpier.”
If you want to wear heels, more power to you, but don’t feel like you have to. “The perfect level of style is when there’s some comfort in there,” says Rothman. So swap out your five-inch pumps for kitten heels, platform shoes or wedges so you can wear heels without the pain. Try these extra-cushioned, low-heeled ankle boots from Hush Puppies. They’re comfortable, stylish and even sensibly water-resistant.
Buy well-fitting bras
Nope, you’re not going to see them, but undergarments are the foundation of your look. After all, they’ll affect how clothes lay on your body. If you haven’t gotten new bras recently, it’s probably time. Your cup size and breast shape can change over time due to pregnancy, aging and/or weight fluctuations, and you should get fitted every couple of years to make sure your size hasn’t changed. (Sooner, if you know it has.) Likewise, bras don’t last forever—they stretch out and eventually don’t fit as they should.
Having a few different styles of the best bras for different outfits is key. Make sure you have a good push-up, a strapless option and an underwire, as well as comfortable everyday options. The size of your chest also matters—bigger breasts may need more support, while those with a smaller chest can wear a more delicate bralette. We love this super-soft yet supportive Second Skin Triangle Bralette from Tommy John, which has adjustable straps and removable pads and is super comfy for everyday wear.
Wear dark denim
“Choose denim for a youthful look and feel,” recommends Stoll. “Pair your favorite sweater with a dark-wash jean and heels for a night out, or add a denim jacket over a dress. Denim will balance out feminine pieces and make you look young and fresh.” The key is to choose a dark wash over a lighter shade. Why? Darker washes are timeless, flattering and work for any age. Very light washes or overly distressed jeans, on the other hand, will scream ’80s and ’90s and result in a dated look. They could also make it look like you’re trying too hard to look younger.
You can’t go wrong with this classic denim jacket from Liverpool. Not only is it versatile, but it also has a bit of stretch that is both flattering and comfortable. Plus, its subtle ombré wash adds a fashion-forward feel.
Embrace the front tuck
“This styling trick has been around for years, but it makes a big difference,” says Stoll. “Many of us might feel more comfortable leaving shirts and sweaters untucked, but often, that just accentuates the widest part of our body. The trick to the front tuck is not trying too hard: Simply tuck in just the front part of your shirt or sweater, right where the button of your jeans is. This brings the eye up to your waist, accentuating the smallest part of your body.” It also allows the shirt to still cover your hips and butt, adding some clever camouflage.
Create a balanced silhouette
“Adding various lengths to an outfit adds a flattering dimension, so if you do opt for a voluminous cropped shirt, pair it with a high-waisted trouser,” advises Rivera. “This will create the illusion of a longer leg while adding a touch of chicness to the overall look.” Plus, you need to balance your look. For example, if you’re wearing a flowy or slouchy top, which tends to skew younger, pair it with a more tailored bottom. This will ensure that you don’t get lost in the outfit.
Cinch your waist
If your outfit doesn’t offer a built-in hourglass shape, you can create one in seconds with a belt. It defines your figure and accentuates the smallest part of yourself—or creates the illusion that your waist is smaller than it may be. A belt also adds visual interest to a casual dress and helps you tastefully pull together a look. Belts can also be used to “tuck in” sweaters that are too long, which can land at an otherwise unflattering spot.
Aim for a minimalist, plain belt about two inches wide. We realize that’s very specific, but there’s a good reason for it: Anything wider than three inches and it will look dated. Likewise, a super skinny belt isn’t going to frame your figure enough to make a difference in your overall look. This affordable two-pack from Amazon, which comes with black and brown options, will do the trick.
Roll or push up your sleeves
When figuring out how to dress to look younger, this easy tip just might be your favorite. “You would be surprised how many times I can totally change the look of an outfit by telling my clients to push up the sleeves of their shirt or jacket, in addition to popping the collar and doing a little front tuck,” says Stoll. “These tiny finishing details take no time at all and instantly make you look fresh and pulled together.” Rolling your sleeves gives a casual, more laid-back look, which will help with the youthful vibe instantly.
While you might think to do this with your weekend wear, you can also do it with business-casual outfits. Simply cuff the sleeves of a button-down shirt and wear it on its own, or pair your button-down with a blazer and cuff its sleeves over the blazer’s sleeves.
Additional reporting by Marissa Laliberte.