Are we too old to wear beige at 70?

In Style over 50 by JoniLeave a Comment

I love beige when I see it in fashion photos.  It looks calm, natural and understated.  I especially love greyish beige.  And over the past few years I’ve painted many a piece of furniture in ‘greige’.

But I actually have very little beige in my closet.

Because when I try it on I’m disappointed.

Is 70 simply too old for beige? Take a look at me trying on items in beige and see how certain items work but others don’t look good, depending how I style them.

I hope these try-ons and flat-lay photos will be useful to you if you are, like me, wondering if the time has come to give up on beige.

First of all, let me say I am not slim, I am not tanned, I do not have dark hair or eyes and I do not have a young flawless complexion.  All of these make beige much more wearable.  But once we are retired few of us – from Northern European stock anyway – retain these lovely attributes.

So if you are slim and tanned you can wear beige whatever your age.  If you are naturally dark haired or dark skinned, beige will be a good color even as you age and even if you carry some extra weight.  And of course if you are young with a creamy complexion beige will look amazing on you.

In a previous post about beige, How to wear beige after 50, I set out the rules for older women who want to wear beige.  So I’ll follow these tips to show how they relate to me.

So here goes.

What tone of beige?

When you are thinking of wearing or buying an item in beige you need to understand what tone it is.  Because some tones suit some people and other tones suit others.  We’ll look at this in more detail later.

The tone of beige will also help you decide what other items in your closet will work well with it. And it makes choosing accessories easier too.

In the first image above you can see the difference between two dresses in beige.  They were bought several years apart.  But I think of them both as light beige.  But you can see that one is much cooler and greyer and one is much warmer and sandier than the other. 

If you are not sure whether something is warm or cool beige you can compare it to a grey scarf – as I have – and you’ll see whether it seems to blend in with the scarf or stand against it.

Or compare it to anything with a slight yellow tint. Browns, oranges, tans all blend better with a warmer beige than a cooler beige.

The paler the item you use for comparison, the easier it is to see whether it blends or stands apart.  That’s because beige is a pale color so anything bright or dark will tend to contrast whatever its hue.

Don’t wear beige next to your face unless you are very tanned or dark

I think you can see in this photo that the beige dress directly next to my face is draining.  I never really get a sun tan.  I try to get a healthy glow in the summer.  I’m basically very pale skinned from Scottish and Norse stock so hours in the sun could be dangerous.  The slightly warmer beige doesn’t make enough of a contrast with my neck so I look insipid.

Once I add a necklace and a sweater used as a scarf the outfit starts to look better.

Don’t wear beige directly against bare skin unless it makes a good contrast

Simple beige cotton frock with ethnic necklaces and white sneakers
Beige dress against bare skin

I do these try-ons with bare legs because I want them to be as near a try-on in a changing room as possible. But my legs look even larger than in most photos when I’m wearing beige.  And my arms don’t look very good either.  Being overweight I need to find ways to detract from heavy arms and legs.  Beige just doesn’t do that.

Grayish beige emphasises your age

If we are tired or a little under the weather, most of us get a grayer complexion.  So a grayish beige just makes us more gray.  You get a pasty look which you really don’t want. 

In the photo below I am wearing a grayish beige dress (from Marks & Spencer). I used to wear it a lot when I was working.  But then I always wore foundation make-up, even in the summer, to give me an even skin tone and a slightly warmer tanned look.  Today I prefer to moisturise my skin but otherwise leave it natural.  It’s part of aging but also about having a more casual and natural look.

You can see that this dress doesn’t improve my complexion and skin today. But even five years ago it didn’t really do much for me. (That’s why I chose to black-and-white it for my profile photo!)

Your hair should contrast with the beige you wear at the top

Well I got that right anyway – just.

Beige cardigan with gold necklace, pale blue shirt and navy velvet jeans
Boden cashmere beige cardigan

Wear something between your face and your beige top

I think you’ll agree that the jewelry, the shirt and the turned cuffs make me look a bit better in this beige cardigan (here’s a link to this adorable Boden cardigan in pale gray – they seem to have stopped making it in beige).

But toning the scarf or jewelry with the beige helps the look too.

The greyish beige dress looks better with the greyish-pink, silver and pearl necklace or with the silver necklace and pale greyish-pink cardigan. It looks OK with a greyish pink pashmina (from Phase Eight) I have too. (I bought this for my daughter’s wedding last June so I’m loving putting it on again for this try-on.)

The warmer (slight yellowish tint) beige beach dress looks better with the tan bag and saffron scarf or even with just the gold chain.  (I bought this heavy chain in a brocante because I liked the vintage French vibe.  When I got it home – and put my glasses on – I saw a mark very much like the Givenchy logo.  So it’s either Audrey Hepburn’s favorite brand or a good copy.  Either way I’m  soooo pleased and what a snip at less than $20!  It’ll be part of my summer 2020 capsule wardrobe for sure.)

And my dark warmish beige skirt (from Debenhams) works with a warm toned mid-brown jacket.

Beige looks best with black, white or navy

Mid beige cardigan, dark beige skirt, navy sweater
Adding the big navy sweater to a mid-beige outfit works

I’ve tried on the few beige items I have.  The skirt is a darker beige and the cardigan is a mid beige. But whatever the tone, as soon as I add a bold basic color the outfit seems to work so much better for me.  What do you think?

But I have to say I feel as if I am fighting the beige the whole time. 

Yet fifteen years ago I was happily wearing tones of beige against cream together and looking chic (well, I thought so at the time anyway!)  That’s out of the question now.

The further away from my face I wear beige, the better I look.  And I found the more structured the outfit I put together the better I look.  I felt I needed stronger lip color and if I’d been dressing to go out to meet friends I think I would have worn more definition around my eyes.

And I think that’s it.  Definition.  Beige makes your complexion and skin merge into your outfit.  Once you define where the outfit starts and your skin stops you begin to look much better in beige.

beige skirt with black jacket
Beige skirt works with black jacket, white tee and tan shoes and necklace

My conclusions on beige at 70

Sadly I don’t think I will ever buy anything beige again except for bottoms.  I fear my beige shirt and sweater wearing days are over.  Which is a pity because it has such a gentle natural ‘wholesome’ look.  But as we age natural is probably not our best friend.

Do you wear beige?  I’d love to see any photos of you in beige.  You can send them to hello at Im mother of the bride dot com.  Let me know If you are happy for me to add them to this article.

Well, I’m feeling a bit down after an afternoon of styling myself in beige.  And I see lockdown has worked merry hell with my hips.  Grrrr this aging thing is not always a whole lot of fun, is it? Well there’s always chocolate. (Which happens to work very well with beige!)

Beige outfit with black tee and sparkly necklace
Adding a black tee to a beige outfit looks fine

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