How to choose jewelry when you’re over 50

In Style over 50 by JoniLeave a Comment

The main rules of how to look good in jewelry don’t change much with your age.  But there are a few extra tips you need to be aware of when you are older so scroll down to see these in my do’s and dont’s section.

The most basic rule is always to use jewelry to draw attention to your facial features or to the most attractive parts of your body.

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How to choose earrings

Earrings make people look at your face, especially your eyes.  If your earrings are striking consider wearing more eye make-up too. 

Dangly earrings make people look at your lips and chin.  So if those dangly earrings are attention-grabbing make sure your lip color and definition are especially appealing too. 

Hate your chin?  Don’t wear dangly earrings.  Stay with studs and small hoops.

How to choose bracelets

Bracelets make people notice your arms and hands.  Don’t confuse them by having ruffles or lace at your wrist, bell-shaped sleeves or eye-catching cuffs.  Don’t wear bracelets or large rings on both hands, you’ll give the impression of being in handcuffs.

Are your hands looking puffy?  Don’t wear a ring.  But older hands even with raised veins and age marks can look elegant so wear an eye-catching ring or bracelet if your hands are relatively slim.

How to choose necklaces

It’s all about length.

Just encircling the neck – good if you have a long neck, less good if you have a thick neck.  Your face will tend to look rounder too.  Long necks usually accompany narrower faces, short thick necks are often topped by wider faces.  Chokers are not for people like me who are short and square.

Falling to just below your collar bone – looks good on most people because it tends to make your face and neck look more oval than round or square.  Draws attention to your mouth and chin.

Falling a bit lower to the mid-point on your breast bone – an elegant length that doubles the height of your face.  It also hints at a décolletage. 

Falling below your décolletage – a good way to elongate your upper body (though see my do’s and don’ts below if you have a heavy bosom).  This length can work for very smart (think long pearls) or very casual (think pendant). 

Hidden chains and lockets within your décolletage or under a shirt – this length hints at mystery, secret memories and emotions.  To get eyes focussed on the top of your breasts just fiddle with your hidden necklace now and again.  The person sitting opposite you will be intrigued!

What color jewelry looks best?

Jewelry comes in every color.  Here’s how to decide what’s right for you.

Gold or silver? 

This is often the first question we ask ourselves.

If you have grey or silver hair then silver jewelry will look wonderful on you.

If your hair is warm blonde, brown or red then gold will often look better.  These aren’t hard and fast rules because the color of the outfit you are wearing and the type of occasion also need to be taken into account – silver tends to be more casual than gold.  But your hair tone is a good place to start.

Some people say choose silver if you are cool-toned and gold if your skin is warm-toned.  I’ve never found that skin tone makes much difference to whether you look better in gold or silver but that’s just my personal opinion.

Warm-toned top or scarf – I’d choose gold in general.

If your bag or shoes or hair accessory has even a touch of gold or silver I’d tend to echo that in your jewelry.

Pearls

These come in every shade of pale from startling white through pinks and greys.  That’s why it’s worth having several pearl studs and other pearl items.  Then you can emphasise the overall tone of your outfit by wearing a similar toned pearl or strike a definite contrast. 

So at work a grey shirt will look cool and in control if you team it with greyish pearls. 

And in the evening a black dress will look more exciting if you team it with very white pearls.

Greyish pearls can be ageing if your skin is a little grey these days so always hold the earring up to your face before you buy.  Or use more foundation and blusher when you wear greyer pearls.

Other colors

Gems and modern materials come in lots of beautiful hues.  If you are wearing a one-color outfit such as a summer cotton dress then choose a contrasting color for your jewelry to make it catch the eye and add interest to an otherwise bland look. 

Navy works well with strong colors such as reds which add drama.  But navy also looks great with sea,sand and stone colors – think pebble-look bracelets or coral earrings.

Craft style blue necklace by One Button
This works beautifully with natural colors. One Button at johnlewis.com

If you are wearing more than one color or a pattern then select your jewelry carefully to pick out just one of the colors.  Don’t confuse the eye with several colors in your necklace for example.

A color that echoes your eye color can be very attractive.  People feel drawn to your eyes without quite knowing why.  The more they look into your eyes the stronger the bond they form with you!  Ideal for sales presentations and dating!

When to wear precious gems and gold or polished stones and filigree silver

If the main fabric of your outfit is natural and/or matt such as cotton, denim, linen, leather and wool then you should tend towards a less precious look – think semi-precious stones, polished pebbles and man-made simple items.

If however your outfit has a shine to it such as silks, satins, metallic threads or organza then veer towards gems and gold or heavier worked silver.

That said, pearl studs go with everything from little black frocks to jeans.

Choose jewelry according to the texture of your outfit

The more texture you are wearing the heavier the jewelry you should wear. 

Texture includes lines and freckles on your face and hands as well as the surface of the fabric you are wearing. 

So don’t wear a seersucker blouse with a fine gold chain.  Don’t wear a cable knit sweater with tiny earrings.  Don’t wear a tweed jacket with a single slim bracelet.  Think chunky chains, statement jewelry, bold looks.

A fine necklace will get lost in your neck folds if you have anything less than a young-looking neck.  So think much chunkier.  Little drop earrings will look wrong next to a heavily lined face.  A small slim bracelet will just emphasise how you’ve changed over the years if you wear it around a wrist that has thickened or has noticeable veins. 

Chunky brass bracelet by Boden
Chunky bracelet perfect for an older wrist from Boden uk and Boden USA

If you’re choosing a necklace for a lined and freckled or deeply tanned décolletage then it must stand out from this background.  You can also think about those many tiered large necklaces that fill your whole upper chest area. (There must be a name for these necklaces but I’m afraid I just don’t know it!)

How much jewelry can you wear without looking like a Xmas tree in August?

How much is too much?

If you’re wearing quite heavy chunky jewelry or several finer items layered on top of each other such as three chains and a pendant or two or three bracelets and bangles then make that the main focus and hold back on any other jewelry unless it’s very subdued such as stud earrings.

Avoid lots of small jewelry items all over your body – arms, neck, ears.  This looks unstylish.

A necklace and matching earrings can look overpowering unless you’re at a formal occasion.  If you’re invited to an embassy dinner, sure, wear those diamond or pearl sets.  Otherwise lock them in your home safe.

Balance out accessories and jewelry – that is, don’t wear eye-catching earrings as well as an eye-catching silk scarf around your neck.  Wear studs and the scarf or the eye-catching earrings with a plain colored scarf.

Do’s and dont’s of choosing jewelry

  • Don’t wear vintage – people will think you’re just old-fashioned.  Annoying but true.  If you have fashion items from 40 years ago give them to a daughter or granddaughter or sell them online.  Lots of young people want them.  But they are no longer right for you.
  • Do retain classics such as strings of pearls or simple gold studs.
  • Do retain items with emotional value.  Perhaps that ring no longer fits or looks too eighties for today.  Consider adding it to a chain and wearing as a pendant either alone or in the company of lots of other chains. 

Or mount it in a pretty box frame and hang it on a wall in your bedroom.  Several items including beads and bracelets can look great individually framed and hung together.  You could even add a photo to the frame – a tiny one in the corner or a full sized one as the background of the jewellery item.

We’re no longer talking vintage we’re talking personal history.

  • Do gift special and valuable items to daughters and granddaughters.  But always explain the history of the piece.  When did you get it?  Was it a gift?  Who from? Then every time your daughter looks at it, or wears it, she will automatically remember the story you told.  Families are built on shared memories.  The older you are the more you will feel able to share very personal memories. 

Perhaps that bracelet was a gift from a man you loved but never married.  Perhaps that necklace was a gift from your mother who recently died.  Shared memories bring people closer.  Even if your daughter keeps the ring in a box and never wears it, it will always carry with it your story and your emotions.

  • Don’t wear heavy earrings that drag your earlobes down.  Our skin stretches more easily as we lose collagen over the years.
  • Don’t go high fashion.  Nose jewelry, multiple piercings around the ear and anklets are no longer for you.  Young people wear high fashion to shout ‘Look at me.  I’m young’.  That’s not what you want to shout!  Think ‘Look at me.  I’m elegant’.
  • Don’t wear a long string of beads or a pendant if you have a very large bosom.  The lines of these items emphasise the long downward slope of your breasts and then the eye fixes on the lowest point of the necklace which is probably just tipping over the cliff-edge of your bosom.  Long chains and pendants can elongate the upper body but only if they lie relatively flat.
  • Be careful with brooches.  They can work for you but beware of just attaching one to the lapel of every jacket you wear.  Trendy young millennials can be seen in brooches these days on Instagram but you might just look like you’ve never rethought your style since you got married.
  • Don’t spend money on a watch unless it’s gorgeous as a piece of special jewelry.  Use your phone like everyone younger than you does.  The only exception is wearing a smart watch to count your steps and measure your heart rate etc.  But take this off at dressy dos.  It’s an athleisure accessory really so best with trainers, leggings and a tee.
  • Do split up jewelry sets into their component items and wear these separately.  Sets are now a vintage look.  So unless you have the figure and face to channel  Audrey in Breakfast at Tiffany’s you’ll just look like our own dear Queen Liz – but she’s over 90 so take care!
Elegant earrings for a a special occasion. Marco Bicego at saks.com

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