75-year-old model shares style tips for staying fashionable at any age

75-year-old model shares style tips for staying fashionable at any age

When it comes to staying stylish, age is just a number.

When it comes to staying stylish, age is just a number.

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With age comes wisdom, and—in Carolyn Doelling’s case—a savvy sense of style. The 75-year-old model launched her fashion career after retiring from a career that spanned from banking to philanthropy, and now appears in campaigns for CVS, Athleta and more. Her newfound passion has changed the course of her life—and now she’s on a mission to change the industry.

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“I just want to make sure that after the age of 70, women still have their swagger,” she says. We sat down with Doelling to talk runway-ready style, representation and how to find clothes you love at any age.

Reject societal beauty standards

Despite societal pressures, there’s no fashion rulebook for style after 70. After retiring, Doelling realized that “people have a different outlook on what you can accomplish [after a certain age].” When a boutique in Oakland, California asked her to appear in a social media campaign, she found her next chapter and an opportunity to challenge those preconceived notions. Now, in addition to being in front of the camera, she hopes to bring more representation to runways. “A model should represent the real thing, and I think it’s important that the market at large can see that,” says Doelling, whose next goal is to walk in a show at New York Fashion Week. “I think it would do a lot to defy ageism and to encourage older women to feel more included.”

Pick styles in colors that pop

style=”padding-bottom:56%;”>Brighten up any look with a bold splash of color.

Brighten up any look with a bold splash of color.

Even if you’re not starring in photo shoots, you can still be the star of your own life by picking styles that stand out. “Typically we resort to grays and blacks and neutral khaki colors [in our seventies] that kind of blend into the woodwork,” says Doelling. “So I think wearing bright colors is a good way to distinguish yourself.”

Add a splash of sunshine to your wardrobe with pieces like the Cleo Long Sleeve Organic Cotton Shirt Dress from Mara Hoffman, a designer Doelling loves. The flowy dress, which can be belted for a more streamlined style, is available in women’s sizes XS to XL. Doelling, who favors maxi dresses herself, says she likes pairing similar designs with a sneaker or boot to “rev it up a bit.”

$325 at Nordstrom 

Invest in pants or jeans that fit well

A fitted pair of denim never goes out of style.

A fitted pair of denim never goes out of style.

Find the right fit, in more ways than one. In addition to choosing colors and patterns you love, the right tailoring is “really important,” Doelling says, especially when it comes to a “staple” pair of pants or jeans.

Consider the Anson Cropped Pants from Tibi, a brand Doelling has worked with in the past. While the cropped, slim-fitting style is classic, the buttons up the leg provide a fashion-forward twist. Shop it in women’s sizes 0 to 14.

$119 at Saks Off 5th

When it comes to denim, Doelling says Rag and Bone “consistently fits for me.” While the brand offers a range of denim styles, consider a versatile, straight leg pair like the Alissa Straight Leg Jeans. They’re available in a light blue wash in women’s sizes 24 to 33.

$193 at Nordstrom 

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Add sleeveless styles to your wardrobe

Doelling doesn't shy away from sleeveless tops.

Doelling doesn’t shy away from sleeveless tops.

Don’t be afraid to follow your own fashion philosophy, including embracing sleeveless styles. “I often wear sleeveless; I think that’s another thing that gets kind of thrown to the side when you’re a certain age because you don’t want to show your arms,” says Doelling.

When she’s not striking a pose for the camera, the model kickboxes in her spare time. For knockout activewear outfits, try Athleta—a brand we’ve tested and Doelling has modeled for. Consider the athleisure label’s highly-rated Momentum Seamless Tank, which comes in seventeen colors, including several bright shades. It’s available in women’s sizes XXS to 3X.

$59 at Athleta 

Put a twist on something classic

Try a twist on the classic blazer.

Try a twist on the classic blazer.

Doelling calls her style “classic with a twist,” as she incorporates both timeless pieces and modern, fashion-forward touches. “I realized that you could have both, you could have the classic style and you could look fabulous and feel fabulous,” she says. Whatever your day brings, Doelling still touts the power of dressing your best. “[After retirement] I was feeling like I wasn’t being recognized…and now, I’m dressing not over the top, but it’s enough that not only do I get recognized, but also it seems to encourage [others],” she says.

One of her style staples for a classic yet modern look? Blazers. She recommends finding ones that are oversized (a very on-trend look), or have extra buttons or detailing. “Those differences make it more contemporary fashion,” she says. For a buttoned blazer that doesn’t look, well, buttoned-up, consider the Atkins Blazer from Rachel Comey, another of Doelling’s go-to brands. Shop it in blue in women’s sizes 0 to 10.

From $101 at Saks Off 5th 

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