I have run into quite the dilemma as my mother has gotten older — she just turned 50, but she's dressing like a 15-year-old! My two younger sisters (13 and 16) are still living at home, so I guess they are the only ones she has to look to for fashion advice. On her 50th birthday, she wore a skintight sweater with black leggings to a party we threw for her. This wouldn't be so bad, but the tights she wore belonged to my 13-year-old sister, and for lack of a nice way to put it, my mom doesn't quite have the physique she used to. As guests started to arrive, it was obvious that they were shocked by her outfit choice.
She has a wonderful boyfriend who she has been seeing for about a year now, so she isn't trying to "dress to impress." He's a pretty laid-back guy who has said on several occasions that he prefers her in jeans and a hoodie rather than all "gussied up." I don't know if it's turning 50 that's spurring a midlife fashion crisis or if it's the fact that my two older sisters and I no longer live at home to give her advice on what to wear, but my mom's clothes are starting to get a little out of control. She always used to look great and put together, so how can I tell her that she isn't quite dressing appropriately for her age without hurting her feelings? — Embarrassed Elsa
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Dear Embarrassed Elsa,
As with most moms, I'm certain that your opinion means a lot, so you're going to have to tread lightly in order to avoid hurting her feelings. Since she used to dress more to your liking, you might be right — she could be having a midlife fashion crisis. Whatever the case, I think your mom's boyfriend has the right approach. Instead of harping on her for the things you don't like, compliment her on the things you do. Tell her how great she looks when she wears something you like and if she asks for your advice, be sure to give her an honest answer in a loving way. If you attack her wardrobe choices, she's bound to feel bad about herself and, in turn, she might try to dress to impress even more.
Mother's Day is just around the corner, so perhaps you and your sisters could take her shopping or pitch in to buy her a few new pieces that you'd all like to see her in. Since they'll be a gift from the ones she loves most, hopefully she'll wear them, especially when she's around you girls. In addition to guiding her in the right direction, you should talk to your younger siblings and urge them not to let your mom borrow their clothes anymore. The key thing to remember is that dressing your age doesn't mean you can't still look hip and stylish, so hopefully with some positive encouragement, your mom will be able to realize that too.