Accessory Mistakes That Are Making You Look Older

We all know an accessory can make or break an outfit. The right accessory can add that extra pop of color or texture you need to pull an outfit together, and the wrong one can make even the most perfect clothing combination look haphazard. That's not the worst thing the wrong accessories can do, though. They can actually make you look older — and that's not what any woman is going for when she gets dressed in the morning. 

To help keep you from ruining your look and your confidence, we talked to a few experts in the fashion world to find out how you can stay fashion-forward without aging forward at the same time. "As I always say, the best fashion items are ageless and timeless," said stylist and fashion consultant Tracy Clifford. "There are certain accessories that may catch our eye each season, but that does not mean they are right for us. I think as women age it is best to avoid overly trendy accessories that can appear like they are trying too hard."

Keep reading to find out exactly what mistakes you might be making — and what items should be removed from your closet immediately.

When choosing an accessory, remember heavy earrings might make you look older

You can probably expecting a few body parts to start sagging once you hit a certain age, but you may not expect it to happen to your ears. We're sorry to be the bearer of bad news — but it's probably going to happen, as noted by CNN. Loss of collagen and elasticity can cause skin all over your body to start sagging as you age, and those pretty lobes of yours are unfortunately not immune. That's something you may want to take into consideration when you choose your next pair of earrings. Big, heavy ones will only make that problem of sagging earlobes more obvious by pulling them down further.

Stylist Shaunya Hartley agrees. "Earlobes are notorious for showing your age," she told The List about the accessory. Very heavy earrings can pull on lobes as well as draw attention to the neck."

Jewelry sets are just too matchy for accessories

Turns out, it is possible to be too matched when it comes to your personal style. It definitely used to be a thing (remember that matching jewelry set you wore to prom?), but those days of perfectly matching accessories are over — at least for those of us that are no longer in our college days.

"Avoid jewelry sets where the necklace matches exactly with the earrings (or other jewelry item). Under 40, this can appear as a 'throw back' reference to the '80s and '90s when this was at its peak. After 40, it looks incredibly dated," said stylist Diana Melencio of QUINN Style. "Instead, mix metals! It's modern, on-trend, and shows that you're current."

The wrong metals just won't work as stylish accessories

According to Dina Scherer, an image and wardrobe stylist and personal shopper in New York City, choosing the wrong metal tones in an accessory can be a major offense.

"Gold versus silver, while a personal choice, feeds into whether you have a warm or cool undertone. If you choose the opposite of what you have, the jewelry can add years — and sometimes even dark circles and skin unevenness," she explained.

Not sure which kind of complexion you have? This handy how-to can help you figure it out. Ladies with cool tones should opt for silver, while those with warmer complexions look better in gold.

Brooches are a bit of an outdated accessory... unless you wear it this way

Don't worry, you don't have to pack away grandma's brooch collection — but you might have to change the way you wear any of the brooches from it, as certain methods of fastening this type of accessory to your outfit could make you appear older.

"A woman with a brooch on her lapel will appear old-fashioned," said stylist and fashion consultant Tracy Clifford. Instead, she recommends you use that gorgeous piece of jewelry to fasten your cardigan. You'll still get to put it on display, but in a trendy, less grandmotherly way.

You might want to forget about your old Dr. Martens

Dr. Martens may have been the "It" shoe when you were in high school, but that doesn't mean you should strut your stuff in a pair of these iconic boots today. Some styles should just stay in your past, and stylist and fashion consultant Tracy Clifford says that Dr. Martens footwear is one of them.

"If you are familiar with Dr. Martens, you are too old to wear them," she said. However, regarding the accessory, the stylist added, "Now, If you are willing to spring for the Louis Vuitton version, have at it!"

Pair your pearls with this accessory to keep your outfit fresh

There's no need to pack up that heirloom strand of pearls just yet — but it is probably time to switch it up a bit and make your look more modern.

"Pearls, which have been a timeless accessory throughout the years, have now become the 'It' jewelry trend of the season, as spotted on the fall runways of Chanel, Rag & Bone, and Gucci," said Naima Fleming, style expert and founder and editor in chief of Style Pooh-Bahs. "For women who are contemplating wearing a strand or two, they should consider adding edge and a whole lot of style to avoid looking as if they are an elderly woman headed out for high tea."

Fleming recommended giving your pearls a funky contrast by mixing in a sparkly or metal necklace that is the same length to add a cool and unexpected pop to your look.

Avoid clunky shoes as an accessory and don't sacrifice style for comfort

We know those Crocs and orthopedic shoes are super comfy, but they're not doing you any favors when it comes to your outfits. There's something to be said for smart, sensible footwear, but you don't have to sacrifice your style (and give away your age) just to save yourself a few blisters.

"Comfy footwear does not have to look dumpy," said stylist Shaunya Hartley. You do have other options for this kind of accessory, even if you have to be on your feet for long periods of time. She recommends brands like Aerosoles and Waldlaufer for finding shoes that still look chic while keeping your feet from aching.

Ditch the cheap-looking glasses and opt for a more stylish accessory

You can't exactly tuck your glasses into your purse and forget about them. You do need to see, right? But you can be a little more choosy when picking out your specs and can stay away from anything that makes you look older.

Stylist Shaunya Hartley said nothing will make you look older than a "geeky" pair of drugstore reading glasses. "It screams, 'My vision is going, I'm cheap, and I am being practical with no fashion sense.' With so many inexpensive brands, from Hard Candy to Warby Parker, you can get a great-looking pair of frames at little to no cost."

Reserve sequined clothing items for special occasions

There's a time and a place for everything, but, unless you're wearing a costume, sequins should probably be kept at a minimum when it comes to your wardrobe after you've reached the legal drinking age.

"A sequined item is magical with the right execution," said celebrity stylist and vintage curator Tohni Jean Bellis. Despite her love of sequined bling, though, even she recommends wearing items and accessories with sequins in small amounts. "Do a single sequins piece per outfit to avoid looking older and dated," she said. So, if you were considering wearing a dress that was largely embellished with sequins, maybe think again.

Chances are wearing vintage clothing and accessories will date you

There's a difference between vintage-inspired clothing and clothing that is actually vintage. While it's fabulous that the looks from our past are suddenly back in style, you would be safer purchasing an updated version of your favorite vintage style or accessory than actually pulling an old piece out of your closet.

"Even though you may love the clothing in your closet from 20 years ago, as time changes so do the cuts [of your clothing]. Stay away from boxy clothes, polyester, pastel florals, and bell bottoms," warned celebrity stylist and vintage curator Tohni Jean Bellis. It will be obvious that those vintage clothes are decades old (no matter how well you cared for them), and you will be aging yourself by putting these old duds back on display in your outfits.

Overly-designed nails won't do anything but age you

Women of any age should be able to go out and enjoy a relaxing manicure, but you may want to tone it down a bit when asking for your final look.

Celebrity stylist and vintage curator Tohni Jean Bellis said overly-designed nails should be left to the girls in their teens and early 20s. She explained that these super-detailed and extravagant nails they call too much attention to your hands — one place where ladies often show their age.

"These are fun to look at and admire on a younger woman. But too much bling, bright colors, and the claw-shape nails will leave your hands looking older and unattractive," said Bellis.

Put the gold hoop earrings down when choosing accessories

You probably owned several pairs of big gold hoops in the '90s and early 2000s — and, according to Dina Scherer, image and wardrobe stylist and personal shopper in New York City, that's the number one reason you should back away from those accessories right now.

"Big gold hoop earrings can bring back the '90s neon windbreaker days — and while they can be fun, they don't really fit in with the modern looks we see today and will call attention to themselves in a slightly dated way," Scherer shared.

Despite the advice from fashion-savvy experts, what you wear is ultimately up to you and how that clothing makes you feel. Stylist and fashion consultant Tracy Clifford summed it up best when she said, "Personally, I do not focus on dressing for age. I never want to look any age. I just want to look good." Words to live by!

Make sure your eyewear fits your face

It's not just drugstore glasses that you want to avoid when it comes to accessories. Rather, you also want to make sure that both your sunglasses and eyeglasses are working with the natural shape of your face, according to Elena Doukas, Head of Design at Garrett Leight California Optical. "Instead of trying to cover up your face, think about the features you want to play up," she told The List. "For women of any age, the shapes that are most flattering usually angle upwards at the corners of the frame, such as a slight cat eye. This small detail can actually provide a 'lifting' effect and help draw the eye up."

Doukas also cautioned not to wear frames that are too big for your face, as they can be a distracting and overly aging accessory. "Eyebrows and cheekbones are also key parts of expression, so look for frames that don't cover these areas but work with them," she continued. "Color goes hand in hand with shape and should complement your skin tone, hair color, or the wardrobe you wear."

Your belt might be an accessory that's making you look older than you are

If you have a small waist, you're likely the envy of many who would like to have the same size figure. But be careful when it comes to where you wear your belt, as, according to style expert Diane Pollack, it can have an aging effect. "Wearing a belt on your waist when you have a large chest and a small torso can make you look like an older lady," she explained to The List. That's because of the way this accessory can emphasize your bust.

In addition to selecting the best place to wear a belt, Pollack also has some advice when it comes to dresses. "Also, watch out for dresses with waist seams," she continued. "Even if your waist is the smallest part of your body, it is not always flattering to have a belt or waistband sit there. Try it lower." That way you can avoid the same pitfall.

Like any fashion accessory, makeup mistakes can also age you prematurely

While some folks may debate whether or not makeup is in and of itself an accessory, it's certainly something that should match your outfit and complete your overall look — so it serves a similar purpose either way. To that end, there are a few things that Head of Design at Garrett Leight California Optical Elena Doukas advises you be mindful of when you're at your makeup table. "Don't over contour," she shared with The List. "Contour has been all the rage, but I think if it's overdone it can make your face look skeletal and age you beyond your years." That's certainly not the effect you want!

As for how to use makeup to look a little bit younger, there's an easy way to bring a little brightness and color into your cheeks, according to Doukas. "On the other hand, I think a light color of blush can help brighten and create a youthful effect," she continued. "Especially if you're wearing a pair of glasses, sometimes blush helps your skin tone not get too overwhelmed or washed out." Just make sure not to overdo it!

Using a hat as an accessory is fine if you follow this rule

Wearing a hat is a great way to accessorize your outfit, especially if the weather is ripe for it, which also renders it a practical style decision. But according to fashion stylist Catherine Bachelier, you need to make sure you're up to date on recent hat trends in order to wear them well. "Hats should be fresh and current," she told The List. "They're best to be paired with jeans and a t-shirt versus a suit or structured dress."

If you select a hat that doesn't go with your outfit or has long been out of style, you run the risk of looking older than you are when you step out with the accessory. "Hats can age you if you wear a floppy bonnet versus a well-structured wide brim fedora," Bachelier continued. "Choose a basic black or brown. Or, my favorite is dark blue or a fresh light pink (blush) with your casual, stylish jeans and a t-shirt or a floral, flowing dress and boots/booties."

Leave the big handbag at home for a more youthful look

Are you carrying around a handbag that can fit your wallet, all your makeup, a couple of snacks, your phone, and countless other items you might need? If so, you're certainly not alone, but that kind of accessory might make you look much older than you are, according to Elena Doukas, Head of Design at Garrett Leight California Optical. "Women have it in their head that they have to be prepared for everyone else in their lives," she explained to The List. "I find that the older we get the larger our handbags become. We throw everything in there 'just in case.'" 

If that sounds familiar, Doukas has a suggestion as to how you can reduce the bulk and shave off a few years while you're at it. "Try traveling with a smaller bag inside your larger bag, and leave your large bag behind as much as possible," she continued. "There's something very young and liberating about a small handbag, and they can still be just as functional. They won't weigh you down — visually or physically." 

When choosing a scarf as an accessory, wear it in a way that won't age you

One of the most versatile accessories you can add to your ensemble are silk scarves, as you can wear them in a variety of ways. But fashion stylist Catherine Bachelier cautions that you avoid wearing them in one particular manner, as it can give you the appearance of an older person. "Stay away from small silk scarves tied around the neck," she shared with The List. "Instead, add the pattern and color pop to your bag. I really love a stripe, floral, or plaid flowing scarf tied to the handle of your bucket bag." That way, it doesn't look like you're trying to hide your neck with the accessory.

Bachelier also added that wearing a scarf in this way is an easy way to amp up your outfit. "It instantly adds visual interest to your business or everyday looks," she continued. "Change the scarf for any given season or occasion."