Beauty Secrets of Women Who Age Well

They probably weren’t the cutest in kindergarten—or the prom queen in senior year. Their jaws were too strong, their builds too slim and boyish. But the girls Jane Austen would have deemed handsome may have the last laugh: Though at 15 they missed the “pretty” mark, at midlife they’re aging gorgeously 

by Emily Listfield
rosemarie ingleton image
Photograph: Jean Francois Campos

Edelman admits that a lot of work goes into her seemingly nonchalant style. “I take more time now than when I was younger to make sure I look pulled together,” she says. “I use a little bit more makeup because I’m not baking in the sun anymore. And long hair makes me feel sexier, but I know how to make it right for my age. I always blow-dry it or flatiron it; it’s not about just washing it and going to work.” Edelman also exercises with a personal trainer two to four times a week, does yoga once a week and walks her dog every day. She shuns red meat and most carbs, including bread.

Musmanno agrees that discipline is imperative: “You have to be careful because when you’re over 40, just looking at a doughnut will make you gain 10 pounds, and getting too cuddly is aging. I take meticulous care of my skin, and I spend money on a good haircut.” Sylvie Chantecaille, a chic woman in her sixties who happens to be French and the founder of a cult-favorite, eponymous beauty line, has these rules for aging well: Don’t smoke, do drink vegetable juice and make sure your foundation isn’t detectable. (What counts is appearing au naturel, not actually being au naturel.)

Style Matters
when it comes to fashion, Handsome Women embrace simplicity over fussiness. “There’s a dignity in not doing too much, but it’s critical not to be sloppy. It’s not about giving up,” says Musmanno. “There’s a huge danger in trying to hang on too tightly to how you used to look. It’s key not to go too bare. You can be sexy without showing too much skin. No one will ever see my arms again. My look right now is ‘gay boy.’ I’ve got big tortoiseshell glasses, and I wear clean, long, lean lines.” Instead of trying to go younger, Musmanno is a big proponent of going edgier. “Nothing will age you faster than being too ‘lady,’ ” she says. But don’t confuse a refusal to don frills or false eyelashes with a lack of commitment to maintaining sex appeal. “I always want to feel sexy,” Musmanno says. “Today I look like a female Johnny Depp, but I feel good. A woman looks sexy in a man’s shirt. You don’t have to show your cleavage.”

“Simplicity takes knowledge,” Chantecaille says. “It comes down to realizing what looks good on you, not what’s trendy. French women don’t overdress. It’s about delicate or tailored pieces that are close to the body and refined.” Edelman will not buy anything she can’t see herself wearing years from now. “I study fashion trends, but I adapt them to my body type. High-waisted pants may be the style, but they don’t work for me. I love miniskirts, but I already wore them. I can still be sexy, but it will be in a longer dress. And I ignore messages about how you should look or act as you get older. I try to incorporate fun into everything I do. ”

That kind of joie de vivre may be the most alluring quality of all. “Look at how gorgeous Christine Lagarde is,” says Musmanno. “The gray hair, the real face. You think that when the day is over, she has a glass of good wine and a really hearty laugh. She looks like a woman who has a life.” And isn’t that the secret to aging well for everyone? “After all the hard work, you end up with the ability to show the world who you are: a woman of discipline, taste and humor,” says Sills. “And you got there after a helluva journey.”

Next: 7 Women Who Are Aging Gorgeously

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