One of the main concerns I get from readers, particularly in the warmer months, is what to wear if you want attractive clothing that doesn’t demand exposing large swaths of skin. After a certain age we just don’t want to reveal parts of our legs and arms that show roadmap veins, crepey skin, or cellulite. It’s hard – and expensive – enough to just maintain glowing and healthy-looking skin on our faces and necks.

In more genteel times it was understood that keeping certain things hidden offered the suggestion of something enticing. And even now, there’s a way to deemphasize or cover up the jiggly or less attractive bits and still appear alluring.

Accentuate the Positive

One of the most charming parts on any women’s body, regardless of whether she is a woman over 50 – or the condition of her skin, is the “portrait” area: from the top of the bust line including the collar bone. If you look at old classical portrait paintings you’ll see women of every age revealing a lot of skin in this part of their body. Depending upon your bone structure (and how much of your upper arms you are willing to show) you can emphasize this area by wearing any number of necklines: a halter type top, a sleeveless V neck – or if you’re more daring, a plunging one – a notch collar, off-the shoulder or a deeper squared or scoop neckline. Any of those styles will automatically draw the eye toward the face. Pairing a fitted one of these tops with straight or flowy wider leg pants is a very elegant summer look.

Notch Collar Blouse

Akris Notch Collar Blouse, $595

Bayou Smocked Blouse

Zimmermann Bayou Off-The-Shoulder Smocked Blouse, $480

Antonia Peasant Top

Ramy Brook Antonia Embellished Peasant Top, $325

Ash Top

PAIGE Ash Off-The-Shoulder Top, $118

If your lower legs are still in pretty good shape and you’re feeling a little daring, a caftan with a plunging neckline that covers your arms and backside is a pretty summer option. You get the benefit of staying pretty covered up but still showing off some skin.

Flared Sleeve Wrap Maxi Dress, $190

And if you’re willing to show your upper arms, some of the sheer fabrics can do that in a lovely way. But if your upper arms are not your best feature, three-quarter length sleeves are attractive on almost every body. Just be a little cautious about some of the more voluminous or rounded shape sleeves on your upper arms. They visually imply that your upper arms are also large and rounded, unless the rest of your body is extremely slim.

Tulle Shoulder Top

Akris Tulle Shoulder Top, $1,290

Crosella Blouse

Ronny Kobo Crosella Blouse, $278

Crossover Bodysuit

BCBGMAXAZRIA Silk Crossover Bodysuit, $228

Araya Shirt

LEVI’S Araya Shirt, $90

As for what to wear if you don’t want to show a lot of leg, or if you don’t like the discoloration or veins on your legs, you have the option of applying one of the new leg makeup products or wearing sheer or heavier tights. If you’re still pleased with the shape of your legs, but would prefer to cover them up, some of the more fitted or even legging-type pants can emphasize their shape without having to bare them.

Finally, you may just want to take your cue from a lot of older European women who don’t share our puritan culture. They still freely and unabashedly put it all out there. On the beaches you’ll find a lot of them wearing bikinis!

Love Knot Swimsuit

Miraclesuit Rock Solid Love Knot One-Piece Swimsuit, $170

Pin Point Swimsuit

Miraclesuit Pin Point Spellbound Underwire One-Piece Swimsuit, $180

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