New you: Wardrobe tips from a fashion pro

"I've given up minis, chunky sweaters and big

"I've given up minis, chunky sweaters and big dangly earrings forever," declares Lois Joy Johnson, whose new book, "The Wardrobe Wakeup: Your Guide to Looking Fabulous at Any Age," focuses on women 40 and older. (Credit: Handout)

She started out your typical girl at Lawrence High School, spending too much time reading Women's Wear Daily, tanning at Atlantic Beach and coveting the shoes at Jildor in Cedarhurst.

Today, Lois Joy Johnson's got a shoe addiction, a dermatologist (hey, tanning has consequences) and an impressive resumé as a fashion and beauty editor. She's also got a new book, "The Wardrobe Wakeup: Your Guide to Looking Fabulous at Any Age" (Running Press, $23).

The book is especially geared to women age 40-plus, "the largest, richest, smartest segment of the population, with more spending clout than any other group," writes Johnson, who is 63 and lives in Manhattan and Westchester.

They're also pretty invisible, if you look at most women's magazines (except for More, which Johnson helped found).

The book has scores of tips for women on how to look good as their lives -- and bodies -- shift (and, yes, sometimes sag). Instead of models, she's got photos of 18 friends and colleagues of a certain age who've all "survived trends, fads, weight changes, husbands, jobs, grown-up kids and life's little lemons with wit and style," she declares.

Her premise is simple: Too often women stick with styles from their 20s that may no longer work for them. Your life and body change. Why not your closet?

Don't worry -- she's not into buying all-new clothes. Few can afford that, especially right after the holidays. "Simply by manipulating color and proportion, you can update, slim down and get more versatility from your same clothes," she notes.

Add one or two new key pieces, and you'll feel like you have a whole new wardrobe.

Here are five tips to get you started.

Tip #1

"Know what looks great . . . even when it's dirt cheap."

Some inexpensive gear has "eye, heart and brain appeal," Johnson notes. She endorses 11 fave cheapies, including the ever-popular clutch, which always looks smart tucked under your arm. 

Tip #2

"Comfort's great, but don't stop there."

Dressing for comfort shouldn't mean "living in sweats and sneakers 24/7," Johnson writes. Don't give up fashion for comfort -- she suggests 10 "comfort fashions," instead. Here are three: knit dresses and separates, flat boots and soft, relaxed jeans.

Tip #3

"A longer neck and legs are game changers. Get them."

"It's the Silly Putty effect," she says. Stretch the appearance of neck and legs, and you'll look taller, leaner overall. Look for cowls, scoop- and moderate V-necks, and shoes in skin-tone shades. 

Tip #4

"Mix prints."

New combos of clothes already in your closet increase your number of outfits and update your look. The trick: Stick to one color group, and throw in a third solid item (say, a brown cardigan over a brown dot blouse and brown graphic print skirt) to "help it jell," she says.

Tip #5

"Heavy earrings add years to your looks."

Sorry, chandelier lovers, but telltale signs of age are the droopy lobes and stretched piercings from years of wearing heavy earrings. After 40, studs and lightweight hoops are safer -- and needn't be boring. 

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