Sexy at 55! Women in their 50s show us what it takes to be truly stylish

Updated: Nov 25, 2018, 13:06 IST | Aastha Atray Banan

These ladies are not shying away of bright lipsticks, colourful hair and innovative outfits that make them stand out. In fact, they want to stand out, never seeing age as a reason to blend in.

Sunita Chaudhry, 58
Sunita Chaudhry, 58

Sunita Chaudhry is at the hospital as she talks to us. She is undergoing chemotherapy for cervical cancer, but that hasn't taken away her love for fashion, and all things style. The 58-year-old Noida resident, who has been fighting cancer for four years now, has lost her hair to chemotherapy, but even this unfortunate event, Chaudhry has turned into a style moment. "I started wearing a scarf styled as a turban," laughs the fashion designer, "I am not too good with boring traditional outfits, so I create my own. I don't follow styles."

Chaudhry stands tall at 5 feet 8 inches and says she has always dressed according to her height and body. A child of a police officer (and now married to one), Chaudhury, who grew up in Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, says she is still every bit conscious of how she looks. "I have decided that it's good to be positive, and my clothes help with that. I am all about aaj-ke-liye-jeeyo types. Age is actually all in your mind! Why should it stop you from looking good?"

Andleeb Shaikh. Pic/Bipin Kokate
Andleeb Shaikh. Pic/Bipin Kokate

Chaudhry is a member of 55+ gang, whose style swag has to be seen to be believed. These ladies are not shying away of bright lipsticks, colourful hair and innovative outfits that make them stand out. In fact, they want to stand out, never seeing age as a reason to blend in. As this writer sat in her Bandra salon getting her hair coloured — wondering if 40 (only four years away) would be the right age to stop going red — she turned around to see Nandini Purandare. The 58-year-old has a short white crop, that she had just coloured ash blue. "I don't even think about my age, I just do what I feel like in the moment. I have had blues before, and mostly people find it too extreme to even react. But at the end of the day, I think they have to reluctantly accept that I manage to carry it off," says the writer/editor.

Puranadare says that though she isn't well versed with either make-up or accessorising, she does like wearing bright clothes and having her hair done up. "I think the hair has also helped me develop a style sense along the way. I often get comments from young strangers who come up to me and say 'we want to be you when we grow up'," laughs the mother of a daughter (25) and son (27). "My kids too love my hair, though my husband does crib a bit every time it gets done blue. But my aim is to keep myself happy."

Sayeeda Kazi, 55
Sayeeda Kazi, 55

Purandare may have a philosophical outlook towards how she looks, but jewellery designer Andleeb Shaikh breaks it down in a very logical way. The 57-year-old believes as that one grows older, they are very well aware of their flaws and strengths and thus, can do justice to them in a better way. "At this age, one can look at the best parts of themselves and just tweak what God has given them. We have greater acceptance of our negatives and positives.

And we can work with those. Highlight the good, cover up the bad," says the Bandra resident. She is also a firm believer of pushing the envelope when it comes to trying new things as far as fashion is concerned but still keeping it age appropriate. "I have a daughter-in-law, but I am not competing with her. I'd rather complement a young person like her." Shaikh gets her inspiration from Instagram, but makes sure she just doesn't follow trends blindly. "As I said, I know what looks good on me now after so much experience. Polka dots maybe in, but they don't suit me. So I don't wear them. I am not being a trendsetter, I just want to be stylish, so I tweak everything."

Nandini Purandare, 58
Nandini Purandare, 58

For some, like Sayeeda Kazi, 55, who says she started working late in life as she was busy raising three daughters, dressing up all is a part of her self-confidence. "My confidence actually started building when I was out and about. My style is exactly who I am, it's my persona. Clothes don't make me, I make the clothes look good," says the Andheri resident who has a weakness for high-street brands as she needs something that fits her to the T.

At JP Morgan Chase, where Kazi works, she has enough and more fans, thanks to her style. "The fact of the matter is that I have been interested in fashion ever since I was young. What I have not let happen to me is let age change me. So I still love and embrace fashion. I have not changed. If you ask me to sit on a swing today, like I did when I was a toddler, I would still do that. It's that simple."

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