Tag Archives: Mary Anne Vaccaro

Beat the Heat

Photography by Carlisle

Well girls, if you’re 60-plus there’s a lot you all have in common.  Regardless of shape and size, whether you’re short, tall, curvy, or thin, there are certain places you prefer to keep covered because they show your age.  In winter, turtlenecks and scarves cover up wrinkled necks.  Flabby arms can hide under long-sleeved blouses, sweaters, and jackets.  Nobody can see spider veins through your slacks, jeans, and boots.

Then along comes summer.  Aaaargh!

It’s a time when many women wonder how to keep cool when temperatures rise while still being comfortable baring parts kept under cover all winter long.  Once it’s time to “undress” for the heat, the challenge to do so with style can be overwhelming.

Perhaps most importantly, embrace who you are and what you look like now.  Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that you don’t deserve quality new clothes just because you don’t look like you once did. Always dress for now and make the best of who you are!  I never knew or designed for a woman at any age who was totally happy with her body as is. And the better the body, the more the desire for perfection.

So now that the heat is on, here is my head-to-toe advice for looking your best while keeping your cool.

The easiest, breeziest styles are those that are either very short or long enough to pony-up.

Light make-up…with sunscreen.

Skin…moisturizing sunscreen everywhere!

Neck…open necklines will keep you cooler and take the focus away from the lines in your neck.  Summer scarves are great when it’s moderately warm, but when it’s hot, let go of hang ups about your neck.

Upper arms….as a society, we’re all too concerned with keeping them covered unless they look fabulous.  I say wear sleeveless anyway.   You limit your wardrobe too much if

you won’t wear sleeveless dresses and tops.  If covering arms up is a must for you, don’t exhaust yourself shopping for tops and dresses with sleeves.  Buy sleevleless ones, and wear light weight, loose-fitting natural fiber shirts and unlined jackets  loosely over them.  Sweaters…even cotton ones will be hot in hot weather.  They’re for cool evenings and air-conditioned places.  Scarves

and stoles can cover arms nicely, but you usually have work at keeping them in place.

Waist…Tight, heavy belts will make you feel hotter.

Legs…Lot’s of options here relating to Pants, Skirts and Dresses

PANTS in lightweight cottons and natural fiber blends will be most comfortable.  Jeans and most dark denims over-heat  in summer.   Ankle and capri pants are great.  SHORTS are taboo unless they are knee length.

SKIRTS are a cool and comfy alternative to pants and shorts. Many fun styles and lengths to choose from, but remember your knees are your length guide.  You can expose them, but nothing above them.

DRESSES can be your best wardrobe friends all summer.  If you remember the 60s, you should remember shifts.  Straight dresses to throw on and go everywhere in.  They’ve made a comeback , and they’re easy, cool, and fun to accessorize with jewelry, scarves .

SHEER PANTYHOSE or BARE LEGS?  Look in the mirror, you decide!

Feet…Take care of your feet.  They take you everywhere.  Keep them clean, buffed, moisturized and pretty.

SHOES and SANDALS should be fashionable and must be comfortable.  Comfort shoes have come a long way in looks recently.  No need to wear tennis shoes outside of the gym, and don’t wear shoes too tall to walk gracefully in either.  A woman should walk and carry herself gracefully at every age.

Finally, Black is your “Best Friend” color in every season but summer.  It really does absorb heat so wear White and lighter colors to keep your cool.

Mary Anne Vaccaro is a clothing and product designer and an image consultant to businesses and individuals.  She is also a sales consultant for Carlisle and PerSe, New York.

maryannevaccaro.com         carlislecollection.com


Investing in You

June 20, 2014 by
Photography by Carlisle

From the time I was a child my parents instilled in me the importance of quality.  We were of little means, but my mother and father appreciated quality and understood its value as an investment.
My mother loved to shop. She would take me shopping for clothes, gifts, household goods, furniture, everything! She would compare and show me what made a difference of quality. She often pointed out that quality didn’t always cost more, but when it did, the words I heard her repeat over and over were: “Quality is long remembered once price has been forgotten.”

When, at the age of five, I decided to become a fashion designer, I was already aware of the significant difference that quality made in design. I knew that when the day came along that I’d design clothes with my name on them, they would have to be beautifully made of very fine fabrics. It was not only the design, but also the quality of my work that attracted my clientele. They were people who appreciated quality and knew that in order to be perceived as a person of quality one must wear quality. It shows that you are of value and that you value yourself.

As an image consultant, I preach quality wherever I go. In today’s fast-track world where nothing is about more than a minute, people seem to have forgotten about investment dressing.  They don’t realize that the investment is not about how long the clothes last.  It’s about that single moment you have to make the right impression. Too many people think a first impression is relative only to a job interview. It’s not. You are making first and lasting impressions everyday, everywhere.

When you invest in yourself, it shows, and it changes the way you’re treated by everyone.  It makes you stand out in good way. I personally have experienced hotel and travel upgrades, better tables at restaurants, special seating at concerts, invitations to select groups and parties, all because of the quality I project with what I wear.

So many people put their homes, cars, collectibles, jewelry, hair and nails before their clothes as a priority. They cannot justify their bodies as deserving of good clothes,
but they are.  You are!

Sometimes as people age they lose interest in clothes because their faces and bodies don’t look like they did in their prime. They get frustrated shopping then convince themselves that they don’t need new clothes and don’t deserve good clothes because they don’t look like the models who wear them so well. I tell everyone over 60 that new clothes are important, because it’s important to be current, and everything, even casual sportswear, will make you look better if it’s quality.

Now just because it’s summer, don’t think you can forsake quality for throwaway fashion. Quality is as important in summer as in fall, winter, and spring. Regardless of the season, there is no performance value in throwaway clothing, and what a difference a polished look makes over a
distressed look.

Stress-Free Style

February 5, 2014 by

January and February are the big retail sale months of the year. We’re lured into stores and onto websites by ads, coupons, and incentives of all kinds. They bombard us in print, on television, radio, and billboards, on our phones, and through every social media platform. A sense of urgency wakes us in the middle of the night so we can save big at that “Early Bird” 6 a.m. opening. We sometimes wait in line for a sale that disappoints. Once inside, cluttered merchandising can overwhelm us. We frequently end up compromising on sizes, and our search for sales associates is usually endless. That’s all part of the hunt, but most of us leave stores with merchandise we never intended to buy. It sits in our closets forever, often with tags intact, taunting us with “But I was a bargain!”

Sale shopping for shoes is the worst! In-store shoppers make a mess of things, scattering shoes, tissue paper, and boxes everywhere.

I feel terribly guilty every time I send exhausted salespeople to the back room for yet another size to try. And if you buy sale shoes online, your savings opportunity hinges on the hope that they arrive absolutely perfect in every way. The risk factor is higher here because return shipping is usually not free. Repacking time and shipping fees can make the experience both futile and costly. And you still don’t have shoes.

Online sales of any kind can be just as frustrating. Seems like almost everything I finally resolve to order is no longer available in my size. So why did I just waste hours searching my favorite sites on a quest for a “great buy” that’s “really me?”

I can’t tell you that I have great strategies for online shopping, but there are some basic tips to ensure that your in-store adventures are successful and relatively stress-free:

Take inventory of your wardrobe. Go through your closet and get rid of everything that shows wear. Start a list of what needs replacing.

Look over the things you want to keep. Coordinate them with what you have. If you realize there’s a pant or skirt you love that’s now missing a mate, add to your list these key “enabling” pieces to buy.

Don’t forget to go through your accessories to determine what to buy as you update your wardrobe.

If you have favorite sweaters and tops that need scarves, photograph them and refer to them on your phone when sorting through the dozens of possibilities you’ll encounter.

Now you’re ready to finalize the list of what’s in your sights. Be specific and detailed.

Dress for shopping! Wear clothes that are easy to get on and off. Basic black provides a good “grounding palette.” Wear minimal, if any, jewelry.

Do not carry a heavy handbag. Wear a lightweight cross-body bag so you can easily sort through racks with 
both hands.

Leave your coat in the car if possible.

Pay close attention to your list. Do not yield to temptation unless you know that any “off-list” items will be both right for you and a strong complement to your closet.

To avoid crowds, shop weekday afternoons.

Remember, most stores are good about returns. Take things home to try on at your leisure and to test with other pieces. Save your receipts and respectfully make any returns as soon as possible.

And the most important rule of all? Never forsake quality for price.

Mary Anne Vaccaro is a clothing and product designer and an image consultant to businesses and individuals. www.maryannevaccaro.com She is also a sales consultant for Carlisle and Per Se, New York. 

Dressing for the Holidays

November 21, 2013 by
Photography by Jim Scholz

‘Tis the season to celebrate the holidays! A time to decorate your home, your office, even your car with personal style. Then comes you, wondering what’s best to wear for your own family feasts and to holiday parties of all kinds.

When I was a child, dressing up for the holidays was very important in my family. We wore dressy clothes for family dinners and parties, and we dressed the table and the house according to the theme of the season. I loved the holidays and was impressed by what a difference dressing up for them made.

The holidays are no time to be lazy about what you wear. Three common events during the holidays are family gatherings, office parties, and glitzy celebrations. You want to be well dressed for all of them, and that requires special attention to detail.

For Family Gatherings

Dress to show respect for the event and each other. Remember, if your host says the event is casual, it doesn’t mean warm-ups and pilled, fleece sportswear. It can mean jeans, but only clean and fashionable ones worn with shirts and sweaters that are several notches above what you wear to relax on weekends. Even in your own home, a family celebration that shows effort and style will have a nicer feel for all if everyone is well dressed and well groomed.

For Office Parties

Office and company parties can present a quandary. Pay attention to the invitation and to the location of the party. Sometimes the invitation specifies the attire. Respect that and remember that you’re with co-workers and executives. It’s not your time to dress hot and sexy. Low cut and very short dresses do not belong. Too much cleavage and leg is taboo even for a beautiful 30-year-old. Tasteful is the way you want to present yourself.

When an invitation suggests business attire, it means, for men, a suit or a sport jacket with dress pants, a dress shirt, necktie, and dress shoes. A woman should wear a suit or a coordinating skirt and jacket, or pants and jacket with a pressed blouse or sweater. A sweater set with pants or a skirt also qualifies. A dress that looks professional does too. Accessories, shoes or boots (not sandals), and bags should coordinate with the clothing.

Casual is a word that confuses almost everyone. It means that whether you’re a man or a woman, the sportswear you choose should be neat, clean, pressed, well fitting, and coordinated. If the invite says dressy casual, that means guys wear a sport jacket too.

For Fancy Celebrations

New Year’s Eve is the party night that for many is the dressiest of the year. It’s the one night I actually think pajama parties are fun, but for most it’s black-tie-party time. That means the guys are to wear winter tuxedos, with the proper tux shoes and accessories. Women have options. They can wear a long gown, a tuxedo, elegant silk or tuxedo pants, classy tops, or cocktail dresses. Accessorize with your best jewelry for evening.

Cocktail means that guys wear a dark suit, with a dress shirt, a necktie, and a pocket scarf. Polished leather dress shoes are a must. For women, it’s easy. Wear a cocktail dress or suit, a stylish pantsuit, or pants with a chic top. Add jewelry, too. Your purse and shoes are very important. Only elegant ones are appropriate. The height of the heel doesn’t matter; it’s the style and finish of the shoe that does.

If you’re still in doubt, don’t be afraid to ask your host what to wear and dress accordingly.

Mary Anne Vaccaro is a clothing and product designer and an image consultant to businesses and individuals. www.maryannevaccaro.com She is also a sales consultant for Carlisle and Per Se, New York. www.carlislecollection.com

There Are NO Fashion Rules!

February 25, 2013 by
Photography by Jim Scholz

I can’t tell you how many times people come to me with a question regarding whether or not they can wear a certain, usually trendy style of a jacket, pant, skirt, top, etc. My reply is always, “It depends on what you wear it with.”

Too many people follow the trends too closely, thinking that, in order to be fashionable, they have to wear what they see, as they see it. Fashion is a lot more forgiving than most people think. It’s more general than specific, more enabling than disabling. It’s “change” that you are in “charge” of! There are no fashion rules, just styling relationships to pay attention to.

When it comes to color, some people still believe there are only certain colors they can wear. The only colors that matter are the ones next to your face. I happen to look horrible in almost every shade of pink, but if I wear a shirt or a scarf in a flattering color under a pink sweater, pink works for me! I don’t look good in beiges either, but if I stack silver necklaces and wear silver earrings with beige, it goes from terrible to terrific on me. So if you’re worried that you won’t look good in emerald, the color of 2013, play with what you pair it with or limit emerald to your skirts and pants.

If you care about looking your best, your shape and the shapes of clothes you wear need to be compatible. Short women often tell me that they cannot wear long jackets. They usually determine that when trying them on over pants and skirts of a different color, which usually does make a short person look top-heavy and shorter. However, if you are short, the right long jackets can and will work over matching bottoms.

When it comes to skirts, the length makes a big difference. Length is always individual, and it varies according to what it’s worn with. Women with heavy lower legs usually look better in pants, but in fall and winter, they can wear dark tights and boots, and be confident about looking great in almost any skirt! In summer, ankle-length skirts with flat sandals are best.

The cut of your pants and jeans is very important. Never buy a pair of pants without examining how they look in back from a three-way mirror! Whether you can wear a wide leg, a tight leg, or a flared one depends more on what you wear it with than on the shape of you.

The shapes of what we wear shape us! I have proof of that. In 1991, when I was the Ak-Sar-Ben Coronation designer for the first time, the fashion look focused on waistlines. Pants, skirts, and dresses were wide-banded and belted at the waist. Almost all of the princesses and countesses had small waistlines. In 1997, when I did the ball again, fashion hadn’t changed enough to make much of a difference in body shapes. By 2002, when jeans were worn at the hip and below, girls had lost the definition of a waistline. Even thin and tiny girls had waist measurements considerably larger than those of girls their size in 1991. My relationship advice based on that is “beware of the comfort zone.” Clothes that are too comfortable are dangerous not only after a person is 60, but always!

I welcome your feedback and invite you to send questions to sixtyplus@omahapublications.com.

Mary Anne Vaccaro lives in Omaha. She designed and made couture clothing for an international clientele of professionals and socialites of all ages. She created ready-to-wear collections that were sold from her New York showroom, and she designed for the bridal industry. She designed for three Ak-Sar-Ben Coronation Balls and ran a fashion advertising business in five states for a number of years. Invisible Apron® is one of several products that she has designed and developed. She still designs for select clients and works as an image consultant, stylist, personal shopper, and speaker on the subjects of fashion, art, and style. For more information, visit maryannevaccaro.com or call 402-398-1234.


Style at 60 Plus!

December 25, 2012 by
Photography by Jim Scholz

Sixty may be the new 40, but the reality is at 60, NOBODY looks like they did at 40! You can exercise for hours, spend a fortune on face creams, have this, that, and the other tucked or filled, but the reality is you end up looking great for 60 but not like you did at 40. Hair, makeup, and wardrobe all need to be addressed at 60 to make a new and fabulous you!

As a fashion designer for more than 30 years, I’ve spent thousands of hours in the fitting room with clients of all ages. I’ve seen and worked around the subtle changes that creep onto all of us over the years. I like working with women over 60. I love creating and styling for the woman who understands that it’s important at all ages to look fashionable, but that age and shape need to be considered when determining what fashion trends are right after turning 60.

Nothing looks worse than a 60+ woman in a dress that’s too short and too revealing, as she stomps around in shoes that are ridiculously high, rattling costume jewelry that’s “cute” rather than sophisticated. The opposite extreme that’s sad to see is a perfectly lovely 60+ woman hiding in boring, understated pieces that do not have a contemporary cut, and wearing belts, shoes, and jewelry from another time. Old clothes are especially taboo as we get older. They’re vintage and fun to 20-somethings. They just plain make a seasoned woman look even older.

We all need to embrace and glorify who we are at every age. That starts with an investment in Quality. A few classic, quality pieces speak a language of style that translates to fashion when accessorized for the times. Quality makes a difference in everything, especially clothes! It speaks volumes about you as a person and makes you feel better about yourself, too. Don’t let a cheap look bring you down, and remember, quality doesn’t necessarily mean expensive.

I believe in comfort, but clothes that are too comfortable make us lazy. Dressing up energizes us. I’ll admit it’s a job, and that’s why I keep busy styling people. Most of us accumulate and save too much. We become overwhelmed with decision-making as we dress for everyday and for special occasions. It takes someone with an eye for cut and proportion to determine what is flattering and right for the individual. That last comment brings me to relationships…so important in fashion, and I’ll write about them next time.


  • Classic white shirts
  • Great-fitting Pants
  • Great-fitting blue jeans
  • Great-fitting black jeans
  • The right black jacket
  • Shell and cardigan sweater sets
  • Fashion eyewear
  • Statement belts
  • Oblong scarves
  • Fashion flats
  • Fashion heels (within reason)
  • Contemporary jewelry
  • A lightweight high fashion bag
  • Dresses, skirts, coats & boots are must-haves, too, but not the same for all!
  • QUALITY is a must for all!

I welcome your feedback and invite you to send questions to sixtyplus@omahapublications.com.

Mary Anne Vaccaro lives in Omaha. She designed and made couture clothing for an international clientele of professionals and socialites of all ages. She created ready-to-wear collections that were sold from her New York showroom, and she designed for the bridal industry. She designed for three Ak-Sar-Ben Coronation Balls and ran a fashion advertising business in five states for a number of years. Invisible Apron® is one of several products that she has designed and developed. She still designs for select clients and works as an image consultant, stylist, personal shopper, and speaker on the subjects of fashion, art, and style. For more information, visit maryannevaccaro.com or call 402-398-1234.