IN our teens and 20s, it feels like nothing is off-limits fashion-wise, but as we grow older the list of clothes we wouldn't dare to wear gets ever longer and the places we actually want to shop at become fewer - because racks of crop tops and flimsy slip dresses can be depressing, can't they?

"As women progress through their lives and their bodies start to change, many find it challenging to find a style and put together outfits that complement and work with their changing shape and lifestyle. That make them feel confident, youthful and most importantly, like themselves," says Nayna McIntosh, who founded clothing brand Hope when she was 52, to cater for mature women who felt they were invisible to high street retailers.

Fashion should be fun, not a source of stress, McIntosh believes, and building a capsule wardrobe of enduring clothes you can adapt each season is the best way to stay stylish and feel good about yourself.

Here, she shares her top styling tips for over-50s and lists the seven key pieces every woman should own.

A stretchy base layer

"Women can be reluctant to try fabrics with that added stretch, but moveable fabrics with added breathability are incredibly clever and work with your body temperature to keep you cool in the warmer months, and warm in the chillier seasons. Base layers will smooth and sculpt the body, creating a clean line and alluring silhouette. Having the base of your outfit then allows you to layer other garments such as knitwear, dresses, jersey and sheer styles over the top to create your perfect signature style that you will feel good and confident in."

Hope Foundation Long Sleeve Grey Scoop Top, £52.50 (was £75); Foundation Black Leggings, £55 (shoes, stylist's own)


"Many women, particularly older women, are sceptical about leggings, but I believe a high-quality, thick material legging is a great starting point for lots of outfits. High-waisted leggings in a good material, and most importantly in non-sheer fabric, are incredibly versatile and work with a number of garments, from long tops and jumpers, to dresses to capes. Leggings in darker colours can help make your legs look longer, and also offer that extra support by smoothing the appearance of your legs and covering up any unwanted lumps or bumps, which are entirely natural, but often leave us feeling self-conscious."

Monsoon Patricia Secret Support Leggings, £25

Everyday boots

"I adore footwear and believe wearing a good pair of shoes or boots really is a key part of your outfit that people notice and comment on. As the ankle is the slimmest part of the lower body, it's a great place to draw focus if you're feeling a little self-conscious, and with this in mind, I tend to go for a fitted slim boot to show them off. Finding the perfect pair of boots can seem impossible with the sheer number of retailers offering different colours, styles, fabrics and price points up and down the high street and online. However, I always advise to go for those of the best quality, which usually means making an investment and opting for the higher price point."

DuoBoots Pixie Leopard Suede Boots, £150

Smart boots

"If you're looking to achieve a smarter look, go for an on trend pointed kitten heel boot. I like to wear them with a wider leg trouser, so the toe just points out to create a statement. By choosing a low kitten heel, this also makes them practical to walk around in too. Ankle boots worn with trousers that are cropped or slightly flared, or even of a skinny fit, always looks great."

Faith Black 'Bolly' Mid Block Heel Ankle Boots, £39.20 (was £49), Debenhams

A feel-good dress

"We've all owned a dress we know will bring us compliments. The one that looks good, washes well and is comfortable to wear - yet standout in appearance. It's essential to have one in your wardrobe at all times, as you never know when you might need it. Don't be afraid to wear it time and time again - a great way to refresh your favourite outfit, and keep it up to date with current trends, is to experiment with and change your hair and make up, or your accessories and shoes. You'll be amazed how doing so can put a completely different spin on the outfit."

Sosandar Black and White Knitted Bardot Dress, £79; Animal Spot Print Leather Slingback Shoes, £85

A cool cover-up

"Layering using ponchos, capes, tunics, kimonos, knitwear or even beach cover ups, can transform any outfit and take you from day to night, or beach to bar, in a matter of seconds. Layering with different garments, depending on the occasion, is also great for creating a chic silhouette without having to opt for an unflattering and ill-fitting cardigan or jumper."

M&Co Plus Floral Print Kimono and Top, £42

A bright scarf

"Layering is also the best way to experiment with your outfits and add a pop of colour or pattern into your everyday style - why not go bold with a cobalt chunky knit jumper, or bright orange with an oversized scarf? Investing in one or two key layers per season will keep you feeling modern, yet allow you to adapt and change your existing wardrobe items."

Oliver Bonas Blocks Shape Scarf, £29 (available May)