Jodie Foster, 51
The form-fitting dress complements her figure, the unusual shade of blue brings out the color of her eyes and the strappy sandals elongate her legs.
KEY LESSON: Although this may not matter to Ms. Foster, who’s obviously in great shape, cap sleeves are always a smart choice for women over 50.
Andie MacDowell, 56
The ’50s-inspired silhouette (think Grace Kelly) is very flattering, and the muted watercolor print is much more chic than sharply defined flowers.
KEY LESSON: Putting her trademark hair into a chignon creates a sophisticated evening look.
Sandra Bullock, 49
Her ensemble couldn’t be simpler, yet it’s remarkably chic — exquisitely tailored pants, a top that just grazes the top of the hip, and classic red pumps. The accessories are modern and of the moment: cool sunglasses, a men’s watch and a low-hanging pendant.
KEY LESSON: If you wear a pendant, make sure it falls at least to your diaphragm — and take your pants to a tailor!
Carol Alt, 53
A dress this short can be a risky choice when you reach a certain age, but Ms. Alt has great legs, so there’s no reason she shouldn’t show them off. The same goes for her shoulders — the lacy off-the-shoulder neckline is equally flattering.
KEY LESSON: You can’t go wrong with three-quarter sleeves, which look elegant and cover up difficult spots.
Angela Bassett, 55
Those pants are pretty wild, but they look terrific in part because of the simplicity of the top. And the double-wrapped belt is a nice contemporary touch.
KEY LESSON: If you wear a boxy top or coat, add a belt to define your silhouette.
Sigourney Weaver, 64
Although the coat is structured and severe (in a good way), the scarf makes her look positively festive.
KEY LESSON: A red scarf is an ideal accessory for women over 50.
Jane Birkin, 67
Nonchalant chic — it’s not for everyone, but it certainly works here, thanks to Ms. Birkin’s confidence and her slim, tomboyish build.
KEY LESSON: Don’t cling to the hairstyle you’ve always had. By having it cut to shoulder length, the Paris-based Brit keeps the spirit of her ’60s-style long hair, but brings it into a contemporary mode.
Julianne Moore, 53
The top is quite basic — very boxy, with long sleeves and a crew neck — but the fluttering skirt brings it to life.
KEY LESSON: If your overall look is this simple, complete it with really interesting shoes.
Ellen DeGeneres, 56
Her sharkskin suit evokes early episodes of “Mad Men” with its sharp tailoring and narrow lapels, and the polo shirt with stripes in varying widths adds a pump of energy.
KEY LESSON: With tailored clothing, a cool shirt makes all the difference.
Gina Gershon, 52
Another woman with great legs to show, and her strappy open sandals make them appear that much longer. Now that the weather is warmer, she can lose the jacket, but it looked great for the season.
KEY LESSON: If you wear fur (or faux fur), keep accessories to a minimum.
The long sheath is quite simple, but the asymmetrical draping at the shoulder, held together with a bejeweled pin, makes it very special. So does that distinctive plum color.
KEY LESSON: Sometimes an unusual and flattering color is all you need to make a statement. (Of course, having David Bowie on your arm wouldn’t hurt.)
Tilda Swinton, 53
Ms. Swinton plays up her offbeat beauty with a dramatic ensemble — an architectural jacket with extra-sharp lapels over classic sailor pants.
KEY LESSON: With the right clothes and haircut, going without makeup can look very cool.
Michelle Pfeiffer, 56
Another ’50s-inspired dress, this one has a ballerina fit and pleats to give the skirt a sexy movement when she walks. Her peep-toe sling-backs are another stylish blast from the past. And talk about minimal accessories — the only adornment is her ring.
KEY LESSON: When shopping for a black dress, look for one with texture. It gives dimension to the fabric, and you still get the slenderizing effect associated with black.
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, 53
An overlay of black lace adds a grace note to this classic green dress, worn with a simple belt to define — without cinching — the waist. Notice the total absence of bling.
KEY LESSON: Green is a great color for brunettes.
Kim Basinger, 60
This takes minimalism to the extreme. Stylish at any time, black and white is particularly fashionable right now, as are the slightly flared pants. The overall impact is highly modern.
KEY LESSON: If you’re very feminine (but not very zaftig) like Ms. Basinger, a menswear-inspired look can be alluring as well as sophisticated.
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A look at what developed many years later after these fascinating subjects were first photographed