We all know mothers who wear their teenage daughter's clothes, or shop in the juniors department, selecting styles and cuts that are too young for their age and their figure. This is a big fashion "don't," says Wendy Lyn Phillips, personal branding and image expert with 25 years of experience in the beauty and fashion industries, and author of Naked to KnockoutTM Beauty from the Inside Out.

Why Dress to Impress?

"A woman cannot accept credit for beauty at sixteen, but when she is beautiful at sixty, it will be her soul's own doing," Phillips says. She loves this quote, attributed to Marie Stopes, "because women are truly in control of presenting themselves as beautiful through all the seasons of their lives." Dressing for success, or dressing to impress, is also an important way to establish credibility both in the workplace and in all sorts of social settings, she stresses.

Dressing for Your Age

Of course dressing well for your age doesn't mean you have to look dowdy or matronly. Many women hide behind shapeless clothing because they don't feel good about their aging bodies, when in fact their clothing choices actually magnify extra weight or imperfect areas, making them look heavier all over. But well-chosen clothing choices can enhance your shape—and help you look fresh and confident.

How to Dress for Success

Here are Phillips' top seven fashion tips for dressing well at any age, and for any occasion:

1. Skip your daughter's mini skirt. Recapture your youth in an elegant way by incorporating modern touches into your look. You can do this by rocking a leopard print purse, platform shoes, layered necklaces, or a modern and flattering hairstyle.

2. Instead of trying to hide figure flaws, select clothing items that will emphasize the parts of your body you do like. For instance, if you have shapely legs, look for a skirt that comes to flattering length. If you have a graceful neck, find a top that creates a nice frame. Phillips says that sometimes just selecting the right colors, such as yellow, orange, or green, which evoke likeability, can be enough to make you look and feel better.

3. Know your body shape and what works for it—and what doesn't. Keep this in mind when you're shopping so you're not tempted to purchase something that doesn't suit you. When in doubt, take a photo of yourself in the outfit on your mobile phone so you can get a more objective view. This can help you to become more familiar with what you like, and don't like, on your figure. Also remember to consider how items look and fit from the back, not just the front.

4. Invest in your foundation. Well-fitting undergarments and shape wear (including bras,underwear, and control top items) can help you to look slimmer and smoother all over, and your clothes will appear more expensive. If you have a special occasion dress or favorite skirt, you might even have your tailor sew in a control top lining to help it skim your body perfectly.

5. Splurge on a great pair of flattering jeans, like ones from NYDJ.com (Not Your Daughter's Jeans). They offer a slightly wider waistband to keep your so-called muffin top from spilling over, as well as a small amount of Lycra to hold in any flab. This will help your body look and feel its best. Better yet, dress your jeans up and down for a variety of occasions—you'll look hip and confident.

6. Select a fabulous LBD (little black dress) that you can count on as a daytime work basic when you wear it with a blazer or cardigan, but can easily transform into an event-worthy, dress-to-impress item when you slip on sexy sling-backs, a giltzy clutch, and some sparkly jewelry. Remember that experimenting with different accessories can help you get a variety of looks on a budget.

7. Pay attention to your shoes and makeup, since these items can be the most aging. That's why you should periodically get a foundation color update and opt for bright lipsticks instead of dark. Also go for high heels at special events to help make a great first impression. If your aching feet are an issue, keep a pair of flats in your bag to change into later.

More Fashion Advice

You don't have to have an unlimited budget to dress well and be age appropriate. "The number one thing to do is to invest in seasonal accessories and create different outfits from what you already have in your closet," Phillips says. "Separate all suits and hang like items together; all skirts, pants, tops, blazers, et cetera. This will instantly help you see what new pieces you could mix and match to create a new outfit."

4 Key Fashion Questions

Before buying something new, Phillips also suggests asking these four important questions:

1.Is it the right color for me?

2. Is it the right style for me?

3. Can I wear it at least three different seasons (by layering or mixing and matching different pieces)?

4. Can I wear it at least three different ways (casual, business, and dress up)?

"Answering 'yes' to three out of four of the questions makes it a strong purchase in my book," Phillips says.

Wendy Lyn Phillip reviewed this article.