Fashion For Women Over 50: How to Look Your Best

Our Favorite Tips For Dressing Well at Any Age

Getty Images: Jonathan Leibson / Stringer

Updated By Taylor Davies

In years past, there were certain "rules" women were expected to follow, directing how they should or should not dress after a certain age. Fashion over 50 used to mean putting your wardrobe in what amounted to a sartorial retirement home! Not anymore. We know now that fashion for women over 50 (or over 40, or over 30) is whatever a woman wants it to be. The real challenge lies where it always does: finding wearable, modern clothes to fit your lifestyle, budget, and figure.

There are some trends that may be better suited to the younger set (crop tops come to mind), but don't be afraid to embrace new waves in style that get you excited. All you have to do is find a way to work that trend into your personal wardrobe. For example, you may want to try the pajama dressing look, but find that pairing a silk sleep top paired with cropped black trousers works better for you than a full matched set. (It's a lot of look.)

What we won't deny is that finding inspiration when you're "of a certain age" can be difficult because fashion magazine spreads tend to ignore this demographic. However, celebrity dressing is a constant source of inspiring style for women of all ages, simply because our favorite stars are aging right along side us—like Meryl Streep, Julianne Moore, Helen Mirren and Viola Davis. (Can you believe she's 51?)

All that said, we do still have some helpful tips and do's and don'ts to keep in mind for dressing and feeling your absolute best over 50.

Quick Tips for Keeping Current

  • Slim always wins: When it comes to jeans, pants and trousers, remember that a slim, tailored cut will always look smart and sleek. No, you don't need to wear distressed denim and skinny jeans to look cool, but a closer-to-the-body cut in the leg will flatter your figure and help you feel stylish.
  • Feel sexy without revealing too much: No matter how old you are, a grown woman will always want to be able to feel sexy in her clothes when the occasion calls for it. Highlight your best feature—whether that's your chest, legs, arms or shoulders—and leave the rest a mystery. Showing too much skin as a mature woman will have the opposite effect you might intend, and make you appear out-of-touch and older than you are! 
  • Think "sensual" rather than sexy: Show of your femininity with luxe, rich fabrics like silk, satin and cashmere. Use fur details and deep colors (champagne, burgundy, violet and hunter green) to channel a powerful female vibe that's sensual but not overtly sexual.
  • Lead with your handbag: Since they fit and flatter any body type, handbags are a trendy or timeless accessory that's accessible to everyone. Keep up with the latest trends if you want, but know that structured, classic bags made from high-quality materials will always be in style. You can't go wrong with a great bag at any age.
  • Don't forget the shoes: If the ladies of the red carpet have taught us anything, it's that hot shoes are available to everyone. Avoid the classic blunder of downgrading to "comfort" shoes when you really don't need to. Hide gel or custom insoles in contemporary shoes so you'll feel good in whatever you wear.

More Over-50 Style Tips From Marilyn Kirschner, Editor-in-Chief of The Look On-Line:

  1. Avoid baggy, shapeless clothing. A fitted or well-tailored outfit looks sophisticated at any age.
  2. Don't be afraid of all-black everything. To keep it interesting, mix different textures like silk and cashmere, leather and suede.
  3. Avoid too-short skirts. They make you look less serious at any age.
  4. Aim for a natural beauty look. Do your hair and makeup in a way that makes you feel good, and don't try to hard to maintain a "youthful" look with overly processed hair color or trendy nail polish colors. (Red is timeless.)
  5. Don't think you have to wear a short hairstyle. A chic ponytail is a playful classic and the "mom cut" is a myth!
  6. Classic shapes will always work. Wrap dresses, a belted trench coat, peacoat, button-up white shirt, jean jackets, and tunic-length tops will flatter for years to come.
  7. Go for minimalist, functional designs and details. Think zippers instead of gold buttons and clean lines that flatter your natural shape.
  8. Never underestimate the power of a black turtleneck. They are eternally stylish and can be layered easily for day or night.
  9. Solid colors will never betray you. Camel, red, gray, khaki and especially black and white are timeless and flattering.
  10. Don't be afraid to be unpredictable: Just because you're not 25 anymore doesn't mean your style has to be pinned down!

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