Fashion Over 50

A few weeks ago, I had a request for some fashion advice for women over 50. I can attest that with each changing-of-the-decade, I find myself rethinking my personal style and reworking my wardrobe choices a bit. I will turn 40 this summer, and I’m definitely finding that I can’t wear some of the things I used to be able to wear!

Fashion Over 50

But I am not yet 50, and I am not a trained stylist by any stretch, so I don’t feel particularly qualified to address that topic. However, I know someone who is. My friend Grace is the most fashionable 50-year-old woman I know. If anyone proves the adage “50 is the new 30″ — it’s Grace.

She has great style advice for everyone, not just the 50-and-over crowd. I have learned so much from her.

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Fashion Advice for Women Over 50

Grace | Blackbelt OmaJo-Lynne quotes that 50 is the new 30. I know what she means.  We are so much more fabulous than we used to be! I’m no stylist either, but I’d like to play one on TV!

But 50. It’s still 20 years more than 30.

By the time we are into our 50s, we’ve passed the youthfulness of early motherhood and the initial rocket-boost of our careers. By 50, we’re settling into ourselves, and so are some of our body parts! No matter how fit we may be, certain parts aren’t as pert or smooth as they once were.

Ever since I turned 50 (which has been a few years now!) I’ve been wondering what is “appropriate” for me to wear. When I was a little girl, 50 was….um…50, and women were lookin’ pretty dowdy by that age.  Now that they say “50 is the new 30,” should I be dressing like a 30-year old?

I can take more risks than my mom or your mom might have, but there’s a part of me that says, “Grace, maintain your dignity.”  Because I’m not 30. (There are certain things you can do though, to Look Ten Pounds Thinner (and Ten Years Younger.)

Here are some of my thoughts:

#1 You Can’t Go Wrong with Classic

Well, you could, if you stay too conservative with it. (If it’s from your closet, pass on ‘em if it has shoulder pads.) Here’s a classic gray flannel jacket, but it has shape to define your waistline. Then update it with one or two accessories, like ankle boots or a colorful scarf. This will work whether you’re wearing the jacket over pants, a skirt or a dress.
Fashion Over 50

Where to buy: Stripe Scarf {similar}, Emerald Green Fringe ScarfBrook Tweed Blazer, Bronze Leather Satchel {similar}, Marc Jacobs Leather Satchel, Suede Wedge BootiesGap Flannel Ballet Flats

#2 Cover Your Privates

Your teenage daughter may be able to wear jeggings and a crop-top, but not you, ‘mkay? And, skirts should never be shorter than just above your knees. As for your buzzooms, if your child, niece/phew or father-in-law would be embarrassed, cover up.

Cover your belly, no matter how many crunches you can do! The look on left by Piperlime.

Over 50 dresses

Where to buy: Black and White Print Fit and Flare Dress, Diamond Dress, and if you’re a member of the under 30 set . . . Red Wrap Tie DressColorblock Tank Sweater Dress

No shorter than just above the knees, please! Color block dresses on the left are great options. Let the young’ens reveal their thighs, as at right. Great dresses, all from Banana Republic.

#3 Be Subtle

I didn’t say BORING. That’s different. Young women are in the Spring and Summers of their lives. We’re in our Autumn. Sure, there are the brilliant hues of foliage, but generally, things are more muted, gentle, subtle. And that’s the beauty of Autumn. Enjoy it. Be proud of it.

Here are some illustrations, using a hot leather jacket:

Over 50 Outfit

I didn’t say boring, right? These outfits are hot and trendy, but toned down — more appropriate for our age.

Where to buy: Burberry Camel Cashmere Animal Print Scarf, Forest Leather Biker Jacket, Striped Cowlneck Top, Michael Kors Jet Set Tote, Brown Kettle Bag, True Religion Orange Jeans, Theory Amber Wide Leg Pants, Hush Puppies tan boots, tan booties or for a splurge

Greens are hot now, but pick a green that leans towards classic, add a jazzy scarf and top, as long as you stay covered (see #2 above.) Match it with a purse & boots that are clearly on trend, but isn’t flashy or overly decorative.

Here’s the same jacket, but with a, um, different (read: overdone) look:

just say no

The hat, the print skinnies, the embellished purse…it’s a bit much for me.

#4 No bows or pigtails

Please.

no bows

Here’s the Over-50 Mantra: Classy, not cute. Girls are cute. You, my dear, are a classy grown-up.

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Comments

  1. JulieKP says

    All great advice for everyone. I don’t care how old you are you don’t need to show people your “privates”. Also classic pieces look good on everyone. It helps you look put together and stylish without looking too trendy.
    Though I think what makes you really beautiful is what’s inside as well as out. Grace personifies this to me. She is a beautiful woman all the way around.

  2. Suzy says

    Great advice – – I may need to print this out and carry copies with me to the supermarket. Not everyone over 50 reads your blog – and they need to!

  3. says

    This is a great topic, and I especially appreciate the “no-no’s.” Here’s another observation: aren’t there some clothes/fashions that look really great on 50+ women, that don’t look good on younger gals? Some things just look great — rather dignified — on older women, I think. Is that a nutty idea, or does it ring true for you?

  4. Brenda says

    I totally agree Grace! And can we mention fit? We (us 50 something girls) need to remember tight shirts and pants only enhace what gravity has accomplished and just look sad! When fabric skims the body it gives the illusion of less! And always wear a fabulous pair of earrings…draws the attention to your face!

  5. says

    I was going to say something about getting clothes that fit right, but Brenda beat me to it. I’m not quite 50, but I’ll be there before I know it, and for me the thing that keeps ringing in my head is just to accept myself and my “older” body. I’ve been fighting it for so long–I really am not happy about the extra bumps here and there–but at some point we just have to remember that this, too, is God’s way of designing our bodies. And that inner confidence, especially in . . . ahem . . . “older” women is something so compelling.

    • says

      Shelly W., You know what’s sad? at least in my case, is that I spent all those years with an adorable svelte body wishing I were different, and now that I’m lumpy and overweight, I’m happy with myself!! I do think that God uses our aging to prepare us not to be dependent on our earthly (svelte & healthy) selves, if that makes sense.

      • Terri Clark says

        I am 51 and totally get that. In my 20’s and a size 6 I fretted over it. Now I’m a size 14 and much more accepting of, well, me!

    • 54 years old says

      Maybe not ALL the rules, but I do wear skirts above the knee, leggins with a longer top and heels and on rare occasions, sneakers.

  6. Mary Jane says

    Hi Grace! Great tips, but my husband was just looking over my shoulder and said, “Why don;t they use 50 + models for these things?” I think he is right; you should. I am totally enjoying a book entitled My Formerly Hot Self on this topic. The book is a LOL treat! Thanks!

    • says

      Hi Mary Jane! It would be great to have 50+ models, right? I know Talbot’s & Chico’s always did and there are a couple of older super models now. Check out our What I Wore Wednesday posts to see ME! heh. And I’ll have to get that book!

  7. Mary Jane says

    Hi Grace! Great tips, but my husband was just looking over my shoulder and said, “Why don’t they use 50 + models for these things?” I think he is right; you should. I am totally enjoying a book entitled My Formerly Hot Self on this topic. The book is a LOL treat! Thanks!

  8. says

    Very informative site. Love the information Grace! Sometimes I need to be directed about wardrobe as you are doing here. I am 57 and my husband thinks we are still in our 30’s because most of the time we feel like we are. Thanks!

  9. Lorraine says

    I really enjoyed Grace and her information. Although I’m not quite 50 yet I already wear those classy outfits that she had posted. Good job Grace!

  10. Melinda says

    No, I do not have a web-site. However, I am 54 and thank you for your blog. Being a home body… sometimes I am at a loss about what really IS in style for my age. Most marketing is for the young girls …. ahhhh… remember when? lol I was the one wearing the 3-4 inch heals and the more exotic clothing … well, what I could afford! I still have that little tiger in me that wants to be different and in style. Tunics are my thing …. longer jackets. My body build looks better with longer tops… ect.. Well, I am just chattering away and simply just wanted to say thanks! Have a great and stylish day!

    • Grace says

      Melinda, I am a stay at home and a home body, too. I spend most of my day in comfy jeans and a tee shirt as I teach my son at home.
      It’s an on-going struggle to remain true to who I am but adjust it to the “new normal.” When I was young, I was more on the edge, wearing whatever was really “in” and then embellishing in an unusual way. I still try to do that, but in smaller, more upscale ways.
      Thanks for reading.

  11. Fiona says

    We`re just coming into summer here in New Zealand, and I am no longer sure how much “knee” I should be showing now. I will be 50 next birthday, 5`6″ and slim(ish). Please advise?

    • Grace says

      Well, it seems you have the figure every woman envies! I still say that just above the knee is right for grown women. Unless you’re at the beach, of course.

      • Fiona says

        Lol…though I am noticing some menopausal bulges. appearing! Thanks for confirming what I already thought…that much above the knee now causes me to feel a bit uncomfortable. I appreciate your sound style advice.

  12. Valerie Barnes says

    Help. You address the the “new 50″ but what about a woman (me) who has a 71st birthday next week. I’ve always been very fashion conscious . My husband and I travel a lot and I’m always looking for easy packing, multiple use , multiple weather conditions clothes that are classic…without aging me. My demographic is increasing. Ideas appreciated.!!

    • says

      Hi Valerie! I would say the rules still apply – but I’d suggest less body hugging outfits than the ones I’ve chosen. Now that I’m 54, I’m leaning away from the skinny jeans and looking more to classic fitting pants. I think you have a great idea for a new post! Keep an eye out!

  13. Karen says

    I went a-Googling for this very topic, fashion targeting women over fifty, and found very little that offered concrete suggestions–thanks for not just showing pictures but putting some content around it. I’ve been looking at role models like Helen Mirren and Diane Keaton, and trying to glean fashion elements and principles, and your suggestions fit right in. For true inspiration it’s hard to beat this show from Great Britain, Fabulous Fashionistas, about six women over 70 – and most over 80. Wish I could watch the whole thing but will settle for bits on YouTube. wwwyoutube.com/watch?v=nahrW6KMtp0 If the link doesn’t come through in the comment, just go to YouTube and search on Fabulous Fashionistas.

    Hope you continue to write about this growing age-group. Keep up the good work.

  14. says

    I always thought that I was lousy in fashion but, I found out that I’ve got some of this items already in my wardrobe…well, guess am not that bad at all! will definitely improve my fashion sense in the future….hopefully I’m in the right direction…thanks for the infomative article Grace!

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