How to Look Great in Your 30’s, 40’s and 50’s
A person who shall remain nameless (but is one of my favorite people) suggested I post on what to wear in your 50s. I am not in my 50s, but when I have advised clients in their 30s on what to throw out give away, it has always been the vests with snowmen on them…or flamingos (which I think are hilarious, and might possibly wear as a gag). I’ve always said to the younger women with these items in their closets, “You aren’t a 50 year old woman!” I wasn’t a fan of them when my mom wore them as a 30 something (which it might surprise you that I have always been opinionated…and my sweet Grandmother overheard me say to my mom (I was maybe 10) that she shouldn’t wear any shirt with anything on it. My Grandma heard this and SHE followed my counsel. I was heart -broken to learn that she never wore tops with a design on them (like a logo or a snowman) because I said to my mom that she shouldn’t wear it. I really should tone down my intense opinions. My daughter also suffers from this dilemma.). I guess it’s a personal opinion. But I think it makes a woman look older than she is (coming from the 30 something who tells her hairstylist to leave the gray hairs because people don’t ask how old I am.) Isn’t the key looking YOUNGER?
What’s a Gal to Wear in Her 30’s?
In her 30’s, a woman is probably raising a family. When she is in the thick of diaper changing and breast feeding, looking stylish is not really at the forefront of her mind. But once those kiddos are in school and she is contemplating reentering the workforce, style becomes more important. Yoga pants and stained shirts are no longer appropriate for board meetings and PTA meetings. In a woman’s 30’s she is looking to define her style. It breaks my heart when 30 somethings say, “That’s not my style.” I really want to say, “Sister, you are too young to know your style!” Just like college freshmen, 30 somethings are experimenting with patterns and texture. Thirty is too young to fall into a rut of dos-and-don’t-likes.
A 30 something is building her staples that should last many years (if they are properly cared for. I am a super busy mom, and I used to chide my mom about not drying clothes in the dryer, but that woman is a smarty pants!!! When you put clothes in the dryer, it breaks down the fibers and destroys the clothes, and they don’t last as long. If you hang dry them (I have an old fashioned rack – 3 of them actually), they will last you well beyond their stylish years! THAT is why clothes are preserved so well in the Smithsonian!) – A LBD (if you must, but you should know my distain for black black), really good denim pants, jackets, dressed up basics (let’s move beyond cami’s in a myriad of colors, and into blouses/shirts with collars that can be dressed up or down, and fit you really well.) In a woman’s 30s, should she invest in having her clothes altered to fit her, they will be the items she reaches for, and gets more use out of, because they fit her really REALLY well.
Invest in a wardrobe consultation. A good consultant will help you define your style, and help you select items that you need going forward, so you don’t have 5 brown tops, none of which flatter you, or are the best for your body shape.
What’s a Gal to Wear in Her 40’s?
In a woman’s 40’s, it makes sense to have a more defined sense of style. Chances are she has lived through one style, and it has come back again. She may be tempted to keep all the items from her closet so she is best prepared for the next go-around. However, there is no fun in that!! The fun is wearing some of the styles again in new and different ways. She should have the ‘staples’ from her 30s, so she can play with the current trends, and not feel like she is ‘trying too hard’. The common concern I hear from women of any age is, “I don’t want to look like I’m trying too hard.” We have all seen the woman who is still shopping in the juniors section, but it’s quite clear that she is old enough to have juniors of her own. For one reason or another, we don’t want to be in that camp. We want to look put together, and polished. Effortless, and chic. We don’t want to look like “that ship has sailed.” This is where having a mix of trendy and staple items come into play. A woman of any age will look frumpy if she has only staples, or “trying too hard” if she has only trendy items. If you find yourself in Camp Frumpy, you may (should) want to add some trendy items. You don’t have to go over board and buy everything in whatever the trend du jour is (and by the way, trends change a LOT slower than you think….like over YEARS instead of minutes, in most cases). Just sprinkle it in. This season, plaids are all over (it’s been ramping up for the past 2 fall seasons), and this year it’ll be hard not to miss it. Living in Colorado, plaids NEVER go out of style. If you are hesitant to try plaid, try it’s cousin: gingham (it’s a plaid with 2 colors, rather than 3 or more). Gingham is a more grownup and refined version of plaid. You could wear either one in a scarf or a poncho. If you love the idea of plaid, but want to make it more sophisticated, pair a plaid top with a pair of sassy patent leather ballet flats and straight leg jeans in a dark wash. Flip the collar up, and you have made it as grown up as plaid comes! You don’t need to rush out every season and buy the latest and greatest. Pick which you like, but still experiment!!!
You also have permission to move the stilettos to the back of the closet, and pull them out for occasions where you’ll walk from the car, to the event, sit down, and return. Invest in chic, comfy shoes. Your feet will thank you.
What’s a Gal to Wear in Her 50’s?
When you have reached your 50’s and your hair is harder to cover the grays, but you still feel young and sassy, you should NOT dress like an old lady!! If you have gotten this far, we have already established that you care about the way you look, and you should be proud of that. Your 50s are not the time that you should sit down and join the sweet young things in their yoga pants and stained tops. Let’s not let things fall by the wayside. Just because you are older and wiser, doesn’t mean that you have to miss out on looking stylish. A woman in her 30’s can mix 15 (ok maybe not 15) patterns, but a woman in her 50’s needs to pull it all together and come off in an effortless fashion. If you google “fashion over 50”, you’ll find that everyone contradicts each other. Some say, “Wear muted colors.” Others say, “Wear bright colors.” And on and on. The things a woman in her 50’s needs in her closet are amazing pants. Throw out the low rise and find pants that make your hips and behind look young and sassy – no extra fabric around the crotch or hips. These are sure signs of frumpiness.
Wear trendy items, but sprinkle it in. I don’t think I’d advise my mom to wear floral and stripes together, whereas I’d suggest it to a 30 somethings. HOWEVER, if you have a sassy-I-don’t-care attitude, I say, “DO IT!” and let your personality shine through.
Many women in their 50’s say, “Oh that role goes against everything I learned in the 80s.” Yes, that’s true. Be rebellious. Give it a try!!! You might like mixing metals! You might find a new style you like! My suggestion is to try a new style around the house first, then branch out to see if you can wear it in public. Clothing is so superficial, but you want to feel like you look comfortable, so that your amazing personality can shine through!
A woman in her 50s can wear classic prints (a black and white plaid, or houndstooth) and look stellar!!! A woman in her 30s needs a bit of effort to make it look more her age. Pair trendy, youthful items with more refined items for an ageless look.
OVERALL, less tonal change in an outfit is better. A younger gal can wear a yellow cardigan with stripes and jeans. Whereas an older woman might want to wear less dramatic colors (that being said, I saw a picture of an older gal with a floor length leopard print dress and a leather moto jacket and she looked flawless! If you wear something dramatic, make sure you put on your confident sassy pants as well!!). As I write this I’m thinking of outfits that 50 year old customers have purchased and they look AMAZING! The biggest thing that any wardrobe should have is confidence. If you want to wear red skinny jeans and a bold striped top – DO IT, but make sure you also have the confidence to wear with it, otherwise others will be able to tell that someone else dressed you. You can ease into more bold outfits if you want to, but chances are that is probably not your personality. You probably fall somewhere between wanting to stay out of Camp Frumpy and Camp Trying Too Hard, and you just want to look stylish. In which case, you should wear toned down colors, and mix and match them with trendy items (like lace and floral (no, you won’t look like you are wearing Grandma’s Muu-Muu)). On the trendy note: if you don’t recycle your clothes from 1986, they’ll come back, and they’ll be more stylish than they were the first time. Florals are one of my favorites. I’m not the most girly-girl (dirty, floral wearing, rivet gun wielding is more like it), but I have an affinity for floral (and lace. I didn’t use to like either one…but having a girl, and owning a store has a way of changing all that). The awesome thing about floral tops today, is most of them are not boxy and Muu-Muu like. They have an incredible shape, and look very modern, as opposed to potentially looking like curtains.
I am a big fan of jackets at any age. They have a way of tying any outfit together and can dress up jeans and a tee, or dress it down! I am not a fan of matching twin sets. I prefer to break them up, because it looks more youthful (while keeping you out of Camp Trying Too Hard). Keeping a twin set together tends to look older, and less creative. I am a big fan of keeping the colors in similar families. If you have a leopard print cardigan, pair it with a solid twin top, or a dressed up knit tee (MUST BE FITTED), but I wouldn’t wear the tank and the cardigan together, if they match. (Of course there will be instances where I’d keep them together, but in general separate them).
Hiring a wardrobe consultant at any age is the easiest way to navigate the seemingly shark infested fashion waters. The great news is all of the old rules have been thrown out. So wear white after Labor Day, mix your metals! No one really cares! 😀