Don’t get me wrong: I’m not saying women can’t be stylish at any age, but there are a few fashion rules for women over 40 that some of us tend to… forget… which can spell sartorial disaster. What are these fashion rules for women over 40, and how can we avoid fashion embarrassment? Keep reading…
1. Don’t Dress Too Young
There’s a store called Forever 21 that sells fashion-forward clothes to teens and young adults. But before you go on a spree, note that name, and the target clientele. The same goes for Charlotte Russe, Aeropostale, Hollister and Abercrombie & Fitch, which also cater to younger (MUCH younger) shoppers. These stores may have a few items older women can wear, but most of the clothes are too young for women over 40. There’s little in this world more embarrassing than dressing too young, so this is my very first of the fashion rules for women over 40.
2. Don’t Dress Too Old!
The flip side of that “dressing to young” coin is dressing too old! You’re only 40, not 70, so there are some looks that just won’t work for you. Skip the orthopedic granny shoes and the pastel velour pantsuits and the glasses on a chain, at least for the next 30 years or so.
3. Comfort Rules
I was so glad to give up clothes I always felt I had to pull up (low-cut tops) or pull down (short skirts) or clothes I couldn’t wait to take off when I got home. But you know what? You don’t have to wait til you turn 40 to start wearing clothes that are comfortable – you can start anytime, and you’ll be so glad you did!
4. Know Your Palette
I always knew I could wear deep purples (but avoid yellows), but until recently, I had no idea I could wear coral. Do yourself a favor, and figure out which colors you can wear, and which to avoid, as you age. You’ll open so many more fashion possibilities for yourself!
5. Keep It Simple… but…
Let the youngsters rock the crazy trends, and keep your own personal style simple. But don’t be afraid to be bold with an accessory once in a while… wear your favorite LBD but forgo the black heels, and wear bright yellow or blue instead. Ditch the boring beige handbag and opt for green or coral instead. Or treat yourself to a pair of bright white skinnies this spring, instead of traditional blue.
6. Know What Flatters You
You may not have gained a single ounce, but your body isn’t the same exact shape it used to be, either, so some of the fashions you wore when you were in your 20s just don’t fit the ways they used to. If you still have gorgeous legs, wear skirts! If you have impressive cleavage, show it off a little… but remember, along with showcasing and accenting your best features, camouflage the ones that aren’t quite what they used to be (or, in my case, never were).
7. Two Words: Mom Jeans
The number one fashion mistake I see women my age make: mom jeans. They might be comfortable, but there are other casual attire choices that are just as comfortable and that look so much more flattering! Don’t wear mom jeans!
8. Be Polished
Going back to college in my late 30s taught me more about fashion than just about anything else. For example, there’s very little as unattractive as a woman of any age who can’t be bothered to brush her hair, let alone pay any attention to what she’s wearing in public. The comfort argument only goes so far, by the way… spend the extra six minutes to make yourself presentable and polished. You’ll never regret it, but you may regret being sloppy. Trust me.
How do I know so much about fashion for women over 40? Because I’m over 40, and I have the best training and examples available, from my own super-stylish mother and still-rocking grandmother (she’s 89 this year!). Follow these simple rules and you’ll look and feel fantastic and stylish and never feel a moment of fashion embarrassment. Do you have any over-40 fashion horror stories to share, or tips that will help us all dress well? Do tell!