Women Over 50 Are Ditching These Outdated Fashion ‘Rules’ We All Used To Take As Given
By James Cannon
When choosing what to wear as an older woman, it can feel like there’s a never-ending list of fashion dos and don’ts to abide by. As anyone over 50 will tell you, it can be extremely restrictive. But guess what? You don’t have to follow the rules! Some style advice that we still see as scripture is actually totally outdated in today’s world. And we’ve realized that some ‘rules’ for what older ladies should or shouldn’t wear are just plain sexist. Besides, isn’t fashion really about breaking the rules?
1. “Cut your hair short”
As we age, our hair tends to lose some of its thickness. This is apparently the driving force behind why ladies over 50 are often advised to trim their locks and go for shorter styles. And thus, bobs have come to be seen as a more sensible and mature look. But who says women need to look sensible? Aging should be fun! So, don’t be afraid to continue wearing your hair long. Just know how to keep it looking thick and healthy. All it takes is adding a bit of volume to it. A trip to the salon can take care of that, and try using specialized shampoos day to day. Put down those scissors, ladies!
2. “Cover your legs”
Older women shouldn’t ever expose their legs, right? Wrong! There's no rule that says short dresses and skirts are strictly reserved for the under 50s. If showing off your pins makes you feel confident, then go right ahead! For those who aren't as comfortable bearing all but still want to experiment with higher hemlines, try adding a pair of leggings or tights. Just remember — you're the one steering the ship. Wear whatever leaves you feeling good, and don't forget to have fun experimenting with your style.
3. “Don’t mix black and brown”
For the longest time, we’ve been told that black and brown clothing should never been worn together. But it’s time to forget this old-fashioned rule! Many top brands like Prada love to pair these two colors, so there’s no reason you can’t be doing the same. Designer Priscilla Von Sorella says it’s totally okay to experiment with these shades. She says, “I love breaking this rule because according to color science, both brown and black are neutral colors — therefore can be worn together.”
4. “Avoid ripped jeans”
For lots of people, there’s something about ripped jeans that screams “younger generation.” But who says older women can’t also rock a fashionable ripped-denim look? Regardless of the perception, intentionally torn jeans can look cool at any age. Remember, this trend doesn’t mean your pants have to be completely shredded. Try jeans with a subtle rip at the knee or some vintage-inspired distressed patches.
5. “You can’t shop at certain stores”
Certain clothing stores are clearly catered towards younger women. So once you reach 50 and above, you can’t shop there anymore, right? In all honesty, that’s a pretty dumb rule. After all, some fashion brands that do focus on older ladies can be expensive and a little boring. You could find some cool outfits at those other shops that’ll work for you with a bit of digging, saving cash in the process.
6. “It’s too late to reinvent yourself”
Young people reinvent themselves all the time — but you can’t teach an older dog new tricks, right? Well, we say that’s wrong. Getting older should be fun, and trying out new things is always a great idea, no matter our age. So why not test out a new style or experiment with a different look? It could give you a major confidence boost heading into the next stage of your life. And the importance of that can’t be understated.
7. “Don’t mix and match patterns or colors”
Mixing and matching different colors and patterns has often been frowned upon in the past. And for women over a certain age, the fashion advice is often to keep things simple. Not anymore, though. In fact, combining colors and patterns is becoming more and more encouraged in the fashion world. And age shouldn’t be a factor. Designer Priscilla Von Sorella suggests, “Make sure not to use patterns or colors that clash, but rather make an interesting and complimentary look.”
8. “Don’t invest in nice lingerie”
Who says fancy underwear should only be for younger women? If you want to keep buying lingerie as you pass the age of 50, do it! It feels fun and sexy, and it can be a great confidence booster. There’s nothing taboo about wanting to feel good in your own skin, so don’t be put off — even if the models often advertising this kind of underwear are from a younger generation.
9. “Don’t wear leggings as pants”
Due to their clinginess, leggings as pants has long been considered a fashion no-go for more mature women. According to Shari Hoenig, director of e-commerce and marketing at Yummie by Heather Thomson, this rule should be consigned to the trash today. Hoenig told Prevention, “The key is finding a pair that’s tight — but not sausage-pant tight — and opaque that provides you with the perfect high-rise cut to keep you feeling hugged around the waist.”
10. “Avoid double denim”
Affectionately referred to as the “Texas Tuxedo,” pairing two denim items of clothing is sometimes seen as old-fashioned, since it was a super-popular look in the 1970s, ’80s, and ’90s. But this trend has come back around for a reason! It’s simple and stylist. So, why shouldn’t ladies 50 and above also love this popular combo? To Hell with the expectations! By mixing up the shade of the jacket or pants, you’ll look just as cool as the younger denim-lovers.
11. “Adventure is a young person’s game”
If you believe that adventurous fashion is solely for younger people, think again. We say that experimenting should be a part of every woman’s ethos as they grow older. That’s what life is all about right? So if you’re someone who tends to stick to what they know with their wardrobe, why not vow to try out a brand-new clothing brand or beauty product? Better yet, step outside your comfort zone and try wearing prints or colors that you would normally avoid. We’re never too old to push the boat out.
12. “Ditch your leathers”
We’ve got some news for you, folks: you don’t have to stop wearing leather when you get older. It’s timeless. Speaking to Prevention, EVOLUE Apparel’s Susan Zemaitis noted, “Whether it be a tailored moto jacket or leather leggings, the look of leather always ups the wardrobe game. It can add an edgy touch or chic surprise to an out-on-the-town night. Always remember fit is key, so be discerning when buying and make sure it’s comfortable.”
13. “Color your gray hair”
When it comes to graying hair, some older women feel compelled to color it with dyes or other products. And that’s totally fine; if it makes you more comfortable, go for it! But that’s not a path that every aging woman has to follow. Stylist Tracy Gold says, “If you love your gray and it suits your skin tone, keep it.” Silver shades can be pretty cool nowadays.
14. “No more bikinis”
Now, let’s be clear here. There’s absolutely nothing wrong if an older woman would prefer to wear a one-piece bathing suit at the beach. Maybe they feel that it suits them better. And to be honest, that’s true for anyone at any age. Yet at the same time, bikinis shouldn’t be off the table for ladies in the 50-plus age group. If you’re comfortable with your figure, why not rock a two-piece?
15. “Avoid sleeveless clothing”
Okay, we’re going to say it: the idea that as older ladies we can’t wear sleeveless tops is totally ridiculous. Aging is totally natural, so why should we feel like we have to cover our arms when we get older? Plus, when warm weather rolls around, we all deserve to be cool, especially women who are over 50! A sleeveless outfit can work wonders in summer heatwaves — or for hot flashes of any kind, really.
16. “Now’s the time to slow down”
Aerobics or yoga is a young woman’s game, right? Nope. That’s a misconception you can ditch right now. Ladies who are 50-plus should totally try those exercises, or similar physical activities. It’ll not only keep you active and fit, but it could also make you feel more secure in your body. You never need to slow down, as long as you can handle the exertion.
17. “Always wear flat shoes”
Why should women over 50 ignore calls to ditch their stylish high heels for flatter shoes? Sure, we might not feel like wearing stilettos all day long at work or if we’re doing tons of walking, but that doesn’t mean comfort always has to come first when we get older. Just take it from the experts. Suelyn Farel, founder of beauty company the Julien Farel Group, told Prevention, “Heels mean power. Go as high as you can tolerate, at least for that important occasion, meeting, or date. There’s no reason to lower your heels just because the number of your age goes higher!”
18. “Fashion blogging is for the kids”
Online blogging might feel like exclusively a thing for younger people, but that’s not the case. Ladies of any age should feel empowered to share their opinions and have their voices heard. All it takes is a little creativity, some original ideas, and a bit of Googling! If you find yourself stuck on the technical side of setting up a blog, there are tons of helpful YouTube videos out there that break down the process step by step. And who knows? You might even inspire more women to get involved!
19. “Don’t mix blue and black”
Okay, we all know that black is a super-chic color to wear at any age. But pairing black with blue? That’s always been a fashion no-no right? Wrong! When done right, this combination is classic, flattering, and very elegant. And that’s why it’s perfect for older women. Navy blue looks particularly good with black, so try pairing a navy suit jacket with a black top underneath. Black and blue denim is another great way to wear this trend. Fashion and fitness influencer Liz Jeneault says, “It’s actually a great idea. A black leather jacket goes well with a pair of indigo blue jeans and black booties, for example.”
20. “Ditch over-the-knee boots”
Block out the naysayers; over-the-knee boots look great on older women. It isn’t something to abandon once you hit 50! And fashion expert Susan Zemaitis has some great tips for how to rock this look. She told Prevention, “This style can look really chic and elongate the leg if done tastefully. I like to pair my flat over-the-knee boots with dark-wash denim for a bold, timeless look.” Why not give it a go?
21. “Wear age-appropriate glasses”
Finding the right pair of glasses can be a bit of a challenge, but those trips to the eye doctor are worth it in the end. And if you’ve been told that bright, bold frames are reserved for younger people, think again! Have some fun with your specs; thicker, colored frames can be great for accentuating your facial features. What does “age-appropriate“ mean anyways?
22. “Cover up your figure”
As we get older, our body shape changes right along with us. If you're struggling to dress your new shape, then try to embrace your new proportions! It’s simple: on the days you want to sport a baggy shirt, grab a form-fitting item for your lower half, and vice-versa. It’s called proportionate dressing, and it will keep eyes on the areas you're more comfortable with.
23. “Don’t show off your neck”
Do you find yourself always grabbing a turtleneck to cover up your neck? We don’t buy into the rule that older women should have to hide any part of them. If you're insecure about showing your neck, though, try wearing a light scarf or mock-neck blouse instead. Not only are they more physically comfortable than a throat-squeezing turtleneck, but they look cute, too!
24. “Cardigans make you look old”
Why do cardigans sometimes get a bad rep? Some people try to tell us that they’re only for older people, but we think they’re wrong! A bright cardigan can be a great way to add a pop of color to an outfit. And chunky knits are timelessly stylish. Plus, they’re super comfy!
25. “Tweed is too old-fashioned”
Okay, so tweed outfits definitely have a traditional feel about them. But that doesn’t make them old-fashioned. Maybe avoid an all-tweed ensemble, but a tweed jacket paired with some simple jeans and boots is a timeless look — and appropriate at any age.
26. “Following fashion trends is a young person’s game”
We know that keeping up with the latest fashion crazes can be a bit daunting at times. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try something new if you like it. Feel free to experiment with trendy styles and cuts; fashion is all about pushing the boundaries and having fun — no matter your age.
27. “Practical is the way forward”
Some people seem to think that older women’s clothing and accessory choices should be about comfort and practicality. But why? Who says all your shoes need to be flat and comfortable? Why should you only have one practical bag? We say that having fun with fashion isn’t only a young person’s game.
28. “Retro is a no-go”
Do you feel like wearing something that screams ’60s or ’80s makes you look old-fashioned? Well, we’ve got some news for you: “retro” is always cool. Check out any fashion magazine, and you’ll see women of all different ages rocking vintage leather jackets or fabulous ’50s-inspired skirts. Whip out those big cat-eye sunglasses, too!
29. “Avoid ‘younger’ styles”
One of the biggest mistakes you can make as you age is believing that your body, though different than it used to be, can no longer "pull off" certain looks, whether it's a hip-hugging skirt or skinny jeans. Rock those wrap dresses, shift dresses, and jeans of any kind — no matter how many birthdays you've celebrated. You're only as old as you feel, after all!
30. “Steer clear of color”
There’s no denying the fact that black is a shape-friendly shade, but that doesn’t mean you have to wear darker colors all the time. Fashion should be fun! Don’t be afraid to go for bright, bold hues. If you want to go for a slightly subtler look, try adding a pop of color to an otherwise-black outfit, like a fuchsia cardigan, bright-colored shoes, or yellow glasses!
31. “Don’t wear tight jeans”
We’ve got some news for you, folks: skinny jeans look great at any age! Form-fitting pants are always a good choice if you want to be comfortable and look stylish. If you’re not into super-tight jeans, a slim-cut pant is a great alternative, and “jeggings” are a super-comfy option.
32. “No glitter, please!”
If you think that sparkly clothes aren’t appropriate for older women, think again. It’s never too late to add a bit of glitter into your wardrobe! A sequinned top paired with a slim-fitting pant is a great option for when you want to feel a little bit fancy. Glitter is fun, freeing, and stylish at any age.
33. The most important rule? There are no rules!
It might sound obvious, but if you don’t love the items in your wardrobe, you’re not going to feel good wearing them. We think the best way to dress is to wear what you like — and not what you think other people will like. Style is about expressing yourself, so make sure your outfits scream you! The next time you go shopping, buy the colors, styles, and patterns you love, regardless of fashion “rules.” It’s that simple.