What Not to Wear After Age 50…It’s Not What You Think!

January 27, 2016

“Is this outfit age appropriate?”

That is one of the most common questions I am asked by women over 50…actually, often even by women over 35 or 40. The world is so youth-obsessed that, while we want to dress as young as possible for as long as possible, we worry about walking that fine line between dressing like a teenager and someone’s elderly nana (I don’t mean all the hip nana’s that are out there right now, I mean the kind of sweet elderly nana I had).

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question and when you shop for clothes it can feel a bit like navigating through a veritable minefield of questionable styles. It is no wonder so many women feel overwhelmed and too often leave the store empty-handed and frustrated.

That said, I came across this no holds barred article about What Not to Wear After Age 50: The Final Say’ by Michelle Combs, a Huffington Post Blogger who also has her own blog. Be forewarned, the language is extremely colorful, she doesn’t mince words, and her advice is not what you might expect on this topic. But she offers valuable food for thought and I agree with everything she says. I suggest that it is a must-read for every woman. Find the link for the article above and at the end of this post, but before you go there, I have some thoughts to add on this topic.

I would like to add to her wise advice. In one place she says, “Wear whatever you want. If you’ve made it to 50 and still need to consult articles on how to dress appropriately then you are so missing out on one of the best things about being 50. One of the best things about getting older is realizing that we don’t have to spend our energy worrying what other people think and we get to be comfortable in our own skin with our own freak flags.”

True…but while that might sound simple it is not always easy. She does mention later in the article that there is nothing wrong with getting advice about updating your look. And goes so far as to say, “Who says what is appropriate? From where I sit, it seems ‘appropriate’ changes based on geography, social status, income and size. After a while, the advice becomes a confusing blur. I think I’ll just keep wearing my Keds and jeans and black tee shirts.”

I am hoping that the Keds and jeans and black tee shirts make her happy and that she isn’t just throwing in the towel because it’s all such a confusing blur (she’s right…it is!) and she can’t deal with it. If you are a woman over 50 reading this it’s very possible that your body has changed and getting dressed no longer feels familiar or you have been so focused on everyone else in your family for so many years that you feel dazed and confused when it comes to how to dress in a way that makes you happy. Then what do you do?

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What most women do is resort to oversized shapeless clothes or join the dreaded ‘athleisure’ culture where workout clothes are worn 24/7. Believe me, the vital, passionate, beautiful women over 50 that I meet are not trying to learn to dress to please other people. They want to dress in a way that makes their heart sing with joy every time they get dressed even if it’s just something simple to wear on errands or a regular day at the office. The problem is that they don’t know how or have forgotten how and need a little encouragement. With a few guidelines and some inspired soul searching the answers always appear.

I would suggest we cut these women who are searching for answers about what is age appropriate a little slack and encourage them to follow their heart and find their personal style. Then, when their self-confidence is high and self-conscious is lower, they can thumb their noses at people who think they know better. But, to be honest, I find that once a woman truly embraces her own personal style (whether it’s Keds and jeans, tunics and leggings, form fitting dresses or something else entirely) she can’t help but radiate a sense of confidence that keeps all those naysayers and fashion police at bay!

And, just as Michelle adds her one ‘real’ style tip at the end, I’d like to add mine: Please stop wearing oversized, shapeless, long boxy T-shirts. You deserve better and will look and feel better in almost anything else!!

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Check out this blog post and then read Michelle’s article HERE.

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