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What not to wear if you're over 50

what not to wear over 50

After many conversations about fashion over 50 - and what not to wear - we thought it was time to put all our tips in one place. We've heard a few <ahem> controversial pieces of advice in our time, which made us ask...what's the real secret to dressing when you're over 50? 


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1. Steer clear of old-fashioned skirts

Want to end up looking like Margaret Thatcher? We thought not. Note that old-fashioned and classic are two completely different kettles of fish - and one of them stinks. Classic white shirt? Excellent choice. Calf-length pleated tartan? Think again. As one gransnetter said:
"Avoid tweed skirt suits teamed with lace-up brogues...and anything crimplene." 
The trick with longer skirts is how you style them. Brogues and flesh coloured tights are very dating, whereas a comfy pair of boots or tennis shoes instantly gives a knee or calf-length skirt a fresher look. Wear with a plain but well cut t-shirt or shirt - and make sure you tuck it into the waistband, otherwise you end up with the ol' 'sack of spuds' look.

fashion for women over 50

fashion for 50 year old woman

White Stuff are a great bet for casual skirts that still win in the style stakes.


2. Fleeces...

It all depends on body type of course, but do certain styles age you before your time? According to gransnetters, the answer is a resounding 'yes'. Now don't get us wrong - a cosy fleece jacket is great to walk the dogs in, especially come the winter months. It's when that fleece jacket starts accompanying you on evenings out and lunch with friends that you might want to re-evaluate your wardrobe choices... As gransnetters say:

"Never ever wear fleeces."

Instead, choose a cool, slouchy cardigan, preferably longline, or a more structured 'coatigan' for smarter occasions.

When it comes to coats, go for neutral colours that go with everything, and classic styles - take note of the tailoring and fit. A slightly nipped in waist is a good idea, as is a longer length. Avoid a hooded duffle coat if you're looking for a multi-tasker. All those peg buttons and the boxy shape can look a bit 'school days'.

fashion for 50 year old woman

fashion for 50 year old woman

Try Next for a nice range of chunky cardigans and coatigans to choose from.


3. Don't avoid elasticated waistlines (they're comfy, ok?) - hide them instead

Elasticated waistlines have a bad rep but they're comfy, so we see no reason to outlaw them. Happily, hiding the waistline of your trousers or skirt is easily done by wearing a longline top or, if you're after a bit of waist definition, tucking your top in and then pulling out just enough to cover the band (in a cool, slouchy sort of way). Easy as pie. Alternatively, ditch the jogging bottoms and opt for a comfortable pair of loose tie-waist trousers. Like this gransnetter says:

"I think elasticated or half-elasticated waistbands are a boon for those of us with less-than-svelte figures - but they must not be visible!"

trendy clothed for 50 year old woman

wide leg trousers

A nice range of both plain and printed harem pants can usually be found at JD Williams.


4. Long denim skirts. Except...

denim skirt

A favourite in the '80s, but not always an unflattering choice when it comes to fashion over 50 - if you get the cut right, that is. Certain denim skirts can be clingy and as uncomfortable as their trouser counterparts, depending on how tight they are. But the denim skirt has been having its moment recently, in various, updated forms. And the results are really rather good. There are plenty of casual-but-cool A-line offerings out there that won't feel like a denim death grip.

"One of the most unattractive styles are long jean skirts...they don't hide a thing. They just make you look large ALL the way down."

Try Marks and Spencer for some comfy, cool denim.


5. Loud makeup 

Quite frankly, we're not sure blue eyeshadow and bright orange lipstick works at any age (or in any decade), so let's just agree to steer clear of that particular combo. Luckily, we've got step-by-step makeup tutorials for eyes, lips and face - and there's not a glitter eyeshadow in sight. 


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1. Leggings

Recommended almost universally as a fashion staple for over 50s - as are their natural bedfellow, tunics. Comfortable and versatile, they're great for everyday casual wear. Just be sure to wear a top or dress that covers your bum and always remember the golden rule: leggings are not trousers. We have more on how to wear leggings here.

"I wear them all the time. With flat slip-ons. With trainers. With walking boots. Anything flat. I'm so pleased they are back in fashion because they are so comfortable. Bliss. And the tunic skims any bulges in the middle."

trendy clothes for 50 year old woman

Seasalt's leggings (pictured above), in particular, are super soft and hold their shape well - so no sagging around the knees after five minutes.


2. Jeans

Some declare they wouldn't wear them past a certain age, but in all honesty the rest of us are still in thrall. Can you ever be too old for jeans? We, and gransnetters, think not. A pair of well-fitting jeans are like gold dust and once you've found them, you'll never let them go.

"Jeans are our fashion. We grew up with them."

It's useful to have two of three different styles of jeans in your arsenal, for varying occasions and levels of comfort. Girlfriend or boyfriend jeans are great for slouching around the house, or going shopping in, whereas for evenings out or smarter occasions you're better off opting for straight cut or skinny jeans in a darker colour. The key is finding jeans that really fit, and once you find your holy grail pair, you have a capsule wardrobe staple for so many outfits. 

trendy clothes for 50 year old woman

Try Not Your Daughter's Jeans or JD Williams' wide range of denim.


3. Dresses with sleeves

Wrap dresses, skater dresses, empire line and shirt. These are the dresses for over 50s that we're after - providing they've got sleeves, that is. Quite simply, long sleeves provide great coverage when you're not so keen on displaying your arms to the world. Move over spaghetti straps...

"My dream dress (manufacturers please note) is an empire line, V-neck, 3/4 sleeves in fine jersey - plain or print." 

what not to wear over 50

There's always a lovely range of wrap, shift and every other kind of dress at Boden - and they come in longer lengths too - hurrah!



Now you know the best options for trendy clothes for women over 50, it's time to focus on those finishing touches. Shoes, more than anything else, raise the question of comfort versus style. These days, we're not prepared to succumb to the heel dictators except for the most glamorous of parties. But what to wear for a run around the shops? Or a walk in the park? We have some great news - comfy shoes can be just as stylish. Here's our guide to the best fifty plus shoes.


1. Trainers

A sin against fashion? It depends on the trainers. If we're talking 10-year-old 'used-to-be-white' relics, then yes. Go for proper running shoes if you'll be giving them a run for their money, or fashion trainers for an inexpensive, but comfy, runabout option. Keds or Asics both have some fashionable, but comfortable, options that go with most outfits. Trust us, when it comes to fashion over 50, once you invest in a pair of sturdy, stylish trainers, you'll never look back.

"Trainers are essential wear for jogging, walking fast, running after grandsons and so many other things."

fashion trainers

Find a host of fashionable trainers on Asos, from slip-ons, to Converse, to proper sports trainers.


2. Crocs - brilliant or bonkers?

There's a deep divide surrounding the issue of Crocs. Some wouldn't go into the garden without them, especially as they're so easy to clean, while others are convinced that they're unremittingly awful. We're afraid we fall just slightly on the 'unremittingly awful' side, and suggest they stay firmly in the house or garden. If you're looking for flat shoes that are good for your feet, however, try a pair of sandals with arch support, like Hotter's strappy Maisies. 

"Crocs are just as ugly as Uggs and make any feet look fat and frumpy. Moccasins or penny loafers are much better." 

fifty plus shoes 


So what's your personal style?

Are you classic chic? Or do you prefer the tweed and tartan of English country? Does the temperature rise when you walk into a room, or do you light up a party with a dazzling sense of colour clash?

Take our test below and follow our suggestions to to dress for your own personal style.




classic chic styleClassic looks are ageless; think Grace Kelly and Katherine Hepburn. If you’re a classic dresser, you most likely have a fashion uniform, a trusted look that is both timeless and flattering. You nailed the capsule wardrobe long before it was a thing. You prefer a neutral colour palette. Black, grey, navy, brown khaki and white all work well. You like to accessorise sparingly with quality pieces. The recent trend of small, understated jewelry is a perfect fit for the classic look.

Creating a classic wardrobe is more about collecting quality, well-made pieces than shopping the trends. You're at home in tailored jackets and can't resist a timeless little black dress, but even on a casual day your preppy chic would be considered smart to others.


bombshell style

The bombshell knows how to channel her inner vixen and dress her curves. Think Marilyn Monroe, Sophia Loren and Elizabeth Taylor. If you are a bombshell, you know how to up the glamour stakes, whether you’re wearing an off the shoulder blouse or a stunning red dress. Dressed up or down, you always look fabulous.

You know the difference between looking stunning and overdoing it. Like the classic dresser, quality is important for bombshells and can make a difference between amping up the glamour and going over the top.

To create a bombshell look start with a statement piece then build an outfit around it. It could be a magnificent set of statement earrings or your favourite figure-hugging red dress. Try different shapes and sizes until you know what looks good on you so you can choose flattering pieces that can be updated with a few accessories, season to season.


colourful styleColourful dressers aren’t content with blending into the background. Whether you're playing with a new print or experimenting with a bold colour, you never go unnoticed. Your fashion choices are guaranteed to bring brighton up a room. Famous colourful dressers include fashion designer Vivvienne Westwood, Mary Portas and Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II.

This is the year of bold and brilliant colour palettes so you're spoiled for choice. Rainbows and animal prints take centre stage but don’t be afraid to follow the Queen’s example and wear a single bold colour head to toe.

English Country

English country styleEnglish Country is the ultimate English heritage look, a fabulous mix of practical and glamorous. Think Princess Anne and Kate Middleton. English country dressers feel equally at ease hosting a grand party in a silk ballgown or riding the grounds in a well-worn Barbour jacket. 

Natural fabrics are a must for the classic English Country look. Cotton, wool, silk and leather all feature, sometimes all at once. And don't forget tweed and and that classic staple, tartan. Grand manor houses can be chilly so you aren’t afraid of topping a kilt with a cosy gilet or a well-loved Barbour. Stylish boots are a favourite but country house chic can also be quite feminine. A liberty print blouse or an Hermes scarf is never out of place.

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